Posts Tagged ‘Fiery Cross Reef’

China’s aggression does not diminish sovereign rights of the Philippines

May 26, 2018
 / 05:14 AM May 25, 2018

China keeps on occupying more territories that it claims as its own despite protests from other claimant countries. It continues building manmade islands and turns them into missile bases, even as it causes massive destruction on the environment.

Jamming devices in Fiery Cross Reef on Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea have also been detected; military planes were spotted on Mischief Reef. This is part of China’s strategy to project its supremacy and advance its economic agenda and military designs.

Image result for Fiery Cross Reef, photos, china, base

China wants to take control of the Spratlys and obviously is interested in the Philippine Rise because of their vast economic resources and strategic location. It desires to secure all methane hydrate for its own and make the West Philippine Sea an asylum for its nuclear-armed submarine. China’s government has already declared that the military installations it has built on the islands will be limited to required resistance necessities

The Kagitingan Reef now occupied by China is also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. China’s display of power signals its aggressive designs which the international community has condemned from the day the sea dispute erupted.

Nevertheless, such aggression does not diminish our sovereign rights which the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague categorically acknowledged in July 2016.

The question is, are we allowing China to exploit our natural resources? Are we permitting it to militarize our territories? Our country should be extra concerned with this because such act poses a serious threat to our country as well as to other claimant nations. This particular issue should awaken the spirit of patriotism in every Filipino and unite the nation in asserting our sovereign right to our exclusive economic zone.

The hard part is that we cannot call for war or for a more hard line reaction. China is a global superpower with nuclear warheads and a missile arsenal that could hit the Philippines from the mainland. But if China wants to be respected as a global power, it should abide by the UN-backed arbitral court ruling that invalidated its expansive maritime claims.

We hope China would not threaten peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea nor disrupt other countries in the exercise of their sovereign rights.

ANN R. AQUINO

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/113429/chinas-aggression-not-diminish-phs-sovereign-rights#ixzz5Gd1ccCB3
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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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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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Can The Philippines Ever Have Its Own Foreign Policy Again?

April 20, 2018

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 / 05:36 AM April 20, 2018

To hear Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano talk about Philippine-Chinese relations is to hear the whiny sound of surrender and subservience. In Cayetano’s view, the landmark arbitral tribunal ruling in 2016 that gave the Philippines a sweeping legal victory over China over disputed parts of the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea is not a sign of strength but, rather, a source of weakness.

After all, what does the following statement, from the former senator with a reputation for articulate rhetoric, really mean, but that smoother relations with China are a higher priority than defending Philippine sovereign rights? “As of now, if we compare the Aquino administration strategy and the Duterte strategy, we simply are making do with a bad situation but we have stopped the bleeding.” Only someone who sees the strain in bilateral relations because of the filing and the winning of the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration as more important than the actual legal victory itself would think that the Philippines was in “a bad situation” post-July 12, 2016.

The exact opposite is true: Our side in the dispute with China was never stronger than on the day the arbitral tribunal issued an award that was an almost complete vindication of Philippine claims. Only someone who thinks that pleasing China meets a greater public interest than enforcing the legal victory so painstakingly won at The Hague would say that, today, “we have stopped the bleeding.” There is a term for this, and it is appeasement.

The foreign secretary makes the situation worse, undermines even further the Philippine position regarding its own rights to the West Philippine Sea and its jurisdiction over parts of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, by adopting the Chinese perspective hook, line, and sinker. “Yes, we want to fight for what is ours but we don’t want a war. And no one in our region wants a war because no one will win.” This is the Chinese view, that the only alternative to settling the disputes is through a war. This is simply not true; it is also, essentially, un-Filipino. Which makes us ask: Whose interests does the Honorable Alan Peter Cayetano, secretary of foreign affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, really represent?

There is an alternative to war, and that is the process which the Philippines helped set up: a regime of international law governing maritime and territorial disputes. That is the process  which the Philippines won, despite China’s bullying and its demonization of the international law system. That is the process which allows smaller countries an almost equal footing with the great powers. And that is the process which, unaccountably, this administration’s lawyers shortchange, subvert, sell out.

