Posts Tagged ‘CUES’

ASEAN calls for South China Sea non-militarization

August 7, 2017
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Southeast Asian foreign ministers yesterday called for non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states in the South China Sea. File

MANILA, Philippines — Southeast Asian foreign ministers yesterday called for non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states in the South China Sea.

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“We emphasized the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states, including those mentioned in the DOC (Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea) that could further complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the South China Sea,” the ministers declared in a delayed joint communiqué.

The statement said the ministers discussed extensively the matters relating to the South China Sea and took note of the concerns expressed by some of them on the land reclamations and activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region.

They reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea.

They also cited the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The ministers also underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the DOC in its entirety.

They welcomed the improving cooperation between ASEAN and China and are encouraged by the conclusion and adoption of the framework of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, which will facilitate the work for the conclusion of an effective COC on a mutually agreed timeline.

“In view of this positive momentum, we reaffirmed our readiness to begin the substantive negotiation on the COC and tasked our senior officials to start the negotiation on the COC with China. We recognized the benefits that would be gained from having the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability and prosperity,” the statement said.

Pending the early adoption of an effective COC, the ministers stressed the importance of undertaking confidence building and preventive measures to enhance, among others, trust and confidence among all parties.

ASEAN welcomed the successful testing of the MFA-to-MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs-to Ministry of Foreign Affairs) hotline to manage maritime emergencies in the South China Sea.

Beijing looks forward to the operationalization of the joint statement on the observance of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea in the South China Sea.

“In our view, these are practical measures that could reduce tensions, and the risks of accidents, misunderstandings and miscalculation,” the statement said.


 (Includes links to related articles)


Philippines and Vietnam Have Legal Claims in the South China Sea; China Does Not — Philippine Supreme Court Senior Justice Has a Way To Follow The Law

August 4, 2017
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War never is an option. Diplomacy can fortify the UN ruling on Manila’s row with Beijing. Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio enumerates some diplomatic initiatives, in a presentation to the Stratbase-Albert del Rosario Institute. Third of four parts:

There is no world policeman or sheriff to enforce the arbitral ruling. However, states that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea expressly bound themselves to comply in good faith with decisions of arbitral tribunals created under UNCLOS. China is reneging on this treaty obligation.

The option for the Philippines is not “talk or go to war with China.” This is a false option, and shows a dismal lack of understanding of international law and relations.

First, the Philippine Constitution prohibits war as instrument of national policy. Second, the UN Charter has outlawed war as a means of settling disputes between states. In resolving the SCS dispute, war is not and has never been an option. That is precisely why the Philippines filed the arbitration case against China.

If the Philippines starts a war against China, it would surely lose, and lose badly. If the Philippines is the aggressor, that will violate the Constitution and the UN Charter. The Philippines cannot invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty because the treaty is only for defense, not for aggression. President Duterte’s oft-repeated question – whether the US will support and join the Philippines if we go to war against China – is a misguided question because the US is not bound by the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty to support any act of aggression by the Philippines. If the US joins the Philippines in a war of aggression, the US will also be in breach of the UN Charter.

China itself does not want to start a war because war will give the US an excuse to intervene in the SCS dispute, since to defend itself the Philippines will certainly invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty. China’s strategy is to control the SCS without firing a shot. Those who raise the issue of war with China either do not understand the Three Warfares Strategy of China, or are scaring the Filipino people to submit to China’s designs in the SCS.

The real and practical option for the Philippines is to “talk with China while taking measures to fortify the arbitral ruling.” We should talk with China on the COC, on the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) for naval and coast guard vessels, on conservation of fish stocks, on preservation of maritime environment, and on how our fishermen can fish in Scarborough Shoal. There are many other things to talk with China on the SCS dispute even if China refuses to discuss the arbitral ruling.

As we talk with China, we can fortify the ruling in many ways:

(1) The Philippines can enter into a sea boundary agreement with Vietnam on our overlapping Extended Continental Shelves in the Spratlys, based on the ruling of the tribunal that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. Such an agreement implements part of the arbitral ruling by state practice.

(2) The Philippines can enter into a sea boundary agreement with Malaysia on our overlapping EEZ and ECS in the Spratlys, again based on the ruling that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. Such agreement also implements part of the ruling by state practice.

(3) The Philippines can file an ECS claim beyond our 200 NM EEZ in the West Philippine Sea off the coast of Luzon. If China does not oppose, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) will award the ECS to the Philippines, similar to our ECS claim in Benham Rise where there was no opposition. If China opposes our ECS claim, it will have a dilemma on what ground to invoke. If China invokes the nine-dashed lines again, the UNCLCS will reject the opposition because the UNCLCS is bound by the ruling of the arbitral tribunal which, like the UNCLCS, was created under UNCLOS. If China claims an overlapping ECS, then China will be admitting that the Philippines has a 200 NM EEZ from Luzon that negates the nine-dashed lines.

(4) The arbitral tribunal has ruled that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. The Philippines can initiate an agreement among all ASEAN disputant states – Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines – declaring that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generate an EEZ that could overlap with their respective EEZs. Even if only the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia will agree to this declaration, it will clearly remove any maritime delimitation dispute among them, leaving only the territorial disputes. This will isolate China as the only state claiming an EEZ from geologic features in the Spratlys.

