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South China Sea Boils Up

Photo: Council on Foreign Relations

 The overlapping territorial disputes in the South China Sea involve China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam have recently been moving from bad to worse.   Vietnam is seeking to upgrade its air defences by acquiring western fighter jets and drones, a move which would further militarize a dispute with Beijing over territorial claims in the South China Sea.   Taiwan's coast guard has commissioned its biggest ships for duty in the form of two 3,000-ton patrol vessels, as the island boosts defenses amid concerns about China's growing footprint in the disputed South China Sea, says a report in the Reuters.   The new vessels will be able to dock at a new port being constructed on Taiping Island, the largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, before the end of this year.   In a troubling sign that tensions continue to grow over the contested South China Sea, the Philippine government is claiming a Chinese warship has opened fire, with warning shots directed at one of its fishing boats in the area.   The development follows a war of words between the two nations after the Philippine president, Benigno Aquino, this week likened China's behaviour to that of Nazi Germany in the lead-up to World War II.   A Chinese coast guard vessel has been accused of encroaching on Malaysia's territorial waters in the South China Sea.   

China Criticizes US over Maritime Patrol Proposal in South China Sea

Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, commander of U.S. 7th Fleet: US Navy Photo

 China asked the United States to take no position on the South China Sea issue after US Navy Officer Robert Thomas promised to back the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in patrolling areas of the waterway.   "We hope the United States will strictly honor its commitment of not taking positions or sides on territorial sovereignty issues," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei.  

Taiwan Offers South China Sea Peace Plan

Taiwan proposed a peace initiative on Tuesday to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea that it says will reduce tensions that have put Beijing at odds with its neighbours and the United States. The South China Sea Peace Initiative announced by President Ma Ying-jeou called on claimants to temporarily shelve their disagreements to enable negotiations on sharing resources. Ma's plan is similar to a 2012 proposal for the East China Sea

Indonesia Says It Has No Conflict with China in South China Sea

Indonesia has no conflict with China over the South China Sea, an Indonesian palace spokesman said on Wednesday, days after eight Chinese crew members were detained for allegedly fishing illegally in the Natuna Sea.   "There is no conflict between Indonesia and China related to the South China Sea," said presidential spokesman Johan Budi told reporters. "This is purely the enforcement of law by Indonesia, and we have already conveyed our letter of protest."  

China to Add 8 Cruises to Push Tourism in South China Sea

Photo: Sanya Tour

Three State-owned enterprises from the shipping, tourism and construction sectors will cooperate to equip up to eight cruise liners and offer diversified sightseeing services to tap the travel market in the South China Sea, says China Daily. Sanya International Cruise Development Co Ltd, a joint venture by COSCO Shipping, China National Travel Service (HK) Group Corp and China Communications Construction Co Ltd, will buy between five and eight ships.  

Kerry to Press ASEAN meeting for talks on SCS Disputes

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Official Portrait Photo John Kerry -@JohnKerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will urge Southeast Asian nations in meetings in Laos next week to find diplomatic ways to launch talks with China on easing tension over the South China Sea following an international court ruling that denies China's claims in the sea. Kerry travels to Laos' capital Vientiane on Monday for meetings of foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of South East Asia Nations where tensions between China and several ASEAN members

CNOOC Pairs with Husky to Explore Deep Water Oil

CNOOC Ltd.’s unlisted parent company plans to start deep water oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea with Canada's Husky Energy Inc. next year, according to AP report. If the scheduled exploration finds sizable reserves in a bloc in the South China Sea about 185 miles south of Hong Kong, it will be China's first deep water oil and gas field. CNOOC's parent company is currently restricted to pumping oil and gas offshore at no deeper than 350 m

Beijing Angry over ASEAN Chief's Comments on South China Sea

South China Sea (International Affairs, Diplomacy and Strategy, London School of Economics)

 China has expressed anger at remarks made by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) secretary general Le Luong Minh on the disputed South China Sea, , rejecting Chinese claims based on the so-called nine-dash line.   The Chinese government criticized Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary General Le Loung Minh over the latter’s remarks on the issue in the South China Sea, particularly on the contested “nine-dash-line” claim. 

U.S. Will Dispatch Warships to South China Sea

The United States is expected to sail warships close to China's artificial islands in the South China Sea within the next two weeks to signal it does not recognize Chinese territorial claims over the area, the Financial Times reported, citing a senior U.S. official. The ships will sail within the 12-nautical-mile zones that China claims as territory around some of the islands it has constructed in the Spratly chain, the report said.

