Page 1

STRATEGIC VISION Volume 5, Issue 29


for Taiwan Security

October, 2016


ISSN 2227-3646

Science Diplomacy James Borton

Taiwan Defense Policy

Richard Hu & Jonathan Spangler

US-Philippine Friction Wen-hao Lu

Japan’s Security Policy J.Berkshire Miller

Growing Threat: China’s Maritime Militia Monika Chansoria


Volume 5, Issue 29

for Taiwan Security w

October, 2016

Contents Scientific Cooperation....................................................................4

James Borton

China’s Maritime Militia................................................................ 9

Monika Chansoria

US-Philippine Relations................................................................ 14

Wen-hao Lu

Taiwan Defense Policy Challenges................................................ 19

Richard Hu & Jonathan Spangler

Japan’s Growing Regional Security Role.......................................24

J. Berkshire Miller

Submissions: Essays submitted for publication are not to exceed 2,000 words in length, and should conform to the following basic format for each 1200-1600 word essay: 1. Synopsis, 100-200 words; 2. Background description, 100-200 words; 3. Analysis, 800-1,000 words; 4. Policy Recommendations, 200-300 words. Book reviews should not exceed 1,200 words in length. Notes should be formatted as endnotes and should be kept to a minimum. Authors are encouraged to submit essays and reviews as attachments to emails; Microsoft Word documents are preferred. For questions of style and usage, writers should consult the Chicago Manual of Style. Authors of unsolicited manuscripts are encouraged to consult with the executive editor at before formal submission via email. The views expressed in the articles are the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of their affiliate institutions or of Strategic Vision. Manuscripts are subject to copyediting, both mechanical and substantive, as required and according to editorial guidelines. No major alterations may be made by an author once the type has been set. Arrangements for reprints should be made with the editor. Cover photograph of A US Air Force F-22 Raptor is courtesy of Ralph Branson.

Editor Fu-Kuo Liu Executive Editor Aaron Jensen Associate Editor Dean Karalekas Editorial Board Tiehlin Yen Raviprasad Narayanan Richard Hu Guang-chang Bian Dahua Mo Lipin Tien STRATEGIC VISION For Taiwan Security (ISSN 2227-3646) Volume 5, Number 29, October, 2016, published under the auspices of the Center for Security Studies and National Defense University. All editorial correspondence should be mailed to the editor at STRATEGIC VISION, Center for Security Studies in Taiwan. No. 64, Wan Shou Road, Taipei City 11666, Taiwan, ROC. The editors are responsible for the selection and acceptance of articles; responsibility for opinions expressed and accuracy of facts in articles published rests solely with individual authors. The editors are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts; unaccepted manuscripts will be returned if accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. Photographs used in this publication are used courtesy of the photographers, or through a creative commons licence. All are attributed appropriately. Any inquiries please contact the Executive Editor directly via email at: Or by telephone at: +886 (02) 8237-7228 Online issues and archives can be viewed at our website: © Copyright 2016 by the Center for Security Studies. Articles in this periodical do not necessarily represent the views of either the MCSS, NDU, or the editors.

From The Editor


he editors and staff of Strategic Vision would like to wish our readers well this during this autumn season. The Asia-Pacific continues to undergo important developments. We hope that students and scholars in the academic community have the chance to keep up with these events. In support of that effort, we offer our latest edition of Strategic Vision. We open this issue with James Borton, a faculty associate at the Walker Institute at the University of South Carolina, who argues that scientific cooperation can help reduce tensions in the South China Sea and assist in preserving a fragile ecosystem. Next, Dr. Monika Chansoria, a Senior Fellow heading the China study program at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) in New Delhi, examines the role of China’s maritime militia in its efforts to assert control over Chinese claims. Dr. Wen-hao Lu, currently the deputy director of the Research and Development Office at the ROC National Defense University, argues that tensions between the United States and the Philippines has greatly undermined the US pivot to Asia. Strategic Vision’s own Dr. Richard Hu and Jonathan Spangler of the South China Sea Think Tank discuss how strategic ambiguity complicates Taiwan’s defense policy planning. Finally, J. Berkshire Miller, an international affairs fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, outlines Japan’s expanding regional security role in the face of Chinese assertiveness. We hope you enjoy this issue, and look forward to bringing you the finest analysis and reporting on the issues of importance to security in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific region. Dr. Fu-Kuo Liu Editor Strategic Vision

4  b 

Strategic Vision vol. 5, no. 29 (October, 2016)

Averting Disaster Scientific cooperation is needed to avert ecological disaster in the South China Sea James Borton


he South China Sea is the home, for now, to some of the most spectacular biodiverse coral reefs in the world. Yet the world continues to witness satellite images of these troubled waters that show the rapid destruction of such extraordinary reefs. The cause of this ongoing destruction, which amounts to nothing less than a widening environmental crime scene, is the reckless land reclamation activities conducted by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as it attempts to turn rocks into islands and bolster its expansive claims. In this sea of opportunities, uncertainties and threats, environmental degradation remains at the

center of scientific conversation as an increasing number of marine scientists sound the alarm about how to address the issues of acidification, loss of biodiversity, climate change, destruction of coral reefs, and fishery collapse. With environmental security shaping a new South China Sea narrative about ecological challenges, this concept represents a crucial effort to link the impact of environmental change to both national and international security. Paul Berkman, oceanographer and former head of the Arctic Ocean Geopolitics Program at the Scott Polar Research Institute, provided his own defini-

photo: Brocken Inaglory A Sea turtle glides over a coral reef. Creatures such as this face an uncertain future in the South China Sea due to habitat destruction and poaching.

