The Age (Australia), February 5, 2013
A top US navy intelligence officer has warned China is a bully on the high seas, with ambitions to sink American warships and seize control of waters from its neighbours.
Captain James Fanell also accused Beijing of ''fabricating'' history to claims on disputed islands in the south and east China seas and described China as the ''principal threat''.
The marked escalation in rhetoric fuels a sense of a growing and dangerous rivalry between the US and China in the region - and is a headache for Australian defence planners seeking not to antagonise either country.
''They are taking control of maritime areas that have never before being administered or controlled in the last 5000 years by any regime called China,'' Captain Fanell told a conference in San Diego.
China's attitude was undoubtedly expansionist, he said – ''what's mine is mine, and we'll negotiate what is yours''.
Captain Fanell's blunt comments last week came in the wake of a warning from a senior Chinese military officer that the US was acting as ''the global tiger'', leading Japan, ''Asia's wolf'', in mauling China.
The Chinese officer warned Australia should not become a ''jackal for the tiger or dance with the wolf''.
The communist regime has increasingly given license for trusted military officers to speak out on regional affairs in what is widely interpreted as deliberate messages without being an official view.
The US now appears to be responding in kind.
''We need China to act like a great nation ... but that is not the China I've watched over the past decade,'' Captain Fanell said.
The deputy chief of staff for intelligence and information operations for US Pacific Fleet, covering oceans from
''Hollywood to Bollywood'', Captain Fanell said China was at the centre of virtually every dispute.
''My assessment is the [People's Liberation Army] Navy has become a very capable fighting force. Much of the intelligence record is classified beyond what we can discuss in this forum, but just to give you one example, in 2012 the PLA Navy sent seven surface action groups and the largest number of its submarines on deployment into the Philippines sea in its history,'' he said.
''I can tell you as the fleet intelligence officer, the PLA Navy is going to sea to learn how to do naval warfare ... Make no mistake – the [People's Republic of China] navy is focused on war at sea, and sinking an opposing fleet.''
Sam Roggeveen, from the Lowy Institute in Sydney, said the presentation did not represent the US government line and may yet be disowned.
''But such a brutally candid assessment from such a senior source is nevertheless bad news,'' Mr Roggeveen said.
''It indicates that China is throwing its weight around in exactly the way its neighbours fear, and that China has no appetite for cooperation or negotiation on its territorial claims.''
He also warned the US military's attempted to engage China were perhaps too pessimistic, calculating that China is a military adversary which the US must face down in concert with its friends and allies.
Captain Fanell said China's ''harassments'' on the high seas had expanded over time.
''In my opinion, China is knowingly, operationally and incrementally seizing maritime rights of its neighbours under the rubric of a maritime history that is not only contested in the international community but has largely been fabricated by Chinese government propaganda bureaus in order to 'educate' the populous about China's rich maritime history, clearly as a tool to sustain the Party's control.''
------------------------------------ Naval War College