Skip to comments.China’s New Challenge to the U.S.-Japan Alliance (Reason for US show of Force in China Sea)
Posted on 11/03/2004 5:46:46 PM PST by TapTheSource
Chinas New Challenge to the U.S.-Japan Alliance by John J. Tkacik, Jr. WebMemo #533
July 13, 2004
As Chinese warships and naval survey vessels ply Japanese waters hoping to stake their claim to potentially gas-rich seabeds, the United States is sending mixed signals to Japan on the U.S.-Japan alliance. Ambiguity in Washington may undermine Japanese confidence in the alliancein itself, a major strategic goal for Beijing. Washington must now publicly support Japan, our most important ally in Asia, if it hopes to deter China from further adventurism in Japans Exclusive Economic Zone.
Provocative Behavior On Tuesday, July 6, Japanese antisubmarine aircraft spotted a Chinese naval survey vessel, the Nandiao 411, well within Japans Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Chinese foreign ministry declined to comment on the incursion, saying it had not received any report of naval survey activities.
On July 13, Japanese coast guard cutters discovered a Chinese civilian research vessel, the Xiangyanghong 9, within the EEZ and engaged in survey operations for which it had not sought, much less obtained, Japanese government permissiona possible violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Japanese aircraft ordered the vessel to leave the area, but the Chinese ship refused to respond.
Even more ominously, on July 14, a Chinese naval vessel overtook a Japanese resource exploration ship inside the EEZ, forcing it to alter its route to avoid a collision.
The Chinese navy has made a habit of traversing Japanese waters for the past two years, and Chinese ships and submarines have been particularly assertive in the past year. In January, the Japanese government declassified a report that Chinese naval vessels had entered the EEZ six times during 2003 to survey subsea routes for Chinese submarines to enter the Pacific. These incursions include two violations of Japans territorial waters by Ming class submarines in the vicinity of Kagoshima at the southern tip of Kyushu. So far this year, Japans Self Defense Forces have documented at least twelve violations of the EEZ, including three separate incursions northwest of the Senkaku Islands in May alone.
Alarmed by Chinas presence in Japanese waters, Tokyo will soon dispatch a civilian survey vessellooking for natural gasto the area near the Senkaku Islands (which China calls Diaoyutai) to assert its own EEZ rights. Beijings foreign ministry protested this news, claiming that the EEZ is disputed. It warned Tokyo not to take "any action that may imperil China's interest and complicate the current situation."
The Chinese navys sudden assertivenessindeed aggressivenessin Japanese waters is a test of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Washington must be careful not to confront this challenge with its traditional studied ambiguity. Ambiguous support for an ally against Chinas increasingly provocative territorial encroachments will encourage China to become more aggressive not just in Japanese waters, but also in the South China Sea and, of course, the Taiwan Strait.
China Has No Claim The status of the Senkakus is clear. Japan first claimed the uninhabited and unclaimed islets in question in 1895 to use their rocky outcroppings for maritime navigation aids. From that time through the end of World War II, they were administered as part of Japans Okinawa prefecture. Upon the Japanese surrender, the United States administered the islets under a military occupation authority. In 1972, when the United States returned Okinawa to Japanese administration, the Senkakus were included in the reversion. There is, accordingly, no doubt that the United States has always regarded the islands as Japanese.
China and Taiwan have expressed interest in the islands since only 1968, when a United Nations Economic Commission for Asia report suggested there may be petroleum deposits in the seabed near the islets. (No petroleum or gas deposits have since been detected in the area.) On June 11, 1971, the Republic of China on Taiwan formally claimed the islands. After the United States returned the islands to Japan in the 1972 Okinawa Reversion Agreement, China lodged a formal protest with the U.S. government. Eager not to alienate Beijing just as President Nixon was beginning his opening to China, the U.S. State Department announced that the Reversion Agreement did not affect the sovereignty over disputed islands.
As recently as March 2004, the State Department accepted Chinas claims over the Senkakus as being equally valid as Japans title. Still, in a stance known affectionately in Japan as the Armitage Doctrine, U.S. officials have said that the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty covers all territories under the administration of Japan and there is no question that, as a matter of lawunder the Reversion Agreement, the alliance treaty, and the terms of the U.S. military occupation of the Ryukyu island chainthat the Senkakus are indeed under the administration of Japan. As such, any hostile activities against the islands would trigger the treaty.
In this context, China's forays into the Senkakus seem designed to probe where the bedrock of the U.S.-Japan alliance beginsor if it is there at all. Of course, Chinese survey vessels are also mapping the ocean bottom for the benefit of the countrys rapidly expanding submarine fleet.
Steps for the Administration
State clearly that the Senkakus are covered by the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.
The United States cannot expect to avoid a showdown with China and Japan over the islands by continuing to tell China that it takes no position on the matter of sovereignty over the Senkakus. This only encourages China to force a confrontation with Japan over the islets, which will either draw the United States into the fray on Japans side or risk the collapse of the U.S.-Japan alliancean event China devoutly hopes to see.
