Posts Tagged ‘ADIZ’

China island expansion moves ahead in South China Sea

December 25, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | In this photo taken on June 15, 2016 a vendor stands behind a map of China including an insert with red dotted lines showing China’s claimed territory in the South China Sea

BEIJING (AFP) – 

China’s large-scale land reclamation around disputed reefs and shoals in the South China Sea is “moving ahead steadily”, state media has reported, and is on track to use giant “island-builders” to transform even more of the region.

Beijing claims nearly all of the sea and has been turning reefs in the Spratly and Paracel chains into islands, installing military facilities and equipment in the area where it has conflicting claims with neighbours.

“The course of construction is moving ahead steadily and a series of striking results have been achieved,” according to a report that appeared Friday on Haiwainet, a website under theHaiwainet’s flagship newspaper the People’s Daily.

The projects have “completely changed the face of the South China Sea’s islands and reefs”, the report said.

The aggressive campaign has been a source of contention with neighbouring countries. China’s sweeping claims overlap with those of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan.

During 2017 China built 290,000 square meters (29 hectares) of facilities on South China Sea reefs and islands, including underground storage, administrative buildings and large radar installations, the report said.

“To improve the livelihood and work conditions of people living on the islands, and strengthen the necessary military defences of the South China Sea within China’s sovereignty, China has rationally expanded the area of its islands and reefs,” it said.

The sea is believed to hold vast oil and gas deposits and $5 trillion in annual trade passes through it.

The report noted that with last month’s introduction of the new super-dredger Tianjing, a “magical island building machine”, and other “magical machines” soon to come, “the area of the South China Sea’s islands and reefs will expand a step further”.

China is also building a floating nuclear power plant, the report said, to provide power for those living in the Sansha city area.

Sansha lies on Woody Island in the Paracel chain — which is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan — and administers much of China’s claims in the South China Sea.

China established Sansha in 2012 by unilaterally awarding it two million square kilometres of sea and declaring it the country’s largest city.

Earlier this month a US think-tank released new satellite images showing deployment of radar and other equipment on the disputed islands.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said that over the course of 2017, China had been advancing the next phase of development with construction of infrastructure to support air and naval bases, such as underground storage areas and large radar and sensor arrays.

“We believe that some individuals are making a fuss about this. They’re trying to hype it up,” said foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang after the first report was published.

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

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Study: China to Boost Military Muscle at Sea to Deter Foreign Powers

December 21, 2017

By Ralph Jennings
December 20, 2017 12:27 PM

FILE - Chinese structures are pictured on the disputed Spratlys island in South China Sea, April 21, 2017.

FILE – Chinese structures are pictured on the disputed Spratlys island in South China Sea, April 21, 2017.

China is widely forecast to bolster its military power next year in the South China Sea to resist Japan, India and the United States, as well as the Asian states that dispute Beijing’s maritime claims.
Scholars believe China will eventually enhance radar surveillance and let fighter jets use tiny islets for stopovers. Beijing might declare an air defense identification zone or other means of maritime control, too, they suggest.It probably hopes the United States, along with militarily powerful allies such as Japan and India, will stay out after they jumped into the dispute this year, according to Oh Ei Sun, international studies instructor at Singapore Nanyang University.”I don’t think they’re primarily offensive in nature, but of course with those installations in place, they will have more bargaining chips, they’re in a stronger position to say the U. S. should not perform [freedom of navigation operations] and such in the South China Sea,” Oh said.

New hardware

China this year added installations in the Paracel and Spratly Islands, said the Asia Maritime Transparency Institute of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In 2017, China built underground storage areas, administrative structures and “large radar and sensor arrays,” said the Washington-based research group. The construction covered about 290,000 square meters “of new real estate.”

FILE - Philippine military's images of China's reclamation in the Spratlys, Mabini (Johnson) Reef, March, 2015. (Armed Forces of the Philippines)

FILE – Philippine military’s images of China’s reclamation in the Spratlys, Mabini (Johnson) Reef, March, 2015. (Armed Forces of the Philippines)

Beijing built most actively at Fiery Cross reef in the Spratlys, it said, including work to finish tunnels that are likely for ammunition storage. High-frequency radar gear also appeared on the reef, it adds.

China is the most militarized of six governments that claim all or part of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer sea, which is valued for fisheries and fossil fuels. It has been building up islets since 2010.

China has enough installations to land fighter jets, refuel, rearm and let crews rest, said Collin Koh, maritime security research fellow at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

State-run China Central Television said earlier in the month the military had deployed jet fighters to Woody Island in the Paracel chain.

China may draw a line of control around its holdings in the Spratly Islands, contested by four Southeast Asian countries plus Taiwan, and consider an air defense identification zone, the initiative’s director Gregory Poling said.

