Posts Tagged ‘Scarborough Shoal’

Philippine defense chief says China sea dispute still a challenge

March 26, 2018

This aerial photo shows a Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning (C), during military drills in the South China Sea. (AFP)
MANILA: The territorial dispute with Beijing over the South China Sea remained a security challenge despite an improvement in bilateral ties, the Philippine defense chief said on Monday as he accepted three maritime surveillance planes from Japan.
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Delfin Lorenzana, in a speech at a naval base south of the capital Manila, said the three Japanese donated second-hand TC90 planes will definitely boost the navy’s capability to gather intelligence in the disputed South China Sea.
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“We must admit that much still has to be done to boost our military capability equipment in order to meet a number of persistent maritime security challenges,” Lorenzana said, identifying territorial disputes with China, and other countries, over resource-rich areas in the South China Sea.
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China claims almost the entire South China Sea, where about $5 trillion worth of sea-borne goods pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims in the strategic waterway.
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Photo shows the China Coast Guard vessel, which has been anchored in Gugusan Beting Patinggi Ali for about two years.

Photo shows the China Coast Guard vessel

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Tensions between the Philippines and China over the disputed sea have eased since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in July 2016 and improved relations with Beijing via Chinese trade and investments.
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Lorenzana said the Philippines was also concerned with piracy and the movement of armed insurgents in the Sulu Sea and other transnational crimes, including smuggling of illegal drugs and poaching into rich fishing grounds in territorial waters.
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Japan planned to lease five surveillance planes but decided last year to transfer without cost the aircraft after changes were made in Tokyo’s self-defense forces law allowing donation of excess defense and military equipment to partner countries.
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Japan’s vice minister for defense, Tatsuo Fukuda, said Tokyo was willing to help its allies improve its capabilities help secure the safety of international sea lanes and benefit not only the Philippines but the entire region.
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During the handover ceremony, Lorenzana and Fukuda watched the planes land at a naval base guarding the mouth of Manila Bay, hundreds of miles southeast of the disputed Scarborough Shoal now patrolled by Chinese coast guard ships.
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The navy said the surveillance planes have a range of 300 km (186 miles), twice the capability of its existing aircraft and could patrol into China’s seven artificial islands in the Spratly, which had been converted into military bases.
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Above: Location of seven Chinese military bases in international waters or Philippine territorial waters — all near the Philippines.
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The navy said it has a budget of nearly 6 billion peso ($114.65 million) to acquire two brand new long-range maritime patrol aircraft to enhance its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability. ($1 = 52.3310 Philippine pesos)

 

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 (USS Mustin passage — Freedom of Navigation)

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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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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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Chinese H-6 bomber at Scarborough Shoal last year

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Philippines Struggles To Cope With China’s “Duplicitous Ways” in South China Sea, Benham Rise

March 7, 2018

GOTCHA – Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) – March 7, 2018 – 12:00am

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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines

The issues of the West and East Philippine Seas are joined, as far as China is concerned. As polls show, Filipinos distrust China because of its duplicitous ways. In Benham Rise east of Luzon, China conducted natural resource and military explorations without Manila’s consent. It rejected Manila’s reasonable condition of including Filipino scientists in its researches. After sneakily giving Chinese names to five undersea peaks it now wants to name 50 or so other features. It claims to a right to conduct marine scientific research (MSR) under international law.

In the West Philippine Sea, China has done worse. It grabbed the traditional Filipino fishing ground Scarborough Shoal 123 miles off Zambales, within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone but 700 miles from China’s nearest coast and beyond its own EEZ. It has concreted seven reefs and shoals in the Philippine EEZ into artificial island fortresses. It also claims reefs and rocks closer to the Philippines by imagining to be the first to name them.

Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio Carpio leads patriotic Filipinos in disputing Beijing’s illegal claims and activities. He helped in Manila’s victorious arbitration in The Hague against China’s maritime expansionism. He also debunked through ancient maps and documents Beijing’s farcical “historical rights” to the South China (West Philippine) Sea.

Here Carpio shares his thoughts on the joined east-west issues:

“(1) No Philippine law specifically regulates MSR in our extended continental shelf (beyond the 200-mile EEZ) like Benham Rise.

“(2) However, the Philippines having ratified UNCLOS, this international convention is part of the Philippine legal system. Under Article 246 of UNCLOS, the Philippines has an obligation to allow foreign states to conduct MSR in its continental shelf like Benham Rise ‘to increase scientific knowledge of the marine environment for the benefit of all mankind.’ Thus, the results of the MSR must be made known to the whole world.

“(3) MSR by foreign states in Benham Rise is purely for scientific research, and cannot be to explore the mineral resources for exploitation. Under UNCLOS, the Philippines has exclusive sovereign right to explore and exploit the mineral resources in its extended continental shelf like Benham Rise. Neither the President nor the Foreign Secretary can waive this exclusive sovereign right to a foreign state. To ensure that the foreign state conducting MSR in our extended continental shelf is not exploring for purposes of exploitation, Filipino marine scientists must be on board the foreign research vessels.

