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China's Seaward Adventurism and the Japan-Us Alliance

 

CSC 1997

 

Subject Area - Strategic Issues

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Page

INTRODUCTION........... China: The Key.................................................................... 1

 

 

CHAPTER 1 Why Is China Going to the Sea?................................................. 3

 

 

CHAPTER 2 China's New Challenges and Security Behavior........................... 14

 

 

CHAPTER 3 The New Roles of the Japan-US Alliance.................................... 27

 

 

 

CONCLUSION .................................................................................................. 43

 

 

Appendix A East Asia.................................................................................... 48

 

Appendix B The First Island Chain................................................................. 49

 

Appendix C The Taiwan Crisis in March 1996............................................... 50

 

 

Bibliography................................................................................................................... 5 1


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

 

 

Title: China's Seaward Adventurism and the Japan‑US Alliance

 

Author: Lieutenant Colonel Katsushi Okazaki, Japan Ground Self Defense Force

 

Thesis: China's seaward adventurism is the key to Asian security in the future and defines new roles for the Japan‑US alliance in the engagement of China.

 

Discussion: The People's Republic of China is a great power that will be central in

determining the security of the Asia‑Pacific region in the 21 st century. It is evident by her actions that China does not plan to maintain the status quo; she appears to be developing her maritime power, her military, and her prosperous economy. China, therefore, presents a dangerous dilemma for all of Asia. Territorial issues such as the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the Senkaku Islands and the Continental Shelf in the East China Sea, and China's territorial claims to Taiwan still cause friction with other Asian countries and fuel suspicions that China is seeking hegemony in the region. The main reason for China's seaward expansion is to gain control over areas containing desperately needed resources, especially oil and natural gas.

As an emerging great power with great economic growth, nuclear weapons, and a permanent membership in the U.N. Security Council, China remains the largest communist power but not without some internal difficulties in transition. In the interdependent world, there is no option but to contain China; Japan and the United States must engage China to maintain the peace and prosperity in the region. Key factors concerning China must be understood in order to engage it effectively: China's maritime territorial claims are vast; China's seaward adventurism comes from her national and military strategies; a perception gap exists among Japan, the US and China concerning China's contribution to the peace and stability in the region; and China tends to see the Japan‑US alliance as a potential threat. Japan and the US should balance their respective approaches in engaging China in order to advance China's internationalization through economy and human contacts and prevent China's seaward adventurism. The new roles in the Japan‑US alliance as it pertains to China are to contribute to regional stability; to advance peacetime engagements with the PLA; and to eliminate the strategic ambiguity and power vacuum in East Asia.

 

Conclusions: China's seaward adventurism comes from her national and military strategies.

Because China is prone to long‑term thinking and strategy, Japan and the United States need

long‑term engagement strategies toward China that concurrently deal with her counter

engagement strategy. It will take time and persistence to change China's thinking and security

behavior.


 

INTRODUCTION

 

China : The Key

 

The People's Republic of China (PRC) is a great power that will be central in

determining the security of the Asia-Pacific region in the 21st century. It is evident through her actions that China does not plan to maintain the status quo, as she appears to be developing her maritime power, her military, and her prosperous economy. China, therefore, presents a dangerous dilemma for all of Asia. Paul Kennedy when addressing the world's five power centers in his book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, (1987), wrote "the PRC is still a long way behind, but growing fastest of all."[1]

In 1989, China was drawn to the front of the international stage when she experienced her first crisis with the Tiananmen incident. This incident was closely followed by the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. These events changed the world's strategic landscape and forced China to rethink her national strategy. In order to survive and prosper, an emphasis on economic development was initiated under the leadership of the late Deng Xiaoping. Consequently, China's economy remains the fastest-growing economy in the world and is rated as the third-largest economy in the world by the World Bank .[2]

With the end of the Cold War the "China threat" became a central concern not only for strategists, but more importantly for the countries of Asia. China's President, Jiang Zemin, dismissed the concept of a "China threat" in a speech at the Republic of Korea's National Assembly in November 1995 stating, "To allege that a stronger China will pose a threat to other countries is groundless. China will never take part in an arms race, never engage in expansion, and never seek hegemony."[3] However, there is a large gap between the content of Jiang's speech and China's actions, as evidenced by China's modernization of its nuclear weapons, its buying of SU-27s from Russia, its occupation of the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, development of a forward airfield in the Paracel Islands, and its threats to Taiwan through a series of military exercises.

While China will regain Hong Kong from the United Kingdom in July 1997, territorial issues such as the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the Senkaku Islands and the Continental Shelf in the East China Sea, and her territorial claims to Taiwan still cause friction with other Asian countries and fuel suspicions that China is seeking hegemony in the region. So then why is China pressing for seaward expansion? Does she intend to secure the lost territories of the 19th century, or just to gain control over areas containing desperately needed resources, especially oil and natural gas? What is the role of the on-going upgrade of the People's Liberation Army (PLA)? How do we deal with China's seaward adventurism, and what is the new role for the Japan-US alliance in this regard ?

Continually modernizing her military power, China is an emerging great power whose great economic growth, nuclear weapons, and United Nations Security Council membership make her a force to contend with. In the 21st Century, Japan and the United States will continue to interact closely with China. This paper explores China's seaward adventurism and attempts to answer the above questions by focusing on the military aspects in order to clear the ambiguity of China's strategic intentions. Finally, this paper proposes a new role for the Japan-US alliance.
CHAPTER ONE

 

Why Is China Going to the Sea?

 

Why is China expanding seaward? To answer this question, the following topics will be explored: Deng Xiaoping's leadership; China's strategic thinking and her historical lessons; China's maritime strategy, territorial claims and the new military mission; China's "Economy First" strategy; and the plan for the future build-up of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA).

Deng Xiaoping's Leadership

Deng Xiaoping played an instrumental role in changing China's national strategy from a war-based ideology to the one focused on national power/national interests observed in the 1980s. He stressed economic development to position China for progress in the 1990s. Deng tried to change the paradigm of the economy, the military, and society by taking advantage of opportunities present during the latter stages of the Cold War. His guidance led to strategic change and paved the road to economic prosperity and to "a rich state and a strong army" (fu guo qiang bing)[4] in the future. In 1985, the Central Military Commission (CMC) decided that China had "Shifted defense priorities from preparations for an imminent and massive nuclear conflagration to planning to fight a limited, local conflict to protect territorial and maritime interests." [5]

However, China had difficulty in dealing with the incident at Tiananmen Square in 1989. She began to fear a "peaceful evolution"[6] by Western countries and placed an increased emphasis on maintaining political stability. Deng appointed Admiral Liu Huaquing, former Chief of the Navy, and vice-chairman of the CMC, as the leader of the PLA and the backbone of the Communist Party. This appointment is central to

understanding China's desire to expand toward the sea.

China's Strategic Thinking and Historical Lessons

China was initially shocked by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 but

gradually accepted and adjusted to her new role as the world's largest Communist country. The collapse of the Soviet Union meant that the main threat to China was gone and that relations with the United States would become more unstable. China had already began to see the United States as a potential threat since the Tiananmen incident of 1989.

China's new strategic environment was relatively favorable for expansion given her economic progress at home and the disappearance of the northern threat.

The northern threats of Mongolia, Imperial Russia, and the USSR had always been a major security concern for China. The only exception was when the armies of the Ming dynasty defeated the Mongols, enabling the formation of the largest navy to explore the world in the 15th Century under the direction of Admiral Cheng Ho.[7] However, expeditions and trade were soon stopped by pressure from the Mongols in the northern area. Today, although the northern threat is gone, China has serious internal tensions such as the Taiwan issue, independence-oriented minorities near her border, the democracy movement, and a massive population of 1.2 billion. Hence, there is the necessity of strategically securing her ground borders, while going to the sea to defend the coastal areas and the maritime borders of her ocean territory.

Since the 19th Century, China has had complex feelings against the West and Japan, as colonial occupation, anti-Communist movements, and peaceful evolution all came from the direction of the sea and divided the coastal areas of China. In addition, China has studied the lessons of power politics in international relations. For example, Mao Tse-Tung said in 1956, " If we are not to be bullied in the present-day world, we cannot do without the atomic bomb."[8] China's strategic thinking and her concept of security are still extremely zero-sum and power oriented, so it is possible that China will seek to regain historical losses and tend toward over-defense to fill a perceived power vacuum, and create a buffer zone, in part, by her own unique logic. This strategic way of thinking by China is similar to that of the Soviet Union and Imperial Japan.

