Posts Tagged ‘James Shoal’

U.S. Builds Up Marines in Asia in Response To Allies, China

April 3, 2014

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Chinese Navy’s amphibious landing ship Jinggangshan is seen during a training mission with a hovercraft near James Shoal in March, 2013. Photo: Xinhua

By Yuka Hayashi
The Wall Street Journal

POHANG, South Korea—The U.S. Marine Corps is rebuilding its forces in East Asia, beefing up amphibious fighting capabilities that had been eroded during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The effort, which Marines showed off this week in exercises with South Korean forces, is meant to underscore the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia, which has come into question as the U.S. downsizes its military overall.

Even amid Pentagon spending cuts, the Marine Corps is moving ahead with a plan to increase its troops in Asia to levels not seen since 2003, U.S. officials say.

The exercise in Pohang, on South Korea’s southeastern coast, was also meant to reassure allies in the region where some officials have voiced doubts about the U.S.’s commitment to protect them as Washington grapples with its own budgetary constraints and war-weary population.

Such concern has grown amid Beijing’s aggressive military buildup. China’s People’s Liberation Army has strengthened its own Marine Corps in recent years, defense experts say.


Photo shows a hovercraft which was independently developed by China. Dubbed “wild horse at sea,” the high-speed amphibious landing craft conducted its first coordinated training with its mother ship “Jinggangshan” on March 20, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

“Truth be told, the U.S. can no longer afford to play the world’s policeman,” said Yosuke Isozaki, a senior Japanese lawmaker who advises Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on national-security issues, at a symposium last week. “This is no longer an era when Japan can do nothing and count on America to protect us for free.”

The U.S. has also expanded joint-exercise programs with Japan as well as Australia, regional allies that are building their own amphibious forces to counter Beijing’s.

For the U.S. Marine Corps, which has been teasingly called “a second land army” after operating only on land in Iraq and Afghanistan, the shift represents a chance to return to its core.

U.S. and South Korean forces engaged in joint landing exercises this week. The Marine Corps plans to have 22,000 troops stationed in the Asian Pacific by 2017. Zuma Press

“We’ve kind of forgotten how to do large-scale amphibious operations,” Brig.-Gen. Paul Kennedy, commanding general of the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, said in an interview. “Now we are back.”

Symbolizing the new emphasis was a beachhead landing exercise in Pohang on Monday. With more than 13,000 troops participating, it was the largest amphibious-warfare drill between the two countries in more than two decades and more than double the scale of last year’s. Nearly 10,000 of the troops were Americans, including 7,500 Marines from bases in Okinawa and California—distinguishable by their desert-sand uniforms. The rest were South Korean troops and some Australians.

The exercise, known as Ssang Yong, or Twin Dragons, was a significant display of force. The main event of the two-week session, it featured thousands of U.S. and South Korean troops emerging on three beaches from amphibious assault vehicles dispatched from some of the 11 ships. Once ashore, they dashed to fight unidentified “aggressors” hidden behind rows of trucks.

The U.S. brought in 55 aircraft for the exercise, including nearly two dozen MV-22 Ospreys, aircraft with vertical landing and takeoff capabilities. While unpopular among local residents in Okinawa due to their noise and a perception they are prone to crashes—a claim the U.S. denies—the Ospreys are a key component of the Marine Corps’ new Asia strategy because of their ability to operate flexibly in areas with small islands and during disasters such as last year’s typhoon in the Philippines.

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, such large-scale exercises were difficult. For example, three of the four Marine infantry battalions previously stationed in Okinawa were deployed elsewhere, said Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of Marine Forces Japan, at a news conference aboard USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship, during this week’s drill. All four battalions are now back on Okinawa. The Marine Corps is close to completing its rebalancing, with 19,000 troops already stationed in the Asian Pacific. The goal is 22,000 troops by 2017. This year, Marines are expected to train or engage in 21 of the 36 nations it counts in the region, Gen. Wissler said. “We see this as a significant rebalance.”

North Korea on the same day as the landing drill fired hundreds of artillery shells off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula, prompting South Korea to fire back. None of the shells hit land.

While U.S. and South Korean military officials said the exercise wasn’t targeted at North Korea or any specific nation, some military experts say such joint drills are conducted to build deterrence against potential aggression while preparing for emergencies.

“If the situation in North Korea becomes unstable, it would be a critical task for the U.S. and South Korea to land and secure its nuclear facilities,” said Masayuki Masuda, a senior fellow at Japan’s National Institute for Defense Studies, an arm of the Defense Ministry.

The U.S. Marines have been working with emerging amphibious forces in Japan and the Philippines, two countries entangled in bitter territorial disputes with China.

In Australia, rotational deployment and training of U.S. troops have started.

The marine force of China’s PLA, with more than 10,000 troops, has acquired more amphibious ships and conducted exercises more frequently in recent years, military experts say. The PLA is already “capable of accomplishing various amphibious operations short of a full-scale invasion of Taiwan,” said the Pentagon in its latest annual report to congress on China’s military developments.

“I am of a view that in the coming era, we should have the Marines as widely deployed and as often as we can in the region as a way of showing the flag,” said Wallace Gregson, a retired Marine lieutenant general who served as assistant secretary of defense under President Barack Obama. “It’s not warmongering. It’s deterrence.”

Write to Yuka Hayashi at yuka.hayashi@wsj.com

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Philippines Moves Ahead With International Arbitration in South China Sea Dispute With China

March 28, 2014
The Pagasa (Hope) Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines is seen in this July 20, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Rolex Dela Pena

The Pagasa (Hope) Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines is seen in this July 20, 2011 file photo. Credit: Reuters/Rolex Dela Pena

(Reuters) – The Philippines will file a case against China over the disputed South China Sea at an arbitration tribunal in The Hague next week, subjecting Beijing to international legal scrutiny over the increasingly tense waters for the first time.

