by Rick Rozoff
July 16, 2010
Delayed until after the United States achieved a
United Nations Security Council statement on July 9 condemning the sinking
of a South Korean warship in March, Washington’s plans for naval maneuvers
in the Yellow Sea near Chinese territorial waters are forging ahead.
The joint exercises with South Korea, as news sources from the latter nation
have recently disclosed, will be conducted on both sides of the Korean
Peninsula, not only in the Yellow Sea as previously planned but also in the
Sea of Japan. (Referred to in the Korean press as the West and East Seas,
Confirmation that the U.S. nuclear-powered
aircraft carrier USS George Washington will participate has further
exacerbated concerns in Northeast Asia and raised alarms over American
intentions not only vis-a-vis North Korea but China as well.
An exact date for the war games has not yet been announced, but is expected
to be formalized no later than when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrive in the South
Korean capital of Seoul on July 21.
For weeks now leading Chinese foreign ministry and military officials have
condemned the U.S.-led naval exercises, branding them a threat to Chinese
national sovereignty and to peace and stability in the region.
China’s influential Global Times wrote on July 12 that,
“The eventuality that Beijing has to prepare
for is close at hand. The delayed US-South Korean naval exercise in the
Yellow Sea is now slated for mid-July. According to media reports, a
nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier has left its Japanese base and is
headed for the drill area.” 
Permanently based in Yokosuka, Japan, the USS
George Washington is an almost 100,000-ton supercarrier:
“The nuclear carrier, commissioned in 1992,
is the sixth Nimitz-class vessel, carrying some 6,250 crew and about 80
aircraft, including FA-18 fighter jets and E-2C Hawkeye airborne early
warning aircraft.” 
The F/A-18 Hornet is a supersonic, multirole jet
fighter (F/A is for Fighter/Attack) and one of its primary roles is
destroying an adversary’s air defenses.
The E-2C Hawkeye has been described as the “eyes
and ears” of American carrier strike groups, being equipped with long-range
In addition to the nuclear aircraft carrier,
“an Aegis-equipped destroyer, an amphibious
assault ship, about four 4,500-ton KDX-II-class destroyers, the
1,800-ton Son Won-il-class submarine and F-15K fighter jets are expected
to join the exercise.” 
U.S. Aegis class warships (destroyers and
cruisers) are equipped for Standard Missile-3 anti-ballistic interceptor
missiles, part of a U.S.-led Asia-Pacific (to date, along with the U.S.,
Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia) and ultimately international
interceptor missile system.
The F-15K (“Slam Eagle”) is a state-of-the-art multirole (used for both
aerial combat and ground attack) jet fighter supplied to South Korea by the
The presence of a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and scores of advanced
American and South Korean warplanes off the coast of China in the Yellow Sea
- and near Russia’s shore in the Sea of Japan if the Washington is deployed
there - qualitatively and precariously raises the level of brinkmanship in
The drumbeat of confrontation has been steadily increasing in volume and
tempo since the sinking of a South Korean corvette, the Cheonan, on
March 26 with the resultant death of 46 crew members.
An investigation into the incident was organized by the U.S. and included
experts from the U.S., South Korea, Britain, Australia and Sweden, but not
from China and Russia which both border the Korean Peninsula. On May 20 the
five-nation team released a report blaming a North Korean torpedo for the
sinking of the Cheonan.
North Korea denied the accusation and neither
Russia nor China, excluded from the investigation, have concurred with the
American provocations escalated dramatically at the Group of 20 (G20) summit
in Toronto on June 27 when U.S. President
Obama (in his own words) held a “blunt” conversation with
China’s President Hu Jintao, accusing him and his nation of “willful
blindness” in relation to North Korea’s “belligerent behavior.”
Upbraiding his Chinese counterpart, Obama
“I think there’s a difference between
restraint and willful blindness to consistent problems.” (On the same
occasion Obama praised South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak for his
“My hope is that president Hu will recognize as well that this is an
example of Pyongyang going over the line.”
President Hu and the Chinese government as a
whole would be fully justified in suspecting that mounting U.S. threats are
aimed not only (and perhaps not so much) against North Korea as against
Beijing is not alone in entertaining suspicions that Washington is
employing the sinking of the Cheonan as the pretext for achieving
broader geopolitical objectives.