The Administration must state firmly and publicly not only that the Senkakus are covered under the alliance and that the United States will support Japans claim as a matter of law, but also that the United States sees a prima facie case supporting Japans claims to sovereignty over the islands. While this would irritate Beijing, it would also be a clear message that the United States plans to remain a Pacific power and that Beijings aggressive territorial claims are counterproductive. Any continued confrontations in the area would be ample evidence of Beijings broader ambitions in Asia. Better to know now, than later. Either way, the United States must stand firmly and unequivocally with Japan.
Assist the Japanese Self Defense Forces in monitoring Chinese incursions. While Chinas naval forays into Japans EEZ are perfectly legal under international law, Chinese oil and natural gas surveys are not. U.S. Naval forces should join Japanese forces in actively monitoring Chinese maritime operations in Japanese waters, as a demonstration of alliance strength and to dissuade China from believing testing the EEZ boundaries is cost-free. The United States should view with alarm Chinas increasing aggressiveness in the Western Pacific and its continuing challenges to long-established maritime boundaries. The seabeds that China now claims have been under Japanese sovereignty for over a century. The United States has, over past years, reportedly reassured Japan that the territorial waters China now claimsand the islands they encompassfall within the ambit of Japanese administration and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. The United States should make this point firmly and thereby confront Chinas provocations with clarity instead of ambiguity.
John Tkacik, Jr., is Research Fellow in China Policy in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation.
The US should come out strong against the ChiComs on this issue.
I hope they can solve that without bloodshed. Drawing lines in the sand and seeing how far you can push isn't too bright on China's part.
We're going to have to face China once and for all eventually. Sooner is better - like next year - before they modernize much more. No invasion, no air strikes, just ICBMs.
When Japan's carriers are completed, this activity will become more risky for the Chinese.
I have to agree -
If we keep showing our back to China - the situation will only get worse. And perhaps - it is already too late - It was bad enough under Clinton - but the policy is kept in force under President Bush - and Congress -
I just don't understand why President Bush can see clearly on some issues - but then turn around and harm this nation(along with our friends) with others -
Is it Rice? Is it Powell? Is it because our departments have become corrupt - ? I just heard someone suggest that Powell might want to go to the Defense Department in the second term - That would really be bad - considering all that he has done while in the State Dept.
Anyone for a Wal Mart - no matter the price -
Couldn't agree with you more. No matter who's to blame in the administration, the buck stops at Bush's desk. We need to start writing congress demanding that they put a stop to this madness.
Japan? Carriers? First time in 60 years? Since when are they building carriers?
I believe the inmates are running the asylum that is known as the US Dept. of State. Infiltrated by communists during the cold war years, and heavily populated by left leaning handwringers-Needs a good house cleaning.
I'd rather believe that then it's "money" behind the nonsense concerning China -
Because it's hard to think our people in government would speak of freedom for Iraq and then sacrifice Taiwan and Japan just to stay in power here in the USA -
And it's sad that today to make a good run for office - you need to have millions -
just my thoughts -
It is my understanding that there are a number of people in the state department who work against the policy of the president, and America's interests.
These people are not the ones speaking about freedom for Iraq. They are not good for America and our allies. They will still be there when the president has finished his 2cnd term.
i forsee a time when Russia, Us and Japan will be allies in order to balance China. Although that might not be necessary Russia and India would probably be more inclinced for that kind of an alliance. Both have territory china infringed upon or wants. Kashmir and Sibir.
You might be right.
I think it would be smart on our part to treat Japan the same way as we treat Britain because they are in the same kind of geographic position as Britain.
I think one of the things that FDR mis-managed was our relationship with Japan prior to WW2. They were our allies previously, including WW1, and the Brits were the ones that taught them to build ships.
I'm hardly a fan of FDR, but he did allow US aerospace firms (they were called aircraft companies in those days) to transfer immense amounts of technology to Japan. The Japanese built an exact copy of our DC 3, which was cutting edge at the time. Most of their propellers were a copy/variant of the Hamilton Standard Props, again the technology transfered with his approval. There are many who post on this site who would endorse his actions all in the name of "free trade".
Umm,Japan is building aircraft capable ships,not out & out carriers.The Osumi & soon to be built destroyers(over 13,000 tonnes) will have a primary complement of ASW/surveillance choppers like the SH-60 & Mine warfare systems & troop transports like the MH-53.The JMSDF have shown no concrete plan to buy either the Harrier(which is getting old anyway) or sign up for the naval JSF.That would make these ships have the designation of 'helicopter carriers' which have the ability to deploy fixed aircraft,which are crucial for power projection.
OTOH,China is reportedly building 2 aircraft carrier,which can deploy systems like the Su-30MKK2 fighter bomber & vertically launched Moskit missiles-but no concrete details have ever emerged.By far,the only nation in Asia,which is committed to carriers is India,which will receive an upgraded Russian carrier in 2008 & it's own homebuilt carrier will be ready by 2012(built with Russian,French,Israeli & Italian help) & India has been operating carriers since the 1960s.South Korea too has plans for an 'aviation capable ship' ,but it remains to be seen whether this are more in league of the Japanese ships or real carriers.
The entire struggle with the EU giving China weapons technology is a gamble from the EU position to moderate American Technogical gains which even the UN has failed them (read EU) in achieving.
The only real threat to the US for the forseeable future is the alliance(s) France is building against us (Read US:) __)