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Interview – VOA on “China, Normally Protective of a Disputed Sea, Gives India a Rare Nod”

“China has always had an opposition to foreign interference in its domestic affairs, of course, and also in regional affairs, and India, although it’s part of Asia, is perceived as an outside actor in terms of the South China Sea,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei.

“China and India have quite a complex relationship,” Spangler said. “They have their own territorial disputes along their land borders, and that’s been true for a long, long time.”

https://www.voanews.com/a/china-india-south-china-sea-tsunami-warning/3902997.html

Interview – Izvestia Daily on “К Южно-Китайскому морю движется американский грозовой фронт”

“Увеличение активности в ЮКМ повышает риск непредвиденных инцидентов в море, но эти инциденты необязательно приведут к вооруженному конфликту. Несмотря на трения, связанные с рядом международных политических вопросов, двусторонние отношения между Китаем и США взаимовыгодны во многих других отношениях, — пояснил «Известиям» директор Тайваньского аналитического центра South China Sea Think Tank Джонатан Спэнглер.”

http://iz.ru/603061/nataliia-portiakova/k-iuzhno-kitaiskomu-moriu-dvizhetsia-amerikanskii-grozovoi-front

From interview transcript:

“It is likely that there is a strong correlation between Chinese activities perceived by other countries as militarization of the South China Sea and international diplomatic and military involvement in the maritime area. Increased activity in the South China Sea raises the risks of unanticipated incidents at sea, but those incidents will not necessarily lead to armed conflict. Despite frictions related to several international political issues, China–US bilateral relations are mutually beneficial in many other ways.”

“Policy makers in Beijing understand that a belligerent North Korean leadership is not in China or the region’s best interests. If Beijing aims to establish itself as a regional and world leader in diplomatic affairs and Pyongyang’s actions jeopardize this, China will take the necessary measures to ensure that North Korea does not pose an obstacle to its national interests.”

Interview – VOA on “Cautious Maritime Deal Expected Between China, Philippines”

“The Philippines seeks large-scale Chinese investments or aid in infrastructure projects and guarantees that Chinese vessels will not infringe on its fishing and resource extraction operations in its Philippine waters,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei.

“Because of the power imbalance between the two countries, negotiations will mostly be on Beijing’s terms, so it can be expected that any relevant commitments will be vague enough to avoid damaging Chinese interests in the future,” he said.

https://www.voanews.com/a/cautious-maritime-deal-expected-between-china-philippines/3842142.html

Interview – VOA on “Discovery of More Chinese Ships Adds Pressure on Normally Passive Malaysia”

Najib usually avoids confronting Beijing because of tight Chinese-Malaysian economic relations. Malaysia counts China, the world’s second largest economy, as its top trading partner and biggest source of direct foreign investment.

“For Malaysia, which has sought to maintain friendly relations with China, publicly condemning Chinese actions would disrupt that delicate balance and could have serious economic and other repercussions,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei.

But China is careful to avoid sparking strong protests as it locks in its maritime claims, analysts say. A dispute over Scarborough Shoal near the Philippines in 2012 prompted Manila to file for world court arbitration. An arbitration tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in July, a decision Beijing called a “farce.”

“For China, it has demonstrated that it is willing and able to increasingly securitize its claimed territories, but overdoing it could eventually provide rival claimants the impetus for mustering a united regional response,” Spangler said.
China has offered economic incentives elsewhere in Southeast Asia in exchange for tolerance of its maritime expansion. Countries such as Malaysia’s neighbor Brunei, and more recently the Philippines, have obliged.

https://www.voanews.com/a/discovery-of-more-chinese-ships-adds-pressure-on-normally-passive-malaysia/3812961.html

 

From VOA Learning English:

Razak usually avoids direct conflict with China. The country is Malaysia’s top trading partner and its biggest source of direct foreign investment.

