Posts Tagged ‘US Navy’

US, Philippines quietly realign against China

October 11, 2018

While Filipino forces will not participate in America’s expected massive show of force next month in the South China Sea, it’s increasingly clear which side they are on

 MANILA, OCTOBER 11, 2018 6:42 PM

A US navy personnel (L) gives instructions to his Philippine counterpart during drills at a naval base in Sangley point, Cavite City, west of Manila on June 28, 2013. Photo: AFP/Ted Aljibe

A US navy personnel (L) gives instructions to his Philippine counterpart during drills at a naval base in Sangley point, Cavite City, west of Manila on June 28, 2013. Photo: AFP/Ted Aljibe

Australia To Use U.S. Drones to Watch South China Sea — Angering China

June 30, 2018

AUSTRALIA will invest nearly £4billion in surveillance drones to patrol and spy on the activity in surrounding waters and specifically the disputed South China Sea, in a bid to increase its maritime security.


Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he will spend £3.875 billion (AU$6.9 billion) on long-range surveillance drones.

The government’s plans are set to cost Australia more than double the original estimated price.

The decision to spend over £3.8billion is aimed at enhancing Australia’s “anti-submarine warfare and maritime strike capability”.

Along with protection and making the “region more secure”.

The multibillion-dollar military investment was announced on Tuesday, with Canberra declaring they will buy six Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircrafts from the US Navy.

Australian Minister for the Defence Industry Christopher Pyne backed the investment, even though it is now costing the Australian taxpayer more than double the estimated amount which was first released in 2016.

Mr Pyne told MPs: “One of the most important things we do as a nation as part of the Five Eyes is the reconnaissance and surveillance of the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, South East Asia and of course to Antarctica.”

The Australian Minister also told Sky News the operational area of the drones will cover the South China Sea.

He added Australia insists on its rights for free movement in the region.

China has continued to reject the claims as Beijing considers the waters of the South China Sea its national territory.

Mr Pyne added: “Australia’s responsible for about 10 percent of the world’s surface into the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, down to Antarctica up into the South China Sea.”

In addition to spying over the South China Sea, the drones will also be used to monitor vessels in Australian waters, including other countries’ naval vessels, watch out for illegal fishing activity. and people smuggling.

The Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton has the same wingspan as a Boeing 737 and can remain airborne for over 30 hours a time.

This will enable the aircraft enough time to monitor an area of around 40,000 square kilometres.

The Sydney Morning Herald said: “The aircraft will easily be able to complete a lap of the South China Sea after taking off from the Northern Territory.”

The Australian government expects to see the aircraft in service by 2023.

While the full fleet is hoped to be in use by the end of 2025.

The six Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton’s are set to join the Australian Air Force’s existing fleet of P-8A Poseidon aircrafts.

Australian Minister for the Defence Industry Christopher Pyne backed the investmentYOUTUBE

Australian Minister for the Defence Industry Christopher Pyne backed the investment

A government statement said the new aircrafts will “undertake a range of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks.”

China’s claims over the region are challenged by several other countries, including Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

However, earlier this week China’s leader Xi Jinping said: “We cannot lose even one inch of the territory left behind by our ancestors.

“What is other people’s we do not want at all.”

The US, which Australia views as its “most important defence” ally, is adamant about the freedom of navigation in the area and often orders its warships to sail through the disputed waters.

Trump’s Order on Migrant Families Sends Administration Scrambling

June 23, 2018

Confusion over executive order resembles travel ban’s aftermath

A Honduran woman and her child on a border bridge into Brownsville, Texas.
A Honduran woman and her child on a border bridge into Brownsville, Texas. PHOTO: SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES


WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump’s executive order to end the separation of undocumented families at the southern border was written in a day, but it’ll take months to take effect as agencies fight over how to implement it.

The confusion that followed Wednesday’s hastily signed order at the White House was reminiscent of one of Mr. Trump’s first acts in office—issuing a travel ban that was aimed largely at immigrants and visitors from Muslim-majority countries without allowing agencies to prepare for its implementation.