On July 14 Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov, in speaking of the Cheonan incident and its aftermath, pleaded:
“I believe that the most important [concern]
at the present time is to ease the situation, avoid agitation,
escalation of emotions and start preparing conditions for the resumption
of the six-party [North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia, the U.S. and
Japan] talks.” 
Portraying the UN Security Council statement on
the matter last week (which was not the harsh condemnation of North Korea
Washington had pushed for) as being a balanced one, he also said,
“It is important that nobody tries to
distort the evaluations given.”
In addition, referring to North Korea’s latest
reaffirmation of its willingness to jointly investigate the Cheonan’s
sinking with South Korea, Lavrov said:
“This statement is not new. From the very
beginning the DPRK confirmed it wanted to participate in the
“I hear, the sides were to agree on some format of interaction.”
When on June 27 President Obama stated,
“our main focus right now is in the U.N.
Security Council making sure that there is a crystal-clear
acknowledgement that North Korea engaged in belligerent behavior that is
unacceptable to the international community” , his
characterization of the latter entity excluded not only North Korea but
China and Russia as well.
The severity and urgency of mounting U.S.
threats is illustrated in a recent column by Shen Dingli, executive
dean of the Institute of International Studies and director of the
Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.
His comments end with a frightening parallel and
a dire warning:
“The US and South Korea are implementing
joint military exercises this month in the Yellow Sea, with the
possibility of deploying the US aircraft carrier George Washington.
“The running of such exercises so close to China’s waters has left China
strongly, and rightfully, dissatisfied.
“The US and South Korea may argue that the exercise is not in China’s
territorial waters, so China has no right to comment.
“However, even if the joint exercises are not in Chinese sovereign
waters, they may take place in the waters of China’s interests as the
international waters [in the] Yellow Sea near China’s exclusive economic
zone are extremely important to China’s interests.
“Given the sophisticated equipment it carries, the George Washington
poses a real potential threat to Chinese territory.
“Even if the US-South Korea military exercises are outside China’s
territory, the striking power of the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier
also poses a serious threat to neighboring countries.
“The US and South Korea have said the military exercises are being held
in order to deter North Korea because of the sinking of the South Korean
Cheonan corvette and the death of 46 South Korean sailors.
“But the case for the possible North Korean sinking of the Cheonan has
not been thoroughly established.
“South Korea refused to let North Korean officials present their case
against the evidence for their supposed complicity in the sinking.
“When South Korea launched the so-called international survey, it
refused the participation of China and other countries, which did not
increase the credibility of the so-called findings.
“These exercises are needlessly provocative, and will eventually
backfire on the US and South Korea.
“During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the Soviet Union
established nuclear missile bases on the island, the US objected to the
close proximity of the Soviet weaponry even though they traveled only
through international waters to reach Cuba, and the US set up a blockade
to stop them being deployed.
“When the US ponders the idea of deploying its nuclear aircraft carrier
in the Yellow Sea, very close to China, shouldn’t China have the same
feeling as the US did when the Soviet Union deployed missiles in Cuba?
“China may not have the military strength to forcibly prevent such
exercises now, but it may do so in response to such provocative actions
in the future.” 
The only surviving head of state of the nations
involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis, former Cuban president Fidel Castro,
has issued several warnings lately that a U.S. and allied attack on North
Korea (and Iran) could result in regional conflagration and even nuclear
A Chinese commentary last week provided more details of the threat that a
U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier off its shore will pose to the nation and also
contained a blunt warning, stating,
“the anxiety on the Chinese side will be
huge if a US aircraft carrier enters the sea connecting the Korean
Peninsula and China - it would mean that major cities like Dalian,
Qingdao, Tianjin and even Beijing are within US attack range.
“At this stage, China may not react through a show of force to the US
fleet cruising into the international waters of the Yellow Sea. But it
does not mean that the Chinese people will tolerate it. Whatever harm
the US military maneuver may inflict upon the mind of the Chinese, the
United States will have to pay for it, sooner or later.” 
