The Big Story Being Missed

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

While the U.S. news media harps on about ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), and Al Qaeda in Yemen, there is almost no news about what is happening in the Far East. There should be. What is not being mentioned in the news is that China is, ironically enough, actually building artificial islands in the South China Sea. Chinese ships bring in tons of sand and rocks to build islands out of shoals. Why? So that eventually these islands can support buildings, naval facilities, and surveillance stations to monitor those countries China has conflict with. These artificial islands will also be able to have facilities for Chinese naval ships to resupply and intrude into the territorial waters of the Philippines, Japan and Vietnam. Even as I write this, Chinese ships are intruding into the territorial waters of the Philippines, Japan and Vietnam. These artificial islands will only make it that much easier.

More than that, these artificial islands will be able to allow the Chinese Navy to send their ships and submarines into the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean where they can spy and ultimately threaten American shipping. If all of this sounds like a nightmare scenario, well it is. The creation of these artificial islands is helping the Chinese government claim 90 percent of the entire South China Sea, and to create small bases whereby its naval fleet can threaten its neighbors and yes international shipping. What many Americans do not know is that 60 percent of all American trade is done with the Asian continent, and that a lot of this trade goes the South China Sea. If China can take control of this area alone then it can control the trade that goes through the South China Sea. Worse, China will be able to bite off territory of its neighbors. Many of these artificial islands are hundreds of miles from China’s coast, but they are less then 100 miles from the territory of the Philippines, islands claimed by Japan (the Senkaku Islands), and Vietnam.

The creation of these artificial islands go hand in hand with China’s development of its submarine fleet. Right now China has the largest submarine fleet in the world. In terms of any potential conflict, this gives China an advantage over almost everyone (except the United States for now). With diesel-powered and nuclear-powered submarines, Chinese submarines can go anywhere in the world. They are already plying the waters of the Indian Ocean—much to the fear of India. With well over 60 submarines, none of China’s Asian neighbors can outmatch it. One other thing I should mention. The Chinese government has been successful in suppressing the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Unlike Beijing in 1989, where the Chinese government used tanks, armored vehicles and heavily armed soldiers, the Chinese government has allowed the Hong Kong city police to attack, infiltrate and brake up the pro-democracy protesters. This way there is no bloodshed, no mass slaughter of innocent bystanders, and no city under military rule. However, the Chinese government has effectively dealt with the pro-democracy movement, and has successfully carried out its “reforms” by not allowing free and fair voting in Hong Kong elections and some restrictions on freedom of speech.

We here in the United States do not realize that we have a new superpower on the block that has developed armed forces capable of reaching the shores of America and being able, if a conflict should brake out, threatening all our Asian allies and possibly even the State of Hawaii. Not even ISIS and Al Qaeda have that reach. But the Chinese government is biding its time, and silence in the press is to its advantage. There is no question in my mind that China wants to reshape the world order. Unless we pay attention to what is happening in the Far East, that possibility grows every year.

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