The ban created chaos at airports and sparked protests across the country. Lower courts blocked it, and much of a successor order, from taking effect. A third version was allowed to take effect as a Supreme Court case is pending.

Mr. Trump’s ability to throw off his agencies was laid bare at a meeting at the White House Thursday night, when Homeland Security officials expressed skepticism that the zero-tolerance policy was legally and logistically feasible, while Justice Department officials insisted prosecutions of undocumented adults who entered the U.S. could and should continue, a person familiar with the meeting said. There was lingering disagreement during another White House meeting Friday afternoon.

“It would be very helpful to the White House, at this point, to create a task force that can implement it and the president knows what he signed is going to be carried out with the intent that he signed,” said Bradley Blakeman, who served as a senior White House adviser to President George H.W. Bush.

Mr. Trump’s approach—while popular among his die-hard supporters—creates headaches for his advisers well beyond those implementing immigration policies. For instance, Mr. Trump’s tweet last year declaring a ban of transgender service members caught senior military leaders off guard. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded with an internal memo to military service chiefs stating that, for now, “there will be no modifications” to current policy.

And Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s senior adviser on immigration, frequently abandoned conventional interagency agenda items during immigration meetings with administration officials, opting instead to deliver campaign-style speeches about the perils of weak immigration laws, according to administration officials.

Mr. Trump’s latest order on immigration puts heavy demands on federal agencies, which scramble to interpret the president’s directives, at times, with little or no precedent, and the prospect of their efforts being upended by congressional or legal action. They are also being asked to implement a challenging new program immediately and with fewer key staff in place at the White House or elsewhere to guide them.

Senior administration officials spent much of Thursday and Friday trying to establish what the executive order means, getting closer to consensus but not reaching it yet. This delayed any prospect of concrete guidance to agencies.

Under the existing immigration and custodial system, the Department of Health and Human Services has been responsible for the care of immigrant children, while the Justice Department sets prosecutions policy and overseas units such as the U.S. Marshals, while the Department of Homeland Security’s agencies handle enforcement and detention.

“The government is so big and complicated and there are so many moving pieces to a policy like this one that has both an international and domestic policy component,” said Brian McKeon, a former National Security Council chief of staff under former President Barack Obama. “You have to have someone bringing together all the agencies of the government to consider the options, analyze and weigh those options and bring them to the president for consideration.”

The U.S. Navy is now crafting plans to house tens of thousands of immigrants on bases in California, Alabama and Arizona, a sign that the Pentagon anticipates a growing role for itself in the detention of migrants, according to a U.S. defense official.

The plans, detailed in an internal Navy memo, call for building facilities that could include tent cities for as many as 25,000 people for six months at one site, the official said. Existing facilities at two other military installations could each hold thousands of additional detainees, the memo states, according to the official. The memo’s contents were first reported by Time.

The plans don’t specify whether the space would hold children, adults or families. Rather it plans for bed space, the official said.

The Pentagon declined to offer any details about its planning, but noted it had not received any formal request for space from the White House or any other agency struggling to respond to the immigration order.

“The Department of Defense is conducting prudent planning and is looking nationwide at DoD installations should DHS ask for assistance in housing adult illegal immigrants. At this time there has been no request from DHS for DoD support to house illegal migrants,” Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement.

Write to Nancy A. Youssef at

China Ramps Up Military Exercises in the South China Sea — Introduces new weapons

June 15, 2018

China’s navy carried out drills in the South China Sea to simulate fending off an aerial attack, state media said on Friday, as China and the United States trade barbs over who is responsible for heightened tensions in the disputed waterways.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concern during a visit to Beijing on Thursday over China’s efforts to militarise the seas.

His remarks came after a flurry of US activity in the region, including reports last week that US Air Force B-52 bombers had flown near disputed islands.

China’s navy carried out a simulated missile attack in an unspecified area of the South China Sea using three target drones making flyovers of a ship formation, the official army newspaper said.

The drills were part of efforts by an also unspecified training base to prepare for real-life combat against aerial targets after China’s leadership said some training failed to prepare troops effectively, the paper said.

