Posts Tagged ‘militarisation’

China is not the bully in the South China Sea, the US is

June 6, 2018

China says America militarises the South China Sea by sending in carrier strike groups into a maritime area where it has no territory, makes no claims, the safety of its citizens and property has not been violated, and without invitation. Yet it labels self-defence against such unprovoked military intrusions as militarisation.

South China Morning Post

Tuesday, 05 June, 2018, 7:31pm

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis wonders why it is only China that has expressed unhappiness with US freedom of navigation exercises. It is because China is the only country strong enough not to be coerced and intimidated into silence by America’s “might makes right” policy. It is also because other South China Sea countries may not want to help the US escalate tensions in the region.

Watch: China dismisses Mattis’ remarks

If its freedom of navigation operations are truly routine and do not unfairly single out China, as the US maintains, then these must first be directed against the vast rings of concrete and steel that Japan has built around the Okinotori atoll in the Pacific.

Under the terms of Japan’s unconditional surrender in 1945, it only has sovereignty over its four main islands. Okinotori is not among them. That the US does not conduct sail-by operations there certainly calls into question its broader goals against China and stability in the region. Not to mention that the US is not a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) under which it claims to operate the sail-by operations.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis speaks to reporters on board a US military plane en route to Hawaii on May 29. Mattis said the US will continue to confront China over its territorial claims in the South China Sea. Photo: AFP

If France and Britain also intend to engage in such operations (“France and Britain to sail into contested waters in South China Sea”, June 4), they should also sail within 12 nautical miles (territorial waters as defined by UNCLOS) of Okinotori atoll. Otherwise, their action would only vindicate Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s previous lambasting of the West’s hypocrisy and bullying, and make China more determined to defend its sovereignty.

http://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/article/2149285/china-not-bully-south-china-sea-us

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China Has Harsh Words for U.S. After China Kicked Out of U.S. Military Exercise

May 24, 2018

The Pentagon’s withdrawal of the invitation was ‘an initial response’ to what it called China’s continued militarisation of the South China Sea

South China Morning Post
Thursday, 24 May, 2018, 6:15am

China’s top diplomat denounced a rebuke by the US military while in Washington, the latest test of a bilateral relationship already damaged by recriminations on the economic front.

The US military said it had disinvited China from a multinational military exercise to be held this summer in the Pacific as “an initial response” to what it called “China’s continued militarisation of the South China Sea”.

News of the withdrawn invitation, which broke shortly before China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, prompted Wang to accuse the US of having a “negative mindset”.

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During the Obama administration, China repeadedly promised not to militarize the South China Sea. Then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with China’s Wang Yi.

“China’s continued militarisation of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilise the region,” Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, a spokesman at the US Defence Department, said in a statement explaining the withdrawal of China’s invitation to the 2018 Rim of the Pacific naval drills.

“China’s behaviour is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the Rim of the Pacific exercises.”

The US’s move comes just days after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force disclosed that its highly advanced H-6K strategic bomber landed for the first time on an island reef in the South China Sea, which the US Defence Department immediately denounced.

The inclusion of China in the Pacific naval drills was “designed to help with misunderstandings and to build upon cooperation, which was supposed to help deal with the most contentious issues”, said Oriana Skylar Mastro, assistant professor of security studies at Georgetown University and the Jeane Kirkpatrick Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

“The logic behind these military exchanges has weakened,” Mastro said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

“The US position was that through engagement, China would come to understand that they were better off when the US is in charge,” she said. “I thought that was naive from the very beginning, but now I think many areas of the US government are coming to that conclusion.”

In its statement, the Pentagon said the US had “strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands (Nansha in Mandarin) region of the South China Sea”.

“China’s landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island (Yongxing in Mandarin) has also raised tensions,” the statement said.

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Speaking in a joint press conference with Pompeo, Wang said: “We find the Pentagon’s decision today of dis-invitation a very non-constructive move. It is also a decision that’s taken lightly. It’s unhelpful to the mutual understanding between China and the US.”

