South China Sea: Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers Talk About The Issues Surrounding The Sea Stand-Off


U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, seated at table background center right, gives his opening remarks for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) defense ministers meeting in Ko Olina, Hawaii, on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)  (The Associated Press)

Oct 1, 2016, 12:38 AM ET

The Associated Press

Singapore’s defense minister says countries need to look for practical ways to defuse incidents in the South China Sea.

China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands in South China Sea waters crucial for global commerce. The area is also rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves.

Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen told reporters 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, he says confrontations may develop between fishing vessels or other civilian ships.

Ng says Association of Southeast Asian Nation defense ministers and U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter talked at their Hawaii meeting about ways to prevent incidents from escalating.


Pentagon chief reassures Asean ministers over future US commitments

KO OLINA, United States (AFP) – Pentagon chief Ashton Carter met South-east Asian defence ministers on Friday (Sept 30) to discuss regional security issues and reassure them that America’s “rebalance” to Asia will continue under the next US administration.

The rebalance – or “pivot,” as it is sometimes called – has been a cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, with a shifting of focus away from the Middle East and toward the Asia-Pacific region.

In opening remarks at an informal summit in Hawaii, Carter told defence ministers that the US would reaffirm its commitment to strengthen cooperation on the shared security challenges in the region, including the return of hundreds of Islamic militants from Iraq and Syria.

“And we’ll make plans to further catalyse the Asia-Pacific’s principled and inclusive security network,” he said.

Key among these is China’s growing reach across the South China Sea.

Beijing has in recent years rapidly expanded its physical presence in the strategically vital waterway, turning small maritime features, islets and reefs into much larger islands capable of holding military facilities.

Carter, who was expected to speak to the press later on Friday, has repeatedly stressed that the US military will ignore Beijing’s contentious South China Sea claims, and keep operating in waters and airspace surrounding the islands.

“The United States would like to help all our nations see more, share more, and do more to keep South-east Asia’s vital waterways open and secure,” Carter said.

A senior US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he was confident America would retain its Asia focus whatever the result of November’s presidential election.

“We’ve got a good thing going,” he said.

“There are a lot of opportunities left over. And we want to make sure that our position in the region is solid for the next president.”

The Pentagon chief was due to meet privately with all 10 defence ministers, including the Philippines’ Delfin Lorenzana.

The dialog comes after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte this week vowed to end joint military exercises with the US.

The firebrand leader’s comments were just the latest in a string of attacks against America. He has called Obama a “son of a w***e” and extended overtures to China, potentially upsetting a strong US-Philippine alliance dating back more than 60 years.

Duterte won elections in May in a landslide after a campaign dominated by his pledge to eradicate drugs in society by killing tens of thousands of people.

On Friday, he drew parallels between his campaign to wipe out the drug problem and Adolf Hitler’s genocidal drive, saying he’d be “happy” to slaughter millions of drug addicts.


Defense Secretary Ash Carter: US to ‘sharpen military edge’ in Asia

(CNN)The US will “sharpen our military edge” in the face of Chinese territorial expansionism and other regional threats as it embarks on the next phase of its pivot to Asia, the US defense secretary said Thursday.

The “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific region would ensure that the US “remains the region’s strongest military and security partner of choice,” Pentagon chief Ash Carter told US Navy sailors in a speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in San Diego.
The declaration comes as China, the region’s other superpower, continues to make neighbors nervous by unilaterally developing what most analysts agree are military installations on disputed reefs in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping channels.
In a post on his Facebook page Carter called the region “the most consequential region for America’s future” and said that a strong US military presence there was of “fundamental strategic importance to our country.”
In the speech Carter said that the focus on the region, which will come with a raft of military investment, will see strike capability and support beefed up as well as “large new investments” in cyber, electronic warfare, and space capabilities.
Carter also said the Pentagon also has “a few more surprises” in “‘leap-ahead investments,” which he did not elaborate on.

Increasingly belligerent neighbors


Carter said that the region was experiencing “historic change” where “China is rising, which is fine, but behaving aggressively, which is not.”
He also alluded to the military’s strengthening of deterrent and defensive forces in the face of North Korea’s “continued nuclear and missile provocations.”

Show of force in the South China Sea

Along with expanding territorial claims by building on disputed territories, China is also developing its cyber-espionage capabilities, and in the past two years has been accused of hacking into a number of US government and private business databases.
“China has been developing its capabilities within the PLA for a number of years, going back at least a decade. And their capabilities have now also been brought together into a single, strategic organization that is essentially a new branch of the military,” Bryce Boland, Asia-Pacific CTO of FireEye, a cybersecurity firm, told CNN.
China has all along denied the allegations of state-sponsored hacking.
The other main regional security threat which Carter pointed to was the increasing likelihood of a nuclearized North Korea. Military analysts have detected geological evidence of what they see as successful nuclear tests by the reclusive regime, which also periodically tests delivery systems.

North Korea shows off its air force

Key ally called into question

The speech came shortly after Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte asserted that the upcoming US-Philippines military drills would be the last joint drills that his country would take part in, calling into question the commitment of one of the US’ most stalwart regional allies.
Speaking to members of the Filipino community in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi Wednesday evening, he said that he would look to expand his country’s alliances.
“I will visit China. I will open the door for everyone. I will go to Russia,” he said. “I’m serving notice now to the U.S.: I will maintain the alliance, but I will establish new alliances.
“I serve notice to you now that this will be the last joint military exercise with U.S. Jointly, Philippines, US, last one.”

Who is Rodrigo Duterte?

The two countries are scheduled to hold amphibious landing exercises from October 4th to the 12th.
Denying a rift, Carter said Thursday that the decades-old US alliance with the Southeast Asian nation was “ironclad.”
“Through the landmark Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA, the United States is supporting the modernization of the Philippine Armed Forces,” he said.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday “there has been no official rendering of a decision of that sort to the US government,” but deferred the matter to the US Department of Defense.
The Philippines Defense Ministry said Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana will speak with Duterte to “further clarification and guidance” about this comments, the official Philippines News Agency (PNA) reported.
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One Response to “South China Sea: Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers Talk About The Issues Surrounding The Sea Stand-Off”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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