Jonathan Spangler is director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei. He says, “For Malaysia, which has sought to maintain friendly relations with China, publicly condemning Chinese actions would disrupt that delicate balance and could have serious economic and other repercussions.”

https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/discovery-of-more-chinese-ships-adds-pressure-on-malaysia-to-respond/3814138.html

 

From Korea News Gazette:

Discovery of More Chinese Ships Adds Pressure on Normally Passive Malaysia

Interview – Forbes on “Japan Has Ambitious Plans To Be Asia’s Next Superpower, Thanks To China”

“For many decades, Japan has played an important role in providing development and humanitarian aid to countries throughout East and Southeast Asia, but it was long ‘hindered,’ so to speak, by its pacifist defense policy,” says Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei. “It can now become more directly engaged in regional securitization efforts. For some, this is reassuring. For others, it is cause for concern.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphjennings/2017/03/22/japan-is-becoming-a-new-asian-superpower-thanks-to-china/

Interview – VOA on “China Angers Philippine President with Reported Plan to Build in Disputed Sea”

Officials in Beijing might argue that a monitoring station doesn’t violate the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea that it signed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is being chaired by the Philippines this year, said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei.

That accord only prohibits occupying so far uninhabited land features in the disputed sea,

“Building an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal could theoretically be done without inhabiting the feature, but that would not make the action seem any less provocative to rival claimants or other major stakeholders,” Spangler said.

http://www.voanews.com/a/china-philippine-disputed-sea/3776777.html

Interview – VOA on “Japan Is Becoming Player in South China Sea Sovereignty Dispute”

“Like China and the U.S., Japan is trying to consolidate its role as a leader in the region,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the Taipei-based South China Sea Think Tank. “Part of this effort involves demonstrating that it has the capacity and courage to operate in areas well beyond its own borders.”

http://www.voanews.com/a/japan-player-south-china-sea-sovereignty-dispute/3773376.html

From interview transcript:

“Like China and the US, Japan is trying to consolidate its role as a leader in the region. Part of this effort involves demonstrating that it has the capacity and courage to operate in areas well beyond its own borders.”

“For many decades, Japan has played an important role in providing development and humanitarian aid to countries throughout East and Southeast Asia, but it was long ‘hindered’ – so to speak – by its pacifist defense policy. With recent changes to that policy, it can now become more directly engaged in regional securitization efforts. For some, this is reassuring; for others, it is cause for concern.”

“Chinese officials view the South China Sea as domestic territory, so it is not surprising that they would cast a wary eye on any foreign military activity in the area. This is especially true when such operations represent an unprecedented departure from previous levels of involvement there.”

Interview – Forbes on “China Is Pursuing This Quiet, Loyal Ally In Asia’s Big Maritime Dispute”

“Brunei’s interests in the South China Sea are primarily economic,” says Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei. “It depends economically on resource extraction within its claimed exclusive economic zone, and at the same time maintains close economic ties with China. Although China’s nine-dash line claims overlap with Brunei’s EEZ claims, both governments understand that avoiding diplomatic or military confrontation over the issue is in their best interests.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphjennings/2017/03/06/why-brunei-will-always-be-nice-to-china-in-their-sticky-maritime-dispute/#4a6cf1fc211a

Interview – VOA on “Taiwan Risks Beijing Backlash Over South China Sea Patrols”

An informal China-Taiwan dialogue of eight years ended after Tsai took office in May on a public mandate to be more cautious toward Beijing. China had also “refrained from harassing” Taiwanese fishermen at that time, said Jonathan Spangler, director of the Taipei-based South China Sea Think Tank.

He added that contact with other countries at sea “could give Beijing reason to intervene in a way that would be detrimental to Taiwan’s interests.”

http://www.voanews.com/a/taiwan-risks-beijing-backlash-south-china-sea-patrols/3751147.html

From interview transcript:

“For Taiwan’s South China Sea policy, its relationship with China is a double-edged sword. On one hand, China has refrained from harassing Taiwanese fishing boats operating in the maritime area, so it could be said that they receive a sort of exceptional treatment compared to fishermen from other claimant states. On the other hand, Taiwan’s maritime law enforcement options are limited because any encounters with other countries could give Beijing reason to intervene in a way that would be detrimental to Taiwan’s interests.”