China declared an air defense identification zone off its east coast, in a sea disputed by Japan, in 2013.

Outside influence

Analysts say China’s buildup is aimed at claimants Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam as well as powerful nations that do not claim ownership over the sea.

But the United States particularly irks China as a powerful arms supplier and military trainer for the Philippines. Washington sends naval vessels into the South China Sea periodically to back its position the waters are open to freedom of navigation.

“When the Chinese are suddenly trying to stop resupply of the Philippine forces at Pag-Asa or on the Sierra Madre [ship] at Second Thomas Shoal, then [Philippine President Rodrigo] Duterte is going to face an enormous amount of pressure to react strongly,” Poling said, referring to two Manila-held features in the Spratly chain.

“The only way the Philippines can possibly react, really, is to strengthen the defense relation with the U. S.,” he said.

India, a Western ally, upgraded its partnership with Vietnam last year year as part of its Act East policy, which analysts say is designed to check Chinese expansion.

Japan, an ally of the United States, passed a helicopter carrier through the sea in mid-2017, adding to repeated comments from Tokyo the waterway should be ruled by international law.

China bases its claim to about 90 percent of the sea on historical fishing records. It has eased the dispute through offers of aid and investment around Southeast Asia. Next year, it’s due to sign a code of conduct with regional countries to head off accidents at sea.

Deterrent effect

After appeals by other claimant countries a U. N. arbitration tribunal said China lacked a legal basis to much of its claim.

But China’s buildup has continued. It’s “like the Cold War,” when opponents stocked nuclear weapons to head off attacks, Oh said.

Some other countries see China’s current level of control as a “fact,” Koh said.

But in November, heads of state from Australia, India, Japan and the United States met in Manila to call for “free, open, prosperous and inclusive” Asian seas, according to an Indian external affairs ministry statement.

China, which resents the role of outside powers in the South China Sea, sees provocation from outside players as cause to keep strengthening its claims, Koh said.

“Now they are trying to demonstrate to the U. S. or allies like Japan and Australia that China is in to stay, and more importantly it’s not just purely staying power,” he added, “It’s the ability to sustain and project force in that area. ”

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https://www.voanews.com/a/study-china-boost-military-muscle-sea-deter-foreign-pwoers/4171738.html

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Chinese military aircraft carry out multiple drills around Taiwan

December 20, 2017
© AFP/File | Relations between Taipei and Beijing have rapidly deteriorated since the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen last year
TAIPEI (AFP) – Chinese jets conducted drills near Taiwan’s airspace on Wednesday for the sixth time this month, as relations between the two rivals worsen.China poses the biggest military risk to self-governed Taiwan, as Beijing sees it as part of its territory to be reunified at some point — by force, if necessary.

The two sides split after a civil war in 1949. Although Taiwan is a self-ruling democracy, it has never declared independence.

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FILE photo

The latest drills come just days after China’s warplanes flew to the Sea of Japan, prompting South Korea and Japan to scramble jets.

Taiwan’s defence ministry announced Wednesday that Beijing had sent several planes including fighter jets through the Bashi Channel south of the island to the Pacific, and back.

“China’s long-distance (drills) have become more frequent,” it said, but urged Taiwanese people not to worry.

It added that it would dispatch its own aircraft and ships to monitor drills “according to protocol”.

Relations between Taipei and Beijing have rapidly deteriorated since the inauguration last year of President Tsai Ing-wen, who refuses to acknowledge both sides are part of “one China”.

Beijing has cut all official communication with Taipei and stepped up pressure on Tsai’s government, including staging a string of naval and air drills near Taiwan since last year.

Local media reports estimate Chinese warplanes have conducted drills around Taiwan at least 20 times this year, compared with a total of eight times last year.

In August, a Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) during a drill, prompting Taiwan to urge restraint.

Image result for Taiwan's air defence identification zone, picture

The ADIZ stretches beyond Taiwan’s airspace and is used to give early warning of possible incursions.

Five Chinese warplanes entered South Korea’s ADIZ during Monday’s drill, according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

China’s air force said it was the first time its aircraft had flown through the Tsushima Strait that lies between South Korea and Japan.

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Why Is Tension Rising In The South China Sea?

December 20, 2017

DEC 19, 2017 @ 03:40 AM
Why Is Tension Rising In The South China Sea?

Peter Pham , CONTRIBUTOR
Forbes


Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Philippine special forces guide an amphibious landing craft on a beach on May 15, 2017 in Casiguran Province, Philippines. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)

On October 10th 2017, the USS Chafee, a Navy Destroyer, sailed within 12 miles of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. This was the fourth “freedom of operation” mission since President Trump was inaugurated. The U.S. air force also flew two bombers over the Korean peninsula simultaneously, in another maneuver designed to demonstrate its military might.