Washington’s recent deployment of two
nuclear-powered guided missile submarines to China’s neighborhood - the USS
Michigan to South Korea and the USS Ohio to the Philippines  -
only add to China’s concerns.
As do the ongoing U.S.-led Angkor Sentinel exercises in Cambodia with over
1,000 troops from 26 nations, including American and NATO and Asian NATO
partners like Britain, France, Germany and Italy (along with the U.S., the
NATO Quint) and Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan and Mongolia.
The last country, wedged between China and
Russia, is being integrated into the American global military network, even
supplying troops to serve under
NATO in Afghanistan. 
“This is the first time in the history of
the Cambodian military that we are hosting [exercises] with the
participation of many countries…which encompasses such a multi-national
military basis,” a Cambodian general said of the training. 
“Addressing the ceremony, US Ambassador Carol Rodley said Washington
remained committed to enhancing its military relationship with Cambodia.
She added that Angkor Sentinel provided a ‘unique opportunity’ to deepen
the two countries’ friendship.” 
Cambodia is only once removed from China, the
two nations connected by both Laos and Vietnam.
An Agence France-Presse dispatch reported,
“The United States and Laos pledged to step
up cooperation after their highest-level talks since the Vietnam War,
the latest country in a renewed US effort to engage Southeast Asia,”
after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Laotian Foreign
Minister Thongloun Sisoulith in Washington, D.C. on July 13.
Sisoulith, also his country’s deputy prime
minister, is the first major Laotian official to visit the U.S. since before
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters,
“The United States is committed to building
our relationship with Laos as part of our broader efforts to expand
engagement with Southeast Asia,” and Agence France-Presse added
“President Barack Obama’s administration has put a new focus on
Southeast Asia, saying the region was overlooked as George W. Bush’s
former administration became preoccupied with wars in Iraq and
Next week Clinton will visit Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Vietnam and South Korea.
The first three countries border China and South
Korea faces it across the Yellow Sea. The Pentagon and NATO have ensconced
themselves in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Central Asian nations of
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, all five of which border western
Clinton will visit Vietnam to attend meetings of the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Lower Mekong Initiative
(consisting of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam).
The State Department’s Vietnam hand, Joe Yun, said that it will be
“Secretary Clinton’s fourth trip to East
Asia in the past year."
“Her engagement in this region demonstrates
the vital importance of the Asia-Pacific region, and especially
Southeast Asia, to the future of the United States.”
Fellow Southeast Asian nation Malaysia has just
announced the deployment of its first military contingent to assist NATO’s
war in Afghanistan,
“as ties with the United States deepen.”
“In an April meeting between Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and US
President Barack Obama, the two leaders agreed to cooperate on key
security issues to create a stronger relationship.” 
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
recently toured the Mountain Home Air Base in the American state of Idaho
where 400 of his country’s pilots and other service members and their
families are now stationed.
“The Singapore military personnel will be at
the US base for the next 20 years or so.” 
Singapore troops have been assigned to NATO in
Afghanistan and are facing a long stay there also.
Malaysia and Singapore are currently participating for the first time in the
mammoth U.S.-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war games in the Pacific which
will continue into August.
To indicate to what purpose the U.S. is “expanding engagement” with Vietnam
in particular and Southeast Asia in general, the aforementioned Yun revealed
“we also look to Vietnam as ASEAN’s Chair to
exercise leadership, including in sensitive areas such as North Korea’s
attack on the South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan. We would like to
see Vietnam exercise its influence to press for a genuine dialogue so
that the people of Burma can work with the existing government to move
forward, and to press Burma on the need to fully implement UN Security
Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874. Burma ought to be transparent with
the international community in its dealings with North Korea.” 
North Korea and Burma (Myanmar) are, like
Vietnam, southern neighbors of China’s and along with the seclusive kingdom
of Bhutan are the only nations near China with which the U.S. is not
cultivating closer military ties.
Also to China’s south, its giant neighbor India has been pulled deeper into
the Pentagon’s orbit since the New Framework For The U.S.-India Defense
Relationship was signed in June of 2005, including hosting U.S.
warships, warplanes and troops for annual Malabar war games off its coasts.
Last December U.S. Pacific Command chief Admiral
Robert Willard stated that the Pentagon and India,
“are in talks to convert their bilateral
Malabar series of naval exercises into a joint services war game
involving their navies, air forces and marine commandos.” 