Maritime Territorial Claims and New Military Mission

In February, 1992, China adopted, "The law of the People's Republic of China on

Its Territorial Waters and their Contiguous Areas." Article 1 of this law defines China's right to exercise "its sovereignty over its territorial waters and its rights to exercise control over their adjacent areas, and to safeguard state security as well as its maritime rights and interests." Article 2 stresses China's territorial sovereignty as including " the mainland and its offshore islands, Taiwan and various affiliated islands including Daioyu (Senkaku) Islands, Penghu (Pescadores) Islands, Dongsha(Pratas Bank) Islands, Xisha (Paracel) Islands, Nansha (Spratly) Islands, and other islands that belong to the PRC."[9]

In short, Chinese maritime sovereignty has been extended to cover about 300,000 square kilometers including territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone of the Western Pacific. Additionally, China claims the continental shelf which in approximately 490,000 square kilometers, or about 50% of her land area. As a result, territorial disputes between China and some Asian countries pose a threat to other countries.

In October, 1992, President Jiang Zemin unveiled the PLA's new military mission of protecting the maritime rights and interests in order to guarantee China's steady economic progress. The PLA now has the long-term mission of protecting China's new and vast territorial claims defined by its national strategy. For China, largely because of sovereignty, security status, and "lateral pressure, there was little room for compromise."[10]

China's expansion to the sea began when it occupied the Paracel Islands in 1974 and was solidified when it occupied seven reefs of the Spratly Islands in 1988. In 1995, China continued its expansion and constructed installations on Mischief Reef in an area claimed by the Philippines. In sum, China took extensive step-by-step actions to expand its territorial area southward. China contends that these actions were not the actions of a nation engaging in expanding or seeking hegemony but were only natural for her. Even if China would compromise tactically, she would never give up her sovereignty over these territorial disputes.

China's Strategy of "Economy First"

As previously mentioned, China's objective is to create a rich state and a strong army, in order to stimulate "comprehensive national strength" (zonghe guoli)[11], the

official party line of China's national security. Deng intensified the "economy first" national strategy to overcome the severe competition between powers, then opened China to foreign investors and markets by forming five special economic zones, fourteen coastal open cities, and five economic deltas along its 18,000 kilometers coastline.[12] As a result, China has achieved approximately 10% growth in GDP since 1980 and had the world's seventh highest GNP in 1993. With this action, the coastal area became more important as a production base, an economic market, and a strategic defense objective.

As part of its general economic policy, China began to pay closer attention to the

exploitation of its offshore petroleum and mineral resources in the South and East China

Seas. This was increasingly important because energy shortages remain a serious

restriction to China's economic modernization. Despite a significant increase in exploration efforts for new oil reserves, little progress has been made to curb these shortages. If present trends continue, China's shortfall will rise to approximately 2.06 million barrels a day by the year 2000.[13] Hence, to ensure national security a premium must be placed on Chinese control of the offshore.

Samuel Huntington observed that historically rapid economic growth is

associated with an expansionist foreign policy.[14] It is difficult to judge if China will be a

typical case. However, it is clear that China's main reason for maritime expansion exists

in its national strategy, and this strategy is supported by most of the people in the coastal

area .

Maritime Strategy and the PLA's Future Build-up

Mutual influence between national strategy and the military

China's military strategy contributes to and is often instrumental in its national strategy. Both Mao and Deng were excellent military leaders who later became powerful political leaders. For China's top leader to control the communist party and maintain power, it has been necessary to obtain the support of the military. A prime example of this is the relationship between President Jiang Zemin and Admiral Liu Huaqing. President Jiang, who has no military experience, is the nation's top military leader as the chairman of the CMC. He has the support of Admiral Liu, the vice chairman, and the only permanent military member of the Politburo. This close tie makes it impossible for younger generation leaders to neglect the political influence of the PLA. Since the PLAN became an independent service in 1977, it has gradually developed its own agenda, expanded its operational radius, and promoted its new maritime strategy. On the other hand, China's new movements, based on its national strategy of "a rich state and a strong army," reflect her military strategy and security behavior. This is evident in many areas: a unique strategic concept; a new maritime strategy; an expanding defense budget; a change in force structure; and the increased willingness to use force.

Military strategy and "strategic border"

China's military strategy is called "active defense " (jiji fangyii) and attempts to deal with limited war contingencies; it is oriented on a forward peripheral defense and away from a continental defense based on a People's War. "Active defense" emphasizes multi-layered defense lines or zones that can be extended beyond China's territorial and maritime borders when the situation warrants.[15] The PLA's new mission of protecting the maritime rights and interests legitimized the maritime strategy and drove the need to modernize the Navy and the Air Force. However, before focusing on China's maritime strategy, her concept of "strategic border"[16] must be studied, as this concept is the basis of China's maritime expansion and strategy. The "strategic border" is not a geographical border but the edge of a living space or lebensraum of the nation and its people. It is a border which military power can actually control. For China to pursue a rational "strategic border" is very important for national security and development, and depends upon "comprehensive national strength." Moreover, if establishing a strategic border outside of the geographical border, it provides a means for expanding the geographical one.

Certainly, this line of strategic thinking is one of an emerging great power not satisfied with maintaining the status quo and with the intent of filling the power vacuum. It is unusual that China cannot control her vast "maritime territory." Sooner or later, she will try to expand her "strategic border'' through the use of military power. China's national strategy based on the concepts of "a rich state and a strong army," "comprehensive national strength," "economy first," and "strategic border" draw a clear picture for her expansion to the sea.

Maritime strategy

China's maritime strategy is "Offshore (jinhai) Active Defense."[17] The foremost promoter of the Chinese naval modernization is Admiral Liu Huaqing who worked as Commander in Chief of the PLA Navy (PLAN) from 1982 to 1987. At first, he advocated the necessity of dealing with the strategic encirclement of China by the Soviet Union. However, the PLA's traditional "coastal defense" strategy did not change until the mid-1980s. The CMC's "Strategic Transformation"[18] of 1985 made progress in adopting the "Offshore Active Defense" strategy. While there is no conclusive definition given by PLAN, Admiral Liu gave his authoritative interpretation of the "offshore" concept, asserting that "the Chinese Navy should exert effective control of the seas within the first island chain."[19]

The first island chain comprises the Aleutians, the Kurils, the Japanese Archipelago, the Ryukyus, Taiwan, the Philippine archipelago, and the Great Sunda Islands (See Appendix 2.) This suggests that China's potential territorial claims contain the Far East of Russia, the Korean Peninsula, and the East and South China Seas. Except for the Sea of Japan, most of the Chinese naval leaders envision "offshore" as the "four large sea areas," the Bohai, the Yellow, the East China and South China Seas. Theoretically, the "Offshore defense strategy" is defensive; however, on the operational level, the PLAN would be required to carry out offensive missions to guarantee the achievement of strategic objectives set by the Chinese national authority. The strategic advantages of this chain are as follows: it allows for the extension of the strategic depth of the coastal area; it makes it easier for China to defend its own SLOC; and it allows China to make sanctuary including the claimed islands, the Exclusive Economic Zone, and continental shelf. In this sense, the first islands chain is central for the PLAN's future objective and shows China's potential incentive to influence Asian countries both politically and militarily.

More importantly for the PLA, the Korean-Japan-Okinawa-Taiwan archipelago line shapes the front with the US, Japan, ROK, and Taiwan forces. The Korean Peninsula is close to Beijing and its stability is most critical to China's security. The Ryukyu archipelago is a watershed between the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea. China's potential territorial claim appears to include Okinawa because "Ryukyu" was one of the sub-independent countries once under the political and cultural influence of China. Thirdly, Taiwan is key to China's control of both the South and East China Seas. If China unifies Taiwan, she can save its force and shift to a more favorable strategic posture by employing a combined fleet. The unification of China is the top priority issue, not only politically but also strategically.