These moves were not routine patrols or exercises, but the latest activity in a multi-dimensional chess game in one of the world’s most contested and sensitive regions. The smallest miscalculation from either side could have huge consequences for trillions of dollars in trade and billions of lives, not just in the immediate vicinity but around the globe too.

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Encircled by Malaysia to the south, the Philippines to the east and Vietnam to the west, the South China Sea is one of the most resource-rich regions on earth and hosts one third of the world’s shipping traffic. It holds a projected 28 billion barrels of oil, 260 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 10% of the world’s fisheries.

Floating offshore oil rig at Vung Tau Vietnam Mouth of the Saigon River at the South China Sea. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

As the most direct sea-route between Asia and Europe, it is absolutely critical for the export and import economies of regional giants China, Japan and South Korea.

Aside from trade and economics, its geopolitical importance is also striking. China has claimed a massive cut of the region, threatening conflict with several other nations, who look to the U.S. to safeguard their own territorial claims.

The Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Vietnam and China all lay claims on parts of the South China Sea that often overlap with each other. The situation is so sensitive that some don’t even call it the ‘South China Sea’ as that might imply it all belongs to China.

How did this happen?

According to international law, nations can claim territory up to 200 nautical miles from their coastline. Since a central section of water in the sea is more than 200 miles from any surrounding nation, it is considered international and not under the exclusive jurisdiction of anyone.

However, being the regional superpower it is, the Chinese government makes a historical claim over 90% of the region, which it has defined with a “Nine Dash Line.”

These overlapping claims of sovereignty have led to a long list of incidents in which the countries involved each try to assert their control over parts of the region they view as their own, creating a highly tense situation that could easily boil over to armed confrontation.

In 2014, China stationed an oil rig in the contested Paracel Islands, which they have claimed since a short battle with Vietnam in 1974.

The move significantly ratcheted up tension between the two historic adversaries, and China has since constructed a battery of rocket launchers on a disputed reef in the area to deter any Vietnamese naval maneuvers.

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China’s new base at Subi reef

As we have written before, conflict in this area is nothing new. What is new however, is the impact any military action will have on global trade.

There are more than 250 landmasses in the South China Sea, from small, sparsely populated islands to submerged reefs or small slivers of sand.

Nevertheless, technology and assertive aspirations have combined, with China undertaking reclamation work that has expanded reefs and sandbars into man-made islands that can serve as naval bases throughout the area.

These moves have obviously worried many of China’s neighbors, who view increasingly assertive Beijing as fully determined in taking full control of the sea, including its resources and trade routes.

Their concerns are not without basis. Beyond the so-called ‘militarization’ of reefs, China has also mentioned establishing an “air identification zone” above the region, effectively forcing any aircraft seeking to pass over the area to ask its permission for doing so first.

These moves haven’t been met with silence. In 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration (an international body tasked with mediating territorial claims) ruled in favor of The Philippines against China’s claim to a section of the sea.

There is no way of enforcing the ruling and China has ignored it, but the markets sensed danger and Brent crude oil futures rose $1 per barrel in light of the news.

Obama’s “Asian pivot”

China’s expanding assertiveness ­in this crucial zone has forced the U.S. to take note and expend more time and resources on the area.

Obama identified the need for an increased U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region, and made it a cornerstone of his foreign policy. He oversaw a big increase in U.S. Navy patrols aimed at reinforcing freedom of navigation in the area, which it sees China as attempting to manage or block unilaterally.

For its part, China claims the U.S. is blowing the crisis out of proportion in order to attempt to curb China’s rising – and “legitimate” – influence in the region and beyond. Ultimately, the dispute may be regionally focused, but it is part of the wider geopolitical struggle being waged between the two superpowers.

A continued U.S. focus in the region can therefore be expected under President Trump.

Chess in the Sea

The current situation effectively pits China on one side against the U.S. and smaller regional nations on the other, with few signs of anyone wanting to back down.

China hasn’t ruled out diplomacy, but insists on dealing with each claimant country individually – which gives it more bargaining power – and not as a group, which the U.S. has tried to push for.

This is not an easy situation to manage for smaller claimant countries. While many look to the U.S. for defense, the economic weight of China can be felt everywhere in the region, as the chart below demonstrates.

China Top Trading Partners in 2016One Road Research

China Top Trading Partners in 2016

At US$39 billion (16%), China imports more Malaysian goods and services than any other country. China also buys more goods from the Philippines than the U.S. does, accounting for US$16.2 billion (21%) of exports. At US$38 billion (21%) the U.S. still leads the pack for Vietnamese exports, but China is expected to overtake this by 2030.