Pompeo said in the briefing that he had raised the US “concern” about China’s activities in the South China Sea with Wang, and that he would leave decisions about international military exercises up to the Defence Department.

Hong Kong-based military observer Song Zhongping said that China’s landing of the H-6K bomber on Woody Island was aimed at strengthening China’s military presence in the region after US B-52 bombers flew there during a so-called routine training mission in April, flights described by Beijing as a “provocative move”.

The US has called on China to remove the military systems immediately and reverse course on the militarisation of disputed South China Sea features, the Pentagon said.

China is “using techniques and tools below the threshold of armed conflict as a way to coerce the behaviour of other countries and ultimately be able to establish its claims [in the South China Sea], whether or not they are consistent with international law”, Evan Medeiros, the managing director of Asia at the Eurasia Group, said this week in a panel discussion organised by the National Committee on US-China Relations.

“That has generated a lot of reaction on the part of America and East Asia and it’s intensified the security dilemma,” said Medeiros, who served as special assistant to former president Barack Obama and as an Obama-era senior director for Asian affairs at the White House’s National Security Council (NSC).

“While I’ve often thought the US-China security relationship was best characterised as a low-intensity security dilemma, I think it’s inevitable that it’s moving into a period of high-intensity security dilemma and that’s only going to increase in the next five to 10 years,” he said.

The PLA Navy had been invited in May 2017 to take part in this year’s Rim of the Pacific exercises. The world’s largest international naval exercise, it is held biennially in the summer months of even-numbered years in the waters around the Hawaiian islands and southern California.

Twenty-six nations originally were to participate in the drill, which usually lasts a couple of weeks. China has taken part twice. In 2016, its navy dispatched five ships and 1,200 personnel to the exercises.

Earlier this month, the White House had said it was prepared to take measures against the militarisation of the South China Sea, after Beijing reportedly installed new missiles on outposts in the Spratlys, which are also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines.

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In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. The China Daily newspaper reported Saturday, May 19, 2018 that People’s Liberation Army Air Force conducted takeoff and landing training with the H-6K bomber in the South China Sea.

Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP, File

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

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

China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying would neither confirm nor deny 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 US Navy itself frequently sends warships and aircraft carriers to patrol the area.

“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. ”

Washington and Beijing are already engaged in high-level dialogues to resolve disputes over a record trade deficit China has with the US, restrictions that foreign companies in the country face in terms of market access, and forced transfers of technology to Chinese companies.

A second round of negotiations between the two countries’ top economic advisers last week helped stave off an all-out, bilateral trade war.

Meanwhile, US lawmakers are pushing legislation that would tighten scrutiny over Chinese acquisitions of US companies, citing concerns that such activity is undermining America’s national security.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2147482/us-disinvites-china-pacific-rim-military-exercise

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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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Above: China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier

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The Philippines says it “owns” Mischief Reef, but there is not one known Filipinos living there. 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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China air force lands bombers on South China Sea island — Preparation for “the West Pacific and the battle for the South China Sea”.

May 19, 2018

China’s air force has landed bombers on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of a training exercise in the disputed region, it said in a statement.

“A division of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) recently organised multiple bombers such as the H-6K to conduct take-off and landing training on islands and reefs in the South China Sea in order to improve our ability to ‘reach all territory, conduct strikes at any time and strike in all directions’,” it said in the statement issued on Friday (May 18).

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Reuters

It said the pilot of the H-6K bomber conducted assault training on a designated sea target and then carried out take-offs and landings at an airport in the area, describing the exercise as preparation for “the West Pacific and the battle for the South China Sea”.

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The notice, published on the PLAAF’s Weibo microblogging account, did not provide the precise location of the exercise.

The United States has dispatched warships to disputed areas of the South China Sea in a bid to challenge China’s extensive sovereignty claims in the territory, which is subject to various claims by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

“The United States remains committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan told Reuters.