The United States and China have frequently sparred over who is militarising the South China Sea, with Beijing blaming tensions on actions such as the “freedom of navigation” operations carried out by the US Navy.

Washington says such operations are necessary to counter China’s efforts to limit nautical movement in the strategic waterway.

A US Navy destroyer sailed through waters claimed by China in May just days after the United States uninvited China from a major US-hosted naval drill.

Critics have said these operations have little impact on Chinese behaviour and are largely symbolic.

Pentagon officials have long complained that China has not been candid enough about its rapid military build-up and its use of South China Sea islands to gather intelligence.

China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines all have competing claims in the South China Sea.



China Adds Advanced Missiles to South China Sea Islands

This photo shows an aerial shot of part of mischief reef in the disputed Spratly islands

This photo shows an aerial shot of part of the undeveloped islands in the disputed Spratly islands / Getty Images


China’s military has stepped up militarizing disputed islands in the South China Sea by deploying advanced missile systems on the Spratly islands, according to the Pentagon.

Defense officials disclosed to the Washington Free Beacon that the militarization has raised alarm bells about China’s creeping takeover of the strategic waterway used for some $5 trillion annually in international trade.

The officials previewed Defense Department concerns detailed in the forthcoming China military power report. The annual report to Congress is expected to be made public in the near future.

“China is continuing its gradual deployment of military equipment to its Spratly Islands outposts in the disputed South China Sea,” said one senior official.

“These deployments involve the delivery of military jamming equipment as well as advanced anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems to the outposts.”

The most worrisome weapons are missiles.

“The missile systems are the most capable land-based weapons systems deployed by China in the South China Sea,” the official said.

The missiles have been identified as YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles that give the Chinese military the ability to hit ships within 340 miles—enough to target U.S. warships that frequently transit the waters in conducting freedom of navigation operations.

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The Pentagon has stepped up Navy warship passages near the disputed islands as part of a policy of asserting international freedom of navigation.

During the most recent operation May 27, two Navy missile ships, the cruiser USS Antietam, and the destroyer USS Higgins, Chinese navy vessels unsuccessfully attempted for force the ships out of the area.

Missile emplacements were first identified several years ago on the Spratlys by the Defense Intelligence Agency. At the time, the missiles assessed as very short-range coastal anti-ship missiles with ranges of a few miles.

The DIA, however, reported internally that the missile emplacements were built on the same infrastructure as could be used for longer-range anti-ship missiles, an indication China eventually planned to swap out the short-range systems and replace them with the more lethal weapons.

That appears to have happened with the recent deployment of the YJ-12Bs.

The air defense missiles were identified by the Pentagon as either HQ-9A or HQ-9B long-range surface-to-air missiles with ranges of up to 184 miles.

The HQ-9s are capable of shooting down aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and cruise missiles.

U.S. military forces recently flew two pairs of nuclear-capable B-52 bombers near the contested South China Sea in a show of force.

Two B-52s were dispatched from the Navy support base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and flew close to the South China Sea on June 5.

Two days earlier, another set of B-52s, this time from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, flew to the Indian Ocean but did not pass over the sea.

On Wednesday, another two B-52s flew from Guam to the East China Sea, passing close to Japan’s Senkaku Islands north of Taiwan. China is claiming the uninhabited Senkakus as its territory.

The defense official said the missiles remain in place on the Spratlys.

Fox News reported recently that China appeared to remove air defense missiles from Woody Island, part of another set of disputed islands, the Paracels, in the northern part of the sea.

The South China Morning Post, however, reported this week that the missiles were back.

China is claiming 90 percent of the South China Sea based on vague historical map claims. The islands are claimed by several other nations, including Philippines and Vietnam.

The international Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines and against China’s expansive claims to own most of the South China Sea in July 2016. China has refused to observe the court’s ruling and continues to claim sovereignty of the sea.

China is building up military bases on a trio of Spratly islands located close to the Philippines, a U.S. ally in the region.

Fox News reported, based on satellite images May 9, that two batteries of HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles appeared from photographs to have been removed from Woody Island.

The senior official said the Pentagon is preparing to respond to Chinese military assertiveness in the South China Sea and elsewhere with a series of actions, the official said.

