China Says Military Will "Stand Up And Use Force" If US Sends Warships To Islands

Tyler Durden's picture

Earlier this week, US officials indicated that they are set to go through with a plan to sail warships around China’s man-made islands in the Spratlys.

“It’s just a matter of time when it happens,” one government source told WSJ.

Over the course of the last six months, we’ve seen China’s land reclamation efforts go from oddity, to spectacle, to alleged “provocation”, to excuse for war as Washington feels compelled to come to the aid of its allies in the South Pacific who cried foul after it became apparent that this was no “normal” dredging effort. 

In short, China has created some 3,000 acres of new sovereign territory and the US claims Beijing is effectively trying to redraw maritime boundaries on the way to establishing new military outposts. For its part, China denies the allegations and has responded with a peculiar mix of veiled threats (tweaking the wording of its official maritime strategy), not-so-veiled threats (telling a US spy plane with a CNN crew on board to “go now”), and humorous propaganda (a series of pictures from Fiery Cross depicting women, puppies, and gardens). 

Despite efforts to de-escalate the matter when Xi visited the US this month, Beijing looks set to draw a line in the sand (no pun intended) when it comes to allowing the US to sail warships near the islands. Here’s AFP with more

Chinese media slammed the US Thursday for "ceaseless provocations" in the South China Sea, with Washington expected to soon send warships close to artificial islands Beijing has built in disputed waters.


Following a meeting of American and Australian officials Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned Beijing that Washington will continue to send its military where international law allows, including the South China Sea.


The remarks were backed by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who said the two countries are "on the same page."


An editorial in The Global Times, which is close to China's ruling Communist party, condemned Washington's "ceaseless provocations and coercion".



"China mustn't tolerate rampant US violations of China's adjacent waters and the skies over those expanding islands," it said, adding that its military should "be ready to launch countermeasures according to Washington's level of provocation," it added.


The warship or ships would pass within the 12-mile territorial limit China claims around the structures to demonstrate that US commanders do not recognise it.


Such a move, the Global Times suggested, could be a "breach of China's bottom line".


"If the US encroaches on China's core interests, the Chinese military will stand up and use force to stop it," the paper warned.

There you go. It doesn't get much clearer than that.

Obviously, there's little doubt that China will use these islands for some military purpose. Whether that purpose will be extremely limited (as Beijing has suggested without explicitly acknowledging the militarization of the reefs) remains to be seen. 

One question that one might fairly ask here however, is whether the US really needs to sail by the islands just to see if can do so without getting shot at. It isn't, after all, as though China is on the verge of using the Spratlys as a staging ground for an invasion of the entire South Pacific so one wonders whether it might not be better to wait until there is some legitimate purpose for a pass-by. That way, Beijing can't point to a deliberate "provocation."

Whatever the case, we suppose we will see in the next week or so who blinks first. 

*  *  *

A little background on the latest developments with accompanying visuals...

Despite the fact that China claimed to have largely completed its dredging efforts in the Spratlys in June, Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, tells a different story. Here’s what Glaser has to say about a series of new images shown below and available at the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative:

China is still dredging in the South China Sea. Satellite imagery of Subi Reef taken in early September shows dredgers pumping sediment onto areas bordered by recently built sea walls and widening the channel for ships to enter the waters enclosed by the reef. On Mischief Reef, a dredger is also at work expanding the channel to enable easier access for ships, possibly for future use as a naval base.


This activity comes in the wake of assertions by China that its land reclamation has ended in the Spratly Island chain. On August 5, during the ASEAN Regional Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told reporters, “China has already stopped. You look, who is building? Take a plane and look for yourself.” He did not pledge that China would refrain from construction and militarization on the newly-created islands, however.


Wang Yi reiterated that China’s construction on the islands is mainly “to improve the working and living conditions of personnel there” and for “public good purposes.” To date, however, China’s activity appears focused on construction for military uses. Recently built structures on Fiery Cross Reef include a completed and freshly painted 3,000-meter runway, helipads, a radar dome, a surveillance tower, and possible satellite communication facilities.


Apparent Chinese preparations for building lengthy airstrips on Subi and Mischief raise questions about whether China will pose challenges to freedom of navigation in the air and sea surrounding those land features in the future.