Interview – Southeast Asia Globe on “How ‘routine’ are the new US patrols in the South China Sea?”

Still, analysts agree that there is a dizzying degree of uncertainty within the Trump administration. Jonathan Spangler, director of the Taipei-based South China Sea Think Tank, pointed out that many senior members of Trump’s cabinets have made “off-the-cuff remarks that reflect their misinformed perspectives” on Asia-Pacific security issues. He said that secretary of defence James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, was the only official who seemed to have a clear grasp of the intricacies involved in regional politics.

China, Spangler added, seems to be biding its time amid confusion in Washington, issuing statements denouncing the US’ actions and waiting to see how far Trump will go to preserve his tough-talking persona.

“The reality is that disarray in Washington can only hurt US interests and weaken its global leadership role,” he said. “Beijing, in turn, may eventually benefit from this.”

How ‘routine’ are the new US patrols in the South China Sea?

From interview transcript:

“As part of its Freedom of Navigation Program, the US Navy has challenged what it views as excessive maritime claims since for decades and publicly releases a record of these each year. Most of these receive little or no media coverage. However, given the high-profile nature of the South China Sea disputes and US government decisions to publicize its operations there, its naval operations in the area – routine as they may be – have sparked heated debate among observers and criticism by Chinese officials, who see US presence in the waters as unwelcome interference in domestic and regional affairs.”

“Of the relevant officials in the Trump administration, Secretary of Defense James Mattis seems to be the only one with a clear grasp of US interests as relate to Asia-Pacific regional security, the risks involved in sudden policy shifts, and the nuances of regional diplomatic relations. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and President Donald Trump himself have all made off-the-cuff remarks that reflect their misinformed perspectives on Asia-Pacific regional security issues and threaten to be detrimental to long-term US interests in the region and around the world.”

“Beijing seems to be taking a relatively patient approach to dealing with the unpredictable Trump administration as it tries to develop a cohesive policy approach to major global issues, including the South China Sea. The reality is that disarray in Washington can only hurt US interests and weaken its global leadership role. Beijing, in turn, may eventually benefit from this if the Trump administration continues have difficulty advancing a clear and consistent Asia-Pacific security policy approach.”

Interview – VOA on “Vietnam Seeks Stronger China Ties Despite New Buildup on Disputed Islands”

The Vietnamese government knows that it “must avoid upsetting China” while staying open to defense ties with the United States, said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei.

“For Vietnam, regional stability is closely tied to national security,” Spangler said. “Vietnam, like other rival claimants, needs to balance the benefits of its economic ties with China and the political risks of not defending its sovereignty claims and thus appearing weak domestically.”

http://www.voanews.com/a/vietnam-seeks-stronger-china-ties-despite-island-buildup/3731681.html

From interview transcript:

“For Vietnam, regional stability is closely tied to national security. The Vietnamese government knows that it must avoid upsetting China while at the same time keep its options open in terms of defense ties with the US.

The Trump administration’s unpredictability introduces new variables into Vietnam’s policy considerations for the South China Sea. The Vietnamese government should ensure that US policymakers clearly understand Vietnam’s importance for maintaining regional stability while continuing to emphasize mutual economic benefits in its discussions with Beijing.

Vietnam, like other rival claimants, needs to balance the benefits of its economic ties with China and the political risks of not defending its sovereignty claims and thus appearing weak domestically.”

Interview – VOA on “Boom in Tourists Helping Stabilize China-Vietnam Relations”

Vietnam understands the risk of a pullback, said Jonathan Spangler, director of the Taipei-based South China Sea Think Tank.