In addition to the missile emplacements, China angered the Pentagon by firing lasers at U.S. military cargo aircraft flying near the Chinese military base on the Horn of Africa at Djibouti.

The laser illumination injured the eyes of air crew members on two flights.

China also has been linked to cyber attacks, most recently a cyber intrusion against a Navy contractor engaged in cutting edge weapons research, including a new submarine-launched cruise missile.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis first outlined the Pentagon’s concerns about Chinese militarization of the islands during a June 2 speech at a defense conference in Singapore.

“China’s militarization of artificial features in the South China Sea includes the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers, and more recently, the landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island,” Mattis said.

“Despite China’s claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion,” he stated.

To press the issue, Mattis noted that the militarization directly contradicted promises made by current Chinese supreme leader Xi Jinping in 2015 that China had no plans to militarize the islands.

In response to the weapons deployments, Mattis said the initial response was to disinvite the People’s Liberation Army Navy from the upcoming Rim of the Pacific international naval exercises involving forces from more than 40 militaries.

“China’s behavior is inconsistent with the principals and the purposes of the RIMPAC exercise, the world’s largest Naval exercise, an exercise in which transparency and cooperation are hallmarks,” Mattis said.

Mattis announced in Singapore he plans to travel to Beijing soon as part of efforts to expand the dialogue with China.

The new Pacific Command chief, Adm. Philip Davidson, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a written statement in April that the electronic weapons deployed on the disputed Spratlys include a variety of radar and electronic attack capabilities on Cuarteron Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Gaven Reef, Hughes Reef, Johnson Reef, Mischief Reef, and Subi Reef.

“These facilities significantly expand the real-time domain awareness, [intelligence, surveillance reconnaissance], and jamming capabilities of the PLA over a large portion of the South China Sea, presenting a substantial challenge to U.S. military operations in this region,” Davidson told the Senate Armed Services Committee in written answers to questions.

The Chinese military bases on the seven islands include hangars, barracks, underground fuel and water storage facilities, and bunkers for “offense and defensive kinetic and non-kinetic systems,” he said.

With the weapons systems on the islands, Davidson issued this stark warning: “The PLA will be able to use these bases to challenge U.S. presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants. In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

Rick Fisher, senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the missiles in the Spratlys could have been stored on Woody Island and moved south

“To deter China in the South China Sea it is necessary for the U.S. to base long range offensive ballistic and cruise missiles in that region,” Fisher said.

“If they cannot be based in the Philippines, we need to have them on ships, or quickly develop our own intermediate-range ballistic missiles to base on Guam.”

Fisher said Chinese Communist Party leaders “must be made to understand that any use of weapons from its South China Sea islands will result in the immediate destruction of its illegal island bases.”

Retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell said if the missile deployments on the Spratlys are confirmed it would represent a significant increase in the military threat to the region.

“The PRC’s ultimate objective is to drive the U.S. military out of Asia and replace it with a PLA that is able to force the restoration of what Beijing believes is their sovereign territory—the entirety of the Nine Dash Line in the South China Sea,” Fanell said.

The failure of the Obama administration to confront China has limited U.S. options, Fanell said.

“However, the use of force should not be discounted,” he said. “As we’ve seen with this administration’s use of ‘maximum pressure’ against North Korea, the same approach can yield results against the Chinese Communist Party.”

Report: China hacked sensitive US Navy data

June 9, 2018

China’s government hacked 614 gigabytes of data from the US Navy, according to a Washington Post report. The relevations come as a former CIA officer was convicted for sharing information with China in exchange for cash.

US-Flugzeugträger USS Carl Vinson auf Südchinesischem Meer (Getty Images/AFP/L. Pham)

Chinese government hackers stole a large amount of sensitive data from a US Navy contractor, including plans to develop a new type of submarine-launched anti-ship missile, the Washington Postreported on Friday.

The hackers targeted a contractor who works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, a military entity based in Newport, Rhode Island, the unnamed officials said without identifying the contractor, according to the Post.

Read more: Donald Trump’s EU trade dilemma: United against China or alone against the world?