“(4) UNCLOS is a ‘package deal.’ A state that ratifies UNCLOS must accept its rights and obligations as one entire package. A ratifying state cannot cherry pick – accepting only certain provisions and rejecting others.

“(5) By refusing to accept the award of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal pursuant to the dispute settlement provisions of UNCLOS, China is not accepting its obligation under UNCLOS. China should not be allowed to enjoy its rights under UNCLOS, like conducting MSR in Benham Rise, while it refuses to accept its obligation under the arbitral award. Otherwise, China is cherry picking and not taking UNCLOS as one package deal.

“(6) Article 246 of UNCLOS states, ‘Coastal States shall, in normal circumstances, grant their consent for marine scientific research projects by other States.’ The refusal of China to comply with the arbitral award of the UNCLOS tribunal is not a ‘normal circumstance,’ and thus the Philippines should refuse China’s request for MSR in Benham Rise.

“(7) If a bully has squatted on your front yard, and requests to look at your backyard, would you grant the request of the bully? China has squatted on the West Philippine Sea and refuses to leave despite the ruling of the UNCLOS tribunal. Now, China requests to be allowed to survey the Philippine Sea on the east side of the Philippines. The Philippines would be dumb (bugok) to grant China’s request.”

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For 14 years Harry Roque headed the Center for International Law and taught at the University of the Philippines College of Law. That was before he became party-list congressman in 2016 and presidential spokesman in 2017. Here are some of his recent statements:

On China’s naming of undersea features in Benham Rise: “Don’t let’s magnify the issue … China gave so many names – siopao, siomai, ampao, pechay, hototay – but all those don’t mean it is laying claim.”

On President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposed “joint exploration” with China of West Philippine Sea resources: “It’s a practical solution for Filipinos to utilize natural resources without having to deal with the contentious conflicting claims to territories… The existing jurisprudence is we can enter into joint exploration and joint exploitation with foreign entities provided that it complies with the Constitution among others, it be pursuant to a written agreement signed by the President and submitted to Congress.”

On China’s “co-ownership” of those Philippine resources: “What the President meant was that’s exactly the kind of relationship we will have in a joint exploration and exploitation.”

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Ten years ago when the Joint Marine Seismic Understanding was exposed, Roque called it “treasonous.” Malacañang had ordered the Philippine National Oil Co. to sign with China National Overseas Oil Corp. the secret joint exploration of the Palawan continental shelf and Recto (Reed) Bank within the Philippine EEZ and way beyond China’s.

Roque said:

“Clearly, an agreement to jointly survey for the existence of petroleum resources in the Spratlys would be a derogation of the country’s sovereign rights (because) the exploration here would cease to be exclusive.

“A Filipino GOCC could not redefine what is provided for by law.

“My position is that anyone who will give away Philippine territory is guilty of treason. Since the national territory is governed by the Constitution and by law, a President (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) who will surrender the exercise of sovereign rights is guilty of treason, an impeachable offense.”

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/03/07/1794213/repel-or-yield-carpio-vs-roque#ULfo3EEeUc292FJu.99

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Chinese bases near the Philippines
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China has long had its eye on James Shoal and may move toward the island unless Malaysia or Indonesia protest…

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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.

Philippines: Risks rising with China challenging US at sea

February 19, 2018

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) – February 20, 2018 – 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — The risks of a “miscalculation” and armed conflict have risen in the disputed South China Sea with a militarily stronger China now able to challenge the United States, which used to be the dominant power in the strategic waterway, the Philippine envoy to Beijing said yesterday.

Ambassador Chito Sta. Romana said the balance of power was shifting with the two global powers vying for control of the waters, adding the Philippines should not get entangled in the increasingly tense maritime rivalry.

Image result for Ambassador Chito Sta. Romana, photo

Ambassador Chito Sta. Romana

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea, where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims, and it has built seven mostly submerged reefs into islands that reportedly could be used as forward air naval bases and have been installed with a missile defense system.

The US Navy has sailed warships on “freedom of navigation” operations near the artificial islands, actions China has protested as US intervention in an Asian conflict.

“Whereas before the South China Sea was dominated by the US 7th Fleet, now the Chinese navy is starting to challenge the dominance,” Sta. Romana told a news forum in Manila. “I think we will see a shift in the balance of power.”

“It is not the case that the South China Sea is now a Chinese lake, not at all,” Sta. Romana said. “Look at the US aircraft carrier, it’s still going through the South China Sea,” he added, referring to the USS Carl Vinson that recently patrolled the disputed waters and is currently on a visit to the Philippines.

He compared the two powers to elephants fighting and trampling on the grass and said: “What we don’t want is for us to be the grass.”