“Beijing has been known to limit outbound tourism as a political tool, but the Vietnamese government understands that such risks are only a small part of its economic relations with China and broader diplomatic and political interests,” he said.

http://www.voanews.com/a/boom-in-tourists-helping-stabilize-china-vietnam-relations/3710782.html

 

From VOA Learning English:

Jonathan Spangler is director of the South China Sea Think Tank, a research group based in Taiwan. He says Vietnam understands the risk of a sudden decrease in tourism.

“Beijing has been known to limit outbound tourism as a political tool, but the Vietnamese government understands that such risks are only a small part of its economic relations with China and broader diplomatic and political interests,” he said.

http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/rising-numbers-of-chinese-visiting-vietnam-eases-tensions/3714982.html

From interview transcript:

“Chinese tourism has economic benefits for many countries, including Vietnam. Beijing has been known to limit outbound tourism as a political tool, but the Vietnamese government understands that such risks are only a small part of its economic relations with China and broader diplomatic and political interests.”

Interview – VOA on “Civilians Helping Governments Stake Claims in South China Sea”

“For the most part, the civilian populations on many of the features in the South China Sea are either working for or otherwise supported by their respective governments,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei.

“Tourism has been limited in the South China Sea for practical, economic and political reasons,” Spangler added. “Even so, both China and Vietnam have organized cruise ship tours to their occupied features, and some Philippine officials have advocated doing the same.”

http://www.voanews.com/a/civilians-helping-governments-stake-claims-in-south-china-sea/3650842.html

“For the most part, the civilian populations on many of the features in the South China Sea are either working for or otherwise supported by their respective governments. That goes for China-occupied Woody Island, Philippines-occupied Thitu Island, Taiwan-occupied Itu Aba Island, Vietnam-occupied Spratly Island, and various others.”

“Tourism has been limited in the South China Sea for practical, economic, and political reasons. Even so, both China and Vietnam have organized cruise ship tours to their occupied features, and some Philippine officials have advocated doing the same. Malaysia’s Avillion Layang Layang Resort on Swallow Reef is the longest-running of these efforts and has certainly helped to advance its claims to the feature.”

“Tourism could be seen as positive in that it provides concrete evidence that South China Sea infrastructural developments are at least partly intended for civilian purposes and suggests that the future of the disputes need not be confined to military issues. On the other hand, it could be seen as negative in that it highlights the unresolved sovereignty issues and alters the status quo.”

Interview – VOA on “S. China Sea Dispute Hangs on Philippine Leadership of ASEAN”

ASEAN chairs since 2013 have made it priority to unify members or avoid upsetting China, said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei. The chair rotates to a new Southeast Asian country every year.

Malaysia last year maintained an “ASEAN-centric” approach, he said. Chairs this year from Laos and in 2014 from Myanmar also avoided the maritime disputes due to risks of disunity and upsetting their own ties with Beijing, he added, while Brunei as 2013 chair, took a characteristically “low-profile” stance on the maritime dispute.

“It is likely that the Philippines will advocate a leadership role for ASEAN in managing the South China Sea disputes, but it will not sacrifice ASEAN unity to achieve those aims,” Spangler said. “Only half of the ten-member regional grouping has South China Sea claims, so an iron-fisted ASEAN role is far less likely than one that cautiously balances the interests of all its members. For many countries, their relations with Beijing would be a greater priority.”

http://www.voanews.com/a/south-china-see-dispute-philippine/3635743.html

From interview transcript:

“With Malaysia as the ASEAN chair in 2015, the country maintained quite an ASEAN-centric approach to dispute management in the South China Sea.

With Myanmar as its predecessor in 2014 and then Laos in 2016, there was little reason for either of those countries to push for greater involvement in the disputes because of the risks it would pose to ASEAN unity and their own relations with Beijing.

Brunei, who served as chair in 2013, has always taken a low-profile approach to the maritime disputes, which is also largely a byproduct of its relations with China.

It is likely that the Philippines will advocate a leadership role for ASEAN in managing the South China Sea disputes, but it will not sacrifice ASEAN unity to achieve those aims.