The PLA's present capability and future build-up

The PLAN has three Fleets, the Northern Sea Fleet, the East Sea Fleet, and the South Sea Fleet, with 63 submarines, 54 principal surface combatants, a naval air force and a contingent of marines.[20] However, the present PLAN has only a limited blue-water operational capability to conduct the multi-missions required because of the poor long- range sea-lift, air-defense and anti-submarine capabilities of its major warships.[21] At best,

it can sealift only one division and might be able to occupy one of the offshore islands close to the mainland, such as Quemoy or Matsu. Moreover, the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) at present seems unable to constantly cover the extended area because of its limited number of long range operational airplanes. However, recently, the PLA conducted joint operational exercises in the coastal and offshore areas near Taiwan while maintaining its naval presence in the Spratly Islands. It is also true that PLAN's operational capability is the best in Asia except for the US Navy and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF).

The essential question is when and how the PLA will acquire the capability to control these seas. This capability depends upon its military build-up plan and defense budget. Reports indicate China's timetable is as follows: first, the PLAN will establish an offshore navy (green water navy) with joint and combined operational capability by the year 2000; second, it will purchase a number of light aircraft carriers by 2020; and finally, it will establish a blue water navy composed of three aircraft carrier groups by 2050.[22] It is difficult to judge whether China's future concepts will be realized or not; however, the long-term trend shows that China will have the necessary aircraft carriers to control the seas. Without aircraft carriers, China cannot provide the air cover for its expeditionary fleet in the South China Sea.

Conversely, based on the trend and the necessity of military modernization, it is possible to predict the mid-term build-up. At present, the PLAN intends to strengthen its ability to extend operational range beyond coastal defense, including amphibious and submarine warfare. China introduced Kilo-class submarines purchased from Russia,

deployed its own Song-class submarines and has made progress in deploying new destroyers and frigates such as the Luhu-class and Jiangwei-class. Concurrently, a number of oiler (AO) and stores ships (AK) capable of replenishment-at-sea and new LSTs were deployed.[23] Moreover, the present air cover capability in the open sea is limited to the operational range of shore based aircrafts, about 300~400 miles. About 60 Su-27s of PLAAF will be available to conduct the mission by the year 2000. By 2020, PLAAF will enhance the air capability to cover its claimed area by the deployment of an additional 150 Su-27s under license, J-10, JH-7, AWACS and tankers. However, there is no guarantee PLAAF will be capable of gaining air superiority.

While most nations are radically reducing their defense budgets and dismantling their military establishments in the post-cold war era, China is doing the opposite.[24] Since 1989, China has continued to increase its official defense budget at an average of 15% per year to a level of $ 8.4 billion in FY 1996. Even more significantly, some analysts estimate the true military expenditure to be about three to seven times the official defense budget. Accounting for these numbers, the total military expenditure in 1996 is estimated to be between $ 25-59 billion. The PLAN is given the top priority based on its 32.7% share of China's defense budget in 1991, compared to that of the JMSDF which is 25.0%.[25] It is clear that the PLAN will support the above mentioned future build-up concepts and strengthen it's power projection capability.

As long as China maintains her present national strategy, the "strategic border"

concept, and high economic development, her offshore active defense strategy will change the PLAN into a limited blue water navy capable of controlling the seas near the first islands chain. Once this is realized, serious friction will occur between China and the surrounding Asian countries.


 

CHAPTER TWO

 

China's New Challenges and Security Behavior

 

 

This paper has so far explored the reasons why China intends to go to the sea. The next step is to analyze China's new challenges, especially her security behavior in the South China Sea, on Taiwan, and in the East China Sea. This will be approached from the viewpoints of Japan, the United States and China herself. The term "challenge" has a different meaning for these countries. What China perceives as a natural action, or behavior, has become a challenge to the others. The reverse is also true. This paper intends to disclose the differences in national interests, with threat perceptions as by-products.

South China Sea

The South China Sea is strategically important not only for Asian countries, but also for the world, as it provides the main SLOC for world trade. In the 21st Century, the

Asia-Pacific region will be "the heartland of world economy,"[26]and the importance of the South China Sea will increase. On the other hand, two serious territorial disputes -- the

Paracel Islands claimed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam; and the Spratly Islands claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei -- will be major security concerns in this region.

The Spratly Islands have been a flash point for Asian security because of the

complex occupations by the six countries above, China's forceful southward orientation, the incidents of piracy which have obstructed safe passage, and the growing arms race in Southeast Asia. All of these countries claim the Spratly Islands as part of their sovereignty because natural resources such as oil and natural gas, which are necessary for their increased economic development, are thought to exist in areas around it. Additionally, abundant fishery resources surround the islands.

China seized the Paracel Islands from Vietnam by force in 1974 and some reefs of the Spratly Islands in 1988. At present, China is military disposition in the South China Sea includes forward airfield (about 2600m) and a port (of 4000t class) on the Woody Island in the Paracels, several military installations on eight reefs, and a frequent naval presence in the Spratlys. In 1992, China promulgated the Territorial Waters Law stipulating the Spratly Islands as its territory, drawing sharp reactions from the countries concerned. In February 1995, it became clear that China had taken actions to establish a military installation on "Mischief Reef" off Palawan Island in the Philippines. Simultaneously, a PLAN high ranking officer and the Head of Hainan Province set fifteen stone monuments under water on the most southern reef of the Spratlys.[27] Chinese behavior can be evaluated as expanding its "strategic border," or filling the power vacuum, backed by her nationalism and economic interests. However, China's position was very clear that its actions were all based on sovereignty, and there was little room for compromise. Her basic policy was to solve this issue through peaceful and bilateral negotiations. Of course, a solution by force would probably be undertaken only as a last resort.

Concurrently, China began to warn about the excess of the "China threat" in Asia. For example, Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong concisely summarized

regional worries about China's security policies in May 1995.

 

In Asia, China's rising power and arms buildup stirred anxiety. China also

has territorial disputes with several of its neighbors. The disputes over the

Spratlys brings it into potential conflict with Vietnam and three ASEAN

countries. China's southward thrust also raises international concerns about

vital sea lanes in the South China Sea and the airspace over it.[28]

 

Similarly, ASEAN sought a peaceful solution of the Mischief Reef issue which had reached a deadlock in bilateral negotiations. In May, the United States warned, without changing her position of neutrality regarding the disputed claims, that, "Washington would view with serious concern any maritime claim, or restriction on maritime activity, in the South China Sea that was not consistent with international law...and if the use of force disrupted freedom of navigation in the Spratlys, the United States would be prepared to escort ships and ensure that the sea lanes stayed open."[29] These warnings meant substantial US commitment and were identified as the new US policy on the South China Sea.

As a result, in July 1995, China expressed its willingness to engage in multilateral

discussions concerning its claims at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting. China tactically changed its policy to negotiate claims in a bilateral venue. The major reason for China's shift seemed to be combined pressures by indirect US commitment and the ASEAN coalition including its new member, Vietnam. The trend seems to be toward a peaceful solution, but any significant progress in the consultations has yet to be seen and conflicts of interests to the countries involved still remain. For China, there is no change in the view that the Spratly Islands are one of the immediate areas of concern for oil development, and simultaneously an easier objective than solving the Taiwan and East China Sea issues. Except for US forces, China's naval capability is superior to those of the other countries concerned.

Key are the relations between China, ASEAN and the US. After the retreat of US forces from the Philippines in 1992, China seemed to emerge as a potential common threat for most of Southeast Asian countries. In this case, the ARF as a regional security

framework and the U.S. commitment played a combined role in making China sit at a

multilateral table. However, there is still no change concerning China's occupation of the

Mischief Reef.

The national interests of the US and Japan in the South China Sea are the same,

namely to maintain peace and stability, and to secure freedom of navigation. Japan has no real incentive to expand in this sub-region, but the SLOC through the South China Sea is the most important life line for Japan. In this sense, the free passage of merchant vessels in peacetime is indispensable, but in 1993 alone, there were about 33 incidents of interferenced by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea.[30] Some of these incidents were apparently an effort to demonstrate China's de facto control over those waters it claims as sovereign maritime territory. The backdrop for these actions seemed to be the "strategic border" concept and nationalism. It also indicates a serious problem that the Chinese central government possesses; it is unable to effectively control its subordinate naval forces. Problems, such as a tendency toward acts of piracy, are not anomalies.

Taiwan

Taiwan represents not only the territorial, but also the "peaceful evolution" issue for

China. China's zero-sum thinking concerning Taiwan is politically constant. After the

collapse of the Soviet Union, Taiwan became the most important strategic issue; and finally China took actions to threaten Taiwan by military force in March 1996. The following is an analysis of China's national interests and security behavior toward Taiwan.

