Posts Tagged ‘air defense identification zone’

U.S. weighs more South China Sea patrols to confront ‘new reality’ of China

June 3, 2018

The United States is considering intensified naval patrols in the South China Sea in a bid to challenge China’s growing militarization of the waterway, actions that could further raise the stakes in one of the world’s most volatile areas.

The Pentagon is weighing a more assertive program of so-called freedom-of-navigation operations close to Chinese installations on disputed reefs, two U.S. officials and Western and Asian diplomats close to discussions said.

The officials declined to say how close they were to finalizing a decision.

Such moves could involve longer patrols, ones involving larger numbers of ships or operations involving closer surveillance of Chinese facilities in the area, which now include electronic jamming equipment and advanced military radars.

trict navigation.

A map of the South China Sea showing Chinese claims and disputed islands

U.S. officials are also pushing international allies and partners to increase their own naval deployments through the vital trade route as China strengthens its military capabilities on both the Paracel and Spratly islands, the diplomats said, even if they stopped short of directly challenging Chinese holdings.

“What we have seen in the last few weeks is just the start, significantly more is being planned,” said one Western diplomat, referring to a freedom of navigation patrol late last month that used two U.S. ships for the first time.

“There is a real sense more needs to be done.”

The Pentagon does not comment on future operations but a spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, said “we will continue to work with our friends, partners, and allies to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific”.

A more assertive Pentagon approach already appears to have started. Reuters first reported the patrol last month in which two U.S. Navy warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China, even as President Donald Trump sought Chinese cooperation on North Korea.

While the operation had been planned months in advance, and similar operations have become routine, it is believed to be the first time where two U.S. warships have been used for a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea.

The Pentagon also withdrew an invitation for Chinese forces to join large multi-country exercises off Hawaii later in the year.

Critics have said the patrols have little impact on Chinese behavior and mask the lack of a broader strategy to deal with China’s growing dominance of the area.

“DO NOT PAY OFF”

U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis warned in Singapore on Saturday that China’s militarization of the South China Sea was now a “reality” but that Beijing would face unspecified consequences.

Questioned during the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference over whether it was too late to stop China, Mattis said: “Eventually these (actions) do not pay off.”

Last month, China’s air force landed bombers on Woody Island in the disputed Paracel archipelago as part of a training exercise, triggering concern from Vietnam and the Philippines.

Satellite photographs taken on May 12 showed China appeared to have deployed truck-mounted surface-to-air missiles or anti-ship cruise missiles at Woody, while anti-ship cruise missiles and anti-air missiles were also placed on its largest bases in the Spratlys.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Singapore conference, He Lei, of the PLA’s Academy of Military Sciences, said China had every right to continue to militarize its South China Sea holdings.

“It is China’s sovereign and legal right for China to place our army and military weapons there. We see any other country that tries to make noise about this as interfering in our internal affairs,” He said.

Regional military attaches say they are now bracing for China’s next moves, which some fear could be the first deployment of jet fighters to the Spratlys or an attempt to enforce an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) similar to one Beijing created off its eastern coast in 2013.

Vietnamese military officers say they are particularly concerned by the prospect of an ADIZ, saying it could threaten the integrity of Vietnamese airspace.

Lieutenant General Nguyen Duc Hai, head of the Vietnamese military’s Institute of Strategic Studies, said that while Vietnam had long sought peaceful settlements to disputes, “all options are on the table from our side to safeguard our sovereignty and territory.”

“The ADIZ establishment is one option we have thought of and also have plans to deal with.”

Satellite image of Woody Island

Beijing has been turning islands into military bases. Reuters photo

Vietnam is the most active challengers to China’s sweeping claims to much of the South China Sea, with Hanoi claiming the Paracels and the Spratlys in their entirety.

Malaysia and the Philippines hold some Spratlys features while Brunei claims waters straddled by China’s so-called nine-dash line claim. Taiwan claims the same area as China.

Singapore-based security expert Tim Huxley said while increased pressure might slow China’s militarization efforts, they would be difficult to stop.

“China has created a new reality down there, and it is not going to be rolled back,” Huxley told Reuters.

“They are not doing this to poke America or their neighbors in the eye but they are almost certainly doing this to serve their long-term strategic objectives, whether that is projecting their military power or securing energy supplies.”