The hacked data comprised 614 gigabytes containing information about a project known as Sea Dragon, as well as signals and sensor data, submarine radio room information relating to cryptographic systems and the Navy submarine development unit’s electronic warfare library, the newspaper reported.

The hacking occurred in January and February, the officials told the Post, speaking on condition of anonymity about an ongoing investigation that is being led by the Navy with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Per federal regulations, there are measures in place that require companies to notify the government when a ‘cyber incident’ has occurred that has actual or potential adverse beffects on their networks that contain controlled unclassified information. It would be inappropriate to discuss further details at this time,” the US Navy said in response to questions from Reuters.

The Post said it had agreed to withhold some details about the missile project after the Navy said their release could potentially harm national security.

Read more: Opinion: Is Germany courting China and abandoning the US?

The revelation of the hack comes as tensions between Beijing and Washington continue to rise over a range of issues including trade and military matters.

Last month the Pentagon withdrew China’s invitation to join maritime exercises in the Pacific because of Beijing’s “continued militarization” of the South China Sea.

Former CIA officer convicted

Also on Friday, a former CIA officer was convicted on espionage charges for providing China with top secret information in exchange for $25,000 (€21,200), the US Justice Department said.

Kevin Mallory was charged under the Espionage Act last in 2017 after he was discovered with more than $16,000 in undeclared cash on a return flight from Shanghai.

A federal jury in Virginia found Mallory, 61, guilty of delivering defense information to aid a foreign government and other charges. He will face a maximum penalty of life in prison when he is sentenced on September 21, the department said in a statement.

Read more: From the world’s workshop to the world’s tech hub: China’s economic leap forward

Officials found four documents, including three containing classified information, on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone that Mallory was given for secret communications by Michael Yang, a man Mallory met when he went to Shanghai in March and April 2017, according to court documents.

Mallory told the FBI in a voluntary interview that Yang worked for the People’s Republic of China Intelligence Service, the statement said.

One of the documents on the phone “contained unique identifiers for human sources who had helped the US government,” it said.

Federal prosecutors said mallory’s actions were far from isolated as China tries to gather classified US information.

“The People’s Republic of China has made a sophisticated and concerted effort to steal our nation’s secrets,” Assistant Attorney General Demers said. “Today’s conviction demonstrates that we remain vigilant against this threat and hold accountable all those who put the United States at risk through espionage,” he added.

law/bw (AFP, AP, Reuters)


US rebrands Pacific Command amid tensions with China — Now “Indo-Pacific”

May 31, 2018

The US announced Wednesday that it would rebrand the command responsible for overseeing US military operations in Asia, a move that comes amid heightened tensions with China over the militarization of the South China Sea.

US Pacific Command will now be called US Indo-Pacific Command, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said while speaking at a change of command ceremony in Hawaii, where the command’s headquarters is located.
“In recognition of the increasing connectivity of the Indian and Pacific Oceans today we rename the US Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command,” Mattis said.
“It is our primary combatant command, it’s standing watch and intimately engaged with over half of the earth’s surface and its diverse populations, from Hollywood, to Bollywood, from polar bears to penguins,” Mattis said of the command.
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Adm. Harry Harris, who oversaw US military operations in the region until Wednesday, has been tapped by President Donald Trump to serve as the US ambassador to South Korea. Adm. Phillip Davidson will now lead the Indo-Pacific Command, which oversees some 375,000 US military and civilian personnel.
US officials say the name change is meant to better reflect the command’s areas of responsibility, which includes 36 nations as well as both the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The US has increased cooperation with India in a range of areas, including defense cooperation, and both Washington and New Delhi have voiced concerns about what they see as an increased assertiveness by China’s military.
The rebranding comes in the wake of a series of actions by both the Chinese and US militaries that have raised tensions in the South China Sea. The US and the majority of the international community reject Beijing’s claims of ownership of the area.
In recent months US officials have said that the Chinese military has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea.
China also recently landed a nuclear-capable H-6K bomber aircraft on Woody Island for the first time.
Those actions led the US to disinvite China from participating in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise, which the US Navy calls “the world’s largest international maritime exercise,” and involves some 26 nations including India and countries like Vietnam and the Philippines which actively contest China’s claims to the South China Sea.
“China’s continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serve to raise tensions and destabilize the region. As an initial response to China’s continued militarization of the South China Sea we have disinvited the PLA Navy from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Logan told CNN last week.
“We have called on China to remove the military systems immediately and to reverse course on the militarization of disputed South China Sea features,” he added.
The US Navy also sailed two warships Sunday past a handful of disputed islands in the South China Sea, including Woody Island where the Chinese bomber landed, a move that drew the immediate ire of Beijing.
Two US defense officials told CNN that the guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins and the cruiser USS Antietam sailed within 12 miles of four of the Paracel Islands in what the US Navy calls a “freedom of navigation operation,” which are meant to enforce the right of free passage in international waters.
Two US officials said that during the freedom of navigation exercise a Chinese naval vessel shadowed the US warships, coming close enough to the US ships that the encounter was considered unprofessional but safe.
“It’s international waters, and a lot of nations want to see freedom of navigation,” Mattis told reporters Tuesday while en route to the change of command ceremony.