Consider these words of wisdom from Cayetano: “China has not asked us, and I can tell you this very honestly whether closed door or in open, they have never asked us to give up our claims. They have simply asked us to put some order in how we will discuss these claims and where we should discuss these claims.” He speaks, not as a public servant of the Filipino people, but the servant of the Chinese government.

Assume for the sake of argument that what Cayetano said is in fact the case; why should we follow China’s proposed order in discussing our rights? Indeed, why should our foreign secretary mindlessly repeat the Chinese line that our claims are still in dispute—when the arbitral tribunal has already and convincingly ruled in our favor? (Let Beijing say these are mere claims; Manila should assert them as vindicated rights.) Even more to the point: Why privilege what China wants (“China has not asked us …”)? The real question is: What does the Philippines ask, when it meets with China?

If it’s only money, through expensive loans or dubious investments, then we really should all worry that Beijing has landed military cargo aircraft on Mischief or Panganiban Reef. We are trading our sovereign rights, inch by inch, for the proverbial filthy lucre.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/112597/whose-foreign-secretary#ixzz5DCvSYJXS
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South China Sea: China Deploys Military Aircraft to Philippine-Claimed Mischief Reef — “This fits a steady pattern of escalation.”

April 20, 2018
Experts: No break of precedent in Chinese deployment of planes in Mischief Reef

Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – April 20, 2018 – 5:23pm

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing’s deployment of transport military planes on Mischief Reef on the Spratly Islands show a steady pattern of escalation, according to maritime analysts.

Despite the Philippines mulling to file a protest over China’s reported landing of military claims on the Manila-claimed reef, this development would not have a great impact on the overall situation in the South China Sea, according to RAND Senior Policy Analyst Lyle Morris.

 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
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Landing a transport military plane on Mischief Reef would not cross a new threshold of militarization in the Spratly Islands but fighter jets would, Morris said on Twitter.

China had already deployed a military transport aircraft on Fiery Cross Reef, another Manila-claimed feature in the Spratlys, in April 2016. Beijing had also deployed a number of planes on Woody Island in the Paracels.

“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

Mischief Reef, however, would be more significant for the Philippines as it is a low tide elevation within the country’s exclusive economic zone and on its continental shelf.

The Philippines has exclusive rights of use to Mischief Reef, where China had also reportedly installed military jamming equipment.

“Therefore I would expect the Philippines government to protest this move as being unnecessarily destabilizing and a breach of Philippines sovereignty,” Morris said.

The latest developments in the Spratly Islands, however, extends the geographical envelope of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, according to Euhan Graham, director of the Lowy Institute International Security Program.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see the first PLAAF combat jet deployment occur to the Spratlys later this year. China can always find an excuse to dress up as a “provocation” if it needs one,” Graham told Philstar.com

 Image may contain: sky
Chinese bomber over Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines

The landing of Chinese transport aircraft might simply be delivering equipment and personnel to support ground-based military from the artificial island, the Lowy Institute director said.

Graham warned that China may consider another American freedom of operation and navigation operation or even the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the US as a “provocation.”

“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 said.

Greogory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), said that China’s deployment of military planes on its outposts did not come as a surprise.

“This fits a steady pattern of escalation,” Poling told Philstar.com, adding that this individual deployment should not necessarily be a cause for alarm.

Echoing the analysis of Morris, Poling said that the real alarm should be when the first fighter jets land in the Spratlys “and all evidence is that they will sooner or later.”

The latest developments should be a cause for skepticism of China’s intentions.

“Combined with the recent deployment of jammers to the islands, and its ongoing construction of military facilities, this does not paint the picture of a party willing to forego military force and pursue negotiations in good faith,” Poling said.

Earlier this week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano claimed that the Philippine government is on top of the situation, assuring the public that the agency is taking all diplomatic actions needed to protect the country’s claims.

“In fact, we know much more than what is published in the newspapers or released by US think tanks because we see the bigger picture,” Cayetano said in a press briefing.

RELATED: Cayetano: Government has more info on South China Sea than in media reports

FIERY CROSS REEF, MISCHIEF REEF, SOUTH CHINA SEA, SPRATLY ISLANDS, WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/04/20/1807790/experts-no-break-precedent-chinese-deployment-planes-mischief-reef#tduuY1Q2X8TRFmP5.99

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China has seven military bases near te Philippines
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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.

