Posts Tagged ‘Japan Maritime Self Defense Force’

Philippines Finds Previously Unknown Increased Chinese Presence at Scarborough Shoal — At Least Nine Chinese Vessels Inside the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone

January 31, 2018

 

The air patrol mission of the Navy’s King Air surveillance C90 aircraft was its first since its delivery and commissioning late last year.  File

MANILA, Philippines — On its maiden patrol mission in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, a Philippine Navy aircraft donated by Japan has monitored increased presence of Chinese vessels in the area now under China’s control despite being within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The air patrol mission of the Navy’s King Air surveillance C90 aircraft was its first since its delivery and commissioning late last year.

It was the second such mission to be launched within a two-week period at Panatag Shoal by the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Northern Luzon Command (AFP-Nolcom) amid growing concerns over Chinese military buildup in the West Philippine Sea.

Wielding de facto control over Panatag, the Chinese might build an island on the shoal just like it did on other land features in the disputed waters so that it could strengthen its hold on a seized territory, security experts say.

Flying 800 feet above the rich fishing ground, the Navy surveillance plane reported the presence of nine Chinese vessels – four coast guard vessels, four unmarked Chinese ships and a Chinese fishing vessel.

Last week, a Philippine Air Force (PAF) C295 plane also circled over Panatag and spotted four Chinese coast guard ships and a fishing vessel in the area. Filipino fishing boasts were also present.

The Chinese ships in Panatag did not challenge the Filipino patrols.

Located 120 nautical miles from mainland Zambales, Panatag Shoal used to be a target range for live fire exercise of the US and Philippine militaries in 1970s to 1980s.

The dismantling of the US bases in the country in the early ‘90s, observers say, may have given China opportunity to assert its South China Sea nine-dash line maritime claim, initially by establishing its presence in Panganiban (Mischief) Reef off Palawan in 1995.

Meanwhile, a Japanese destroyer is set to arrive in Manila tomorrow for a three-day goodwill visit. The destroyer JS AMAGIRI (DD-154), which has a DH-60J patrol helicopter, will dock at Pier 13 in South Harbor.

Image may contain: sky, mountain, ocean, outdoor, water and nature

JS Amagiri

The visit is part of the continuing initiatives of the Philippine Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) to further improve relations.

In November 2017, an anti-submarine destroyer of the JMSDF also made a goodwill port call in Manila.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/02/01/1783462/increased-chinese-presence-monitored-scarborough-shoal

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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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Asia Arms Race Heats Up Over South China Sea

April 3, 2017

Voice of America

April 02, 2017
Vietnam Coast Guard Boat

Vietnam Coast Guard vessel keeps an eye on a Chinese ship during the oil rig standoff in 2014

As China expands its influence in the disputed South China Sea, an arms race has developed among other nations with claims in the area.

China claims most of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea as its territory. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the waterway. The sea is rich in fisheries and is thought to hold valuable resources such as oil and natural gas.

Since 2010, China has stepped up its military activities in the South China Sea. It has patrolled with coast guard ships and sent its aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, to carry out military drills.

Construction is shown on Fiery Cross Reef, in the Spratly Islands, the disputed South China Sea in this March 9, 2017, satellite image released by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

Construction is shown on Fiery Cross Reef, in the Spratly Islands, the disputed South China Sea in this March 9, 2017, satellite image released by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

China has also deployed oil rigs and created artificial islands in the disputed sea. Satellite images appear to show the country has also constructed major military facilities on some of the islands. Beijing has defended its activities in the South China Sea. Security experts believe Chinese navy and coast guard expansion will continue.

According to a report by global defense publication IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, China’s defense budget is estimated to nearly double in 2020 from 2010 levels. The report said that by 2020, China’s military budget is expected to reach $233 billion.

J-15 fighters from China's Liaoning aircraft carrier conduct a drill in an area of South China Sea, January 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mo Xiaoliang

J-15 fighters from China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier conduct a drill in an area of South China Sea, January 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mo Xiaoliang

This expansion has caused other countries in the region to build up arms to be able to counter possible Chinese threats. Zack Cooper is with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, a research group based in Washington, D.C.

“Just to keep pace with that Chinese military modernization effort would require tremendous efforts by some of the South China Sea claimant states.”

Overall, defense spending among other states surrounding the South China Sea is estimated to reach $250 billion by 2020, according to Jane’s.

Upgrading arms capability to counter China

In Malaysia, officials announced last November that the Royal Malaysian Navy plans to replace 50 aging vessels to protect its waters from regional threats. There have already been incidents involving Chinese ships entering Malaysian territorial waters.

A Malaysian navy vessel patrols waters near Langkawi Island, on May 16, 2015.

A Malaysian navy vessel patrols waters near Langkawi Island, on May 16, 2015.

Malaysian officials have said the new littoral mission ships can also be used for anti-terrorism operations. Littoral mission ships are smaller vessels designed for conflicts happening closer to shores.

Cooper said it is interesting to note that the first of Malaysia’s new ships will actually be coming from China – the very nation the country could use the vessels against in possible conflicts.

“I think this is highly problematic when you have a country that is worried about activities by another state, and they then go ahead and buy arms from that state. You have some worries about whether major platforms are going to work. That should still be a serious concern I think for Malaysian policymakers.”

One South China Sea claimant with a large incentive to upgrade its military capabilities is Vietnam, according to Cooper.

