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Sunday, December 17, 2017

South China Sea News

Photo: Council on Foreign Relations

South China Sea Boils Up

The overlapping territorial disputes in the South China Sea involve China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam have recently been moving from bad to worse. Vietnam is seeking to upgrade its air defences by acquiring western fighter jets and drones, a move which would further militarize a dispute with Beijing over territorial claims in the South China Sea. Taiwan's coast guard has commissioned its biggest ships for duty in the form of two 3,000-ton patrol vessels…

Map courtesy: AFP

US, Japan Keen to Raise South China Sea at G-7

South China Sea warning looms over G7 summit. The United States is keen to raise the issue of South China Sea at a Group of Seven foreign ministers (G-7) meeting in Hiroshima. The US expects that this move would likely draw an angry response from the government in Beijing. Japan also wants to discuss South China Sea. The Shinzo Abe administration of Japan has been trying to place the South China Sea on top of the agenda at the upcoming two-day meeting in Hiroshima, despite pressing issues of combating terrorism and extremism, and the refugee crisis troubling Europe and the Middle East.

ASEAN Ministerial Meeting. Photo by US-ASEAN Business Council, Inc.

US-ASEAN Connect Initiative, Thanks to South China Sea

The United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are taking their relationship to a new level, thanks to heated tensions in the South China Sea. China, a key ally of North Korea, has said its committed to denuclearizing the Northth Korea, but has not been to agree with the US or the United Nations on how to achieve that goal. Asean leaders have reiterated their stand on wanting a peaceful resolution to the overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Challenges in the South China Sea. Map by Transatlantic Academy

G7 May Address South China Sea Dispute

AFP reports that the G7 summit would express concern about unilateral efforts to assert sovereignty claims in the disputed South China Sea. John Kirton, director of think-tank the G7 Research Group, has said maritime disputes between China and its neighbours would be on the agenda of the summit in Germany. Japan's Yomiuri newspaper also said Saturday the summit would take up the issue. Citing sources, the paper said a closing statement would express concern about unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

Pic: International Affairs.org

US, Australia and EU Warn China on South China Sea

China was warned by many the United States and the European Union  that it should respect a ruling later this year on its dispute with the Philippines over territory in the South China Sea, reports Reuters. In a message has been sent to China, which is attempting to turn the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea into military strongholds, US warned that its self-serving actions are unacceptable. With the South China Sea in mind, a joint statement by the leaders…

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Official Portrait Photo John Kerry -@JohnKerry

Kerry to Press ASEAN meeting for talks on SCS Disputes

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will urge Southeast Asian nations in meetings in Laos next week to find diplomatic ways to launch talks with China on easing tension over the South China Sea following an international court ruling that denies China's claims in the sea. Kerry travels to Laos' capital Vientiane on Monday for meetings of foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of South East Asia Nations where tensions between China and several ASEAN members, in particular the Philippines and Vietnam, over the South China Sea is expected to dominate talks.

Photo: Public Relations Office, Cabinet Office and Office of Global Communications, Japan

G7 Meeting to Tackle Sea Row in Asia Pacific

Group of Seven (G7) leaders will call for respect for the rule of law and peaceful resolution to conflicts in a joint statement to be issued Friday at the end of their two-day summit, taking a swipe against China's territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, reports Nikkei. The leaders, without singling out China, will dismiss “unilateral actions that could alter the status quo” in a declaration to be issued after their summit, the sources said. The document will not explicitly name Beijing.

China Cruise Ship to Visit Disputed Islands

China's plans to sail a cruise ship to the Paracels Islands in the South China Sea ahead of the nation's coming May Day holiday likely to escalate tensions. China is planning to let tourists visit the Xisha Islands (the name China has given to the Paracels Archipelago) ahead of the forthcoming May Day holiday, according to  Vietnam's Thanhnien News, citing a  China state news agency Xinhua  report. An unnamed 47,000 tons cruise ship owned by Haihang Group with accommodation for 1,965 passengers is ready for sailing.

