Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

22 August 2017

Stone-Pelting at Lake Pangong: India, China Border Tensions Under the Spotlight

By Ankit Panda

On August 15, an Indian border patrol in Ladakh intercepted an attempt by Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers to cross the Line of Actual Controls in the Pangong Tso (Lake) area. The incident saw some escalation, with troops on both sides eventually resorting to shoving, pushing, and throwing stones at the other, causing injuries.

According to the Indian Express, PLA troops “tried to enter the Indian side in two areas — Finger Four and Finger Five — twice between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.” Indian border patrols were successful in preventing the incursion attempts, which fell on India’s independence day.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed the incident at Pangong Lake four days after it occurred. “I can confirm that there was an incident at Pangong Tso on August 15… Such incidents are not in the interest of either side,” an MEA spokesperson noted, without specifying the extent of injuries on either side.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, has not directly addressed the facts of the incident, with spokesperson Hua Chunying mentioning that she was not “not aware of the details” the day after the incident.

On August 17, Hua told a reporter that she was “not aware of the ongoing engagement or dialogue between the border troops of the two sides on the ground,” referring the question to the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, which has yet to publicly comment on the incident.

Doklam stand-off won’t lead to “full-blown war”

Shankar Kumar

India and China are not prepared for a war over Doklam plateau in Bhutan, assessed JNU professor Srikanth Kondapalli, a well-known China expert who is back from Beijing and Shanghai after spending two months there. In a telephonic interview with Shankar Kumar, Kondapalli said both countries will not opt for war as it will be catastrophic and millions would die.

The continued stand-off between India and China at Doklam is leading to a rise in tempers in both sides. Do you think it may worsen with both countries resorting to war over it?
I don’t think the present stand-off at Doklam will escalate into a full-blown war. Neither India nor China is prepared for a war. China may attack Indian bases around Sikkim and India may retaliate, yet they will never go for a war because they know that results will be catastrophic. Both sides millions of people will die due to the war. And for merely 89 square km area, I don’t think India and China will allow so much bloodbath and killings.

You have been regularly visiting China and interacting with Chinese media, academicians and think tank experts. What is their outlook towards India over Doklam?

See, unlike India where we have free press with varied public opinions, Chinese media and think tanks are under the government’s control, where they can’t have any dissenting voice or adversarial comments (against the government). So everything remains state-sponsored there. We have to keep this in our mind. Under the Chinese state perspective, Doklam is its territory and in support of their claim they say they possess records of tax collections from graziers of the (Doklam) area. They make a similar argument with the South China Sea also. They say the Sea covering 3.2 million square kilometre fall under the Ming dynasty’s nine-dashed line. They say India has occupied their territory and Indian forces are occupying forces and hence they have to withdraw from it unconditionally and immediately. Their second argument is that in the 21st century, you can’t have a country in a vassal relationship. India is suppressing Bhutan and is violating its independence. 

First violent clash between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh, where China has the advantage

By Ajai Shukla

The two-month-long confrontation between Chinese and Indian troops in Doklam, on the Sikkim-Bhutan border, is raising tempers elsewhere on the Sino-Indian border, most notably Ladakh, where China enjoys an operational and logistic advantage over India, unlike large sections of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

For decades, Indian and Chinese patrols have confronted each other with relative restraint. At worst, words would be exchanged and some pushing and jostling carried out before both sides disengaged and returned to their camps. Even during longer intrusions, like at Depsang in 2012 and Chumar in 2013, both sides scrupulously avoided physical violence.

This absence of bloodshed has been instrumental in ensuring a peaceful Line of Actual Control (LAC), as visualised by the Sino-Indian “Peace and Tranquillity Agreement” of 1993.

On Independence Day, however, mounting Chinese frustration boiled over at the scenic Pangong Lake. At about 7 a.m., a couple of hours before the two sides exchanged traditional gifts of sweets at nearby Chushul, a Chinese patrol consisting of “border defence” troops from their post at Khurnak Fort began pelting stones at an Indian patrol that had come to the same location – the hotly disputed “Finger 5” area.

Chinese Smartphones Are Our Biggest Vulnerability; Our Citizens’ Data Must Be Stored In India

R Jagannathan

While the government has taken care to ensure that the scrutiny of data privacy procedures is not restricted to Chinese handset makers alone, it needs to ensure that Indian data must remain in India’s legal jurisdiction and control.

