By Christopher Black
The American aggression against China continued Tuesday May 10th with the invasion of Chinese waters just off the Spratly Islands by an American destroyer as China’s limited stock of patience continues to run out.
By sending their ships into Chinese territorial waters on the bizarre claim that they are exercising “their right of innocent passage” and that, the “United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” they are in fact claiming the right to go anywhere they want, anytime they want. They might as well claim the right to once again send gunboats up the Yangtze River bristling with guns and marines, for their passage through Chinese waters was not only illegal, because without permission; it was also certainly not “innocent” since the passage was meant to be a display of power and control, which is prohibited by the Law of the Sea Convention.
The American claim of following international law is absurd because international law requires that a naval vessel of one county wishing to enter the 12 nautical mile limit of another country must have the permission of the country whose waters they wish to cross. They have to ask permission and they have to fly that country’s flag when they make the passage. All foreign ships entering another nation’s waters fly their own flag and that of the host nation. The Americans refuse to ask permission and they certainly do not honour the custom of flying the Chinese flag. They might as well send their ambassador to a meeting with President Xi and, in front of everyone, spit in his face. For that is what they intend, to insult China, and to dare it.
“Try to stop us,” they are saying, as they watch the tempers rise, the angry words, the flurry of ships around theirs. But no shots were fired. Their passage was unimpeded. They are the power. They are the right. They are the overlords of us all. That is the message.
The Chinese government has once again reacted angrily, calling this new violation of Chinese sovereignty, a “provocation” which indeed it is. But nothing more was done except to scramble some jets and ships to put on a show of the flag. But to what end? The Americans could not care less about dramatics. They only understand force. Logic requires that, unless these provocations stop there will be a shooting incident in the near future because there will be nothing else China can do. The thought of what could happen next can only make you shudder. But unless the world thinks hard about that and reacts with the necessary response, this renegade nation, the one nation that roams around the world with a big club, threatening, bullying and destroying, without regard for law, morality, or humanity, will push us all to the eve of destruction..
But what is the necessary response? The Chinese have made it clear that continued aggression against China will be very costly to the United States. They’ve also said that China will not permit these provocations to continue and have the capacity to oppose these actions if necessary. But do they have the will? It would appear that they do since they have increased and modernised their armed forces to prepare for such an eventuality and, as we know, a month ago China put its nuclear missile forces on constant high alert. But the Chinese are very patient as they seek a peaceful future, so it is difficult to say when they will directly confront an American vessel and stop it, but that time has to come. So what are the Chines doing? Perhaps some clues lie in their military doctrine.
The Chinese basic principles of war are famously set down by Sun Tzu in the Art of War;
“Warfare is the art of deceit. Therefore, when able, seem to be unable; when ready, seem unready; when nearby, seem far away; and when far away, near. If the enemy seeks some advantage, entice him with it, if he is in disorder, attack him and take him. If he is formidable, prepare against him. If he is strong, evade him. If he is incensed, provoke him…attack where he is not prepared; go by way of places where it would never occur to him you would go. These are the …calculations for victory-they cannot be settled in advance.”
So, we can expect the unexpected. But it will not be what the Chinese prefer, a win-win solution, it will be a lose-lose result, for war harms everyone. The American bullying attitude rests in an innate chauvinism and arrogance and a complete confidence in their superiority of arms. But it is this very confidence that will be there downfall.
In their important 1999 paper on military theory, “Unrestricted Warfare,” two Chinese Army Colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Xiansiu, now both generals, I believe, advanced the idea that the first rule of unrestricted warfare is that there are no rules, with nothing forbidden. They then examined the use of full spectrum warfare and why it is the only strategy to adopt in order to resist a powerful aggressor who does not obey international rules but makes up its own, such as the United States which, as they point out, cannot even be trusted to obey its own rules. How can anyone trust a nation that seems to have the same motto as the Mediterranean pirate chief in the middle ages who said, “Law? I make up my own laws and I take what I want.”
In a section of the paper asking what the Americans want, and answering “world domination” they say something interesting;
“In discussing the talented American inventor, Thomas Edison, poet Jeffers writes, “We… … are skilled in machinery and are infatuated with luxuries.” Americans have a strong inborn penchant for these two things as well as a tendency to turn their pursuit of the highest technology and its perfection into a luxury, even including weapons and machinery. General Patton, who liked to carry ivory handled pistols, is typical of this. This inclination makes them rigidly infatuated with and therefore have blind faith in technology and weapons, always thinking that the road to getting the upper hand with war can be found with technology and weapons. This inclination also makes them anxious at any given time that their own leading position in the realm of weaponry is wavering, and they continually alleviate these concerns by manufacturing more, newer, and more complex weapons. As a result of this attitude, when the weapons systems which are daily becoming heavier and more complicated come into conflict with the terse principles required of actual combat, they always stand on the side of the weapons. They would rather treat war as the opponent in the marathon race of military technology and are not willing to look at it more as a test of morale and courage, wisdom and strategy. They believe that as long as the Edisons of today do not sink into sleep, the gate to victory will always be open to Americans. Self-confidence such as this has made them forget one simple fact – it is not so much that war follows the fixed racecourse of rivalry of technology and weaponry, as it is a game field with continually changing direction and many irregular factors. Whether you wear Adidas or Nike cannot guarantee you will become the winner.”
In other words, the United States, that is, the military- industrial complex that has the real power in the country, is pushing both China and its own people to the brink of something whose consequences will be unexpected and which can only lead to a common disaster. They are pushing everywhere, from North Korea, to Syria, from Ukraine to the Baltic, from Afghanistan to South America, but especially Russia and China. President Putin has called for the creation of a new “non-aligned” international security structure. What form that would take is unclear but unless some attempt is made to restore the rule of international law to the world and to contain this renegade nation, the clock to Armageddon will keep counting down as a world crisis looms.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, he is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and he is known for a number of high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.