China's Export Orientation and the SHCOMP IndexOne Road Research

China’s Export Orientation and the SHCOMP Index

Chinese companies will also benefit from this increased interconnection, as the following chart below demonstrates.

BIGGEST CHINESE EXPORTERS IN THE SHANGHAI COMPOSITE INDEX

Ticker Company Name Foreign Revenue (%) Market Cap (US$ Billion)
SSE: 601857 PetroChina Co Ltd 31.9 31.9
SSE: 601988 Bank of China LTd 24.72 26.68
SSE: 600028 China Petroleum & Chemical  Corp 22.93 15.75
SSE: 601800 China Communications Construction Co Ltd 20.18 5
SSE: 603993 China Molybdenum Co Ltd 56.16 3.43
SSE: 601669 Power Construction Corp of China Ltd 22.8 2.83
SSE: 601881 China Galaxy Securities Co Ltd 97.73 2.81
SSE: 600309 Wanhua Chemical Group Co Ltd 20.86 2.74
SSE: 601111 Air China Ltd 34.89 2.6
SSE: 600690 Qingdao Haier Co Ltd 39.85 2.07

Nations like Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines, which have territorial disputes with the northern superpower, are therefore forced to take a close look at just how far they can push their claims without hurting their economies.

Peter Pham is managing director of Phoenix Capital, author of “The Big Trade: Simple Strategies for Maximum Market Returns” and host of “The Big Trade Series” podcast.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterpham/2017/12/19/why-is-tension-rising-in-the-south-china-sea/#92ca8451fa4d

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea

May 9, 2017

May 8, 2017

The Associated Press

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A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest developments in the South China Sea, the location of several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.

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CHINA SHOWS NAVAL AIR EXERCISES ABOVE SEA

China’s state broadcaster has shown navy fighter bombers taking part in exercises over the South China Sea, including one involving the detection and expulsion of foreign military surveillance aircraft such as those deployed regularly in the area by the U.S. and others.

The video shown on CCTV’s military channel over the weekend shows a squadron of two-seater Xian JH-7 Flying Leopards flying in formation and dropping bombs on targets in the ocean below. Other video showed planes flying just meters (yards) above the ocean surface.

Following that, pilots were “notified that foreign aircraft had entered our airspace to conduct surveillance. One of the planes taking part in the exercise was immediately ordered by the tower to break off and intercept the foreign aircraft,” the report said.

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That plane increased its elevation and “responded effectively,” seizing the commanding position and “successfully expelling” the foreign aircraft, it said.

The report did not say when the exercise took place but said training this year was designed to be more realistic and focused on specific situations, taking the Chinese aircraft to the limits of their range and capability.

“In the process of unceasingly challenging ourselves, the building of our team of talents has entered the fast lane,” Tian Junqing, commander of an unidentified South China Sea naval air force regiment, told the station. “The overall combat capability of the force is increasing by stages, forging a formidable force that dares to fight and thunders over the South China Sea.”

Missions by U.S. Navy surveillance planes flying in international airspace off the Chinese coast are a particular bone of contention for Beijing.

Twice last year U.S. and Chinese aircraft came close, in one instance to within 15 meters (50 feet) of each other. In August 2014, a Chinese fighter jet came within 9 meters (30 feet) of a Navy P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance plane off Hainan Island — a major military hub — and carried out a series of risky maneuvers, including rolling over it.

In April 2001, a Chinese jet fighter collided with a U.S. surveillance plane over the South China Sea, leading to the death of the Chinese pilot and China’s detention of the 24 U.S. crew members for 10 days.

The U.S. and China in 2015 signed rules of behavior to make air-to-air encounters safer, but some analysts say they don’t go far enough.

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PHILIPPINE JUDGE LAUNCHES BOOK ON SEA CLAIMS

A Philippine Supreme Court justice has released a book that questions China’s historic claims to most of the South China Sea and said he will distribute it online to try to overcome China’s censorship and reach its people.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said his e-book can be downloaded for free in English now and will be made available later in Mandarin, Vietnamese, Bahasa, Japanese and Spanish to help more people understand the basis of the Philippines’ stand against China’s territorial claims.

Carpio said public opinion, including in China, can help pressure Beijing to comply with an arbitration ruling last year that invalidated China’s historic claims based on a 1982 maritime treaty. Carpio helped prepare the arbitration case, which the Philippines largely won.

China has dismissed the ruling and continued to develop seven artificial islands in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago. China’s construction of the islands on disputed reefs has alarmed rival claimants and the United States.

In the book, titled “The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea,” Carpio uses old maps, photographs, excerpts from the arbitration ruling, Chinese government statements and documents to question the validity of China’s claims.