President Duterte’s policy of befriending China has worked, Sta. Romana said, citing Beijing’s decision to lift its blockade around the Philippine-occupied Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, where the Philippine military could now freely send new supplies to Filipino Marines guarding the disputed area.

China has also allowed Filipino fishermen into another disputed area, the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, after Duterte visited Beijing and raised the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Xi reportedly told Duterte: “Give me a few days, I‘ll take care of this,” Sta. Romana quoted Duterte as saying about the meeting with his Chinese counterpart a few months after he won the Philippine presidency in 2016.

China took control of the uninhabited atoll off the northwestern Philippines after a tense standoff in 2012.

In January, China accused the US of trespassing when the guided missile destroyer USS Hopper sailed near Panatag.

President Donald Trump’s administration has outlined a security strategy that emphasized countering China’s rise and reinforcing US presence in the Indo-Pacific region, where Beijing and Washington have accused each other of stoking a dangerous military buildup and fought for wider influence.

Washington has no claim in the South China Sea but has declared a peaceful resolution and freedom of navigation are in its national interest.

US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins told The Associated Press on board the USS Carl Vinson on Saturday that the Navy has carried out routine patrols at sea and in the air in the region for 70 years to promote security and guarantee the unimpeded flow of trade and would continue to do so.

‘Be more vigilant’

On the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise) issue, University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea director Jay Batongbacal recommended that the country be more vigilant after China named five undersea features, calling the failure to object to it earlier as a clear sign of neglect.

He noted during an interview on ANC’s Headstart that the subcommittee of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), which approved the names proposed by China last year, might consider the Philippines’ protest as “too late.”

Under international rules and law, the IHO is the agency that can name underwater features but after complying with requirements.

“We need to be more vigilant and really much more active in participating in the international organization that is concerned with this matter, the International Hydrographic Organization,” Batongbacal said. – AP

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Read more at https://beta.philstar.com/headlines/2018/02/20/1789590/philippines-risks-rising-china-challenging-us-sea#VQ4FMgjbdkLki2tG.99

Philippine President: Why Not Make The Philippines a Province of China?

February 19, 2018

Rappler

The President says negotiations for joint exploration with China are underway. He suggests a sharing scheme of two-thirds for the Philippines and one-third for China.

By Pia Renata
Updated 9:35 PM, February 19, 2018

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NOT A TARGET. President Rodrigo Duterte says China’s military buildup in the West Philippine Sea targets the United States and not the Philippines. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte jokingly suggested to China that it make the Philippines part of its territory, as a province.

“Kung gusto ‘nyo, gawin ‘nyo na lang kaming province, parang Fujian (If you want, just make us a province, like Fujian),” said Duterte on Monday, February 19, during the anniversary of the Chinese Business Club.

“Province of Philippines, Republic of China,” he added, to applause from his audience of Filipino-Chinese businessmen.

Duterte made the joke after saying Chinese President Xi Jinping himself promised not to build any structures on Scarborough Shoal.

“They assured us they will not build anything there in Scarborough Shoal,” said Duterte.

“Maniwala kayo kasi ‘yan ang commitment sa akin ni China. Si Xi Jinping mismo nagsabi and he’s a man of honor.” (Believe it because that is China’s commitment to me. Xi Jinping himself said it and he’s a man of honor.)

Duterte added that negotiations for joint exploration between China and the Philippines are underway, even mentioning the possible sharing scheme between the two nations.

“Kasi ‘yung oil, joint (exploration) naman, ‘yung pinakamarami. Two-thirds sa amin, one-third sa inyo,” said the President. (Because the oil, it’s joint exploration, we will have the biggest share. Two-thirds will be ours, one-third yours.)

Military bases

Duterte also admitted in his speech that China is building “military bases” in the West Philippine Sea but said it would be silly for anyone to think China will use such military assets against the Philippines.

“Military bases, I must admit it, but is it intended for us? You must be joking. It’s not intended for us,” he said. (READ: Roque: One day, we’ll thank China for artificial islands)

China is building up its defense capability against just the United States, according to Duterte.

“It’s really intended for those who China thinks will destroy them and that is America, hindi tayo kasali diyan (we aren’t part of that),” said the President.

“There’s negotiations for joint exploration. Can you beat that? Hayaan mo missile-missile diyan, hindi para sa atin ‘yan (Just ignore the missiles there, it’s not intended for us),” he added.

Duterte also downplayed China’s successful bid to name 5 undersea features in Philippine Rise (Benham Rise). But he maintained that if the continental shelf is found to be resource-rich, the Philippines would claim the resources, such as oil. (READ: No bad faith on part of China in naming PH Rise features – Roque)

“If they say there is a lot of oil there, fine…Remember, that is ours. The whole of the [South] China Sea, you have already claimed it…but this Philippine Rise is ours,” said Duterte.