“We have seen these same reports and China’s continued militarisation of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilise the region.”

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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U.S. Urges End To South China Sea Militarization

February 10, 2018
By: – Reporter / @FMangosingINQ
 / 01:46 PM February 10, 2018

RUNWAY ON ZAMORA REEF Stepping up its militarization of the South China Sea, Beijing has built a 3.1-kilometer runway on Zamora Reef in the Spratly archipelago. Similar runways have also been constructed on two other artificial islands.

The US Embassy in Manila is calling on China and all other claimants of the South China Sea to “refrain” from construction and reclamation activities, as well as the militarization of the disputed waterway.

“We call on China, as well as other claimants, to refrain from taking any steps towards the construction of new facilities, militarization of disputed features, and further land reclamation in the South China Sea, and to commit to resolving disputes peacefully with other claimants, particularly given the ongoing efforts by Asean and China to negotiate a code of conduct,” US Embassy Manila press attaché Molly Koscina told the Inquirer in a text message on Saturday.

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Subi Reef from another angle showing the vast Chinese defense infrastructure

Koscina was asked for comment on the photos released by the Inquirer last February 5, showing the remarkable progress of China’s construction of air and naval bases on seven of its artificial islands claimed by the Philippines in the Spratly archipelago.

READ: EXCLUSIVE: New photos show China is nearly done with its militarization of South China Sea

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has downplayed the sea dispute since he assumed the presidency in 2016, reiterated that the Philippines will continue to pursue its friendly ties with the regional superpower because it cannot go to war with China.

“We are neutral. We will continue to talk with China. This is not the time to be fighting over South China Sea because it will only lead to a war,” he said in a press conference on Friday in Davao City.

Duterte also chose to set aside the 2016 ruling by an international arbitration tribunal that favored the Philippines and invalidated China’s massive claims in the South China Sea.

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Chinese bases near the Philippines

China and the 10-member Asean states are working on the code of conduct for the vital waterway, which is mostly claimed by China but also claimed by the Philippines and other Asean countries.

The embassy said the US will continue to uphold international law, and urged the regional claimants to hold a dialogue on the hotly contested waterway.

“We remain firm in our commitment to uphold the rights and freedoms of all states under international law with regard to freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea,” Koscina said.

“We continue to urge all claimants, including China, to peacefully manageand resolve disputes in accordance with international law,” she added.            /kga

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/164034/breaking-us-embassy-stop-militarization-south-china-sea#ixzz56jM4gtcn
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China has no greater rights than any other in the sea. 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.

Philippines’ pivot to China — Mr. Duterte is indeed rolling out the red carpet for China.

January 29, 2018
 / 02:13 PM January 29, 2018

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AIR SECURITY A Chinese bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea in this undated photo released by Xinhua News Agency. —AP FILE PHOTO

China’s presence in the Philippines has never been more pronounced than it is now.

Manila recently allowed a Chinese ship to conduct maritime research at a resource-rich vast underwater plateau known as Benham Rise, east of the main island of Luzon, near US bases in Guam and Hawaii.

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China research ship Ke Xue

For months, the Philippines has been drumming up a joint venture with China to explore for oil and gas in a contested area of the South China Sea.

China is also dipping its fingers into the Philippine telecoms industry. Shenzhen-based telco ZTE is leading a consortium that plans to invest US$2 billion (S$2.6 billion) to build 50,000 microcell towers and compete with the two leading players.

Most big-ticket infrastructure projects have some level of Chinese involvement.

Tourists from China are also pouring in. The Chinese have dislodged the Koreans as the top tourists on the resort island of Boracay. Some 376,000 tourists from the mainland visited Boracay last year, compared with 375,000 from South Korea.

A historic ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague granting the Philippines rights to vast waters China is claiming, meanwhile, is fast slipping out of the national consciousness.

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All this, of course, plays to President Rodrigo Duterte’s brand of diplomacy. Since he took office in 2016, ties between Manila and Beijing have never been as warm or mutually beneficial.

