Posts Tagged ‘USS Carl Vinson’

South China Sea: USS Theodore Roosevelt causing a stir in what many consider “China’s Lake”

April 11, 2018

Crewmen of the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt prepare their aircraft Tuesday, April 10,2018, in international waters off South China Sea. The aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is sailing through the disputed South China Sea in the latest display of America’s military might after China built a string of islands with military facilities in the strategic sea it claims almost in its entirety. (Jim Gomez/AP)

By Jim Gomez

The Associated Press

ABOARD THE USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, South China Sea — As fighter jets streaked overhead, a U.S. aircraft carrier sailed through the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday in the latest display of America’s military might after China built a string of islands with military facilities to assert its claims in the strategic waters, sparking regional alarm.

The U.S. Navy flew a small group of Philippine generals, officials and journalists to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, where fighter jets landed and took off by catapult with thunderous blasts. Carrying 65 supersonic F-18 jets, spy planes and helicopters, the nuclear-powered carrier was en route to Manila.

Recent U.S. deployments of aircraft carriers, backed by destroyers, to the disputed waters for freedom of navigation challenges to Beijing’s territorial claims are reassuring allies but also prompting concerns with China’s own show of force in the busy waterway.

“It’s a showcase of the capability of the U.S. armed forces not only by sea but also by air,” Philippine army Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista said after joining a tour of the 97,000-ton carrier.

“The Americans are our friends. In one way or another, they can help us to deter any threat,” Bautista said, adding that the American military presence helps secure vulnerable Philippine waters.

Rear Adm. Steve Koehler, left, commander CSG-9 of the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, briefs top Philippine generals led by Lt. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, foreground right, Tuesday, April 10,2018, in international waters off South China Sea. The aircraft carrier CVN-71 is sailing through the disputed South China Sea in the latest display of America's military might after China built a string of islands with military facilities in the strategic sea it claims almost in its entirety. (Jim Gomez/AP)
Rear Adm. Steve Koehler, left, commander CSG-9 of the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, briefs top Philippine generals led by Lt. Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista, foreground right, Tuesday, April 10,2018, in international waters off South China Sea. The aircraft carrier CVN-71 is sailing through the disputed South China Sea in the latest display of America’s military might after China built a string of islands with military facilities in the strategic sea it claims almost in its entirety. (Jim Gomez/AP)

At least twice this year, the U.S. Navy has deployed destroyers in freedom of navigation sail-bys near Chinese-occupied Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing wrestled from the Philippines in 2012, and Manila-claimed Mischief Reef, which Chinese forces occupied in 1995.

Another U.S. carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, patrolled the contested waters last month, taking part in anti-submarine drills in the South China Sea with Japanese forces and visiting Vietnam with its 5,000-strong crew, the largest such U.S. military presence there since the Vietnam War ended in 1975.

China has protested those moves, calling it U.S. meddling in an Asian conflict, and renewed warnings to Washington to stay away. Beijing has also reportedly been holding large-scale naval exercises in the area featuring its only operating aircraft carrier, while its air force says it recently sent some of its most advanced fighters and bombers for “joint combat patrols” over the sea.

Those included H-6K long-range strategic bombers that carry DH-20 long-range land-attack cruise missiles, giving them the ability to hit targets as far away as Australia, along with Russian-made Su-35 fighters.

“What we see now is a show of force and a counter show of force in the South China Sea,” said Roilo Golez, a former Philippine national security adviser and congressman.

While the moves could increase the risks of miscalculation and accidental clashes, Washington’s superior naval power could serve as deterrence to Chinese aggression, Golez said.

The Philippine ambassador to Beijing, Chito Sta. Romana, recently warned that the risks of a miscalculation and armed conflict have risen in the disputed region with a militarily stronger China now able to challenge the U.S.

Sta. Romana 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.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy of befriending China has worked, Sta. Romana said, citing Beijing’s decision to lift its blockade around Philippine-occupied Second Thomas Shoal. China also allowed Filipino fishermen back into disputed Scarborough Shoal after Duterte visited Beijing and raised the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016.

Despite such fears and occasional exchanges of rhetoric, U.S. Rear Adm. Steve Koehler told reporters on board the Roosevelt that it has been smooth sailing so far, with U.S., Chinese and other forces engaging each other professionally.