Reporting by Greg Torode and Idrees Ali; Additional reporting by Lee Chyen Yee; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Reuters

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-asia-security-southchinasea/u-s-weighs-more-south-china-sea-patrols-to-confront-new-reality-of-china-idUSKCN1IZ03B

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White House threatens Beijing with ‘consequences’ for ‘militarising South China Sea’

May 4, 2018

Beijing has evaded questions about whether it has installed the missiles on islands over the last 30 days, but the White House is adamant about ‘near-term and long-term consequences’

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 May, 2018, 4:44am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 May, 2018, 4:44am

The White House said on Thursday it was prepared to take measures against China’s stationing of military equipment on islands in the South China Sea, as Beijing evaded questions on whether it had installed new missiles on outposts also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines.

“We’re well aware of China’s militarisation of the South China Sea. We’ve raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this, and there will be near-term and long-term consequences,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

US network CNBC reported on Wednesday that the Chinese military installed anti-ship and air-to-air defences on the islands over the last 30 days, citing sources close to US intelligence.

If the information is verified, it could provoke renewed tensions between countries bordering the strategically vital maritime region.

At a regular briefing on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying neither confirmed nor denied the deployment.

“China’s peaceful construction in the Spratly archipelago, including the deployment of necessary national defence facilities, is aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty and security,” she said. “Those who don’t intend to violate [this sovereignty] have no reason to worry.”

The South China Sea issue has been brewing for years, with China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam making competing claims in waters with vital global shipping routes and what are believed to be significant oil and natural gas deposits.

In addition to land-reclamation efforts on reefs it controls and building civilian facilities there, China also has air bases, radar and communications systems, naval facilities and defensive weaponry in place including landing strips able to accommodate military planes.

 HQ-9B long-range surface-to-air missiles are seen in this May 3 photograph. Photo: handout

The new Chinese missiles were reportedly deployed on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef, according to CNBC.

They are all in the Spratly archipelago located in waters south of mainland China between Vietnam and the Philippines.

Beijing’s territorial claims, based on its own historical records, have also pitted it against the United States.

While Washington takes no position on the sovereignty claims, it has raised concerns that Beijing is “militarising” the South China Sea, leading to Thursday’s warning of “consequences”.

The US Navy itself frequently sends warships and aircraft carriers to patrol the area.

 YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missiles are seen on May 3. Photo: handout

“China has to realise that they’ve benefited from the free navigation of the sea, and the US Navy has been the guarantor of that,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.

“We will continue to do our operations.”

China’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has previously stressed that the islands were “part of Chinese territory” and that it was up to China alone to decide what it does there.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2144600/white-house-threatens-beijing-consequences-militarising

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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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Beijing ‘installs missiles’ on South China Sea islands

May 3, 2018

Beijing Thursday reasserted its right to build “defence” facilities in the disputed South China Sea, but declined to confirm reports it had installed new missiles on artificial islands it has built in the region.

© AFP/File | China has reportedly installed missiles on Subi Reef and other outposts in the disputed Spratly Islands

AFP

The Chinese army installed anti-ship and air-to-air defences on outposts also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines over the last 30 days, US network CNBC reported Wednesday, citing sources close to US intelligence.

If the information is verified, it could provoke renewed tensions between countries bordering the strategically vital maritime region.

At a regular briefing on Thursday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying neither confirmed nor denied the deployment.

“China’s peaceful construction in the Spratly archipelago, including the deployment of necessary national defence facilities, is aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty and security,” she said.

“Those who don’t intend to violate (this sovereignty) have no reason to worry,” she said.

The South China Sea issue has been brewing for years, with China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam making competing claims in waters with vital global shipping routes and what are believed to be significant oil and natural gas deposits.

In addition to land-reclamation efforts on reefs it controls and building civilian facilities there, China also has air bases, radar and communications systems, naval facilities and defensive weaponry in place including landing strips able to accommodate military planes.

The new Chinese missiles were reportedly deployed on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef, according to CNBC.

They are all in the Spratly archipelago located in waters south of mainland China between Vietnam and the Philippines.

Beijing’s territorial claims, based on its own historical records, have also pitted it against the United States.

While Washington takes no position on the sovereignty claims, it has raised concerns that Beijing is “militarising” the South China Sea.

But the US Navy itself frequently sends warships and aircraft carriers to patrol the area.

China’s defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has previously stressed that the islands were “part of Chinese territory” and that it was up to China alone to decide what it does there.

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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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South China Sea: China’s missile system on Philippine-claimed reefs a step closer to airspace control

May 3, 2018

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In this April 21, 2017, file photo, Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130.

CSIS AMTI via DigitalGlobe, File

 

China’s missile system on Philippine-claimed reefs a step closer to airspace control

Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – May 3, 2018 – 11:15am

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing has quietly moved forward to dominating airspace control over the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea as it deploys missile systems on its “big three” islands, a report confirmed.

CNBC reported that China quietly deployed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands.

