Calm ap­proach called for in Asia’s hot spots

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By CAI HONG in Tokyo and WANG XU and WANG QINGYUN in Bei­jing

The first two weeks of the New Year have seen new mil­i­tary de­vel­op­ments in many parts of Asia.

Fol­low­ing the nu­clear test by the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of Korea on Jan 6, the United States flew a nu­clear-ca­pa­ble B-52 bomber over the Korean Penin­sula on Sun­day. US al­lies also have been ac­tive, with the Re­pub­lic of Korea con­sid­er­ing more de­ploy­ment of US “strate­gic as­sets” and Ja­pan boost­ing its pres­ence in the South China Sea.

Bei­jing re­sponded that “hope­fully, rel­e­vant coun­tries will act cau­tiously and prop­erly tackle the is­sue”.

“As one coun­try seeks its own se­cu­rity, it must con­sider the se­cu­rity in­ter­ests of other coun­tries as well as the peace and sta­bil­ity of the re­gion,” For­eign Min­istry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wed­nes­day.

Hong said that the cur­rent Korean Penin­sula sit­u­a­tion “is of great sen­si­tiv­ity” and that rel­e­vant coun­tries hope­fully will serve the big pic­ture of en­sur­ing re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity, cau­tiously and prop­erly tack­ling the is­sue.

The pur­ported hy­dro­gen bomb test by the DPRK has sharp­ened the ten­sion in East Asia.

In her New Year’s ad­dress on Tues­day, ROK Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye said that de­ploy­ment of an ad­vanced US THAAD mis­sile de­fense sys­tem to the ROK will be re­viewed based on na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues, con­sid­er­ing the nu­clear and mis­sile threat from the DPRK, the Seoul-based Korea Her­ald re­ported. The US sent a B-52 bomber based in Guam on a flight over the ROK on Sun­day.

ROK spokesman Kim Min­seok said on Mon­day that the US and ROK were con­tin­u­ously and closely dis­cussing ad­di­tional de­ploy­ment of “strate­gic as­sets”.

Me­dia in the ROK said that key high-end US mil­i­tary as­sets that could be de­ployed to the penin­sula in­clude a nu­clear-pow­ered sub­ma­rine, F-22 stealth fighter jets and B-2 stealth bombers.

Gen­eral Cur­tis Sca­parrotti, com­man­der of US Forces Korea, asked his troops and the ROK Army to main­tain the high­est level of readi­ness. The US has about 28,500 troops sta­tioned in the ROK. The two coun­tries usu­ally have an­nual joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises in Fe­bru­ary or March.

Wang Fan, vice-pres­i­dent of China For­eign Affairs Univer­sity, said mount­ing mil­i­tary pres­sure on the penin­sula won’t help ad­dress se­cu­rity is­sues, since the United States could use the oc­ca­sion to form a mil­i­tary ad­van­tage in North­east Asia. This in turn would in­crease ten­sions in the re­gion by forc­ing other coun­tries to re­act, Wang said.

He sug­gested talks be­tween in­di­vid­ual coun­tries un­der the frame­work of the Six-Party Talks, such as talks be­tween the Re­pub­lic of Korea and the DPRK and talks be­tween the United States and the DPRK. The Six-Party Talks, which col­lapsed in 2008, brought to­gether China, the United States, Rus­sia, Ja­pan, the ROK and the DPRK.

“Fun­da­men­tally, there should be talks over the es­tab­lish­ment of a mul­ti­lat­eral se­cu­rity mech­a­nism for the re­gion, in­stead of in­di­vid­ual al­liances,” Wang said.

As one coun­try seeks its own se­cu­rity, it must con­sider the se­cu­rity in­ter­ests of other coun­tries ... ”

The DPRK and ROK re­main in a tech­ni­cal state of war af­ter their 1950-53 con­flict ended in a truce.

Mean­while, the Supreme Court in the Philip­pines de­clared on Tues­day that a de­fense pact al­low­ing the US to tem­po­rar­ily base war­ships and planes at lo­cal mil­i­tary sites is con­sti­tu­tional.

Renato Reyes Jr, sec­re­tarygen­eral of Bagong Alyansang Mak­abayan, also known as Bayan, a group that op­poses US mil­i­tary in­volve­ment in the Philip­pines, said that Tues­day was “an­other sad day for Philip­pine sovereignty”.

“The de­ci­sion will pave the way for the con­struc­tion of new US mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try,” he was quoted by the Manila Times as say­ing.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Ja­pan’s De­fense Min­istry and Self­De­fense Forces have de­cided to al­low the coun­try’s P-3C pa­trol air­craft to stop at bases of coun­tries fac­ing the South China Sea when re­turn­ing from anti-piracy ac­tiv­i­ties off the coast of So­ma­lia, ac­cord­ing to the Yomi­uri Shim­bun news­pa­per, which quoted Ja­panese govern­ment sources.

The news­pa­per said the move will al­low Ja­pan to sup­port US pa­trols around the is­lands in the South China Sea.

The Self-De­fense Forces’ P-3C air­craft travel be­tween Ja­pan and Africa about ev­ery three months. Pre­vi­ously, the air­craft re­fu­eled at bases rel­a­tively far from the South China Sea, in coun­tries in­clud­ing Sin­ga­pore and Thai­land. While their out­ward jour­neys re­main the same, the P-3C air­craft, on their re­turn trips, will give pri­or­ity to bases around the South China Sea, such as those in Viet­nam, the Philip­pines and Malaysia.

Ja­pan is strength­en­ing re­la­tions with na­tions that are con­test­ing ter­ri­to­rial rights with China in the area. In June, Ja­pan con­ducted its first joint search-and-res­cue drills with the Philip­pines, and in Novem­ber it reached an agree­ment with Viet­nam to hold the first Self-De­fense Forces drills in Viet­nam wa­ters and to al­low the SDF to dock at Cam Ranh Bay in Viet­nam.

Shi Yin­hong, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at Ren­min Univer­sity, said the P-3C’s stop­ping at the new bases stress the mes­sage that Ja­pan has de­cided to boost its pres­ence in the South China Sea. China should be pre­pared to re­spond to such provo­ca­tions in the fu­ture, though its pri­or­ity should still be main­tain­ing peace and sta­bil­ity, Shi said.

Yang Bo­jiang, deputy di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Ja­pan Stud­ies of the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sci­ences, said Ja­pan must have racked its brains to come up with such a way to med­dle in the South China Sea.

Con­tact the writ­ers at cai­hong@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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