Carpio warns in the book that China may be planning to build more island outposts at Luconia Shoal off Malaysia and Scarborough Shoal off the northwestern Philippines.

If it constructs an island base at Scarborough, China would have enough radar coverage of the South China Sea to be able to impose an air defense identification zone similar to what it did a few years ago in the East China Sea in a region where it has a territorial dispute with Japan, he said.

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WITH AN EYE ON CHINA, TRUMP MAKES DIPLOMATIC INITATIVE TO SOUTHEAST ASIAN COUNTRIES

U.S. President Donald Trump has made an unexpected diplomatic initiative toward several Southeast Asian counterparts, telephoning Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to reaffirm traditional close relations and invite them for meetings.

The invitations extended last week followed another one to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a call during which Trump also affirmed America’s alliance and friendship with the Philippines and its president, who has maintained an antagonistic stance toward U.S. security policies.

Prayuth’s office said he had accepted Trump’s invitation, while a Singapore Foreign Ministry statement said the two leaders “looked forward to meeting each other soon.” No dates were mentioned for the visits.

Duterte said he has not accepted the invitation because of scheduled trips to Russia, Israel and other countries.

Washington’s diplomacy in Asia has focused recently on China and tensions with North Korea, although Vice President Mike Pence included Indonesia on a recent Asia tour.

Washington has strategic concerns in countering Chinese influence in Southeast Asia. Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines are historically the most pro-Western nations in the region, but China’s influence has been increasing as it flexes its economic muscle and projects its military power into the South China Sea.

China and the Philippines, along with Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims to parts or all of the South China Sea that straddle busy sea lanes and are believed to be atop undersea deposits of oil and gas.

Prayuth’s office said he and Trump reaffirmed the importance of their countries’ long-standing alliance. It also said Prayuth invited Trump to visit Thailand at a convenient time.

The White House statement about the call to Lee mentioned that “robust security cooperation and close collaboration on regional and global challenges” mark the two countries’ partnership.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also spoke by phone last week with Duterte, reflecting radically improved relations between the two governments. China’s official Xinhua News Agency quoted Xi as saying the Philippines and China are deepening political mutual trust, carrying out cooperation in various fields, and have set up a channel of dialogue and consultation on the South China Sea.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (C) returns a salute from a Chinese naval officer (L) as Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (R) looks on during Duterte’s arrival to visit the guided missile frigate Changchun berthed at the Davao international port on May 1, 2017. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on May 1 visited Chinese warships docked in his home town and raised the prospect of future joint exercises, highlighting fast-warming relations despite competing claims in the South China Sea. Manman Dejeto/AFP

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Associated Press writers Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, and Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this report.

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 (Judge Carpio’s book)

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Seismic research vessel of the type typically used by China before mining the sea bed

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law and nobody has even complained.

Will China go along with US strategy to dial up pressure on North Korea? — Foreign Policy experts now have a very dim view of China’s promised cooperation — Is Russia Helping North Korea?

May 4, 2017

‘Big gap’ exists between Washington and Beijing’s expectations on how to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme, Chinese analyst says

By Catherine Wong
South China Morning Post

Thursday, May 4, 2017, 4:49pm

The United States’ plan to “lean hard” on China to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions may yield limited results, a Chinese analyst has suggested.

There is a “big gap” between what Washington expects Beijing to do to help curb Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme and what Beijing is actually willing to do, according to Shi Yinhong, a State Council adviser and director of the Centre for American Studies at Renmin University in Beijing.

Shi was commenting on Thursday after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the previous day that Washington was only in the early stages of its campaign to pressure North Korea and that it would “lean hard” on China to do so as well.

“[Tillerson’s speech] was only bluffing to some extent. The Trump administration is in such a mess now I don’t believe they have a comprehensive plan [on North Korea],” he said.

The US campaign to pressure China to rein in North Korea had already achieved some degree of success as Beijing had toughened its response towards Pyongyang, Shi said.

But he added that he was highly sceptical of how far Beijing would be willing to go along with the strategy.

The US had underestimated North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s ability to resist pressure and had also failed to provide Pyongyang a clear offer on the conditions for negotiations, the analyst said.

Tillerson had on Wednesday outlined Washington’s strategy in handling the North Korean nuclear crisis.

The US Secretary of State said America had a tremendous opportunity to refine its relationship with China for the next few decades and that he sensed great interest among the Chinese leadership to do so, too.

 Tillerson pictured addressing the UN Security Council on North Korea last week. Photo: AFP

Tillerson’s comments came during his first address to all State Department employees since he took office in February.

In the address, he offered the most detailed outline of the Trump administration’s foreign policy priorities he had given so far, with North Korea among the top concerns.