“I haven’t seen any dangerous interaction,” Koehler said, adding that problems could be avoided “if all the navies are operating in accordance with the international norm and law.”

Washington stakes no claims in the territorial disputes but has declared that their peaceful resolution and the maintenance of freedom of navigation are in its national interest.

American officials have said U.S. Navy ships will continue sailing close to Chinese-occupied areas without prior notice, placing Washington in a continuing collision course with China’s interests.

Associated Press writer Chris Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.

https://www.navytimes.com/flashpoints/2018/04/10/us-carrier-roosevelt-displays-capabilities-in-disputed-south-china-sea/

See also:

After China’s massive drill, U.S. patrols disputed South China Sea

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-usa/after-chinas-massive-drill-u-s-patrols-disputed-south-china-sea-idUSKBN1HH23P

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China has seven military bases near te Philippines
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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

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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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Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea

March 20, 2018
 March 19 at 2:34 AM
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Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, left, and Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hold a joint press conference at the end of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) special summit, in Sydney, Sunday, March 18, 2018.

RICK RYCROFT/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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BEIJING — A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:___EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest developments in the South China Sea, the location of several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.___AUSTRALIA, SOUTHEAST ASIA CALL FOR SEA RESTRAINT

Southeast Asian leaders and Australia’s prime minister called for non-militarization and a code of conduct in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where China has become increasingly assertive.

A joint statement was issued Sunday by leaders at the first summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to be held in Australia, underscoring Canberra’s growing involvement in regional security issues, despite China’s opposition.

“We emphasize the importance of non-militarization and the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may complicate the situation,” the statement said.

China and the five countries that have conflicting territorial claims over the South China Sea, including four ASEAN members, have been moving ahead in negotiations for a code of conduct for the busy waterway aimed at reducing the risks of armed confrontations in the contested areas.

The ASEAN nations are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

China has yet to comment on the statement, but in past has strongly opposed what it considers intervention by outside players such as the U.S., Japan and Australia, in affairs related to the South China Sea.

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U.S. PACIFIC CHIEF WARNS OF EMBOLDENED XI JINPING

The commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific warned that the removal of term limits to allow Chinese President Xi Jinping to remain in office indefinitely could be a harbinger of Beijing’s direction and the strategic threat it poses to America.

Adm. Harry Harris voiced concern at a congressional hearing over the constitutional change endorsed by the rubber-stamp parliament, saying it indicated the kind of country China is becoming. He adopted a tougher stance than the White House, which has declined to weigh in on the issue.

Harris, who is President Donald Trump’s nominee to become ambassador to Australia, said China seeks regional hegemony and wants to push America out. He said China’s development of hypersonic glide weapons and stealth fighter jets pose a significant threat to the U.S. He also expressed concern about China’s militarization of islands it has built in the disputed South China Sea, and its acquisition of icebreaker ships even though it has no Arctic border.

“China has taken advantage of our openness,” Harris told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Our hope in the past has been that if we bring China into organizations like the World Trade Organization and include China in our military exercises and the like, and that somehow China will become like us.”

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SINGAPORE PM EMPHASIZES FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote in response to questions from Australian media that freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea is a “vital interest” for both countries.

“Like Australia, Singapore depends on a peaceful and stable region which supports and promotes free trade and open markets. We share similar outlooks on the importance of international law and the peaceful settlement of disputes,” Lee said. “We both have a vital interest in freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. We should continue to uphold these principles.”

Countries can help maintain stability in the area by “observing international law and international norms, and agreeing to rules which minimize the risk of incidents and escalation,” Lee said.

He also said many countries, including Australia and most ASEAN members, “support and welcome” the U.S.’s firm position on navigation and overflight freedoms. Those are expressed through regular U.S. Navy missions to sail by nearby islands claimed by China, prompting protests from Beijing.

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JAPAN, US HOLD ANTI-SUB EXERCISES

U.S. and Japanese naval forces took part in anti-submarine drills in the South China Sea earlier this month.

The aircraft carrier USS Vinson and its strike group were accompanied by the Japanese destroyer JS Ise and its three anti-submarine warfare helicopters.

Image result for JS Ise, photos, warship

JS Ise

The U.S. Navy said operations also included formation steaming and replenishment-at-sea. It said the exercises began March 11 and quoted strike group commander Rear Adm. John Fuller as saying, “Strong maritime partnerships maintain security, stability and prosperity, which the Indo-Pacific region has enjoyed for more than 70 years.