Manila is seeking a ruling to confirm its right to exploit the waters in its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as allowed under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), its team of U.S. and British lawyers said.

A ruling against China by the five-member panel of the Permanent Court of Arbitration could prompt other claimants to challenge Beijing, experts said. But while legally binding, any ruling would effectively be unenforceable as there is no body under UNCLOS to police such decisions, legal experts said.

China, which has refused to participate in the case, claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea, displaying its reach on official maps with a so-called nine-dash line that stretches deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to parts of the potentially energy-rich waters.

The U.N. convention gives a country 12 nautical miles of territorial control with claim to sovereign rights to explore, exploit and manage natural resources within 200 miles. China claims several reefs and shoals in Manila’s EEZ.

The head of the Philippines’ legal team, Paul Reichler, a lawyer at U.S. law firm Foley Hoag, told Reuters a submission would be sent electronically on Sunday, meeting a March 30 deadline set by the tribunal. Manila filed an initial complaint in January 2013.

Legal experts said it could take months for the panel to weigh the case.

Diplomats and experts who follow the tensions in the South China Sea said Manila was going ahead despite pressure from China to delay or drop its submission.

“They’ve crossed a significant line here … the pressure to withdraw before actually mounting an argument has been intense but they’ve stayed the course,” said Carl Thayer, from the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.

Arbitration would clarify Manila’s rights to fishing and other resources in its EEZ as well as rights to enforce its laws in those areas, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

“We see arbitration as an open, friendly and durable solution to the dispute,” del Rosario told a business forum recently.

China reiterated this week that it would not take part.

“We demand the Philippines ends it mistaken actions and stop going further down this wrong path to prevent bilateral relations from being further harmed,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a news briefing on Wednesday.

“China’s determination and resolve to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering.”

TENSIONS GROWING

Diplomats said the case was the focus of growing interest across East Asia and beyond given China’s assertiveness in both the South and East China Seas.

Washington has stiffened its rhetorical support for Manila’s action, even as it insists it does not take sides in regional territorial disputes.

The State Department warned this month of the “ambiguity” of some claims to the South China Sea and called for disputes to be solved legally and peacefully, through means such as arbitration.

Tensions have been on full display in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Manila protested action by Chinese coastguard ships to block two Philippine civilian vessels resupplying marines on the disputed Second Thomas Reef.

The Philippines instead air-dropped supplies to the marines, who live on an old military transport ship rammed onto the reef in 1999 to mark Manila’s territory. While Chinese vessels regularly surround the reef, it was the first time China had blocked a routine re-supply mission, a move Thayer said could have been related to the arbitration case.

Further north, the two sides have traded angry words over the Scarborough Shoal, where in January Philippine officials said a Chinese coastguard ship fired water cannon at Filipino fishermen.

Manila says both reefs lie within its EEZ. China says they are part of its territory.

Much further to the south, Chinese naval ships staged exercises in January at the James Shoal, a submerged reef within Malaysia’s EEZ.

Less visibly, China has applied pressure behind the scenes, attempting to isolate the Philippines within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), one regional diplomat said.

“China has let us all know that they are very angry … The message is clear – you must not support this in any way,” said the envoy, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Diplomatic sources in Vietnam have told Reuters that China put pressure on Hanoi over joining the case at the tribunal. A Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman last month said Hanoi reserved the right to apply “all necessary and appropriate peaceful means” to protect its sovereignty.

Malaysian officials have given no indication they are planning to join the action or launch their own case.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Stuart Grudgings in Kuala Lumpur. Editing by Dean Yates)

China conducts full-scale island assault exercise with massive amphibious vessels

March 4, 2014

For the first time, all of the PLA Navy’s three gigantic Type 071 Amphibious Transport Dock vessels were deployed last week in a large naval exercise in the tense South China Sea, simulating in full an island-taking assault.

Chinese Type 071 Amphibious Transport Dock ship.

Chinese Type 071 Amphibious Transport Dock ship.

Also participating in the drill were PLAN’s destroyers, frigates, military helicopters and possibly submarines.

The Yuzhao-class Type 071 amphibious transport dock ships are the PLAN’s largest vessels, except for its lone aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

With 20,000-ton displacement, each measures 689 feet long and 92 feet wide.

It can carry 15-20 amphibious assault vehicles and 500-800 troops, an ideal vessel for island taking operations.

From World Tribune

http://www.worldtribune.com/2014/03/03/china-conducts-full
-scale-island-assault-exercise-with-massive-amphibious-vessels/

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The three amphibious ships are Hudong (998),  Jinggangshan (Jinggang Shan) (999) and Changbai Shan (989).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_071_amphibious_transport_dock

Chinese Navy’s amphibious landing ship Jinggangshan is seen during a training mission with a hovercraft near James Shoal in March, 2013. Photo: Xinhua

Brunei Backs Out of Challenging China’s South China Sea Claims

March 4, 2014

By: Tess Jamandre,  VERA Files
March 3, 2014

InterAksyon.com The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines – Four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with claims in the South China Sea failed to take a united stand on China’s growing aggressiveness after Brunei opted out of a recently held meeting in Manila.

Brunei was a no-show in the 1st ASEAN Claimants Working Group Meeting held at Pan Pacific Hotel in Manila Feb. 18, and is expected to skip the second round in Malaysia on March 25, diplomatic sources privy to the talks said.

Brunei Sultan Bolkiah is welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

The meeting, however, saw a more engaged Malaysia, which has abandoned its former passive attitude toward China’s military activities in the region.