He repeated that any future scientific research conducted by a foreign entity in Philippine Rise will have to be cleared by the military first. (READ: PH can ban China in Benham, but not other nations – Carpio)

“If the military says it’s good, it can be done, I’ll give you the permit,” said Duterte. – Rappler.com

https://www.rappler.com/nation/196426-duterte-philippines-province-china

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In front of Chinese envoy, Duterte makes bold stand on sea row

By: – Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
 / 08:39 PM February 19, 2018

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

“That is ours.”

President Rodrigo Duterte asserted on Monday the sovereign rights of the Philippines in parts of the disputed South China Sea in front of Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua and Chinese businessmen.

“Itong claim sa South China Sea, talagang atin ‘yan. In so far as the Republic of the Philippines is concerned, I am ready to put my presidency, my career as president, my life and all [on the line], atin ‘yan. I stated it in black and blue that it has been the claim of the Philippines na atin ‘yan,” he said, while Zhao was listening.

But the President insisted that the Philippines could only be “diplomatic” in dealing with the country’s maritime dispute with China in the South China Sea.

Duterte said the Philippines would continue to insist its claim in the disputed waterway but reiterated that Manila could not go to war with Beijing.

“We can only be talking on friendly terms and civilized terms,” Duterte said in a speech at the Manila Hotel.

“I will never go to a battle which I can never win. How can I win?” he added, saying he would not commit the lives of Filipinos going to war against a powerful neighbor. “We cannot do that today. It is unrealistic.”

China has a sweeping claim in the South China Sea, transforming at least seven disputed reefs into island fortresses.

Duterte has been slammed by critics for his soft-stance on China but the President turned the table and blamed the previous administration.

“The critics say that I am not doing enough. What were they doing their time?” he said.

“Wala tayong ginawa,” he added, referring to the time when China was just starting building military installations in the disputed sea during the previous administration.

He said China was willing to talk over the maritime row, citing the ongoing bilateral consultative meetings Manila and Beijing had conducted.

“Why will I fight? China is willing to talk,” he said.

Duterte said the military installations in the disputed islands were not intended for the Philippines but for the United States.

INQUIRER.net had earlier reported that China was almost done transforming artificial islands into military bases.

“It is really intended against those who the Chinese think will destroy them. And it is America,” he said.

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/164401/front-chinese-envoy-duterte-makes-bold-stand-sea-row#ixzz57YvfCr1Y
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Duterte admin ‘not given up too much, too early, too soon’ to China – Roque

By: – Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
 / 03:08 PM February 19, 2018

Malacañang refuted on Monday the assertions of a maritime expert that the Philippines was giving “too much, too early, too soon” in dealing with China.

“The Duterte administration has certainly not given up too much, too early, too soon in its relation with China nor China has gained more than us,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Roque was referring to the statement of lawyer Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, who said he was wary about Manila “trading away too much, too early and too soon” in seeking better ties with Beijing.

READ: PH giving China ‘too much, too early, too soon’, says UP prof

In a press conference last Saturday, Batongbacal also said: “China is gaining too much from our softness on these issues.”

But Roque rejected such claims.

“On the contrary, we have upheld our national interest and produced tangible benefits for our people in pursuing friendly and mutually-beneficial ties with China,” the Palace official said.

“Our people have been able to resume their right to fish in Scarborough and there is peace in the region. This is over and above the increased arrivals of Chinese tourists, as well as investments from mainland China,” he added.

Roque, an international law expert, said that the Philippine government would continue to defend the country’s sovereign rights in the disputed South China Sea while patching-up Manila’s strained relations with Beijing.

“We have said in a numerous occasions that we will continue to defend our sovereignty and sovereign rights when we discussed our territorial and maritime disputes with China while maximizing the benefits

of our people by promoting economic and other relations with China in which they are no contentious issues between us,” he said.China has refused to recognize the United Nations (UN) arbitral ruling in July 2012, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping claims over almost all of the South China Sea.   /kga

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/969825/breaking-duterte-admin-not-given-up-too-much-too-early-too-soon-to-china-roque#ixzz57Yw7Qruk
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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

South China Sea: US Navy officer says won’t be bullied by China in disputed waters

February 18, 2018

 

US Navy

A Navy officer aboard a mammoth U.S. aircraft carrier brimming with F18 fighter jets said American forces will continue to patrol the South China Sea wherever “international law allows us.” 

One of the US Navy’s longest-serving active carriers arrived in Manila on Friday for a routine port visit during its Western Pacific deployment.

More than 5,500 sailors from aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy will participate in community service projects while in Manila.

Philippine Star

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US Navy in South China Sea: ‘We’re Here’ No Matter China’s Military Buildup

  • Associated Press
Fishermen on board a small boat pass by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier at anchor off Manila, Philippines, Feb. 17, 2018.
Fishermen on board a small boat pass by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier at anchor off Manila, Philippines, Feb. 17, 2018.
U.S. forces are undeterred by China’s military buildup on man-made islands in the South China Sea and will continue patrolling the strategic, disputed waters wherever “international law allows us,” said a Navy officer aboard a mammoth U.S. aircraft carrier brimming with F-18 fighter jets.

Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins told The Associated Press on board the USS Carl Vinson that the Navy has carried out routine patrols at sea and in the air in the region for 70 years to promote security and guarantee the unimpeded flow of trade that’s crucial for Asian and U.S. economies.

“International law allows us to operate here, allows us to fly here, allows us to train here, allows us to sail here, and that’s what we’re doing and we’re going to continue to do that,” Hawkins said Saturday on the flight deck of the 95,000-ton warship, which anchored at Manila Bay while on a visit to the Philippines.

When President Donald Trump came to power, Southeast Asian officials were uncertain how deep the U.S. would get involved in the overlapping territorial claims involving China and its Southeast Asian neighbors. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, was a vocal critic of China’s increasingly aggressive actions, including the construction of seven man-made islands equipped with troops, hangars, radar and missile stations and three long runways.

China claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety and has challenged the U.S. naval supremacy in the western Pacific.

“We’re committed,” Hawkins told reporters. “We’re here.”

With fighter jets in the background, Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins talks to the media on board the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier anchored off Manila, Philippines, for a five-day port call along with guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy, Feb. 17, 2018.
With fighter jets in the background, Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins talks to the media on board the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier anchored off Manila, Philippines, for a five-day port call along with guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy, Feb. 17, 2018.

Trump strategy

The Trump administration has outlined a new security strategy that emphasized countering China’s rise and reinforcing the U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific region, where Beijing and Washington have accused each other of stoking a dangerous military buildup and fought for wider influence.

Washington stakes no claims in the disputes but has declared that their peaceful resolution and the maintenance of freedom of navigation are in its national interest. U.S. officials have said American warships will continue sailing close to Chinese-occupied features without prior notice, placing Washington in a continuing collision course with China’s interests.

In January, China accused the U.S. of trespassing when the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Hopper sailed near the Chinese-guarded Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing wrestled from the Philippines in 2012, despite its proximity to the main northern island of Luzon. After voicing a strong protest, China said it would take “necessary measures” to protect its sovereignty.

The nuclear-powered Carl Vinson patrolled the sea before its Manila visit but did not conduct a freedom of navigation operation, Hawkins said.

“That’s not to say that we won’t or we can’t, but we have not, up to this point,” he said.

U.S. military aircraft sit on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier anchored off Manila, Philippines, Feb. 17, 2018. Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins said American forces will continue to patrol the South China Sea wherever international law allows.
U.S. military aircraft sit on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier anchored off Manila, Philippines, Feb. 17, 2018. Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins said American forces will continue to patrol the South China Sea wherever international law allows.

Stop in Vietnam?

There are reports that the Carl Vinson will also make a port call in Danang in Vietnam, another critical rival of China’s ambitions in the South China Sea, as the first American aircraft carrier since the Vietnam War ended in 1975, but Hawkins declined to provide details of future trips.

China has also opposed the Philippine military’s deployment of a Japanese-donated Beechcraft King Air patrol plane in late January to Scarborough, a Philippine official said on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authority to discuss the issue publicly. Chinese officials have relayed their objection to their Philippine counterparts, the official said.

China and Japan have their own territorial rifts in the East China Sea.

There was no immediate comment from Philippine military officials about China’s opposition to the surveillance flights at Scarborough.

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Chinese H-6 bomber at Scarborough Shoal last year

Gunboat diplomacy

U.S. and Chinese officials have said they have no intention of going to war in the disputed sea, but their governments have projected their firepower and clout in a delicate play of gunboat diplomacy and deterrence.

“We’re prepared to conduct a spectrum of operations, whether that’s providing humanitarian assistance, disaster relief in the time of an emergency, or whether we have to conduct operations that require us to send strike fighters ashore,” Hawkins said. “We don’t have to use that spectrum, but we’re ready to, in case we need to.”

The U.S. Navy invited journalists Saturday on board the 35-year-old Carl Vinson, which was packed with 72 aircraft, including F-18 Hornets, helicopters and surveillance aircraft.

President Rodrigo Duterte has tried to back down from what he said was a Philippine foreign policy that was steeply oriented toward the U.S., but has allowed considerable engagements with his country’s treaty ally to continue while reviving once-frosty ties with China in a bid to bolster trade and gain infrastructure funds.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have long contested ownership of the South China Sea, where a bulk of the trade and oil that fuel Asia’s bullish economies passes through.

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Mischief Reef now an extensive Chinese military base
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Chinese military bases near the Philippines

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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.