“Collaborating with a close maritime partner promotes regional cooperation,” Fuller said.

The Carl Vinson recently completed the first visit to a Vietnamese port since the end of the Vietnam War.

Submarines are seen as a key component in any future conflict in the South China Sea.

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Associated Press writer Trevor Marshallsea in Sydney and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.

https://uw-media.usatoday.com/video/embed/111112382?sitelabel=reimagine&continuousplay=true&placement=uw-smallarticleattophtml5&pagetype=story

For the first time since the Vietnam War, a US Navy aircraft carrier is paying a visit to a Vietnamese port, seeking to bolster both countries’ efforts to stem expansionism by China in the South China Sea. (March 5) AP

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/03/05/uss-carl-vinson-arrives-vietnam/394324002/

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We’ve heard 白痴國家 (Means “Idiot Nation”)

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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.

Indo-Pacific and the South China Sea: Rules-based order pushed aside worries U.S., allies

March 7, 2018

USS Carl Vinson port call in Vietnam aimed at challenging Beijing’s claims

YUKAKO ONO, Nikkei staff writer

Buildings and an airstrip are seen on this reclaimed island, Subi Reef, in the South China Sea. © AP

BANGKOK — China’s land reclamation and militarization of islands in the South China Sea lacks transparency and is causing angst in the Indo-Pacific region, according to Vice Adm. Phillip Sawyer, commander of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.

In a telephone briefing on Tuesday, one day after a U.S. aircraft carrier called at a Vietnamese port for the first time in more than 40 years, Sawyer reiterated Washington’s commitment to a “free and open” Indo-Pacific, and stressed that the navy would continue to operate based on the principle of freedom of navigation, in line with international laws.

Since President Donald Trump took office, the U.S. Navy has frequently conducted so-called freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, sailing warships within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built by China. The operations are aimed at challenging Beijing’s claims to control nearly all of the vast body of water.

Washington has called on its allies for support, and Britain and France are reportedly planning to send ships to the South China Sea as well. China has protested this response, saying countries outside the region should stay out maritime disputes.

The four-day port call of the USS Carl Vinson and the carrier strike group’s 5,500 sailors at Danang, in central Vietnam, is seen as another demonstration of U.S. opposition to China’s expansive claims. The sailors were the largest contingent of U.S. military personnel on Vietnamese soil since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

“Carl Vinson being here is about Vietnam,” Sawyer said. The purpose of the visit was “to continue normalizing relationship [with] the Vietnamese Navy,” he said, without elaborating.

However, Sawyer did say China’s land reclamation and militarization of islands is causing “angst” in the region. “The angst is because of the lack of transparency … it’s not quite clear what is going to happen down there, and I think that angst and lack of transparency is potentially disruptive to the security and stability of the region.”

Ties between Washington and Hanoi have warmed under the Trump administration. Trump made an official visit to the Vietnamese capital in November last year, meeting with President Tran Dai Quang and offering to mediate between Vietnam and China over the South China Sea. Sawyer added that, following the USS Carl Vinson, he is “looking forward to bringing one of the U.S. submarines to a port in Vietnam.”

Vietnam also has claims in the South China Sea, along with several other countries. It has become one of the strongest opponents of Beijing’s efforts to assert itself in the area, now that the Philippines has drastically softened its stance under President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte has opted not to pursue its own claims in hopes of obtaining more economic assistance from China.

Before calling at Danang, the Carl Vinson was anchored off Manila.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Beijing-s-South-China-Sea-moves-create-angst-US-admiral

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China’s economic coercion worries retiring US Navy commander

Rules-based order pushed aside by repressive powers in Indo-Pacific

KEN MORIYASU, Nikkei Asian Review chief desk editor

U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift speaks to reporters in Tokyo on March 6. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO — When Admiral Scott Swift enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1978, there were no concepts of soft power or smart power. The navy had around 530 active ships, nearly twice the number of today, and mass counted.

Forty years later, as he prepares to retire as commander of the Pacific Fleet, Swift leaves behind a much changed world. Policymakers and scholars in Washington talk of “influence operations” conducted by countries such as China and Russia, which aim to gain undue leverage through infrastructure building and unrepayable debt.