“The Chinese efforts to reclaim land, at the seven features in the Spratlys, directly threaten a large number of Vietnamese-held features. Plus, the ongoing dispute over resource exploitation near the Paracels is a huge concern for Vietnam.”

Crewmen aboard Vietnam coastguard ship 8003 look at a Chinese navy frigate on a screen, in disputed waters close to the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the South China Sea, July 15, 2014.

Crewmen aboard Vietnam coastguard ship 8003 look at a Chinese navy frigate on a screen, in disputed waters close to the Haiyang Shiyou 981, known in Vietnam as HD-981, oil rig in the South China Sea, July 15, 2014.

Vietnam, along with other regional nations, is looking to cut defense costs and spend less on the military equipment it needs. This reportedly led Hanoi to consider buying surface-to-air missiles from India, which is looking to become a future world player in military exports.

However, most military experts believe it will take years for India to become a large-scale global provider of high-end military equipment. Nations expected to provide new weapons to South China Sea claimants include Japan, South Korea and Australia.

Japan was the country of choice for the Philippines in a deal to lease two TC-90 training aircraft to support its maritime defense forces. The agreement is notable because it is the first transfer of equipment from Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to another country.

A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces' TC-90 training aircraft is seen in this undated handout photo released by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces, and obtained by Reuters on August 5, 2015.

A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces’ TC-90 training aircraft is seen in this undated handout photo released by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces, and obtained by Reuters on August 5, 2015. Japan has leased some of these aircraft to the Philippines

The two planes, which reportedly recently arrived in the Philippines, are to be used in surveillance and patrol activities in the South China Sea.

Nuclear threat from North Korea

Another driver of the arms race across Asia is the North Korean nuclear dispute. North Korea has angered its neighbors and much of the world by carrying out a number of recent missile tests.

American forces have already begun deploying the THAAD anti-missile system to South Korea.

But Cooper says if North Korea continues its current path of fast missile and nuclear development, Japan and South Korea may eventually find the need to respond militarily.

“In Japan, you might see some more forceful responses. There’s been a growing debate about strike capability in Japan – basically developing capabilities that would give Japan the ability to respond to a North Korean missile attack. And this is a big change in Japanese defense posture, so it’s something that folks should watch closely.”

In this file photo, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin transits in formation with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships JS Kirisame and JS Asayuki during bilateral training in the South China Sea, April 21, 2015.

In this file photo, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin transits in formation with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships JS Kirisame and JS Asayuki during bilateral training in the South China Sea, April 21, 2015.

If approved, the government change would be historic in allowing Japan to strike overseas targets for the first time since World War II. Japan’s ruling party has also urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to take steps to obtain its own missiles to counter North Korean threats.

This would also be a big change for Japan, which in the past has heavily relied on its close ally the United States to protect it. But President Donald Trump has been critical of too much overseas military funding and even threatened to pull U.S. troops out of Japan if Tokyo does not agree to pay more of the costs.

http://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/arms-race-heats-up-in-asia-amid-china-military-build-up-in-south-china-sea/3790851.html

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from VOA News, the Associated Press, Reuters and other sources. Hai Do was the editor.

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U.S. challenged excessive maritime claims of 13 countries last year including the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan

April 26, 2016
Japanese helicopter carrier JS Ise docks at the Subic port in Zambales yesterday for a four-day goodwill visit. BEBOT SISON JR.

WASHINGTON – US forces last year challenged the excessive maritime claims of 13 countries throughout the world including the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan, the Pentagon said.

In a report released on Monday, it said a US Freedom of Navigation (FON) program was implemented actively every year against excessive maritime claims by claimants in every region of the world in support of the Defense Department’s global interest in mobility and access.

The FON program encompasses all of the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea and airspace available to all nations under international law.

The report provided a summary of excessive maritime claims challenged by US forces in fiscal year 2015 from Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 20, 2015.

Eight of the 13 countries challenged were Argentina, Indonesia, India, Iran, Libya, the Maldives, Nicaragua and Oman.

The other five have competing claims to parts of the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

China’s excessive maritime claims were listed as excessive straight baselines, jurisdiction over airspace above the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), restriction on foreign aircraft flying through an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) without the intent to enter national airspace, domestic law criminalizing survey activity by foreign entities in the EEZ; and requiring prior permission for innocent passage of foreign military ships through territorial sea.

The Philippines was cited for claiming archipelagic waters as internal waters and Vietnam for excessive straight baselines and requiring prior notification for foreign warships to enter its territorial sea.

Taiwan was faulted for requiring prior notification for military or government vessels to enter its territorial sea and Malaysia for requiring nuclear-powered ships to enter its territorial sea and requiring consent for military exercises or maneuvers in the EEZ.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Australia underlined the importance of maintaining peace, security and stability and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

At the 28th ASEAN-Australia Forum held in Canberra last April 21 and 22, ASEAN and Australia agreed that disputes should be resolved peacefully, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, and without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

The Philippines, led by Assistant Secretary Helen de la Vega of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)-Office of ASEAN Affairs, participated in this year’s forum that was co-chaired by Australian Gary Quinlan and Country Coordinator Aung Lynn of Myanmar.

During the dialogue, ASEAN and Australia reviewed the status of political security, economic and socio-cultural cooperation in support of ASEAN’s Vision 2025. Both sides committed to deepen existing cooperation as they prepare for the 1st biennial ASEAN-Australia Summit in September 2016 in Laos.

The DFA said there was an extensive discussion on regional and international developments.