Observers attribute Malaysia’s change of heart to the recent military exercises by China in oil-rich James Shoal, 80 kilometers from Malaysian Coast but is the farthest border of China’s much-disputed 9-dash line map. Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman himself flew to Manila late January and to Brunei to confirm the Feb. 18 meeting.

President Beningo S. Aquino visited Kuala Lumpur last week and discussed the Spratlys, among other concerns.

The Philippines has taken China to arbitration court over the 9-dash line. Its claim against China will get a boost if Malaysia and Vietnam interplead in the international tribunal, but both countries are at present mum on the issue of arbitration against China.

Of the 10 ASEAN members, four—Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam— have territorial claims in the mineral-rich Spratlys in the South China Sea, about 80 percent of which is being claimed by China with its controversial 9-dash line map. Taiwan is also a claimant.

Of all six claimants of the Spratlys group of islands in the South China Sea, only Brunei does not occupy any land feature there.

The Philippines maintain troops on eight islands and a shoal, Malaysia is present in four, Vietnam holds 22, China controls eight, and Taiwan maintains a garrison on Itu Aba, the largest island.

It was not the first time that Brunei avoided a meeting among the South China Sea claimants that the Philippines has been striving to convene.

At the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat in Bagan, Myanmar on January 16 and 17, Brunei also did not join the foreign ministers of Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines in a pull-aside meeting to discuss how to get the claimants meeting started.

Brunei’s Foreign Minister His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah chose to meet his Vietnamese counterpart instead on Jan. 16.

“Brunei is not comfortable to sit in a meeting to discuss the South  China Sea territorial issues” at the level of His Royal Highness, the Prince, a diplomatic source said.

For the Feb. 18 meeting in Manila, Brunei informed the Philippine government through its embassy that it will be sending a representative from the foreign ministry.

The delegations from the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam waited for the Brunei delegate until 30 minutes before the meeting began. When not even someone from the Brunei Embassy in Manila showed up, the table, chairs and Brunei’s flag were removed.

But the three other countries agreed to continue persuading Brunei to join the four-claimants meetings which may eventually be opened to China.

At the Feb. 18 meeting, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam expressed concern over China’s recent moves in the disputed area. Malaysia, in particular, resented the “spin” that China makes in their bilateral meetings and exchanges.

“China often distorted news for their benefit,” one of the participants said.

The three countries agreed to cooperate in negating the controversial 9-dash line, which is the subject of the complaint filed by the Philippines before the United Nations Arbitral   Court.

But the Philippine case against China before the UN Arbitral Court was not discussed in the Feb. 18 meeting.

“It will be very useful but it will not be fatal if they (Malaysia and Vietnam) are not there (in the Philippine case), but it will be useful if we have friends joining our case,” Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said.

The Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia also clarified that last month’s claimants meeting as a mechanism will not replace the ASEAN-China dialogue mechanism such as the Joint Working Group Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). The four-claimants mechanism will exist alongside with ASEAN and will complement it.

The ASEAN-China Joint Working Group is tasked to discuss the formulation of a Code of Conduct as agreed in the DOC.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for truth.) 

Above: China says it has sovereignty over all inside the “Nine Dash Line” as seen here.

Map of South China Sea

China has claimed much of the South China Sea for itself —  claims that have upset many in the region, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. A huge wealth of untapped oil is believed to be below the sea here.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law.

China’s Naval Exercises Draw Malaysia Into The South China Sea Debate

February 27, 2014

The submerged reef would be easy to miss, under turquoise seas about 80 km off Sarawak.

But two Chinese naval exercises in less than a year around the James  Shoal have shocked Malaysia and led to a significant shift in its  approach to China’s claims to the disputed South China Sea, senior  diplomats told Reuters. The reef lies outside Malaysia’s territorial  waters but inside its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

See larger image:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=48227339187895
7&set=a.482273388545624.1073747961.100002889011045&type=1&theater

The latest incident in January, in particular, prompted Malaysia to  quietly step up cooperation with the Philippines and Vietnam, the two  Southeast Asian nations most outspoken over China’s moves in the region,  in trying to tie Beijing to binding rules of conduct in the South China  Sea, the diplomats said.

Beijing’s growing naval assertiveness could also push Malaysia closer  to the United States, its top security ally, thus deepening divisions  between Southeast Asia and China over the potentially mineral-rich  waters.

Malaysia has traditionally played down security concerns in pursuit of  closer economic ties with China, its biggest trade partner.

China’s ‘southern-most’ territory

The James Shoal, which China calls Zengmu Reef, is 1,800 km from  mainland China. It is closer to Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, the  Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia – nearly all of Southeast Asia – than  it is to China’s coast.

A Vietnamese naval soldier stands guard at Thuyen Chai island in the Spratly archipelago, which is closer to Malaysia, the Phillipines and Vietnam, than it is to China. – Reuters pic, February 27, 2014.

Vietnamese naval soldier stands guard at Thuyen Chai island in the  Spratly archipelago, which is closer to Malaysia, the Phillipines and  Vietnam, than it is to China. – Reuters pic, February 27, 2014.

Nevertheless, Beijing regards those waters as its southernmost  territory, the bottom of a looping so-called nine-dash line on maps that  comprise 90% of the 3.5 million sq km South China Sea.

Pictures from China’s state media on January 26 showed hundreds of  Chinese sailors standing to attention on a warship’s deck, backed by two  destroyers and a helicopter that was reported to be at James Shoal.

Malaysia’s navy chief denied the Chinese media reports at the time,  telling state news agency Bernama the ships were far from Malaysian  waters, which are rich in the oil and gas that power the nation’s  economy. He may have been able to deny the incursion because Malaysian  forces did not monitor or sight the Chinese flotilla, security analysts  said.

