By: Sahrudin – email@example.com
AMID rising tensions over the South China sea, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Indonesia Military Academy (Akmil) to discuss the territorial disputes and issues surrounding them, in Akmil campus in Magelang Municipality, the Province of Central Java, on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.
In the discussion, Noraini, a doctoral student of UKM presented a paper titled “Kebangkitan Kuasa Ketenteraan Laut China: Satu Analisis” (China’s Rising Naval Power: An Analysis).
The conversation was moderated by Head of Strategic Studies and International Relations Associate Professor Dr Zarina Othman and Akmil’s Vice Governor Brigadier General Army Sumedy.
Professor Sity Daud of UKM as well as 25 students both master’s and doctoral; Akmil officers, Dr Sri Mulyati and other Akmil lecturers, and 10 of 3rd grade cadets were involved in it.
Here are some of the points made during the discussion, by either audience members or panelists (I would be glad to include additional points or improve the summaries, if people that attended the conversation would like to submit comments):
The stability and the security of countries along the South China sea have recently been facing serious new challenges.
But rising tensions in the East China sea and the South China sea are being interpreted very differently in the Chinese capital.
According to the country, what they’ve done was intended to safeguard the security of international sea lines of communication, and as a demonstration of China’s commitment to maintaining sovereignty and effective management of the South China sea.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy has already taken several steps towards the country’s goal — to develop a blue water navy.
In February, the Chinese Navy has completed its first formal blue water training mission of 2014.
During the training, they crossed a series of Indonesia’s waterways: Natuna sea, Karimata strait, Java sea, Sunda strait en route to the Indian Ocean.
They also passed through Lombok strait, Makassar strait, Celebes sea, Sawu sea and South China sea, before returned to their base in Hainan Island.
China has been sending a signal that the country has every right to use international waterways, by developing a blue water navy that can operate on the high seas and far from home ports.
The Chinese Navy has already signalled its intention to operate regularly beyond the so-called “first island chain”, which separates the South China sea, East China sea and Yellow sea from the Pacific Ocean.
Together with its expensive military weapons and its accelerated global search for energy, minerals and other natural resources, China now has one of the world’s largest merchant fleets with a port, transport, and ship-building infrastructures to match.
Any of these can be militarized as and when needed.
But many observers were not surprised by the heated rhetoric, saying that China is casting a big shadow that is disproportionate to its actual strength.
Building it is the easiest part; operating carrier task forces is much tougher. An effective aircraft carrier isn’t just a ship.
It’s a weapons system that includes planes that can take off from a carrier, and pilots who can execute one of the most difficult maneuvers in aviation which is landing on a deck at sea.
China might need to spend up to 20 years, even more, working hard towards a blue water navy goal.
China’s aircraft carriers won’t be able to compete with, for example, the combat power of the U.S. Navy, any time soon, as the U.S. Navy has controlled the world’s waterways, in both size and strength for decades.***
*Images courtesy of Penhumas Akmil