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South China Sea Affair: Making
of a new Munich Pact
Dr. Mithlesh Jayas Mukherji
PhD (Pol Sc)
THE MUNICH PACT –
1938- Precursor to
WW2
South China Sea
 The South China Sea is a marginal Sea and part of the Pacific
Ocean encircling an area from Malacca straits to the strait of
Taiwan.
 SCS one of the world’s richest fishing regions, and traditional
fishing zone for Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen.
 Sea bed is estimated to hold significant reserves of natural
gas which gives valuable national security to China and
Vietnam
SCS Dispute
 Territorial disputes in the South China Sea involve both
island and maritime claims among seven sovereign
states within the region, namely Brunei, the People's
Republic of China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines,
and Vietnam.
 There are disputes concerning both the Spratly and
the Paracel islands, as well as maritime boundaries in
the Gulf of Tonkin and elsewhere.
SCS Dispute
 There are further disputes, including the waters near
the Indonesian Natuna Islands, which many do not regard
as part of the South China Sea.
 The Nine-dash line area claimed by the Republic of
China, later the People’s Republic of China, which covers
most of South China Sea and overlaps the Exclusive
economic Zone claims of Brunai, Indonesia, Malasia,
Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
 China’s claim to south China sea is based on history, the
early-fifteenth-century expedition of Zheng He to the
Indian Ocean and Africa.
SCS Dispute
 But China’s so called historical claims to the south China
sea are actually not centuries old. They only go back to
1947, when Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist government drew
the nine-dash line on Chinese maps of South china Sea.
China’s Advancement into the SCS
 China has made advances into the SCS by exploiting power
vacuums, to the Paracel Islands in 50s-70s and to the
Spratly Islands since 80s.
 In 1995, China occupies Mischief Reef after the U.S.
withdraws from Philippines in 1992.
 In 2000s, China advances to the Southern SCS.
 In 2012, China gain de facto control over Scarborough
Shoal.
 2014, China conduct rapid and large-scale reclamation and
infrastructure building in the SCS.
Competing Claims
 Six governments—Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam,
Malaysia and Brunei have claims, very overlapping.
 China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim all the islands—Malaysia,
Brunei, and Philippines claim some of them.
 The interests of different nations include acquiring fishing
areas around the two archipelagos; the potential
exploitation of suspected crude oil and natural gas under the
waters of various parts of the South China Sea; and the
strategic control of important shipping lanes.
Why China wants SCS
 For China as well as Japan and South Korea trade routes
run through the Indian Ocean and the Malacca Straits and
into the SCS before coming out into the East China Sea and
the Pacific.
 China imports around 80% of its oil from the Persian Gulf
which is shipped through this route.
 these shipping routes would become vulnerable to blockade
which could slow down Chinese mobilization.
Why China wants SCS
 SCS one of the world’s richest fishing regions, and traditional
fishing zone for Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen.
 Sea bed is estimated to hold significant reserves of natural gas
which gives valuable national security to China and Vietnam.
 The aim of these activities would be to present a de facto
occupation of the SCS and also prevent hostile forces from
entering the region.
 Facilities at Hainan Island and Sanya naval base gives the PLAN
easy entry and control over the SCS; airbases over the Woody
Island and artificial island building in the SCS enable the Chinese
to attack easily the Vietnamese coast, Borneo or even the
Philippines.
Chinese Air Defence Zones in the SCS
 Chinese assertiveness and US rebalance are both driven
by geopolitical interests:
 strategic position relative to trade and energy/raw
materials supply routes
 Influence over the shaping of regional order and
security architecture
BASIC REASON FOR DISPUTE
 The dispute in the SCS has potential to cause regional
and global conflict if not managed intelligently.
 The expansionist Power is China which claims almost
the entire expanse of the SCS as its territorial waters.
 This negates the principal of freedom of movement and
trade in the high seas and if not responded to could
trigger wider Chinese expansion into South East, East
and South Asia.