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.


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.


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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

US Navy re-establishes Second Fleet amid Russia tensions

May 5, 2018

Amid heightened tensions with Russia, the US Navy announced Friday the re-establishment of the US Second Fleet which will be responsible for Naval forces along the East Coast and in the northern Atlantic Ocean.

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Russian spy ship in Cuba — AP photo

The areas are seen as critical to counter the rising threat of Russia and the new US defense strategy that focuses more on great power rivalry, according to multiple US defense officials.
“Our National Defense Strategy makes clear that we’re back in an era of great power competition as the security environment continues to grow more challenging and complex,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said at a change-of-command ceremony Friday in Norfolk, Virginia.
“That’s why today, we’re standing up Second Fleet to address these changes, particularly in the north Atlantic,” he added.
The Defense Department also announced that the US has offered to host and lead NATO’s newly proposed Joint Force Command for the Atlantic at Norfolk, Virginia.
“NATO is refocusing on the Atlantic in recognition of the great power competition prompted by a resurgent Russia,” Pentagon spokesman Johnny Michael told CNN.
The Trump administration’s new national defense strategy prioritized countering Russia and China and a US Navy official told CNN that, “the return to great power competition demands that we focus on the Atlantic.”
Re-establishing the second fleet “ensures dedicated reinforcement of the region and demonstrates a capable and credible deterrence effect” against adversaries, the official said.
US officials have expressed concerns about Russia’s increasing naval capability, particularly with regard to its submarine fleet, as well as the Russian’s navy increased presence in the Atlantic.
“They have launched a new submarine that I can safely say is closing the gap on some of our technologies,” Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer told Congress last month. “But, we are hard at work, also, to make sure that gap does not close and that the rate of the gap does not increase.”
NATO and US officials have said that Russian submarine activity is at its highest levels since the Cold War. Officials are concerned that Russian submarines could pose a threat to US attempts to reinforce Europe by sea should a conflict take place between NATO and Russia.
Russia has also recently sent a spy ship up the east coast of the US and Russian Vladimir President Vladimir Putin has announced that Russia is seeking to develop an underwater nuclear armed drone..
A US Navy official told CNN that the fleet will eventually involve 250 personnel and be led by a three-star admiral.
Read the rest — Includes video:
See also: Reuters

Saudi Arabia, Lockheed Martin To Start More Than 600 New High Tech Jobs for Saudis Building Black Hawk Helicopters