(5) The Philippines can claim damages before an UNCLOS tribunal for the “severe, permanent harm” to the marine environment, as ruled by the arbitral tribunal, that China caused within Philippine EEZ in the Spratlys because of China’s dredging and its failure to stop Chinese fishermen from harvesting endangered species.

(6) In case China shows signs of reclaiming Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines can file a new case before an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal to stop the reclamation because any reclamation in Scarborough Shoal will destroy the traditional fishing ground common to fishermen from the Philippines, Vietnam and China as ruled by the tribunal.

The ruling involves only maritime, not territorial issues. Enforcing it does not mean forcibly evicting China from the islands and high-tide elevations it occupies in the SCS, as occupation of these geologic features is a territorial issue. There are still many commentators in media who fail to distinguish between territorial and maritime disputes, and thus wrongly conclude that enforcing the ruling means going to war with China on the territorial dispute. (More on Monday)

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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 chose to ignore international law.


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Singapore acquiring two new Type-218SG submarines: Ng Eng Hen

May 16, 2017

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The Type-218SG submarines will ensure the Singapore Navy continues to modernise and keep pace with the growth of navies in Asia.PHOTO: CYBERPIONEER

SINGAPORE – Singapore will be acquiring two new submarines that are expected to be delivered from 2024, in a move to replace its older and ageing underwater war vessels, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen announced on Tuesday (May 16).

Singapore also needs to make the purchases to keep pace with the growth of navies in Asia and to be an effective force, even as it continues to work with other navies in tackling common security challenges, said Dr Ng, at the opening ceremony of the 11th International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (Imdex) Asia.

Together with two other submarines of the same Type-218SG model that were ordered previously and expected to be delivered in 2021 and 2022, the two new buys will ensure the Singapore Navy continues to modernise and keep pace with the growth of navies in Asia, he added.

“At steady state, the four Type-218SGs in service will complement each other in maintenance, logistics and operations, and have better capabilities to protect our sea lines of communications,” said Dr Ng.

He noted that more than 50 per cent of global container traffic now moves through the Asia-Pacific. Singapore itself has seen an increase of 20 per cent over the last decade, from 480 million tones in 2006 to almost 600 million tonnes last year.

To protect their interests, Asean countries, Australia, China, and India have all increased the strength of their navies and naval budgets in Asia-Pacific are expected to increase by 60 per cent through 2020.

Citing statistics from US-based naval analysis and advisory agency AMI International, Dr Ng added that by 2030, there will be approximately 800 more warships and submarines operating within the Asia-Pacific region compared to today.

Dr Ng also stressed the importance of multilateral cooperation to combat transnational threats such as terrorism, piracy and illegal smuggling of weapons of mass destruction.

“Individual counties need to work together, even as each appropriately strengthens their navies and other maritime security agencies,” he said.

He cited how Singapore has been part of joint patrols in the Malacca Straits and offered assistance for joint patrols by Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines in the Sulu Seas to deal with security issues.

But as seas become busier with commercial and military activity, practical procedures and platforms are needed to prevent or managed unintended incidents at sea, he said.

He added that the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, or Cues, has been a success and should be expanded to include coast guard and non-military ships.

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) is also seeking to develop a code of conduct for submarines to enhance underwater and submarine operations safety.

Singapore began its submarine journey between 1995 and 1997 when it acquired four Sjoormen-class submarines from Sweden which were built in the 1960s. They underwent refurbishment and were named as Challenger-class vessels.

In 2005, Singapore bought and upgraded a pair of Swedish Vastergotland-class submarines, which are called Archer-class vessels.

These submarines are fitted with the state-of-the-art Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system that allows them to last six weeks at sea – twice as long as the Challenger-class submarines.

The AIP system will also mean the fleet is better prepared to hide from enemies and provide expanded capacities for operations like anti-submarine warfare or trailing surface ships in areas such as the South China Sea or the Malacca Strait.

In November 2013, Singapore had inked with German defence contractor Thyssenkrupp Marine System to buy new Type-218SG submarines.

It marked the first time Singapore was buying new submarines, which are new-generation diesel-electric subs to be built from scratch and expected to be delivered from 2020. The Type-218SG subs will also be fitted with the AIP system.


Germany to deliver more submarines to Singapore

Germany and Singapore have inked a contract on the delivery of two more submarines for the Asia Pacific nation. Countries in the area have all stepped up their efforts to strengthen their navies.

Marine Systems facility in Kiel (picture-alliance/dpa/C. Charisius)

Singapore’s navy is to get two more German-made 218SG submarines. A delivery contract between Singapore and German ThyssenKrupp subsidiary Marine Systems was inked on Tuesday.

As maritime trade in Asia Pacific grows, regional states there have all increased the strength of their navies, with naval budgets in the region expected to surge by 60 percent through 2020.

News website TodayOnline reported the latest additions would bring the total number of type 218 submarines in Singapore’s fleet to four.

State of the art

“At steady state, the four 218SGs will complement each other in maintenance, logistics and operations and will have better capabilities to protect our sea lines of communications,” Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen announced at the International Maritime Defense Exhibition on Tuesday.