De la Vega said “the Australians want to deepen engagement with ASEAN and regional partners would maintain a rules-based regional order.”

Both sides concurred that the regional architecture must continue to evolve as an ASEAN-centric and rules-based order and agreed to explore further joint action under ASEAN-led mechanisms.

ASEAN and Australia are both keen to advance ASEAN-Australia connectivity.

Both sides welcomed the creation of the ASEAN-Australia Council, which is taking a lead in promoting women’s economic empowerment and educational exchanges.

Japanese ship visit

Another Japanese warship made a port call in the Subic Bay Freeport yesterday, underscoring the increasing visits of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) vessels amid the strengthening of defense cooperation between the Philippines and Japan.

The Japanese helicopter carrier JS Ise docked at the Alava Pier for a four-day goodwill visit and maritime training and cooperation between Japanese and Philippine Navy personnel.

The ship carries four helicopters and has 360 officers and men, headed by Capt. Masaki Takada.

JS Ise’s visit to Subic is the third time that JMSDF ships made a port call in the country this year.

Two warships, Uraga and Takashina of the JMSDF Minesweeper Division 51 under the command of Capt. Toshiro Takaiwa, visited Manila on March 2.

The ship visits took place after the two countries signed an agreement for Japan’s transfer of defense equipment and technology to the Philippines.

Submarine ship Oyashio (SS-551), along with two destroyer ships, also visited Subic on April 3.

The ship visits, according to Japanese and Philippine Navy officials, aim to enhance “the already strong relationship” of the Philippine Navy and the JMSDF and promote regional peace and stability.

It also aims to enhance maritime cooperation, according to Philippine Navy Capt. Lued Lincuna, director of the Naval Public Affairs Office.  – With Pia Lee-Brago, Bebot Sison

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/04/27/1577249/us-challenges-13-states-sea-claims

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Japan arrested the Taiwan flagged Tung Sheng Chi No. 16. (Photo courtesy of the Liuchiu Fishermen’s Association).

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China uses a coast guard vessel to intimidate a much smaller resupply vessel from the Philippines. The Philippines tries to resupply a Philippine Marine platoon posted at Ayungin Shoal onboard BRP Sierra Madre on March 29, 2014. The larger ship in this image is a Chinese ship trying to interfere with the smaller Filipino re-supply boat.

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A Chinese Coast Guard vessel (R) passes near the Chinese oil rig, Haiyang Shi You 981 (L) in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) from the coast of Vietnam June 13, 2014. REUTERS/Nguyen Minh
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This Vietnamese fishing boat Captain Pham Quang Thanh says China set his boat on fire….
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Vietnamese fishing boat Dna 90152 sinking May 2014 after being rammed intentionally by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel
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Chinese coast guard ramming a Vietnamese vessel
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Chinese maritime law enforcement already are treating much of the South China Sea as if they owned it….
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China’s “One Road, One Belt” plan plus the “New Maritime Silk Road” and “China Dream” offer prosperity to all involved.
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U.S. joins military exercises in Philippines to counter China’s buildup

April 4, 2016

Kirk Spitzer, USA TODAY

TOKYO — U.S. and allied forces gather in thePhilippines this week for joint military exercises as a show of force to counter China’s controversial territorial claims in the South China Sea.

More than 5,000 U.S., Philippines and Australian troops will take part in the annual Balikatan(shoulder-to-shoulder) training exercises, which began Monday and run through April 16. Training includes amphibious warfare drills and disaster relief operations.

The exercises take place across the Philippines, including the island of Palawan near the disputed Spratly Islands, where China has built a string of artificial islands. China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have competing territorial claims in the waters.

Although Japan will not take part directly in the exercises, two Japanese warships and a submarine began a four-day goodwill visit to the Philippines on Sunday. It is the first time that a Japanese submarine has visited the Philippines in more than 15 years and comes a week after new laws in Japan eased long-standing restrictions on the country’s armed forces.

A United Nations-sponsored tribunal in The Hague is expected to rule on a Philippines challenge to China’s sovereignty claims within the next few weeks. China says the tribunal does not have authority and has boycotted the case.

F-50 Fighter/trainers

In addition to asserting sovereignty over virtually all of the islands and waters of the South China Sea, China has claimed a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that has been administered by Japan since the late 1800s. That has roiled relations with Tokyo, as well.

The South China Sea includes some of the world’s most important sea lanes: About $5 trillion in trade passes through the region annually.

The Obama administration worries that China could use the new islands to restrict air and sea navigation because some now include military-grade airstrips, ports and other modern infrastructure.

The U.S. military, to underscore its right to free navigation in the waters, has twice sent U.S. warships to conduct exercises near China’s new islands since last fall, drawing sharp criticism from China.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter plans to visit the Philippines next week to view part of the exercises. It will be the first time that a U.S. Defense secretary has directly observed the exercises, which have been held annually since the 1980s.

In January, an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement went into effect that will give U.S. troops regular access to five military bases in the Philippines.

A spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense, last week accused the United States of bringing a  “Cold War mentality” to the region. “The U.S. has come back and reinforced its military presence in the Philippines and promoted the militarization in the South China Sea,” Yang Yujun said.

The U.S. has little choice but to respond forcefully, said Sean King, an East Asia specialist with the Park Strategies consulting firm in New York. “Sadly, Beijing only understands force and resolve. It’s good that our allies know we have their backs,” King said.