On Tuesday, on his last visit to Japan, Swift talked of a new application of power that he sees in the Indo-Pacific region. “Coercive economic actions” are being taken, he said, in an apparent dig at China. These players “increase debt in a given country and then turn around and ask for something in return that was not part of the original negotiation.”

That is a concern that has increasingly come up in his discussions with regional leaders, he said.

“We need to clarify exactly what the greatest concern of the region is,” he said during a group interview in Tokyo. “And that is the diminishment of the rules-based order.”

The current rules-based international order, Swift said, was born out of the experience of World War II to ensure that “if a country grew in military strength, it would not be in a position to use that strength in the context of ‘might makes right’ to force its will on other nations.”

“We need to clarify exactly what the greatest concern of the region is,” Swift told reporters in Tokyo on March 6. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi)

Might, however, seems to be making a lot of things right in the Indo-Pacific if one were to flip through the news. In the Maldives, former President Mohamed Nasheed has claimed that 16 islands are already under Beijing’s control, and that the Indian Ocean country will have to cede more as it is saddled with an unrepayable amount of debt accumulated through infrastructure projects.

Pakistan, the recipient of an estimated $60 billion investment for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the single largest infrastructure investment program under President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, is set to become further reliant on Beijing’s money after an inter-governmental anti-money laundering watchdog initiated a process to place the country on a counter-terrorist financing watchlist.

The administration of President Donald Trump took note of China’s expanding influence in the National Security Strategy report published last December. “A geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of world order is taking place in the Indo-Pacific region,” it noted.

“China is using economic inducements and penalties, influence operations, and implied military threats to persuade other states to heed its political and security agenda.

“Chinese dominance risks diminishing the sovereignty of many states in the Indo-Pacific,” the report said.

An F/A-18 jet fighter lands on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Sea of Japan. (Photo by Ken Moriyasu)

In an interconnected world, such changes in a regional balance of power can have global consequences, and that is why the U.S. has taken note of this new form of power.

“I’ve made four trips to China,” Swift told the reporters. “Competition is not a bad thing. The question is: what is the rule set that is going to govern this competition?”

He closed by saying that he regrets not being able to take part in that competition in uniform. Last September, the veteran sailor requested to retire after being informed that he was not the Navy’s choice to replace Adm. Harry Harris as commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

On Swift’s watch, two fatal collisions between U.S. warships and merchant ships resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors.

Swift’s replacement, 5th Fleet commander Vice Adm. John Aquilino, was announced in February.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/China-s-economic-coercion-worries-retiring-US-Navy-commander

India, Vietnam Tout International Law, Freedom of Navigation in South China Sea

March 5, 2018

India and Vietnam have, in a high-level joint statement, once again affirmed their support for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, where Vietnam is a claimant along with five other states—China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

In the statement, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vietnamese President Tran Đại Quang “reiterated the importance of achieving a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty and international law, freedom of navigation and overflight, sustainable development and a free, fair and open trade and investment system are respected.”

Also in the statement, the two leaders expressed support for international law in the Indo-Pacific region, specifically mentioning the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. They called for “the implementation of international legal obligations in good faith, the maintenance of freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea.”

India and Vietnam have long converged strategically around a growing list of mutual interests. In particular, both Hanoi and New Delhi have concerns about Chinese behavior in the South China Sea. Chinese claims in the South China Sea, in the Paracel and Spratly groups, overlap with Vietnamese claims. Hanoi has been particularly forward-leaning on the disputes in recent years; in addition to approaching India, Vietnam has grown closer to the United States as well.The declaration was made in a joint statement released on Saturday, during the Vietnamese president’s official visit to India. The Vietnamese president met his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind as well as the Indian prime minister. He also held meetings with the speaker of the lower house of the Indian parliament, Sumitra Mahajan, and also met Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

In fact, on Monday, for the first time since the end of the Vietnam War, a U.S. aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, will anchor at Danang port, symbolically underlining the growing maritime cooperation between the two countries.

India, too, has grown more concerned about Chinese behavior in the region in recent years. New Delhi has concerns over China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which includes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, parts of which transit territory claimed by Indian in Kashmir.

In recent weeks, however, India has pursued a bilateral “reset” of sorts with Beijing. Last year, relations between the two countries were badly strained by a standoff in the Himalayas over Doklam, a piece of territory claimed by China and Bhutan, India’s close partner.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/india-vietnam-tout-international-law-freedom-of-navigation-in-south-china-sea/

US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in historic Vietnam visit

March 5, 2018

BBC News

US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrives in Danang, Vietnam March 5, 2018Image copyright REUTERS
Image captionThe nuclear-powered carrier set anchor off the port city of Danang

US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson is making a historic call at Vietnam, the first time a ship of this size has visited since the Vietnam War ended.