James Borton is a non-resident fellow at the US-Asia Institute in Washington DC and a faculty associate at the Walker Institute at the University of South Carolina. He can be reached at

Averting Disaster  b  5

tion of environmental security. “It’s an integrated approach for assessing and responding to the risks as well as the opportunities generated by an environmental state-change,” he wrote. The Spratly Islands in the South China Sea are the focal point of a territorial dispute that represents a serious threat to regional security in Southeast Asia. Six governments—China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan—have all laid claim to all or some of the more than 230 islets, reefs, and shoals in the Spratly area. However, the unanimous decision reached this summer by The Hague’s five-judge tribunal, found that China’s large-scale reclamation and construction of artificial islands has caused severe harm to coral and violated the country’s obligation to preserve fragile marine environments. Furthermore, it denied them any legal basis to claim historical rights over a vast majority of the South China Sea. It was a striking victory for the Philippines, which filed the case. Among many dramatic findings, the tribunal declared China’s so-called nine-dash line invalid. “The Tribunal has no doubt that China’s artificial island-building activities on the seven reefs in the Spratly Islands have caused devastating and longlasting damage to the marine environment,” reads the judgment. In addition, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) stipulates in two of the 17 Parts of UNCLOS a direct application to the merits of marine science research with an emphasis on encouraging bilateral and multilateral agreements to

analysis to the tribunal, has stated that based on satellite imagery the environmental damage done by the Chinese dredgers and clam poaching is most severe. McManus has researched this region for more than a quarter of a century. He knows that the most important resource in these heavily fished waters is the larvae of fish and invertebrates. As a result, he has

create favorable conditions for marine science study.

Environment recognizes that the region faces enormous challenges to sustainability in coastal and shared ocean regions. Unless a scientific approach to the ecosystem is adopted, trans-boundary conflicts in marine areas can and will get worse. Since ASEAN’s inception, it has been occupied with the task of identifying shared solutions to common

Destructive practices Professor John McManus, a marine biologist at the University of Miami and a notable coral reef specialist, who has regularly visited the region and provided

“Territorial disputes have led to the establishment of environmentally destructive, socially and economically costly military outposts on many of the islands.” called repeatedly for the development of an international peace park in this contested region. “Territorial disputes have led to the establishment of environmentally destructive, socially and economically costly military outposts on many of the islands. Given the rapid proliferation of international peace parks around the world, it is time to take positive steps toward the establishment of a Spratly Islands Marine Peace Park,” said McManus. Policymakers may do well to take a lesson or two from nature as they examine how best to address the complex and myriad sovereignty claims. The marriage of policy and science is essential to navigating these perilous geopolitical waters. The concept of science diplomacy is not a new paradigm, but it embraces collaboration and adroitly addresses problems related to environmental protection where they arise. Even the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Working Group on Coastal and Marine


photo: Dwayne Meadows Found throughout the South China Sea, yellowish-white soft coral provides a vivid display of the natural beauty and richness of ecosystems in the region.

security problems. To a large degree, one may say that security questions have been the driving force for continued regional integration in Southeast Asia. In the future, questions of environmental security may play the same role. According to Karin Dokken, a political scientist at the University of Oslo, “The states around the South China Sea are to a large degree interdependent when it comes to questions of the human environment. “They are interdependent to the degree that if they fail to find common solutions to environmental problems they may end up in violent conflict against each other,” Dokken stated, adding, “In general, environmental interdependence is both a source of conflict and a potential for international integration.” Without agreement on these environmental problems there is a bleak future for the sea. Nearly 80 percent of SCS coral reefs have been degraded and are under serious threat from sediment, overfishing, destructive fishing practices, pollution, and climate change. Challenges around food security and renewable fish resources are fast becoming a hardscrabble reality for

more than just fishermen. With dwindling fisheries in the region’s coastal areas, fishing state subsidies, overlapping EEZ claims, and mega-commercial fishing trawlers competing in a multi-billion-dollar industry, fish are now the backbone in this sea of troubles. An ecological catastrophe is unfolding in the SCS’s once fertile fishing grounds, as repeated reclamations destroy reefs, agricultural and industrial runoff poison coastal waters, and overfishing depletes fish stocks. In 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity warned that it could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly headed toward extinction by mid-century. Fish catches have remained at an unsustainable 10-12 million tons per year for decades—a number that could double when illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices are included. After all, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) confirms that the South China Sea accounts for as much as one-tenth of global fish catches, and by 2030 China will account for 38 percent of global fish consumption. Overfishing and

Averting Disaster  b  7

widespread destruction of coral reefs now necessitates the intervention of science policy to safeguard stewardship of this vital area. China has been at the forefront of this major exploitation of fish. With over 2,000 blue water commercial trawlers and over 100,000 fishing vessels, including a 3,000-ton fish-processing ship, the evidence seems compelling that Beijing is not only responsible for the destruction of coral reefs but it is also contributing to fishery collapse. Foreign Policy magazine asserts that these fishing incidents and direct acts of violence are significant “because it underscores how central fishing is to the simmering territorial disputes that are turning the South China Sea into a potential global flashpoint— and how far countries are willing to go to defend their turf, or at least what they claim is theirs.” Subsequently, fishing remains a politically sensitive and emotionally charged national security issue for all claimant nations. This ocean plundering presents the region with a looming food crisis. Any effort to balance the economic benefits with the security context within the South China Sea will require a coordinated, multi-level response from scientists, historically engaged in collaborative research and already addressing issues of sustained productivity and environmental security in the region.

Raising awareness The immense biodiversity that exists in the South China Sea cannot be ignored. The impact of continuous coastal development, escalating reclamation and increased maritime traffic is now regularly placed in front of an increasing number of marine scientists and policy strategists. Marine biologists, who share a common language that cuts across political, economic and social differences, recognize that the structure of a coral reef is strewn with the detritus of perpetual conflict and

represents one of nature’s cruelest battlefields. While traditional diplomatic and military tactics are not completely exhausted in the latest round of diplomatic salvos between China and the United States, perhaps the timing is excellent for the emergence of science as an optimal tool for bringing together various claimants, including Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and the ROC in the highly nationalistic, contested sea disputes. The timing for a joint scientific declaration for urgent action on an environmental moratorium on dredging is much-needed. Recent biological surveys in the region and even off the coast of China reveal that the loss of living coral reefs presents a grim picture of decline, degradation, and destruction. More specifically, reef fish species in the contested region have declined precipitously, from 460 species to around 261. After all, this environmental change is a global issue that holds no regard to sovereignty. The destruction and depletion of marine resources in the Spratly Islands harms all claimant nations. Perhaps citizens from the region who are directly impacted by the environmental attack on their sea and their fragile coral formations can create something like a Coral Reef Action Network, similar to the Rainforest Action Network. Protected marine reserves are an emerging tool for marine conservation and management. Sometimes called “ecological reserves” or “no-take areas,” these marine protected areas are designated to enhance conservation of marine resources. Vietnam, a claimant nation, is wasting little time responding to the region’s environmental challenges and is fast-tracking its own model marine protected area program. Cu Lao Cham is located about 20 kilometers off Vietnam’s central coast. The Cham Islands are a marine protected area (MPA) that was established by the Provincial People’s Committee of Quang Nam