China has pledged over US$24 billion in investment and loans to help finance Mr Duterte’s ambitious 3 trillion peso (S$77 billion, US$59 billion) “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure plan.

Beijing has also backed, with funding and weapons, Mr Duterte’s brutal crackdown on the narcotics trade and war against Islamist terrorists.

In turn, Mr Duterte has set aside the decision from The Hague. He has also looked the other way as China fortifies its island bases in the South China Sea.

When told China had transformed Fiery Cross reef into a 2.8 sq km airbase, Mr Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said “there is still no breach of good faith, as long as China has not embarked on new reclamations”.

Mr Duterte is indeed rolling out the red carpet for China.

That pivot, however, has not come without consequences, especially as it relates to the Philippines’ decades-long relationship with the United States.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has turned to Indonesia and Vietnam, instead of the Philippines, to lead a pushback against China’s expansion in the South China Sea.

Mr Duterte’s aides have been obfuscating his pro-China remarks to allay concerns in Washington.

Seeking to downplay the Chinese presence at Benham Rise, Foreign Secretary Alan Cayetano said the Philippines, since 2000, has approved all 13 requests from the US to conduct maritime research there, all nine Japanese requests, and all four from South Korea.

China filed 18 requests, but only two were approved, he said.

“I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves,” he told reporters. “Tell me, who are we favouring?”

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, meanwhile, said Manila would lodge a diplomatic protest over the militarisation of Fiery Cross reef .

“If it is true, and we can prove that they have been putting soldiers, and even weapons systems, that will be a violation of what they said,” he said.

Dr Amado Mallonga, an expert on geopolitics at the University of the Philippines, said the Chinese are just “behaving like they should behave”. “China is a state, and it has state-owned enterprises,” he added.

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“Obviously, the activities of its enterprise will be aligned with its foreign policy, and they see an opening because Duterte is open to them.”

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/163726/fallout-philippines-pivot-china#ixzz55ayK8om2
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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.

While focus is on North Korea, China continues South China Sea buildup: think tank

December 15, 2017

By David Brunnstrom

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters

December 14, 2017

China has built more infrastructure on artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea in the past year, including underground tunnels and radar installations, even as it has sought to repair relations with other claimants, according to an analysis of fresh satellite images.

Beijing’s construction of the seven islands in the Spratlys archipelago since 2014 has raised deep concern in the U.S. and much of Asia that China could use them to try to enforce its claims to almost all the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

China completed land reclamation in the Spratlys in early 2016, but continued such work to expand outposts in the Paracel Islands until mid-2017, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, or AMTI, which released the images.

China also continued construction work designed to transform the three larger Spratly outposts into fully functional joint air and naval bases, and to upgrade at least three more Paracel outposts that could be used to bolster its control of the South China Sea, AMTI said.

The continued Chinese construction suggests that, even as regional tensions are focused on North Korea, Beijing remains determined to enhance its ability to defend its territorial claims, and to hamper U.S. military intervention in the South China Sea.

AMTI, which is part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington, shared the images and its analysis exclusively with The Wall Street Journal. China’s foreign and defense ministries didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Fiery Cross Reef

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
PHOTO: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE

Fiery Cross saw the most construction over 2017, with work on facilities covering 27 acres and including hangars by the airstrip, radar installations and fortified shelters for missile platforms, AMTI said.

Fiery Cross is one of the seven fortified islands China has built in the Spratlys, where Beijing’s claims overlap with those of Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei and the Philippines, a U.S. treaty ally.

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
ILLUSTRATION: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE

In the last several months, China has also built what appears to be a high-frequency radar installation at the north end of Fiery Cross, according to AMTI. That consists of a field of upright poles, next to a large complex of communication or sensor equipment in white dome-shaped structures, it said.

While the range and precise purpose of such equipment can’t be established from such images, it will enhance China’s ability to monitor any activity by ships or aircraft in the surrounding area, says AMTI’s director Gregory Poling.