Japan has agreed to sell the Philippines short-range reconnaissance aircraft and patrol boats, and Defense Minister Gen Nakatani is expected to visit later this month to discuss further support.

The Japanese warships will leave Manila on Wednesday and make a port call in Vietnam, sailing through the South China Sea to get there.

Tetsuo Kotani, senior fellow at the Japan Institute for International Affairs, in Tokyo, said he expects Japan to increase its military presence in the region.

“The Balikatan exercise, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force port calls, the U.S. Navy’s freedom of navigation operations are all are necessary, but still insufficient to shape China’s behavior,” he said. “There will be no short-term and long-term resolution for maritime disputes, as China is challenging the existing rules-based regional system.”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/04/04/us-military-exercises-in-philippines-counter-china/82607514/

Philippine officials say China blocked access to disputed South China Sea atoll

March 2, 2016

Reuters

China sent several ships to a disputed atoll in the South China Sea, preventing Filipino fishermen from accessing traditional fishing grounds and raising tensions in the volatile region, Philippine officials said on Wednesday.

China had sent as many as seven ships to Quirino Atoll, also known as Jackson Atoll, in recent weeks, said Eugenio Bito-onon Jr, the mayor of nearby Pagasa Island in the Spratly Islands.

The Spratlys are the most contested archipelago in the South China Sea, a resource-rich region and critical shipping lane linking North Asia to Europe, South Asia and the Middle East.

“This is very alarming, Quirino is on our path when we travel from Palawan to Pagasa. It is halfway and we normally stop there to rest,” Bito-onon Jr told Reuters.

“I feel something different. The Chinese are trying to choke us by putting an imaginary checkpoint there. It is a clear violation of our right to travel, impeding freedom of navigation,” he said.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China’s Ministry of Transport had sent vessels to tow a grounded foreign ship and they had since left the surrounding waters.

“To guarantee safety of navigation and of work conditions, China urged fishing vessels near the site to leave,” Hong said, adding that China had indisputable sovereignty over the atoll.

The Philippines Foreign Ministry said Chinese coast guard vessels had been seen at the atoll two weeks ago but were not in the area on Wednesday.

“The Department is monitoring reports on the situation on the ground and reiterates its call for China to exercise self-restraint from the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes in the South China Sea and affect peace and stability in the region,” the ministry said in a statement.

TENSIONS ON THE RISE

Earlier, the Philippine military said it was looking into the situation around Jackson Atoll, where a Chinese warship allegedly fired warning shots at Filipino fishermen in 2011.

“We know there are Chinese ships moving around the Spratly area,” spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla told Reuters. “There are also ships around Second Thomas Shoal, so we want to make sure if the presence is permanent.”

Second Thomas Shoal is where the Philippine navy has been occupying and reinforcing a rusting ship that it ran aground in 1999 to bolster its claims to the disputed reef.

A military source from Palawan said a surveillance plane had seen four to five ships in the vicinity of Jackson Atoll last week.

“There are no indications China will build structures or develop it into an island,” said the source, who was not authorized to speak to the media about the South China Sea.

The Philippines Star newspaper, which earlier reported the story, quoted an unidentified fisherman as saying Chinese boats chased them away when they tried to enter the area last week.

Along with China and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on the waters, through which about $5 trillion in trade is shipped every year.

Tensions in the region have been building recently, with the United States and others protesting against Beijing’s land reclamations, along with the recent deployment of surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets in the Paracel Islands.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned China on Tuesday against what he called “aggressive” actions in the region, saying there would be “specific consequences” to militarization of the South China Sea.

In response, Hong urged Washington on Wednesday to “stop exaggerating and sensationalizing” the issue.

For its part, Beijing has been angered by “freedom of navigation” air and sea patrols the United States has conducted near the islands it claims in the South China Sea and says it needs military facilities for its self defense.

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina and Adam Rose in Beijing; Writing by Lincoln Feast and John Chalmers; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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Chinese Ships Near The Philippines Cause A Stir Of Anger in Most Recent Chapter of Island Dispute, Chinese Militarization

March 2, 2016
Protesters flash thumbs-down signs as they shout slogans during a rally near the Chinese Consulate in the financial district of Makati city, Philippines, to denounce the alleged deployment of surface-to-air-missiles by China on the disputed islands off South China Sea, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. The protesters are calling on China to halt its island-building on some of the disputed islands and its alleged increasing militarization. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines – Chinese vessels have left Quirino (Jackson) Atoll near Palawan after completing their mission to remove a grounded Filipino fishing vessel in the area, Beijing’s foreign ministry said yesterday as it reiterated China’s indisputable sovereignty over the atoll.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China’s Ministry of Transport had sent the vessels that Filipino fishermen said were preventing them from dropping their nets in the atoll.

“To guarantee safety of navigation and of work conditions, China urged fishing vessels near the site to leave,” Hong said.

Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon Jr. of Pagasa Island in the Spratlys confirmed accounts from fishermen that China had deployed several ships to Quirino Atoll. The STAR earlier reported that up to five gray and white Chinese vessels were stationed in the atoll at any one time.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday it was verifying reports of China’s taking over Quirino Atoll, a traditional Filipino fishing ground.

“We are in the process of verifying this report with concerned agencies,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said.

Quirino Atoll is 33 nautical miles from Panganiban (Mischief) Reef in the Spratlys, where China has carried out extensive land reclamation work for possible military use.