Province in December 2005. Professor Chu Manh Trinh, a 53-year-old Da Nang University biology professor, is largely responsible for mapping out the agreed-upon objectives of protecting the natural resources and the cultural and historical values of the Cham archipelago. In 2009, the area was designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Vietnam has adopted MPAs to address present and future food security issues. These MPAs play an important role in the development of the marine economy; they improve livelihoods in coastal fishing communities, and also serve to protect national sovereignty claims. The region needs to bring together the most qualified scientists who have experience studying marine biodiversity and environmental sustainability in the troubled SCS waters to participate in science policy forum. Their collaborative work may lead to the successful development of a South China Sea International Science Commission. As a result, their scientific efforts may then inspire ASEAN to cooperate in responding to regional resource management by issuing a call for a moratorium on any further damaging reclamation work. Of course, China has many excellent coral reef scientists of its own, who recognize that it is in the best interests of Beijing to protect coral reefs, maintain sustainable fisheries, and to eventually avail themselves of ecofriendly tourism once tensions decline. The common ground shared by all claimants is that an increasing number of South China Sea fisheries are hurtling toward collapse and this translates into

toward peace and security. Of course, ASEAN has demonstrated a weak institutional capacity to address complex political and environmental issues, but the world, including the United Nations and Washington, is watching carefully how international law and its application on various claims can lead to a peaceful and lawful path forward.

Claimant nations’ marine scientists and policy shapers might take up any one of these confidencebuilding options: • Establish complete freedom of scientific investigation in the contested atolls and reclaimed islands. • Expand science cooperation among all ASEAN marine scientists through more academic workshops. • Place aside all territorial claims. • Create a regional Marine Science Council to address environmental degradation issues. • Foster dialogue for a proposed marine peace park. • Appoint a science-led ASEAN committee to study the Antarctica Treaty and the United Nations Environmental Program initiative under the East Asian Seas Action Plan. • Propose a renaming of the contested sea to the Freedom Sea or the Southeast Asian Sea. If there are to be any fish left in the contested sea, an ASEAN ecological agreement––led by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam––can steer others to unite around a proposed international peace park or, at the very least, a cooperative marine protected area situated prominently in the Spratlys.

a looming environmental security issue, and the outcome is all too likely to be conflict. The global scientific, conservation and legal communities must unite to halt the coral reef destruction, biodiversity loss, and fisheries depletion. The tribunal’s first international ruling on the South China Sea offers an opportunity for measured steps

It’s the first step in supporting trust and confidence among neighbors and in implementing a common conservation policy. After all, coral reefs are the cathedrals of the South China Sea. It is time for more citizens and policy shapers to rally around marine scientists so that they can net regional cooperation and ocean stewardship to benefit all before it is too late. n

Action needed

b  9

Strategic Vision vol. 5, no. 29 (October, 2016)

Maritime Menace China’s maritime militia poised for a larger role in regional disputes Monika Chansoria


s China becomes increasingly forceful in the maritime realm with multiple maritime disputes in its so-called near seas, the focus primarily remains restricted on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its naval modernization. However, a lesser-known and rarely discussed sea force that is surreptitiously being developed by China is its maritime militia. This is an armed mass group of military-trained personnel constituting a reserve force mandated mainly to support the PLA-Navy (PLAN). The maritime militia is a well-organized and -trained irregular force composed mostly of recruits from the fishing industry in villages in coastal Chinese provinces. Chinese publications such as the Hainan Daily have outlined the role of the maritime militia to “include collecting maritime information … and contributing to sovereignty defense in the South China Sea.” The Chinese government and the PLA have begun granting greater credence to this irregular maritime force by means of extensive financial support and grants. Most of China’s maritime militia is made up of local fishermen. According to China Fisheries Authority, the total number of fisherman in China was nearly 21 million in 2013, making it the highest globally. The proportion of fisherman in the maritime militia has registered a tenfold increase over the past two years, from less than 2 percent in 2013 to more than 20 percent in 2015. This is in addition to the nearly 439,000 motorized fishing vessels that

can operate at sea in conjunction with the Beihai Fleet, Donghai Fleet, and Nanhai Fleet, which the PLAN commands.

Augmented power State-controlled publications from Beijing have acknowledged that China’s maritime militia works alongside the PLAN “to strengthen its combat capability and operational requirements.” Take for instance the Beihai City Military Command of the PLA in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (in South Central China, which borders Vietnam): By absorbing veterans from the Navy and experienced sailors, the Beihai maritime militia, in particular, is equipped for various missions including transport, reconnaissance, and emergency equipment repair in areas with a strong shipbuilding industry. This enables the city’s maritime militia to play a vital role in various maritime drills organized by the PLAN. The maritime militia receives frequent training, and possesses advanced skills for carrying out missions at sea, as opposed to those in the less active coastal militia. Andrew Erickson, a professor at the US Naval War College, underlines the significance of the maritime militia being distinct from both China’s coastal militia (which is shore-based) and its naval reserve, although some coastal militia units have been transformed into maritime militia units. Not unexpectedly, China has begun downplaying the role of its mari-

Dr. Monika Chansoria is a Resident Fellow at the Sandia National Laboratories, in the United States. She can be reached for comment at


photo: Demetrius Kennon The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) conducts flight operations while underway to Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016.

time militia insofar as asserting claims over multiple maritime disputes and “rights protection” issues are concerned. What does not go unobserved, however, is the maritime militia’s activities and training in the strategically important, southernmost province of Hainan and Sansha City (which ostensibly administers vast island groups and the surrounding waters in the South China Sea). Apart from administering Sansha, Hainan is home to the Yulin Naval Base and its submarine bunker, along with a host of conventional and nuclear submarines. The Maritime Militia, established in July 2013, came close on the heels of PRC President Xi Jinping’s momentous visit to the remote fishing village of Tanmen in Qionghai County when he toured Hainan Province in April 2013. The trip proved instrumental in boosting the growth of the militia in Hainan. The local government, party, and the PLA jointly produced legislation in 2014 to fund local counties’ efforts to recruit maritime militia personnel. Additionally, the prefecture-level

city Jiangmen, in the southeast Chinese province of Guangdong (bordering Hong Kong and Macau) is organizing sea-operation exercises for local militiamen to notch up their combat capabilities.