The four German submarines in question are to replace older models from Sweden. The two additional submarines from Marine Systems are to be delivered by 2024. No price tag was mentioned, but experts said the deliveries would be worth at east 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

The German submarines will have fuel cell drive technology, enabling them to be smaller, more flexible and a less noisy.

hg/jd (dpa, Todayonline)

South China Sea: U.S. Navy Chief Pushes for ‘Compromise’ to Stop ‘Problematic’ Actions at Sea

October 4, 2016


CNO underscores ‘common interests’ with China, other nations in Asia-Pacific

By Morgan

The chief of U.S. naval operations underscored the need to pursue “compromise” in the South China Sea when asked to expand on the U.S. military strategy to deter “problematic” behavior like China’s island-building.

Adm. John Richardson was asked by a reporter during an event in Washington, D.C., on Monday to offer a “better understanding of what sort of pressure the Navy can bring to bear on activities which are problematic but not necessarily unlawful” in the South China Sea, such as construction on disputed features.

The U.S. Navy has repeatedly sailed warships under the rules of innocent passage close to disputed features over which Beijing claims sovereignty, in exercise of freedom of navigation. Richardson made no mention of these operations during remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Monday morning, instead focusing on the “common interests” shared by the United States, China, and other regional powers and the need to pursue compromise through peaceful means.

 Admiral John Richardson

“With respect to options that the United States Navy can bring, with all of the partners in the region, including China, there are many areas in which we have common interests, even today. A lot of those are glossed over, but there’s an awful lot of areas where we do have common interests and we have to make sure that we pile in and reinforce those areas,” Richardson said.

“There are areas where … we don’t agree, and as we work through those disagreements towards a compromise … we want to do so in a way that mitigates the risk of some kind of a miscalculation,” the admiral added.

“We hope that we will reach that agreement that is acceptable to all players in the region including the United States, including China, and everybody else, in a way that does not involve conflict,” Richardson continued. “Certainly, we wouldn’t want to do any deliberate conflict, but we also want to make sure that we don’t do any kind of conflict that results from a miscalculation or mistake.”

Richardson’s remarks came days after Defense Secretary Ash Carter indicated that the United States will conduct more joint patrols with other nations in the Asia-Pacific to enforce freedom of navigation and overflight.

Admiral Sun Jianguo (left) chats with US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Photo by AFP

Tensions in the South China Sea have risen as Beijing has pursued reclamation efforts on disputed features in the region, which many have described as militarization. Satellite imagery indicates that China has been building air strips and reinforced hangars on some man-made islands, though Beijing has insisted it is not conducting reclamation for military purposes.

China has also rejected the July ruling by an international court that deemed Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea unsubstantiated by law or history.

Richardson did not mention China’s island-building campaign or territorial claims during his remarks, nor did he reference the ruling by the arbitration tribunal at The Hague, which the United States has urged China to accept.

Richardson said that the “vast majority” of encounters he witnessed aboard the USS John C. Stennis between the U.S. and other navies, particularly the Chinese, in the Indo-Asia-Pacific satisfied the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, or CUES, a set of rules established by the United States and China and signed by 21 Pacific nations in 2014 to prevent miscalculations and escalations at sea.

He said that the Navy will maintain its presence in the South China Sea and continue to “enhance these sort of rules of behavior, advocating for rules and norms of behavior to allow us to peacefully resolve differences.”

Richardson also stressed his own need to maintain a dialogue with Admiral Wu Shengli, his counterpart in the People’s Liberation Army Navy, in the “unlikely event” that conflict arises and needs to be deescalated quickly.

Admiral Wu Shengli, People’s Liberation Army Navy

Richardson has previously underscored the need to cooperate with China amid increasing tensions in the South China Sea. At the same time, he said in July that the United States will continue freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea in compliance of international law.

The Obama administration’s policy toward China has been criticized for failing to deter Beijing’s moves in the South China Sea. A panel of experts in Asia studies and maritime law told House lawmakers last month that more needs to be done both militarily and diplomatically to thwart Chinese aggression.

Dr. James Kraska, an international law professor at the U.S. Naval War College, faulted the U.S. government for not calling out China for making “unlawful claims” over territory in the South China Sea.

“We have to talk plainly about the issues,” Kraska said. “It begins even with the nomenclature that we use for China’s claims, which in the U.S. government we call them ‘excessive’ claims. I would suggest that they’re not excessive claims, they’re unlawful claims.”

“We should get rid of these euphemisms, which I think raise doubt and ambiguity and play into China’s hands,” the professor added.

Kraska also criticized the Pentagon for sailing warships near disputed territories under the rules of innocent passage, arguing that there are no lawful territorial seas around features or manmade islands claimed by China.

The Obama administration has cooperated with China on a number of matters, such as the Paris climate change accord, as Beijing has acted on aggressive territorial claims in the South and East China Seas and targeted the United States in the cyber realm.

Last week, the Navy Times reported that the White House has instructed Pentagon leaders not to use the term “competition” when discussing military challenges coming from China.

South China Sea: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang — Rejects Arbitration Court Ruling — “China and ASEAN nations have the full wisdom and ability to manage the South China Sea issue.”

September 9, 2016


Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (9th R) attends the 11th East Asia Summit in Vientiane, Laos, Sept. 8, 2016. (Xinhua, Wang Ye)

VIENTIANE, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday spelled out China’s stance on the South China Sea issue in his speech at the 11th East Asia Summit, calling for concerted efforts of all relevant parties to properly handle disputes.