The persistence of dredging along with construction and militarization on China’s artificial islands underscore Beijing’s unwillingness to exercise self-restraint and look for diplomatic paths to reduce tensions with its neighbors, the United States, and other nations with an interest in the preservation of peace and stability in the South China Sea. U.S. calls for all claimants in the South China Sea to halt land reclamation, construction, and militarization have been rejected by China, which views the status quo as unfavorable to its interests.


On the eve of President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States, Beijing appears to be sending a message to President Barack Obama that China is determined to advance its interests in the South China Sea even if doing so results in heightened tensions with the United States.

And more from Gregory Poling, a fellow with the Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies and the Pacific Partners Initiative at CSIS and AMTI director.

Earlier this year, the addition of an airfield on Fiery Cross Reef provided a more southerly runway capable of handling most if not all Chinese military aircraft. And in June, satellite photos indicated that China was preparing to lay down another runway at Subi Reef. New photos taken on September 3 show grading work at Subi, providing further evidence that runway construction there is planned. Meanwhile work at the Fiery Cross airfield is well advanced, with China recently laying down paint.


Satellite photos taken on September 8 contain an unanticipated development, indicating that China may be preparing to construct another airstrip at Mischief Reef. These images show that a retaining wall has been built along the northwest side of the reef, creating a roughly 3,000-meter rectangular area. 

And the new visuals:

We'll close with the following from Robert Kaplan, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security in Washington who spoke to Bloomberg

“The Chinese have a classic Sun Tzu philosophy of incremental steps. Because it is small steps, the Americans and their allies will not be able to respond in a strong fashion because they will seem to be over reacting. That is what makes China’s approach so infuriating.”

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HedgeAccordingly's picture

China and russia sitting in a tree.. ISIS'ING 

...Sales Of Luxury Goods Fall In China
Looney's picture

Once our flotilla approaches the 12-mile zone, China will need to fire a single shot – a “$100 Billion sell UST” shot. I think? ;-)


Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

Sink one of those boats and everybody will be selling UST. So probably not in their interest... yet.

brockhardman's picture

China - "In other news, 7 more chemical plants have mysteriously exploded."

ml8ml8's picture

The US should just tell China that we're going to open a naval base on the island that they built.

SMG's picture

Five years or so untill  WWIII.  You still have time to prepare. Hopefully things will be better after it's over and we rebuild.


Paveway IV's picture

There is absolutely nothing in the U.S. Constitution about risking American naval assets and lives to throw its weight around the Spratlys. Anyone in the DoD involved in this pathetic penis-waving should be arrested, court-martialed or dismissed. Any idiot in congress calling for this should be impeached. 

Of course that will never happen, but when the U.S. goes Illinois and can't pay government employees, pensioners and the military by printing anymore (if that's even possible), then this won't be an issue. When that happens, the only thing Washington will have to worry about is whether they go into the wood-chippers feet-first or head-first.

In the mean time, maybe the fucking hypocrites in Congress can explain tacit support for Saudi Arabia's slaughter of Yemei civilians while the U.S. silently builds it's massive naval base on Socotra when they have no fucking right to do so.

SWRichmond's picture

The Chinese have correctly figured out that the American public is tired of war.  Thanks to the fucking idiotic neocons.

square wave's picture

Yes, but that's easily fixed by another 9/11 style false flag op. They'll go even bigger on the next one.

813kml's picture

I hope it's funnier next time, maybe paint a moustache on the Statue of Liberty and blame it on Putin.

NoDecaf's picture

BAM! who put that mine there? We don't's in "international waters" you figure it out.

HowdyDoody's picture

Obama will have a wardrobe malfunction at his next Status of the Union (or equivalent) speech.


Tarshatha's picture

How many Jews near those Islands?

None, you don't say.

Well it seems we have the green light for the big show.

Funny Money's picture

The US public will not be tired of war if someone attacks one of their warships.  Especially if they get to watch streaming video of the US military blowing up Chinese ships.

RafterManFMJ's picture

If this cunt nation's government wasn't chock full of cunts, madmen, and incompetents, the way to tweak the Chinese wouldn't be to float your 50 years out-dated MASSIVE FUCKING TARGETS around hostile seas, but rather to begin constructing a dozen or so of YOUR OWN FUCKING ISLANDS in the Spratleys.