Growing might In addition to the developments mentioned above, further insight into China’s strategy can be gleaned from China’s 2015 White Paper on Military Strategy— the first ever exclusively on China’s military strategy—which delves into the development of civil-military integration (CMI). China’s objective is to forge further ahead with CMI by diversifying the forms and expanding and elevating the scope and levels of integration, thereby resulting in an all-element and cost-efficient CMI pattern. The key sectors in which CMI will likely get accelerated are infrastructure, key technological areas and major industries, weaponry and equipment from national defense industries, and outsourcing of logistical support to civilian sup-

Maritime Menace  b  11

port systems. What is most significant is the acknowledgement by the Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, for “joint building and utilization of military and civilian infrastructure and joint exploration of the sea… and shared use of such resources as surveying and mapping, navigation, meteorology.”

Competing interpretations China seeks to closely knit national defense mobilization by enhancing education in national defense and boosting the awareness of the general public. This was evident when the Chinese Foreign Ministry released an official “Position Paper of the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Matter of Jurisdiction in the South China Sea Arbitration Initiated by the Republic of the Philippines” on 7 December, 2014. The act of releasing an official Position Paper on the

eve of the December deadline set by the International Tribunal was apparently effectual in two ways: first, it expounded on why the tribunal does not have jurisdiction over this case; and two, it reiterated China’s position of not participating in the case. However, the verdict of the Tribunal at The Hague concluded that, to the extent China had historic rights to resources in the waters of the South China Sea, such rights were extinguished to the extent they were incompatible with the exclusive economic zones provided for in the Convention. The Tribunal also noted that, although Chinese navigators and fishermen, as well as those of other states, had historically made use of the islands in the South China Sea, there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or their resources. Finally, the Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within its claimed nine-dash line. In addition to active PLA ground forces, China’s

photo: NASA Seen from space, Scarborough Shoal offers a brilliant spectacle. Unfortunately, it may become the next flashpoint in the South China Sea.


military reserve force comprises 600,000 men and women, as per former Chinese Minister of National Defense, Liang Guanglie, who provided these figures during an interview with Xinhua on 29 December, 2010. Founded in 1983, the PLA Reserve remains a key component of China’s national defense. The combining of the militia and the reserve service system happened in 1984 following a stipulation of the Military Service Law. According to China’s White Paper on National Defense in 2008, the reserve force primarily comprises the militia and has been organized into reserve-service divisions and regiments. The 2008 White Paper chronicled that the Central Military Commission began to confer military ranks on reserve officers only in April 1996, following which the Law of the People’s Republic of China on National Defense, promulgated in March 1997, specified that China’s armed forces consist of the active-duty force and the reserve force of the PLA, the People’s Armed Police Force, and the militia.

Synergistic forces The 2008 White Paper acknowledged that after 25 years of buildup and development, the reserve force has become “an important component of the national defense reserve.” The charter of the National Defense Reserve is to conduct training and “maintain social stability” during peacetime, with the possibility of being transferred to active duty during war. Reserve soldiers include all militia, demobilized soldiers, and specialized technical personnel; and reserve officers include demobilized officers and soldiers, college and university graduates, and civilian cadres. The reserve force implements the orders and regulations of the PLA, and is incorporated into the PLA’s force structure. In peacetime, it is led by the provincial military districts or garrison commands, and during wartime, after mobilization, it is commanded

by the designated active unit or carries out combat missions independently. China will almost certainly continue to build its reserve forces and increase their proportion in the PLAN, the PLA Air Force, the Strategic Rocket Force, and combat support forces. More specifically, the naval reserve is mainly composed of reconnaissance, mine-sweeping, mine-laying, radar observa-

“The role of the maritime militia in the seizure of the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012 is well acknowledged.” tion, communications, and other specialized forces. These developments, if collated and reviewed collectively, highlight that China is concentrating heavily, in terms of resources and capabilities, towards the South China Sea, as it becomes the locus of a brewing conflict between China and contending claimants— Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, the ROC, Indonesia, and the Philippines, especially following the verdict of the International Tribunal that left China mortified and feeling cornered internationally.

Undermining efforts Seeking to exploit the rules of engagement with regular international naval forces, Chinese merchant ships and fishing boats have often been sighted around artificial islands being built by China, including Subi Reef in the South China Sea. These ships appear to be manned by civilians who are in fact part of the maritime militia that takes orders directly from the PLAN. China has been employing its maritime militia units more frequently in the past few years during numerous skirmishes in international waters. The role of the maritime militia in the seizure of the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012 is well acknowledged. Subsequently, the maritime mi-

Maritime Menace  b  13

litia also aided the Chinese coast guard and navy in preventing Vietnamese maritime vessels from approaching an oil rig that China stationed near the contested Paracel Islands in 2014. In addition, fishing vessels that are reported to be part of this maritime militia have similarly contested a US naval ship as it sailed close to the Spratly Islands in October 2015. Against this backdrop, it would not be hard to imagine that the maritime militia will be employed more fervently, and potently, by the PLAN, as a quasi-civilian force that would be effective in asserting Chinese presence and claims without attracting direct military conflict with the involved players. The verdict of the international tribunal has left China embarrassed, defeated, and feeling cornered internationally. The role of the maritime militia will certainly grow in the future. By virtue of building three airstrips on the Spratly Islands, the PLA is upping the ante to buttress its claims over the South

China Sea, and the region is likely to witness greater politico-strategic rivalry given that the United States has deployed warships on missions in the region to counter a perennially assertive China. It is rapidly becoming evident that great-power diplomacy does not always remain limited to soft-power initiatives. Rather, it is a deft mix of hard tactics rolled up to yield policy pronouncements. Stemming from this construct, China’s approach and take on the South China Sea is gradually, yet firmly, becoming far more inflexible. It is only a matter of time until the maritime militia will become a critical and vital support organ for the PLAN, along with the coast guard, in a combined naval strategy to advance China’s position in multiple maritime disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea, whilst simultaneously bolstering China’s naval presence and role in the Indian Ocean Region at large. n

photo: Justin Fisher US Navy sailors of Patrol Squadron 46 load a P-3 Orion aircraft with AGM-65F MAVERICKS Air to Surface Missiles prior to a sinking exercise (SINKEX).