This year's Malabar 2010 included a U.S. guided
missile cruiser and frigate and two destroyers as well as a fast attack
Last October over 1,000 U.S. and Indian troops participated in the Yudh
Abhyas 2009 military exercises in India, which was the first time the
Pentagon deployed a Stryker armored combat brigade outside the Iraqi and
Afghan war theaters.
"The size and scope of this combined
exercise is unparalleled" , stated an American commander
present for the war games.
President Obama is scheduled to visit India in
November and his trip there will,
“result in some 5 billion dollars worth of
American arms sales to India….Observers point out that the role of
India’s biggest arms supplier is shifting from Russia to the United
The arms transactions are reported to include
Patriot interceptor missiles, thus complementing comparable missile shield
arrangements the U.S. has with Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Australia in
the Asia-Pacific area.
The projected deal also includes Washington supplying Delhi with 10 Boeing
C-17 military transport planes:
“Once India gets the C-17 transport
aircraft, the mobility of its forces stationed along the border with
China will be improved….[The] arms sales will improve ties between
Washington and New Delhi, and, intentionally or not, will have the
effect of containing China’s influence in the region.” 
The U.S. has also lately led joint military
exercises in Bangladesh and East Timor, and the annual U.S.-organized Khaan
Quest military exercises in Mongolia are to start next month.
A recent article in the China Times by an unidentified researcher with the
Chinese navy’s military academy observed that,
“the US has seemingly become less restrained
in its move to push forward an Asian version of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization with its allies in the region.
“In so doing, Washington has harbored the obvious strategic intention of
containing China - whose economic and strategic influence has kept
increasing in the international arena…” 
It is against that backdrop, in the context of
Washington putting the finishing touches to the consolidation of an Asian
analogue of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, that China is being
challenged in the Yellow Sea.
The last-cited source detailed the Pentagon’s encroachment near China’s
“The radius of the US military operation has
expanded to more than 1,000 kilometers, which means a US military
mission in the waters off the ROK [South Korea] can still constitute a
huge deterrence to China and other countries along the nearby coastline
and strike at strategic targets deep inside their territories.
“With unchallenged armed forces, the US has never relented in its
efforts towards long-planned strategic adjustment in the Asia-Pacific
region. Under this strategy, the US has gradually increased the presence
and activity of its warships and airplanes in China’s surrounding
maritime area.” 
Regarding the naval exercise with the U.S.,
South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae recently affirmed
“We can say that it will take place sometime
this month. This month, there are a variety of schedules concerning
bilateral security and diplomatic issues, and the decision on the
exercise will be made in consideration of those schedules.” 
China, which conducted a live-fire naval
exercise in the East China Sea from June 30-July 5,
“in an apparent show of… force ahead of the
[U.S.-South Korean] exercise… appears unnerved as the 97,000-ton [USS
George Washington] carrier has an operational range of some 1,000
kilometers and can glean intelligence on military facilities and
installments along China’s eastern coastal regions once it is deployed
in the West [Yellow] Sea.” 
The U.S. armed forces newspaper Stars and
Stripes disclosed on July 14 that,
“In what the Pentagon says is a direct
response to North Korea’s sinking of the South Korean naval vessel
Cheonan, the U.S. and South Korea likely will agree to a series of new
naval and air exercises next week, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates
and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton make a joint visit to Seoul.”
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell was
cited asserting that,
“The announcement is the result of direct
instruction from President Barack Obama to find new ways to collaborate
with…Korean counterparts following the attack… He would not offer
specifics other than they would occur in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow
In his own words, Morrell said,
“We are not yet ready to announce the
precise details of those exercises but they will involve a wide range of
assets and are expected to be initiated in the near future.” 
Gates and Clinton are to meet for the first
bilateral talks with their South Korean counterparts Minister of National
Defense Kim Tae-young and Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan on July 21 and,
according to the Pentagon spokesman, will,
“discuss and likely approve a proposed
series of US/ROK combined military exercises.” 