Li reaffirmed China’s objection to the South China Sea arbitration, citing China’s right under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to settle disputes primarily through dialogue and consultation.


Li owed peace and stability in that area over the past more than a decade to “effective regional rules” set in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) agreed by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in which concerned parties in any dispute should negotiate to settle it.

Noting that “we are neighbors, thus hard to avoid clashing with each other like tongue and teeth,” Li said the move to initiate an arbitration unilaterally and introduce a third party could only make things more complex and thus undermine the rule-based regional order.

Li called for bringing sea disputes under control before they are settled.

“China and ASEAN nations have the full wisdom and ability to manage the South China Sea issue,” Li said, adding that nations outside the region should “understand and support” the efforts made by nations within it, rather than “overstating differences or even sowing the discord.”

On the “freedom of navigation and overflight” in the region, Li said it has never been a problem.

China and ASEAN on Wednesday issued a joint statement on the application of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) in the South China Sea as well as a guideline on senior diplomat hot line to cope with maritime emergencies.

Li stressed that China has always managed the South China Sea issue with a constructive attitude in order to guarantee regional peace and stability.

He expressed China’s readiness to work with other parties to translate challenges in East Asia into an opportunity for stability and sustained prosperity.


In his speech, Li lauded the role of the East Asia Summit in advancing understanding and mutual trust of all parties and promoting regional stability and prosperity in East Asia, which he described as a land “far from conflicts and a bonanza for trade and investment.”

Li also urged efforts to put ASEAN in a central position in East Asia cooperation and follow the “ASEAN model” which emphasizes consensus by taking into account the interests of all parties.

Li reaffirmed the two-pronged goal of economic development and political security for such a “strategic forum led by leaders.”

On economic development, Li said all parties should place regional connectivity high on the agenda, step up building a free trade area, and cooperate more on social undertakings.

On political security, Li called for formulating a new Asian security concept, which are “common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable.”

Li reiterated China’s diplomatic principles that all countries, big or small, are all equal, should respect each other, and seek common ground and shelve differences.


Li also urged closer cooperation on non-traditional security issues including terrorism, natural disasters, trans-national crime and infectious diseases.

For their parts, the summit leaders agreed on establishing a framework that can effectively meet non-traditional challenges.

They agreed to settle South China Sea disputes by peaceful and diplomatic means based on the DOC and the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) and look forward to strengthening economic partnership and deepening economic integration.

South China Sea: ASEAN Leaders Told Not To Mention Arbitration Decision Against China

September 5, 2016
Meeting participants are encouraged to discuss but without mentioning China by name

Filipino and Vietnamese activists display placards during a rally over the South China Sea disputes in front of a Chinese consulate in Makati city, metro Manila, on Aug 6, 2016. (Reuters photo)

BANGKOK, Sept. 4, Kyodo

The chairman’s statement to be issued after a summit of Southeast Asian leaders in Laos this week will avoid any mention of the landmark July ruling by an international tribunal that rejected China’s vast claims to most of the South China Sea, an ASEAN source said Sunday.

Leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations instead limit themselves to reiterating their concerns over developments in the disputed sea without mentioning China by name, according to the source.

“We remain seriously concerned over recent and ongoing developments and took note of the concerns expressed by some leaders on the land reclamations and escalation of activities in the area,” according to a draft of the chairman’s statement penned by China-leaning Laos, this year’s chair of the grouping.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on July 12 that China’s claims to economic rights across large swathes of the South China, which overlap with those of the Philippines and other neighboring countries, have no legal basis. China has rejected the ruling as “a piece of wastepaper” and insisted that disputes in the resource-rich body of water must be addressed by claimants through bilateral negotiations.

Echoing the statements of previous summits, the draft notes the importance of full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by China and ASEAN in 2002 and the early conclusion of ongoing talks on the framework of a legally binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

The importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities, including land reclamation that could escalate the dispute are also mentioned in the statement.

ASEAN and China plan to show progress in their cooperation by issuing official guidelines for hotline communications among senior officials of China and ASEAN.

A separate joint statement on the application of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea in the South China Sea will also be released in a sideline meeting between ASEAN and China to ensure maritime safety in the disputed sea.

In the meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers held in Vientiane in July, a united assessment on the international tribunal’s ruling also proved to be unattainable.

In that meeting, the Philippines and Vietnam, two of the four ASEAN members with claims to parts of the South China Sea, demanded that the communique “welcome” the ruling.

However, they were blocked by ASEAN members with close ties with China, most notably Cambodia, that have sought to avoid antagonizing China as it is a major source of aid and an important investment partner.

While the country that holds the rotating ASEAN chairmanship is supposed to host two summits a year, due to logistical concerns Laos will be hosting the 28th and 29th ASEAN summits back to back this week, effectively resulting in a single meeting.



South China Sea: China Seems To Have The Upper Hand — “The U.S. seems unable to make any diplomatic, policy or military moves to help out Japan or anybody else” — Diplomat

August 22, 2016

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 gas and oil reserves:


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said last week that he would not raise maritime disputes with China at a meeting of Southeast Asian nations in Laos next month, preferring to talk quietly with Chinese officials.

“I will only bring the issue when we are together face to face,” he told reporters. “Because if you quarrel with them now and you claim sovereignty, make noise here and there, they might not just even want to talk.”