The IT and Electronics Ministry’s directive to 21 smartphone companies to share their security procedures and processes with it has not come a day too soon. While the move, given the Doklam stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops in the Sikkim tri-junction, will be widely seen as subtle Indian retaliation (Chinese smartphones dominate the Indian market), the move can be justified on both counts – privacy of citizens’ data, and as pressure against the Chinese.

The reality is that smartphones today constitute the biggest risks to data security – even more than Aadhaar biometrics. As Nandan Nilekani told Mint in a recent interview: “The biggest privacy risk that you have is your smartphone. A billion people will have smartphones as we go forward, their conversations will be recorded, their messages will be read, their location can be identified with the GPS or the triangulation of the towers on a real-time basis. So, for 24 hours a day, you know where a person is. Using all the accelerometers and gyrometers on the phone, you can actually make out if someone is drunk or not. The kind of intrusion of privacy that the smartphone does is order of magnitudes higher.”

Trump’s Strategist Reveals The Fine Print Of China Containment Strategy


Swarajya Staff

Only time will tell who prevails in this sparring between China lobbyists and China hawks but it is certain that the outcome will shape America’s foreign policy vis-a-vis China for decades to come.

Stephen Kevin “Steve” Bannon, a former banker who is currently serving as assistant to the President and White House Chief Strategist, has earned a reputation of driving the far-right agenda in the Donald Trump administration. In his White House office, Bannon has written down on a white board all the promises Trump made during the presidential campaign last year and is committed to making Trump fulfill these promises, which are obviously very important to the US President’s support base.

However, recently, there were reports in the media that Bannon had fallen out of favour with Trump and his inner circle which includes daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Things turned acrimonious especially after Time magazine featured Bannon on cover in February with the title “The Great Manipulator”. The perception was growing that “off the charts brilliant” Bannon was pulling the strings from behind while Trump was merely a mask. Soon after, Bannon went underground and has kept a low profile since then to avoid coming into limelight and stealing his boss’ thunder.

It now appears that Bannon is willing to resurface again. In an interview to a progressive media outlet, he revealed the fine print of his China Containment strategy.

Exclusive: Taking aim at China, India tightens power grid, telecoms rules

Source Link
Sudarshan Varadhan and Neha Dasgupta

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India is tightening the rules for businesses entering its power transmission sector and making stringent checks on both power and telecoms equipment for malware - moves that government and industry officials say aim to check China's advance into sensitive sectors.

Chinese firms such as Harbin Electric (1133.HK), Dongfang Electronics (000682.SZ), Shanghai Electric (601727.SS) and Sifang Automation either supply equipment or manage power distribution networks in 18 cities in India.

Local firms have long lobbied against Chinese involvement in the power sector, raising security concerns and saying they get no reciprocal access to Chinese markets.

With India and China locked in their most serious military face-off in three decades, the effort to restrict Chinese business has gathered more support from within the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, worried about the possibility of a cyber attack.

21 August 2017

From Doklam Standoff to a Trade War? India initiates review of IT imports from China

Munish Sharma

Amid the Doklam standoff, India appears to have opened a whole new front with China which could potentially escalate into a trade war. On August 16, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) initiated a review of the IT products imported from China in the wake of growing concerns over data security.1 The government has issued a notice to 21 such manufacturers including Samsung, Apple and the Indian manufacturer Micromax to file reports confirming their compliance with government laid standards.2 The notice has a direct bearing on big players from China such as Xiaomi, Gionee, Oppo and Vivo, who have swept the Indian smartphone market and hold a combined market share at 54 per cent, as of June 2017.3 Such a review could also bring suppliers across the globe in the telecom and networking segment under scrutiny, including Chinese telecom players like Huawei and ZTE.


The government’s decision has to be seen in the context of three issue areas. Firstly, given the deep inroads Chinese electronics and IT products have made in the hardware and telecom market, genuine security concerns have arisen regarding the protection of data and personal information of millions of Indian users traversing over the networking equipment. Chinese products in the telecom segment are also under the scanner in countries like Australia, the UK and the US. The Government of India has already elevated its efforts towards a Data Protection Framework, recognizing the importance of data protection and keeping the personal data of citizens secure and protected.4

THE DRAGON BREATHES FIRE AT DOKLAM -- SHOULD INDIA BE PREPARED FOR LIMITED WAR ?