The nuclear-powered carrier set anchor off the port city of Danang, where US combat troops first landed in the war, making this a highly symbolic location.

The visit is meant to demonstrate the countries’ growing military ties.

But analysts say it inevitably sends a message to China as it continues to develop the disputed South China Sea.

It comes as China announced a military budget of 1.11 trillion yuan, an 8% increase on last year, as its annual meeting of parliament got under way in Beijing.

The BBC’s Jonathan Head, who is in Danang, says that while co-operation between the US and Vietnam’s military has grown it is still limited, and Vietnam has to manage the messaging of this visit carefully.

China is now the de facto superpower in this region, and by far the most important trading partner for Vietnam.

So Vietnam’s communist leadership is taking care to avoid any steps that might upset relations with its giant neighbour, our correspondent says.

Analysis: The US woos an old enemy as China waits in the wings

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including reefs and islands also claimed by other nations. Vietnam specifically exercises claims over the Paracel and Spratly islands.

F-18 Hornet fighter jets are seen on the flight deck of the US aircraft carrier "USS Carl Vinson" at the Manila Bay, Philippines, 17 February 2018Image copyright EPA
Image captionThe USS Carl Vinson is a so-called “Nimitz-class” nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and supports thousands of sailors and pilots

The US has always said it does not take sides in the South China Sea dispute, but the US Navy has consistently run so-called “freedom of navigation” operations through disputed waters, a clear challenge to China’s territorial ambitions.

The USS Carl Vinson has made many journeys to the wider region in its decades of service and was last in the sea just days ago.

Danang was a major US military base during the Vietnam War. The docking of the vast vessel, which can support up to 90 aircraft, will represent the largest US military presence in Vietnam since the end of many years of bitter conflict and after the country was unified in 1975.

The Vietnam War – which Vietnam calls the American War – was protracted and bloody. The Vietnamese government estimates that millions of Vietnamese, both civilian and Communist fighters, were killed. Just over 58,000 American soldiers were killed or went missing in action.

Only a symbolic message: Jonathan Head, BBC News, Danang

The presence of a US aircraft carrier in Danang, one which will be conducting so-called “freedom of navigation” passages through the disputed areas of the South China Sea, also sends a potentially provocative message to China – but only a symbolic one.

To date US expressions of concern over China’s actions in the sea have had no discernable impact on the construction of military facilities there.

The US carrier strike group looks impressive, but it is not clear what it can actually do to restrain China. Even as Vietnam’s top brass enjoy watching the full might of the superpower they once fought now paying court as a would-be ally, they must remain mindful of the continuing historic shift in the balance of power in their region away from the United States, in favour of China.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-43282558

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

Related video:

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

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.

Image may contain: sky, airplane and outdoor

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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白痴國家 (Means “Idiot Nation”)
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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.

Aircraft Carrier USS Carl Vinson Operating in the South China Sea

February 17, 2018

ABOARD THE USS CARL VINSON: With a deafening roar, the fighter jets catapulted off the US aircraft carrier and soared above the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), as its admiral vowed that the mighty ship’s presence was proof America still had regional clout.

SHOW OF FORCE An F-18 Hornet fighter jet prepares to land on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson as the carrier strike group takes part in a routine deployment mission in the South China Sea, one hour away from Manila. AFP PHOTO

“US presence matters,” Rear Admiral John Fuller told reporters on board the USS Carl Vinson. “I think it’s very clear that we are in the South China Sea. We are operating.”

The Carl Vinson, one of the US Navy’s longest-serving active carriers, is currently conducting what officials say is a routine mission through the hotly contested waters where years of island reclamation and military construction by Beijing has rattled regional nerves.

Following criticism that the Trump administration’s commitment to the Asian region has been distracted by North Korea, reporters were flown onto the ship Wednesday as it sailed through the sea.

 Related image

 

In a rapid series of take-offs and landings, F18 fighter jets roared off the deck, traveling from zero to 290 kilometers (180 miles) per hour in a dizzying two seconds.