Earlier satellite images also showed a high-frequency radar installation on Cuarteron Reef, another of the Chinese-built islands in the Spratlys. High-frequency radar is often used to track ocean currents and ship movements, among other things.

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
ILLUSTRATION: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE (3)

Large underground tunnels on Fiery Cross that were identified in earlier satellite images have now been completed and covered, according to AMTI. It says they are likely for storage of ammunition, and work on underground stores for water and fuel was completed earlier.

Fiery Cross is one of the three Chinese-built Spratlys outposts, along with Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, that have airstrips and big harbors and which Beijing appears to be turning into wholly operational air and naval bases, according to Mr. Poling.

China says its island construction is mainly for civilian ends and military facilities there are principally to protect freedom of navigation and overflight. In an attempt to repair ties with neighbors, it agreed in November to start talks on a long-awaited code of conduct for the South China Sea.

Subi Reef

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
PHOTO: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE

There was also substantial construction on Subi Reef during 2017, with work on buildings covering about 24 acres, according to AMTI. It said this included buried storage facilities, hangars, missile shelters, and radar or communications facilities.

A U.S. naval destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef in October 2015, a month after Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged during a state visit to the U.S. not to “militarize” the Spratlys.

U.S. officials have since accused China of violating that pledge. Chinese officials say their upgrades don’t constitute militarization and have repeatedly warned Washington not to interfere in its territorial disputes.

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
ILLUSTRATION: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE (2)

Since midyear, China has built what looks like a second “elephant cage” antenna installation, left, on Subi Reef as well as a new array of apparent radar domes, right, AMTI said. The exact function of these “elephant cages” is unclear. The U.S. used similar facilities in the Cold War for signals intelligence—monitoring other countries’ communications.

“The radars and signals intelligence strengthen [China’s] ability to monitor everything the other claimants and outsiders like the U.S. do in the waters and airspace of the South China Sea, which is a necessary step to control it,” said Mr. Poling.

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
ILLUSTRATION: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE (3)

New storage tunnels at Subi, as at Fiery Cross and Mischief Reef, were completed and covered over in the past few months, according to AMTI.

“We can’t know for sure, but the construction of these new underground facilities, which are separated from each other and appear reinforced, suggests ammunition storage,” said Mr. Poling.

Mischief Reef

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
PHOTO: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE

Work on Mischief Reef this year was done on facilities covering 17 acres that also included underground ammunition storage, hangars, missile shelters and new radar and communications installations, AMTI said.

In August, a U.S. Navy destroyer conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation near Mischief Reef, accompanied by two U.S. reconnaissance aircraft, according to U.S. officials. Another U.S. destroyer had conducted a similar patrol around Mischief in May in the first such operation under the Trump administration.

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
ILLUSTRATION: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE

China has started work on a new radar or communications installation on the north side of Mischief Reef, AMTI said.

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
ILLUSTRATION: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE (3)

New storage tunnels on Mischief Reef were completed over the last several months and have been covered, AMTI said.

Tree Island

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
PHOTO: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE

Dredging and reclamation work at Tree Island in the Paracels continued as late as mid-2017, according to AMTI. In total, China built facilities covering about 1.7 acres and including a new helipad, solar installations and wind turbines, AMTI said.

The Paracels, which lie about 350 miles north of the Spratlys, are claimed by both China and Vietnam but have been controlled by Beijing since it seized them from Vietnamese forces in 1974.

North Island

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
PHOTO: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE

China tried to connect North Island to neighboring Middle Island but gave up after the land bridge it created was washed out by a storm in October 2016, according to AMTI. It said China built a retaining wall around the remaining reclaimed land at the southern end of North Island earlier this year.

Triton Island

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
PHOTO: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE

Triton Island saw completion of buildings, including two large radar towers, according to AMTI. They are important as Triton is the outpost farthest southwest in the Paracels and waters around it have been the site of several recent minor clashes between China and Vietnam, as well as multiple U.S. freedom-of-navigation operations, AMTI said.

In July, a U.S. guided-missile destroyer conducted a patrol near Triton, coming to within 12 nautical miles of the island, according to U.S. officials.

Woody Island

As China Courts Neighbors, New Images Show More Building in Disputed Waters
PHOTO: CSIS/AMTI/DIGITALGLOBE

Woody Island is the largest island in the Paracels and serves as China’s military and administrative headquarters in the South China Sea. Developments there have often been precursors for those at Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief in the Spratlys, AMTI said.

It said there was no substantial new construction on Woody Island this year, but at the end of October the Chinese military released pictures confirming for the first time that J-11B fighter jets had been deployed there.

Satellite images from November also showed several large planes that appeared to be Y-8 transport aircraft, which can be capable of electronic intelligence gathering, according to AMTI. It said larger hangars by the Spratlys airstrips could also accommodate Y-8s, suggesting such aircraft might be deployed there later.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-china-courts-neighbors-new-images-show-more-building-in-disputed-waters-1513270862

US, China agree to stop firms from doing business with North Korea over nuclear threat, Tillerson says

June 22, 2017

Pledge to impose UN sanctions on Pyongyang comes after Trump’s tweet that Beijing’s efforts to rein in the reclusive state have ‘not worked out’

By Zhenhua Lu
South China Morning Post

Thursday, June 22, 2017, 11:45am

China and the US held high-level security talks on Wednesday and called on North Korea to halt its missile and nuclear programme, despite US President Donald Trump’s tweeted claim a day earlier that Beijing’s efforts to rein in Pyongyang have “not worked out”.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at a press conference after the talks that the US has made a commitment to hold North Korea accountable for multiple violations of UN Security Council resolutions that “explicitly prohibited its nuclear weapon and missile programme”.

“We both agreed that our companies should not do business with any UN-designated North Korean entities in accordance with these resolutions,” Tillerson said.

China restated its position that the Korean peninsula should be denuclearised, but added that the issue should be resolved through dialogue, according to a statement released by the Chinese embassy in the US.

The statement also restated China’s opposition to the deployment of a US developed anti-missile shield in South Korea.

 US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pictured after the security talks. Photo: Associated

Tillerson reiterated the Trump administration’s argument that China has the “diplomatic responsibility to exert pressure greater to prevent further escalation in the region”.

The two nations’ inaugural diplomatic and security dialogue in Washington came as tension in the Korean peninsula has risen after Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American student held by North Korea for nearly 18 months, died six days after returning to the US on June 13.

During the joint press conference with Tillerson, US Defence Secretary James Mattis accused North Korea of being “beyond any kind of understanding of law and order and humanity”. He added that Trump’s sentiments in his Twitter post represented “American people’s frustrations with the [North Korean] regime [which] provokes and provokes, and basically plays outside the rules”.

Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday that China’s efforts to bring a resolution to the North Korea crisis had “not worked out”, adding: “At least I know China tried!”

Mattis said the US and China both reaffirmed that the North Korean nuclear and missile programme was an urgent threat and both pledged a strong commitment to cooperate on the shared goal of denuclearising the Korean peninsula. “Meanwhile we will take necessary actions to defend ourselves and our allies,” he said.

 US Secretary of Defence James Mattis pictured after the security talks. Photo: Associated Press

Tillerson said he was unable to provide an update on the status of the other three Americans currently held in North Korea.

Abraham Denmark, former US deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia, who stepped down in January, said: “It is only a matter of time before the president realises that China is not going to solve this problem.” Denmark added that additional sanctions from the US, including against Chinese companies with alleged links with North Korea, were “certainly possible”.

The Trump administration has also provided China with a list of people or bodies that allegedly support Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons network, which Beijing needs to take action against, Tillerson told a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week.

A Chinese-based company, Mingzheng International Trading, is accused of laundering money on behalf of the Foreign Trade Bank, a North Korean lender subject to sanctions, the US Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia said last Thursday.