14  b 

Strategic Vision vol. 5, no. 29 (October, 2016)

Toppling Pillars

Philippine pivot to China seriously undermines America’s rebalance to Asia Wen-hao Lu


s the most important long-term US ally in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is considered a firm pillar of the White House’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. However, this pillar supporting US foreign policy appears increasingly unstable due to the recent rift in US-Philippine relations. Since Rodrigo Duterte won the presidential election on May 9, 2016, the issue of human rights, his propensity for making offensive remarks, and shifting relations closer to China have been obstacles affecting cooperation between the two nations. Duterte’s domestic policy has focused on combating the illegal drug trade by initiating a nationwide drug war. Following criticism from US human rights experts that extrajudicial killings had increased since the election, President Duterte firmly asserted that he will not bow down to US President Barack Obama on the issue of extrajudicial and vigilante killings of drug suspects in the country. Furthermore, he accused US troops of killing Muslims during the US occupation of the Philippines in the early 1900s. Duterte’s views on human rights are not the only reason why US officials should worry about his presidency. Since President Duterte took office, his foreign policy has reflected a sharp departure from that of his predecessor. Instead of being fully dependent on United States, he is conducting a more independent foreign policy, which involves closer relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). As the long-

time mayor of Davao City, President Duterte had never dealt with China, but has long harbored deep anti-US feelings dating from a mysterious bomb explosion in a local hotel in 2002. An American citizen was charged in that case but fled the country. In response, Duterte publically speculated that a CIA conspiracy was behind the incident.

Increasing frictions Although President Obama intends to downplay Duterte’s anti-US attitude, it is easy to observe the deteriorating relationship and even the escalating tension between two nations. The Obama administration canceled a meeting with Duterte at a regional summit after he referred to Obama as a “son of a whore” and railed against the colonial history of the Philippines. Due to recent incidents, it is clear that the relationship between Obama and Duterte is sour, and the most important pillar of the Obama administration’s Asian rebalance seems to be toppling. Nevertheless, the United States cannot afford to abandon its most vital ally in Southeast Asia; nor can the Philippines continue to ignore US influence and power. In April, 2016, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter stopped in the Philippines during state visit to Asia. His visit demonstrated how the Southeast Asian state, which was long considered as one of Asia’s weakest militaries and Washington’s laggard, has in fact

Colonel Wen-hao Lu is currently attending the US Marine Corps War College in Quantico, Virginia. He can be reached for comment at

Toppling Pillars  b  15

photo: Ryan Lim Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte converses with former President Benigno S. Aquino during a meeting with local leaders in Davao City.

grown to become a critical part of America’s ongoing rebalance to the region. Although new partnerships, such as the one with Vietnam, have been grabbing more headlines than Washington’s two traditional Southeast Asian alliances with Thailand and the Philippines, long-term allies still play indispensable roles for the Obama administration’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific.

Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Airbase in 1992, an examination of US-Philippine defense ties reveals that the United States still enjoys significant access to Philippine military facilities, including port calls to Subic Bay. The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), inked in April 2014 and upheld by the Supreme Court in January, is undoubtedly a significant boost for Washington on that score.

“The pillar, which used to be considered the most solid one in the region, has become unstable.”

Critical link

It is clear that through a series of steps over the last few years, the Philippines has emerged as what Carter termed “a central part” of the US rebalance, particularly in the security realm. Due to China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, Manila has cemented itself as a key location for America’s military presence. Despite the American withdrawal from

Furthermore, beyond just the US-Philippine alliance, Manila is becoming an exemplary case of the growing networking between the United States and its allies and partners in the region more generally. A good example is the Philippines’ central role in the new US-led Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative (MSI), which is an effort to enhance regional maritime domain awareness (MDA) of Southeast Asian states in the South China Sea so they can improve their ability to detect, understand, react to, and share


photo: Gregory Brook A Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 refuels from a US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker during Vigilant Shield 2017 Field Training Exercise in the high Arctic.

information about air and maritime activity there. Finally, the Philippines is an active supporter of in-

istration, under the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The tribunal ruled,

ternational principles, which are central to the preservation of the rules-based order US officials so often talk about. Most clearly, in the security realm, while many US allies and partners in the region rhetorically support principles like freedom of navigation, adherence to international law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes when it comes to the South China Sea, the Philippines is the only Southeast Asian claimant state thus far that has filed a case against China with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). Shifting ties Duterte is pushing a more independent Philippine foreign policy line that balances alliance commitments to the US with a desire to restore ties with China—ties that went into a deep freeze after his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, launched the legal case in The Hague against China’s sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea. On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration tribunal in the Hague announced its ruling in favor of the Philippines in its case filed under the Aquino admin-

inter alia, that the PRC had no legal basis for claims based on the nine-dash line, which encompass nearly the entire sea. Three days after the ruling, during a testimonial dinner in San Juan, Metro Manila, Duterte asked former President Fidel Ramos to lead the Philippine envoy to Beijing for bilateral negotiations with China over the disputes.

“Duterte announced that he was considering buying weapons from Russia and China while also ending joint patrols with US forces in the South China Sea.” During his first State of the Nation Address on July 25, 2016, Duterte said that his administration “strongly affirms and respects” the ruling and would use it as a guide to negotiate for a resolution of the territorial disputes. Duterte prefers to discuss the issue quietly

Toppling Pillars  b  17

and directly with China and has vowed not to raise the issue before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Duterte said he would not want to antagonize China, pointing out that “we maintain good relations with China. Let us create an environment where we sit down and talk directly.” Obviously, what he has said and done signals a willingness to reconstruct the Manila’s relationship with Beijing. Responding to Duterte’s gesture of goodwill, Beijing might be committed to strengthening ties with Manila despite their unresolved territorial conflict. Speaking on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Laos, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin stressed that both countries share “thousands of years” of good relations. Several agreements have been discussed between the Philippines and China amid Duterte’s recent harsh rhetoric for US officials. In comparison with his attitude toward China, Duterte takes the opposite approach toward the

United States. In addition to quarrels over human rights with US officials, Duterte called for the United States to withdraw its military advisers, warning that