Fuller, commander of the Carl Vinson Strike Group, said the 333-meter-long ship’s presence was a way to reassure allies.

“The nations in the Pacific are maritime nations,” he said. “They value stability … That’s exactly what we are here for. This is a very visible and tangible presence. The United States is here again.”

Strategic competitor

But the location of the strike group – which includes a carrier air wing and a guided-missile cruiser – is also a very direct message to China, whether US officials admit it or not.

Its voyage comes just a month after the Pentagon’s national defense strategy labeled China a “strategic competitor” that bullies its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea – believed to hold vast oil and gas deposits and through which $5 trillion in trade passes annually – and has rapidly built reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims in the sea.

Manila has also protested China’s naming of five features in the Philippine Rise, also known as Benham Rise, a
vast undersea area within the Philippines’ continental shelf where the country holds sovereign rights.

Compared to the 11 active aircraft carriers in the US Navy, China boasts just one carrier.

But the rising Asian superpower has made no secret of its desire to build up its naval forces and become much more regionally assertive.

Last month Beijing said it had dispatched a warship to drive away a US missile destroyer which had “violated” its sovereignty by sailing close to a shoal in the South China Sea.

Major naval nations like the US, Britain and Australia are determined not to let China dictate who can enter the strategic waters.

They have pushed “freedom of navigation” operations in which naval vessels sail close to Chinese-claimed militarized islets in the South China Sea.

“We will follow what international rule says and we will respect (it), even if there are disputes there,” Fuller said.

Alliances shifting

The nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson – the ship that took Osama Bin Laden’s body for burial at sea – began a regular deployment in the Western Pacific last month.

The carrier is home to 5,300 sailors, pilots, and other crew members as well as 72 aircraft.

Washington has announced plans for it to dock in Vietnam – a first for the communist nation which is rattled by China’s expansionism in the sea and has forged a growing alliance with its former foe the US.

Britain said on Tuesday it would sail its own warship from Australia through the South China Sea next month to assert freedom of navigation rights in support of the US approach.
But alliances are shifting.

The Philippines, a US treaty ally, was once the strongest critic of Beijing’s expansionism in the South China Sea, successfully winning a tribunal case in The Hague over their claims.

But it has changed course under President Rodrigo Duterte in a bid for billions of dollars worth of Chinese investment.

Duterte last week said it was not time to fight China over the row, adding the Philippines should “not meddle” with Washington and Beijing’s competition for superpower status.

In Wednesday’s trip, the USS Carl Vinson hosted top Duterte aides and key Philippine military officers.
Duterte’s communications secretary Martin Andanar described the carrier as “very impressive” and its equipment “massive.”

Asked if Manila welcomed US patrols in the disputed area, Andanar told reporters: “The United States has been a big brother of the Philippines, a military ally.”

PH won’t recognize renamed features

The Philippines was not consulted by the International Hydrographic Organization’s (IHO) Subcommittee on Undersea Feature Names (SCUFN) in renaming several features within the Philippine Rise as proposed by China, and will not recognize these names, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said on Thursday.

“The decision of the SCUFN was made without due consultation with the Philippine Government,” Esperon said in a statement.

His statement came days after maritime expert Jay Batongbacal posted on Facebook that Beijing had proposed names before the IHO for several undersea features of the Philippine Rise.

These features include four seamounts and one hill, which are the Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts located some 70 nautical miles east of Cagayan province; the Haidonquing Seamount located further east at 190 nautical miles; and the Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamount that form central peaks.

According to Esperon, the renaming of Jinghao and Tianbao seamounts were adopted in October 2015 while the renaming of Jujiu seamount was approved in September 2016.

The approval of the proposals in naming underwater features, as a matter of procedure, are decided upon solely by the 12-member SCUFN countries: Germany, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Italy and Russia, Esperon explained.

Decisions made by the SCUFN are “deemed as final and non-appealable,” he noted.

“Because of the numerous complaints from many countries regarding its supposed arbitrary and unregulated decision-making process, the SCUFN decided to suspend last year the processing of pending proposals for the naming of undersea features worldwide,” Esperon said.

“Nonetheless our diplomatic posts have been alerted against such future applications in Philippine waters,” Esperon added.

Last month, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol announced that President Duterte had ordered the Philippine Navy to “chase away” foreign vessels found within the Philippine Rise.