The Trump administration strategy – which Tillerson described as a departure from the Obama government’s approach – included preparing for more sanctions against North Korea, convincing other countries to apply existing UN sanctions more rigorously, as well as “leaning in hard” on Beijing and to “test” its commitment to reining in its wayward ally.

Tillerson said the Trump administration had so far only covered about 20 to 25 per cent of its strategy to put pressure on Pyongyang and that it was prepared to assert even stronger force on the reclusive regime.

“So it’s a pressure campaign that has a knob on it. I’d say we’re at about dial setting five or six right now,” he said.

He warned that Washington might take action against Chinese banks or companies that deal with North Korea if Beijing failed to enforce existing UN sanctions.

US-China relations were at a “point of inflection” and ripe for review, he said.

“Let’s kind of revisit this relationship and what it is going to be over the next half century,” Tillerson said. “I think it’s a tremendous opportunity we have to define that and there seems to be a great interest on the part of the Chinese leadership to do that as well.”

 
An undated pictured released by the North Korean Central News Agency in March of a rocket launch drill. Photo: EPA

Beijing has previously said the two countries should work towards a “new type of relations between great powers”, but the idea received a lukewarm reaction from the Obama administration.

In a separate development, Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang discussed China-US economic ties on the phone with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Wednesday.

The three “exchanged ideas on enhancing comprehensive economic cooperation between the two countries” the state-run news agency Xinhua reported late on Wednesday, but without giving further details.

Washington is to host the first round of the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in June.

Tillerson and US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis will chair the talks with their Chinese counterparts.

The discussions on economics and trade will be led by Mnuchin and Ross, according to Xinhua.

Additional reporting by Reuters and Agence France-Presse

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From Peace and Freedom

Our Peace and Freedom foreign policy network is now saying the “China will help the U.S. with North Korea” effort will fail.

Experts say, the foreign policy of the United States has never relied upon the activities of another nation — especially Russia and/or China.

While this drama with North Korea has planed out, China has continued to fortify its position in the South China Sea while the Whit House has refused requests from U.S. Pacific Command to conduct additional “Freedom of Navigation” exercises in the South China Sea. Our experts say China is “very close” to establishing an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over that waterway.

Analysts now believe Russia is trying to take up the slack of any supplies bound for North Korea that China is withholding. Activity on North Korean ships in Vladivostok has been increasing.

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 (This is more about show than real action)

At the end of the UN Security Council meeting in New York on April 28, 2017, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi brushed aside Tillerson’s comments, saying that “the key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side”.

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China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivers remarks outside the Security Council at United Nations headquarters, Friday, April 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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We at Peace and Freedom have learned to take Mr. Wang at his word. We seldom like what he says …. but he is most often speaking the truth as he knows it.

South China Sea: Philippines stresses its claim over tiny Pag-asa Island in response to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua who said occupation of the island was illegal — “More games and public pleasing — No strategic shift”

May 2, 2017

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Philippine military officers operate their drone amidst the presence of Chinese ships seen in the background during the visit of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Eduardo Ano and other officials at the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed South China Sea in western Philippines Friday, April 21, 2017. The trip led by Lorenzana on an air force C-130 aircraft to the island Filipinos call Pag-asa will likely infuriate China, which has claimed virtually the entire sea and aggressively tried to fortify its foothold, to the consternation of rival claimant governments and the United States. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. AP/Bullit Marquez
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MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines stressed its claim over Pag-asa Island in response to the remarks of Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua that occupation of the island was illegal.

Earlier this week, the Chinese envoy said that the plan of the Philippines to improve its facilities in the island was also illegal.

“Pag-asa Island and the larger Kalayaan Island Group are a municipality of Palawan,” Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said in a statement on Tuesday.

Filipinos occupied the island as early as the late 1960s and built a runway on it in 1975.

“Any visit or activity we undertake there are part and parcel of our Constitutional mandate to ensure the safety, well-being and livelihood of our citizens living in this municipality,” Bolivar said.

The statement is the latest manifestation of the Duterte administration, whose dissonant pronouncements on the South China Sea swing from sympathy with China to outright rejection of its claims. Duterte himself insists on setting aside the Philippines’ arbitral victory in its maritime claims in pursuing direct talks with Beijing.

A few weeks ago, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Año visited the island to assert the country’s claim.

As Lorenzana and Año’s aircraft was circling Zamora or Subi Reef upon approaching the island, they received a warning from Chinese forces to leave the airspace.

The Philippine Air Force pilot responded that the military aircraft was flying in Philippine airspace.

“It’s already normal because each time our planes conduct resupply operations here they are challenged (by the Chinese),” Lorenzana said.

The government plans to repair the 1.2 kilometer-long runway to allow more flights and improve safety of the island.

