South China Sea: more questions than answers

War in the South China Sea could trigger World War Three; can Australia be a peacemaker?

12 March 2021 | CCCA (Image: US Navy supplied)

Despite the blue sky, sunshine and cool breezes fanning island Australia in peace and tranquility, the South China Sea is not as fortunate with war drums beating more regularly and more intense each time.

Australian media has been very quiet about the South China Sea compared to the Asian media. The “talk up” of turning the SCS into the “watery” jungle for guerrilla warfare using naval vessels and personnel, seems too real for comfort.

The first two articles appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), South China Sea: How the US Navy aims to better home in on targets by Kristin Huang, 27 February 2021.

The US military aims to use troops on the ground to help multinational fleets more accurately guide missiles over longer ranges, an approach that analysts say could be used in the South China Sea. In a drill in early February, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier strike group sent US Navy Seal teams as well as a boat squad to establish forward bases to supplement intelligence from the strike group’s radars. Virtual warfare missions were also part of the exercise.

South China Sea: why France is flexing its muscles in the contested waters by Rachel Zhang 28 February 2021.

“France sent warships to South China Sea ahead of joint exercises with US and Japan, after its nuclear submarine conducted patrols. Willingness to confront Beijing’s claims in the disputed waters reflects French interests in the Indo-Pacific and plans to work with Quad nations.

CCCA Founding President, Anthony Pun’s comments published in the above SCMP article on 7 March 2021. “France wants to relive the old colonial days as masters of Indochina. Should also invite the Spanish Armada to return to Philippines – so once more, the western ally ships will sail up the Yangtze River like the good old days of gunboat diplomacy.

“This time the SCS is so infested with sea mines (can’t tell who owns what) and nuclear submarines and the chances of collision bw subs, destroyers, battleship, aircraft carriers and fishing sampans are good. No longer speaking English, there is a great chance of giving the wrong orders or misunderstanding an order! Or could all these be a Chinese plot so it can sink all the floating bathtubs in one go!

“The headlines ‘NATO fleet sunk in SCS’ will be as sensational as the sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse as was in a naval engagement in World War II, as part of the war in the Pacific, that took place on 10 December 1941 in the South China Sea. This is a crazy world that one missile fired will cause MAD.”

The third article was written by Admiral James Stavridis a former 16th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and 12th Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He spent the bulk of his operational career in the Pacific and is author of “2034: A Novel of the Next World War.”

Writing on 7 Marchs 2021, for NikkeiAsia “How the US military is preparing for war with China” he revealed a strategy in the South China Sea (SCS) and described the artificial islands as juicy targets.

Admiral Straridis’s article mentioned the The Atlantic Council’s publication of The Longer Telegram, which lays out a sweeping blueprint for a U.S. strategy to face China, provides significant clues about a new lay-down of American forces around east Asia.

The Longer Telegram has spurred an important debate—both regarding how to ensure that a China strategy, about which there is a growing American and allied consensus, can be sustained over the next several decades and, equally important, how it should be implemented.

Can China count on her friends to come and give her a helping hand especially Russia? It is not an easy bet; but a nuclear war cannot be excluded.

War always turns civilised humans into animals and back to jungle killing one another and for what? The end of human civilization will be in sight if nuclear button is triggered. When their political leaders turn into wild animals, innocent world citizens suffer. How to stop them from starting a third world war, is every world citizen’s duty. Only peoples’ power will stop it.

We, Chinese Australians are peace loving people. We prefer peace and prosperity over war in the Asia Pacific. Hence, we would urge Australians to play a mediation role in maintaining peace in the SCS and ask the two big elephants in the room to mutually work together for détente, win win peaceful coexistence and development.

This commentary is supplied by the Chinese Community Council of Australia Incorporated: Founding President, Dr Anthony Pun OAM, President Mr Kingsley Liu. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors.

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