But diplomatic and naval security sources have told Reuters the  exercise by three warships, which included an oath-taking ceremony to  defend China’s sovereignty, almost certainly took place at or close to  James Shoal.

“It’s a wake-up call that it could happen to us and it is happening to  us,” Tang Siew Mun, a foreign policy specialist at Malaysia’s Institute  of Strategic and International Studies who advises the government, said  of the recent incidents.

“For some time we believed in this special relationship…  James Shoal  has shown to us over and again that when it comes to China protecting  its sovereignty and national interest it’s a different ball game.”

‘Silence as usual’ from the undecisive Najib administration

Neither Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry nor the prime minister’s office responded to requests for comment.

While Malaysia’s public response to the January incident was typically  low key, senior diplomats from other Southeast Asian nations said their  Malaysian counterparts had been far more active since then in pushing  for a common stance in talks with China over a code of conduct for the  South China Sea.

Officials from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations  (Asean) and China will resume negotiations in Singapore on March 18  after agreeing to accelerate talks last year that have made little  headway so far.

The code is intended to bind China and Asean to detailed rules of  behaviour at sea, reducing the chance of an escalation in tensions that  could lead to conflict. China says it is sincere in trying to reach an  agreement.

Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan claim parts of the sea. All are members of Asean except Taiwan.

ASEAN push for common ‘code of conduct’ over South China Sea

Less than a week after the January incident, Malaysian Foreign Minister  Anifah Aman made a previously unannounced private visit to Manila to  meet his Philippine counterpart, the Philippine Foreign Ministry said.  The South China Sea issue was discussed, a ministry spokesman said.

Then on February 18, officials from the Philippines, Malaysia and  Vietnam held a meeting to coordinate policy towards China on the  maritime dispute and code of conduct, a diplomat with knowledge of the  talks in Manila said.

“In the past it was only the Philippines and Vietnam that were pushing  for this meeting, but now we see Malaysia getting involved,” said the  diplomat.

‘No’ to China’s nine-dash line ahead of Obama’s visit in April

At the unannounced talks, the officials agreed to reject China’s  nine-dash line, push for an early conclusion to the code of conduct  negotiations and ask Brunei to join a meeting with the three countries  in Kuala Lumpur in March, the diplomat said.

Malaysia’s change in tack comes ahead of visits to Kuala Lumpur by  Philippine President Benigno Aquino this week and US President Barack  Obama in April.

US officials have also hardened their stance toward China over the  South China Sea in recent weeks. On February 13, the commander of the US  Navy, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, said Washington would come to the aid  of the Philippines in the event of conflict with China over the disputed  waters.

Those sorts of comments could embolden some countries, said Hong Nong,  deputy director of the Research Centre for Oceans Law & Policy at  the National Institute for South China Sea Studies on China’s Hainan  Island.

“That will have an influence on Asean. In the past the US never made it  clear it was going to stand by whom,” said Hong. – Reuters

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China’s amphibious landing ship 长白山 / Changbai Shan  ”Changbai  Mountains” (hull number 989) reportedly landed Chinese troops on James Island in Malaysia.

Above: China says it has sovereignty over all inside the “Nine Dash Line” as seen here.

Map of South China Sea

China has claimed much of the South China Sea for itself —  claims that have upset many in the region, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. A huge wealth of untapped oil is believed to be below the sea here.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law.

China’s Strategy For The “Vast Ocean Domain” — Destroy Outsider’s Ability To Intervene

February 23, 2014

First priority is sea control around the first island chain
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‘VAST’ MARITIME DOMAIN: Beijing has prioritized the development of long-range missiles that could strike US ships gaining control of the East China Sea, a study says
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By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON
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China is developing a military “architecture” that could undermine US ability to intervene in an attack on Taiwan or Japan, according to a new study.

Published this week by the Washington-based Project 2049 Institute, China’s Evolving Reconnaissance-Strike Capabilities says that Beijing is perfecting sensors for monitoring a “vast” maritime domain.

“China’s expanding reconnaissance infrastructure is designed to support an array of precision strike capabilities for targeting ships at sea, command and control nodes, air bases, ports and other critical facilities,” the study says.

Written by research fellow Ian Easton, the study says the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may be exploiting security issues in the East China Sea as part of its Taiwan policy.

“The CCP’s approach has been centered on fostering a sense of shared external threat with the Republic of China (ROC) by conflating their respective territorial sovereignty claims,” the study says.

“This strategy appears to have been a key driver of China’s gambit in the East China Sea,” it says.

The study says the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has an advantage that the US military and Japan’s Self Defense Forces cannot match: theater missiles.

“Recognizing the geographic advantage it would have over the US in any conflict with Japan or Taiwan, the PLA has prioritized the development of long-range missiles in order to be able to strike American ships and air bases before they would be able to project power into the region,” the study says.

It says that the PLA’s Second Artillery Force fields the world’s largest and most capable inventory of theater ballistic missiles for delivering nuclear and conventional strikes.

Initially, the only theater ballistic missile in the PLA arsenal that could reach Japan was the medium-range Dongfeng-21C (DF-21C), it says.

“However, according to Taiwanese intelligence officials, the Second Artillery Force has also begun deploying a new medium-range ballistic missile the DF-16, which is reportedly armed at counter-intervention missions,” the study says.

“The DF-16 would be primarily intended for targeting US air and naval bases in Japan during a confrontation over Taiwan,” it says.

The study says that the PLA is also extending the range of its DF-11 and DF-15 short-range ballistic missiles across from Taiwan, giving them “notional coverage” of increasingly large sections of the East China Sea.