Points of Conflict
 Dispute began after UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
guaranteed exploitation rights of undersea resources to
state’s adjacent waters, so pushed state’s to make public
claims to offshore islands.
 Law of Sea set 200 mile offshore area as exclusive
economic zones (EEZs).
 Also gave states sovereign rights over continental shelf.
 Before this, China and Vietnam had fought over the Paracel
Islands in 1974.
18
US Department of State, 2014
Chinese new activities in the south china sea –
building new islands to create new sovereign
territory
India in South China Sea
 While the world is focusing on rising tension between
China and Claimants in the SCS, Beijing and Delhi are
also engaged in a quiet struggle in SCS.
 China doesn’t want India to participate in SCS but
India is participating and Vietnam is welcoming Indian
in this region.
 India signed an agreement with Vietnam in Oct 2011
for the exploration of oil in SCS and has excepted the
challenge from China.
 Vietnam welcomes the other states in this region
because Vietnam can’t tackle China in this
region.
 Indian state owned oil company ONGC Videsh
limited (OVC) is working to explore oil and gas in
Block 127 & 128.
 China has warned India to stay away from this
region.
 After this India decided to continue the joint
exploration, Vietnam decided to extend OVL
contracts in Block 128.
India working in Block 127 and 128 with the permission of
Vietnam. China has concern on this development.
Reasons for Chinese assertiveness
 A Chinese anti-carrier DF21D missile if fired from Hainan or
Southern China would reach the Philippines, Indonesia or
Malaysia.
 Chinese control over SCS islands would create difficulties
for the US, India or Australia to project strength into SE
Asia and definitely for the US to protect its treaty allies.
 This would result in the entire region falling under Chinese
domination.
 Philippine President Benigno Aquino III in 2014 described
the situation as a “Munich Moment” when requesting that
the US not desert its Philippine ally
China strongly urges the
U.S. side to ……..… immediately
correct its mistake and not
take any dangerous or
provocative acts that
threaten China's sovereignty
and security interests,"
Obama:
“We will fly, sail or operate
wherever International law
allows”.
Feb 16, 2016
Implication for ASEAN nations
 Chinese control over the SCS would mean loss of
economic and trade independence for the ASEAN.
 Chinese hegemony over the SCS would endanger the
coherence of the ASEAN itself.
 PLAN and PLAAF units would be interdicting the
waterways between Vietnam, Borneo, Philippines and
Malaysia effectively inhibiting regional security.
Implications for the US as well as its allies
(Japan, Taiwan, Australia-New Zealand and
South Korea)
 The loss of US influence in the SCS would affect its alliance
system and its trade with its East Asian allies.
 Chinese control of the SCS would open the southern
Taiwanese and Japanese flanks to infiltration by the
Chinese.
 America would be seen as giving up on its allies and cause a
domino effect and undermine the US system of military
alliances worldwide.
 Help the Chinese prevent formation of a coalition against
them and prevent hostile states achieving a continuous
front along its seaboard.
Implications for India
 Another “Tibet Moment” for India with loss of strategic
depth and the ability to outflank the Chinese.
 India would then be squarely boxed into South Asia and
surrounded by Chinese client states.
 The PLAN would be sitting right at the doorstep of the
Indian Ocean.
 Restrict the Indian navy’s freedom of action
Options in light of SCS
For US and China
 Find a modus vivendi based on mutual respect and
self-restraint
 Military-to-military cooperation and confidence
building
 Expand space for middle power diplomacy and
multilateral arrangements to play a bigger role
Conclusion
 Chinese claims based on history cannot be accepted in the
modern world as there were lots of overlapping empires.
 Chinese security concerns could be met by accepting
Chinese control over the Paracels which are much closer to
Hainan;
 The area around the Spratlys should be demilitarized and
declared as an open trade zone.
 claims of the ASEAN countries could be worked out on
mutually agreeable templates.
 US would have to stand by its allies; and while China has
achieved a defacto control over parts of the Spratlys, the
cost of maintaining their position could be increased for
them.
 Powers like India and Japan could help the ASEAN countries
by providing weapons and operational training.
Thank You

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South China Sea Affair - Makings of a new Munich pact

  • 1. South China Sea Affair: Making of a new Munich Pact Dr. Mithlesh Jayas Mukherji PhD (Pol Sc)
  • 2. THE MUNICH PACT – 1938- Precursor to WW2
  • 3. South China Sea  The South China Sea is a marginal Sea and part of the Pacific Ocean encircling an area from Malacca straits to the strait of Taiwan.  SCS one of the world’s richest fishing regions, and traditional fishing zone for Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen.  Sea bed is estimated to hold significant reserves of natural gas which gives valuable national security to China and Vietnam
  • 4.
  • 5. SCS Dispute  Territorial disputes in the South China Sea involve both island and maritime claims among seven sovereign states within the region, namely Brunei, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.  There are disputes concerning both the Spratly and the Paracel islands, as well as maritime boundaries in the Gulf of Tonkin and elsewhere.
  • 6. SCS Dispute  There are further disputes, including the waters near the Indonesian Natuna Islands, which many do not regard as part of the South China Sea.  The Nine-dash line area claimed by the Republic of China, later the People’s Republic of China, which covers most of South China Sea and overlaps the Exclusive economic Zone claims of Brunai, Indonesia, Malasia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.  China’s claim to south China sea is based on history, the early-fifteenth-century expedition of Zheng He to the Indian Ocean and Africa.
  • 7. SCS Dispute  But China’s so called historical claims to the south China sea are actually not centuries old. They only go back to 1947, when Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist government drew the nine-dash line on Chinese maps of South china Sea.
  • 8. China’s Advancement into the SCS  China has made advances into the SCS by exploiting power vacuums, to the Paracel Islands in 50s-70s and to the Spratly Islands since 80s.  In 1995, China occupies Mischief Reef after the U.S. withdraws from Philippines in 1992.  In 2000s, China advances to the Southern SCS.  In 2012, China gain de facto control over Scarborough Shoal.  2014, China conduct rapid and large-scale reclamation and infrastructure building in the SCS.
  • 9.
  • 10. Competing Claims  Six governments—Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have claims, very overlapping.  China, Taiwan, and Vietnam claim all the islands—Malaysia, Brunei, and Philippines claim some of them.  The interests of different nations include acquiring fishing areas around the two archipelagos; the potential exploitation of suspected crude oil and natural gas under the waters of various parts of the South China Sea; and the strategic control of important shipping lanes.
  • 11.
  • 12. Why China wants SCS  For China as well as Japan and South Korea trade routes run through the Indian Ocean and the Malacca Straits and into the SCS before coming out into the East China Sea and the Pacific.  China imports around 80% of its oil from the Persian Gulf which is shipped through this route.  these shipping routes would become vulnerable to blockade which could slow down Chinese mobilization.
  • 13. Why China wants SCS  SCS one of the world’s richest fishing regions, and traditional fishing zone for Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen.  Sea bed is estimated to hold significant reserves of natural gas which gives valuable national security to China and Vietnam.  The aim of these activities would be to present a de facto occupation of the SCS and also prevent hostile forces from entering the region.  Facilities at Hainan Island and Sanya naval base gives the PLAN easy entry and control over the SCS; airbases over the Woody Island and artificial island building in the SCS enable the Chinese to attack easily the Vietnamese coast, Borneo or even the Philippines.
  • 14.
  • 15. Chinese Air Defence Zones in the SCS
  • 16.  Chinese assertiveness and US rebalance are both driven by geopolitical interests:  strategic position relative to trade and energy/raw materials supply routes  Influence over the shaping of regional order and security architecture BASIC REASON FOR DISPUTE
  • 17.  The dispute in the SCS has potential to cause regional and global conflict if not managed intelligently.  The expansionist Power is China which claims almost the entire expanse of the SCS as its territorial waters.  This negates the principal of freedom of movement and trade in the high seas and if not responded to could trigger wider Chinese expansion into South East, East and South Asia.
