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Summary of modern war in China

Modern warfare utilizesmilitary technology, methods as well as concepts that were widelyused after the 2ndworld war and the Korean War. Utilization of advanced and moresophisticated technologies starting from the 19thcentury throughout the 21stcentury have resulted to more complex forms of modern warfare. TheAmerican civil war took place between 1860 and 1865 is regarded bymost historians as the first truly modern war. This is because thewar utilized the new technologies and concepts brought about by theindustrial revolution to a great extent. Since then, a series of warsinvolving more sophisticated technologies and techniques have beenfought. The techniques and technologies used in modern wars includesnuclear weapons, naval warfare, cyber wars, electronic warfare waswell as chemical warfare. Key countries such as the US, Russia andChina are constantly modernizing their military technologies andtechniques in preparation for wars. The involvement of China in warshas drastically declined over the past 3 decades with the most recentbattle being the Johnson South reef skirmish that pitted the Chineseauthorities against the Vietnamese.

The Johnson South reefskirmish took place in the Johnson South reef located in the SpratlyIslands which led to the occupation of the reef by the Chinese. Thewar resulted in the sinking of two Vietnamese boats as well as thedeaths of over 70 Vietnamese. The start of the skirmish goes back toMarch 1987 when China was commissioned build an observation post onthe Spratly Islands by the UNESCO Intergovernmental OceanographicCommission. China settled on the Fiery Cross Reef as the idle sitefor the observation post in April of the same year. The main reasonbehind the selection of this site was that it unoccupied and largeenough for an observation site to be established. Wary of the Chinesepresence in the islands, the Vietnamese forcesincreased theirmonitoring activities around the neighboring reefs. The continuedmonitoring of the Chinese activities by the Vietnamese forcesresulted in a number of confrontations between the two parties as theChinese forces sought to defend its position and presence around theregion (Pike).

Vietnam charged the Chineseforces with intruding into its territories and accused China of notupholding the country’s sovereignty by allowing its troops to setfoot on the reefs. The protests by Vietnam landed on the deaf ears ofthe Chinese who went on with their construction activities on thereefs. The main war was triggered by the Chinese decision to expandtheir presence to other surround reefs. To counter the Chineseoccupation of the reefs, the Vietnamese decided to occupy anadditional four reefs. However, the Chinese responded by occupying anadditional number of reefs (Pike). This resulted in protests andcounter protests between the two parties which eventually resultedinto a class in the third month of 1988. Both the countries accusedeach other of starting the skirmishes, giving differing accounts onthe events that eventually led to the conflict (Pike)

According to the Chineseaccount, A Chinese ship detected Vietnamese vessels heading towardsthree different reefs in a three pronged intrusion that occurredsimultaneously. The three said reefs were Lansdowne reef, the JohnsonSouth reef and the Collins reef. The Chinese account points out thatthe Vietnamese troops attempted to erect their flag on arrival on theJohnson South reef. This resulted in an argument between the twoopposing parties. The argument eventually led to the Vietnameseforces opening fire. The Chinese forces are reported to have reactedby opening forces on the Vietnamese vessels, eventually settingablaze and sinking one of the vessels. The Chinese account alsoreport that 9 more marines from the Vietnamese forces had landed onthe Lansdowne reef. It is reported that they were hailed to withdrawfrom the reef, but instead opened fire. The ensuing battle led to thesinking of the second Vietnamese ship.

The Vietnamese account of theskirmish points out that China sent out a number of ships into theSouthern sides of the South China Sea. Four ships were sent to thenorth-west of the Spratly Island where the Vietnamese report thatthey started harassing their ships that were around the London reefs.They point out that they responded to the harassment by mobilizingtwo transport ships that carried approximately 100 soldiers. Theaccount points out that the four Chinese ships confronted the twotransport ships as they were transporting construction materials toone of the reefs. The Vietnamese account points out that theircommander ordered a number of soldiers to go to the Johnson SouthReef and protect the flag that had been hoisted on the reef theprevious day. It is on the reef that the Chinese attacked theVietnamese soldiers. An independent observation points out that Chinaembarked on a mission to occupy unclaimed reefs in the Spratlyislands by sending out troops to these reefs. The Vietnamese forces reacted by attempting to occupy other reefs but an encounter of thedifferent landing parties on the Johnson South reef resulted to anexchange of fire that is reported to have lasted for less than 30minutes. Following the skirmishes, China moved rapidly to occupy morereefs. It had occupied a total of 6 reefs by the end of 1988 (Pike).


Pike,John. `Spratly Skirmish – 1988`.&, 2015. Web. 7 Apr. 2015.