- - Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Threat against ‘little countries’

China’s official communist newspaper, the Global Times, published a chilling editorial warning several “little countries” that are disputing China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, notably the Philippines and Vietnam, to “get ready to hear the sound of gunfire.”

Headlined “China Cannot Resort Only to Negotiations Over Maritime Conflicts, We Must Kill One to Deter One Hundred If Necessary,” the editorial published Tuesday asked, in a tone of condescension, where these “little neighboring countries” got the nerve to challenge China. It called such challenges an “opportunistic strategic offensive launched by little countries against a big country.”

The newspaper further threatened that the game these countries play against China would not be easy to win because “China possesses the force to end such game anytime.”

The report said any fear of a naval war is unnecessary because the Chinese public had been psychologically getting used to such a naval conflagration in recent years.

According to the newspaper, the root cause of China’s trouble with these “little countries” is the United States. “At present various disputants behave with imperial swagger [against China],” the commentary said, “as if with the support from the United States, they all had the force and capabilities to subjugate China.”

The newspaper used the phrase “bodies of waters in East Asia” to include areas other than the South China Sea where China has territorial disputes — a clear reference to South Korea and Japan.

Since April 2010, China began deliberately sending regular fishing fleets accompanied by official government escort ships to disputed areas of the Spratly’s Island, Senkaku islands, the Korean littoral area and other murky waters.

These China fishing and escort ships routinely clash with other nations’ naval patrol ships, including incidents with the Philippine navy, the South Korean navy and the Japanese coastal patrol vessels just within the past week, dramatically escalating tensions with several “little countries.”

Underground Great Wall

The U.S. government this week announced that it had dismantled and destroyed the last and the largest Cold War-era nuclear weapon, the B53 gravity bomb, in Amarillo, Texas.

Meanwhile, China is increasing its stockpile of nuclear weapons under the rubric of a mammoth project called the Underground Great Wall that includes a 3,000-mile-long subterranean tunnel system used to store and operate the many thousands of China’s nuclear-carrying missiles. The system is under the direct supervision of China’s strategic missile forces known as the Second Artillery Corps.

First reported by the Chinese state television in March 2008 and confirmed by the Chinese military a year later, the Underground Great Wall runs several hundred feet below the ground, said James Holmes of the U.S. Naval War College.

Mr. Holmes wrote in the Japanese-based electronic journal the Diplomat in August that “the very scale of the underground network opens up new vistas for Chinese nuclear strategy.”

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal quoted former Pentagon nuclear weapons specialist Philip Karber as fundamentally challenging the West’s conventional assumption about the size of China’s nuclear stockpile, officially estimated to include several hundred warheads.

Mr. Karber said gauging the size of China’s nuclear arsenal is difficult, but the Wall Street Journal article urged an immediate reconsideration of the underestimated arsenal because “the alternative is for China, steeped in a 2,500 year military tradition of concealment, deception and surprise, to announce — at a time and in a manner of its choosing — its supremacy in a field that we have foolishly abandoned to our dreams.”

Anti-terrorism law proposed

China announced Monday that it would enact a sweeping law to combat what the communist state would define as “terrorists” or “terrorist acts.” These acts include creating public disorder and social panic, causing public property damage and threatening government agencies. The law would target international organizations and all others that abet and finance such “terrorists” and “terrorist acts.”

Human rights activists and thousands of netizens immediately reacted with anger and protest. Li Tiantian, a Shanghai-based human rights lawyer, was quoted by overseas Chinese news media as saying: “This law aims to protect the power structure of the state, to guarantee the security, stability and power of the government. It is the same as calling all actions jeopardizing the regime’s rule terrorism, deserving suppression.”

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at mmilesyu@gmail.com.