Since 1962, the relationship between Beijing and Taipei has essentially remained

unchanged; however, it has been improving with substantial economic exchange and restricted military actions. Taiwan continued to record tremendous economic growth and

in the late 1980s, the virtual termination of its civil war facilitated a growing economic

interdependence manifested in trade, tourism, and Taiwanese investment on the mainland.

In spite of this, Taiwan began to feel uncomfortable about its isolated and

unbalanced international position and tried to conduct its affairs as a separate entity using

flexible diplomacy. For example, Taiwan sought to reenter the United Nations and

permitted an opposition party's quest for independence as an important step to democracy. A series of diplomatic actions by Taiwan and its internal political situation continued to aggravate mainland China, and the PLA increased joint exercises near Taiwan. Through mutual actions the political tensions in the Taiwan Strait began to gradually heighten. In 1992, the announcement by President Bush of the sale of 150 F-16 planes to Taiwan and the slight, but symbolic elevation of relations between Washington and Taipei by President Clinton in 1994 contributed to China's worries about "peaceful evolution" by foreign countries. In June 1995, Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui's visit to the US angered China, forced it to recall the Chinese ambassador, and caused the cancellation of the visit of the Defense Minister to the United States. The relationship between Washington and Beijing was worse than it had been since the Tiananmen incident in 1989.

The PLA had moved to deter the substantial independence of Taiwan in 1994. Defense Minister General Chi Haotian allegedly declared in 1992, "Right now, Taiwan independence is the arch-enemy of the Chinese nation. The plan to pursue policies of Taiwan independence, 'one China, one Taiwan,' and 'two Chinas' is equivalent to an open declaration of war."[31] A series of PLA military exercises underscored Beijing's hard-line posture and concurrently showed the military's preparation and willingness to use force against Taiwan. Table 1 lists the large scale exercises and military preparations conducted by the PLA through 1995.

Table 1 : The PLA's large scale exercises

year

month/date

exercises or military preparations

place

1994

Sept.~Oct.

Joint exercise "East Sea 4," "Spirit 94"

near Taiwan in Nanjin MR

1995

Jul. 21-26

Ballistic missile exercise (six missiles)

80 miles north of Taiwan

 

Aug.15-25

Navy missile exercise

Nanjin MR

 

Oct.

Navy exercise (CMC members attended)

East China Sea/ Qingdao

 

mid-Oct.

the Headquarters against Taiwan established

 

 

Nov.

Joint landing exercise by Nanjin MR

the opposite shore of Taiwan

(1) MR: military region (2) compiled from newspapers from Japan, China, and Hong Kong

 

These military steps can be described as typical political uses of military power,

especially, the Ballistic missile exercise against the off-shore object 80 miles north of Taipei. This exercise validated Taiwan's warning about the threat of Chinese ballistic missile attack in its first defense White Paper.

It is clear that the PLA's top leaders view the Taiwan issue as the immediate or

near-term threat.[32] And a key perception is the belief that the independence of Taiwan

occurs not by the people's choice, but with the urging of the US, Europe, and Japan. They cannot accept an independence by the people's choice, because it supports the democracy and "peaceful evolution" movements in mainland China. In this sense, it is

understandable why China feared Taiwan's first Presidential Election on March 23, 1996. This election meant the completion of Taiwan's democracy and the birth of an authorized

representative directly elected by the people of Taiwan. It was also possible that the

people of Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia would want their independence from

China. Therefore, China took actions to enact the Martial Law on March 1st, and placed

Its military in a wartime posture.

Naturally, the climax between China, Taiwan and the US occurred when the PLA began military exercises on March 8 by firing three M-9 missiles. The total exercise consisted of three parts: a surface-to-surface missile launching exercise (Mar.8-15); sea and air live fire drills (Mar.12-20); and a Joint amphibious exercise (23 Mar.). This exercise was apparently intended to deter the independence of Taiwan and intimidate Taipei. It was a major surprise that the PLA established the two target areas shown on the Appendix 3: the north area, about 30 miles off the northern coast of Taiwan, east of the port of Keelung; and the south area, 47 miles directly west of the southern port of Kaohsiung.

As a whole, this exercise created a virtual blockade of Taiwan and cut off its sea and air lanes for about two weeks. It also meant the disruption of the international freedom of navigation in the Taiwan Strait and damaged the reliability of Taiwan's economy. The situation apparently showed a clear escalation of tensions, a vital crisis for Taiwan, and a situation beyond the planned for Two Major Regional Conflicts (MRC) for the United States. In response to China's brinkmanship strategy or gunboat diplomacy, the United States decided to dispatch two carrier battle groups to the vicinity of Taiwan on March 10. Beijing's actions were also a challenge to the 1979 Taiwan Relation Act (TRA). As a result, the US commitment was very effective in restricting China's military action, and the presidential election under military pressure finished successfully. The tensions between Beijing, Washington, and Taipei eased, but the framework for friction remained.

For Japan, this crisis provided several lessons on East Asian security. First, it became clear that the US has a very strong intention to defend its allies and the freedom of the seas. At present, no country in Asia can deal with China's missile intimidation without US commitment. This intimidation is basically the same as North Korea's surface-to-surface missile experiment in the Sea of Japan and also associates with the threat of nuclear weapons. Second, China's security behavior regarding her key seaward sovereign area is unilateral and anachronistic, and often neglects the common interests of the international community. Third, most Japanese seriously felt the necessity for theater missile defense (TMD) assets, as the north missile firing area was only about 40-50 miles from Yonaguni-jima in Japan.

On the other hand, China seems to have realized the following due to this exercise. First, China can deter Taiwan's independence by use of force, but the possibility of US commitment is very high. Second, US military assistance in the form of selling

high technology weapons will increase Taiwan's defense capability and make Taiwan "an

unsinkable aircraft carrier" in the future. Third, there has been no increased economic

sanctions by western countries since the Tiananmen incident.

East China Sea

At a glance, the East China Sea looks safer than the South China Sea. However,

there exists two territorial issues between China,Taiwan and Japan, the Senkaku (Diaoyu in Chinese) Islands issue and the continental shelf issue. These two issues cannot be

considered separately, but rather are deeply related to each other and must be handled as

such.

The Senkaku Islands are located in the southern part of the East China Sea,

west of Okinawa, northeast of Taiwan and east of China. These islands have legal

jurisdiction over about 21,645 square kilometers of the continental shelf which is believed to be one of the last unexplored hydrocarbon resource areas in the world. China, Taiwan, and Japan are politically locked in a territorial dispute over these islands. For Japan, the Senkaku Islands are part of its original territory and there is neither a territorial issue nor room for compromise. The United States clearly returned these islands to Japan with Okinawa in 1972. In those days, the US made a contract with a Japanese owner to use Kume-jima and Taisho-jima of the Senkaku Islands as firing targets for the price of $ 11,000 per year.[33] Therefore, to control these Islands, the JMSDF and the coast guard have never stopped their maritime patrols. Concerning the continental shelf, Japan proclaims the center line, but China has been attempting to secure the edge line -- the 2000m deep Okinawa trench, which is very close to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. The continental shelf issue is not always serious today, but it will be a significant issue, along with the Senkaku Islands, in the near future because of oil and natural gas resources.

Before 1970, there was no dispute concerning the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands. A Chinese map published in 1958 shows clearly that these Islands belong to Japan.[34] China began to claim sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands around December 1970, after the 1968 report of Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) on the maritime resources in the continental shelf of the East China Sea.[35] Today, China's official position is to maintain the status quo on this issue, but in actuality she has taken a series of gradual steps to change the situation, such as writing these Islands into the law of territorial waters in 1992, dispatching official ships for investigation, and sending fighter airplanes accessing the Japanese ADIZ in July 1995. Concerning the continental shelf, China recently continued to expand "its scope of activities in the East China Sea."[36] China conducted investigations, twice in 1993 and fifteen times in 1994;[37] and in May 1995, the first investigation was executed beyond the center line between Japan and China.[38] In sum, China's new challenges on these issues have become numerous since 1992.

In addition, the free passage of merchant vessels in the East China Sea is another

serious concern of many countries, especially Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Russia. Maritime authorities in Tokyo reported that between 1991 and 1993 there were 78 incidents in the international waters of the East China Sea in which Japanese and foreign vessels were boarded or fired upon by Chinese ships.[39] Most of these cases seemed to be conducted by PLAN's ships as smuggling campaigns, but some cases showed apparent piracy. Political sensitivities and jurisdictional disputes in the East China Sea have often been taken advantage of pirates. A lack of political control has introduced a sense of maritime disorder.