In addition, China’s navy has a potentially powerful underwater reconnaissance capability.

“With some 40 modern attack submarines currently fielded and up to 70 expected to be in service by the end of the decade, the submarine force is designed to assist in efforts to achieve sea control around the first island chain, to include countering US and Japanese intervention in a Taiwan conflict,” it says.

Washington and Tokyo must show that they can threaten the PLA’s command posts and missile launch units.

“Japan should be encouraged to do more to contribute to the conventional counterstrike mission,” it says.

“With the F-35 program now many years behind schedule, it makes sense for Tokyo to study options for deploying conventionally armed ballistic and cruise missiles,” it adds.

The study points out that Japan’s civilian space program has recently developed one of the world’s most advanced solid-fueled space launch vehicles.

“If required, these rockets could be converted into ballistic missiles for the deterrent mission with relatively little modification,” the study says.

Related:

The presence of China’s navy has expanded greatly as China adds more capability and warships.

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China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning is a refurbished Russian Navy aircraft carrier. “The South China Sea has deep waters, strong wind and big waves, making it a suitable place for the aircraft carrier to conduct tests and training,” the China Daily quoted the Liaoning’s captain, Zhang Zheng, as saying. China is now building  indigenously designed aircraft carriers.

China navy
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Russian built PLA Navy Sovremenny class ship in service in China shooting missiles. As it did with the aircraft carrier Liaoning, China used the Russian designed guided missile cruisers to gain training, insight and to refine their own design concepts.

China’s amphibious landing ship 长白山 / Changbai Shan  ”Changbai  Mountains” (hull number 989) is representative of China’s vast and growing naval capability. She is a modern amphibious ship capable of landing troops on distant shores.

This chart shows the Air Defense Identification Zone or ADIZ declared by China over the East China Sea on Saturday, November 23, 2013. China has said it was considering a similar ADIZ over the South China Sea but later denied the news reports on that.

Above: China says it has sovereignty over all inside the “Nine Dash Line” as seen here.

Map of South China Sea

China has claimed much of the South China Sea for itself —  claims that have upset many in the region, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. A huge wealth of untapped oil is believed to be below the sea here.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law.

WSJ: China’s Navy Raising Eyebrows

February 22, 2014

By Trefor Moss and Rob Taylor
The Wall Street Journal

A three-week patrol by a Chinese naval flotilla in Southeast Asian waters has drawn conflicting responses from regional governments, exposing confusion over how to react to China’s rising maritime power.

Torn between offending a key trading partner and standing up for their countries’ sovereignty, some regional officials have denied that Chinese ships sailed close to their territory at all, despite Chinese government statements and state media reports to the contrary.

Two Chinese destroyers and one amphibious landing craft, which may have traveled with a submarine escort, according to security analysts, left southern China on Jan. 20. Chinese state media provided detailed coverage of the patrol, which pressed farther south than other Chinese naval missions have done in the past.

That unusually wide geographic range led analysts to believe the mission was something more than a routine training exercise, as China’s Ministry of Defense has claimed, and instead was designed as a demonstration of China’s increasingly expansive naval reach.

The Chinese vessels first conducted a patrol of the Paracel Islands, a South China Sea group contested by China and Vietnam, before proceeding to James Shoal, a reef some 50 miles off the coast of Malaysia in South China Sea areas claimed by both China and Malaysia.

The flotilla then proceeded beyond waters claimed by Beijing to the Indian Ocean, where it conducted the first exercises by Chinese military vessels in waters south of Indonesia, before heading back north and holding live-fire drills in the Western Pacific. The ships returned to China on Feb. 11, after 23 days at sea.

China’s Ministry of Defense said the training it conducted during the mission “was not directed at any country or region, and had no relation to the regional situation,” adding, “China has freedom of navigation and other legitimate rights in the relevant waters.”

Indeed, there is no suggestion that the flotilla’s actions transgressed international law. “China is well within its rights to conduct military exercises at sea, and that includes passage through international straits,” said Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

The U.S. has refrained from commenting specifically on the Chinese patrol. On Feb. 5, Daniel Russel, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, expressed concern during congressional testimony about a “pattern of behavior in the South China Sea” whereby China was seeking to assert control over disputed areas in ways that were “inconsistent with international law.” Secretary of State John Kerry, during a five-day trip to Asia this month, cautioned China against taking steps at sea that could increase tensions with its neighbors, warning that misunderstandings could inadvertently lead to conflict, officials said.

And last week, Capt. James Fanell, director of intelligence for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said the Chinese military has been told to prepare for a “short sharp war” with Japan that could allow it to seize a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea at the forefront of the two nations’ territorial grievances.

Regardless of the Chinese mission’s intent, the flotilla highlighted the growing reach of the People’s Liberation Army Navy—and the dilemma that poses for China’s neighbors.

While viewing China’s military modernization as a legitimate process, Southeast Asian governments are concerned about its implications, said Mr. Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, and they fear China will assert its military power to secure its claims.

But at the same time, Southeast Asian officials have shown little appetite for questioning China openly about the flotilla. The Vietnamese government didn’t respond to requests for comment and has remained silent on the patrol of the Paracel Islands, though it has strongly criticized such activities in the past. Similarly, when China sent a flotilla to James Shoal in March 2013, it prompted open objections from Kuala Lumpur.

This time, Malaysian officials were initially vague about the Chinese flotilla, with Foreign Minister Anifah Aman telling reporters on Feb. 17 that he didn’t have “any confirmation on the presence of Chinese vessels or ships in that region.”

On Feb. 20, however, Chief of the Defense Force Gen.  Zulkifeli Mohammed Zin finally acknowledged the Chinese presence near East Malaysia. He stressed that Chinese ships had a right to sail through the area, while adding: “They passed through James Shoal. They did not patrol James Shoal.”

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein added that “We have to be realistic about our abilities, when faced with a big power like this.”

The Malaysian military is fully capable of monitoring its coastal waters, Mr. Storey said, and would therefore have known the Chinese patrol was nearby—suggesting officials were simply eager to avoid public discussion of China’s military presence for fear of upsetting the Chinese government.

Indonesian officials also initially appeared reluctant to broach the subject of the Chinese flotilla. However, on Feb. 19 Indonesia’s Navy spokesman said maritime security forces were aware of four Chinese warships passing through Indonesian sea lanes in recent weeks. The Chinese ships “conducted an innocent passage” in Indonesia waters, with all four routing through the Strait of Malacca—which wasn’t on the flotilla’s route, according to Chinese reports—and three also routed through the Lombok Strait.

However, Australia’s deployment of an AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft to monitor the Chinese exercises south of Indonesia—a mission confirmed by the Australian Ministry of Defense—appeared to corroborate China’s version of events.

Australia’s Defense Minister David Johnston, speaking to The Wall Street Journal after the flotilla’s passage, stressed that the Chinese ships had been in international waters and were under no obligation to notify Australia ahead of their arrival in the Indian Ocean.

Mr. Johnston said he was “relaxed” about the appearance of the Chinese navy closer to Australia than it had ventured in the past. “I think there’s a lot of over-negativity about that sort of thing,” he said, arguing for open engagement with China to reduce tensions.

Nonetheless, Australian security analysts widely believe the fleet was on a mission to flex China’s growing naval muscle despite strains with the new conservative government in Canberra, which has been critical of Beijing’s decision to establish an air-defense zone in the East China Sea late last year.

“The Chinese wanted to send a message that they will go where they want, and the message has been received that way here,” said security analyst Hugh White, a former senior Australian defense department official.

The policy of turning a blind eye to China’s forays into Southeast Asian waters could soon become untenable, Mr. Storey said: “As the PLA Navy grows in strength, we’re going to see more of this.”

—Abhrajit Gangopadhyay and Jeremy Page contributed to this article

Write to Trefor Moss at trefor.moss@wsj.com and Rob Taylor at rob.taylor@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that “We have to be realistic about our abilities, when faced with a big power like this.” An earlier version of this article misattributed the quote to the chief of Malaysia’s defense force, Gen. Zulkifeli Mohammed Zin.

Related:

China’s amphibious landing ship 长白山 / Changbai Shan  ”Changbai  Mountains” (hull number 989) reportedly landed Chinese troops on James Island. She sailed through the Indonesian straits this month along with two destroyers, according to several news services.

Related:

Above: China says it has sovereignty over all inside the “Nine Dash Line” as seen here.

Map of South China Sea

China has claimed much of the South China Sea for itself —  claims that have upset many in the region, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. A huge wealth of untapped oil is believed to be below the sea here.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law.

Malaysia’s foreign minister in denial: “I have not got any confirmation on the presence of Chinese [Navy] vessels or ships in [our] region”

February 17, 2014

China’s Official News Agency Reported Patrol of Disputed Shoal Last Month

By  Abhrajit Gangopadhyay
The Wall Street Journal

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia—Malaysia’s foreign minister brushed off a media report that Chinese naval vessels entered its waters last month, maintaining the country’s stance of publicly saying little against its largest trading partner’s military flexing in the region.

“I have not got any confirmation on the presence of Chinese vessels or ships in that region,”Anifah Aman told reporters after a meeting Monday with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who is on her first official visit to Malaysia. “Nevertheless, any intrusion into our territory will not get a very good response from us.”

China’s official news agency Xinhua reported last month that an amphibious landing vessel and two destroyers patrolled the James Shoal, a reef 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Malaysia’s Sarawak state that’s claimed by China. There they held a ceremony in which they swore to safeguard Chinese sovereignty.

At the time, China’s Foreign Ministry referred inquiries to the Defense Ministry, which did not respond to faxed questions seeking comment. Malaysian navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar,  meanwhile, dismissed arguments that Chinese fleet movements are a threat to Malaysia’s sovereignty, saying China carries out its exercises in international waters.

Mr. Anifah said Monday that Malaysia hasn’t discussed the matter through diplomatic channels.

This is the first comment from a Malaysian cabinet minister since the Xinhua report, which sparked renewed speculation about China’s territorial ambitions. Beijing has grown more assertive in its claims to the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.

Royal Malaysian Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar also has denied any notice of China’s navy near Malaysia

Last May it sent a task force including an amphibious landing ship to the farthest southern reaches of the area, which Malaysia considers its territory. Malaysia didn’t publicly comment.

China’s growing commercial and naval power in recent years has unnerved many smaller countries in Asia, and has also prompted the U.S. to repeatedly urge all nations in the region to ensure the free navigation through the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

“Going by our strong relationship with China, we will engage China into discussions on what is best for Malaysia and China and the region,” Mr. Anifah said.

—Brian Spegele in Beijing contributed to this article.

China’s amphibious landing ship 长白山 / Changbai Shan  ”Changbai  Mountains” (hull number 989) reportedly landed Chinese troops on James Island. She sailed through the Indonesian straits this month along with two destroyers, according to several news services.

Write to Abhrajit Gangopadhyay at Abhrajit.gangopadhyay@wsj.com

Related:

Map of South China Sea

China has claimed much of the South China Sea for itself —  claims that have upset many in the region, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. A huge wealth of untapped oil is believed to be below the sea here.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law.

In Need of a Legal Decision on China’s South China Sea Claims

February 13, 2014

.

By Greg Torode

HONG KONG (Reuters) – When Philippine President Benigno Aquino compared China to the Germany of 1938 and called for global support as his country battles Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, he put the focus on a case that Manila has filed in an international court.

The Philippines has taken its dispute with China to arbitration under the United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Sea and its lawyers say that the tribunal has discretionary powers to allow other states to join the action.

China is refusing to participate and has already warned Vietnam against joining the case being heard at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, sources have said. Hanoi has so far kept its options open.

Any final ruling by the court on the dispute, one of the most tense flashpoints in Asia, cannot be enforced but will carry considerable moral and political weight, analysts say.

“If a large number of countries, including members of ASEAN, speak out in support of the application of international law to resolve disputes, Beijing might conclude that flouting the ruling of the tribunal is too costly, even if China’s nine-dash line is found to be illegal,” said Bonnie Glaser at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, groups four of the claimants to the sea – Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam – and six other countries in the region.

China, and also Taiwan, claim much of the sea through a nine-dash line on Chinese maps that encompasses about 90 percent of its 3.5 million sq km (1.35 million sq mile) waters. The sea provides 10 percent of the global fisheries catch and carries $5 trillion in ship-borne trade each year.

In an interview with the New York Times last week, Aquino compared China’s claims to Germany in 1938.

“At what point do you say, ‘Enough is enough’? Well, the world has to say it — remember that the Sudetenland was given in an attempt to appease Hitler to prevent World War 2,” he said.

Beijing has called the comparison outrageous.

Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, and Daniel Russel, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, both voiced support last week for the Philippines’ action in seeking a peaceful, lawful solution.

The U.S. comments came after increasingly assertive moves by China in the South China Sea in recent weeks.

“There is a growing concern that this pattern of behavior in the South China Sea reflects an incremental effort by China to assert control over the area contained in the so-called “nine-dash line,” despite the objections of its neighbors and despite the lack of any explanation or apparent basis under international law regarding the scope of the claim itself,” Russel said in testimony to a congressional sub-committee.

The issue could also come up when Secretary of State John Kerry visits Beijing this week.

ASSERTIVE BUT WARY

China’s state media has reported a patrol by two destroyers and a large amphibious landing ship at the James Shoal – about 80 km (50 miles) off the coast of the Malaysian state of Sarawak.

China’s amphibious landing ship 长白山 / Changbai Shan  ”Changbai  Mountains” (hull number 989) reportedly landed Chinese troops on James Island.

While Malaysia’s navy chief denied the reports, China’s official Xinhua news agency has since described how the ships have continued south, passing through Indonesia’s strategic Lombok and Makassar straits to reach the Indian Ocean.

Official Chinese reports last month also announced the basing of a 5,000-tonne civilian patrol ship in the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by Vietnam.

Provincial authorities on the Chinese island of Hainan, meanwhile, have extended fishing restrictions into international waters – a step that sparked protests from Hanoi and Manila.

Despite the lack of physical opposition to its moves, China appears to be wary about the proceedings in the court at The Hague.

Chinese officials have warned Hanoi against joining the case, Vietnamese officials have privately said.

Carl Thayer, a South China Sea expert at the Australian Defense Force Academy in Canberra, said he had been told by Vietnamese officials that one such warning was delivered by Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a visit to Hanoi last September.

.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

“Vietnam has so far stood up to the pressure and clearly reserved the right to take any step if it feels its national interests are at stake,” Thayer said.

Luong Thanh Nghi, a spokesman for Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry, did not comment directly on Chinese pressure, including specific warnings from Wang, but told Reuters that Hanoi was closely monitoring Manila’s legal moves.

When asked whether Hanoi had decided on whether it would take part in the case, Nghi pointed to previous statements that Vietnam would apply “all necessary and appropriate peaceful means” to protect its sovereignty and national interests.

Other Vietnamese officials said while it was unlikely Hanoi would join the case given its close but complex relationship with China, they were scrutinizing developments closely, including talking to foreign legal experts.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated China’s objections to the Philippines’ action and said China and Vietnam had reached an “important consensus” over how to resolve the South China Sea dispute.

“We are willing to maintain close touch with Vietnam and co-ordinate with them, to resolve the issue via friendly talks and consultation.”

Manila’s five U.S. and British lawyers are finalizing submissions to be put to the court before a March 30 deadline to show that China’s “nine-dash line” claim is invalid under the Law of the Sea.

Philippines’ lead counsel Paul Reichler, a Washington-based lawyer with the law firm Foley Hoag, said the arbitration tribunal had adopted rules that effectively allowed other states to apply to intervene.

While no one had yet stepped forward “there is still plenty of time to do so,” he told Reuters.

A copy of the rules obtained from the court by Reuters last week does not mention third country interventions but gives the tribunal judges the power to decide on outside issues not covered by the document.

Clive Schofield, a legal expert at the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security at the University of Wollongong, said the wording of the rules allowed for considerable leeway.

“I do not believe that either one of the parties can block (third country) submissions should the tribunal members deem them to be helpful in determining the outcome of the case,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING, Manuel Mogato in MANILA and Stuart Grudgings in KUALA LUMPUR; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Related:

Chinese maritime patrol officers stop and search South China Sea fishermen — a violation of international law.

Above: China says it has sovereignty over all inside the “Nine Dash Line” as seen here.

Map of South China Sea

China claims “indisputable” and “inherent” sovereignty over the South China Sea

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law.