This would completely flummox the Chinese, as they cannot claim exclusive territorial rights yet say those of the US or Vietnamese Etc. are void.

Is there no one at all in our .gov or .mil with more than 8 working brain cells? Anyone? 

Budnacho's picture

The "Easiest" way will be full US recognition as an independent state followed by deployment to need to build Islands thousands of miles away when we're just offshore. The Japanese tried to do the island thingy in WW2...didn't work out too well for them when we simply went around em...

Want to see Chinese heads explode?...tell em Taiwan isn't theirs....

Give up. Reality is not scientific nor even mathematical.'s picture
Give up. Reality is not scientific nor even mathematical. (not verified) Budnacho Oct 15, 2015 5:55 PM

Bingo!  Give the man the large bubblegum cigar.  Spot on, monkeyman.

Taiwan isn't theirs anyway.  Mainland China belongs to the Taiwanese!  And if you let them take Taiwan, next they'll want Hawaii.

The Chinese are brave fellas, in a Chineses sort of way, gonads the size of gnat larvee and all.  Lots of them sure, but they're not much for strategic sense or experienced with the American double-cross.  Our man in Moscow, Putin, certainly has their back.  LoL

This is going to be one of the funniest things to happen since Hannibal's elelphants crossed the snowy Alps.

You all remember what happened to Carthage, right?  Well, Cathay is tempting a similar fate today.  Laughing at Timmy Geithner was not a very respectful thing for those Chinese students to do.  Poor Timmy!  And now the Chinese are paying the price for that incredibly stupid indiscretion.

Were I advising China right now, I would tell them to push the dredged sand back into the sea, and sell their U.S. Treasuries to the FED for three cents on the dollar, while they're still worth that.

The portrait of America the weak, collapsing empire, and Obama the wimp has been masterfully drawn.

Obama is just a front man for the charade.  And the days of Communist China are numbered no matter what the Chinese do at this point.

What's going on right now is just a ridiculous Chinese fire drill, before the bear trap springs shut with a thundering ka-thwomp.

America is not a conquering empire though.  We'll just send the Japs in to run things for a while instead.  LoL

kralizec's picture

Taiwan would be a good place to launch drones from as well, watch the ChiCom's as they work away like busy little need to enter any contestants into the South China Sea Yacht Race.  But hey, we all know the Dear Leader in DC is going to do something stupid, so just have a drink and watch the stupid unfold.

Joe Trader's picture

As with WWII - the question remains - what technology has the U.S. developed with all the time and money it had since its golden years?


TR-3B is just one example that comes to mind. Don't think the outcome to all of this is so obvious - plus there could be the usual rhetoric all sides engage in

Zero Point's picture

Only the strong can act weak Joe Trader. You are entirely correct.

mr speed's picture

The elite won't spend cash on that. They get no returns. All thats left is talk and the world know it.

Joenobody12's picture

In fact, the Vietnamese and the Philippinos started reclamation way before China yet the US didn't seem to mind.

maxwellsdemon's picture



Disagree; the majority of Americans believe their own government was complicit more or less on 9/11 and everybody is upset over declining living standards for everybody but the 0.01%.  They won't support fiighting China over some islands.  How we would fight each other without going nuclear is a conundrum that can't be solved anyway; it would become a proxy battle with China sending divisions to Syria to piss us off.  The most informed Americans read alternative news sites like Zerohedge and know this is a ZioNazi government with a repugnant foreign policy. 


Also the potential loss (say China ramming a US ship or otherwise deterring it) are not outweighed by the potential gain, so the game theoretic best strategy is for the US Navy to do nothing.

FreedomGuy's picture

I suggest you are wrong on most every point. Most Americans are not truthers. They are tired of a flatlined economy but do not agree on why it is so. Some want more government to fix it and some understand we need less.

China is making a direct stand and that is what morons in the Obama administration and you do not see. They are not unlike Hitler who said what his ultimate aims were and then played footsies with a mix of right and wrong words until he was strong enough.

Once they fortify the islands and set up an integrated air and naval defense (missile) system they will go full belligerent.

Then, instead of having a moderate problem, we will have a huge problem on the order of the Normandy invasion instead of a Somali pirate sized problem.

Doing nothing is exactly the right answer, though...but for China.

sushi's picture

Ash Carter warned Beijing that Washington will continue to send its military where international law allows

And the Chinese will send their YJ-18s where international law allows - right into the side of a ship entering their claimed territorial sea.

samjam7's picture

Have they already begun building at Socotora? I once read there were 'not so secret' plans to do so, but never heard of it anymore. You have any sources? Just asking out of curiosity. The place looks like paradise would be such a shame if Marines spoiled the scenery!

Paveway IV's picture

Threr's no stories because it's suppose to be secret. FARS had this:

Most of the other news stories about Socotra claim it's a Saudi Naval Base that's being built, but that's kind of pointless for them. They're involved, but the asians working there claim Americans are building it. The U.S. has been trying to kick the Russians out of there and build their own base for decades.

The base will be in an already built-up area, so the ecology won't be (too) threatened. The island stopped getting fuel and propane deliveries BECAUSE of the Yemei war. This was actually threatening the cool, alien-looking trees on the island because the natives were chopping them down for heating and cooking. One can only hope the U.S./Saudi 'secret' base has brought enough supplies to the island that the people are not using 1000-year-old trees for firewood. But when has anything good ever happened when the U.S. shows up somewhere?

samjam7's picture

Thanks for the insight, yeah I've seen pictures of those trees, would be a pity if they became extinct because of the war. If it wasn't for the war I would have visited the place, as it is, I have to postpone it.

Thanks anyway and let's keep a watchful eye on Socotra and its trees. :)

StychoKiller's picture

There's a joke about Arab seamen in there somewhere...

spyware-free's picture

This provocation is absolutely stupid and unnecessary. A juvenile pissing contest. The US has put itself in a position where they either;
a) Follow through and risk a war with China
b) Back down and look even weaker and more stupid than they do now
Putin has called their bluff in the ME. The Chinese will do the same in the South China Sea.

OzFan's picture

Brilliant post Paveway....succint, true and impossible to refute.

God damn the US is heading for an epic fcking over of itself...the collapse is going to be stunning.


Pure Evil's picture

Just build naval and air bases in Vietnam and the Philippines on either side of the Spratleys and watch the Red China Man bust a brain blood vessel.

OzFan's picture

Oh You mean employ the same US strategies as in Ukraine and Middle East? 

BarkingCat's picture

Because Vietnam would be so happy to play host to the US.
I heard that they are running long on napalm

Stuck on Zero's picture

US strategy should be to back off and let China take up the role of empire building until they bankrupt all their citizens and collapse. It would be nice if our rulers thought about U.S. citizens for a while.

semperfi's picture

its the British thing to do

Four chan's picture

and the french and the spanish and....

tbd108's picture

you left out the Romans.

Never One Roach's picture

We need lots moar military bases; right now we only have 3,862 bases around the world.

StychoKiller's picture

Why not just round it off at 10,000, while yer exaggerating?

nuubee's picture

Besides which, simple military maneuvers are not what is necessary here. What they should be sending in is a military public-relations flotilla, complete with live coverage from every ship as it approaches mile 13 away from the islands. Watch the Chinese try to figure out whether they should kill people on live television simply because they came within 13 miles of an artificially created and of dubious legal precedent island in the middle of the worlds busiest shipping lanes.

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

The Chinese navy should pick up the survivors of Diego Garcia and drop them off at the island with supplies and weapons on live TV. Not that would be funny.

o r c k's picture

I predict we'll back off and call for negotiations. With China laughing.

SWRichmond's picture

US strategy should be to back off and let China take up the role of empire building until they bankrupt all their citizens and collapse. It would be nice if our rulers thought about U.S. citizens for a while.

Yes.  Let someone else loot their citizens and destroy their economy, currency, and credibility by playing global hegemon.

Solomonpal's picture

Then follow up with an anonymous man made sunami. These dirt piles can't be much higher than sea level. No one would ever guess!

GOSPLAN HERO's picture

They lack USSA's altruism. 


FreedomGuy's picture

Yeah, how did that work out with Nazi Germany and the USSR? Where would they have stopped on their own? I know...Peoria!

o r c k's picture

We do it everywhere else.  (occupy that is)

HolyfieldsOtherEar's picture

Damn straight! Uncle Sam can divvy up the sand castles between Vietnam and the Philippines -- a moot point since they'll all be US bases. In compensation the US could offer to fluoridate China's water supply.