The Red China Blues

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In the late 1980’s, Vanuatu was cozying up to the Russians. Now it’s the Chinese. They like anyone who brings money.

Fine Print: I received a medal/gong for actions taken to thwart the Russians in Vanuatu in 1988. It wasn’t a significant medal, but added to the fruit salad.

Last November President Xi Jinping held a successful meeting with Prime Minister Salwai. They unanimously agreed to upgrade the two countries’ relationship to that of comprehensive strategic partnership marked by mutual respect and common development. That means that the Chinese are buying. 
Fine Print: The Chinese don’t respect anything that they don’t own…including former Vice President Joe Biden, who is apparently staying bought. It may prove somewhat of an embarrassment as the presidential 2020 campaign rolls forward…but I don’t think that there’s much that embarrasses Slow Joe.

“This opened a new chapter in China-Vanuatu relations. The Chinese side stands ready to work with Vanuatu to increase political mutual trust with Prime Minister Salwai’s official visit to China as an opportunity, expand practical cooperation, and promote greater development of comprehensive partnership between China and Vanuatu and deliver more benefits to the two peoples.

Vanuatu’s entire population of 276,000 people could fit into a suburb of Shanghai. Nevertheless, China has established a “comprehensive strategic partnership” with the island Republic.
China has become one of Vanuatu’s most important development partners. It is helping build a modern port on one of the 80 islands in the Republic. It also is the largest holder of Vanuatu’s debt and a major source of imports.
Western media have reported that China is building or intends to build a naval base in Vanuatu. Periodic Chinese navy ship visits to the islands reinforced the speculation, but Vanuatu and China deny the reports. A variation on the rumor is that China is building a space tracking facility. 
In Oceania, the People’s Republic of China has had success in its diplomatic competition against the Republic of China. Eight of the 14 states have diplomatic relations with the Beijing government. It has cultivated relations so that Chinese navy ships are welcome in Oceania. 
The treatment that Chinese leaders extend to Vanuatu is the best measure of the strategic importance of Vanuatu in China’s plans to dominate the western Pacific Ocean. The Chinese relationship poaches on Australian and French interests because Vanuatu was once a British-French condominium. Its closest neighbor is the French territory of New Caledonia.
Scarborough Shoal
The guided missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG-46) conducted a freedom of navigation operation near Scarborough Shoal. A US Seventh Fleet spokesman said, “USS Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Reef (Shoal) in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law.”
This was the second freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea this month. On 6 May, the USS Preble and the guided missile destroyer Chung Hoon (DDG-93) operated near Chinese-occupied islands in the Spratly Islands. The most recent US ship visit near the Shoal was by the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1) during Exercise Balikatan with the Philippines. 
The People’s Republic of China, the Philippines and the Republic of China claim the shoal. Its largest feature above water is South Rock, (literally, a rock) whose highest point is just 5 feet 11 inches above sea level at high tide. It is unoccupied and unimproved.
This is the shoal about which the Philippines took its ownership claim to the Permanent Court of Arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 2013. In July 2016, the arbiters found in favor of the Philippine claim and found no legal basis for China to claim historic rights.
China rejected the findings but has taken no action to improve and occupy the shoal as it has done to the seven islets it occupies in the Spratly Islands.
China’s reaction. At the 20 May press session, Lu Kang accepted a question about the USS Preble’s operations.
A reporter asked, “According to US side’s information, a US warship operated near Huangyan Island. Did the Chinese side dispatch warships to identify and chase away the US ship?”

“In disregard of regional countries ‘shared aspiration for peace and stability in the South China Sea, the US side has been disrupting regional peace and stability time and again under the pretext of freedom of navigation and over-flight. These practices are unpopular.”

23 thoughts on “The Red China Blues

  1. I wondered what the Aussies thought about a Chinese Naval Base on Vanautu. I expect unpopular would be mild.
    Unless they have all drunk the "China is your peaceful neighbor" koolaid.

    I pray Trump wins a second term.

  2. Many Aussies these day feel that it would be better to surrender and learn Chinese. They don’t all feel like that but I believe a majority do.

  3. When we go to war with the PRC, we need to remember that only fools try to invade China. The same goes for Russia, but we are less likely to have to fight them in the near future.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

  4. Without massive amounts of dredge and fill, I can't see why Scarborough Shoal should be worth anything to the PRC – or anyone else for that matter. (With no knowledge of whether fishing is particularly good there.) I don't think President for Life Xi could even say he has expanded the empire. If they turned that 32 square feet of land into 32 square miles, maybe it could be a place to store some fuel or weapons.

  5. Vanuatu has been supported by ANZACs since WWII for damn near everything, now China has stuck their oar in, and suckered the people… sigh

  6. "Vanuatu was once a British-French condominium"

    Apparently spelczech does not know the term co-dominium.
    Darn ewe spellcheck.

  7. Well, Australia has been going through a rapid build-up and modernization of their navy, so some people there are worried about China's footholds in the Spratlys and Vanuatu.

    Funny, at the same time that Australia is building up it's navy, Mother Britain is drawing down their's

  8. And there may be hope for the people of Australia considering their recent election cycle.

  9. We can do to China what we did to Japan. Strangle them via naval blockade and letting the subs do what they do best.

    But that takes a type of fortitude that most in the Capital don't have, especially since quite a few (including the DNC frontrunner in 2016) are paid shills for the ChiComs.

    There's a reason China is rapidly working on a road/rail network. They know that it is easier to repair rails and roads than build new ships.

  10. It won't take the Chi-Coms long to build up a dredge and fill island.

    While they are doing it, watch no-one in the Environmental Movement bitch about all the damage being done to the coral reefs.

    They (the Chi-Coms) have gotten quite good at fast building spoil islands and dredging safe harbors from their experiences in the Spratleys and in building their own infrastructure. One thing they have never lacked is the human resources needed to do it. And now they have how many surplus males with nothing to do?

  11. The corrupt politicians of Vanuatu will retire rich and happy, while the people of Vanuatu will be stuck with the lodestone of debt to Communist China for a very long time.

    But, well, sucks to be them. First thing that is going to fall in the ChiCom's new empire are the farthest posts. And then the people of Vanuatu will get to find out what it is like to be back to the pre WWII days and now with all their fish resources destroyed.

    Play with the Devil, you reap the rewards.

  12. The Australian progressive Green New Deal was rejected by voters and now there is a conservative government. But as a nation they teeter in their resolve as do we.

  13. The great ChiCom merchant fleet would quickly find its way to Davey Jones’ locker. And you’re right. That’s why they’re pushing their Belt Road

  14. I've never been to Vanuatu but feel I should, if only to reclaim it for the EMPIRE.

  15. Remind me to relate my experience the next time we meet.

    The last time I was there, the BRITISH EX-SERVICEMENS CLUB in Port Villa was located downtown near the radio station.

  16. Si, because, possession (in whatever form) expands claims of sovereignty in the geographic sense. It is merely an expansion of territory and any rights therein.

    It is similar to the Japanese laying claim to a rock which is about 600 nm SE of Paresce Vela (Okinotorishima) which itself is more than 350 nm south of Iwo Jima. The aforementioned rock is exposed only at low tide and there is no lagoon or shoal. It is literally a lone rock. The one and only improvement made to the rock is the installation of a flagstaff from which the Japan national flag may fly when JPN vessels patrol the immediate vicinity.


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