Lorenzana also said that the administration has set aside P1.6 billion to develop Pag-asa Island.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/02/1695994/philippines-counters-china-lays-claim-over-pag-asa

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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Philippines President Duterte Weakened The Philippines in the South China Sea During ASEAN -– Trillanes

May 1, 2017
/ 12:49 AM May 02, 2017
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO
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President Duterte weakened the country’s position on the West Philippine Sea with the “watered down” final Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) chair’s statement released on Sunday, an opposition senator said on Monday.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said that, as chair of this year’s Asean summit, Mr. Duterte should have insisted that the group’s final statement mention the historic ruling of the international arbitral tribunal in The Hague, which favored the Philippines over China in their dispute over the Spratly group of islands.

“President Duterte weakened the position of our country in relation to the arbitral tribunal ruling,” Trillanes told reporters.

He said the Asean summit was the “ideal” venue to raise the tribunal’s decision.

“It would have been ideal for him to mention it in such a forum. Even if it was just mentioned. At least, our legal victory should not have been ignored or set aside,” Trillanes said.

“So, it weakened our position,” he added.

The final Asean chair’s statement, issued a day after the Asean leaders’ summit ended on Saturday, only “took note of concerns expressed by some leaders over recent developments” in the South China Sea.

“We reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability and security and freedom of navigation and over-flight in and above the South China Sea,” the statement read.

“We reaffirmed the importance of the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities, and avoiding actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursuing the peaceful resolution of disputes, without resorting to the threat or use of force,” it added.

The statement did not mention the arbitration tribunal’s ruling or the issue of militarization and land reclamation in the West Philippine Sea.

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/155951/duterte-weakened-ph-position-sea-row-trillanes#ixzz4fqkVVRML
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Dock workers use cranes to off-load frozen tuna from a Chinese-owned cargo vessel at the General Santos Fish Port, in the Philippines. Tuna stocks in the South China Sea have plummeted in recent years because of overfishing. PHOTOGRAPH BY ADAM DEAN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

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FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

South China Sea: Defense Secretary’s visit in islands “just routine” for the Philippines — But China was “gravely concerned about and dissatisfied” with the trip

April 23, 2017
Pag-asa Island, part of Palawan province, in the disputed West Philippine Sea is controlled by the Philippines despite Chinese claims of sovereignty over it. STAR/File photo
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MANILA, Philippines — The visit of security officials to Pag-asa Island was routine and was in line with international law, Malacañang said Sunday after China expressed alarm over their trip to the island in the disputed Spratly chain.

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and top military officials visited Pag-asa Island in Palawan province on Friday to inspect the facilities in the area, which is inhabited by about 200 people.
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The visit was meant to enable officials to assess what improvements can be done in the island, the second largest in the Spratlys.
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The government has earmarked around P1.6 billion to develop Pag-asa and is planning to build a beaching ramp, fish port, radio station, ice plant, water desalination facility, sewage facility and houses for soldiers.
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The visit did not sit well with China, which claims historical rights over almost 90 percent of areas in the South China Sea, including Pag-asa.
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Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China was “gravely concerned about and dissatisfied” with the trip, which he claimed went against the consensus reached by Manila and Beijing “to properly deal with the South China Sea issue.”
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Image result for Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang, photos
Lu Kang — File Photo
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Lu also urged the Philippines to “faithfully follow the consensus” between the two countries, “maintain general peace and stability in the South China Sea” and “promote the sound and steady development of China-Philippine relations.”
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Routine patrol

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Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Lorenzana’s visit to Pag-asa was just part of a “routine” patrol in the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea.
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“The Philippines has long been undertaking customary and routine maritime patrol and overflight in the West Philippine Sea which are lawful activities under international law. Such flights will likewise enable us to reach our municipality,” Abella said in a statement.
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Abella said the visit was also in line with the government’s aim to improve the quality of life of Filipinos in the island.
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“The visit of the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to Pag-asa Island is part of the efforts to improve the safety, welfare, livelihood of Filipinos residing and living in the municipality of Kalayaan which is part of the province of Palawan,” the presidential spokesman said.
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China has used a similar argument to justify reclamation activities in the South China Sea.
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China challenges PAF planes

