Thursday, December 27, 2018

US wants Australia & allies to step up South China Sea patrols-Meanwhile ,Australia considers Malaysia irrelevant for the purpose,and continues to undermine Mahathir

by Ganesh Sahathevan

Mapping world oil transport

The Australian has reported this morning :

The Pentagon’s top Asia official has urged Australia and other US allies to boost their military ­presence in the South China Sea, to send a signal to China that its behaviour in the region is un­acceptable.

Malaysia which encloses part of the South China Sea (SCS) and has control of the Of Malacca which feeds into the SCS has made clear it will not accept Chinese control of the SCS.

Malaysia's recently elected prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has ,despite public pronouncements, always preferred the US presence in the SCS. Malaysia is also a member of the
Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA), which Mahathir has never opposed, even at the height of the Buy British Last policy.

Australia is a member of the FPDA but has decided that Malaysia is irrelevant to the defence of SCS. This writer has been told so, by a senior member of the current government who was asked why Australia is not doing more to work with Malaysia in order to counter China's moves in the SCS.


Pentagon urges allies to step up South China Sea patrols

The Pentagon’s top Asia official has urged Australia and other US allies to boost their military ­presence in the South China Sea, to send a signal to China that its behaviour in the region is un­acceptable.
Randy Schriver, the Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Affairs, also warned that China’s interest in the South Pacific region signalled it may have ambitions one day to establish military bases there.
He said the US welcomed the fact Australia had recently stepped up its naval activities in the disputed South China Sea.


But Australia and other US allie­s could exert even more pressur­e on Beijing if they further lifted their presence in the South China Sea, at a time when the US had stepped up its own naval patro­ls to challenge China’s claims to disputed islands.
“I think what could potentially bring more pressure on the Chin­ese is other partners and allies joining in these activities,” Mr Schriver said in an exclusive intervie­w in Washington.
“If not freedom-of-navigation operations … just joint patrols, presence operations.
“There have been several publi­c accounts of Australian activiti­es in the South China Sea and some of the assertive challenges (to Australia) from China, so I think that is characteristic of what we are seeing from Australia and certainly we welcome that.”
Mr Schriver said any decision to boost military presence in the region was a sovereign one for Australia and the US “feels good” about the way Australia and the US were approaching the challenge in the region.
The US has stepped up its freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea, where Beijing has angered the international community by militarising islands that are also claimed by other region­al countries, as the Trump administration challenges China on a broad front, including a tariff trade war and condemnation of Beijing’s espionage operations against the US and its allies.
In August, a Chinese warship almost collided with a US destroy­er when it challenged it near the disputed Spratly Islands.
An Australian navy warship, HMAS Melbourne, transited the Taiwan Strait in late September — a move that usually displeases Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own territory.
The Australian understands that more Australian naval transits through the Taiwan Straits are under active consideration.
Although Australia has not joined the US Navy in conducting freedom-of-navigation patrols within the 12-nautical-mile zones of disputed islands in the region, it has stepped up its military activity in the region.
In late February, then defence minister Marise Payne said Aust­ralia had made a “quite significant increase” in its military presence in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the region during the previous 18 months, including exercis­es and port visits with Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and The Philippines.
The moves have angered Beijin­g, which has accused Aust­ralia of acting as Washington’s “assistant police”. China’s military issued “robust’’ challenges in April to three Australian warships­, HMAS Anzac, HMAS Toowoomba and HMAS Success, as they travelled through the South China Sea to Vietnam.
Mr Schriver said other US allie­s, including Britain, France and Canada, had lifted their own military activities in the South China Sea. “We’ve seen a lot more ­activity from other interested ­parties because I think there is recognition that an erosion of international law and norms in the South China Sea has implications globally,” he said.
Mr Schriver said the US and Australia had significantly stepped up co-operation in the South Pacific in the face of China’s attempts to establish closer ties with small island nations. He warned that China’s growing interest in the region could lead to it establishing military bases there.
“We certainly see a lot more investment, in some cases debt financing, (and) they (China) are appointing defence attaches in more of these places so as a minimum they are seeking greater influence,” he said. “They may have ambitions beyond that, for example military access or maybe even military bases.
“(In) my consultations with Australia and New Zealand, all three of our governments are very seized with the need to increase our own engagement and our own investments as a way to prove ourselves a better and reliable partner to these countries.”
Mr Schriver said the rise of China was a generational strategic challenge for the US and Australia.
Cameron Stewart is also US contributor for Sky News Australia
Cameron Stewart is an Associate Editor of The Australian who combines investigative reporting on issues of foreign affairs, defence and national security with feature writing on a wide range of topics for the W... 

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