“This is very alarming, Quirino is on our path when we travel from Palawan to Pagasa. It is halfway and we normally stop there to rest,” Bito-onon said.

“I feel something different. The Chinese are trying to choke us by putting an imaginary checkpoint there. It is a clear violation of our right to travel, impeding freedom of navigation,” he said.

Fishermen told the mayor one Filipino boat had run aground in the area and was still there but was not being harassed by the Chinese vessels.

Checking reports

The military also said it was trying to verify the presence of Chinese ships near Quirino Atoll, where a Chinese warship allegedly fired warning shots at Filipino fishermen in 2011.

“We know there are Chinese ships moving around the Spratly area,” spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla told Reuters. “There are also ships around Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, so we want to make sure if the presence is permanent.”

Ayungin Shoal is where the Philippine Navy has been occupying and reinforcing a rusting ship that it ran aground in 1999 to bolster its claims to the disputed reef.

A military source from Palawan said a surveillance plane had seen four to five ships in the vicinity of Quirino Atoll last week. The source could not say if the ships were passing through or permanently stationed there because the area is close to Panganiban Reef, where China is building an artificial island.

“There are no indications China will build structures or develop it into an island,” the source, who was not authorized to speak to the media about the South China Sea, said, referring to Quirino Atoll.

Along with China and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on the waters, through which about $5 trillion in trade is shipped every year.

In Tagbilaran, Bohol, President Aquino slammed China anew for claiming almost the entire South China Sea and West Philippine Sea.

Without directly referring to the Quirino Atoll issue, Aquino said it was distressing to hear the Chinese always insisting on their “indisputable” right over disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea.

While the DFA was still verifying the issue, the President said China had been sending signals that “all of these are ours, do not get in.”

“We have been talking to them for a long time now, the problem is they always say these are all ours,” the President said in a meeting with local leaders at the Bohol Cultural Center.

Still, rule of law

On Tuesday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. reiterated the Philippine position on the primacy of the rule of law in resolving maritime disputes. He said rule of law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, would be the basis for any decision by an arbitral court on Manila’s case against Beijing.

Also in Bohol, Liberal Party presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II said the Philippines should remain sober and just continue tapping peaceful and legal means to address the issue.

“It is important that we remain sober because if we use violence, we do not know how it will end. It is important that we bring this before the United Nations,” Roxas said in an interview.

“This is in line with the dispute settlement resolution treaty signed by China, the Philippines and other countries which states that when there is disagreement among countries, this should be brought before the international tribunal,” he added.

Senate President Franklin Drilon also reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to peaceful settlement of the maritime spat with China.

“The government will never engage in any provocative step that would escalate the tension between the Philippines and China, and pose danger to the country’s peace, stability and security,” Drilon said.

“The rule of law should always prevail and our actions will always be in accordance with international law,” he added.

For opposition vice presidential candidate Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, now is the time to test the country’s bilateral ties and security arrangement with the United States and with other countries, especially those belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.

“Will they help us in fighting against China who keeps on bullying us?” he added. He said the Quirino Atoll incident has underpinned China’s determination to further assert its claims in the West Philippine Sea.

“As of now, we feel that we are helpless and we can’t do anything but to watch them claiming the whole South China Sea as fast as they can,” said the senator.

“I want to know if the treaties that we arranged in the US and other countries continue to serve our national and mutual interests. Do they help? If they don’t, then let’s just forget about them,” he said.

Honasan is the running mate of Vice President Jejomar Binay who earlier raised his openness to talking with Beijing for joint exploration in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea.

“If our bilateral agreements with other countries do not serve our own interests, then let’s continue to talk to China in a multilateral arrangement,” he said. “Let’s make a joint exploration with them.”

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares yesterday denounced China for occupying another piece of disputed territory that is a traditional fishing ground of Filipinos.

“It seems China’s strategy now is to take as much territory as it can in the West Philippine Sea before the ruling of The Hague Arbitral Court comes out, so other claimants would be hard put to evict the rising superpower from their claimed areas,” he said.

Goodwill visit

Meanwhile, two minesweepers of the Japanese navy docked in Manila yesterday.

Navy Capt. Lued Lincuna, director of the Naval Public Affairs Office, said vessels of the Minesweepers Division 51 of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSFD) anchored at South Harbor’s Pier 15 for a three-day goodwill visit.

The vessels – Urga and Takashima – were under the overall command of Capt. Toshiro Takaiwa.

“Part of the visit was the shipboard tour on board the two Japanese ships participated by Filipino sailors,” Lincuna said.

He said the visit is expected to further enhance the strong relations between the Philippine Navy and the JMSDF.

Japan and the Philippines early this week signed an agreement paving the way for Tokyo’s transfer of defense equipment and technology to Manila.

Both have been strengthening defense relations in response to security concerns stirred by China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

“It is another manifestation of a sustained promotion of regional peace and stability and enhancement of maritime cooperation between the neighboring navies,” Lincuna said. – Aurea Calica, Marvin Sy, Alexis Romero, Janvic Mateo, Jess Diaz

Source http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/03/03/1559013/china-ships-have-left-disputed-spratlys-atoll

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China building 40000 ton super large amphibious assault ship similar to USA Wasp Class helicopter carriers

August 2, 2015

To compete against the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Izumo-class helicopter destroyers, China is planning to build a new class of amphibious assault ship with a displacement of 40,000 tons, according to Kanwa Defense Review, a Canada-based Chinese-language military magazine.