These three features in the Spratly Islands are also being claimed by Manila.

The missile systems were placed on China’s military outposts in the past 30 days, a source told CNBC.

The installment of the missile weapons comes after China deployed military jamming equipment on Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef.

RELATED: China erects marker on Fiery Cross Reef

According to the report, the Chinese YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missile can strike surface vessels within 295 nautical miles of the artificial islands.

Meanwhile, the HQ-9B long-range surface-to-air missile has the capability to target aircraft, drones and cruise missiles within 160 nautical miles.

CNBC also reported that the missile systems were also spotted on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands.

Euan Graham, international security director at Lowy Institute, warned that Beijing may soon deploy combat aircraft in the region.

“Next come [surface-to-air missiles], then combat aircraft are only a matter of time,” Graham said on Twitter.

Graham warned that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force may deploy jets to the Spratlys later this year.

“Ultimately, the PLA has a plan to use the Spratlys for their custom-built purpose – to extend the envelope of China’s air and seapower throughout the South China Sea. The only debatable issue there is sooner, or later,” Graham told Philstar.com in a prior interview.

Last month, China reportedly deployed transport military planes on Mischief Reef, which shows a steady pattern of escalation in the region.

Landing a transport military plane on one feature would not cross a threshold of militarization in the Spratlys but fighter jets would, RAND Senior Policy Analyst Lyle Morris earlier said on Twitter.

“Because of the dual-use nature of military transport aircraft, the move does not cross an unambiguous threshold of offensive militarization of Chinese-occupied features in the Spratlys the same way that fighter jets would, for example,” Morris told Philstar.com.

Defending its actions in the South China Sea, Beijing had claimed “natural rights” to deploy troops and weapons in the Spratlys.

“It is the natural right of a sovereign state for China to station troops and deploy necessary territory defense facilities on the relevant islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands,” the Chinese Ministry of Defense said.

RELATED: Experts: No break of precedent in Chinese deployment of planes in Mischief Reef

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/05/03/1811793/chinas-missile-system-philippine-claimed-reefs-step-closer-airspace-control#GHmmpqXrAfdt23kI.99

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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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Beijing accuses US of ‘serious provocation’ after destroyer sails through disputed South China Sea

March 23, 2018

USS Mustin’s voyage near Mischief Reef prompts angry response a day after America announced plan to impose US$60 billion tariffs on Chinese imports

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 March, 2018, 7:42pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 March, 2018, 11:28pm
 Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor

China accused America of “serious military provocation” after a US Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island in the South China Sea – one day after the first move in what could develop into a full-blown trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Beijing also announced it was staging a naval drill in the disputed waters on Friday, but said it was not targeted at any specific country.

The Chinese defence ministry said the USS Mustin had been “warned off” by two Chinese frigates.

An anonymous US official told Reuters that the destroyer was carrying out a “freedom of navigation” operation, passing within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, where China has built an artificial island.

Image may contain: sky

China H-6K bomber over Scarborough

It was America’s first such operation since January and came a day after US President Donald Trump announced it would levy US$60 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese imports – triggering immediate retaliation from Beijing.

“What the US is doing will damage the military-to-military relations and atmosphere,” said Ren Guoqiang, a spokesman for the Chinese defence ministry.

“It could easily cause misjudgments and accidents at air or sea. This is a serious political and military provocation

to China and the Chinese military is firmly objecting to this.”

He said the action would push China to boost its defence capability in the region.

 Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor and water
China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines

The warning came as Beijing announced it was staging a combat exercise in the South China Sea on Friday.

“According to the PLA Navy personnel department, this is routine training as part of its annual plan to improve combat capability, and it is not aimed at any specific country or target,” official news agency Xinhua reported.

Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military expert, believed the US had deliberately timed the challenge to Beijing – sailing near its outpost – for the same day China hit back at America’s punitive tariffs.

“This is a gesture, and it’s a combination of economic and military pressure,” he said.

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The PLA Navy drill could be a response to the US Navy’s “freedom of navigation” operation, Ni added.

“The PLA always have several contingency plans and they can quickly respond when they think a drill should be staged,” he said.

China refused to recognise an international tribunal ruling in 2016 that invalidated its claim over most of the resource-rich South China Sea. Its territorial claims are disputed by a number of countries in the region, and Beijing has continued to build islands and infrastructure in the disputed waters.

The Pentagon has meanwhile identified China and Russia as its two biggest military threats.

 http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2138677/beijing-accuses-us-serious-provocation-after-destroyer
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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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We’ve heard 白痴國家 (Means “Idiot Nation”)

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South China Sea: China challenges aircraft — ‘You are entering Chinese airspace’ — Not true under international law

March 21, 2018

 

FILE – In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Chinese have been challenging Philippine airplanes flying over its outposts in the Spratly Islands. Xinhua via AP/Liu Rui, File

Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – March 21, 2018 – 5:31pm

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MANILA, Philippines –  China has been warning off Philippine planes doing patrols in the country’s airspace, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday.
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Lorenzana, in a television interview, said that the military has been sending naval patrols of the country’s territory from time to time.
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“These planes, every time they fly over the features occupied by the Chinese, they challenge… Well, they will say ‘You are entering Chinese airspace,'” the Defense chief said, referring to Beijing’s artificial islands in the Spratlys.
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The Defense chief clarified that the Chinese and the Filipinos only exchange words when the latter conducts patrols in the West Philippine Sea.
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“They just exchange words, ‘No, we are passing by Philippine airspace.’ This is just a play of words but it happens every time our patrols go around,” Lorenzana said.
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Aside from the Air Force, the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources also conduct patrols in the West Philippine Sea.
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The Philippines is now using the Cessna aircraft that the US donated last year to conduct patrols over the waters surrounding the country.
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Lorenzana said that the Philippines did not have equipment for the aircraft upon receiving them last year. The aircraft from the US have been installed with equipment and are now capable of patrolling the country’s domains.

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ScanEagle can be used for patrols

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The ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle system that the US recently donated to the Philippines may also be used for patrolling the West Philippine Sea and Philippine Rise.
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“They will be used in the south and also anywhere because they are very mobile. They can be transported easily because they are just put in a container,” Lorenzana said.
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Beijing has installed military capabilities in its “Big Three” islands in the Spratly Islands — Subi (Zamora), Mischief (Panganiban) and Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reefs.
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A March 2017 report from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative showed that China’s naval, air, radar and defensive facilities in the artificial islands would allow them to deploy aircraft and mobile missile launchers to the Spratly Islands at any time.
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Kagitingan or Fiery Cross Reef contains communication facilities and is likely being used by China as its intelligence hub in the region, AMTI reported in February.
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Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte downplayed China’s militarization of the South China Sea and said that it is not intended for the Philippines.
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“It’s not intended for us. The contending ideological powers of the world or the geopolitics has greatly changed. It’s really intended against those who the Chinese think would destroy them and that is America,” Duterte said.
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Re.ad more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/03/21/1799000/china-challenges-philippine-planes-over-west-philippine-sea-lorenzana#QfWfs879wCSrFAOu.99

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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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We’ve heard 白痴國家 (Means “Idiot Nation”)

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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.

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.

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.

Op-Ed: If we’re going to rule out negotiations with North Korea, we have to be ready for war — Chinese air traffic controllers eager to chase away U.S. military aircraft

March 23, 2017

By Robert L. Gallucci
The Los Angeles Times

March 23, 2017

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Robert L. Gallucci

During a visit to Seoul last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson drew some reddish lines around North Korea.

“Twenty years of talking has brought us to the point we are today,” Tillerson said at a news conference. “Talk is not going to change the situation.” If North Korea threatens South Korean or American forces or elevates the level of its weapons program, Tillerson warned, preemptive military action is “on the table.”

Tillerson’s comments did not come entirely out of left field. For months, Washington has been abuzz over the possibility that North Korea may successfully test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to an American city. In a New Year’s address, North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un indicated such a test could come sooner than we think.

But Tillerson’s warning did signal that the Trump administration is taking U.S. policy toward North Korea in a new direction — that we may be serious about abandoning engagement and willing to pursue containment through military action.

If North Korea is newly capable of striking an American city with a nuclear-armed missile, however, it would not be the first time that the U.S. was defenseless against an adversary’s weapons.

Americans lived for years with Soviet and Chinese missiles pointing in our direction. We had no way to defend against Soviet missiles in the 1950s, nor Chinese missiles in the 1960s. We were worried in 1960 when Nikita Khrushchev, then the Soviet leader, pounded his shoe against a table during a session of the United Nations General Assembly. For many reasons, Mao worried us even more.

Analysts can read Tillerson’s comments in different ways. If he meant to indicate that the U.S. would undertake a military strike on North Korea to prevent the testing and development of an ICBM — a “left of launch” program, as the Pentagon would call it — such an act could not properly be called preemption, because it would not be responding to an imminent attack. Rather, we would be taking preventive action and risking a preventive war with the goal of cutting off the emergence of a future threat. The invasion of Iraq in 2003, for instance, was a preventive war, not an act of preemption. Ethics, law and prudence are on the side of preemption but not on preventive strikes.