  • 18. Points of Conflict  Dispute began after UN Convention on the Law of the Sea guaranteed exploitation rights of undersea resources to state’s adjacent waters, so pushed state’s to make public claims to offshore islands.  Law of Sea set 200 mile offshore area as exclusive economic zones (EEZs).  Also gave states sovereign rights over continental shelf.  Before this, China and Vietnam had fought over the Paracel Islands in 1974. 18 US Department of State, 2014
  • 19.
  • 20. Chinese new activities in the south china sea – building new islands to create new sovereign territory
  • 21. India in South China Sea  While the world is focusing on rising tension between China and Claimants in the SCS, Beijing and Delhi are also engaged in a quiet struggle in SCS.  China doesn’t want India to participate in SCS but India is participating and Vietnam is welcoming Indian in this region.  India signed an agreement with Vietnam in Oct 2011 for the exploration of oil in SCS and has excepted the challenge from China.
  • 22.  Vietnam welcomes the other states in this region because Vietnam can’t tackle China in this region.  Indian state owned oil company ONGC Videsh limited (OVC) is working to explore oil and gas in Block 127 & 128.  China has warned India to stay away from this region.  After this India decided to continue the joint exploration, Vietnam decided to extend OVL contracts in Block 128.
  • 23. India working in Block 127 and 128 with the permission of Vietnam. China has concern on this development.
  • 24. Reasons for Chinese assertiveness  A Chinese anti-carrier DF21D missile if fired from Hainan or Southern China would reach the Philippines, Indonesia or Malaysia.  Chinese control over SCS islands would create difficulties for the US, India or Australia to project strength into SE Asia and definitely for the US to protect its treaty allies.  This would result in the entire region falling under Chinese domination.  Philippine President Benigno Aquino III in 2014 described the situation as a “Munich Moment” when requesting that the US not desert its Philippine ally
  • 25. China strongly urges the U.S. side to ……..… immediately correct its mistake and not take any dangerous or provocative acts that threaten China's sovereignty and security interests," Obama: “We will fly, sail or operate wherever International law allows”. Feb 16, 2016
  • 26. Implication for ASEAN nations  Chinese control over the SCS would mean loss of economic and trade independence for the ASEAN.  Chinese hegemony over the SCS would endanger the coherence of the ASEAN itself.  PLAN and PLAAF units would be interdicting the waterways between Vietnam, Borneo, Philippines and Malaysia effectively inhibiting regional security.
  • 27. Implications for the US as well as its allies (Japan, Taiwan, Australia-New Zealand and South Korea)  The loss of US influence in the SCS would affect its alliance system and its trade with its East Asian allies.  Chinese control of the SCS would open the southern Taiwanese and Japanese flanks to infiltration by the Chinese.  America would be seen as giving up on its allies and cause a domino effect and undermine the US system of military alliances worldwide.  Help the Chinese prevent formation of a coalition against them and prevent hostile states achieving a continuous front along its seaboard.
  • 28. Implications for India  Another “Tibet Moment” for India with loss of strategic depth and the ability to outflank the Chinese.  India would then be squarely boxed into South Asia and surrounded by Chinese client states.  The PLAN would be sitting right at the doorstep of the Indian Ocean.  Restrict the Indian navy’s freedom of action
  • 29. Options in light of SCS For US and China  Find a modus vivendi based on mutual respect and self-restraint  Military-to-military cooperation and confidence building  Expand space for middle power diplomacy and multilateral arrangements to play a bigger role
  • 30. Conclusion  Chinese claims based on history cannot be accepted in the modern world as there were lots of overlapping empires.  Chinese security concerns could be met by accepting Chinese control over the Paracels which are much closer to Hainan;  The area around the Spratlys should be demilitarized and declared as an open trade zone.  claims of the ASEAN countries could be worked out on mutually agreeable templates.  US would have to stand by its allies; and while China has achieved a defacto control over parts of the Spratlys, the cost of maintaining their position could be increased for them.  Powers like India and Japan could help the ASEAN countries by providing weapons and operational training.