南シナ海情勢 人工島を合法と強弁する中国

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Unity key to dealing with China’s construction of artificial island
南シナ海情勢 人工島を合法と強弁する中国

China’s provocative stance toward Asian security has been brought into sharp focus at a recent international conference. The countries concerned must bolster unity to regain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Defense ministers and military experts from Asia and elsewhere exchanged views on security issues during a recent Asia Security Summit meeting in Singapore. It was a natural development that the focus of the conference was China’s accelerated reclamation efforts around rock reefs in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

In a speech at the meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter criticized China over its reclamation project, saying it “has become a source of tension in the region” and “the United States is deeply concerned about the pace and scope of land reclamation.” Carter thus demanded that China halt its reclamation immediately.

His demand is based on the belief that sea-lanes might be threatened due to the rapid transformation of a reclaimed artificial island into a military base.

On the sidelines of the security conference, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, Australian Defense Minister Kevin Andrews and Carter held trilateral talks and issued a joint statement, expressing their “serious concern” over the Chinese land reclamation work. This was extremely significant.

It is necessary to disseminate widely China’s unilateral moves to alter the status quo, thereby ramping up international pressure on Beijing.

Antagonism toward U.S.

One matter of concern is China’s blatant antagonistic stance toward the United States.

Adm. Sun Jianguo, Deputy Chief of the general staff department of Chinese Military, rejected the U.S. demand for halting reclamation work, insisting obstinately that it “falls well within the scope of China’s sovereignty and are legitimate, justified and reasonable,”“[the reclamation work] do not ... affect the freedom of navigation.”

Concerning the construction of the artificial island, Sun declared that it was for military purposes. Asked about the possibility of China setting an air defense identification zone over the South China Sea, Sun did not deny this, saying his country “will decide on the matter after making an overall assessment on how the aerial safety of the region is threatened.”

His statement can be taken to indicate China’s secret intention to enclose the South China Sea as “a Chinese sea” without being based on any international law, thereby eliminating U.S. influence in the region.

Chinese President Xi Jinping aims to lead the move to build a security order in Asia through a new concept of “Asian peoples maintaining Asia’s security.” But isn’t it China that has been destabilizing the region with its self-righteous moves?

Nakatani said during his speech, “It is extremely important to improve the reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.” This was an indication Japan would augment assistance to the military and maritime security organizations of such countries as the Philippines and Vietnam, which face Chinese threats.

Enhancing the defense capabilities of these Asian nations is indispensable to ensure the security of the South China Sea. In cooperation with the United States, the Philippines and other countries, Japan needs to press China to exercise self-restraint.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 2, 2015)

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