China displayed the model of its 40,000-ton super large amphibious assault ship, known as M1, during the Sixth International Offshore Engineering Technology and Equipment Exhibition held in Beijing in April. Unlike the 28,000-ton Izumo-class, designed with five helicopter landing spots on its flight deck, the M1 has six. While the Izumo can carry a total number of 14 aircraft, how many the M1 can carry remains a mystery.

Japanese 28000 ton Izumo

The USA has the Wasp class is a class of Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) amphibious assault ships operated by the United States Navy. Based on the Tarawa class, with modifications to operate more advanced aircraft and landing craft, the Wasp class is capable of transporting almost the full strength of a United States Marine Corps Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), and landing them in hostile territory via landing craft or helicopters. All Wasp-class ships were built by Ingalls Shipbuilding, at Pascagoula, Mississippi, with the lead ship, USS Wasp, commissioned on 29 July 1989. Eight Wasp-class ships were built, and as of 2013, all eight are active.

Each Wasp class ship has a displacement of 40,500 long tons (41,150 t) at full load, is 831 feet (253.2 m) long, has a beam of 104 feet (31.8 m), and a draft of 27 feet (8.1 m). For propulsion, most of the ships are fitted with two steam boilers connected to geared turbines, which deliver 70,000 shaft horsepower (33,849 kW) to the two propeller shafts

http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/08/china-building-40000-ton-super-large.html

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USS Wasp (LHD-1) with Ospreys on deck

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F-35 Lightning II lands aboard USS Wasp (LHD 1)

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The Mistral-class helicopter carrier Vladivostok is seen at the STX Les Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard site in Saint-Nazaire, France, Sept. 4, 2014. Reuters/Stephane Mahe
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Vietnam’s leader preparing to visit Japan amid territorial disputes with China

July 29, 2015

Kyodo

The governments of Japan and Vietnam are making arrangements for Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party, to make his first visit to Japan, sources familiar with the matter from both countries said.

Sources connected with Vietnam’s Communist Party indicated on Tuesday that the visit could take place as early as September. Trong outranks President Truong Tan Sang and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in the country’s leadership hierarchy.

Trong visited the United States earlier this month, becoming the party’s first chief to do so since the end of the Vietnam War. He met with US President Barack Obama, and they shared concern about Chinese activities to press sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, viewed by both countries as not in compliance with international law.

The visit to Japan appears aimed at checking China, with which Vietnam has a tense territorial dispute in the resource-rich South China Sea.

The last leader of the Communist Party of Vietnam to visit Japan was Nong Duc Manh in April 2009. When Prime Minister Dung visited Japan earlier this month, he expressed Trong’s desire to visit Japan.

Japan is Vietnam’s largest donor country, and its fourth largest trade partner after China, the US and South Korea. Relations between Japan and Vietnam are extremely close in the political and economic spheres.

When Sang visited Japan last year, he agreed to elevate bilateral ties to an “Extensive Strategic Partnership.”

Nguyen Phu Trong of Vietnam in the Oval Office with President Obama

Against the backdrop of China’s increasingly assertive maritime claims, Vietnam is also boosting cooperation in maritime security. The Japanese and Vietnamese governments last year agreed on Japan providing Vietnam with six vessels that can be used as patrol ships in a move to assist Hanoi’s efforts to strengthen its law enforcement capability in the South China Sea.

Recently, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships and an MSDF P-3C surveillance aircraft have visited Vietnam.

Prior to visiting Washington, Trong visited China in April, during which he showed concern for his country’s close ties its larger neighbor amid the tense standoff in the South China Sea.

Related:

This photograph taken on May 2, 2014 and released on May 7, 2014 by the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry shows a China Coast Guard ship (L) using a water cannon on a Vietnamese ship in disputed waters in the South China Sea. (AFP)

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A Chinese coast guard ship (back) sails next to a Vietnamese coast guard vessel (front) near China's oil drilling rig in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, May 14, 2014.
A Chinese coast guard ship (back) sails next to a Vietnamese coast guard vessel (front) near China’s oil drilling rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea, May 14, 2014.

The Philippines tries to resupply a Philippine Marine platoon posted at Ayungin Shoal onboard BRP Sierra Madre on March 29, 2014. The larger ship in this image is a Chinese ship trying to interfere with the smaller Filipino re-supply boat.

Malaysia looks over a Chinese Coast Guard intruder earlier this year

Experts say this photo shows how China has turned a nearly worthless spit of sand, Fiery Cross reef, into a huge chinese military complex with an airport and seaport

Many of China’s South China Sea neighborhood complain about illegal Chinese fishing

Chinese fishermen stand on top of giant clam shells on board a Chinese fishing vessel at the disputed Scarborough Shoal in this April 10 photo released by the Philippine Navy. AP

One of Vietnam’s Kilo-Class Submarines
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Chinese warships have routinely been spotted near China’s island building projects this year.

China says it owns all the South China Sea north of the “nine dash line” shown above

China claims ownership of about 90% of the South China Sea. Most of China’s neighbors believe otherwise.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law. Experts say, this could be the geographic area that China could declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

 

Japan Preparing To Challenge Legitimacy of China’s South China Sea Expansion, Construction

July 20, 2015

Photo: China’s fishing fleet prepares to sail. Credit AFP/Getty Images

By Paul Kallender-Umezu
Defense News

TOKYO — In what may turn out to be the first step in a dangerous game of chicken, Japan’s upcoming annual defense white paper will accuse China of belligerency in its dealings with neighbors as it becomes clear that China is laying the foundations of a military base on Fiery Cross Reef, one of seven artificial islands China has created in the disputed Spratly Islands.

In the outline of the white paper, to be released in late July, on top of the usual statements citing North Korea’s nuclear and missile development as issues of concern, the paper will directly call China’s reclamation work on the Spratlys, “high handed.” 

In the last 18 months, China has added about 800 hectares to seven reefs in the area, including an airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef, along with the makings of a military radar base. All of this is seen as a significant escalation in a dispute over the islands, part of a huge swath of territory in the South China Sea (SCS) over which China claims undisputed sovereignty.

China is concluding a huge construction effort at Fiery Cross reef which now as a world-class airport and sea port — on what was just a spit of sand last year.

While the Fiery Cross Reef development has been condemned by the US, Japan’s accusation raises the ante and more directly challenges perceived Chinese expansionism, supporting the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam in their dispute over China’s claims on the islands.

Japan’s assertiveness is relatively new and bold, and comes just as the Japanese Diet this month is passing legislation that will enable the country to engage in collective self-defense (CSD) for the first time in its postwar history. The statement also builds on an assertion made in last year’s defense white paper that accused China of attempting to change the status quo in the region through force.

Japan’s latest assertion led to predictably robust responses from Beijing, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying accusing Japan of trying to “smear China to create tensions in the region.”

“The Chinese construction on the reefs has nothing to do with Japan’s security situation. Japan is neither a claimer state or a nearby country in the South China Sea area. It’s deliberate show of unnecessary worrying shows that Japan wants to be involved in the SCS affair,” said Zhuang Jianzhong, vice director of the Center for National Strategy Studies at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

“China’s reconstruction on the reefs has its historic and current need for various purposes and Japan has no right to criticize others while Japan deploys warships and increases patrolling radius over SCS areas to show its ambitious aim. History will show that China will be non-aggressive and no threat to other Asian countries while it will remain firm in defending its sovereignty and legitimate right,” he said.

“Basically, this does affect Japan,” said Robert Dujarrac, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University Japan.

“Japan relies on the US for its defense; PRC has challenged the territorial status quo in East China Sea, now pushing the boundaries in SCS. It is a US-China issue but Japan is part of the US equation, so it cannot always stand aside. Moreover, Japan’s comments and potential activities in the SCS have been very low key until now,” he said

Behind the tit-for-tat, Japan’s direct approach probably signifies a deeper shift in Japanese perceptions, attitudes and responses to its position in Asia, analysts said.

“My sense is there has been a tangible surge in Japanese interest and activity in the South China Sea in recent months,” said Jeff Smith, director of Asian Security Programs at the American Foreign Policy Council.

This new assertiveness is being backed up by clearer signaling that the Japan Self-Defense Force (SDF) is ready to fight. The SDF has become much more active in the region. For example, the SDF will participate in joint drills with the US and Australia on Australian soil for the first time later this year, and Japan will participate in US-India Malabar exercises this year.

A Japanese Soryu-class submarine

In addition, Japan and the Philippines are reportedly negotiating a deal granting the SDF access to Philippine military bases, and Tokyo appears to be considering a proposal to join the United States in surveillance patrols in the SCS.

On the defense front, Tokyo is negotiating to sell submarines to Australia and Shinmaywa amphibious planes to India.

“These [moves] all strike me as very bold and very significant changes to a Japanese foreign policy that appears to be going all-in on a hedging strategy toward China,” Smith said.

Since many other countries, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines, have far more to worry about than Japan, the new assertiveness may signal that Japan is more interested in showing itself as a reliable ally in the region, Smith said.

“I think at this point, Tokyo is less interested in improving ties with Beijing than fostering deeper strategic collaboration with the United States and with other countries in the South China Sea to hedge against China. For better or worse, [Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe seems to have concluded that diplomacy is unlikely to resolve the most potent disagreements [like the Senkaku/Diaoyu dispute], and that this rising tide of Chinese assertiveness is a long-term, secular trend, rather than a temporary trend that can be mitigated by diplomacy,” Smith said.

A Japanese maritime patrol P-3C Orion keeps an eye on the Senkakus

Japan seems increasingly willing to signal its support to other regional actors and their positions on the South China Sea.

“This is important not just because Japan has a direct interest in preventing China from gaining a monopoly over the South China Sea, but perhaps Tokyo assumes this will also make others more likely to support its own position on the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands if and when tensions flare there or just more broadly for the legitimacy reasons in the international court of public opinion.”

Jun Okumura, visiting scholar at the Meiji Institute for Global Affairs, said Japan’s actions were part of a “new normal” attitude being adopted by Japan in the face of the reality of its security dilemmas. China as a rising power is looking to flex its muscles, and Japan as an announced preserver of the status quo, is, likewise, behaving normally in calling China on this, he said

“There is a school of thought that you have to speak up in the war of words with China in order to be taken seriously. You know what would be really escalatory? Regular patrols in the South China Sea. More visits by Japanese naval vessels and more joint exercises will no doubt be annoying to the Chinese authorities, but that will not lead to anything serious,” Okumura said.

“If Japan has chosen to insert new language of China being ‘belligerent’ in the defense white paper then it is quite a step up in language from the previous, more guarded cause for ‘concern’ type of expressions in the past about Chinese military movements,” said Christopher Hughes, professor of international politics and Japanese studies at the UK’s University of Warwick.