“The true danger of Duterte’s approach to China and the South China Sea is that his administration will seek to engage Beijing in a way that disregards potential security problems.” their presence on Mindanao Island makes them a valuable target for the extremist Abu Sayyaf militant group operating there. During a swearing-in ceremony for public officials, Duterte stated, “For as long as we stay with America, we will never have peace and might as well give it up.” In an even more surprising statement, Duterte announced that he was considering buying weapons from Russia and China

photo: Cody M. Deccio An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter transfers ordnance to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) during an at-sea ammunition load.


photo: Joshua Fulton A US Navy chaplain delivers supplies to a Philippine soldier at the Olongapo Social Development Center. Such cooperation may soon be a thing of the past.

while also ending joint patrols with US forces in the South China Sea. The risks of Duterte’s approach towards China and the South China Sea lie not in whether he talks to China or moves the Philippines closer to Beijing, but how he does so. Specifically, the true danger of Duterte’s approach to China and the South China Sea is that his administration will seek to engage Beijing in a way that disregards potential security problems, and undercuts the ASEAN regional unity and global solidarity needed to constrain Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea. Domino effect For the United States, the risks of Duterte’s approach to China and the South China Sea could bring a major setback to its rebalancing policy for the Asia-Pacific. More countries in the region may follow suit. If this happens, the US would, expectedly, lose its influence gradually in the Asia-Pacific and would fail to achieve its rebalancing goal. The pillar, which used to be considered the most solid one in the region, has become

unstable. Since Duterte has no intention of backing down on the human rights issue, it is reasonable to believe that Washington might possibly turn a blind eye to this issue in order to save its valuable alliance. However, the territorial disputes in the South China Sea cannot be ignored because of this developing partnership. In fact, Duterte has warned of a “bloody” confrontation should China try to invade the country’s territories in the disputed South China Sea. Similarly, it is also unlikely that the Philippines will eventually distance itself from the United States which is its traditional and long-term ally, even though tensions between two nations is increasing. The Philippines has no way to ignore US global influence and military power. By cooperating with two superpowers and asserting its independence, Duterte no doubt believes he is upholding his country’s best interests. It remains to be seen how long he can maintain his balance on this tightrope. n

b  19

Strategic Vision vol. 5, no. 29 (October, 2016)

Facing Uncertainty Strategic ambiguities complicate Taiwan’s defense policy planning Richard Hu & Jonathan Spangler


aiwan has long played a pivotal role in regional relations, and much of its strength today is derived from its thriving economy, vibrant democracy, and strong diplomatic relations with other countries. At the same time, its de facto statehood without UN member-state status remains a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, and it must also continuously confront the daunting reality that its most important economic partner is also its most serious security threat. Taiwan’s defense policy has been analyzed using many different lenses and encouraged by various defense concepts over the years, including the “resolute defense, effective de-

terrence” strategy before 1992 and again after 2008, the more proactive “effective deterrence, resolute defense” approach. In the interim, there have been a host of concepts, including the “porcupine” strategy suggested by William Murray; the “deter, defend, repel, and partner” strategy encouraged by Dan Blumenthal et al.; discussions about theater missile defense (TMD) systems; suggestions about crossstrait military confidence-building measures during the Ma administration; and the “four elements” (i.e., military technology, economic power, national identity, and China-Taiwan-US trilateral relations) assessed by Lowell Dittmer.

photo: ROC Presidential Office ROC Coast Guard members, such as these personnel conducting a ceremony in Kaohsiung, play a key role in defending Taiwan’s vast maritime territory.

Richard Hu is a retired ROC Army major general and a professor of strategy at ROC National Defense University. Jonathan Spangler is the Director of the South China Sea Think Tank and a Doctoral Fellow at Academia Sinica. He can be reached at


These diverse conceptualizations are analytically useful for assessing the current state and future trajectory and options for Taiwan’s defense policy, but there is always more to the picture than meets the eye. In Taiwan’s case, there are three key ambiguities that serve as drivers of its defense policy: Washington’s military commitment, Beijing’s unification resolve, and Taipei’s unrevealed intentions. This article outlines these three ambiguities, makes a preliminary assessment of their implications, and argues that they must be taken into consideration in any attempt to elucidate the past, present, and future of Taiwan’s defense policy.

Washington’s military commitment The first ambiguity driving Taiwan’s defense policy relates to whether or not the United States will come to Taiwan’s aid militarily in a contingency involving the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Although the United States has served as the guarantor of Taiwan’s security for over half a century, shifting global power relations suggest that its enduring support is by no means a foregone conclusion. The PRC has enjoyed nearly continuous double-digit economic growth over most of the past 30 years and transformed itself into the world’s second-largest economy. In its annual report to Congress, entitled Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, the US Department of Defense concluded that none of the cross-strait military trends have been moving in Taiwan’s favor since at least 2009. The RAND Corporation, in The US-China Military Scorecard published in 2015, estimated that if the United States were to confront the PRC in a war involving Taiwan, it would likely be a desperate affair with significant losses on both sides. Even more alarming, they see “a series of tipping points” in China’s favor that might come as early as 2020. China’s rise has caused anxiety throughout the re-

gion. Doubts about the strength of US commitments to regional security have also increased, and the AsiaPacific rebalancing strategy launched under the Obama administration has only been able to partially assuage these fears. Although the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 and House Congressional Resolution 88 on “Reaffirming the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances as cornerstones of United States–Taiwan relations” of 2016 codify US defense commitments to Taiwan, there is no mutual defense agreement or formal diplomatic relationship between the two countries. In recent years, some US lawmakers have even resentfully told Taiwan politicians to increase their own military spending and take national defense issues more seriously. Washington, in order to maintain flexibility in its policy options and focus on its own national interests, prefers to maintain a certain level of strategic ambiguity about the extent of its military commitment to Taiwan. Uncertainty and ambiguity about the US military commitment has several important implications for Taiwan’s defense policy and other policy approaches that are tightly linked to its security. First, it forces Republic of China (ROC) policymakers to broaden

“Economically, Taipei must ensure that Taiwan is not overly reliant on its trade relations with China.” their list of policy options for arms procurement and development. In order to offset the inherent risks of relying entirely on US arms sales, Taiwan has begun to ensure that the local defense industry continues to develop and consider alternative sources of foreign arms procurement. Taipei will need to build greater momentum regarding these options while also redoubling its efforts to demonstrate to Washington that making clear commitments to Taiwan are in the best interests of the United States and beneficial to