EU Calls for Free Passage in South China Sea

Countries must be free to pass through the South China Sea, the European Commission said on Wednesday, in its first diplomatic admonishment of Beijing after Chinese jets intercepted a U.S. military plane over the contested waters last month.   The Commission avoided directly criticising Beijing, a major trade partner, but warned in a new policy document that it opposed "unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tension"

Duterte Aligns Philippines with China to Resolve Sea Dispute

Photo: CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his "separation" from the United States on Thursday, declaring he had realigned with China as the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks. Duterte made his comments in Beijing

US Warship Challenges China's Claims in South China Sea

Guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) operates in the South China Sea (U.S. Navy photo by Diana Quinlan)

A U.S. navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Friday, drawing a warning from Chinese warships to leave the area.   The U.S. action was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the

China Protests 'Illegal,' 'Provocative' US South China Sea Patrol

China's Defense Ministry said that a patrol by a U.S. warship in the South China Sea on Friday was "illegal" and "provocative" and that it had lodged a protest with the United States.   In a statement on its website, the ministry said two Chinese warships had warned the U

US Navy Tested New Command in Latest Challenge to China

The U.S. Navy destroyer that sailed near Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea last week was under orders from the Third Fleet headquarters in San Diego, a first aimed at bolstering U.S. maritime power in the region, two sources said.  

Philippines: Sea Dispute Won't Shift Ties with China, U.S.

Photo: CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe

The Philippines' territorial dispute with China over the South China Sea has not caused Manila to rebalance diplomatic ties with either its ally, the United States, or neighbouring China, Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said on Wednesday.

Chinese Coast Guard Involved in Most S.China Sea Clashes

Photo: State Oceanic Administration Peoples Republic of China

Increasingly assertive action by China's coast guard ships in the South China Sea risks destabilising the region, according to the authors of new research tracking maritime law enforcement incidents across the vital trade route.   While the risks of full-blown naval conflict dominates

Japan to Provide Patrol Ships to Vietnam

The Japanese government said on Wednesday it is ready to provide Vietnam with new patrol ships, in its latest step to boost the maritime law-enforcement capabilities of countries locked in territorial rows with China.   On Tuesday, Japan agreed to provide two large patrol ships and lend up

China, Russia Begin South China Sea Drills

Photos: Russian Navy

 China and Russia began week-long joint naval exercises in the South China Sea today. It is the  first-ever South China Sea iteration of Beijing and Moscow Joint Sea exercises.   The Joint Sea-2016 exercises between the two countries will involve surface ships, submarines

Japan, US Plan New S. China Sea Patrols

Japan will step up its activity in the contested South China Sea through joint training patrols with the United States and bilateral and multilateral exercises with regional navies, Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said on Thursday.  

Japan Navy Chief Urges Resumption of China Port Visits

The head of Japan's navy on Monday repeated criticisms of China's pursuit of territorial claims in Asia but called for a resumption of port and personnel visits suspended for several years amid rising tensions between the two Asian powers.  

Australia Names Lockheed Martin as Weapons System Provider for Submarines

Photo courtesy of DCNS

Australia has selected U.S. defence company Lockheed Martin Corp as its preferred bidder to supply the combat system for its new $38 billion fleet of submarines, the country's defence industry minister said on Friday. Lockheed Martin beat out competition from U.S

Naval War College Professors Testify on State of South China Sea

Subi Reef (Photo: CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/DigitalGlobe)

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) invited two U.S. Naval War College (NWC) faculty members to testify in Washington, D.C. on understanding and countering China's growing maritime concerns.   Andrew Erickson, professor of strategy in the China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI)

Choke Points are Flash Points

Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 fly in formation above USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG 106) during an air-and-sea-power demonstration. Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Tomas Compian)

The world is closely watching several contentious flash points that have potential to ignite.   The behavior and rhetoric of China and Russia regarding vital shipping lanes in international waters have been alarming. Disputed sovereignty claims and efforts to enforce them have the maritime

US Warships Make Landmark Visit to Vietnam

USS Frank Cable (U.S. Navy file photo)

Two U.S. warships made port calls at Vietnam's strategic naval base at Cam Ranh Bay, the U.S. navy said on Tuesday, in a brief but symbolic return for U.S. combat vessels to what was a crucial logistics complex during the Vietnam War.  

Japan Protests over Signs of Renewed Chinese Gas Exploration

Japan has protested to China over signs it is pressing ahead with maritime gas exploration in the East China Sea despite Tokyo's repeated requests to stop, Japan's top government spokesman said on Wednesday.   The exploration platforms are on the Chinese side of the median line between the

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