China claims ‘natural right’ to put troops, equipment on South China Sea islands — Ignoring international law

April 11, 2018

 

Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said that China has the “natural right” to station troops and deploy defense facilities in its outposts on the Spratly Islands.

Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China.

Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – April 11, 2018 – 5:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — Following reports that Beijing has deployed military equipment in the Spratly Islands, a Chinese Defense official stressed China’s sovereignty over the region, part of which Manila claims as part of the West Philippine Sea.

People’s Liberation Army Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Defense, said that the Spratly Islands or what the Chinese call “Nansha,” are part of China’s territory.

“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,” Ren said in a statement released Tuesday.

RELATED: China deployed jamming equipment in Spratlys — Pentagon

Ren stressed that China’s military installations on its artificial islands are not directed against any country.

“It is conducive to safeguarding the state’s sovereignty and security, ensuring the freedom and security of navigation channels in the South China Sea, and maintaining regional peace and stability,” he said.

Beijing will continue to pursue a national defense policy that would be defensive in nature and a military strategy of active defense, the Chinese Defense official added.

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Beijing has installed new jamming equipment in the past 90 days on Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef.

Such equipment would be capable of jamming communications and radar systems, further asserting Beijing’s extensive territorial claims over the disputed waters

US Defense Department: Jamming equipment is for military use

“While China has maintained that the construction of the islands is to ensure safety at sea, navigation assistance, search and rescue, fisheries protection and other nonmilitary functions, electronic-jamming equipment is only for military use,” a US Defense Department official told Wall Street Journal.

Amid Beijing’s claim that it has sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, a United-Nations backed tribunal had already invalidated its nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

The landmark ruling indicated that China violated its commitment under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to protect and preserve the marine environment on South China Sea features including Fiery Cross Reef. China has conducted dredging, artificial island-building and construction activities on the Manila-claimed reef.

The arbitral tribunal had concluded that Fiery Cross Reef is a rock, which appears during high tide but cannot sustain habitation or economic life but is allowed a 12-nautical mile territorial sea.

Mischief Reef, on the other hand, was considered a low-tide elevation within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines. It is located within 200 nautical miles of the country’s coast on the island of Palawan.

The UN-backed tribunal also ruled that Beijing violated Manila’s sovereign rights by interfering with petroleum exploration and prohibiting fishing by Philippine vessels within the area of Mischief Reef, which is part of the country’s EEZ.

As Beijing refused to acknowledge the tribunal award, President Rodrigo Duterte chose to seek dialogue with China, setting aside the ruling which invalidated China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.

RELATED: How the Hague court ruled on the Philippines’s 15 arguments

FIERY CROSS REEFMISCHIEF REEFSOUTH CHINA SEASPRATLY ISLANDS

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/04/11/1804968/china-claims-natural-right-put-troops-equipment-spratlys#GbQbzmrvOfmK2B5d.99

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China has seven military bases near te Philippines
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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.

 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

 

China defends military buildup in disputed South China Sea

April 10, 2018

BY JESSE JOHNSON

STAFF WRITER

Japan Times
APR 10, 2018

Beijing defended its construction of what it called defensive facilities in the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday, saying the moves were not directed at any specific country, according to a Defense Ministry spokesman.

“China’s garrison on the islands and reefs in the Nansha Islands and the deployment of necessary national defense facilities are the natural rights of sovereign states,” spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement posted to the ministry’s website.

China refers to the South China Sea’s Spratly chain as the Nansha Islands. The Spratlys are home to seven Chinese-held man-made islands that it has fortified with deep-water piers, military-grade airfields, defensive weapons and barracks.

Ren said the facilities help protect navigation safety, “serve to ensure regional peace and stability and are not directed at any country.”

He was answering a question about whether China’s military deployments were a response to missions by the U.S. Navy to challenge Beijing’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei all have overlapping claims in the strategic waterway.

Tuesday’s remarks came on the heels of a report in the Wall Street Journal on Monday citing a Pentagon official who said that China “has deployed military jamming equipment to its Spratly Island outposts.”

