No Easy Deals for China in Indo-Pacific

Tensions in the South China Sea continue to mount, as global fears wane over the coronavirus pandemic. America continues to add strength in the Pacific to counteract Chinese activities in the South China Sea that are considered to have taken advantage of moment of distraction of pandemic, especially on the artificial island, Shasa City, which is believed by America to be the military base of the People Liberation Army (PLA). America even openly involved the British Aircraft Carrier, the Australian Navy and the Japanese Self Defense Army in several sea convoys in several months ago, to demonstrate power in the Pacific region. Recently, US sends back two Aircraft Carriers to balance China’s Drill in South China Sea

“The tittle like “Can’t stand the US anymore,” is  the usual headlines in some of China’s leading newspapers about since several month ago. The tittle refers to the US naval convoy that seems very provocative in the South China Sea. Even in the last month, the US has taken down three aircraft carriers from its three main bases. The average content of the mainstream Chinese media positions the country as a victim of provocative action of US power. But the fact is not entirely so. China is actually considered by America to be performing the “playing victim” card. While in the eyes of the US, China actually claims more than one-sided 80 percent of the South China Sea , which is actually not legally according to international law.

If paid attention in detail on the map, for example, nine dash lines are very far off the mainland of China, visible protruding far down the sea. China does not recognize UNCLOS’s decision. But there is no alternative excuse other than the excuse of nine dash lines, the provisions of the coriander age that remain exalted for the future. With the same frame and reason, China also does not recognize Taiwan, Tibet, Arunachal Pradesh in India, and some areas in Bhutan. Because of these unilateral reasons, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan are often straddled just like that, like several weeks ago  firing on Vietnamese fishing vessels unilaterally, bullying other disputing countries as they wish, even Indonesia that is not directly related to being bullied in the Natuna Islands.

China also went even further by building artificial islands and new cities (Sansha City) in the Paracel and Sparkly Islands. Satellite sightings clearly show the presence of a millitary base, the appearance of missile launchers, air force bases and naval bases, and always deny such militarization actions. Then when the US began to get frustrated with the many offside actions, China again played playing victim cards, just like the Coronavirus (CCP Virus) cover-up, attacking and bullying Pompeo that alluded to the origin of the CCP Virus, selling up organs of opponents of the regime from Falun Dafa practitioners and Tibetans, or cover up concentration camps for the Uighiur in Xinjiang, and more. On the other hand, the US also has an excuse, after all it is usual for the International Freedom Navigation convoy there, along with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, England, and others. For the US, the South China Sea is an international sea.

Not a few who champion China, especially the thinkers of defense in Asia, because they are considered to have had various types of new military equipment to complement the US military. Just like Senyang aircraft variants, for example, or Chengdhu J aircraft variants, Harbin variant helicopters, Dong Fang / DF missile rockets, or Liaoning and Shandong aircraft carriers, and others, and an average 10 percent increase in defense budget annually . Although when seen in detail, almost all of them seem to be the fruit of imitation,  plagiarism of technology from other countries (America call it as theft of technology), the subtle language is “reversed engineering methode,” especially from Russia and the US.

But sometimes it is too detailed to talk about weapons comparison, comparison of types of warplanes or aircraft carriers, based on my knowledge, the US is still at the top in terms of quality and various other aspects, compared to China which uses more “imaging technology” with its mainstream media ( state run media) as well as international media networks affiliated with the CCP. Even later the US State Department of Justice revealed, Chinese media in the US  issued billions of dollars in budget for propaganda in mainstream American media.

So it would be better if seen from the global constellation. Very many countries will gang up on China if they really want to fight on behalf of the South China Sea. There are Australia, New Zealand (Anzac), England, Canada (Norad), Israel, France, Germany, Sweden, India, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, which are ready to be invited by the US, and possibly Malaysia, Turkey, the United of  Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and others, who are also ready if they are in accordance with their interests.

Except for Indonesia, which in general is not yet clear on its position, but it has implicitly  indications of partiality, especially from the top Indonesia official remarks, although Indonesia has recently rejected Chinese control of the South China Sea. And it is very possible, Russia also did not take part if it sees the constellation. In fact, Russia continue to update its missiles on the Russian-Chinese border as a sign of alert for China’s expansion, of course, because too often the technology has been engineered by China, including the question of the rather odd closeness between Trump and Putin.

It may be that the US looks busy with the constellation of domestic politics, which is suspected by the US to often be infiltrated by China using the money process, but actually the dynamics are dynamics as usual in the US. Including cases of racism and police brutality, which always happens in every regime. If compared, China actually has more difficult in its  internal dynamics. Certainly, it’s not easy for China to manage political dynamics more than a billion people, some of whom are getting frustrated with intimidation, co-optation, and lies. Even worries about the economy with investors who are ready to leave China, move to India, Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh, over the threat of Trump. Later it was also rumored to be diverted to Indonesia for pharmaceutical investment after Jokowi spoke with Trump. Likewise, Japan issued a policy on incentives of billions of dollars for investors to move investment from China to other Southeast Asian countries.

Included in the context of religious freedom, Russia today is even better than China. Russia seems to have begun to understand the important role of religion in its country. After all history records, Russia grew larger because The Great Vladimir brought Roman religiosity to the Russian empire. Now the Chenchen tribe in Chechnya enjoys enough freedom of religion and culture after the endless war with Russia. The Lezginka dance, for example, the collaboration of Islam and local culture, becomes an official dance at every Chechya state event. In Grozny, you can see the second largest mosque in Europe or a mall with classy Muslim clothing store outlets, which shows that Russia is still quite tolerant than China

Compare that with China, where many churches have been demolished, the Uighiur must be brainwashed first in concentration camps, and spiritual practitioners of Falun Dafa must be killed and traded organs in the Party Hospital. If there is a community who misses a little in social media, the PLA will come to the house of the perpetrator. In fact, this applies to Chinese students abroad. If they oppose CCP in social media, then they will have problems or their families will have problems in the mainland. In fact, if China continues to use methods that have the effect of increasing international hatred, it will be difficult for China to hold strategic partners to deal with America, except for traditional partners such as North Korea and Iran. It may be that the Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR) has influenced many countries, but for matters of war with America, China is believed to be still having trouble finding strategic partners.

Jannus TH. Siahaan
Jannus TH. Siahaan
Doctor of Sociology from Padjadjaran University, Bandung, Indonesia. Energy and Defense Observer