...But Won't Be
Attendees at the Shangri La confab would like you to believe it’s about protecting Freedom of Navigation (hereinafter FoN) in the South Chinese Sea (hereinafter SCS) from the Perfidious Red Chinese (hereinafter PRC).
I debunked the FoN canard pre-conference at Asia Times. The only nation with an existential interest in FoN in the SCS is the PRC. In case you missed it, here’s the link:
And a couple more data points.
One is courtesy of an Australian wonk, Sam Bateman:
When measured by value, the figure of 60% of our seaborne trade passing through the South China Sea is way off the mark. Based on the latest data for Australia’s overseas trade, it mightn’t even be half that—and about three-quarters of it would be trade to and from China. Thus the notion of a threat to our seaborne trade from China is rather a non-sequitur.
And there’s this, via Corey Wallace’s Twitter feed:
Abe: CSD [Collective Self Defense; which, according to the interpretation of the Japanese cabinet, permits Japan “Self Defense” forces to participate in US operations far from home if they are crucial to Japanese national security—ed] will not allow minesweeping ops in SCS/Malacca Strait as unlike Hormuz there are alternative routes.
The PRC could mine the entire SCS, heck the PRC could pave the SCS & Japan could ship everything via the Lompok & Sunda Straits & up through the Philippine archipelago…like it does already with its Australian iron ore imports.
So, when you hear pundits, scribes, and pols docilely regurgitating the SCS FoN myth, feel free to pound your head against your desk in despair. That’s what I do.