By Lt Gen Philip Campose 

Why did China, on June 16, 2017, try to change the status quo in the China-India-Bhutan land dispute, by trying to occupy the strategic Doklam plateau on the Bhutanese side of the boundary tri-junction – an action which triggered the ongoing stand-off with Indian troops? What will be the foreseeable outcome of this ongoing incident, which so far has seen the Chinese media hyperventilating and holding out all sorts of threats against India, ostensibly on behalf of its government?

To understand these issues, one can start by going back into China’s recent history when, in 1990, Chairman Deng Xiaoping encapsulated China’s ‘24 character strategy’ - an interim security policy for China to ‘hide its capacities ………. bide its time ……..maintain a low profile………not claim leadership’ - while it strengthened itself economically and militarily, before claiming its ‘rightful’ place as a global superpower and the ‘second pole’ in a future bipolar world. Since recent times, especially since President Xi Jinping took over reins in 2013, China appears to have moved beyond to the next stage, which includes a more assertive approach to stake its territorial claims, by first securing its core area of interest along its periphery. Thus, China’s neighbours in the East and South China Seas as well as potential rivals elsewhere have been subjected to more assertive and hostile behavior from China, both directly and in concert with China’s proxies North Korea and Pakistan, especially in the last three years. All of China’s neighbours are well aware of China’s propensity to changing facts on the ground and slowly altering the status quo in its favour, as evident from its frenetic island building activities in South China Sea.

Dangerous optimism on Doklam

RAJESH RAJAGOPALAN

Military confrontation between India and China on Doklam is showing little sign of abating — China is not in any mood to moderate its words.

The military confrontation between India and China at Doklam is now in its second month. There is little indication that China is in any mood to moderate either its words or its behavior, and it continues to hurl threats at India almost daily. Just a few days back, for instance, a senior Chinese foreign ministry official suggested — to a visiting delegation of Indian journalists, no less — that China could intrude into other parts of the Sino-Indian border.

On the Indian side, both among analysts and apparently even within the government, there is a disconcerting optimism that China will not resort to force. Such optimism is unwarranted, and potentially problematic. China may not attack, but prudence dictates that India’s civilian and military leadership consider the possibility of war much more seriously than they appear to be doing at the moment.

China’s threats should be taken seriously. For sure, a part of the threatening language comes from China’s media, especially nationalistic outlets such as Global Times. There is a general perception that Global Times does not represent official opinion, though there are also some suggestions of official support for the publication. But even if Global Times can be ignored, there is little difference in the substance of the rhetoric between it and the more staid, mainstream, “official” publications such as People’s Daily. Recently, the People’s Dailyeditorialised that India’s thinking was “wishful” and “deluded” in expecting that China would negotiate without India withdrawing its forces first.

China signals a shift in geostrategic goal

VIDYA SAGAR REDDY AVUTHU

The ever-increasing list of 'core interests' involving land and maritime territories indicates an open-ended expansionist drive on the part of China.

Recent events demonstrate China’s emphasis on military power. China has employed its military in carefully selected areas it deems as ‘core interests’. These areas include simultaneous engagement with both friendly and pressures against adversarial countries spanning the land and maritime domains. The implications of these developments on regional and international security are profound.

China organised the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) summit this year but was unable to solicit the level of support President Xi Jinping had expected. Major economic centers such as Singapore, South Korea, United States, United Kingdom, Germany and several others sent ministerial level delegations while India decided to abstain as the BRI undermines its core interests. The European Union member states that attended a trade session during the summit unanimously decided to reject the outcome statement. The reason, as already highlighted by India — the absence of assurances on transparency, co-ownership and sustainability.

With inadequate economic instruments, China started relying on its military for political signaling and coercion. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) started constructing a road in a disputed territory with Bhutan, a weaker Himalayan country. However, Bhutan wasted no time in seeking India’s assistance, which pressed its military into action.

China’s Infrastructure development in the light of Doklam Stand-off

By Anushree Dutta 

Chinese and Indian soldiers have been locked in a stand-off in the Doklam area of Sikkim sector for over a month after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area. New Delhi has expressed concern over the road building, apprehending that it may allow Chinese troops to cut India's access to its northeastern states. Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.