February 25, 2018


A total of 150 Black Hawk helicopters similar to this will be produced by a joint venture between the Saudi Arabia’s defense industry and the US defense giant Lockheed Martin. (Courtesy of Lockheed Martin website)
DUBAI: As many as 640 new technology jobs are being created in Saudi Arabia as a result of a joint venture between the Kingdom’s defense industry and the American defense giant Lockheed Martin to build Blackhawk helicopters with local employees.
The joint venture — known as Rotary Aircraft Manufacturing Saudi Arabia (RAMSA) — was signed as part of the big package of defense industry deals announced during US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Kingdom last May, but the number of jobs now envisaged is higher than first expected.
Alan Chinoda, the chief executive of Lockheed’s Saudi business, revealed the job creation package in an interview with Arab News ahead of the Armed Forces Exhibition for Diversity of Requirements and Capabilities (AFED), which opened in Riyadh on Sunday.
“We’ve created a joint venture to produce 150 Blackhawks in the Kingdom, which is a tremendous opportunity. It will create a whole new technology eco-system and will involve the transfer of technology as well as jobs. The infrastructure to support that in Saudi Arabia is good,” he said.
The deal to create RAMSA is just one aspect of an expanding relationship between the Americans and Saudi Arabia under the Trump presidency.
There are also plans to develop the THAAD missile defense system, supply of new combat ships to the Saudi Navy, and finalizing of the Arabsat 6A satellite, which could be launched by the end of this year.
“There has been a change since the Trump visit. The business environment has picked up and has been a lot more cordial. It was a big thing for Trump to have his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia,” Chinoda said.
He emphasized, however, that Lockheed’s relationship with the Kingdom — in place since it supplied Hercules aircraft in 1965 — was not just about supplying expensive military equipment.
“We are looking for local partners across a diverse spectrum to work with us on our systems and programs. It is not just about selling. We want partners we can depend on and see this show (AFED) as the perfect opportunity to talk to potential partners.
“There are some potential partners that can so support and assembly but we need to help get them up to the standard we require,” he said.
Lockheed, which has done business in Saudi Arabia for more than five decades, is partnering with the aeronautics arm of the Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (Taqnia) on the RAMSA project for the Blackhawks.
That deal has involved 10 young Saudi technicians being trained at Lockheed’s facilities in the US.
Lockheed has long-term relationships with Saudi Arabia’s Advanced Electronics Co. (AEC) on THAAD — Terminal High Altitude Area Defense — missiles and the Sniper 1 aircraft-born missile system, in one of the largest assembly facilities outside the USA, and has held talks with Saudi Arabian Military Industries, the new corporation set up to develop indigenous skills in the military manufacturing business.
It is also working on the PAC-3, the latest version on the Patriot air defense missile that has recently been used to counter hostile missile attacks against Riyadh and other places in Saudi Arabia.
The four new warships — described as “lethal and highly maneuverable multi-mission” vessels — were announced last year as part of a $28 billion program of deals during the Trump visit. The US Navy awarded Lockheed the contract to work on the ships for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces.
The Arabsat 6A satellite is the second to be developed for Saudi Arabia by Lockheed, and is described as the “most advanced commercial communications satellite we’re ever built” by Lockheed.
The satellite has been assembled in the US and shipped to Lockheed’s facility in Sunnyvale, California, for final tests before a possible launch in 2018.
Chinoda, who has been with Lockheed in the region since 2011, said that there had been an improvement recently in the ease of doing business in the Kingdom. “With Vision 2030 and everything the Saudi government is looking at, they have been trying to assist the way we do business in the Kingdom, especially with things like visas, which are now much easier.
“The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) reached out to us to help us do business more efficiently. There is a definite momentum and a movement for positive change,” he said.

ASEAN’s Growing Unease With China In The South China Sea —

February 11, 2018

Asean needs to resolve complex and pressing issues before nations can agree on rules to help ease maritime disputes in the South China Sea, writes Collin Koh

By Collin Koh
South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 February, 2018, 9:18am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 February, 2018, 9:18am

The chairman’s press statement at the latest Asean foreign ministers retreat held in Singapore could hardly be more timely where it concerns disputes in the South China Sea.

Paragraph 11 of the four-page document dedicates substantial attention to the disputes. Its wording in part borrows much of the standard phrases from past documents and is largely conciliatory in tone, including ministers embracing “practical measures” aimed at building confidence to help ease disputes.

Yet, at the same time, the statement flagged the bloc’s collective unease over ongoing developments in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

It noted the “concerns expressed by some ministers on the land reclamations and activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region”.

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China has now built at least seven South China Sea military fortifications.

The proposed solution it suggested would not come as any surprise to observers of Asean and matters relating to the South China Sea.

The ministers duly “reaffirmed the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation”.

It went on to say that all sides should “pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea].”

Without a doubt, the key initiative aimed at managing, if not resolving, these disputes is the proposed Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, for which a framework was adopted last August.

 Asean foreign ministers pose for a photograph at their retreat in Singapore on Tuesday. Photo: Kyodo

Amid the bonhomie between Asean and China, reducing tensions evident before a UN panel ruled on the legitimacy of China’s claims to the waters in July 2016, the underlying problems still remain up for deeper discussion between Beijing and the 10-member regional bloc.

Now that the “honeymoon” is over following the adoption of the code of conduct framework, the real work begins to iron out the details. Through this latest statement, Asean foreign ministers sought to work towards “an effective COC on a mutually-agreed timeline”.

This timeline is, however, tenuous at best.

In recent years, a number of South China Sea observers have pointed out that it is by no means certain that a code of conduct will eventually materialise. That is a pessimistic scenario for sure, but let us assume that the code will eventually be promulgated, perhaps not without some potholes encountered in the arduous journey of formal negotiations.

The issue is how exactly how effective it will be.

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China’s military infrastructure on its South China Sea bases is elaborate

Expediting the negotiations can be motivated in a few ways – either because all parties truly commit to the code out of goodwill, or because some tumultuous events arise unexpectedly in the South China Sea, compelling the parties in a knee-jerk reaction to produce a code, more for consumption by the international community, notwithstanding how suboptimal the document may be.

The latter “reactive” scenario is a plausible one.

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Mischief Reef now an extensive Chinese military base

Talks about the code started only after a major incident happened in the Mischief Reef back in the 1990s, despite the fact that prior to the event there had been disturbing actions undertaken by the claimants and that Asean and China did not conclude that a code was in fact necessary. But as reactive it may be, ultimately having a code serves the interest of both Asean and China. For the regional bloc, the code could be held up as a shining example of the continued relevance of Asean in the regional security architecture. Beijing would also want the code to justify its rejection of external interference in South China Sea disputes.

All parties converge essentially on one common objective, which is to demonstrate to the international community that they could, on their own accord, manage, if not settle, South China Sea disputes. However, there is no way to exclude parties outside the region from operating in the South China Sea, given that this semi-enclosed maritime domain serves some of the most critical arteries for global economic well-being. Ensuring good order in the waters of the South China Sea is not just the responsibility of surrounding governments, but the international community writ large.

Given this reality, it becomes questionable whether the code could be effective if signatories to any document decide not to desist from responding to actions undertaken by those non-signatory parties outside the region.

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It is difficult to envisage that the US Navy’s freedom of navigation operations would cease because of the code, or that other players such as Australia, India and Japan would not engage in their usual naval outreaches to the region, engaging their Southeast Asian partners in bolstering maritime security ties. In such a context, any of the South China Sea claimants could choose to undertake measures in the name of “self defence”, including further sprucing up existing infrastructure, even if no additional land reclamation is carried out.

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China’s miitary bases near the Philippines

All such activities could be arbitrarily deemed “provocative” by any of the parties and other stakeholders in the South China Sea. Such a problem could be anticipated in deeper discussions on the code. The devil lies in the definition of militarisation, besides other pertinent issues related to whether the code should be binding (legally or otherwise), the geographical scope of coverage and also the prospect of opening the code for participation by other countries, which is likely to encounter significant differences between the negotiating parties.

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Given the commitment to the process, all parties should aim to take as long as required to iron out differences over these issues, as well as anticipated problems related to compliance, verification and enforcement, to produce a truly effective code to every party’s satisfaction. Failing that, if for political expediency the code is rushed for promulgation, a suboptimal document will be all that remains, further undermining the common objective of demonstrating the ability of Asean and China to effectively manage maritime disputes.

Swee Lean Collin Koh is a research fellow at the Maritime Security Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies based at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore


See also:

How South China Sea is fast turning into Beijing’s military outpost



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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.