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Asian Powder Keg
China Rattles Its Sabers

Japanese warplanes nearly got into an ugly altercation with Chinese fighters, Beijing said yesterday. More from the FT:

[T]he latest clash on June 17 threatened to turn dangerous, according to a statement by China’s ministry of defence on Monday, when Japanese warplanes used fire-control radar to “light up” Chinese counterparts and released infrared flares during evasive manoeuvres. Japan’s deputy chief of cabinet on Tuesday denied China’s claims.

Both sides agree a pair of Chinese SU-30 fighter-bombers encountered two Japanese F-15 fighters somewhere over the East China Sea, where China and Japan dispute ownership of a group of islands known in Japan as the Senkaku and China as the Diaoyu. The nations also claim overlapping Air Defence Identification Zones, which require foreign aircraft to identify themselves.

Japanese officials say China has increased its military activity in the sea and air, obliging Japan to almost double its scrambling of aircraft to engage Chinese jets over the past three months.

Things have been getting tenser in the South China Sea too ahead of next week’s tribunal ruling. Beijing has reportedly offered to meet directly with the Philippines if Manila agrees to ignore the court’s decision. The unpredictable new Philippines president has suggested in the past that he might be open to such overtures. Meanwhile, the influential state-run Global Times is raising the possibility of war with the U.S. Deutsche Welle:

The paper said while “China hopes disputes can be resolved by talks, it must be prepared for any military confrontation,” and called for Beijing to speed up developing its military deterrence abilities.

“Even though China cannot keep up with the US militarily in the short-term, it should be able to let the US pay a cost it cannot stand if it intervenes in the South China Sea dispute by force,” it said.

The U.S. has said it will draw a line in the Scarborough Shoal—long expected to be Beijing’s next target for significant infrastructural build-up. But if China doesn’t back down, what is the American strategy? Will Washington blink?

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  • f1b0nacc1

    Do you really need to ask?But if China doesn’t back down, what is the American strategy? Will Washington blink?”
    Do you really need to ask?

    • Nevis07

      The question is a matter of timing. Under Obama, we know what will happen. Under a Clinton or Trump administration, not so clearly. But as we’ve sparred before on this topic, by that time, will we have given China too much room for maneuver – especially if we let them start construction on Scarborough Shoals? That is the ultimate question and where the showdown will or will not occur I suspect.

      • f1b0nacc1

        The Clintons were bought off by the Chinese in the 90s, and the Dems are even more in thrall to their pacifist wing than they were then. The odds of a Hillary Clinton presidency taking on the Chinese (who also are likely to have gigabytes of blackmail material harvested from her servers) is precisely zero.

        As for Trump, we might see more backbone from him, but you know there is such a thing as too much backbone…

        Either way, the Chinese are not going to be deterred by anything less than real painful costs being imposed upon them…

        • Nevis07

          The Chinese (and Russians) no doubt have full accounts of HRC’s emails (unlike our own FBI, why am I not surprised…), but you I think underestimate the corruption of the Clinton’s – they would turn their backs on their own bribe givers if they saw a better deal on the horizon – and no doubt to my mind they do.

          Regarding Trump, yes I agree he could go too far… They say he’s the egomaniac (and I would agree he is one), but I secretly suspect that Hillary is just as big an egomaniac as him, and maybe even a bigger egomaniac – she’s just rehearsed it so many times and knows the routine so well that it’s oblivious to the masses. Egomaniacs tend to act out when their authority is challenged in a way they perceive as personal. Neither one is I expect would handle China well. Like I said before, the potential for conflict is high in my estimation.

          Of course as I think we’ve both said, neither one of of would have allowed things to get nearly this far to begin with. I hope I’m wrong!

          • f1b0nacc1

            Given the rather huge cache of info that the Chinese have on the Clintons, I suspect that they will both ‘stay bought’, whatever their inclinations to do otherwise.
            Either way…we are sooooooo screwed

  • JR

    There would be a lot less saber rattling if both countries imposed confiscatory levels of taxation above a certain randomly set limit. Raising taxes on the wealthy is my solution here. Help me out here, FG…..

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    What happens to China’s economy, 40% of which is dependent on foreign trade, if China starts a war with all the nations sitting on its shipping routes, and they blockade China’s ports? China is largest importer of many raw materials including oil, and it’s economy is entirely dependent on exports. If a war in the China sea forces importers from around the world to seek out new sources for the products made in China (none of which can’t be made elsewhere), would China ever regain those markets?
    It seems like Chinese belligerence is insanely counterproductive, unless you look at China’s problems from the point of view of the Communist Leadership. The Leadership is corrupt on a level unbelievable to someone living in the west, most of the billionaires in China are either in Government or related to those that are in some way. For Tyrannies trying to stay in power, a foreign war to generate popular support is the go to solution. And being able to blame the bad economy on the foreign devils is feature not a bug when the blockade goes up.

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