On June 12 last year, the military’s Northern Luzon Command hoisted a fiberglass Philippine flag within the Philippine Rise, to assert sovereignty over the territory.

with  DEMPSEY REYES

http://www.manilatimes.net/us-presence-matters-disputed-waters/380505/

Presence of US warship in Philippines a ‘breath of fresh air’ for Filipinos – Lawmaker says

February 16, 2018
By: – Reporter / @MAgerINQ
 / 06:38 PM February 16, 2018

Image may contain: ocean, sky, water and outdoor

USS Carl Vinson in the South China Sea

For Senator Panfilo Lacson, the presence of a US warship in the country was a “breath of fresh air” for Filipinos.

On Friday, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrived in Manila for a port visit.

READ: USS Carl Vinson arrives in Manila for port visit

“Not being pro USA and anti-China, the presence of USS Carl Vinson in the West Philippine Sea is a breath of fresh air for those of us, pro Philippines,” Lacson wrote on Twitter.

“It is called, balance of power,” the senator added.

The arrival of the aircraft carrier came at a time when Philippines is protesting China’s reported naming of five undersea features in the Benham Rise.

Lacson was among those who protested this alleged intrusion into the country’s territory.

“The following Benham Rise features were named by China: Jinghao and Tianbao Seamounts, Haidonquing Seamount, Cuiqiao Hill and Jujiu Seamounts,” he said in his earlier post also on Twitter.

“It’s probably a matter of time before we see Chinese structures on more artificial islands. Damn us! Are we this helpless?”

READ: ‘Damn us! Are we this helpless?’ – Lacson on sea features named by China

Inquirer had also released aerial photos of China’s alleged militarization in seven reefs being claimed by the Philippines at the South China Sea

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/164312/presence-us-warship-ph-breath-fresh-air-pinoys#ixzz57HTRDbTd
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

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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.

7 US aircraft carriers are at sea for the first time in years — here’s what they’re doing

November 11, 2017

For the first time in years, seven of the US Navy’s 11 nuclear aircraft carriers are at sea simultaneously, according to US Naval Institute News.

The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Nimitz (CVN 68), and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) are in the Western Pacific on operational deployments. They have full air wings and carrier escorts.

The USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) are in the Eastern Pacific, while the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and the brand-new USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) are in the Atlantic. Those four carriers are on training missions or doing workups before deployments.

All the carriers — including the ones converging on the Western Pacific — are on planned operations amid President Donald Trump’s 12-day trip to Asia.

Here’s what each carrier is up to.

View As: One Page Slides

 

The USS Ronald Reagan just finished a three-day drill in the Sea of Japan with a Japanese destroyer and two Indian warships.

The USS Ronald Reagan just finished a three-day drill in the Sea of Japan with a Japanese destroyer and two Indian warships.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.Dylan McCord/US Navy

Source: Reuters

The USS Nimitz, the lead ship in the Nimitz class, visited Sri Lanka in October — the first time a US aircraft carrier had visited the dock Colombo over 30 years.

Source: USNI News

The USS Theodore Roosevelt visited the US territory of Guam on October 31, the first time the carrier has ever done so.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt visited the US territory of Guam on October 31, the first time the carrier has ever done so.

Screenshot/Twitter via @PacificCommand

Three months earlier, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened to launch missiles near the island. More recently, China reportedly practiced bombing runs targeting Guam with H-6K “Badger” bombers.

The USS Carl Vinson recently conducted training exercises off the coast of Southern California and is now doing a planned sustainment exercise and flight tests with the F-35C Lightning II fighter.

Source: Times of San DiegoUSNI News

The USS John C. Stennis had been at the Kitsap-Bremerton naval base in Washington state for repairs but left port last week for the Eastern Pacific.

Source: USNI News

The USS Abraham Lincoln finished its four-year midlife refueling and complex overhaul in May and is now going through qualifications.

Source: USNI News

The USS Gerald R. Ford, the first of the US Navy’s Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carriers, is the largest and most advanced ship in the US fleet. It was commissioned in July and is undergoing trials and exercises before it fully joins the fleet.

The USS Gerald R. Ford, the first of the US Navy's Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carriers, is the largest and most advanced ship in the US fleet. It was commissioned in July and is undergoing trials and exercises before it fully joins the fleet.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet flies over the USS Gerald R. Ford in July.United States Navy

The Ford is the Navy’s most sophisticated carrier — though it was built without urinals.