Trouble in the South China Sea, complacent Australia so not ready

Trouble in the South China Sea, complacent Australia so not ready. Greg Sheridan describes the international ruling against the Chinese land grab:

The Permanent Court of ­Arbitration has dealt a devastating blow to China’s aggressive ­foreign policy in the South China Sea.

It is difficult to imagine how even the most slavish apologist for Beijing — and the species is not unknown in Australia — can possibly defend China’s claims, and more importantly its actions, in the South China Sea following the court’s devastating ruling.

Beijing has “no historic rights” to claim sovereignty over the territories it has claimed, and in some cases constructed, in sea.

Chinese base in South China Sea

China’s view: A US-led conspiracy behind the farce.

Washington chose to ignore the facts and the law, giving full support to its flunkey in Asia [the Philippines] without hesitation. … Generally, it took four kinds of actions.:

First, colluding with its allies to rubbish China. … Second, showing off military force and putting pressure on China. … Third, playing China and ASEAN countries off each other. … Fourth, manipulating the international arbitration tribunal and complicating the South China Sea issues into a “dead knot.”

The Chinese threat:

[US] intentions are no more than containing China to preserve its interests in the Asia-Pacific region and its global hegemony. The U.S. motives are apparent to the world, especially to the Chinese people. The current China is nothing like the country it was one hundred years ago.

Any act that tries to violate China’s territorial sovereignty will fail.

Australia’s response and what happens next:

The Turnbull government has repeatedly stressed its support for freedom of navigation and over flight in the South China Sea.

Beijing has been moving so fast partly because it perceives weakness in the Obama administration. It believes Barack Obama will be succeeded in office by Hillary Clinton and it expects a tougher response from her.

The Chinese have been ­calculating how far they can go before they provoke a strong American response. The danger of miscalculation is obvious.

They could accelerate their ­illegal land reclamation and island building activities. They could do this in areas which they have not traditionally controlled.

Or they could declare an Air Defence Identification Zone over all or part of the South China Sea.

Australian defenses have been run down by the past few governments, as noted by David Archibald and Tony Abbott. Our submarines and fighter aircraft are out of date and the replacements are the wrong ones too late.