“Overall, this would seem to be another registration of Japanese interest in the South China Sea, demonstrated most recently by the JSDF’s participation in exercises with the Philippines military. Japan’s security interests clearly extend to the South China Sea and this may be a region that Japan could become drawn into under a collective self-defense type scenario to support the US efforts to preserve the freedom of navigation and thus Japan’s own security,” Hughes said.

Wendell Minnick contributed to this report from Taipei.

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/2015/07/19/japan-china-fiery-cross-reef-artificial-island/30235685/

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 (The U.S. will not agree with this assessment)

 (Contains links to several related articles)

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“We have natural resources that we need to guard,” said Indonesia’s Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu

Many of China’s South China Sea neighborhood complain about illegal Chinese fishing

China says it owns all the South China Sea north of the “nine dash line” shown above

China claims ownership of about 90% of the South China Sea. Most of China’s neighbors believe otherwise.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law. Experts say, this could be the geographic area that China could declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

South China Sea: Tiny Military Exercise by the Philippines and Japan Could Grow into a Substantial Defense

June 23, 2015

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Philippines Japan South China Sea-1.jpg

FILE – In this Oct. 13, 2011 file photo, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C Orion surveillance plane flies over the disputed islands, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea. A tiny military exercise in the Philippines on June 22-24, 2015 may presage something much bigger: the entry of Japan into the tussle for control of the South China Sea. A Japanese surveillance plane and 20 troops are training with a small Philippine plane and patrol ship off the coast of Palawan, a strategically important island not far from the contested islands claimed by several countries including China, the Philippines. (Kyodo News via AP, File) JAPAN OUT, CREDIT MANDATORY (The Associated Press)

The Associated Press

A tiny military exercise in the Philippines this week may presage something much bigger: the entry of Japan into the tussle for control of the South China Sea.

A Japanese surveillance plane and about 20 troops conducted the first of two days of joint training with the Philippine navy on Tuesday off the coast of Palawan, a strategically important island not far from contested islands claimed by several countries including China and the Philippines.

While the P-3C plane was being used for maritime search-and-rescue drills and disaster relief drills, the aircraft is also a mainstay of Japan’s anti-submarine and other aerial surveillance efforts. In theory, it could help the U.S. keep an eye on the Chinese navy in the South China Sea. Some experts think that’s a possibility in coming years.

“It’s likely we will see Japan doing joint surveillance and reconnaissance in the South China Sea in the coming years,” said Narushige Michishita, a defense expert at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. “It is going to be with the U.S., Australia, the Philippines and others.”

Others are less certain. Such a move would raise tensions with China, with which Japan already has a major territorial dispute over islands farther north in the East China Sea. It would face public opposition at home from those who want Japan’s military to avoid getting entangled in overseas disputes. The military is already stretched, keeping an eye for example on North Korea and China in the East China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang expressed concern about the exercise.

“We hope that the sides in question do not play up and create tensions on purpose, and that any interactions between those countries would actually contribute to regional peace and stability, rather than the opposite,” Lu told reporters at a regular briefing.

Philippine naval personnel flew on board the Japanese P-3C to observe operations and learn techniques and procedures, Col. Jonas Lumawag of the Philippine navy told reporters. The P-3C communicated with a smaller Philippine plane on a hypothetical search mission for a missing ship or plane.

Both Japanese and Philippine commanders stressed that the drill was to practice search-and-rescue, and said they weren’t aware of any plans for joint patrols.

The exercise follows the first-ever joint drill between the two navies six weeks ago, and is part of a confluence of developments that suggest Japan may at least test the waters in the South China Sea. Consider this:

— Japan’s parliament is debating legislation this summer that would loosen post-World War II restrictions on its military to allow it operate outside of the immediate area. Under questioning by opposition lawmakers, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said that could include patrols in the South China Sea in certain situations — though he added Japan has no current plans for that.

— The new head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, told the Japanese media on a recent visit to Tokyo that the P-3 aircraft, which the U.S. also uses, is well suited to patrol the South China Sea. He added that he welcomes Japan’s willingness to play a larger role in regional security. The U.S. is looking for help from Japan, Australia and other allies as it confronts Chinese challenges to its naval dominance in the Pacific.

— The drill coincides with rising American criticism of China for reclaiming land and building structures on disputed islands and outcroppings in the South China Sea. Japanese officials are also openly critical of China’s attempts to establish its territorial claims through construction.

“Certainly the current Japanese government seems to be seriously signaling that this is a possibility,” said Corey Wallace, a security analyst joining the Freie Universitat in Berlin in July. “My sense is that the Japanese government is putting into place the necessary legal and military mechanisms as preparation ahead of making a final decision about whether to get more directly involved later down the track.”

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Moritsugu reported from Tokyo. Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Louise Watt in Beijing contributed to this story.

Related:

Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force’s destroyers Harusame and Amagiri sail side by side with Philippine warship BRP Ramon Alcaraz during their joint naval drill in the South China Sea on May 12, 2015. — PHOTO: REUTERS

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/morning-minutes-what-will-make-headlines-today-june-23-2#sthash.SPYCTziW.dpuf

China says it owns all the South China Sea north of the “nine dash line” shown above

China claims ownership of about 90% of the South China Sea. Most of China’s neighbors believe otherwise.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law. Experts say, this could be the geographic area that China could declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ).