NSTRegion: Be wary of China ‘gray zone’ tactic | New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: “We need to be aware of China’s gray zone tactics in the disputed South China Sea,” said a veteran observer of regional affairs during a short chat while attending the Taiwan national day celebrations, here, recently. News about China’s so called “gray zone tactics” have been in the news months ago but has not caused ripples in the Malaysian context. He was concerned that it will be too late if action is not taken, at least to show China that Malaysia and other claimants on the South China…

Aussie WWII hero who fought in Msia soldiers on at 96 | New Straits Times

HE was just nine months at sea as a 19-year-old midshipman, when sudden battle orders were called. But Guy Richmond Griffiths lived up to expectations, even miraculously surviving aerial bombings by Japanese aircraft that sank his battleship HMS Repulse during World War 2. The startling escape took place on Dec 10, 1941. Griffiths emerged unscathed from another two wars as he made a meteoric rise to rear-admiral, serving the Royal Australian Navy for 43 years. And today, Griffiths, who turned 96 on March 1, does not feel his age at…

Asia Times | India should seek ‘hawkish balance’ through Quad

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) received an upgrade last week when the foreign ministers of Australia, Japan, India and the US met at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The Quad was conceived in 2007 to address the unconventional threats in the Asia-Pacific region. But China viewed this grouping as a ganging-up of the US and its allies to contain its rise. It protested against this arrangement and asked each country to explain the grouping’s objectives. China’s protests pushed the Quad into cold storage. However, China’s rampant naval…

Asia Times | A new ‘Trump Doctrine’ could start with Cambodia

Picture this: Somewhere in the South China Sea, which China claims as its own, a Chinese warship confronts a Philippine warship or, maybe it’s vice versa, and shots are exchanged. It doesn’t matter which warship fired first. The fight is on and the Philippines’ warship is soon joined by American warships that come to the aid of their treaty ally. China marshals its resources, calling more of its warships to join the fight. China’s military, which has clandestine facilities in Cambodia, ostensibly for the “repair and maintenance of its warships and…

Asia Times | US, Philippine air drills take lofty aim at China

American and Philippine armed forces held their first ever combined airborne operations on September 22, a show of joint force that will have sent a strong signal to China amid rising tensions in the South China Sea. The Cesar Basa Air Base, where the historic joint exercises were staged, has been partially opened to Americans under the recently implemented Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Significantly, the facility is close to the Philippine-claimed Scarborough Shoal, which China seized and occupied after a weeks-long standoff with the Philippines in 2012. Security analysts…

Asia Times | Where Trump and Morrison don’t see eye to eye

Australia’s refusal to support a US-led military offensive against Iran has raised questions over the future of their security alliance as US President Donald Trump’s policies threaten to drive a wedge between the two longstanding allies. Canberra is sending a frigate and surveillance plane to a US task force protecting freedom of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday in Washington it won’t be drawn into a war with Iran, or help the US ratchet up pressure against China in its trade war. “The…

Asia Times | Navy counters ‘Great Wall of SAMS’ with Triton drones

Got the feeling, you’re being watched? Well, you are … President Trump has upped the ante in the China Sea, once again. The US Navy is sending two high-altitude MQ-4C Triton drones to Guam on their first overseas deployment, placing the sophisticated surveillance platform deep within the Indo-Pacific at a time of rising tensions with China and stepped-up Navy patrols through the Taiwan Strait, Breaking Defense reported. A group of sailors from the Navy’s Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19, (VUP 19) the first unit to fly the Triton, left their base…

Asia Times | EU on the horns of a China dilemma

It is hard to judge how German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent visit to Beijing relates to Europe’s broadly cooling relations with China. Merkel, joined on the state visit by the Federation of German Industries, signed 11 cooperation agreements while in Beijing, at a time when Europe is tightening regulations on certain Chinese investments. The German leader raised human rights during the visit, including in a meeting with Chinese premier Li Keqiang where she said that political freedoms in embattled Hong Kong “must be guaranteed.” But some analysts sensed that Merkel…

Asia Times | Blunders eroded US military edge in Pacific

The United States Studies Center at the University of Sydney recently issued a report: “Averting Crisis: American Strategy, Military Spending and Collective Defense in the Indo-Pacific.” Averting Disaster would be a better title. The crisis is already here. The report correctly describes America’s eroded military edge in the Indo-Pacific – such that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army even outmatches US forces in certain areas. In fact this was apparent 10 or more years ago. Yet anyone sounding the alarm would have been poorly received at most academic institutions – maybe…

Asia Times | All the reasons ExxonMobil may leave Vietnam

Ever since Xi Jinping took power in 2013, China’s leader has led an increasingly aggressive push in the South China Sea, a policy aimed in part at controlling development of the maritime area’s rich oil and gas reserves. Of all the rival claimants, Vietnam arguably has the most to lose and has thus pushed back the hardest, witnessed in the past two months in a tense standoff with Chinese vessels at the contested gas-rich Vanguard Bank. While the sea tensions unfold, US energy giant ExxonMobil finds itself increasingly intertwined in…