Malaysia’s navy chief: China did not hold military exercises on Malaysian soil

January 29, 2014

“There has been no act of provocation on the part of the Chinese or threat to our sovereignty as they are conducting their exercise in international waters” — Royal Malaysian Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar

(Reuters) – Malaysia’s navy chief has denied a report that three Chinese navy ships patrolled an area claimed by the Southeast Asian country, saying the Chinese exercise took place hundreds of miles to the north in international waters.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that an amphibious landing craft and two destroyers patrolled the James Shoal on Sunday, 50 miles off the coast of Malaysia’s Sarawak state, and held a ceremony in which they swore to safeguard Chinese sovereignty.

The reported activity at the southernmost tip of Beijing’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea appeared to be the latest sign of its territorial assertiveness that has boosted tensions with claimants such as the Philippines and Vietnam.

Royal Malaysian Navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar, in comments published by the New Straits Times on Wednesday, said the Chinese exercise, involving its newly commissioned aircraft carrier and a submarine, took place 1,000 nautical miles away from Malaysia’s 200 nautical mile economic exclusion zone.

He said Malaysia and the United States had been informed of the exercises beforehand.

“There has been no act of provocation on the part of the Chinese or threat to our sovereignty as they are conducting their exercise in international waters,” the pro-government newspaper quoted him as saying.

China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, completed its first sea trials and returned to port on January 1, according to Xinhua, an apparent contradiction with the Malaysian navy chief’s reported comments.

LOW-KEY APPROACH

Compared to the Philippines and Vietnam, Malaysia has taken a low-key approach to its overlapping claims with China, its largest trade partner.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak agreed, during Xi’s visit to Malaysia last year, to elevate ties to a “comprehensive strategic partnership”. The two nations are to hold their first joint military exercises this year.

But there are signs that Malaysia’s approach could shift as China presses huge claims in the oil and gas-rich maritime area. Malaysia protested to China last March against the incursion by four Chinese warships in the James Shoal, which Beijing calls the Zengmu Reef and which lies about 1,800 km (1,120 miles) south of the Chinese mainland.

In April, a Chinese maritime surveillance ship returned to James Shoal to leave behind steel markers to assert its claim.

Malaysia’s defense minister announced in October that the country would establish a marine corps and set up a naval base in the coastal town of Bintulu near the James Shoal.

China upset the Philippines and the United States this month when rules went into force demanding fishing boats seek permission to enter waters under the jurisdiction of China’s southern province of Hainan, an area the provincial government says covers much of the South China Sea.

Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines claim parts of the South China Sea. China has a separate dispute with Japan in the East China Sea.

(Reporting By Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Ron Popeski)

****************************

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has denied foreign reports that China had encroached into Sarawak waters and was flexing its muscle in the country’s maritime borders as a show of power.

Royal Malaysian Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar who rubbished them as inaccurate reporting, said China was actually holding a high-level maritime exercise with its navy and airforce, away from the country’s exclusive economic zone and it was held in conjunction with the recent launch of its aircraft carrier Liaoning.

Royal Malaysian Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar

The New Straits Times understands the exercise involved the aircraft carrier, and maritime assets including a submarine, the amphibious dock landing ship Changbaishan, two destroyers, as well as frigates with support from its air force fighter-jets. The exercise, Aziz said was being conducted northwest of the disputed Spratly islands, which was over 1,000 nautical miles away from Malaysia’s 200nm exclusive economic zone, adding that no Chinese ship encroached James Shoal, located 80km northwest of Bintulu, Sarawak.

“We are aware of this and our naval and air forces are monitoring the situation with heightened surveillance. There has been no act of provocation on the part of the Chinese or threat to our sovereignty, as they are conducting their exercise in international waters.”

Aziz said other nations like the United States was aware of this. He said the RMN anticipated the high-level exercise and was informed of it through diplomatic channels, adding that there was no reason for alarm.

“Malaysia and China share cordial relations, going back to the ‘ping-pong’ diplomacy (during the times of premier Tun Abdul Razak and chairman Mao Zedong) in the 1970s. I hope people do not speculate anything as this is China’s right, to perhaps strengthen their capability as well as a show of force of its assets in the region.”

James Shoal, known as the southern most part Zengmu Ansha by China and Beting Serupai by Malaysia, is a small bank in the South China Sea with a depth of 22m. Although James Shoal is 1,800km from mainland China, it is at times grouped with the Spratlys, as part of the international dispute between Malaysia, China and Taiwan over sovereignty in the South China Sea.

The China Marine Surveillance Ship-83 reportedly placed a sovereignty steel marker (monument) in the waters off James Shoal on April 20, 2010, to strengthen their claim, prompting Malaysia to beef up security in the oil and gas-rich area with the possibility of constructing a naval base in Bintulu.

In March last year, China’s naval vessels reportedly conducted drills around James Shoal, prompting protests from Malaysia. China’s acts of aggression to assert itself in the South China Sea, an important passageway for shipping and rich in resources, has drawn protests from the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and the US.

Read more: ‘China not encroaching on our waters’ – General – New St
raits Times
http://www.nst.com.my/nation/general/china-not-e
ncroaching-on-our-waters-1.472789#ixzz2rltJjTBx

************************

Related:

China’s amphibious landing ship 长白山 / Changbai Shan  ”Changbai  Mountains” (hull number 989) reportedly landed Chinese troops on James Island. The Chinese vessels comprised this amphibious landing craft, the Changbaishan, and two destroyers, state news agency Xinhua said.

Chinese navy destroyer 171  is the Haikou. She is a sister ship of   destroyers 169 Wuhan and 171 Haikou which participated in the landing on James Shoal [chinamil.com]

Map of South China Sea

China claims “indisputable” and “inherent” sovereignty over the South China Sea

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law.


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