Duterte has been lukewarm in his support for the international arbitration case filed by his predecessor and has said he was adopting “a softer approach” to resolving the disputes.

He said last week that his special envoy to China, former President Fidel Ramos, is paving the way for possible talks with China.

“Let us create an environment where we can sit down, talk directly, and that is the time when I would say, we proceed from here,” he said.

Ramos flew to Hong Kong earlier this month to meet the Chinese legislature’s foreign affairs chief, Fu Ying, and a leading government-backed scholar on the dispute, and they agreed on the need to reduce tensions through talks.

China welcomed him to visit Beijing for discussions, but the tribunal ruling was not directly discussed, Ramos told reporters. He gave no indication of when any talks might be held.



The Philippine coast guard took possession last week of the first of nine multi-role response vessels being provided by Japan in an effort to boost a chronic shortage of maritime assets amid Manila’s territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

The 44-meter (144-foot) BRP Tubbataha was formally received at the port in the capital, Manila, after having left Japan on Aug. 11 with a dozen officers and sailors on board. The ships are being built by the Japan Marine United Corporation’s Yokohama shipyard.

Philippine Coast Guard’s BRP Tubbataha

Alongside the U.S. military’s heightened emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region, Japan has been upping its presence in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, partly to counter China’s growing footprint. Aside from their close geographic proximity, the Philippines and Japan are both U.S. treaty partners who are locked in maritime territorial claims with Beijing.

While Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton began what was called the “U.S. pivot to Asia.” In this photo, Hillary Clinton talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. on September 5, 2012. Today Hillary Clinton is running to become the next President of the United States and China’s former Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.  has been promoted to the number three leadership within the Chinese Communist Party. China seems to be in control of most of the South China Sea and is pressuring all U.S. allies from Japan to Australia to Singapore to ally themselves with China or face consequences.

The Philippines challenged the validity of China’s claims and aggressive actions in the South China Sea after Chinese government ships took control of disputed Scarborough Shoal following a tense standoff in 2012. China, meanwhile, claims sovereignty over a string of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan and has lately stepped-up coast guard activities in the area.

Closer cooperation between Japan and the Philippines is sure to anger China, which suffered from Japanese invasion in World War II and warns constantly of a resurgence of militaristic sentiments within Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s conservative government.



Senior officials from China and Southeast Asian Nations met in northern China last week to agree on rules governing unexpected encounters at sea in hopes of avoiding conflicts.

Representatives from Beijing and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations discussed implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed in 2002.

That agreement was intended to promote “peace, stability and mutual trust in the South China Sea,” but has been largely shoved aside by China’s decision to assert its own claim to virtually the entire strategic water body.

Despite that, all parties say they want to avoid hostile encounters that could spark a larger conflict. The agreed on Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea had already been adopted by several, but not all ASEAN countries, at a meeting in China in 2014.

“The code itself is technical, but applying the code has political significance. It is politically important to prevent potential risks on South China Sea,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told attendees at the meeting in the city of Manzhouli in northern China’s Inner Mongolia region.

China and ASEAN are still discussing a South China Sea Code of Conduct that would more explicitly define rights and obligations among countries with overlapping territorial claims in the crucial water body.



China’s coast guard launched live-firing exercises in the Gulf of Tonkin on Monday, the latest in a series of military drills that come amid a renewed focus on the multinational dispute over maritime claims in the South China Sea.

The Maritime Safety Administration said ships and boats were barred from the area, called the Beibu Gulf by China, from Monday to Wednesday. The gulf lies between China’s southern island province of Hainan and the northeastern coast of Vietnam

China’s navy and air force have held a series of drills in surrounding waters since an international arbitration panel in The Hague issued a ruling last month invalidating Beijing’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea, where six governments in all claim territory.

China angrily rejected the ruling and said it would begin flying regular air patrols over the strategic waterway while continuing to develop airstrips, harbors and other infrastructure of military value on man-made islands it controls in the disputed Spratly group.

China also plans joint naval exercises with Russia in the South China Sea next month in a move criticized by the U.S. as harming regional stability.


A Japanese diplomat who wanted to remain anonymous told Peace and Freedom: “The U.S. seems unable to make any diplomatic, policy or military moves to help out Japan or anybody else.”




Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos, right, with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua pose for a picture during the 115th Police Service Anniversary at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Manila Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Noel Celis/Pool Photo via AP

Pictured: The flags of the ASEAN nations
PLA Air Force H-6 Bomber over Scarborough Shoal. Xinhua photo

 (Contains links to many related articles) (The Chinese government seems to be indicating it will take over the East China Sea and deny Japan its claims)


Japan protested after China put a radar on this East China Sea natural gas rig. Japan says it has proof. China has not responded.

 (July 11, 2016)


 (New York Times Editorial)


Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Yang Jiechi, a state councilor who deals with foreign policy, on Wednesday in Beijing, July 9, 2014. Credit Pool photo by Jim Bourg

Our friends in Asia say many diplomats call Yang Jiechi “Stonewall” because nobody ever gets anywhere with him.


Photo: U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, left, and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. July 25, 2016. AP Photo

A Pacific Admiral Takes China’s Measure

August 6, 2016

The U.S. can show support for the U.N.’s ruling on the South China Sea by ‘flying, sailing and operating everywhere international law allows.’