If, on the other hand, the U.S. intelligence community were to conclude that North Korea was about to launch a missile at Los Angeles, Seoul or Tokyo, we should fully expect Trump to order a preemptive strike to take out the missile before it is launched. If this is the only line Tillerson meant to draw, he should have saved the ink and not made news with the threat.

In either scenario, we can expect that attacking North Korea, even with an intended “surgical strike,” will bring retaliation, most likely against South Korean and American forces and civilians on the Korean peninsula — there are a lot of both within range of North Korean missiles and artillery — and possibly a second Korean War. The U.S. and its allies should be ready for this. At the moment, neither we nor our allies are prepared for war.

With so much at stake, Tillerson should disclose what exactly is new about the North Korean threat that makes deterrence suddenly unreliable. Certainly it is not the quality or quantity of North Korea’s nuclear weapons. At the height of the Cold War, the number of Soviet weapons — counting tactical and strategic weapons deployed in silos, on submarines and aboard bombers —reached 30,000 or so. The North Koreans have less than 20. It is possible that U.S. officials lack confidence in the rationality of Kim Jong Un. If this is the case, the American people should be informed that this is why we are risking another Korean War.

Some argue that an alternative to military action is the adoption of tougher sanctions together with more pressure on China to allow them to work. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with such an approach, there is little reason to think it will be effective in stopping North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. So the real alternative to war is a negotiated settlement that addresses the threat. There is a lot of work yet to be done in order to set the table for productive negotiations. More than 20 years ago, we struck a deal with the North that froze plutonium production for almost a decade before the deal collapsed: They cheated and we caught them. That was still a deal worth making, and the next one will have to be better. For starters, we should require that North Korea improve the human rights of its citizens as a condition of normalizing relations with the U.S.

The United States has no real capability to shoot down ICBMs, but we never have. We have been defenseless against this threat for six decades. For all those years, we have relied on deterrence and the promise of devastating retaliation. The logic is that the capability of our conventional and nuclear weapons deters our enemies and provides for the nation’s security. If the U.S. is going to abandon this logic now, it should be done with great care, and with the full understanding that we are risking war.

Robert L. Gallucci is a professor of diplomacy at Georgetown University. He served in the State Department as chief U.S. negotiator during the North Korean nuclear crisis of 1994, and as an ambassador-at-large and special envoy dealing with threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-gallucci-north-korea-icbm-missiles-tillerson-20170323-story.html

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China threatens American B-1 bomber flying off South Korea: Stand off as Beijing claims US aircraft violated its ‘defense zone’

  • China has accused the US plane of operating in its airspace without permission 
  • Pliots of a Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber were forced to respond to controllers 
  • Chinese Air Traffic officials radioed the bomber flying 70 miles from Jeju Island 
  • The US bomber was in the controversial Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone
  • American and Japanese officials do not recognize the airspace China claism 

Chinese military officials have accused US bombers of flying too close to the country and operating in its airspace during a mission off South Korea.

Pilots of the US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber were forced to respond to Chinese air traffic controllers during a flight about 70 nautical miles southwest of South Korea’s Jeju Island.

American officials told CNN the pilots told the Chinese controllers they were conducting ‘routine operations in international airspace and did not deviate from their flight path’.

Chinese military officials have accused a US B-1B Lancer bomber of flying too close to the country and operating in its airspace during a mission off South Korea

Chinese military officials have accused a US B-1B Lancer bomber of flying too close to the country and operating in its airspace during a mission off South Korea

This map shows where the bomber was flying when Chinese officials contacted the American pilots during the stand off

This map shows where the bomber was flying when Chinese officials contacted the American pilots during the stand off

The network revealed the tense moment was the result of the bombers had actually entered the Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone – a controversial area of sky over the East China Sea.

The airspace also covers islands claimed by Japan, and it is not officially recognized by the US.

‘Pacific Air Forces … did not recognize the Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone when it was announced in November of 2013, and does not recognize it today,’ US Pacific Air Forces spokesman Major Phil Ventura told CNN.

This map shows how the different airspaces in the area in question are divided up by the different countries in the region

This map shows how the different airspaces in the area in question are divided up by the different countries in the region

The US B-1B Lancer bomber was seen flying in formation with Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15s on March 21

The US B-1B Lancer bomber was seen flying in formation with Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15s on March 21

‘The ADIZ has not changed our operations.’

Chinese authorities demand airplanes flying over or through the airspace must first notify officials.

US Air Force sources said B-1 bomber was carrying out training operations with Japanese and South Korean jets in recent days.

On March 21, the American bomber was seen flying in formation with Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15s.