That report said that the new jamming equipment was deployed within the past 90 days on Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef, according to U.S. intelligence assessments.

China is currently in the midst of a military modernization program heavily promoted by President Xi Jinping, who has overseen a shift in focus toward creating a more potent fighting force, including projects such as building a second aircraft carrier, integrating stealth fighters into its air force and fielding an array of advanced missiles that can strike air and sea targets from long distances.

The Chinese military has also seen its forces drill to punch further into the Western Pacific with what it calls “regular” exercises.

Late last month, the Chinese Air Force conducted a series of exercises in the South China Sea and Western Pacific, where it sent advanced fighter jets and heavy bombers through Okinawa’s Miyako Strait, labeling the exercises “rehearsals for future wars.”

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/04/10/asia-pacific/china-defends-military-buildup-disputed-south-china-sea/#.Wszz6YjwaUk

South China Sea: China Installed Military Jamming Equipment on Spratly Islands, U.S. Says

April 9, 2018

Disclosure comes as Chinese military conducts what U.S. officials describe as its largest military exercise to date in South China Sea

Jamming equipment located on Mischief Reef in the South China Sea in a satellite photo taken by DigitalGlobe, a commercial space imagery firm. The photo was commissioned by the U.S. military, which added the color inset showing the type of equipment installed on the outpost in the Spratly Islands.
Jamming equipment located on Mischief Reef in the South China Sea in a satellite photo taken by DigitalGlobe, a commercial space imagery firm. The photo was commissioned by the U.S. military, which added the color inset showing the type of equipment installed on the outpost in the Spratly Islands. PHOTO: DIGITALGLOBE

China has installed equipment on two of its fortified outposts in the Spratly Islands capable of jamming communications and radar systems, a significant step in its creeping militarization of the South China Sea, U.S. officials say.

The move strengthens China’s ability to assert its extensive territorial claims and hinder U.S. military operations in a contested region that includes some of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

The disclosure comes as the Chinese military is conducting what U.S. officials describe as its largest military exercise to date in the South China Sea, maneuvers that include China’s first aircraft carrier as well as air force and ground units.

A U.S. Defense Department official, describing the finding, said: “China has deployed military jamming equipment to its Spratly Island outposts.”

The U.S. assessment is supported by a photo taken last month by the commercial satellite company DigitalGlobe and provided to The Wall Street Journal. It shows a suspected jammer system with its antenna extended on Mischief Reef, one of seven Spratly outcrops where China has built fortified artificial islands since 2014, moving sand onto rocks and reefs and paving them over with concrete.

China’s Defense Ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

 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

Notes: Different countries refer to the disputed Paracel and Spratly Islands by different names. China defines its claim as all waters within a ‘nine-dash’ line, based on a map issued by the Kuomintang government in 1947, but has never published coordinates for its precise location.

Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies (claim boundaries)

Beijing claims “indisputable” sovereignty over all South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters and demarcates its claims with a U-shaped line stretching from the Chinese coast almost as far south as Malaysia.

China says its island-building is for defensive purposes only, but the activity has stirred fears that it could use the outposts to enforce territorial claims that overlap with those of Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, as well as the Philippines, which is a U.S. treaty ally. In the last year or so, China has tried to smooth relations with other claimants while continuing work on the islands.

Three of its outposts in the Spratlys—Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef—now feature 10,000-foot runways, hangars for fighter planes, ammunition bunkers, barracks and deep-water piers for ships.

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Chinese bases in the South China Sea near the Philippines

While Chinese military personnel are at the Spratly outposts and Chinese ships dock there, China has yet to station ground units or fighter planes on the artificial islands, U.S. officials say. Nor have surface-to-air missiles or antiship cruise missiles been deployed in the Spratlys, though spots to install such weapons have been prepared, U.S. officials said

But China’s ability to quickly shift military assets to the outposts is a serious concern for the Pentagon since it could enable China to control vital trade routes, exclude other claimants from disputed areas and interfere with the U.S. military’s plans to defend Taiwan.

“China has built a massive infrastructure specifically—and solely—to support advanced military capabilities that can deploy to the bases on short notice,” Adm. Harry Harris, the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month.