China formed five new theater commands namely Eastern Theater Command, Southern Theater Command, Western Theater Command, Northern Theater Command, and Central Theatre Command last year, 2016. As the tension between the two neighboring countries, which engaged in a war in 1962 over a border dispute, continues, the Western Theater Command (WTC) was formed keeping India in mind. General Zhao Zongqi is the commander of the Western Theatre Command who has around one-third of the 2.26-million strong Chinese military under his command since February 2016.[i]

Geography

The Western Theater Command (WTC) is the largest theater and has complex terrain including desert and high mountains, long borders, and challenging social conditions.[ii] The Western Theater has to look after the erstwhile territory of the Lanzhou and Chengdu Military Regions spread over the 4,057-km Boundary cum Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India. Apart from India from the West the WTC in the South looks after the border with Afghanistan, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), India, Nepal, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. The WTC incorporates the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu, Guizhou, Yunnan, Qinghai, Chongqing municipality and the two largest and most remote regions of Xinjiang and Tibet.[iii] The WTC is responsible for the unresolved borders with India and Bhutan and also responsible for the volatile region of China, Xinjiang.

Chinese SEAD-equipped J-10B emerges at Aviadarts contest

Richard D Fisher Jr 

A SEAD-mission-equipped J-10B fighter emerged for the first time at a display concluding the 2017 Aviadarts international aerial competition at Changchun Airbase in Jilin province. Source: Via Dingsheng web page

China has used the recent ‘Aviadarts’ international aerial competition to reveal for the first time that its Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) J-10B can be equipped to perform suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) missions, adding to the number of People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) combat aircraft able to perform this mission.

Images of the SEAD-equipped J-10B first appeared on Chinese web pages on 10 August as part of a ground display at Changchun Airbase in Jilin Province, occurring at the end of the Aviadarts competition, part of the larger 2017 International Army Games held from 29 July to 12 August.

For the SEAD mission the J-10B was revealed to carry two Hongdu Aviation Industries YJ-91 anti-radiation missiles (ARMs). The YJ-91 was developed from the Russian Tactical Missile CorporationKh-31 family of ramjet-powered ARM and anti-ship missiles that were first seen in China in the early 2000s. The YJ-91 reportedly requires a separate guidance system pod, which was seen mounted on a fuselage pylon of the J-10B.

China and India are dangerously close to military conflict in the Himalayas


By Annie Gowen and Simon Denyer

NEW DELHI — As nuclear posturing between North Korea and the United States rivets the world, a quieter conflict between India and China is playing out on a remote Himalayan ridge — with stakes just as high.

For the past two months, Indian and Chinese troops have faced off on a plateau in the Himalayas in tense proximity, in a dispute prompted by moves by the Chinese military to build a road into territory claimed by India’s close ally, Bhutan.

India has suggested that both sides withdraw, and its foreign minister said in Parliament that the dispute can be resolved only by dialogue.

Yet China has vociferously defended the right it claims to build a road in the Doklam area, land it also claims.

Since the dispute began, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued an angry stream of almost daily denunciations of India and its “illegal trespass” and “recklessness,” along with demands that New Delhi withdraw its troops “if it cherishes peace.”

Analysts say that this most recent dispute is more worrisome because it comes at a time when relations between the two nuclear-armed powers are declining, with China framing the issue as a direct threat to its territorial integrity. For the first time, such a conflict involves a third country — the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

20 August 2017

*** Calling the Chinese Bully’s Bluff


BRAHMA CHELLANEY

The more power China has accumulated, the more it has attempted to achieve its foreign-policy objectives with bluff, bluster, and bullying. But, as its Himalayan border standoff with India’s military continues, the limits of this approach are becoming increasingly apparent.

The current standoff began in mid-June, when Bhutan, a close ally of India, discovered the People’s Liberation Army trying to extend a road through Doklam, a high-altitude plateau in the Himalayas that belongs to Bhutan, but is claimed by China. India, which guarantees tiny Bhutan’s security, quickly sent troops and equipment to halt the construction, asserting that the road – which would overlook the point where Tibet, Bhutan, and the Indian state of Sikkim meet – threatened its own security.

