中国の軍事開発 地域の安定脅かす「砂の長城」

The Yomiuri Shimbun
China jeopardizes regional stability by building ‘Great Wall of sand’
中国の軍事開発 地域の安定脅かす「砂の長城」

China is accelerating its land reclamation in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, a move that is jeopardizing the stability of the region.

The U.S. Defense Department’s recently released annual report on China’s military strength mentioned for the first time that country’s reclamation of land in the South China Sea, which has been described as the building of “a Great Wall of sand.” The report expressed concern that the reclaimed land around rocks and reefs in the waters would create “persistent civil-military bases of operation.”

As of late last year, China had already begun constructing harbors, communication facilities and an airfield at four of the five reclaimed outposts in the Spratly Islands.

A Pentagon official said the total acreage of the reclaimed area had grown to about eight square kilometers, quadrupling in size over about four months.

China is reclaiming land at an extraordinarily fast pace. It is clearly trying to create a fait accompli by unilaterally expanding its control over territories disputed with such neighboring countries as the Philippines.

It is quite reasonable that the report criticizes China’s “willingness to tolerate a higher level of regional tension” to advance its interests.

China defends its move to reclaim land in the disputed waters as intended to safeguard its territorial sovereignty, but this claim is excessively self-serving. It is commonly recognized among countries concerned that China’s territorial claims — which assert that its sovereignty covers almost all the area in the South China Sea — have no basis under international law.

The prevailing view is that China’s reclamation in the area is part of its preparations for establishing an air-defense identification zone over the South China Sea and securing air supremacy.

Cyberwar capabilities

The report also said it is likely that China’s nuclear submarine, carrying ballistic missiles, will begin its first patrols for nuclear deterrent purposes this year.

It is noteworthy that the report expressed strong alarm over the rapid modernization of China’s military forces, saying “it could potentially reduce the U.S. forces’ core technological advantage.”

In the field of space, in particular, the report said China possesses “the most rapidly maturing space program in the world” and that the country continues to develop capabilities designed to limit or prevent the use of space-based assets by its adversaries.

Regarding cyberspace, the report expresses a sense of danger over China’s strengthening of its capabilities to destroy computer networks, as part of its “anti-access and area denial (A2/AD)” strategy to prevent the intervention of U.S. forces in the event of a contingency.

Close attention must be paid to any progress in China’s military technologies in these newly emerging domains.

Worrisome for Japan is the buildup of equipment for the People’s Liberation Army Navy and Air Force.

The report said it was likely that in the next 15 years, China will build multiple domestically produced aircraft carriers and procure Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35s, one of the most advanced fighters in the world. It also said China will likely make progress in the development of stealth strike aircraft in that period.

Japan and the United States must boost the joint response capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces, based on recently agreed-upon guidelines on bilateral defense cooperation, and enhance their deterrent against China.

It is also important to cooperate with countries concerned to heighten vigilance and surveillance activities in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and urge China to refrain from taking any provocative military action.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 14, 2015)

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