According to U.S. intelligence, the new jamming equipment was deployed within the past 90 days on Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef.

“While China has maintained that the construction of the islands is to ensure safety at sea, navigation assistance, search and rescue, fisheries protection and other nonmilitary functions, electronic-jamming equipment is only for military use,” the U.S. Defense Department official said.

The U.S. regards most of the South China Sea as international waters and has sent ships through the Spratly archipelago to assert its right to freedom of navigation in the area.

China has been steadily escalating its military activities in the area. Beijing has deployed HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles and J-11B jet fighters in the disputed Paracel Islands since 2016. Those islands are about 500 miles north of the Spratlys in the South China Sea.

Beijing also has established a new Southern Theater Command to oversee Chinese forces responsible for the South China Sea.

A satellite image shows more than 40 Chinese naval ships, including the country's first aircraft carrier, sailing in formation in the South China Sea, just south of Hainan, on April 1.
A satellite image shows more than 40 Chinese naval ships, including the country’s first aircraft carrier, sailing in formation in the South China Sea, just south of Hainan, on April 1. PHOTO: PLANET LABS INC.

Recent satellite images from Planet Labs Inc. showed about 40 Chinese naval vessels, including submarines and the aircraft carrier Liaoning, sailing in formation in the South China Sea near Hainan in an unusually large show of force.

The drills took place from March 24 to April 5 off the coast of southern Guangdong province, then moved off the east coast of Hainan, where they will continue until April 11, according to notices from China’s maritime safety administration.

“The goal is to inspect and increase the troops’ training level, and enhance their capacity to win a victory,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said this month. “It’s not aimed at any particular country or target.”

Enhancing the Chinese military’s capacity for U.S.-style joint combat operations—involving all the armed services—is one of the main goals of a four-year military-restructuring plan begun by Xi Jinping, China’s president and military chief, in 2016.

Analysts said the exercises appear to be designed to practice joint operations involving China’s South Sea Fleet, based in Guangdong, and the Liaoning carrier group, based in China’s northeast, as well as air, missile and other forces.

Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke acknowledged last month that Su-35s and H-6s recently conducted joint combat patrols over the South China Sea, without specifying the exact timing or location. China revealed in February that it had sent Su-35s, bought from Russia and delivered in late 2016, to the South China Sea for the first time.

U.S. officials said drills involving Chinese marines on the mainland were part of the broader exercise as well.

Timothy R. Heath, a senior analyst at the Rand Corporation, said that while the main purpose of the exercise was to improve the readiness of China’s forces, it was also sending a political message.

“To Chinese domestic audiences, Beijing is signaling strength and readiness to defend the country’s interests, which may bolster nationalist support for the government,” Mr. Heath said. “To the region and the United States, Beijing is signaling that it has been acting with restraint, but that it is willing to meet confrontational policies with its own confrontational policies.”

Maj. Gen. Jin Yinan of China’s National Defense University said the South China Sea drills weren’t connected to the recent U.S. deployment of three aircraft carriers to the region. The USS Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Singapore last Monday. The USS Carl Vinson visited Vietnam last month and did joint exercises with Japan in the South China Sea. The USS Ronald Reagan is currently based in Japan.

“Even if all three carriers came to the South China Sea, what about it?” Gen. Jin told state-run China National Radio. U.S. carrier operations in the area gave China a chance to study their operations and their radar and other electronic signals, he said.

“What else can you do apart from a show of strength? Can you attack me? Do you dare to open fire?” he said.

Write to Michael R. Gordon at michael.gordon@wsj.com and Jeremy Page at jeremy.page@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-installed-military-jamming-equipment-on-spratly-islands-u-s-says-1523266320

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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.

South China Sea turning into signals hub for Chinese military

February 21, 2018

Throughout the ages, wars have been waged over territory. From nation states and warring factions, to gangs and real estate developers everyone knows location is key.  The more land you control, the more territory you lord over – the more power you wield.

Generally the acreage and borders  in question are based on the land as nature intended it to be. But what if your strategic interests required creating land out of thin air, or in this case, deep blue ocean?  Enter the People’s Republic of China and their man-made islands in the Spratly island chain, in the hotly disputed South China Sea.

