[VIDEO] 30 Years Ago Today: ‘Tear Down This Wall’

“General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate.

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Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Ronald Reagan said those words near Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate 30 years ago today. And they were written […]

Source: Ricochet


Japan Scrambles Jets as China Warplanes Fly Through Okinawa Strait

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It was the first time Beijing is known to have sent fighter jets through the area, and comes days after Japan’s defense minister announced plans to step up engagement in the disputed South China Sea.

Jesse Johnson reports: The Air Self-Defense Force scrambled aircraft on Sunday as at least eight Chinese fighters and bombers — and possibly more than 40 — passed through a critical international entryway into the Western Pacific.

They used a legal but politically sensitive passage through Okinawa, apparently to send a message to Tokyo.

“This is a response to what Beijing will allege is a provocation by Japan in joining the U.S. in South China Sea drills despite Beijing warning Tokyo against participating.”

— University of Miami political science professor June Teufel Dreyer

It was the first time Beijing is known to have sent fighter jets through the area, and comes days after Japan’s defense minister announced plans to step up engagement in the disputed South China Sea.

The Chinese aircraft, which also included refueling tankers, flew over the Miyako Strait in Okinawa Prefecture but did not infringe Japanese airspace, the Defense Ministry said in Tokyo.

China said more than 40 aircraft were involved. They flew between Miyako Island near Taiwan and Okinawa’s main island on the way to “regular” patrols and drills in the Western Pacific, the Chinese Defense Ministry said in a statement posted to its website.

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People’s Liberation Army Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke said the massive show of force, which included H-6K bombers, Su-30 fighters and tanker aircraft, conducted reconnaissance and early warning exercises, attacks on sea surface targets, and in-flight refueling “to test the air force’s fighting capacity on the high seas.”

Chinese bombers and fighters also conducted what Shen called a “regular patrol” in the East China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ) that China unilaterally declared in 2013.

“The regular Western Pacific drills and ADIZ patrols are necessary to safeguard national sovereignty, the country’s security and maintain peaceful development,” Shen said.

[Read the full story here, at The Japan Times]

The air force will continue patrolling the East China Sea ADIZ and conduct training to improve its combat capacity in order to “uphold the legitimate rights and interests of China,” Shen added.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, told a news conference Monday that although the aircraft never violated Japanese airspace, Tokyo “will continue to devote every effort to vigilance and surveillance and rigorously enforce steps against intrusions into our airspace based on international law and the Self-Defense Forces law.”

In this Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 photo, a crew member of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy monitors on the deck of the China's aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailing on the East China Sea for sea trials. The Liaoning departed for its first-ever sea trials in the South China Sea, a mission likely to draw scrutiny amid Beijing's drive to assert its claims to those waters and their island groups. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

While it was apparently the first time for Beijing to send fighter jets on the route, its air force first flew other types of jets over the strait in May 2015, China’s Defense Ministry said.

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada angered Beijing with a speech last week, in which she said Tokyo would “increase its engagement in the South China Sea through … Maritime Self-Defense Force joint training cruises with the U.S. Navy.”

There was a fiery reaction in Chinese state media, but experts said she had not broken new ground in Japan’s approach to the South China Sea.

Still, according to University of Miami political science professor June Teufel Dreyer, the Chinese flights were meant to send a message to Japan not to meddle in the South China Sea issue. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Warship Confronts U.S. Warship in South China Sea

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Awr Hawkins reports:  A U.S guided missile warship was confronted by a Chinese warship in international waters last week in the South China Sea.

The incident happened December 5th in the wake of China’s declaration of a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

According to Reuters, the confrontation led to a “near-collision” between the two vessels.

The Washington Free Beacon reported that the USS Cowpens was ordered to stop, and when it refused the order—because it was in international waters—a Chinese Navy vessel “sailed in front of Cowpens and stopped, forcing the [U.S. vessel] to abruptly change course in what officials said was a dangerous maneuver.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Energy Drives Asian Military Confrontation

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Chriss W. Street reports:  China’s Ministry of Defense on November 30th began enforcing an expanded Air Defense Identification Zone, which now covers a huge off-shore expanse that includes the disputed oil rich Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Forced to rely on the Middle East for oil for electrical production, Asian energy costs are surging, and supply has become unstable due to the continuing Arab Spring turmoil. With American domestic energy costs falling as supplies surge due to the boom in fracking for shale oil and gas, Chinese manufacturers are becoming economically uncompetitive on a cost basis compared to the U.S. producers. With China, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea equally desperate to save jobs by exploiting potentially cheap and abundant off-shore oil, energy economics will drive military confrontations in Asia.

The Chinese claim the discovery and control of the Diaoyu islands from the 14th Century, but Japan took control of the islands from 1895 until its surrender to the U.S. at the end of World War II. During the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands after 1945, it was discovered that oil reserves might be found under the sea near the islands. In anticipation of the turnover of the Senkaku islands, Japan declared a 100 mile ADIZ around the islands in 1969. Since reverting back to Japanese control under the 1971 Okinawa Reversion Agreement, sovereignty around the islands has been disputed by the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and South Korea. Read the rest of this entry »


Here’s What a Shooting War in the East China Sea Might Look Like

Tensions are escalating as China tries to claim a new zone of airspace authority—which the U.S. promptly ignores. Here’s what to expect if this cold war involving Japan, China, the U.S., and other East Asian nations heats up.
A Taiwan navy Kidd-class destroyer launches a SM-2 surface to air missile during a livefire drill at sea near the east coast of Taiwan on September 26, 2013. Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

A Taiwan navy Kidd-class destroyer launches a SM-2 surface to air missile during a livefire drill at sea near the east coast of Taiwan on September 26, 2013. Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Joe Pappalardo writes:  This past weekend China escalated tensions in the East China Sea by unilaterally establishing what it calls an Air Defense Identification Zone that includes islands claimed by other nations. China released a map and coordinates of this zone, demanding that any aircraft report to China before entering the airspace, declaring that its armed forces “will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions.”

This posturing got an early test on Monday when the United States flew two B-52s straight through the zone China has claimed, with no response from China. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has said the flight, which took off from Guam, was part of a prescheduled exercise. But it seems clear that the U.S. is also sending a message that it won’t respect such a claim. “We view this development as a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said this weekend. “This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Analysis: In the East China Sea, Three Broader Policy Lessons for America

U.S. Navy exercises last week in the South China Sea (Naval Surface Forces)

U.S. Navy exercises last week in the South China Sea (Naval Surface Forces)

Tom Rogan writes: When America and China have a falling out, the world tends to take notice.

That’s no surprise, of course. This relationship doesn’t just shape the interests of two nations; it heavily influences the economic, military, and political trajectory of the world. Indeed, because of this reality, the prospective consequences of a serious U.S.-Chinese dispute actually help decrease the likelihood of such a dispute’s occurring.

Still, I think there are three lessons that we can take from the present crisis.

1. In order to be real, American power must be projected.

As I suggested earlier this week, it’s very likely that this new ADIZ flowed from China’s desire to test American resolve. Yet even as the Obama administration has (thus far) acted courageously, the very fact that China decided to launch this challenge should be a serious cause for concern.

For all the imagery of American military power — jets shooting off carrier decks, tanks storming across deserts, vast ground deployments abroad — American power isn’t real unless it’s perceived practically. Just as our aircraft carriers cut waves through the sea, those vessels also cut waves of geopolitical consequence. This is a truth that we must embrace. In order to positively influence American foes and consolidate American friends, the United States must apply its power without apology.

Read the rest of this entry »