Only half of the ten-member regional grouping has South China Sea claims, so an iron-fisted ASEAN role is far less likely than one that cautiously balances the interests of all its members. For many countries, their relations with Beijing would be a greater priority.”

Interview – Bloomberg on “Taiwan Reasserts South China Sea Claims”

20161209-Bloomberg

“Taiwan has long been trying to frame itself as a peacemaker in the South China Sea, but the issues of sovereignty are not yet resolved. Of course, that’s sort of the key fundamental issue.”

The wildcard here is the threat of a more hawkish US military under President Trump. “It could potentially embolden claimants in their securitization efforts, and it could also embolden the United States and other major stakeholders who sort of back up their policies with military action.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2016-12-09/taiwan-reasserts-south-china-sea-claims

Interview – Forbes on “Duterte’s Most Recent Move In South China Sea Will Strain China-Philippine Relations Again”

“For an action like designating the Scarborough Shoal as a marine sanctuary to have a deescalating effect on South China Sea tensions, it would need to have at least tacit approval from relevant claimants,” says Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei. “Otherwise, it risks leading to escalation, regardless of whether Manila’s intentions are related to environmental conservation or not.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphjennings/2016/12/07/new-maritime-move-by-manila-will-strain-china-philippine-relations-again/

From interview transcript:

“For an action like designating the Scarborough Shoal as a marine sanctuary to have a de-escalating effect on South China Sea tensions, it would need to have at least tacit approval from relevant claimants. Otherwise, it risks leading to escalation, regardless of whether Manila’s intentions are related to environmental conservation or not.”

Interview – VOA on “Philippine Marine Sanctuary in Disputed Sea Risks Upsetting China”

“Designating the Scarborough Shoal area as a marine sanctuary would be a renewed claim by the Philippines to sovereignty over that area,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei. “Any unilateral actions that imply sovereignty are likely to cause friction between rival claimants, even if they are framed as marine conservation efforts.”

China has not weighed in. The foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing said only that the Chinese claims to sovereignty over the shoal will not change. The marine sanctuary would need “at least tacit approval” from related claimants other than Manila to reduce South China Sea tensions, Spangler said.

Elsewhere in the South China Sea, Taiwan formed a national park nine years ago at Dongsha Atoll in the Pratas archipelago to regenerate coral. China claims the Pratas as well but has not overtly challenged Taiwan’s sanctuary.

http://www.voanews.com/a/philippine-marine-sanctuary-in-disputed-sea-risks-upsetting-china/3624705.html

From interview transcript:

“Designating the Scarborough Shoal area as a marine sanctuary would be a renewed claim by the Philippines to sovereignty over that area. Any unilateral actions that imply sovereignty are likely to cause friction between rival claimants, even if they are framed as marine conservation efforts.”

Interview – The Guardian on “Trump’s phone call with Taiwan president risks China’s wrath”

“Obviously for Taiwan it’s a good sign as some Taiwanese politicians were a bit worried that the Trump administration would ignore Taiwan,” said Jonathan Spangler from the Taipei-based South China Sea think tank.

The call could also help boost Tsai’s ratings, which have plummeted in her first six months in office. “It shows that she does have the capacity and courage to lead Taiwan,” said Spangler.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/03/trump-angers-beijing-with-provocative-phone-call-to-taiwan-president

Interview – The Guardian on “The new Hawaii? Surfers flock to Taiwan, an island nation that fears the sea”

Surfing is still new to Taiwan, an island of 23 million off the east coast of China. Fewer than 100 people make a living out of surfing.

A high rate of drowning deaths has helped create nationwide trepidation but analysts say the aversion to water has cultural and political roots going back to the island’s tempestuous relationship with China.

Jonathan Spangler, from the Asia-Pacific Policy Research Association in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei says: “In the education system here it’s taught that swimming in the ocean is dangerous, don’t go swimming.”