 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pictured by a missile launcher. Photo: Associated Press

Heather Nauert, a US State Department spokeswoman, declined to comment after the US press conference on whether China had agreed to curb the cited Chinese groups’ trading with North Korea.

Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a security policy focused think tank in Washington, said: “Frustration is growing in the administration that China is not [doing] enough in this regard.”

Glaser added that if Beijing does not work more actively to stop these activities or take other measures such as reducing crude oil exports, there was likely to be more friction between the US and China over North Korea.

 US and Chinese officials pictured during the talks in Washington. Photo: Xinhua

In signs reflecting the two nations tensions over China’s more assertive claims in the South China Sea, Tillerson said the US opposed the “militarisation” of disputed waters in the region and “excessive maritime claims unsupported by international law”. The US would “uphold the freedom of navigation and overflight”, he said.

China called on the US not to take sides over the disputes and respect China’s territorial sovereignty, the Chinese embassy statement said.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2099435/us-and-china-agree-cooperate-halt-north-korea-nuclear

Related:

Tillerson, In Australia, Critical of China on South China Sea — “Failing to put appropriate pressure on North Korea.” — “We cannot allow China to use its economic power to buy its way out of other problems.”

June 5, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Thomas WATKINS | US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop leave at the end of a press conference in Sydney on June 5, 2017

SYDNEY (AFP) – 

China and other nations must strengthen efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday, while also calling out Beijing over its South China Sea activities.

America’s top diplomat, speaking after talks in Sydney, also gave a brief response to the unfolding crisis in the Gulf, where Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have all announced they are severing ties with gas-rich Qatar.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the United States has spent recent weeks trying to reassure allies it can maintain a tough line against China’s “militarisation” of the South China Sea while at the same time seeking help from Beijing.

President Donald Trump — who frequently denounced China on the campaign trail — has turned to Beijing to help rein in ally North Korea’s weapons programme, prompting concern among Asian allies that America might go easy on the South China Sea territorial dispute.

“We desire productive relationships,” Tillerson said after annual discussions with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Sydney.

“But we cannot allow China to use its economic power to buy its way out of other problems, whether it’s militarising islands in the South China Sea or failing to put appropriate pressure on North Korea.”

He said China and other regional partners should “step up” efforts to help solve the North Korea situation, because it presents a threat to the “entire world.”

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea despite partial counter-claims from Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

It has rapidly built reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

Tillerson reiterated US and Australian commitment to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea to “ensure unimpeded flow of lawful commerce in a rules-based order”.

But reporters asked Tillerson if America was applying a double standard in telling countries to adhere to the international order while simultaneously pulling out of a trans-Pacific trade deal and the Paris climate accords — moves that prompted even longstanding allies to question whether America was retreating into isolationism.

“That’s why we’re here, that’s why we travel to the region, that?s why we engage with our counterparts,” Tillerson said, standing alongside Pentagon chief Jim Mattis, Bishop and Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne.

We “travel to the region to meet with our counterparts and talk about all the issues that are important to them and hear from them concerns about where the (Trump) administration is positioned”.

– ‘Remain united’ –

Addressing the situation in the Gulf, Tillerson called on countries there to stay united and work out their differences.

“We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences,” he said.

“If there’s any role that we can play in terms of helping them address those, we think it is important that the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) remain united.”

Riyadh cut diplomatic relations and closed borders with its neighbour Qatar to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Tillerson and Mattis both said they did not anticipate any impact on efforts by a US-led coalition to battle the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

The coalition currently conducts much of its operational planning and coordination from Al-Udeid air base in Qatar.

“I am confident there will be no implications coming out of this diplomatic situation at all, and I say that based on the commitment that each of these nations… have made to this fight,” Mattis said.

The US defense secretary blasted Iran for its “various destabilising efforts” in the region, referring to Iranian support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Tehran’s involvement in the Yemen war.

by Thomas WATKINS