Practical ways needed to defuse incidents in the South China Sea, Singapore’s defence chief Ng Eng Hen says

Mechanisms must be in place to prevent non-military confrontations in the disputed sea, Ng says

South China Morning Post

Saturday, October 1, 2016, 6:21 p.m.

Countries need to look for practical ways to defuse incidents in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbours in multiple disputes over islands, Singapore’s defence minister said.

Ng Eng Hen told reporters on Friday on the sidelines of a meeting in Hawaii that incidents may not necessarily involve military ships. He noted navies have established protocols for when they encounter each other at sea.

Instead, confrontations may develop between fishing vessels or other civilian ships, the defence minister said.

Defence ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and US Defence Secretary Ash Carter talked at their Hawaii meeting about ways to prevent such incidents from escalating, Ng said.

Our main interest is, either with or without a ruling, how do you make sure the region is still stable and to make sure you actually have mechanisms to prevent any escalations

His remarks came amid an escalating spat between China and Singapore over its supposed insistence on including Philippines’ position on the an international arbitration on claims in the South China Sea during the Non-Aligned Movement summit held in Venezuela last month.

Prominent defence adviser last week accused Singapore of playing an active role in turning the South China Sea row into an international issue in recent years and said Beijing should impose sanctions and retaliate against Singapore to make the city-state “pay the price for seriously damaging China’s interests”.

“It’s inevitable for China to strike back … Since Singapore has gone thus far, we have got to do something, be it retaliation or sanction. We must express our discontent,” Professor Jin Yinan told China National Radio on Thursday.

 Professor Jin Yinan

Singapore does not have any claims to disputed islands, but Ng said it’s interested in the issue because the South China Sea is a major shipping route and many economies depend on it.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea as its own, citing historical reasons. That has pitted it against the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, all members of Asean.

China has recently developed shoals and coral reefs into seven islands with massive land reclamation work. Some of the islands have airstrips capable of handling military aircraft.

In July, an international arbitration tribunal ruled against China’s claims, saying they were illegal. Beijing has rejected the ruling and continued its activities.

Ng said the tribunal’s ruling is law, but there are “practical concerns” to consider.

“For Singapore, a non-claimant sate, our main interest is, either with or without a ruling, how do you make sure the region is still stable and to make sure you actually have mechanisms to prevent any escalations?” he said.

Carter told reporters he and his counterparts discussed improving coordination and cooperation between their militaries to keep the region’s waterways open. He said he asked the heads of the US Navy and US Coast Guard to hold a meeting with Asean partners next year to share their best practices for maritime security.



Reef debris after destruction by a Chinese super dredge

 (This    article has links to several  others related to environmental issues in the South China Sea).

A green sea turtle is seen off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

A green sea turtle.(Reuters)

 (Includes Obama creates largest ocean reserve, takes heat for new federal decrees)

 (Has links to many related conservation and environmental articles)

 (Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports)

Chinese coast guard ship

 (August 25, 2016)

 (Contains links to several related articles)

An elderly Vietnamese protester holds a placard during an anti-China protest in front of the Chinese consulate in the financial district of Manila on May 16, 2014. Several hundred Filipino and Vietnamese protesters united in a march in the Philippine capital on May 16, demanding that China stop oil drilling in disputed South China Sea waters. Many Vietnamese remain uneasy with China in the South china sea till this day.  AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)


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One Response to “Practical ways needed to defuse incidents in the South China Sea, Singapore’s defence chief Ng Eng Hen says”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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