In July 1996, Japanese right wing members established a lighthouse on Kita-

kojima of the Senkaku Islands, while activists from Taiwan and Hong Kong landed on the island in October. The Senkaku Islands issue is linked closely with the Taiwan and Hong Kong issues and presents a possibility of becoming a flash point, a common symbol which China, Hong Kong and Taiwan show the Chinese nationalism against Japan. On September 14, 1996, a US State Department spokesman referred to the US's neutral position on the Senkaku Islands issue.[40] However, two month later, Assistant Secretary of Defense Campbell stated that the basic position of the US is that the Japan-US security treaty would cover the Senkaku Islands.[41] Secretary of Defense William Perry reconfirmed this fact on December 3.[42] It is clear that the rigid attitude of the United States is aimed at maintaining stability in the East China Sea.

For China, the initial neutral stance of the US was favorable and non-commital. The Senkaku Islands are essential for China to strengthen its territorial position and expand its maritime strategic border, enhance its nationalism, control Taiwan, and weaken the Japan-US alliance. If the United States had not changed its position, the Senkaku Islands may have been disrupted by China like the Mischief Reef was in the South China Sea, which were not covered by the US-Philippine security treaty. In April, 1978, the Senkaku Islands were surrounded and its boundaries violated by Chinese armed fishing boats.[43] While there is no guarantee that China will try to solve this issue peacefully in the future, the Senkaku Islands remain vital for the Japan-US alliance because they eliminate the strategic vacuum in the East China Sea, and because they are a major factor regarding the Marine Corps' potential withdrawal from Okinawa.

China's Security Behavior

China has managed to protect and retain its sovereignty in the South and East China Seas. In reality, China believes her security behavior is defensive and based on a

sovereignty which has been violated by foreign countries. China asserts that its territorial claims are not expansive but are natural for an emerging great power. Since 1992, China has changed its territorial claims into long-term strategic objectives for the PLA. In the

background of China's seaward adventurism is the umbrella of nuclear weapons and a

maritime strategy based on the "strategic border" concept that a maritime border is

changeable through power.

Mainland China's threat to Taiwan through the use of missiles, and her attempts to violate the freedom of navigation of the Taiwan Strait are important. Taiwan's

orientation toward democracy and independence is the most pressing internal problem

for China, but deterring Tibetan and Xinjiang independence are also important. In spite

of increasing economic interdependence with other countries, China's political priority is

still focused on dealing with her internal politics. A severe internal situation fuels China's

nationalism and drives civil-military action to secure lost territories.

China intends to maintain regional stability but also wants to change her status as she prefers. She believes a "Strong China" contributes to regional stability. However, what China really wants is stability under the control of a strong China. Fortunately,

because of necessity for continuous economic development and a gap between her

strategic intentions and military capability, China has no urgent reason to go to sea as

Imperial Japan did. Her seaward expansion will be slow, but there will be a steady

increase in "comprehensive national strength." China's seaward adventurism is almost inevitable in the future as long as she maintains a strategic intention to go to the sea.[44]

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

The New Roles of the Japan-US Alliance

 

 

" we simply poised a 50 percent chance of an aggressive China and a 50 percent of becoming a responsible great power in the region. On this hypothesis, to treat China as an enemy now would in effect discount 50 percent of the future."[45] -- Former Assistant Secretary of Defense, Dr.Joseph Nye --

 

There is no doubt that China will be the main security concern for Japan and the

United States into the 21st century. China's seaward adventurism, based on its unique

strategic thinking, will provide her great influence to bear on the security and economy in the Asia Pacific region, as well as globally. International research predicts that China will become the number one GDP country in the world by 2010. However, China is in

transition, both politically and socially, and therefore very fluid and unstable. China continues to try the experiment of combining Chinese Socialism with a free market economy, but there are many difficulties to overcome. In reality, China's foreign policy and actions are a reflection of internal politics. We must pay attention to the fact that China has little experience in adjusting to external circumstances.

How does Japan and the United States deal with China's seaward adventurism, and what strategy toward China is suitable for both countries? This chapter attempts to analyze both Japanese and US strategies toward China and China's security perception of Japan and the US, and to recommend new roles for the Japan-US alliance.

The Strategies toward China

Japan's strategy toward China

Japan's basic foreign policy toward China is to assist in promoting reform

through open-door policies of economic development, to avoid the international isolation

of China, and to maintain a "one China" policy in economic relation to Taiwan. As a result, Japan's economic assistance since 1972 has contributed to accomplishing China's outstanding economic development and has promoted mutual friendship. However, China's nuclear development, the issues surrounding the Senkaku Islands and the continental shelf, and the perceptions of history are diplomatic issues that may interfere. Japan often has difficulty in engaging China politically as China always tries to take a superior position to Japan using historical examples, such as "Japanese Militarism."

A stable, friendly and prosperous China is of vital interest to Japan because of her

potential to dramatically change the strategic and economic situations in East Asia.

However, Japan does not necessarily think that a "Strong China" means stability in this

region, and the question of China's seaward adventurism remains. Recently, Japan began

to engage and influence China more positively regarding nuclear experiments and missile

exercises near Taiwan, and in August 1995, rigidly objected to nuclear experiments by

freezing a part of Official Development Aid (ODA) to China. It was the first case of

Japan linking a political issue with economic assistance.

USA's strategy toward China

On the other hand, the United States maintains a "comprehensive engagement"

strategy toward China aimed at making the emerging China a responsible great power

internationally. The key points are to enhance strategic stability with China; to enlarge

economic relations; and to promote China's democratization.

The National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement (NSS) addresses

China as follows.

"A stable, open, prosperous and strong China is important to the United States and to our friends and allies in the region. .... We have a profound stake in helping to ensure that China pursues its modernization in ways that contribute to the overall security and prosperity of Asia Pacific region. To that end, we strongly promote China's participation in regional security mechanisms to reassure its neighbors and assuage its own security concerns." [46]

 

On the other hand, the National Military Strategy (NMS) does not mention China, and

avoids defining it as a friendly country, indicating that China is a security concern, but not a security threat like North Korea.

The East Asia Strategic Report (EASR), published in February 1995, encourages

engagement with China and supports its constructive integration into the international community to foster transparency in its defense policy and military activities and to contribute to maintaining peace in the Taiwan Straits;[47] it also strongly opposes threats or use of military force to assert any nation's claim" [48]in the South China Sea. Per the objectives of the NMS and the EASR, the positive relationship between the US 7th Fleet and the PLAN, and the combined exercises with allied forces near the South China Sea contribute directly to USCINCPAC's strategy of "Cooperative Engagement."

However, it is possible that the United States may have changed the strategic

evaluation of China in response to the Taiwan crisis in March 1996,[49]namely, a conflict in the Taiwan Straits could potentially be a conflict not accounted for in the US's two Major Regional Conflict (MRC) strategy. It is important that Asian countries share the "China threat" indirectly, and the Taiwan crisis reconfirmed the US commitment to dispatch two carrier battle groups in the vicinity of Taiwan. In this way, the United States identified the importance of peacetime engagement with China, and the difficulty of dealing with the

Korean Peninsula and Taiwan simultaneously.

China's security perception and strategy against Japan and the United States China has different security perceptions from those of Japan and the United States. She perceives the US actions toward her as "containment" or "peaceful evolution," and may see these actions from the viewpoint of the last and largest communist power in the world. China often states that she faces the pressure of hegemonism and hard-line politics. Since the Persian Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, PLA war games played against an American "enemy" have been standard.[50] Through EASR's publication in 1995 and the Taiwan crisis in 1996, it has become clear that the PLA looks at the United States as a potential threat, in spite of its engagement strategy. This may be the reason why China is eager to enhance her nuclear capability in spite of fierce international criticism.

There is also the "spiritual civilization" campaign advocated by Jiang Zemin which seeks to revive traditional Asian values and combat Western influence in order to deter "peaceful evolution" and control the criticism of his administration,[51]as well as highlight a serious struggle between pursuing prosperity and defending Beijing's dignity and legitimacy. Jiang Zemin often drives Chinese nationalism through a hard line foreign policy to gain the people's support and to strengthen his power base. The United States is not only an important economic partner, but also a political archenemy for China.

China also has complex feelings regarding the acceptance of Japan's economic

aid, investment and technology. China's feelings come from a history of repeated

Japanese aggression from 1931 to 1945, and the present economic interdependence with

Japan. The experience of being invaded by Japan following colonization by western powers is reflected in the bitter heritage of national humiliation and personal suffering.

China has also continued to warn that Japan's economic power will allow it to again become a "great military power." Japan's defense budget, the build-up of MSDF and ASDF, and the dispatch of the SDF peace-keeping forces make it an international power. Colonel Tian, of the Institute of Military Science of the PLA, said that "the China threat is not popular in Asia now, but the East Asian countries are worried about Japan ... it is possible that Japan may become a regional military power in a short term."[52] This is a typical PLA perception of Japan, expressed in a political and historical context.

China's main security concern is the Japan-US alliance. In April 1996, the

Japan-US Joint Declaration on Security was successfully concluded, only one month after China's military exercise against Taiwan. The Joint Declaration reaffirmed the important role of the Japan-US arrangements and clarified at home and abroad the future modality of the Japan-US alliance for the 21st century.[53]Former US Secretary of Defense, William Perry, stressed that the Japan-US Security Treaty did not become the threat but rather the merit for China, and the triangle of Japan, US and China is not a zero-sum game but a positive game.[54]

However, Colonel Tian said "a threat came from the sea," and "it also related to the increasing risks of the independence of Taiwan,"[55] and, "by this declaration, the coverage of the Japan-US security alliance was expanded from the Far East to the Asia-Pacific region, and was changed to deal with the regional security."[56] Judging from the timing of the declaration, China wondered if the declaration aimed to restrict her maritime defense and deter her seaward adventurism in the South and East China Seas. China still thinks that the Japan-US alliance treats her as a potential threat to be contained and weakened, making the US forward presence in East Asia and the bilateral defense cooperation network uncomfortable entities for China.

The following is an example of China's strategic concerns. China warns that it would view the American deployment of TMD assets to Japan, which depends on the American nuclear umbrella for protection, as a threat to China's security.[57] On the other hand, the US believes that the fielding of TMD systems in the region will be a key element of its non-proliferation strategy. China possesses approximately 100 IRBMs and warns against Japanese cooperation with the TMD development. Because China stresses a "no first use" policy, and Japan depends on US nuclear extended deterrence, China is worried that her potential military pressure will be ineffective on Japan and US forces if TMD assets are deployed. Let us not forget that China sees nuclear forces as ensuring deterrence, complementing conventional forces, and ensuring China's voice in the international community.[58] From the viewpoint of China's seaward expansion, the psychological influence of nuclear weapons is useful.

In conclusion, China sees Japan and the United States as economic partners but

potential security threats in the future. China will continue to be worried about the United States' engagement strategy and Japan's shift to a regional military power, and

will attempt to weaken the Japan-US alliance.

The Strategy toward China

The US Comprehensive Engagement strategy is suitable for a China in transition.

However, it is necessary to consider major security gaps among Japan, the US and China, as well as China's seaward adventurism sustained by antagonism and nationalism. Stressing the idealistic aspect of this strategy tends to magnify the strategic ambiguity and creates a vacuum in the region. The Engagement strategy can be relatively easy for China using such things as her growing large market as a counterbalance.

In conclusion, the "Double Engagements" combined strategy by Japan and the United States toward China means engaging China with a two track approach in order to advance China's economic openness and stable development and to maintain the rigid Japan-US security relation. The common objectives of this strategy should be based on the continuous economic relations with China. They are:

1. Eliminate the strategic ambiguity and power vacuum, secure freedom of

navigation, and deter China's seaward adventurism in the South and East China Seas

2. Secure peaceful resolution for the Taiwan and the Spratly Islands issues

3. Maintain military exchanges with the PLA and influence its security perception

4. Advance China's contribution to Asian security

5. Help China's political and economical progress

6. Revamp perception gaps on history and culture that exist among Japan, the US and China.

This strategic initiative of both countries should be based on the Japan-US Security Treaty, especially "the Japan-US Joint Declaration on Security," which requires a bilateral, regional and global comprehensive cooperation to maintain peace and stability. In this context, we should deal with an emerging China as a long term common issue.

The New Roles of the Japan-US Alliance

In November 1995, Japan formulated the new National Defense Program Outline

(NDPO) which showed the new roles and the blueprint of the SDF in 2010. As previously mentioned, in April 1996, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and President Bill Clinton issued two documents, the " Message to the Peoples of Japan and the United States," and the " Japan-US Joint Declaration on Security." These documents confirmed the new concepts for the defense of Japan and the Japan-US alliance into the 21st century.

The Japan-US Joint Declaration on Security stated, "it is extremely important for the stability and prosperity of the region that China plays a positive and constructive role, and in this context, stressed the interest of both countries in furthering cooperation with China." In response to this, China wonders if this alliance will orient to the "specified third country," namely China itself.[59]

The Japan-US alliance has been viewed as a corner stone or linchpin in the US Asian strategy. Japan and the United States share about 40 % of the GDP of the world, and Japan is located in Northeast Asia, the strategic crossroads between the US, China, and Russia.[60] Hence, this alliance is strategically and economically indispensable for the peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. In other words, the defense of Japan and the strategic stability of Japan's surrounding region are valuable contributions to the security and well being of the entire region.

In the 21st century, the combined GDPs of Japan, the US and China will exceed

50% of the world's total GDP, making the relationship between Tokyo, Washington and Beijing a global issue. While the Japan-US alliance currently focuses on North Korea as the mid-term security issue, the serious long-term concern remains the challenge of China's seaward adventurism. Inevitably, the East China Sea and Taiwan will become more strategically important, and the question will be how Japan and the United States should prepare for an emerging China in the framework of the Japan-US Security Treaty. The new roles established by the Japan-US alliance as it concerns China's seaward adventurism are explored below.

Role 1: to contribute to regional stability by strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance

The primary purpose of the Japan-US alliance is to defend Japan and the Senkaku Islands against foreign aggression. In addition, it defends freedom of navigation from Japan to the Persian Gulf as a common vital interest to the United States and to all Asian countries, including China and Russia. US forward military forces under the US Central Command (USCENTCOM) and the US Pacific Command (USPACOM) maintain security of the SLOC. The first role of the Japan-US alliance is to contribute to regional stability by continually strengthening the alliance relationship; to enhance Japan's self-defense capability; to maintain US forward presence in Okinawa; and to further defense cooperation between the two nations.

Enhancing Japan's self-defense capability

The most effective framework for the defense of Japan is based on a combination of defense capabilities of the SDF and US (nuclear extended) deterrence under the Japan-US Security Treaty. At the same time, Japan is expected to defend about a 1,000 mile SLOC from Japan to north of the Philippines. This area of interest contains the

ROK and Taiwan,[61] which are also friendly to the US.

Some criticize that the Japan-US security relation is largely a one way street and that Japan is not obligated to reciprocate and defend the US. However, these critiques are not totally objective because they neglect the nuances of the Japanese constitution and the strategic circumstances surrounding it. At present, Japan is not only the major logistic base supporting US forces deployment but is also the largest host nation in the region.[62] The Persian Gulf War became a turning point for the attitude of Japan in its participation in security matters, and, if conflicts occur in Japan's region, she must be willing to support US forces within the extent defined by her constitution.

All means employed by the US to enhance Japan's self-defense against any invasion is very important, because the more effectively the SDF can defend Japan and support USFJ, the more US forces can deploy from Japan safely. In this sense, TMD allows Japan to eliminate the fear of a nuclear or conventional theater missile threat through reliance on US deterrence and, as a result, enhances strategic stability in the region.

Maintaining US forward presence in Okinawa The USFJ under USPACOM is key to defending Japan and maintaining regional peace and stability. Based on the Japan-US Security Treaty, the US has forward deployed about 45,000 military personnel including the 5th Air Force, the 7th Fleet and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) in Japan. The USFJ comprises about half of the 100,000 forward deployed military personnel in the Asia-Pacific region, and the US has appealed to maintain the current level in the future.[63] Each combat force can be a core of the Joint Task Force (JTF) to conduct maritime and air operations in this region.

III MEF, stationed in Okinawa, along with the 7th Fleet in Japan will play an important strategic role in the one MRC scenario in the Korean Peninsula and will act as a rapid response force against a wide spectrum of contingencies in the region. Simultaneously, these forces will be expected to contribute to the defense of the Ryukyu archipelago and the Senkaku Islands with the JSDF, as Japan has no marine force. The strategic importance of Okinawa, located in a key position to control the seas, as a logistic and transit base has been enhanced since the US forces' withdrawal from the Philippines in 1992. However, for China, the US forces in Okinawa must be seen as a potential threat to the fulfillment of the PLA's basic missions, unifying Taiwan and protecting other territorial claims in the East and South China Seas.

In 1996, local circumstances surrounding US forces, especially Marines, in

Okinawa became worse due to the criminal rape of an Okinawan school girl. The case fueled the anti-military feelings of the Okinawans and triggered arguments concerning the reduction of the burden on the Okinawa Prefecture for maintaining about 75% of USFJ facilities; the Okinawans also demanded the withdrawal of all US Marines. The following agreements were reached: to return the Marine Air Station and some training areas to the Prefecture; to relocate some of the closed facilities in Okinawa to mainland Japan; to improve of the Status of Forces Agreement. The withdrawal of the Marine Corps from Japan would make the strategic circumstance decidedly worse. On 23 January 1996, Prime Minister Hashimoto told the Diet:

''The U.S. Forces stationed in Japan are indispensable to fulfill the aims of the Japan-U.S. security treaty. The Marines are playing an important part because of their mobility and readiness to swiftly deal with situations that may take place.'' [64]

 

The Marines' presence on Okinawa is key to dealing with China's seaward adventurism in

the East and South China Seas. Because the US Marine Corps will be employed in

accordance with its new doctrine, "Operational Maneuver From the Sea" (OMFTS),[65] it will become a more effective and decisive force in East Asia's littoral area. Therefore, Japan and the United States must strive to deal with critical issues properly and work toward easing the local burden on Okinawa.

Advancing the Japan-US defense cooperation

Because of engagement with China, direct Japan-US defense cooperation as it pertains to China is politically difficult. However, defense cooperation is essential to make the new framework deter and prevent China's seaward adventurism. At present, a review of the Guidelines for Japan-US Defense Cooperation and studies on bilateral cooperation in dealing with situations that may emerge in areas surrounding Japan are proceeding based on the Joint Declaration and NDPO. Besides the "rear area support" for the USFJ, the following items relating to China should be discussed in the process of making new Guidelines and conducting defense studies.

1) Deterrence and prevention of contingencies involving the Senkaku Islands and in the East China Sea

2) Cooperation in the Taiwan crisis and how to deal with related contingencies

3) Exchange of information and strategic evaluation

4) Defense policy coordination involving the "Double Engagement" strategy

5) Cooperation on the study of TMD

6) Exchange of opinion on local communities surrounding US bases

7) JTF exercises between III MEF and the Western Army (GSDF)

The exchange of information and policy coordination are key for Japan and the US to

engage with an emerging China.

Role 2: to advance peacetime engagements with PLA

The PLA has a decisive influence on Chinese defense policy, military action, and foreign policy involving important countries. It is the backbone of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),[66]a tendency which will not change in the foreseeable future. Except for Jiang Zemin, all other members of CMC consist of top military leaders. It is true that the PLA is stronger than the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in China and that the national strategy of, " a rich state and a strong army," drive the modernization of the PLA Navy and Air Force. Therefore, the advancement of peacetime engagements with the PLA is very important for Japan and the US in order to influence it directly. An ancillary reason is that the PLA is suspicious of the Chinese MOFA and probably also of the US Department of State and the Japanese MOFA.

The purposes of peacetime engagement with the PLA are to deepen mutual

understanding regarding defense policy and to contribute to the peace and security of the

Asia-Pacific region. The first priority should be not only to enhance the transparency of its military capability and defense policy, but also to lessen the perception gaps between the three countries and make an atmosphere in which each can cooperate.

Other considerations such as establishing common objectives and military-to-

military contact programs are among the most effective instruments to create a more stable security order.[67] We also have to recognize China's basic defense policy, as well as its key organizations and personnel, and work toward the establishment of objectives and programs. The PLA has two main contact points, the Ministry of National Defense and PLA Headquarters. Generally, they have a tendency to prefer uniform-to-uniform contacts and others actions such as the Japan-China security dialogue. As Defense Minister, General Chi proposed at the US's National Defense University (NDU) that the students exchange programs at that level, as young officers are useful for each other.[68] A sensitive problem, however, will be how to treat Taiwan's military officers. Another program to be pursued would be timely policy coordination and policy appeal through the media. This is indispensable as each nation enters into new peacetime engagements.

In addition to balancing the two-track approaches, diplomatic channels and military-to-military contacts, it is also important to balance the engagements through both diplomatic and military channels. For this purpose, closer coordination between Japan and the US in the form of such things as defense summit meetings and two-plus -two (Defense and State, State/Foreign Minister) meetings must take place. Also, dealing with China's counter- engagement strategy should be a major consideration, as China takes advantage of every opportunity to separate Japan from the US, due to a fear the "peaceful evolution" conducted by the US and Japan. Another factor is the promotion of Japan-US-China trilateral contacts, for example, the international situation, freedom of navigation in the high seas, defense of SLOCs, and the prevention of incidents and piracies on the high seas. We must strive to better understand China's attitude concerning these topics. Finally, the establishment of Confidence- Building Measures (CBM) such as an initial combined operation plan for disaster relief and combined peacekeeping operations would be worthwhile.

Role 3: eliminating strategic ambiguity and vacuum in Asia

 

"Today, Asia faces a choice between two global visions for the 21st century.

The first is a return to the zero-sum politics of the 19th century-a world where great

powers are permanent rivals, acting as though what was good for one power was,

by definition, detrimental to another. The second is a world where great powers act

to increase cooperation, avert chaos, and strengthen economic growth, while preserving the balances of power that preserve the peace." [69]

- Anthony Lake, Former Assistant to the president for National Security Affairs -

 

There are many maritime territorial issues in East Asia and China commits itself

to most of them. In the Asia-Pacific region, there is no multinational security mechanism,

such as North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the Organization for Security and

Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), hence, it is necessary to undertake efforts to create a

stable security environment which may be accomplished by bilateral security

relationships between the US and her allies, and high-level multinational dialogue

concerning regional security, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) including

Japan, the US, EC, Russia and China.[70] The elimination of any strategic ambiguity and

vacuum is indispensable for maintaining peace and stability, and securing freedom of

navigation in this region.

From the viewpoint of the Japan-US alliance, one should strive to maintain an

active US military presence in Southeast Asia and, concurrently, promote security

dialogue. ASEAN countries manage to deal with China's seaward adventurism in the

South China Sea through their own defense build-up and the active US military presence, JTF exercises with USPACOM, and political pressure of the ARF. For China, it is not favorable to incur friction with ASEAN and to make a "China threat" prevail within the international community. By stressing freedom of navigation on the high seas, one can maintain status quo in the South China Sea. Also, in addition to the US forward deployed forces, the USFJ plays an important role as a force provider and a logistic supporter to ASEAN members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

This paper has explored reasons for China's seaward adventurism and its security behavior in the East and South China Seas, and has defined a new role for the Japan-US alliance to engage China. As an emerging great power with great economic growth, nuclear weapons, and a permanent membership in the U.N. Security Council, China remains the largest communist power, but not without some internal difficulties in transition. In the interdependent world, there is no option to contain China like the Soviet Union was contained. It is clear that Japan and the United States must engage China to maintain peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Key factors concerning China must be understood in order to engage it effectively. Some of these factors include the following: China's seaward adventurism comes from its national strategy; China's maritime territorial claims are vast; a perception gap exists among Japan, the US and China concerning China's contribution to the peace and stability in the region; and China tends to see the Japan-US alliance as a potential threat. This paper has attempted to show that Japan and the US should balance their respective approaches in engaging China in order to advance China's internationalization through economy and human contacts and prevent China's seaward adventurism.

The new roles or objctives of the Japan-US alliance, as it pertains to China, are to contribute to regional stability; to advance peacetime engagements with the PLA; and to eliminate the strategic ambiguity and power vacuum in East Asia. China is prone to

long-term thinking and strategy. Likewise, we need long-term engagement strategies toward China that concurrently deal with China's counter-engagement strategy.

On February 18th, 1997, Deng Xiaoping died and his official obituary read, "We must uphold and safeguard party unity and unification, unite more conscientiously around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Jiang Zemin at the core." [71]He died as a great leader who made China prosperous. And Jiang Zemin actually became the first leader of China since Mao Tse-tung to have the three "top hats" of the nation, the CCP and CMC (PLA). Therefore, no change in China's basic policies are anticipated.

In July 1997, China will regain Hong Kong from the United Kingdom and, in the

autumn of 1997, the 15th CCP congress will be held and important strategic guidelines, which will extend beyond this century, will be determined. The PLA role in these security matters will be important to determine and monitor. It is possible that the PLA will have more influence on both internal and external policies and important decisions made by Jiang Zemin than it had when Deng Xioping was the driving force behind China policy formulation. It is clear that the best opportunity for the employment of "double engagement" toward China will occur before the Fall of 1997. However, it will take time and persistence to change China's thinking and security behavior.


 



[1] Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, xxi.

[2] The Honorable Barbara Hackman Franklin, "China:friend or enemy?," The Heritage Foundation Lecture #566, 1.

[3] David Shambaugh, "China's Military: Real or Paper Tiger?," The Washington Quarterley, Spring 1996, 19.

[4] Imperial Japan (Meiji) has the same national strategy. Prime Minister Li Peng, in a report to the fourth meeting of the eighth National People's Congress held in March 1996, stressed not only its utmost effort toward economic construction, but also the necessity of modernizing and strengthening its national defense capabilities.

[5] Roxane D.V.Sismanidis,"Chinese security as Asia evolves: Constraints and Ambiguities," The Journal of Northeast Asian Studies /summer 1996, 64.

[6] "Peaceful evolution": western countries' intentions or actions to accomplish the collapse of China by peaceful means including making use of economic influence.

[7] Paul Kennedy, 449.

[8] Samuel S.Kim, "China's quest for security in the post-cold war world," The Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute's Seventh Annual Strategy Conference, July 29, 1996, Part I, 1.

[9] Samuel S. Kim, Part II, 2.

[10] Samuel S. Kim, Part II, 2.

[11] Samuel S. Kim, Part I, 2.

[12] Alexander C. Huang, "The Chinese Navy's Offshore Active Defense Strategy- Conceptualization and Implications," Naval War College Review, 1994, 8.

[13] Mamdouh G. Salameh, "China, Oil and the Risk of Regional Conflict," Survival, vol.37, no. 4, Winter 1995-1996, 136. He predicts that the rate of offshore oil production in 2000 will be 7% of total.

[14] Denny Roy, "Assesing the Asia-Pacific 'Power Vacuum,'" Survival, vol. 37, no. 3, Autumn 1995, 52.

[15] Alexander C. Huang, 14.

[16] Jiefangjun bao (PLA Daily), April 3, 1987.

[17] Alexander C.Huang, 16. Admiral Xiao Jinguang, former Cinc of the PLA Navy, indicates that "offshore represents the Navy's operational radius; while defense spells out the characteristics of the Navy's strategy."

[18] Alexander C. Huang, 17.

[19] Alexander C. Huang, 18.

[20] The Military Balance 1996-97, The International Institute for Strategic Studies, Oct. 1996, 180-181.

[21] The Military Balance 1996-97, 171.

[22] Paul H. B. Godwin, "From the Continent to Periphery: PLA Doctrine,Strategy and Capabilities Towards 2000," The China Quarterly 1996, 469.

[23] Paul H.B.Godwin, 475.

[24] David Shambaugh, 23.

[25] Alexander C. Huang, 9.

[26] Gen. Charles C. Krulak, The Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, San Diego Union Tribune, Sept. 22, 1996.

[27] The Institute of Defense Study, Japan, "The contemporary strategy of China 1996," (lecture note), 21.

[28] Roxane D. V. Sismanidis, 76.

[29] Roxane D. V. Sismanidis, 76.

[30] A. James Gregor, "China, the United States, and Security Policy in East Asia," Parameters, vol. xxvi, no. 2, US Army War College Quarterly, Summer 1996, 98.

[31] Allen S.Whiting, The PLA and China's Threat Perceptions, The China Quarterly, 1996, 606.

[32] Allen S. Whiting, 606. As a background, the following perception seemed to exist by the top military leaders of CMC at a conference in December 1994.

" Better resolve the Taiwan issue earlier than later; the most appropriate time is

between the end of this century and 2005; Taiwan intends to utilize the United States,

Western Europe, and Japan in moving towards independence; when independence is

imminent, it will be time for military action; at that point a limited maritime and aerial

blockade should isolate the island; and when drastic political change occurs on Taiwan

or continuous chaos prevails, a certain price must be paid but military action must be taken."

[33] Sekaishuho, December 24, 1996, 21.

[34] Sekaishuho, December 24, 1996, 21-22.

[35] It includes 1) security dialogues, 2) cooperation in equipment and technology, and 3) Japan's host nation support to the US. Forces in Japan.

[36] Defense of Japan 1996, 45 and East Asian Strategic Review 1996-1997, 79.

[37] Japan Maritime Safety Agency White Paper, 1995.

[38] Sankei Sinbun, December 13, 1995.

[39] A. James Gregor, Parameters, 98.

[40] Sekaishuho, December 24, 1996, 21.

[41] Sekaishuho, December 24, 1996, 21.

[42] Sekaishuho, December 24, 1996, 21.

[43] "The contemporary strategy of China 1996," (lecture note), 41.

[44] On Jan. 23 1996, a senior Pentagon official said "China's strategy is evolving from the land to the sea. By securing its lands relationships and tidying up immediate borders, China can pursue longer-term interests, which lie increasingly in the sea lanes."

[45] Joseph S. Nye, Jr., "The Case for Deep Engagement", Foreign Affairs Vol.74, Number 4, July/August 1995, 94.

[46] The White House, National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement, Washington D.C., February 1996, 40.

[47] Department of Defense, United States Security Strategy for the East Asia-Pacific Region, Washington D.C., February 1996, 4.

[48] United States Security Strategy for the East Asia-Pacific Region, 20.

[49] Anthony Lake, Former Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, The Speech to the Japan-American Society, Washington, D.C., Oct. 23, 1996, 2.

[50] Allen S. Whiting, The China Quarterly, 607.

[51] Edward Cody,"Striving to Be 'Spiritual'-Chinese campaign seeks to combat western values," The Washington Times, January 30, 1997.

[52] Sekaishuho, December 31, 1996, 43.

[53] Defense of Japan, 266.

[54] Sekaishuho, December 31, 1996, 28-29.

[55] Sekaishuho, December 31, 1996, 43.

[56] Sekaishuho, December 31, 1996, 43.

[57] Roxane D.V.Sismanidis, 78.

[58] Defense of Japan, 45.

[59] Military Balance 1996-97, 171.

[60] James Shinn, Great Decisions, Foreign Policy Association, 1997, 17.

[61] Government of Japan's official view, February 26, 1960.

[62] Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Foreign Affairs, 98. He points out that "Japan pays nearly all the yen-based costs of the 46,000 American forces, or nearly 70 percent of the troops' overall costs."

[63] Defense of Japan, 51.

[64] The Associated Press, TOKYO, Jan. 23 (Kyodo), 1997.

[65] OMFTS: the USMC's new doctrine, a marriage between maneuver warfare and naval warfare; Ship-to-objective maneuver is key.

[66] See, for example, David Shambaugh, "China's Military in Trasition: Politics, Professionalism, Procurement and Power Projection," The China Quarterly, 1996, 273.

[67] National Military Strategy 1995, 8.

[68] Sekaishuho, February 11, 1997, 3.

[69] Anthony Lake, The Speech to the Japan-American Society, 23 Oct. 1996, 3. He states that " this spring (March,1996) presented real challenges to all of us who believe in the importance of constructive U.S.-China relations- chief among them China's military exercises in the Taiwan Strait."

[70] National Security Strategy, 39-40.

"The United States is a Pacific nation. We have fought three wars there in this century. To deter regional aggression and secure our own interests, we will maintain an active presence and we will continue to lead. Our deep bilateral ties with allies such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines. In addition to performing the general forward deployment functions outlined above, they contribute to regional stability by deterring aggression and adventurism. We have supported new regional exchanges such as the ASEAN Regional Forum on the full range of common security challenges. These arrangements can enhance regional security and understanding through dialogue and transparency."

[71] Lisa Minder, "Chinese leader Deng dies," USA TODAY, February 20, 1997.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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