Facing Uncertainty  b  21

photo: Armondo R. Limon A C-17 Globemaster III, a high-wing, four-engine, T-tailed military transport vehicle, takes off from Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii on a supply mission.

regional security and stability. Second, given the limited resources of the Taiwanese armed forces relative to those of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Taipei will also need to use non-military means to reduce the risk of military confrontation with China. Diplomatically, the administration of ROC President Tsai Ing-wen will have to proceed cautiously in order to maintain cross-strait stability. The government must find a balance that safeguards Taiwan’s autonomy and seeks out new opportunities for international engagement without signaling to Beijing that its moves indicate a shift towards independence. Economically, Taipei must ensure that Taiwan is not overly reliant on its trade relations with China in order to reduce the risk of Beijing using its economic leverage in ways detrimental to Taiwan’s security interests. Because independently guaranteeing its own security would be unfeasible for Taiwan, it must supplement its own defense capabilities by relying in part on its strong relations with the United States and its pivotal role in regional relations. Many, if not most,

Taiwan people still have great expectations about US intervention in the Taiwan Strait should that day come. However, a withering willingness among US lawmakers to become involved militarily in a crossstrait contingency or any other regional conflict has led to greater ambiguity about Washington’s military commitment to Taiwan. This ambiguity cannot be ignored and is an increasingly important driver of Taiwan’s defense policy.

Beijing’s unification resolve Taiwan’s defense policy is also highly influenced by the ambiguity related to whether or not—and, if so, when and how—China will back up its firm resolution regarding eventual unification with military force. To this day, Beijing has not renounced the use of force against Taiwan to achieve the goal of unification. According to the ROC Ministry of National Defense, there are a variety of circumstances under which the PRC might decide to invade Taiwan, including Taiwan formally declaring independence or taking steps toward de jure independence; Taiwan


obtaining nuclear weapons; foreign troops being deployed to Taiwan; extreme civil unrest or other internal disorder in Taiwan; foreign forces interfering in Taiwan’s affairs; or Taiwan delaying cross-strait negotiations on eventual reunification. Although events over the past few decades could have been construed as falling into one of these scenarios, Beijing has failed to use force to respond in

“The heightened sense of threat from the PRC has increased the urgency of defense issues for the people of Taiwan, as well as ROC military officials and policymakers.” the past. Several reasons for this might include strategic patience and long-term thinking about the unification issue; acknowledgement that unification by force would be unsustainable relative to peaceful unification; concerns about military intervention by the United States and other foreign powers; and considerations about the inadequacy of the PLA’s own military capabilities. That said, the current scenario may be different than in the past: The level of tension between the Beijing leadership and the Tsai administration, coupled with the PRC’s increasingly hawkish position on its territorial claims, increase the ambiguity surrounding the enduring threat of unification by force. The Tsai administration and DPP-majority legislature, many of whose members have leaned towards independence in the past, represent an additional variable in Beijing’s calculus that could strengthen its resolve. Beijing has embraced the view that Tsai and the DPP are playing China by hiding their real intentions and pushing for Taiwan’s “soft” independence— avoiding the legal aspects of formal independence while edging further towards cultural, economic, diplomatic, and military independence. Over the past two months, some PRC scholars and retired senior

military officials such as Wang Hungkuang, a retired lieutenant general and former deputy commander of the Nanking Military Region, have openly voiced their views that the PRC should seriously consider recovering Taiwan and reunifying China by force before 2020, or even as early as next year. Ambiguity regarding China’s willingness to back up its political rhetoric by force has important implications for Taiwan’s defense policy. In particular, the heightened sense of threat from the PRC has increased the urgency of defense issues for the people of Taiwan, as well as ROC military officials and policymakers. It has also become a factor affecting recruitment rates, military morale, and public support for the military, which in turn may affect defense spending budgets and military effectiveness. If the Taiwan public and lawmakers perceive Beijing’s unification resolve as strengthening, national defense issues may seem ever-more urgent, which could lead to either increasing support for strengthening Taiwan’s defense and a cycle of escalation in cross-strait relations, or deteriorating enthusiasm and morale within the ROC armed forces.

Taipei’s unrevealed intentions The third ambiguity shaping Taiwan’s defense policy is the unvocalized nature of its political administrations’ true intentions regarding Taiwan’s diplomatic status and, in particular, the issue of eventual independence or unification. Domestically, the independence vs. unification issue is marked by political polarization and has come to represent two ends of the domestic political spectrum. Moreover, although public support for unification has reached historic lows, leaning towards independence has the serious risk of provoking a military response from Beijing. For presidents and other high-ranking politicians in the ROC, this issue presents a major dilemma as publicly endorsing either reunification or independence

Facing Uncertainty  b  23

would be political suicide by eliminating large swaths of potential supporters. As a result, maintaining the cross-strait status quo remains the safest approach. Embracing political ambiguity on certain issues is standard protocol for many politicians, but it can have a major impact on certain policy issues, and defense policy in particular. The inability of Taiwan’s political administrations to publicly express their true intentions regarding eventual independence or unification, or even share these intentions with key officials such as the Minister of National Defense, has major implications for Taiwan’s defense policy. Defense planning is an issue in which clarity is essential. For a military strategy to be effective, there must be clear national objectives. Maintaining the cross-strait status quo—the go-to policy approach for ROC policymakers—is clearly beneficial in many ways, but as a defense policy, the ambiguity presents a major conundrum and has detrimental effects on planning and implementation at the strategic, operational,

and tactical levels. This ambiguity drives Taiwan’s defense policy and, given that maintaining the status quo in cross-strait relations will remain the most viable policy approach for high-ranking officials for the foreseeable future, it is likely that ROC military officials will continue to struggle with this reality and be limited to defense planning that takes this ambiguity at the highest level into account. As outlined above, the three ambiguities driving Taiwan’s defense policy relate to (1) whether or not the United States will come to Taiwan’s aid militarily in a contingency involving China, (2) whether or not—and if so, when and how—China will back up its firm resolution regarding eventual unification with military force, and (3) the unvocalized nature of ROC political administrations’ true intentions. These underlying issues play a major role in shaping Taiwan security issues and must be taken into consideration in any attempt to elucidate the past, present, and future of Taiwan’s defense policy. n

photo: Jeff Landis Marine Corps tanks and vehicles in Guam wait to be loaded onto the maritime prepositioning ship USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams (T-AK-3009).