Aug. 5, 2016 6:28 p.m. ET


Beijing has a consistent explanation for the rising tensions in the South China Sea: It’s America’s fault. As Chinese leaders tell it, their country is the victim of a U.S. bullying campaign designed to keep China down by uniting Asian states against it. For proof they cite episodes such as the recent United Nations arbitration case filed by the Philippines and cheered by the U.S., Japan, Vietnam and others, which ended last month in a rebuke of China’s aggressive maritime claims and practices, including building artificial islands in international waters and harassing foreign ships.

An arch villain in China’s narrative is Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific, who last year had the gumption to warn that Beijing is building a “Great Wall of Sand” in the South China Sea. The four-star former reconnaissance flight officer also happens to be the son of an American father and a Japanese mother, a fact oft-noted by Chinese state media as proof of malign intent. “To understand the American’s sudden upgraded offensive in the South China Sea,” Xinhua has said, “it is simply impossible to ignore Admiral Harris’s blood, background, political inclination and values.”


Such racial innuendo is merely one illustration of China’s harsh anti-American propaganda. But in his first interview since last month’s landmark U.N. arbitration verdict, the 60-year-old admiral is consistently conciliatory, taking no victory lap and finding the bright side of several trouble spots. As the Obama era winds down, top U.S. leaders are still holding out hope that China will mellow as it rises and integrate peacefully into the global order.

“I don’t want to talk in terms of winners and losers because that’s not helpful,” Adm. Harris says of the U.N. ruling as he visits Tokyo to meet defense officials and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He allows that the verdict “was sweeping in its nature” and helpfully “eliminated some of the ambiguities” concerning China’s sea claims and artificial islands, but he stresses that “the United States is not a party to the ruling.” “We’re at the point where it’s up to China and the Philippines to start talking about it,” he says, citing Secretary of State John Kerry, “then we’ll see where it goes.”

And what can the U.S. and its partners do to back the verdict, seeing as the U.N. tribunal has no enforcement power of its own? “I don’t think we have as a mission enforcing tribunal rulings,” Adm. Harris says, “but we can show support for the rulings” rhetorically and by exercising freedom of navigation: “the idea of flying, sailing and operating everywhere international law allows.”

This formulation has been a mantra of U.S. officials for more than a year, even as the U.S. Navy has conducted only three freedom-of-navigation operations (Fonops) through Chinese-claimed waters, all under the ambiguous minimalist doctrine of “innocent passage.” Adm. Harris has pushed his bosses for clearer and more frequent Fonops, according to the Navy Times and other outlets, but so far has been rebuffed.

If Adm. Harris fears the U.S. and its friends have lost the post-tribunal initiative by failing to carry out new Fonops, he isn’t saying. But concerns are mounting among Asian officials and South China Sea watchers who note that the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations failed even to mention the verdict in a recent joint communique, while the new government of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines has played it down. Could this muted response embolden China to escalate, perhaps by trying to build an artificial island at Scarborough Shoal?

Building atop Scarborough, which China seized from the Philippines in a Putinesque move in 2012, would give Beijing a foothold 120 miles off the strategic Philippine port of Subic Bay and near the Luzon Strait, a key gateway to the open Pacific. China appeared poised to start construction there in March but backed off as President Obama and other U.S. officials issued private warnings to Beijing and Adm. Harris’s Pacific Command moved additional assets to the area, including A-10 ground-attack aircraft.

Now Adm. Harris reports that since the tribunal verdict “there hasn’t been any demonstrable change in Chinese behavior around [Scarborough] in terms of dredging or any of that activity. So I think we’re at a place where truly we have to wait and see.”

He argues with satisfaction, though, that U.S. friends are more reassured by U.S. policy today than they were even six months ago: “I think that the idea of the ‘rebalance’ has now taken hold.” He notes that the U.S. is advancing toward its goal of placing 60% of its air and naval assets in the Pacific by 2020, and though defense budgets haven’t grown, the Navy is building to a fleet of 308 ships, from 287 five years ago. “So I can stand in front of anybody and tell them what I believe—the military component of the rebalance is real.”

Various aspects of China’s record, meanwhile, aren’t as bad as they may seem. Yes, Chinese fighter jets have recently made several unsafe intercepts of U.S. surveillance planes in international airspace, but Adm. Harris assesses that these were caused by “poor airmanship, not some signal from Chinese leadership to do something unsafe in the air.”

He also touts the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea signed by the U.S. and Chinese navies two years ago, even though Beijing has refused to apply similar protocols to its coast guard and law-enforcement fleets that do most of its bullying at sea. “We recognize that there’s a gap there,” but “we shouldn’t discount the positives because there are still negatives. We should embrace the positives, continue to work on them, and then work on the negatives.”

Some might see this as a risky standard of low expectations, yet Adm. Harris emphasizes that China’s military arrived on the global stage recently, so a little acceptance can go a long way. Hence the U.S. decision to include China’s military for the second time in the multinational Rimpac naval exercise that concluded this week off Hawaii, and to welcome its role in everything from counterpiracy patrols off the Horn of Africa to the removal of chemical weapons from Syria and the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

“These are positive things” that “demonstrate how far China has come and where we are welcoming their arrival,” Adm. Harris says. “We don’t want China to be isolated. Isolation is a bad place to be. . . . It’s dangerous.”

U.S. leaders clearly hope this message may chasten China. Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently adapted Adm. Harris’s coinage, warning Beijing that its aggressive behavior could leave it stuck behind a “Great Wall of Self-Isolation.” Whether Chinese leaders are sensitive to this risk remains to be seen, and much of the evidence isn’t promising, but U.S. outreach seeks to convey that the choice is theirs.

“It’s on China not to be isolated,” says Adm. Harris. “It’s on them to conduct themselves in ways that aren’t threatening, that aren’t bullying, that aren’t heavy-handed with smaller countries.”

Which raises a basic question: At what point is it prudent to conclude that China is committed to the path of bullying and revanchism? After all, its top diplomat boasted in 2010 that “China is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that’s just a fact,” and its posture has hardened since.

Adm. Harris isn’t losing faith. “I believe China seeks hegemony in East Asia,” he told Congress in February, but he says this observation isn’t incompatible with the ambition that China become a “responsible stakeholder” in the liberal, rules-based international order. “We want China to be a strong power that adheres to and supports the rule of law,” he says.

It would be nice if the U.S. presidential campaign discussed these issues, but that’s apparently too much to ask. Adm. Harris, who knows Hillary Clinton well from serving as her military aide from 2011 to 2013, declines to offer any message to the candidates or voters. But his remarks are peppered with points that the next president would be well-advised to consider.

“We have to maintain credible combat power,” he says, citing assets including fifth-generation fighter aircraft, intelligence capabilities and submarines, which he calls “the biggest asymmetric advantage we have over any adversary we might face.”

He also implies that defense budgets are too tight, especially as he looks past this year and next. “I’ve been accused of having an insatiable desire for stuff,” he says. “That’s only because the president has an insatiable desire for security.” On nuclear issues he defers to his Naval Academy classmate Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, but notes that the U.S. nuclear “deterrent is a must-do, a must-have, whatever the cost.”


Then there’s what Adm. Harris calls “the main battle”: diplomacy. Deepening ties with India is a “huge opportunity,” he says, and all the more so if Australia and Japan are involved too, as leaders in the four countries have discussed on and off for a decade. The “most important” diplomatic opportunity he sees is expanding cooperation among the U.S., Japan and South Korea, which recently held trilateral missile-defense exercises for the first time. This is crucial both for defending against North Korea and signaling to China that U.S. alliances are robust.

Finally there’s the U.S. economic role in Asia, which Adm. Harris says is less noticed but more important than its military presence. He avoids mentioning the pending trans-Pacific trade deal that has been pilloried by presidential candidates of both parties, but last year he said it would reduce instability and cement U.S. influence in Asia.

Mrs. Clinton used to agree. She’d have sound strategic reasons to reconsider if she wins the Oval Office.

Mr. Feith is a Journal editorial writer based in Hong Kong.

South China Sea Nations On Edge — China Vows To Explain Its Interpretation of International Law At Shangri-La Dialogue Starting Friday

June 2, 2016

By David Tweed
Bloomberg News

When a U.S. guided missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese-claimed island in the disputed South China Sea last month, it set off a volley of protests from Beijing.

“The U.S. is challenging and provoking the new maritime order by wielding its military power,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said. China’s defense ministry said it would bolster its capabilities in the area as needed.

The resumption of U.S. “freedom of navigation operations” in the South China Sea — with three since October after a three-year hiatus — reflects the global focus on a maritime route that carries $5.3 trillion of global trade a year. Tensions between China and Southeast Asian nations over the waters sit at the center of a rivalry between the U.S., overseer of the region’s security network for decades, and a rising China intent on becoming the region’s dominant power.

Students burn a replica of Chinese surveillance ships in Manila in March 2016.

Students burn a replica of Chinese surveillance ships in Manila in March 2016. Photographer: Ted Aljibe/AFP via Getty Images

“The South China Sea has become one of the main sticking points in Sino-U.S. relations, which used to be more troubled by trade and currency,” said Zhou Qi, director of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University. “As the U.S. increasingly pivots to the Asia-Pacific, boosting partnerships with old allies and building new friendships — many of which have territorial disputes with China — Beijing feels the pressure.”

Hague Ruling

After years of simmering friction, the disputes have taken on some urgency as an international arbitration court in The Hague prepares to rule on a case brought by the Philippines against China. A ruling seen as unfavorable to Beijing could undermine its claims to more than 80 percent of the waters.

The Philippines has asked the court to rule on the status of features China claims as well as the legal basis of its “historic rights” claim, based on a 1940s map showing a vague dashed line looping down about 1,800 kilometers (1,119 miles) south of Hainan island and covering around 1.4 million square miles. The area overlaps claims from Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan.

China — which has declined to participate in the case — and the U.S. have embarked on a diplomatic and public relations frenzy before the ruling, expected within months. The U.S. is not a claimant but has championed free navigation in the area.

To read more about the diplomatic tussle over the South China Sea, click here.

The Group of Seven nations expressed concern about instability in the South China Sea at a meeting in Japan last month.

For its part, China claims the support of countries as varied as Russia, Gambia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. In recent weeks, more than a dozen Chinese ambassadors — from the U.K. to Sierra Leone — have published articles backing the country’s stance, and this week a paid supplement arguing the case was published in the Jakarta Post. The same day the Manila Times published an article by Fu Ying, chair of the foreign affairs committee of China’s National People’s Congress, that accused the Philippines of “hyping” up the dispute.


“China is going to lose and that will be humiliating for them, so they are putting forward an alternative argument which isn’t really well defined,” said Bill Hayton, author of “The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia.” Hayton reckons China will lose at least half of the 15 submissions the Philippines made to the court. “There is a massive effort to try and show that China has international support for its position.”

QuickTake map shows overlapping territorial claims of Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam. {NSN O2OSHZ1ANZG8}QuickTake map shows overlapping territorial claims of Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam. {NSN O2OSHZ1ANZG8}

The U.S. inserted itself into what had been previously a mostly regional dispute when, in 2013, China started to dredge and dump millions of tonnes of sand and coral onto seven features in the Spratly chain, which lies in the southeast of the South China Sea. China has created artificial islands covering 3,200 acres of land — more than three times the size of Central Park in New York.

China’s foreign ministry says the country has the right to build on the features because they are its ”indisputable” sovereign territory and, in any case, it’s mainly to provide civilian services like maritime search and rescue.

That isn’t how the U.S. views it. “We assess that China has established the necessary infrastructure to project military capabilities in the South China Sea beyond that which is required for point defense of its outposts,” James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said in March.

U.S. officials have said they are concerned China is taking actions that are too minor to prompt a response, but which over time equate to substantial change. They contend that China’s eventual aim is to establish forward military bases and push back the U.S. navy.

China argues it has not hindered commercial navigation. But when it seized the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012, it restricted banana imports from the country, citing health reasons. In 2010, China effectively banned the export of raw earths to Japan amid tensions over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

China is increasingly relying on its coast guard and armed fishing boats to assert its claims. The coast guard though lies outside its navy, which has an agreed code with the U.S. for unplanned encounters at sea, and with whom it has occasionally taken part in multilateral exercises.

“In turning away from tactical aggression, Beijing has refocused on passive assertive actions to consolidate a new status quo in maritime Asia,” wrote Ashley Townshend and Rory Medcalf in an April report by the Sydney-based Lowy Institute for International Policy.

They said that because it is now virtually impossible to compel China to roll back its outposts, the priority for the U.S. and its partners should be to “deter further militarization.”

China Says It Will Start Pacific Ocean Submarine “Deterrence Patrols” — Says U.S. Actions Prompted The Move

May 26, 2016

Chinese Type 094 Jin Class Nuclear-Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN)

  • China says it will ‘deploy nuclear warhead-armed submarines into the Pacific this year’
  • The move is a huge change in China’s defence policy, based on deterrence

China is planning to dispatch nuclear submarines into the Pacific for the first time amid heightened tensions with the US, it has been reported.

Officials claim new US weapons stationed in South Korea have forced its hand – among them is an anti-ballistic system and hypersonic glide missiles.

The prediction comes from a recent Pentagon report for Congress which states China will ‘probably conduct its first nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016’.

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Chinese submarines armed with nuclear warheads will begin patrols into the Pacific Ocean this year, Pentagon officials believe (file image)

Chinese submarines armed with nuclear warheads will begin patrols into the Pacific Ocean this year, Pentagon officials believe (file image)

China's focus has shifted to developing and weaponising man-made islands in the South China Sea so it will have greater control over the maritime region without resorting to armed conflict (file image)

China’s focus has shifted to developing and weaponising man-made islands in the South China Sea so it will have greater control over the maritime region without resorting to armed conflict (file image)

China's island-building program and the Defense Department said three of the land features in the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea, now have runways (pictured) and large ports in various stages of construction

China’s island-building program and the Defense Department said three of the land features in the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea, now have runways (pictured) and large ports in various stages of construction

It marks a hugely aggressive change in China’s defence policy and is likely to ratchet up tensions over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

According to The Guardian, Beijing officials are refusing to comment on when the first patrol will take place but say it is inevitable.

In recent months the US has stepped up its deterrence measures around the South China Sea due to an international territorial dispute.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.

Washington has accused Beijing of militarising the sea after creating artificial islands, while Beijing, in turn, has criticised increased US naval patrols and exercises in Asia.

Meanwhile, today China’s Defence Ministry said its had aircraft followed rules after two Chinese fighter jets carried out what the US said was an ‘unsafe’ intercept of a US military reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea.

The incident took place in international airspace last week as the plane carried out ‘a routine US patrol’, the Pentagon said.

A US defence official said two Chinese J-11 fighter jets flew within 50 feet of the U.S. EP-3 aircraft. The official said the incident took place east of Hainan island.

China has deployed anti-aircraft missiles to Woody Island, in the South China Sea as it continues on with its strategic aggression

China has deployed anti-aircraft missiles to Woody Island, in the South China Sea as it continues on with its strategic aggression

Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a monthly news briefing China’s aircraft acted completely professionally and in line with an agreement reached between the countries on rules governing such encounters.

Yang Yujun, spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense.

However, he said the agreement, called the Rules of Behaviour for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters, could only provide a ‘technical standard’, and the best way of resolving the problem was for the US to stop such flights.

‘That’s the real source of danger for Sino-US military safety at sea and in the air,’ he said.

The encounter came shortly after China scrambled fighter jets as a US Navy ship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea.

Another Chinese intercept took place in 2014 when a Chinese fighter pilot flew acrobatic manoeuvre around a U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft.

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