Dr Francis Hu, head of political science at Tunghai university, Taichung, explains that for decades, post-second world war Taiwan had also restricted access to the coastline for security reasons.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/26/surfers-flock-to-taiwan-island-nation-fears-sea

Mention – Canada Free Press on “Towards a More Constructive Engagement with China under a Trump Administration”

“China will likely find a business-minded leader like Trump to be easier to influence than a political and ideologically minded leader like Clinton,” Jonathan Spangler, director of the Taipei-based South China Sea Think Tank, has predicted.

http://canadafreepress.com/article/towards-a-more-constructive-engagement-with-china-under-a-trump-administrat

Mention – VOA Learning English on “Taiwan to Hold Rescue Exercises in South China Sea”

Jonathan Spangler is director of the Taipei-based South China Sea Think Tank. He says Taiwan has been trying to position itself as a peacemaker in the South China Sea dispute for many years.

“Humanitarian and search-and-rescue operations near Itu Aba would be a logical next step in backing up that political rhetoric with action,” he said.

Taiwan launched efforts in 2015 to establish itself as a humanitarian player in the South China Sea. At that time, the government released a peace proposal intended to help resolve South China Sea disputes. It urged governments involved to put aside their “sovereignty disputes” and find ways to develop the sea’s resources together.

http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/taiwan-announces-plans-to-hold-search-and-rescue-exerises-in-south-china-sea/3605999.html

Interview – VOA on “Taiwan Plans Naval Exercise as Peace Mission for Disputed Sea”

“Taiwan has long been trying to frame itself as a regional peacemaker in the South China Sea dispute,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the Taipei-based South China Sea Think Tank. “Humanitarian and search-and-rescue operations near Itu Aba would be a logical next step in backing up that political rhetoric with action.”

http://www.voanews.com/a/taiwan-plans-naval-exercise-as-peace-mission-for-disputed-sea/3605129.html

From interview transcript:

“Taiwan has long been trying to frame itself as a regional peacemaker in the South China Sea dispute. Humanitarian and search-and-rescue operations near Itu Aba would be a logical next step in backing up that political rhetoric with action. Whether or not its efforts will be misunderstood or misconstrued by rival claimants or the media is difficult to predict, so Taipei will have to carefully ensure that its operations are transparent and neighboring countries are informed in advance of its plans.”

Interview – VOA on “Trump Expected to Take Tough but Brief Action in South China Sea”

“Details are scarce as to what Trump’s policy approach to the Asia Pacific might look like, and many of his off-the-cuff remarks have sent mixed signals about how the administration might proceed,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the Taipei-based South China Sea Think Tank. “Had Clinton won the election, there’s little doubt that she would have continued to prioritize the Asia Pacific region.”

“China will likely find a business-minded leader like Trump to be easier to influence than a political and ideologically minded leader like Clinton,” Spangler forecast.

http://www.voanews.com/a/trump-expected-to-take-tough-but-brief-action-in-asian-maritime-dispute/3594889.html

From interview transcript:

“Secretary Clinton’s campaign platform was relatively heavy on policy details, which is unsurprising given her many decades in government. In stark contrast to her approach, President-Elect Trump’s rise to power was fueled by public distrust of government combined with a wave of misogyny, xenophobia, and racism. Trump’s approach earned him the presidency, but it left many questions about where the country is headed unanswered – particularly in terms of foreign policy.

Had Clinton won the election, there is little doubt that she would have continued to prioritize the Asia-Pacific region. As Secretary of State, she became the founding architect of the Obama administration’s Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy with her influential article “America’s Pacific Century” published in Foreign Affairs in 2011. She is also known for being more hawkish than President Barack Obama, which could have meant a tougher stance against China’s actions in the South China Sea and greater willingness to increase US naval presence in the region.

Details are scarce as to what Trump’s policy approach to the Asia-Pacific might look like, and many of his off-the-cuff remarks have sent mixed signals about how the administration might proceed.