Since then, China’s leaders have been warning India almost daily to back down or face military reprisals. China’s defense ministry has threatened to teach India a “bitter lesson,” vowing that any conflict would inflict “greater losses” than the Sino-Indian War of 1962, when China invaded India during a Himalayan border dispute and inflicted major damage within a few weeks. Likewise, China’s foreign ministry has unleashed a torrent of vitriol intended to intimidate India into submission.

Doklam Crisis: Testament To India’s Strategic Confidence, An Exclusive Piece

By Vidya Sagar Reddy

India is celebrating its 70th Independence Day. The nation has come a long way since 1947 when doubts about its very survival were making a run. It was dependent on food aid from the United States (US) and security assurances from the Soviet Union. However, the evolution of Doklam crisis signals that India is now a matured, assertive nation capable of defending its national values and interests by relying on own capabilities.

Immediately after the partition, Pakistan had initiated decades long conflict over the Kashmir issue, leading to wars. India also had to face an adversarial China in 1962 destroying the optimism about their friendly relations and common development. In 1971, India faced its worst military situation as it was confronted on all sides by Pakistan and its international supporters. Only the presence of Soviet Navy helped de-escalation from possible global nuclear showdown. This explains the dominance of Soviet equipment in India’s defence arsenal.

The military-strategic reality during that period compelled India that its security is best guaranteed only by nuclear weapons. Even as existing nuclear powers decided to stop this process, India tested a nuclear device in 1974 but stopped short of declaring itself a nuclear power. With missile technology development in an advanced stage, India decided to go nuclear in 1998 becoming a de-facto nuclear power. India’s scientific community was able to develop indigenous technologies for these purposes and therefore making India self-reliant for its security.

Twice-decorated Army war veteran decodes Doklam standoff

BRIGADIER VRP SARATHY (RETD)

For over 60 days, Indian and Chinese troops have been facing each other at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, in combat readiness! The Chinese are at their belligerent and ballistic best (worst) - both in their unprecedented, (un)diplomatic language calling our foreign minister a “liar”, asking India “to come to senses”, reminding us of 1962 - and issuing threats of war.

Where is Doklam?

Doklam, or Donglang as the Chinese prefer to call it, is in the eastern Himalayan mountain ranges at an altitude of about 16,000 feet, where due to lack of sufficient oxygen troops need acclimatisation for survival, and carriage of heavy arms and fighting at these heights is extremely strenuous.

Location and topography

Doklam plateau, about 80-85 sqkm in area, is Bhutanese territory, connects with Chumbi valley in the north with Tibet (China) and in north-west with Sikkim (India). Hence this plateau has strategic significance for Bhutan, India and China. 

Historical perspective

China claims that Doklam (Bhutan) was under the Quing dynasty’s rule in the past, and Bhutan used to pay taxes to them. China follows the policy of “once mine, always mine”, and as the famous historian Dr Majumdar said: “There is, however, one aspect of Chinese culture that is little known outside the circle of professional historians. It is the characteristic of China that if a region once acknowledged her normal suzerainty even for a short period, she should regard it as part of her empire forever and would automatically revive her claim over it even after a thousand years whenever there was a chance of enforcing it.”

Talk Point: Does border infrastructure determine India’s military posture towards China?



Over the last decade, China has invested in strengthening the infrastructure along its border areas. The Chinese army began building a permanent road in Doklam this year in an effort to boost its military capabilities in the region. Analysts say, with regards to infrastructure, India woke up late, tried playing catch up, but still lags behind.

Has the infrastructure mismatch between India and China determined the two nations’ military postures? We ask experts.

A paucity of infrastructure explains India’s manpower-intensive approach at the border — Iskander Rehman, Senior Fellow at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy

A glaring infrastructural disparity persists along the LAC.

For decades, Indian military planners deliberately eschewed the development of border infrastructure, fearing it would facilitate Chinese ingress deep into the Indian plains and lowlands. Only in the mid-2000s did a consensus emerge on the pitfalls of this approach. The lack of solid infrastructure along the Indian side of the LAC had rendered large tracts of contested land acutely vulnerable to Chinese probing and creeping forms of encroachment.

