Australian scholar: U.S. lies in South China Sea

Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Zhang Tao
2016-03-23 18:27

BEIJING, March 23 ( ChinaMil) -- The U.S. has taken frequent steps in the South China Sea in the name of so-called "freedom of navigation" recently, and some western media and organizations took this opportunity to hype up the South China Sea issue regardless of facts. Targeting America's intentional creation of tension in that region, an article by a foreign expert criticizing the Pentagon has been spread on the Internet.

Titled Pentagon's Big Lie about the South China Sea, the article pointed out explicitly that "In the background of the current debate is a big lie, an unadulterated fib, perpetrated by the Pentagon. This is that China's actions in the South China Sea threaten commercial shipping."

The author of the article is Greg Austin, a Professorial Fellow with the EastWest Institute in New York and a Professor at the Australian Centre for Cyber Security at the University of New South Wales, Canberra.

Austin used to be an intelligence analyst in Australia, and has studied the South China Sea issue as a scholar for 30 years.

As an expert on that issue, he believed "regarding the claim that commercial navigation in the South China Sea is threatened, it's important to emphasize factual evidences…I don't think the so-called threat to commercial shipping really exists". This is why he decided to write this article.

As a matter of fact, more than 100,000 ships of various countries sailed through the South China Sea safely and freely without any trouble every year. The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying made it clear that China, as the world's largest trading country and the largest country along the South China Sea, attaches more importance to freedom of navigation than anyone else. Facts have shown that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has never been an issue, and under no circumstance can anyone accuse China of threatening such freedom.

Self-contradictory statements regardless of facts

According to Austin's observations and studies, even departments of the U.S. government have different and even contradictory views on the so-called "threat to navigation in the South China Sea".

He published an article in the U.S. Diplomat Magazine last week that pointed out the intelligence bureau of the U.S. Navy made an assessment in 2015 that said China wishes to protect international navigation. "Because of its high level reliance on maritime businesses, ensuring the security of international trade is in the interests of Beijing."

Austin found the contradictory statements from the U.S. Navy intelligence bureau and the U.S. Department of Defense "baffling" and "we need the Pentagon to explain its different statement".

According to him, the Pentagon has always sought to increase the military budget and 2016 is the election year.

"I think America's current stance has too much political publicity and incitation without paying full attention to facts and details". Many American policy makers are unfamiliar with the history of the South China Sea disputes or the history of China's strategic guidelines, Austin said.

It's worth noting that the U.S. has spent profusely on sending troops overseas in recent years despite the sluggish economy.

For example, the White House submitted the federal government budget report of 2017 fiscal year (starting from October 1, 2016) to the congress in early February, and the national defense budget stood as high as $582.7 billion, including about $59 billion for overseas military operations.

The national defense military industry has grown rapidly, thus, hyping up and creating security threat is necessary in order to keep up the massive military expenditure.

U.S. should be objective when targeting China

In Pentagon's Big Lie about the South China Sea, Austin mentioned that the Pentagon's lie has been magnified because of the actions of certain groups. "Some people are obsessed with the tiniest adjustment of China's military deployments instead of any other country."

He also noticed that even the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies displays an obvious tendency to over-analyze the details of Chinese actions.

He said that unlike its close attention to China, AMTI doesn't make daily analysis of America's delivery of military forces in that region. As the route after American warships set off from the port and their activities around the globe are controlled information, AMTI's report on America's air and sea deployments in the South China Sea is limited, but it has paid meticulous attention to China's movements. "That's completely unbalanced."

According to Austin, for concerned countries, it's very important not to escalate the military tension in the South China Sea region. At the moment, all parties are trying hard to keep the tension on a low level, but what's equally important is that all countries should report relevant parties' movements and possible future actions in a fact-based, objective and balanced way.

After Austin's article was published, he received positive responses from other scholars.

Sam Bateman, a maritime security advisor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies of Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, wrote an article saying that China's actions in the South China Sea are described by the Pentagon and U.S. Navy as a growing threat to American interests, but the fact is that instability in that region can give the U.S. Navy the excuse to increase budget and that region is already a main area of its activities now.

By Zhang Xiaojun and Zhang Wei from The opinions expressed here are those of the writers and don't represent views of the China Military Online website.

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