In 2013 then Vice-President Joe Biden flew to Beijing. China’s island-building efforts in the South China Sea were in full swing. Joe was Obama’s point man on China. His number one job was supposedly to confront Chinese expansionism.
Joe got off Air Force Two and went into meetings with Chinese leaders. His son Hunter, bag man for the family influence-peddling enterprise who had also flown in on Air Force Two went off to other meetings. The Chinese gave Hunter $1 billion, which they later upped to $1.5 billion.
Hunter and Dad flew home. The Chinese kept building islands. Joe did nothing to stop them.
Joe’s now back in power, this time as the Big Guy. And, China is now completing the job of annexing the South China Sea.
China projects power in a variety of ways. One of those is via a maritime militia, which is funded, controlled, and armed by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Known formally as the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) – this force answers directly to Commander-in-Chief Xi Jinping himself. China employs the PAFMM in what are known as ‘gray zone operations’ in which it wants to retain some measure of deniability.
“The People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia don’t fish,” Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, said in talking to CNN. “They have automatic weapons aboard and reinforced hulls, making them very dangerous at close range. Also, they have a top speed of around 18-22 knots, making them faster than 90% of the world’s fishing boats.“
PAFMM units have been used on many occasions by China. They were employed in China’s 1974 seizure of the Western Paracel Islands from Vietnam. They were used in 1978 in the waters around the Senkaku Islands. They have been involved in almost countless prior incidents in the South China Sea.
And, now, virtually unprecedented numbers of PAFMM vessels are involved in a Chinese effort to force all other nations out of the areas surrounding its manmade islands in the South China Sea and make its claims of sovereignty over those waters a reality.
Last month over 200 PAFMM vessels suddenly appeared around Whitsun Reef, an island in the Spratly Island chain that belongs to the Philippines. The scale of the operation was staggering – prompting analysts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Singapore to comment, “The Whitsun Reef incident is unprecedented in scale and notable for its duration: the largest numbers of Chinese fishing vessels gathered at any time at one Spratly reef, and staying there for several weeks.”
Manila demanded the vessels leave. The Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing said the vessels were simply riding out rough weather. Apparently not having gotten the same memo, the Chinese Embassy in Manila responded separately by simply denying the existence of a Maritime Militia.
As of March 29, apparently, only 44 boats remained in the Whitsun Reef lagoon. However, most of the remaining vessels had moved to other contested areas in the South China Sea staking China’s claim and forcing away the vessels of other nations.
The objective of this exercise is clear. China has claimed the South China Sea for years and has built artificial islands in the area as a step toward making that claim a reality. It is now adding another layer to its presence, making its “ownership” of the area complete. In the same way that Russia ignored protests of its seizure of Crimea, Beijing is simply brushing aside international law and doing as it pleases.
The American response has been predictable. Secretary of State Blinken, fresh from his stint running the pro-Beijing Biden Institute at the University of Pennsylvania issued a stern tweet.
“The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of the PRC’s maritime militia amassing at Whitsun Reef. We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order.”Secretary of State Blinken
The Chinese, who remember all too clearly Obama’s demands for them to follow the “rules” and play nice, simply plowed ahead with their activities.
Blinken, keen on demonstrating resolve, tweeted again about his conversation with Philippine Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin “discussing our concerns with People’s Republic of China militia vessels in the South China Sea.”
That did not seem to phase Xi Jinping either. Maybe he’s not on Twitter.
An American carrier battle group and an amphibious-ready group sailed into the South China Sea for exercises. The Chinese responded by sending a carrier of their own into the area. None of the ongoing Chinese PAFMM activity was curtailed.
The Chinese have Biden’s number. He and virtually every member of his national security team was fully compromised by the Chinese Communists long ago. Almost every one of them has been taking money from Beijing associated groups for years. Xi knows full well nobody in a position of power under this President is going to push back on anything he does. This game was over before it started.
The South China Sea is being assimilated. Xi is now turning his gaze to the Dongsha Islands that belong to Taiwan. The job begun in 2013 is being finished and a new one started.
And, all the tweets in the world aren’t going to change that.