India’s road and rail construction projects have been delayed for a variety of reasons, ranging from bureaucratic inefficiency, lack of funding, manpower, heavy machinery and airlift capabilities for the Border Roads Organization. The terrain along the Indian side is often considerably more rugged than along the Chinese side, rendering construction projects more challenging. As of last year, India had completed only 21 out of 61 strategically designated border road projects. The government sanctioned 28 strategic railway lines in 2010. Seven years later, not one has fully materialized.

Create a Channel for a U.S.-China Dialogue on South Asia


The real danger of an explosive conflict and potential nuclear war lingers in South Asia. Relations between India and Pakistan remain distrustful, confrontational, and highly volatile as the result of decades-long hostility. War plans are being refined on both sides – a war that could be triggered by terrorist attacks launched by Pakistan-based groups. Escalation control seems to be assumed by both sides, but miscalculation of intentions and reactions could ignite a catastrophic nuclear war.

Despite these risks, the United States and China do not regard crisis management in South Asia as a top priority in their bilateral foreign policy agendas. Cooperation on crisis management in the past has been ad hoc. The level of attention, dialogue, and preparation devoted to the proper management of a potential crisis between India and Pakistan is highly disproportionate to the risks and stakes at hand. Therefore, the United States and China might well consider the establishment of a routine dialogue at the sub-cabinet level that could become a crisis management mechanism to enhance preparedness for and effectiveness of crisis management to prevent a nuclear disaster in South Asia.

The Problem

The nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan has accelerated in recent years. Both countries possess well over 100 warheads and credible missile delivery systems.[i] Pakistan’s rising nuclear stockpile is widely believed to be the fasting growing in the world.[ii] Pakistan has continued to develop tactical nuclear weapons for use on the battlefield that it threatens to deploy in the event India implements its “Cold Start” doctrine.[iii] India has completed its nuclear triad by inducting a strategic nuclear submarine into service.[iv] India’s aim is to reduce the gap between its nuclear capabilities and China’s.[v] The nuclear arms race in the region reflects the geopolitical competition between China and India and between India and Pakistan.

China’s Intellectual Property Theft Must Stop


By DENNIS C. BLAIR and KEITH ALEXANDER

President Trump on Monday instructed the office of the United States Trade Representative to consider an investigation into China’s sustained and widespread attacks on America’s intellectual property. This investigation will provide the evidence for holding China accountable for a decades-long assault on the intellectual property of the United States and its allies.

For too long, the United States has treated China as a developing nation to be coaxed and lectured, while tolerating its bad behavior as merely growing pains. There has been an expectation that as China’s economy matures, it will of its own accord adopt international standards in commerce, including protection for intellectual property. There has also been a tendency to excuse mercantilist behavior, including industrial espionage, as a passing phase, and to justify inaction as necessary to secure Chinese cooperation on other, supposedly more important, issues.

Chinese companies, with the encouragement of official Chinese policy and often the active participation of government personnel, have been pillaging the intellectual property of American companies. All together, intellectual-property theft costs America up to $600 billion a year, the greatest transfer of wealth in history. China accounts for most of that loss.

Chinese Double Standards in the Maritime Domain

By Tuan N. Pham

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) transits the South China Sea with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship JS Izumo (DDH 183) in May 2017.

Beijing clearly understands its maritime rights, but does not necessarily tolerate and accept the same rights for others. 

Last month, China deployed two People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) intelligence-gathering ships (AGI) off the coasts of the United States (Alaska) and Australia (Queensland). China was speculated to be observing the United States’ first-ever interception test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile by the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system in the first instance; while in the latter Beijing was believed to be observing a major joint military exercise between the United States Navy and Royal Australian Navy (Talisman Sabre 2017). Both AGI apparently operated for several days well inside the American and Australian exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

While not unprecedented and not in violation of international law, the deployments nonetheless remind the region, the United States, and the world that China is a rising power (and major maritime power) willing to fully leverage its maritime rights as “interpreted” under UNCLOS. That, in turn, underscores Beijing’s “double standards,” in terms of selectively choosing parts of UNCLOS that it likes and ignoring (or reinterpreting) parts that it does not like or find incongruent with its national interests. While Washington and Canberra tolerated, exercised restraint, and even downplayed the presence of the AGI within their respective EEZ; Beijing has more-often-than-not admonished the offending nation(s) for violating its territorial sovereignty and sometimes even harassed the such ships from other nations.