12 September 2015

“Decoding China’s Maritime Decision-making”—CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative’s 10 September 2015 Issue

You simply can’t afford to miss the timely treatment of important subjects offered here:

Decoding China’s Maritime Decision-making
  This issue of AMTI explores China’s maritime policymaking process by breaking down the organizational structure of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and the State, and attempting to shed light on how decisions are reached. Watch CSIS Senior Adviser and Freeman Chair in China Studies Christopher K. Johnson describe developments in maritime policymaking and the drivers behind recent activities in the East and South China Seas. View an interactive organizational chart depicting the roles of maritime agencies across China’s organizational structure. Read analysis on maritime decision-making by Michael Chase, Andrew Erickson and Conor Kennedy, Bonnie Glaser, Isaac Kardon and Christopher Yung. [Read On]

Expert Analysis

Xi in Command: Downsizing and Reorganizing the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
  While many eyes were focused on China’s massive military parade in Beijing last week, which displayed a number of types of advanced military hardware, such as missiles, tanks, and fighter jets, another potentially much more important story about the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) appeared to be unfolding, albeit largely behind the scenes. [Read more from Michael Chase] 

Directing China’s “Little Blue Men”: Uncovering the Maritime Militia Command Structure
  While Russia has employed “Little Green Men” surreptitiously in Crimea, China uses its own “Little Blue Men” to support Near Seas claims. As the U.S. military operates near Beijing’s artificially-built South China Sea (SCS) features and seeks to prevent Beijing from ejecting foreign claimants from places like Second Thomas Shoal, it may well face surveillance and harassment from China’s maritime militia. Washington and its allies and partners must therefore understand how these irregular forces are commanded and controlled, before they are surprised and stymied by them. [Read more from Andrew S. Erickson and Conor Kennedy]

China’s Maritime Rights Protection Leading Small Group—Shrouded in Secrecy  Foreign policy decision-making in China has always been opaque, but under Chinese Communist Party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping, it has become even more cryptic. The strongest leader to come to power in more than two decades, Xi has concentrated power in his own hands and rarely vets foreign policy initiatives with the bureaucracy. In the past several years, decision-making has been at times rash and impulsive. This is evident especially in maritime affairs, including the announcement of an East China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in November 2013, the deployment of a deep water oil drilling rig in disputed waters near the coast of Vietnam in May 2014, and the frenetic-paced dredging in the South China Sea since early 2014. [Read more from Bonnie Glaser]

The Enabling Role of UNCLOS III in PRC Maritime Policy  To what extent does the law of the sea influence PRC decisions about maritime policy? If there is any influence, does it on balance play a constraining or enabling role in Beijing’s decision-making in this domain? This brief, mostly conceptual article argues that the enabling effects are more significant. For Beijing, UNCLOS III functions to create options for policymakers who view it as an instrument (mostly rhetorical) to protect Chinese maritime security and economic interests (mostly static). Although the black letters of UNCLOS III grant coastal states only modest legal authority beyond their 12 nautical mile territorial sea, Beijing’s legal advisers read the treaty opportunistically and inconsistently. Their input into the policy process tends to encourage and legitimize expanding PRC control over maritime space beyond the normal, narrow limits of coastal state jurisdiction – often at the expense of other legitimate users. [Read more from Isaac B. Kardon]

China’s Navy Lobby and its Impact on PRC Maritime Sovereignty Policies  This paper assesses the influence of the PLA Navy (PLAN) and its affiliated individuals and organizations (referred to as the “PLAN Lobby” or “Navy Lobby”) on specific policies related to China’s “maritime sovereignty”.[1]  A lobby is a group of individuals who use direct or indirect means to collectively or individually advocate policy positions to decision-makers. The PLAN Lobby advocates for larger naval budgets and seeks policies that emphasize the national importance of Chinese maritime interests and naval capabilities, and offers recommendations based on professional expertise on maritime and naval matters. [Read more from Christopher Yung]