Grant Goldman Editorial Monday 28 August 2017

The simmering South China Sea dispute between Mainland China and various Asian Countries is, with the exception of Islamic Terror and Kim’s bizarre North Korea, one of Australia’s most inescapable security challenges to be faced by our people since the end of World War II  that saw surrender by the Japanese empire. At stake is our long term security relationship with the United States’ and our ineludible trade relationship with the PRC; both demanding greater commitments from Australia which risk becoming mutually exclusive.

The Americans were less than impressed following the yet to be properly explained Coalition blessed sale of the Port of Darwin to China coming at the same time as the American navy is attempting to enforce freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. This port is a shared facility accepting both merchant and ANZUS military vessels.

Academics, strategists and political commentators have suggested that The ‘One Belt – One Road initiative’ commonly referred to by China as the BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) is a trade based Trojan horse; when taken to its ultimate conclusion might possibly result in Asia-Pacific political economic domination by a resurgent China, especially, given that some believe that the ‘middle kingdom’ appears to seek to ultimately triumph where Imperial Japan had already failed. The BRI is thought to be a personal project of the Chinese President and consequently China can go to extended lengths to ensure implementation.

A Case In point is well ventilated by British journalist Deborah Haynes of the Times published this Friday, just passed.


The collision on Monday between a Liberian tanker and a US warship, the latest in a series of incidents in Asia, has provoked questions about possible Chinese involvement.

A former Royal Navy officer said that the movements of the Guang Zhou Wan, a Chinese vessel, could be significant in explaining the fatal crash off Singapore that left at least one sailor dead. A further nine are missing.

Tracking data indicates that the tanker that collided with USS John S. McCain was followed by the Chinese vessel, which appeared to steer out of the way before the incident.

“You get the impression that fleet forces command are going to be looking at wider potential problems — hacking, crew training, how they are navigating, validating of ship-watch standards,” said the former British officer, who declined to be identified.

The US navy did not rule out sabotage, including cyber attacks, when it launched an investigation into the second fatal crash this year involving a Pacific fleet ship. However, it said there was no specific evidence of foul play.

The former commander said that there was a possibility that the steering on the US ship or the tanker could have been hacked and that the Chinese vessel may have played a part in this.

A video published by Vessel Finder, a website that tracks commercial ships, appears to show the moment of the collision. The Chinese vessel can be seen moving clear just before the Liberian-flagged Alnic MC Tanker makes an almost 90-degree turn to the left. It is not possible to see the position of the US destroyer because warships do not show up on the websites that track commercial vessels.

The movement of Alnic MC could be interpreted in different ways. It was possible the tanker was driven off course because it struck the US ship; that it steered off course to avoid the ship; or that the move was more deliberate to hit the ship, the officer said.

“If you watch the Chinese vessel’s track from the start, she is trailing Alnic MC all the way in, right on tail and then even before Alnic MC makes the turn, the Chinese ship is off to starboard and moves off to the north and is well clear by the time the incident takes place.”

A second former senior military officer had a different view after seeing the footage. He said he thought it more likely that “the US warship made a mess of crossing a shipping lane. It would have taken immense co-ordination to arrange a collision.”

Thank you Deborah Haynes. I think one collision can be called an accident, two, a likely coincidence but three is definitely worthy of foremost scrutiny by Australia and our ANZUS partners.

Wake up ‘quickly’ Australia.

What he said.

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