The United States and its allies have been watching the construction of these man made islands for some time. China began the projects under the auspices of navigational necessity but analysis of their chosen locations quickly revealed there was another strategic motivation at work. In fact, they were building new military bases.

In early 2017 the DC based think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)released a report– having analyzed recent satellite photos –and concluded that runways, aircraft hangers, radar sites and hardened surface-to-air missile shelters had either been finished or were nearing completion.

The report also stated that the satellite images appeared to be the most conclusive indication yet that China is using its island-building project to bolster its claim over almost the entire South China Sea and its islands and reefs–bases that will give China the ability to deploy combat aircraft and other military assets with efficiency across the disputed region.

The U.S. and its allies raised ref flags and held press conferences to express disapproval but effectively the Chinese continued their projects unabated.

Fast forward to February 2018, when new satellite imagery shows China’s new military lily pads in the South China Sea may have an even more nefarious purpose in the form of full on intelligence communications nodes. On Saturday CSIS released another report, this time comparing its own satellite images and aerial photos released by the Philippine Daily Inquirer earlier this month.

CSIS says the photos add more detail than previously available but do not show new capabilities so much as reinforcing their earlier point that “these artificial islands now host substantial, largely complete, air and naval bases, and new construction continues apace despite diplomatic overtures between China and its fellow claimants.”

The report finds the northeastern corner of Fiery Cross Reef is now equipped with a communications or sensor array bigger than those found on other artificial islands in the Spratlys. Fiery Cross is one of the seven reefs Beijing turned into islands in the Spratlys. It is the smallest and the southermost of the “Big Three”, which also includes Subi, or Zhubi in Chinese, and Mischief, or Meiji.

Construction on Fiery Cross Reef:

Image courtesy of CSIS/Philippine Inquirer

Specific construction on Fiery Cross according the CSIS:

  1. The northern end of the base’s 3,000-meter runway, which was completed in late 2015.
  2. Hangars to accommodate four combat aircraft. Hangar space for another 20 combat aircraft and four larger hangars, capable of housing bombers, refueling tankers, and large transport aircraft, have been built farther south along the runway. All the hangars were completed in early 2017.
  3. A tall tower housing a sensor/communications facility topped by a radome, completed in late 2016.
  4. A field of upright poles erected in 2017. The original notations on the aerial photos identify this only as a communication facility, but it is most likely a high frequency radar array like the one built on Cuarteron Reef two years earlier.
  5. One of the four point defense facilities built around the base in 2016. Similar point defenses exist on all of China’s artificial islands, sporting a combination of large guns (identified in one of the aerial photos of Johnson Reef as having 100-mm barrels) and probable close-in weapons systems (CIWS) emplacements.
  6. A large communications/sensor array completed during 2017. None of the other bases in the Spratlys so far has a comparable array, though smaller ones have been built on Subi and Mischief, suggesting that Fiery Cross might be serving as a signals intelligence/communications hub for Chinese forces in the area.
  7. Three towers housing sensor/communications facilities topped by radomes, completed in 2017.

Additional Construction of Concern

Subi Reef, just 12 nautical miles from Philippine-occupied Thitu Island: China has built a large lighthouse, a 3,000-metre airstrip, a high-frequency radar array and underground storage tunnels that could be used for ammunition.

 

Mischief Reef: Three towers housing sensor or communications facilities topped by a dome to protect radar equipment were completed in 2017.

Gaven Reef: a solar panel array was built in 2015, along with other facilities such as wind turbines, a tall tower housing a communications facility and an administrative center.

Fiery Cross was the site of the most construction in 2017 with work on buildings covering an estimated 100,000 square metres (27 acres).

What Say you China?

Beijing has been accused of militarizing the South China Sea, which is also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam but has repeatedly rejected those accusations. Their actions continue to say otherwise.

In order to wield power over this region–to create a sphere of influence–China needs to dissuade all others concerned from any further resistance. Strategic locations like Fiery Cross have been talked about as potential command and control centers for Chinese activity in the Spratlys since the early 1980’s – it appears once again that while the world was involved in other things, the Chinese made their plans into reality.