24  b 

Strategic Vision vol. 5, no. 29 (October, 2016)

Security Provider Japan takes larger role in regional security amid growing Chinese assertiveness J. Berkshire Miller

photo: C. Todd Lopez US Army Stryker Combat Vehicles hold an exercise with members of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Forces at the Yakima Training Center in Washington State.


his year has seen a marked change in Japan-China relations, especially as a result of increased tensions in the East and South China seas. One of the major watermarks was the July 12 decision by the Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague to award the tribunal ruling to the Philippines in its dispute with China over the latter’s expansive claims in the South China Sea. The Chinese claims largely centered around in-

its diplomatic influence in the fractured Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in order to stifle unity on whether the ruling should be respected. Meanwhile, China remains deeply suspicious and is concerned about Japan’s increasingly assertive interest in the regional dispute. The South China Sea row has become a heated venue for Tokyo and Beijing’s diplomatic sparring. Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada visited

tentional ambiguity surrounding the infamous “ninedash line.” Beijing has predictably responded by calling the ruling a “waste of paper” and has assembled

Washington, DC this past September and made an important policy speech on the current security environment in East Asia and the importance of Japan’s

J. Berkshire Miller is an international affairs fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow on East Asia for the New York-based EastWest Institute and is the founding director of the Council on International Policy. He can be reached at:

Security Provider  b  25

alliance with the United States. During the speech, delivered at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Inada referenced Japan’s position on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, saying “In the South China Sea, China has engaged in largescale reclamation at multiple maritime features to

“Tokyo has significant commercial and security interests in the South China Sea and realizes that the maritime capability gap between China and ASEAN states is growing by leaps and bounds.” build man-made islands. On these man-made islands, China is building facilities of military utility such as runways, hangars, berthing facilities, and radars.” Tokyo, in tandem with its US ally and regional partners such as Australia, has taken a tough position on Beijing’s moves in the South China Sea. Inada further indicated in September that “the Chinese position against the recent rulings by the Permanent

Arbitration Court at the Hague does not correspond with Japan’s position, where we respect and uphold the rule of law.” She added that “these Chinese actions constitute its deliberate attempt to unilaterally change the status quo, achieve a fait accompli, and undermine the prevailing norms.” Japan has further indicated its support of Washington’s freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) in the South China Sea and has stressed its interest in conducting joint training cruises with the US Navy in the coming months.

Strategic interests Tokyo has significant commercial and security interests in the South China Sea and realizes that the maritime capability gap between China and ASEAN states is growing by leaps and bounds. Moreover, Japan feels that taking a more assertive diplomatic posture on the South China Sea would support the position of the Abe administration to link China’s aggressiveness in the maritime domain (including its behavior

photo: Patrick Dionne Marines depart the well deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay in a combat rubber raiding craft in the Pacific Ocean.


photo: Ryan McFarlane Japanese Minister of Defense, Tomomi Inada, visits the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

in its dispute with Japan in the East China Sea) into a greater normative principle that upholds international law rather than coercive change of status quo. Indeed, Japan has responded forcefully to the tribunal’s decision and has repeatedly indicated that China, along with other parties to the dispute, needs to recognize the ruling as legally binding and final. This has raised ire in China and drawn a series of public rebukes for Japan not to become involved in the South China Sea. Even more concerning to Beijing is Tokyo’s efforts to boost the maritime capabilities of other states in Southeast Asia—especially Vietnam and the Philippines—through the provision of retrofitted patrol vessels. What Beijing is most alarmed by is the idea of Japan potentially participating with its US ally, and also Australia, in FONOPs in the South China Sea. This continues to be seen as a redline for China, which has warned Japan not to send the Self-Defense Force (SDF) to these waterways for such operations.

To be clear, Inada’s policy speech in Washington this past fall does not show much of a policy divergence, and never directly references Tokyo’s interest in taking part in FONOPs. There are two main reasons for Tokyo’s ambiguity. First, from a capability and capacity perspective, Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force and Coast Guard remains fully engaged in mitigating China’s presence in the East China Sea. Second, Japan is concerned that engaging in these joint operations may influence China’s actions in the East China Sea, specifically with regard to the territorial row over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

Maintaining support Japan needs to follow through with its recent moves to engage with the ASEAN region on security matters and help reaffirm regional norms that promote freedom of navigation and the rule of law in the maritime domain. There are a number of ways in which Japan can develop a strategy that would works toward its

Security Provider  b  27

goals. First, Tokyo should make sustained and diverse efforts to enhance capabilities for maritime domain awareness and ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) with states in the region. This work is already going on to an extent, as Tokyo has been providing retrofitted patrol vessels to both Vietnam and the Philippines. Japan also has been engaged in providing maritime capacity-building assistance to Indonesia and Myanmar and has a maritime security dialogue with Singapore. Second, Japan should also continue to look at multilateral avenues to promote its message on maritime security in the region. Specifically, Tokyo can continue to maintain a high-level and sustained presence of senior officials who attend the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus and the Shangri-la Dialogue—the premier security forum in the region. Third, Japan should look to maintain high-level political engagement in the region, despite ASEAN’s fractured response to the PCA decision. Japan’s desire to enhance its security relations with

countries in the ASEAN region has been demonstrated consistently since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in late 2012. In his first year in office, Abe made it a point to visit all ten member states of ASEAN and also has sent key cabinet ministers to the region on a consistent basis. This effort needs to be sustained. Finally, Japan should look to expand its assistance to Southeast Asia on humanitarian and disaster-relief issues. A key example of this was Japan’s provision of assistance to the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. From a defense perspective, Tokyo deployed more than 1,000 Self SDF personnel and brought helicopters, significant food and medical cargo to assist Filipinos in remote areas and those with limited access. Simply put, Tokyo has significant real-time stakes in the future of the South China Sea and relies on maintaining free Sea Lines of Communication in these waters. It will be vital for Japan to remain engaged on this issue over the coming years to protect these interests. n

photo: Mark Lazane Amember of the United States Air Force marshals a US Air Force C-17 to its designated ramp position at Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in the Philippines.

Visit our website:

Profile for Strategic Vision

Strategic Vision, Issue 29  

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded