The Big Ideas

by Malcolm Riddell

Naval War College

Zachary Haver | Center for Advanced China Research

Naval War College

Zachary Haver | Center for Advanced China Research

Naval War College

'Sansha City in China's South China Sea Strategy: Building a System of Administrative Control'
'Sansha City in China's South China Sea Strategy: Building a System of Administrative Control'
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The Nuts & Bolts of China’s Taking Over the South China Sea

January 5, 2021

The South China Sea is second only to Taiwan as the most dangerous flashpoint in U.S.-China relations.

  • China has built or developed small islands, some with military bases, to extend its claims of sovereignty over much of the South China Sea.
  • In response, the U.S. pushes back by sending Navy warships through the disputed area in freedom of navigation exercises.
  • The Chinese protest and sometimes send their ships and planes perilously close to those of the U.S. in near misses.

It's these exercises and the potential for misjudgment by either side that make the headlines.

  • Less reported than these white-knuckle encounters are the legal and diplomatic measures used to pressure China to relent.

Even less reported are the nuts & bolts of China's civilian’ administration of the region.

  • That is why 'Sansha City in China's South China Sea Strategy: Building a System of Administrative Control,' a U.S. Naval War College report is so valuable.

In sum, the 57-report says: ‘China established Sansha City in 2012 to administer the bulk of its territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea.’

  • ‘Sansha City is headquartered on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands and claims jurisdiction that includes most of the waters within China’s disputed “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea.’

‘Sansha City has created a system of party-state institutions that have normalized administrative control in the South China Sea.’

  • ‘Sansha City is responsible for exercising administrative control, implementing military-civil fusion, and carrying out the day-to-day work of rights defense, stability maintenance, environmental protection, and resource development.’
  • ‘Sansha City exercises “administrative control” in the sense that the city uses ostensibly civilian means to control contested maritime space and territory.’
  • ‘This system ultimately allows China to govern contested areas of the South China Sea as if they were Chinese territory.’

To secure the South China Sea, China is building or developing little islands; using the PLA Navy, Coast Guard, and ‘gray fleet’ to guard these installations; violating international law and ignoring tribunal judgments against its claims; and generally being a bully to Southeast Asian claimants.

  • But it is the administrative control over the region by Sansha City that lends a sense of permanence that other actions, even taken together, don’t.

Sansha City tells the world that China is in the South China Sea permanently.

  • And only a war can change that.
BIG IDEA | ‘Sansha City, headquartered on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands, has created a system of party-state institutions that have normalized administrative control in the South China Sea. This system ultimately allows China to govern contested areas of the South China Sea as if they were Chinese territory.’

‘China established Sansha City in 2012 to administer the bulk of its territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea.’

  • ‘Sansha City is headquartered on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands and claims jurisdiction that includes most of the waters within China’s disputed “ninedash line” in the South China Sea.’

‘Sansha City has created a system of party-state institutions that have normalized administrative control in the South China Sea.’

  • ‘Sansha City is responsible for exercising administrative control, implementing military-civil fusion, and carrying out the day-to-day work of rights defense, stability maintenance, environmental protection, and resource development.’
  • ‘Sansha City exercises “administrative control” in the sense that the city uses ostensibly civilian means to control contested maritime space and territory.’

‘This system ultimately allows China to govern contested areas of the South China Sea as if they were Chinese territory.’

Bloomberg

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

'China Plans to Exempt H.K. IPOs From Cybersecurity Reviews'

‘China plans to exempt companies going public in Hong Kong from first seeking the approval of the country’s cybersecurity regulator, removing one hurdle for businesses that list in the Asian financial hub instead of the U.S.’
7/18/2021

The Wall Street Journal

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

The Editorial Board | The Wall Street Journal

'Biden’s Warning on Hong Kong'

‘The pretense of Chinese and Hong Kong authorities is that their crackdown on the rule of law and dissent will have no effect on Hong Kong’s viability as an international center for trade and finance.’
The Editorial Board | The Wall Street Journal
7/18/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

Why the U.S. Lacks Leverage over China

During the celebration of the Chinese Communist Party’s Centennial celebration, Mr. Xi stood in the same place on the balcony facing Tiananmen Square where Mao Zedong stood when he announced the founding of the PRC; Mr. Xi wore a gray Mao suit, among a sea of blue western suits; and he centered himself right above the portrait of Mao, who is similarly attired.
Malcolm Riddell
Founder of CHINADebate
7/18/2021

Foreign Affairs

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

Kurt Tong | Asia Group

Hong Kong and the Limits of Decoupling

‘The United States’ inability to make China regret—much less reverse—its transgressions in Hong Kong suggests that financial separation, sanctions, and economic barriers are less reliable tools than many in Washington believe.’
Kurt Tong | Asia Group
7/18/2021

Nikkei Asia

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

'I will aim for Mao's Status.'

‘There on the gate was Xi Jinping, Chinese president and party general secretary, in a gray Mao suit. Just below his feet was the portrait of Mao Zedong, also dressed in a gray Mao suit.’
7/18/2021

Financial Times

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

'US warns companies of risk of doing business in Hong Kong'

“In the face of Beijing’s decisions over the past year that have stifled the democratic aspirations of people in Hong Kong, we are taking action,” said Antony Blinken, US secretary of state. “Today we send a clear message that the US resolutely stands with Hong Kongers.”
7/18/2021

CHINADebate

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

The Chinese Point of View

Here are a few of my thoughts on the importance of Wang Jisi’s ‘The Plot Against China.’ Yuen Yuen Ang’s ‘The Evolution of Chinese Corruption’ speaks for itself - but note especially how Mr. Xi's anti-corruption campaign could hurt China's economy. I have now lived long enough that when a friend complains about his or her spouse, I say to myself, ‘There are no doubt two sides to this story.’
Malcolm Riddell
Founder of CHINADebate
7/4/2021

Foreign Affairs

CHINADebate

The Big Ideas

Wang Jisi | President of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies at Peking University

'How Beijing Sees U.S.-China Relations'

‘In Chinese eyes, the most significant threat to China’s sovereignty and national security has long been U.S. interference in its internal affairs aimed at changing the country’s political system and undermining the CCP.’
Wang Jisi | President of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies at Peking University
7/4/2021
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