China has built seven new military bases in South China Sea, US navy commander says

February 15, 2018

Beijing’s assertive territorial claims in disputed waterway is ‘coordinated, methodical and strategic’, Admiral Harry Harris says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 February, 2018, 1:15pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 February, 2018, 1:15pm

South China Morning Post

The commander of the United States Pacific Command on Wednesday warned of China’s growing military might, saying Beijing had unilaterally built seven new military bases in the South China Sea.

“China is attempting to assert de facto sovereignty over disputed maritime features by further militarising its man-made bases,” Admiral Harry Harris said in a congressional hearing.

Harris told the House Armed Services Committee that the new facilities included “aircraft hangers, barracks facilities, radar facilities, weapon emplacements [and] 10,000-foot runways”.

Beijing has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which more than a third of all global trade passes.

Harris said he saw Beijing’s assertive territorial claims in the East and South China seas as “coordinated, methodical and strategic, using their military and economic power to erode the free and open international order”.

In the East China Sea, Chinese vessels have repeatedly intruded into Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands in an attempt to undermine Tokyo’s administration of the uninhabited islets.

Harris said the US alliance with Japan “has never been stronger” and that Washington’s alliance with South Korea was “ironclad”.

Harris, who is set to become the next US ambassador to Australia, also hailed the Washington-Canberra alliance, saying bilateral military ties were “terrific” and that Australia was “one of the keys to a rules-based international order”.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2133483/china-has-built-seven-new-military-bases-south-china

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Chinese military bases near the Philippines

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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.

China seeks to name sea features in Philippine Rise — Did China Swindle The Philippines?

February 7, 2018
 
The official names will be part of the internationally recognized official bathymetric chart of the oceans, which aims to provide an accurate map of the sea floor. Namria graphic

MANILA, Philippines — Why is China interested in conducting research in the Philippine Rise, an area in the Western Pacific where it has no maritime territorial claim?

One possible answer, according to official sources: Beijing is seeking naming rights for seven or eight submarine mountains or seamounts and ridges in Benham or Philippine Rise and the surrounding Philippine Sea.

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The official names will be part of the internationally recognized official bathymetric chart of the oceans, which aims to provide an accurate map of the sea floor.

The first edition of the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans, based on about 20,000 soundings, came out in 1904, but the map is a work in progress. A GEBCO Digital Atlas was published in 1994.

Experts estimate that it will take 200 years to complete mapping of the planet’s entire ocean floor, so research contributions from various countries are accepted by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the UNESCO.

Those who “discover” ocean features with the required supporting research get to name them.

The Chinese Navy Hydrographic Office submitted to the GEBCO Sub-committee on Undersea Feature Names proposed names for undersea features including a seamount that it wants to call Jujiu in Benham Rise and other parts of the Philippine Sea in the Western Pacific.

All are in the Philippine Basin and within the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone, as defined under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The IHO-IOC website, in its record of China’s undersea feature name proposals, shows one filed for a ridge in the Philippine Basin that Beijing says a Chinese vessel called Li Siguang Hao “discovered” in September 2004 following a survey from July to September of the same year.

Beijing reportedly converted the naval vessel into a fishery law enforcement ship called Yuzheng 203 sometime in 2012.

The China Navy Hydrographic Office submitted the undersea feature name proposal, together with bathymetric maps, to the IHO-IOC on April 17 last year, seeking to name the feature Shouyang Ridge.

“Shouyang,” according to the application, is “another name for Chinese lunar January, i.e. the beginning of the spring when the grim cold air gives way to the all encompassing warmth imperceptibly. The poetic and pictorial inspiring appellation, created by associating month, climate and the changes of great nature, manifests the wisdom and temperament of people living in the ancient world.”

China’s so-called nine-dash-line claim over nearly all of the South China Sea does not extend to the Pacific Ocean. The entire Chinese maritime claim was invalidated by the UN-backed Permanent Arbitration Court in The Hague in 2016.

President Duterte ordered all foreign research activities in the area stopped the other day, for still unspecified reasons. A Chinese vessel, however, has completed its research in the area.

Explaining the President’s order, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said “we simply have to regulate what is within our sovereign rights” even if “we have to share with humanity, with other nations what is in there.” Foreign groups wishing to conduct research or exploration in Philippine Rise are required to get clearance from Esperon.

He stressed the Philippines would like to assert its sovereign rights over waters within the country’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone. “It simply means that we value also what we have,” he said.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/02/08/1785645/china-seeks-name-sea-features-philippine-rise

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Chinese Ocean Research Ship

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Chinese bomber over Scarborough Shoal

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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.

History lessons for Duterte and Cayetano on China’s respect for Philippine waters

February 7, 2018

With 20 years of experience dealing with China behind us, the Philippines should not let its guard down

By Marites Dañguilan Vitug

Two decades of bilateral talks, negotiations, and deadends, starting from 1995. Then, in 2016, an overwhelming legal victory for the Philippines in an arbitration case that was novel and historic in a number of ways—but a decision that China refuses to abide by. In sum, that’s our country’s difficult relationship with the regional hegemon in resolving our dispute over parts of the South China Sea.

All these happened not so far back in our history, while President Rodrigo Duterte was Davao City mayor and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano a local politician who later became congressman and senator. Tensions with China over scattered rocks, reefs, and islands in what is now called the West Philippine Sea may have been far removed from these two men’s consciousness. But as the country’s leaders, they have a responsibility to protect the national interest, with history as their guide.

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Mischief Reef now an extensive Chinese military base

Sure, Benham Rise is not disputed territory. The 13-million-hectare area off the coasts of the provinces of Aurora and Isabela, larger than Luzon, is unambiguously part of the Philippines’ continental shelf, as declared by the United Nations in 2012.

But letting China conduct maritime research there, while allowing it to ignore our country’s sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea and militarily dominate the area, is deplorable. It is Stockholm Syndrome at its fullest: the more the Philippines is abused, the more it gives in to China.

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China’s man-made Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea, shows Chinese military construction

To refresh the memories of our leaders, here’s a short timeline:

  • 1988 – China occupied Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef), Cuarteron Reef (Calderon Reef), and Subi Reef (Zamora Reef). Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef have been transformed into military bases, while a high-frequency radar installation was built on Cuarteron Reef.
  • 1995 – China grabbed Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef) and built certain structures which, they said, were shelters for their fishermen. Look how Mischief Reef is today: it is a military base complete with underground storage for ammunition.
  • 2004-2005 – The Philippines and China entered into a Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) to do a 3-year research of petroleum resources in parts of the South China Sea. Vietnam protested this controversial deal so it became a trilateral agreement. China, which used its ship, collected the data, and Vietnam supposedly processed it, and the Philippines interpreted it. The survey results, some of which were blurred, have remained confidential. China, it is said, controlled the process. A case questioning the constitutionality of the JMSU is pending with the Supreme Court.
  • 2011 – China stopped the Philippines from exploring for oil and gas in Reed Bank.
  • 2012 – China took control of Scarborough Shoal.
  • 2013-2014 – China attempted to prevent Philippine ships from delivering supplies to and rotating personnel in Second Thomas Shoal (Ayungin Shoal).

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Chinese military bases near the Philippines as of February 2018

Sneaking into Benham Rise

Recently, in another part of the Philippines, a Chinese survey vessel hovered in Benham Rise for 3 months, a fact Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana revealed last year. The DFA, then under Secretary Enrique Manalo, said China had not been issued any permit to research. Why then was China there and what was it doing?

Despite this breach, which happened on Duterte’s watch, Cayetano has blithely given the go signal to China to survey the country’s coral-rich eastern seaboard. The DFA, however, has not released details of the permit given to the Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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The approval process was likewise not transparent. Usually, it is a multi-agency team – including the DFA, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture (particularly the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) – that reviews research requests such as this.

Damage to coral reefs

Forgotten is this race to study Benham Rise is China’s plunder of the coral reefs in the West Philippine Sea and the massive damage it has done to the marine biodiversity of the area. The construction of artificial islands in features that China had occupied, turning these into fortified military bases, had impacted reefs on a “scale unprecedented in the region” and which will take decades to centuries to recover.

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The international tribunal that heard the Philippine maritime case versus China ruled overwhelmingly against China on environmental issues. Among others, the judges said China engaged in – and tolerated – the harvesting of endangered species on a significant scale and in a manner that was destructive of the coral reefs. Its land reclamation has caused irreparable harm to the environment. Studies by experts proved this.

While China’s intentions in Benham Rise, as the scientists from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) explain, has everything to do with ocean currents and understanding climate change, there is concern that China will collect information on the marine wealth and eventually use it to exploit the area, just like it did in the West Philippine Sea.

Filipino scientists from UP-MSI are reportedly on board China’s ship, Ke Xue Hao, to participate in the research, a requirement for any foreign country doing marine scientific research in Philippine waters. Their presence may serve as check on the Chinese.

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Chinese Ocean Research Ship

But with 20 years of experience dealing with China behind us, the Philippines should not let its guard down. This is not just about science. It is also about trust. – Rappler.com

The author, editor at large of Rappler, is writing a book on how the Philippines won its maritime case versus China.

https://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/195289-benham-rise-history-lessons-duterte-cayetano

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Chinese bomber over Scarborough Shoal

More Photos:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5360751/Chinas-militarisation-South-China-Sea-revealed.html

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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 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.

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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.

China Signaling it May Finally ‘Militarize’ the South China Sea Officially — China has Already Built Up Seven Land Formations With or Able To House Chinese Military Installations

January 29, 2018

China may be getting ready to overtly “militarize” its island bases in the South China Sea. After years of counter-accusing the United States of militarizing the region while maintaining that its man-made islands were “necessary defense facilities,” Chinese officials are using a recent transit by a U.S. warship to lay the groundwork for deploying real force projection capabilities to its outposts.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that a U.S. Navy destroyer violated its sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal by sailing within 12 nautical miles of the disputed feature in the South China Sea on January 17th. In an unusual step, China was the first to reveal that the transit occurred and may be using it to signal future military deployments to the bases it has built on reclaimed islands in the Spratly Islands.

Lu Kang, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the U.S. ship’s passage gravely threatened the safety of Chinese vessels and personnel in the area, but did not elaborate how. He went on to say that China would take “necessary measures” to safeguard its sovereignty.

The Scarborough Shoal is claimed by both China and the Philippines. Starting in 2012, China effectively occupied the shoal, using maritime law enforcement and paramilitary Maritime Militia vessels to evict Filipino fishermen. In early 2016 the United States apparently believed that China might attempt to begin land reclamation at Scarborough Shoal as a prelude to constructing military facilities similar to what it has done in the Spratly Islands, prompting the head of the U.S. Navy to voice rare public concern over China’s impending moves. Analysts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies speculated that China’s intended reclamation efforts were only stymied following intense behind-the-scenes diplomacy and deterrent signaling.

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A Chinese bomber over Scarborough Shoal last year.

Since there are no structures on Scarborough Shoal to support the deployment of military equipment, unless China again tries to build an artificial island on the shoal those “necessary measures” probably just mean a heavier Chinese maritime presence in the area. But other Chinese commentary points to the possibility that China may use the Hopper’s transit as pretext for militarization elsewhere in the South China Sea.

Militarization is a sensitive topic in the strategic waters of the South China Sea. To quell concern about its robust island-construction campaign, China’s President Xi Jinping said that China “did not intend” to militarize the Spratly Islands in 2015 remarks at the White House. Those reclaimed islands are now home to extensive communications and sensor facilities, long runways, and hardened hangars and ammunition storage bunkers. Chinese officials have long explained away this construction as “necessary defense facilities” but not militarization.

As early as 2016, U.S. intelligence assessed that China’s Spratlys bases could, or could shortly, host forces like fighters, bombers, and long range anti-ship or land-attack missiles that were capable of projecting power far beyond any defensive requirements. But to date, China has only deployed short-range missiles and point-defense weapons that cannot project control over the seas or skies around the islands, allowing Chinese officials to sustain a thinly plausible claim to be staying within President Xi’s promise that China would not militarize them. But Chinese officials now appear to be laying the narrative foundation to claim that the strategic situation in the South China Sea will force China to deploy the more robust military capabilities those Spratlys bases can accommodate.

Chinese officials have floated the premise that the United States was forcing it to deploy increasing military capabilities to the region for defensive purposes before. In 2016, a Ministry of National Defense spokesman invoked this explanation when he responded to a U.S. think tank report revealing new defensive weapons on China’s Spratlys bases by saying that “If somebody is flexing their muscles on your doorstep, can’t you at least get a slingshot?”

China’s recent statements signal that deployments could be more imminent.

Following the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ comments, the official People’s Daily newspaper published an editorial saying that the U.S. presence in the South China Sea would “hit a brick wall.” It went on to warn that the United States activities would force China to “strengthen and speed up” its buildup of capabilities in the South China Sea to ensure peace and stability in the region. An editorial in the Global Times tabloid claimed even more explicitly that China had exercised restraint in its responses to the United States’ military presence in the South China Sea and that eventually China would “militarize the islands.”

Claims that U.S. freedom of navigation represents a threat to its islands is more plausibly pretext for militarization. The United States excels at over-the-horizon strike, using long range missiles to hit targets from beyond ranges that they would be subject to easy counterattack. If the United States was going to attack China’s built-up facilities in the South China Sea, there is little reason that its warships or bombers would close within visual range of the islands to do so.

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USS Hopper

It is doubtful, then, that the Hopper’s transit had any effect on China’s plans. China has been building up its islands’ capabilities for some time, with deployments perhaps restrained only by a desire to mitigate backlash from the United States and other countries in the region. It’s also possible that the United States’ 2016 assessments were optimistic about the islands’ readiness to accommodate sustained deployments.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative recently released a report revealing China completed over 70 acres of new construction and facility improvement on its bases in the South China Sea, last year. That construction provides some context to recent reports from Chinese official media about the special facilities and preparationsrequired to support a deployment of fighter jets to the Paracel islands last year. Details on the special accommodations the Chinese military had to make for the tropical conditions in the South China Sea like sealed, thermostabilized airplane hangars, suggests that its bases in the Spratlys are only now reaching a level of completion that can confidently support advanced combat forces, and all China needs now is an excuse to justify the deployments.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/01/china-signaling-it-may-finally-militarize-the-south-china-sea-officially/

China built artificial islands in Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Panganiban (Mischief), Zamora (Subi), Burgos (Gaven), Kennan (Hughes), Mabini (Johnson) and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reefs

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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.