Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.The Brexit War! EU Fearing Collapse Set to Stoke Scottish Independence Proxy War - Nadeem_Walayat
2.London Terror Attack Red Herring, Real Issue is Age of Reason vs Religion - Nadeem_Walayat
3.The BrExit War, Game Theory Strategy for What UK Should Do to Win - Nadeem_Walayat
4.Goldman Sachs Backing A Copper Boom In 2017 - OilPrice_Com
5.Trump to Fire 50 US Cruise Missiles To Erase Syrian Chemical Attack Air Base, China Next? - Nadeem_Walayat
6.US Stock Market Consolidation Time - Rambus_Chartology
7.Stock Market Investors Stupid is as Stupid Goes - James_Quinn
8.Gold in Fed Interest Rate Hike Cycles- Zeal_LLC
9.The BrExit War - Britain Intelligence Super Power Covert War With the EU - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Marc Faber: Euro to Strengthen, Dollar to Weaken, Gold and Emerging Markets to Outperform - MoneyMetals
Last 7 days
What A War With North Korea Would Look Like - 25th Apr 17
Pensions Are On The Way Out But Retirement Funds Are Not Working Either - 25th Apr 17
Frank Holmes : Gold Could Hit $1,500 in 2017 Amid Imbalances & Weak Supply - 25th Apr 17
3 Reasons Why “Spring Forward, Fall Back” Also Applies To Gold - 25th Apr 17
SPX may be Aiming at the Cycle Top Resistance - 25th Apr 17
Walmart Stock Extending Higher - Elliott Wave Trend Forecast - 25th Apr 17
Google Panics and KILLS YouTube to Appease Mainstream Media and Corporate Advertisers - 25th Apr 17
Gold Price Is 1% Shy of Ripping Higher - 25th Apr 17
Exchange-Traded Funds Make Decisions Easy - 25th Apr 17
Trump Is Among The Institutionally Weakest National Leaders In The World - 25th Apr 17
3 Maps That Explain the Geopolitics of Nuclear Weapons - 25th Apr 17
Risk on Stock Market French Election Euphoria - 24th Apr 17
Fear Campaign Against Americans Continues Nuclear Attack Drills in New York City - 24th Apr 17
Is the Stock Market Bounce Over? - 24th Apr 17
This Could Be One Of the Biggest Winners Of The Electric Car Boom - 24th Apr 17
Le Pen Shifts Political Landscape- The Rise of New French Gaullism  - 24th Apr 17
IMF Says Austerity Is Over - Surplus or Stimulus - 24th Apr 17
EURUSD at a Critical Point in Wave Structure - 23rd Apr 17
Stock Market Grand Super Cycle Overview While SPX Correction Continues - 23rd Apr 17
Robert Prechter Talks About Elliott Waves and His New Book - 23rd Apr 17
Le Pen, Melenchon French Election Stock, Bond and Euro Markets Crash - 22nd Apr 17
Why You Are Not An Investor - 22nd Apr 17
Gold Price Upleg Momentum Building - 22nd Apr 17
Why Now Gold and Silver Precious Metals? - 22nd Apr 17
4 Maps That Signal Central Asia Is at Risk of War - 22nd Apr 17
5 Key Steps For A Comfortable Retirement From Former Wall Street Trader - 22nd Apr 17
Can Marine Le Pen Win? French Presidential Election Forecast 2017 - 21st Apr 17
Why Stock Market Investors May Soon Be In For A Rude Awakening - 21st Apr 17
Median US Household’s Wealth Has Declined by 40% Since 2007 - 21st Apr 17
Silver, Platinum and Palladium as Investments – Research Shows Diversification Benefit - 21st Apr 17
U.S. Stock Market and Gold, Post Tomahawks and MOAB - 21st Apr 17
An In Depth Look at the Precious Metals Complex - 20th Apr 17
The Real Story of China’s Strong First-Quarter Growth - 20th Apr 17
3 Types Of Life-Changing Crisis That Make You Wish You Had Some Gold - 20th Apr 17
The Truth is a Dangerous Thing - 20th Apr 17
2 Choke Points That Threaten Oil Trade Between Persian Gulf And East Asia - 20th Apr 17
Gold’s Next Downside Target Is Around $700… Even if It Breaks Up First - 19th Apr 17
SPX May be Completing its Corrective Pattern - 19th Apr 17
Silver Production Has “Huge Decline” In 2nd Largest Producer Peru - 19th Apr 17
Soothing East Asia's Nerves as Trump's Administration Reaffirms US Power in Asia-Pacific - 19th Apr 17
The Brexit War - Article 50 Triggered, General Election 2017 Called - Let the Games Begin! - 19th Apr 17