Regarding concerns voiced by China about the
U.S. advancing its military so near its coast, Morrell said that,
“Those determinations are made by us, and us
alone… Where we exercise, when we exercise, with whom and how, using
what assets and so forth, are determinations that are made by the United
States Navy, by the Department of Defense, by the United States
There is no way that such confrontational,
arrogant and vulgar language was not understood at its proper value in
Nor is the prospect, as noted by Lee Su-seok,
analyst at South Korea’s Institute for National Security Strategy, of “the
involvement of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea as having a
possible link to plans by the U.S. to defend Taiwan”  likely
to go unnoticed.
What the response to the U.S.’s increasingly more brash and adventurist
policy might be was indicated in a recent Chinese editorial, which stated in
“In their recent responses, several
high-ranking Chinese navy officials have made it plain that China will
not stay in ‘hands-off’ mode as the drill gets underway. For that will
make the US believe that China’s defense circle on the sea is small,
and, therefore, US fleets will be able to freely cruise over the Yellow
Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea in the future.
“Military experts have warned that if the joint drill really takes place
off the western coast of South Korea, Chinese airplanes and warships
will very likely go all the way out to closely watch the war game
maneuvers. Within such proximity on not-so-clearly-marked international
waters, any move that is considered hostile to the other side can
willy-nilly trigger a rash reaction, which might escalate into the
unexpected or the unforeseen.
“One false move, one wrong interpretation, is all it would take for the
best-planned exercises to go awry….The impact of a crisis on that scale
would be tremendous, making any dispute over trade or the yuan’s value
between the two in recent years pale in comparison….Tension is mounting
over the US-South Korean joint exercise. Beijing and Washington still
have time, and leeway, to desist from moving toward a possible conflict
on the Yellow Sea.” 
A similar warning was sounded in another major
“If the US and ROK continue to act willfully
by holding the controversial military drill, it would pose a challenge
to China’s safety and would inevitably provoke a huge backlash from
“Today’s China is no longer the China of a century ago that had no
choice but to bend to imperialist aggression. After decades of
development, especially since the adoption of the reform and opening-up
policies, China has become the world’s third largest economy and
possesses a modern military capable of any self-defense missions.”
When Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton arrive in
Seoul on July 21 it will formally be to mark the 60th anniversary
of the beginning of the Korean War, which within three months drew China
into the fighting.
When the two American secretaries meet with South Korea’s defense and
foreign ministers and, as State Department spokesman Philip Crowley
“likely approve a proposed series of U.S.
and Korea combined military exercises, including new naval and air
exercises in both the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea” ,
...the world should prepare for the threat of a
second Korean war, a second U.S.-China armed conflict.
1) Global Times, July 12, 2010
2) Korea Herald, July 13, 2010
4) Russian Information Agency Novosti, July 14, 2010
5) Itar-Tass, July 14, 2010
6) White House, June 27, 2010 http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-obama-g-20-press-conference-toronto-canada
7) Global Times, July 14, 2010
8) Global Times, July 6, 2010
9) Pentagon Provokes New Crisis With China
Stop NATO, July 10, 2010 http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/2061
10) Mongolia: Pentagon Trojan Horse Wedged Between China And Russia -
Stop NATO, March 31, 2010 http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/mongolia-pentagon-trojan-horse-wedged-between-china-and-russia
11) Xinhua News Agency, July 12, 2010
12) Phnom Penh Post, July 13, 2010
13) Agence France-Presse, July 14, 2010
14) Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout
Eurasia - Stop NATO, July 4, 2010 http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/afghan-war-petraeus-expands-u-s-military-presence-throughout-eurasia
15) Radio Netherlands, July 15, 2010
16) Channel News Asia, July 12, 2010
17) VietNamNet, July 15, 2010
18) Press Trust of India, December 4, 2009
19) Embassy of the United States in India, October 19, 2009
20) Voice of Russia, July 11, 2010
21) Economic Times via Global Times, July 13, 2010
22) China Daily, July 12, 2010
24) Korea Herald, July 13, 2010
26) Stars and Stripes, July 14, 2010
28) Agence France-Presse, July 14, 2010
30) JoongAng Daily, July 12, 2010
31) Global Times, July 12, 2010
32) China Daily, July 12, 2010
33) Yonhap News Agency, July 15, 2010