What we do know is this. He has blamed China for many of America’s economic issues and vowed to be tough on Beijing. For its part, China will likely find a business-minded US president like Trump to be easier to influence than a policy- and ideology-oriented leader like Clinton.

Trump has also suggested that regional powers like Japan and South Korea take more responsibility for their own defense and threatened to withdraw US forces from the region. On the other hand, he may also be influenced by advocates of military modernization, such as Republican Congressman Randy Forbes, who has pushed for a stronger US Navy.

What we also know is that Trump is impulsive, perpetually concerned about his own image, and not necessarily bound by Republican Party doctrine, so he might prioritize high-profile short-term gains over a more nuanced approach that would benefit long-term national interests in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Interview – Forbes on “What’s Special About This Taiwan Military Drill In The Contested South China Sea”

The drill is to prep for humanitarian search-and-rescue work that backs up a longstanding mission of the coast guard on Taiping Island. The islet with a clinic and lodging is supposed to be a place where people from any country can go when in trouble, say because of a storm at sea. Taiwan wants the other claimants to remember its claim. But it also wants to be seen as an advocate of peaceful cooperation rather than aggression.

“Really the whole idea of turning it into a search and rescue hub is kind of just the next step in that whole approach to in the peace effort,” says Jonathan Spangler, director of Taipei-based South China Sea Think Tank.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphjennings/2016/11/10/5112/

Interview – VOA on “Arms Spending May Rise as Beijing Asserts Control in South China Sea”

Regional defense experts say the arbitration ruling may lead other South China Sea claimants to ramp up their defense spending. Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines all claim portions of the waterway, which is rich in fish and believed to hold significant underwater mineral resources.

“As states squabble over sovereignty issues and increase spending to safeguard their own interests, it is the global defense industry that is the real beneficiary of the South China Sea disputes,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei.

http://www.voanews.com/a/beijing-arms-spending-may-rise-south-china-sea-ruling/3419971.html

From interview transcript:

“China’s military spending increased by 321% from 2001–2014, making it six times higher than all other South China Sea claimants combined. Whether or not its defense expenditures will increase as a direct result of the ruling is trivial.”

“Interestingly, the Tribunal determined in Paragraph 1164 of the Award that China’s dredging and construction activities were not military in nature, basing its decision purely on Beijing’s own assertions. It is therefore ironic that, had China considered its own activities to be for military instead of civilian purposes, the Tribunal may not have had jurisdiction with regards to the Philippines’ Submission No. 14(d), which accused China of unlawfully aggravating and extending the dispute through through such activities.”

“China, like all claimants, has sought to enhance its naval and air defense capabilities in recent years. It has been an ongoing trend, not a sudden shift in acquisitions. Russia has been and will continue to be a major arms supplier to China and other countries in the region. As states squabble over sovereignty issues an increase spending to safeguard their own interests, it is the global defense industry that is the real beneficiary of the South China Sea disputes.”

Interview – Southeast Asia Globe on “US military build up in the Philippines ups the ante in South China Sea”

“China views itself as having suffered in the past from foreign incursions in its territory,” said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank. “These memories are going to shape its policies and diplomatic interactions with other countries today.”

“From Beijing’s perspective,” Spangler added, “there is a fine line between the US lending its naval expertise to the region and something that feels much more akin to containment.”

US military build up in the Philippines ups the ante in South China Sea

Interview – Financial Times on “Taiwan pushes island credentials of South China Sea outpost”

Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea think-tank in Taipei, says the fight over Taiping’s status has much wider implications because it is the biggest natural feature in the Spratlys and the only one with a serious claim to be an island in international law.

He points out that while China has built a much bigger air base on reclaimed land at nearby Fiery Cross Reef, such man-made features cannot generate an exclusive economic zone.

“If Taiping is officially an island and none of China’s occupied features are considered islands by international law, it could throw the whole focus of the South China Sea disputes back to cross-Strait relations,” he says.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/91101bac-f163-11e5-a609-e9f2438ee05b.html

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