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Why 95% of Traders Fail

3 Maps That Explain China’s Real Goal In The South China Sea

Politics / China US Conflict Mar 31, 2017 - 06:10 PM GMT

By: John_Mauldin

Politics

There’s been a lot of media hype over China’s ongoing military buildup in the South China Sea. But as always, the truth lies beyond the headlines.

Chinese action has so far been largely contained to two island groups: the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands.


It’s true that China has indeed been building largely on these island groups—constructing harbors, runways, helipads, and radar facilities, and installing missile defense systems.

However, these facilities are defensive in nature. They are meant to extend China's reach further past its coastline.

The Basis of Chinese Claims

China’s extensive claims in the South China Sea are based on the Chinese nine-dash line.

Beijing uses the nine-dash line to claim sovereignty over around 90% of the contested waters in the South China Sea. This area extends as far as 1,243 miles away from the Chinese mainland.

China argues that the nine-dash line represents historic maritime agreements, but all involved (except China) have disputed this.

China’s Presence in the Spratly Islands

China has reclaimed an extensive area in the Spratly Islands. A 2016 report from the Pentagon shows that China had built 3,200 acres of artificial reefs in the island chain by the end of 2015.

Though the Spratly Islands contain many reefs, China’s interests are concentrated on seven.

The three large reefs—Mischief, Subi, and Fiery Cross—are similar in that they all have large anti-aircraft guns and close-in weapons systems.

Each features helipads, long runways, and hangars capable of holding up to 24 fighter jets and several larger planes (including the largest in the Chinese fleet).

Fiery Cross Reef has a harbor at which China’s largest naval vessels can dock. The construction of similar harbors is ongoing at Mischief and Subi reefs.

The four smaller reefs—Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron—each contain structures thought to be radar towers and helipads.

A Defensive Build-Up in the Paracel Islands

The Paracel Islands give the Chinese another defensive outpost. Eight of the islands currently have some form of Chinese presence, with six containing at least radar capabilities.

Woody Island in the northeast of the island chain has perhaps the largest presence of Chinese military in the South China Sea.

In addition to 1,400 military personnel, it also has an airstrip that can support fighter jets, up to 20 aircraft hangars, helipads, radar facilities, and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) with a range of 124 miles.

Woody Island has been designated the official administrative capital of the region containing the island chains that China claims as its territory (Paracel, Spratly, and the area encompassing Scarborough Shoal).

In late 2016, the Chinese government attempted to take its presence on Woody Island further with daily chartered civilian flights to the island.

Putting civilians on the island bolsters China's sovereignty claim. It also increases the risk of civilian injuries in the event of an attack and so has a deterrent effect.

Scarborough Shoal: The Origin of Philippine-Chinese Tensions

While it currently has no military installations, Scarborough Shoal has been a point of tension in Philippine-Chinese relations.

Looking at the first map above, you can see why: Scarborough Shoal is located off the Philippines’s west coast, only 220 miles from Manila.

Scarborough Shoal was in the headlines earlier this month as China announced plans to install “environmental monitoring stations” there. This set off a chain of reactions in the Philippines as people considered it Chinese aggression.

Conclusion

Diplomatic spats between China and the other claimants in the South China Sea are just spats for now. China is building up military camps on the contested reefs, but those are mainly defensive.

Like all Chinese moves in the South China Sea, it is just a bluff meant to make China look bigger and scarier than it actually is.

Grab George Friedman's Exclusive eBook, The World Explained in Maps

The World Explained in Maps reveals the panorama of geopolitical landscapes influencing today's governments and global financial systems. Don't miss this chance to prepare for the year ahead with the straight facts about every major country’s and region's current geopolitical climate. You won't find political rhetoric or media hype here.

The World Explained in Maps is an essential guide for every investor as 2017 takes shape. Get your copy now—free!

John Mauldin Archive

© 2005-2016 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Catching a Falling Financial Knife