Map source: UNCLOS, CIA

China Justifies Reclamation of Islands in South China Sea

China has justified its reclamation work on some disputed islands in the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea, saying they would be used for military defense and to provide civilian services that would benefit other countries. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying defended China’s island-building work in contested waters saying that it was being used for maritime purposes and not aimed at making claims at the expense of other nations. "We are building shelters…

Map by Transatlantic Academy

China Hooked to South China Sea

Despite US President Barack Obama’s warning  thatthe land reclamation work in the strategically important South China Sea would affect peaceful resolution of maritime disputes in the area, China might press on, reports SCMP. Obama said he had “candid” discussions with President Xi Jinping on Asia-Pacific disputes, voicing concerns about Chinese militarisation of artificial islands in the waters where China has competing territorial claims with several Southeast Asian neighbours.

South China Sea disputes increasing demand for US security presence: Pentagon

Chinese Navy Ramps up Drills in Disputed Sea

The Chinese navy has conducted live-fire exercises in the disputed South China Sea , reports Reuters. China claims almost all of the energy-rich waters, through which more than US$5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims. China's defence ministry said the drills were routine, even though other countries have made claims over various parts of the disputed territory. "The People's Liberation Army Navy in recent days organised a fleet to go to relevant seas in the South China Sea…

Image: Official Website of the United States Navy

US Plans More Maritime Drills in Asia

The United States will increase the number of drills it conducts in the Asia-Pacific as part of its new strategy to counter to China’s expansion in the South China Sea, Reuters quoted the Philippine military as saying. Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command, discussed the Pentagon’s recently drafted Asia Pacific Maritime Security Strategy with his Filipino counterpart, General Hernando Iriberri, during a visit to Manila, Reuters reported. The talks outlined Washington’s actions in the disputed South China Sea and East China Sea…

Flag of the Coast Guard Administration - Taiwan

Taiwan Launches New ships as South China Sea Tensions Rise

Taiwan's coast guard on Saturday commissioned its biggest ships for duty in the form of two 3,000-ton patrol vessels, as the island boosts defences amid concerns about China's growing footprint in the disputed South China Sea. The new vessels will be able to dock at a new port being constructed on Taiping Island, the largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, before the end of this year. Taiwan's coast guard has had direct oversight of the 46-ha (114-acre) island, also known as Itu Aba, since 2000.

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying attends the press conference on May 4, 2015. Photo: fmprc.gov.cn

Stop Provocation on South China Sea, China Tells Philippines

China has urged the Philippines to stop "malicious hyping and provocation" on territorial disputes in the South China Sea, says a report in Xinhua. Earlier, Philippine foreign ministry alleged that China's construction on islands in the South China Sea after the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002 had violated the DOC. The core reason of the two countries' disputes in the South China Sea was the Philippines' illegal occupation of some of China's islands since 1970s, he said.

PLA Destroyer 'Qingdao': Photo credit Wik CCL

China Navy Beefs Up South China Sea Presence

A People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy fleet has entered territorial waters in the South China Sea for patrol and training missions. Comprising the missile destroyer Qingdao and the missile frigates Yantai and Yancheng, the fleet entered the South China Sea after a five-hour passage through the Bashi Channel (between Taiwan and the Philippines' Luzon Island). The three ships, all from the North China Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy, are scheduled to carry out patrol missions and multi-type training exercises in the South China Sea over the next few days.

Photo: Council on Foreign Relations

China Slams G7 on Maritime Disputes

China reacted with anger Tuesday after the Group of Seven foreign ministers released a statement a day earlier voicing strong opposition to “unilateral actions” in the East and South China seas. "China is strongly dissatisfied with relevant moves taken by G-7," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said. His statement added: “We urge the Group of Seven member states to honor their commitment of not taking sides on issues involving territorial disputes and respect the efforts by regional countries…

Map by USC US-China Institute

Hague Court Begins Hearing On South China Sea Issue

A United Nations arbitral tribunal in The Hague heard some of the Philippines’ territorial claims over the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Tuesday. A delegation of nearly 50 lawyers and representatives for the Philippines gathered to present their case for territorial claims and usage rights in the South China Sea. The move to bring the issue to court was prompted by China’s program of building airstrips and defenses on some of the islands. Other countries involved in the dispute…

India's Vice President Hamid Ansari and Sultan of Brunei, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah.  Photo Credit: PTI

India, Brunei Discuss South China Sea Dispute

Underscoring that India and Brunei have equal stakes in the security and prosperity of a "shared Asian neighbourhood", both countries held discussion on Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea which has the potential to affect free maritime traffic in Southeast Asia, reports the Hindu. Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari said that both the countries have an interest in maintaining the safety of the sea-lanes in the region, after his discussion with Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and crown prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah.

South China Sea Maritime Claim: Map by Lowy Institute for International Policy

Philippines: China Reclamation Damaging Reefs

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Philippines said China’s massive reclamation activities in the South China Sea have destroyed 300 acres of coral reef systems, which may lead to an estimated $100 million in annual economic losses in coastal states. "China’s massive reclamation activities are causing irreversible and widespread damage to the biodiversity and ecological balance of the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea," Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said.

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) conducts patrols in international waters of the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands in May 2015. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Conor Minto/Released)

China May Be Installing Radar on Disputed Islands

Satellite images show China may be installing a high-frequency radar system in the Spratly Islands that could significantly boost its ability control the disputed South China Sea, a U.S. think tank reported on Monday. The Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies said the images showed that construction of facilities at Cuarteron Reef appeared nearly complete and that the artificial island now covered an area of about 52 acres (21 hectares).

Japan Navy Chief Urges Resumption of China Port Visits

The head of Japan's navy on Monday repeated criticisms of China's pursuit of territorial claims in Asia but called for a resumption of port and personnel visits suspended for several years amid rising tensions between the two Asian powers. Admiral Tomohisa Takei said exchange visits by senior naval personnel and warships were effective in improving relationships between armed forces. "They should be resumed as soon as possible," he told a Washington think tank. While criticizing China's for its actions in the East China Sea…

Map by Middlebury College

China Invites India to South China Sea

In a dramatic turn of events, China has asked India to play a "constructive and positive" role in safeguarding peace and stability in the disputed South China Sea, reports PTI. This statement comes as a guarded reaction to Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's call for ensuring freedom of navigation in the strategic waters amid escalated Sino-US tensions. "We hope that countries who really care about freedom of navigation in the South China Sea (SCS) can play (a) constructive and positive role" in peace and stability of the region, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said.

 Map showing disputed territory in the South China Sea. Credit: NPR.org

China Slams G7 Criticism on South China Seas

China has strongly hit out at the G7 nations for blaming it for tensions in East and South China seas, warning that the country is ready to respond if its sovereign rights and territorial integrity are infringed. Beijing accused G7 members of bias, ignoring the facts and irresponsibility as it rejected a statement made by the group targeting, but not naming, China over maritime tensions. "What the G7 members have said and done are too far from the facts," Hong Lei, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

Matsu-class Destroyer by Japanese Navy

Japan, Philippines First Naval Drill in South China Sea

Two Japanese warships arrived in the Philippines on Saturday to take part in the first naval drill between the two countries in the disputed South China Sea. The May 12 maritime safety exercise in the South China Sea near a disputed shoal claimed by China, which will practice the code for unplanned encounters at sea, known as CUES, is part of an agreement signed by Japan and the Philippines in January aimed at tightening security cooperation. State-run Philippines News Agency reported the Philippine Navy and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force will hold exercises off the waters of Subic Bay…

Photo: US State Dept

John Kerry Off to Asia to Address Maritime Issues

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is pressing for peaceful resolutions to increasingly tense maritime disputes in Asia, reports AP. Kerry arrived in the Laotian capital Sunday and will travel to China late Tuesday for meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and other senior officials, the State Department said. Laos is the current head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whose members are becoming more vocal in complaints about China's growing assertiveness over competing claims in the South China Sea.

Map by Asep Setiawan

Angry China Warns U.S. Navy Ship

A US Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed close to China’s man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea, drawing an angry rebuke from Beijing, which said its warships tracked and warned the American vessel, reports Reuters. China summoned the American ambassador to protest the U.S. Navy's sailing of a warship close to one of China's artificial islands, in an act that challenged Chinese sovereignty claims. According to a report in AP, the Executive Vice Minister Zhang Yesui said that the U.S.