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While on its way to Pag-asa, the military plane carrying Lorenzana and military officials were warned by Chinese forces to leave the area but the pilot insisted that they were in Philippine airspace.
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Lorenzana has downplayed the incident, saying Philippine air assets conducting resupply operations usually receive warnings from Chinese forces.
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During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China last October, Manila and Beijing agreed to hold dialogues on the South China Sea dispute, a move that Chinese officials claimed signaled the “full recovery” of the friendship between the two countries.
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The Duterte administration’s decision to hold dialogues with China on the dispute is a departure from the policy of former President Benigno Aquino III, who preferred that the issue be tackled through multilateral channels.
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In 2013, the Philippines challenged the legality of China’s expansive claim in the South China Sea before an international arbitral tribunal in Hague.
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The court decided in favor of the Philippines last year, ruling that China’s maritime claim has no legal basis.
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China has refused to recognize the ruling, dismissing it as a “mere piece of paper” that would not affect its territorial rights.
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Duterte has said he is ready to set aside the arbitral ruling to enhance the Philippines’ ties with China. He stressed, though, that he would not bargain away the Philippines’ maritime claims and that there would be a time when he would bring up the arbitral ruling before the Chinese government.
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Related:
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 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

What is China so passionate about in the Philippine Seas?

April 23, 2017

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Philippine soldier stands guard over the South China Sea.

By: Artemio V. Panganiban – @inquirerdotnet — Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:20 AM April 23, 2017

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Why is China so passionate in owning Scarborough Shoal and several maritime features in the Spratlys in the South China Sea (SCS)? And yet, so easily conceded the Philippines’ rights over Benham Rise?

No controversy. The short answer is that Benham Rise is outside the so-called nine-dash line under which China claims historic title and sovereignty over almost the entire SCS.

But unlike the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal, Benham Rise is totally submerged in water ranging from 50 to 5,000 meters in depth. This submarine status makes the exploitation of its vast resources extremely expensive and difficult to undertake.

On the other hand, the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal are located in much shallower waters; in fact, China has enlarged some of the isles and rocks therein, not only to extract mineral resources but also, more visibly, to construct airports, seaports, buildings and other structures.

Mendoza’s primer. Superlawyer Estelito P. Mendoza recently wrote a primer on this subject, published by the UP Law Center. As one of the two vice chairs of the Philippine delegation to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, which convened during martial law in December 1973, he had an insider view of the negotiations.

(The other vice chair was then Foreign Undersecretary Jose Ingles. Alternating as chairs were then Sen. Arturo Tolentino and then Justice Secretary Vicente Abad Santos. All are now deceased.)

In 1982, the UN finally adopted the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) that came into force in 1994. Mendoza related that our delegation was able to include the “archipelagic principles” in the Unclos, and eventually the “ultimate compromise … to have a 12-mile territorial sea and an exclusive economic zone of 200 miles…”

On March 10, 2009, Republic Act No. 9522 was approved. It defined the baselines from which to measure our 1) 12-nautical-mile (NM) territorial sea, 2) 24-NM contiguous zone, 3) 200-NM exclusive economic zone, and 4) 350-NM continental shelf. (See my column on 4/2/17 for details.)

Thereafter, the Philippines notified the UN Secretary General (UNSG) of the baselines defined under RA 9522. It claimed the status of an “archipelagic state,” composed of the “Philippine archipelago” (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) plus two “regimes of islands,” the Kalayaan Island Group in the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal (or Bajo de Masinloc).

Soon after, China submitted to the UNSG a “Note” dated April 13, 2009, alleging that RA 9522 “illegally claims Huangyan Island (referred to as ‘Bajo de Masinloc’ in the Act) and some islands and reefs of Nansha Islands (referred to as ‘The Kalayaan Island Group’ in the Act) of China… The Chinese Government hereby reiterates that Huangyan Island and Nansha Islands have been part of the territory of China since ancient time.”

Notably, it did not contest our rights over the “Philippine archipelago” and implicitly its corresponding territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf including Benham Rise.

No ruling on land. Mendoza opined, “Considering that … China had taken possession and occupied several of the islands (or features) within the Kalayaan Group of Islands and over Bajo de Masinloc,” the Philippines should have initiated a proceeding “in regard to these matters.”

As it is, however, our arbitral claim and the arbitral award itself did not settle the issue of Chinese occupation and sovereignty over these islands or features. In fact, the arbitral tribunal had no jurisdiction to award title or sovereignty over land territory. Consequently, China cannot be expected to surrender its occupation or sovereignty over them.

Mendoza recalled that in a conversation with then President Ferdinand Marcos, then Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping, during a state visit here in June 1975, advised that negotiation is the only solution. And if no agreement is reached, how should the matter be resolved? His answer was simply “to talk some more, and more until agreement is reached.”

Consistent with this “talk, talk, talk” approach is the Duterte administration’s pursuit of the proposed Code of Conduct between Asean and China, spoken about by Acting Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo in a recent Inquirer Forum. Is this a better strategy to resolve the impasse in the SCS? (To be continued.)

Comments to chiefjusticepanganiban@hotmail.com

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/103399/scarborough-spratlys-benham#ixzz4f4JlFpes
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Related:

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
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.

No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this: