China's has always been following a "salami-slicing strategy" of lying about its intentions while building up a vast military naval power in the South China Sea, consisting of artificial islands and military bases that were originally claimed to be "environmental research projects." The 2016 ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague completely eviscerated China's so-called 'Nine-Dash Line' claims to the South China Sea, and essentially made China an international criminal. Each step in the salami-slicing strategy was supposed to be small enough not to raise alarms, but in fact it has raised alarms in all of China's neighbors. The result is that the entire region is militarizing, in preparation for war with China. Deutsche Welle (Berlin)
* Vietnam has recently acquired six Russian Kilo-class submarines, specialized for missions in shallow waters and for defense against enemy ships and submarines. Vietnam has recently procured six Metal Shark patrol boats and a Hamilton-class cutter from the United States.
* The BRP Gregorio del Pilar is the flagship of the Philippine Navy. It was a former US Coast Guard cutter acquired by the Philippines in 2012, and it's already been in a confrontation with China in Scarborough Shoal.
* Singapore has put six Formidable-class stealth ships into service, all built in France.
* Indonesia is buying new ships from the Netherlands, while Germany is supplying warships to Malaysia and Brunei.
Vietnam in particular has been going on a weapons shopping spree from Russia. Vietnam recently placed a huge order for 64 T-90 Main Battle Tanks, four S-400 Triumf Surface-to-Air missiles and new fighter jets, likely MIG-35s, to replace their now-retired MiG-21s.
At the same time, there have been recent reports that the Trump administration has changed America's South China Sea strategy to one that's more assertive than the one that the Obama administration pursued. President Obama vetoed many "freedom of navigation operations" (FONOPS) in the South China Sea, for fear of angering the Chinese. But President Trump will approve frequent FONOPS, so that they'll be pursued on a frequent basis. The result is that there have already recently been three such operations in the South China Sea, starting with one on May 24. Raddington Report
Hitler tried a salami-slicing strategy in Europe in 1939, first annexing Austria and then Czechoslovakia. Those victories emboldened Hitler, who thought he could get away with anything. But then when Hitler invaded Poland, WW II began.
China's salami-slicing step by step Anschluss of the South China Sea has been very successful so far, but these successes have emboldened China, whose leaders think they can get away with anything. China is a highly militarized international criminal state, but at some point they'll go one step to far, and bring an enormous catastrophe on themselves and the world.... South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Times of India