Marine Link
Thursday, April 19, 2018

South China Sea News

After China's Massive Drill, U.S. Patrols Disputed South China Sea

Photo by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anthony J. Rivera

In a span of 20 minutes, 20 F-18 fighter jets took off and landed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, in a powerful display of military precision and efficiency. The nuclear-powered warship, leading a carrier strike group, was conducting what the U.S. military called routine training in the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday, headed for a port call in the Philippines, a defence treaty ally. The United States is not alone in carrying out naval patrols in the strategic waterway…

Vietnam Mulls Coast Guard 'Open Fire' Rules

(File photo courtesy of the Vietnam Coast Guard)

Vietnam wants to give its coast guard more flexibility to open fire at sea, amid tension in the busy South China Sea waterway, a draft law released on Wednesday showed. The law, expected to be voted by lawmakers at the end of this year, would allow greater assertiveness in disputed waters by the coast guard, now armed with modern U.S. and Japanese patrol boats, in a policy likely to alarm neighbouring China. China claims almost all the South China Sea, through which about $3 trillion worth of sea-borne trade passes every year.

Philippines Eyes Exploration Deal with China in S.China Sea

© Regormark / Adobe Stock

The Philippines is looking to seal a pact with China within a few months to jointly explore for oil and gas in a part of the busy South China Sea waterway claimed by both countries, a Philippine official said on Monday. In February, the two countries agreed to set up a special panel to work out how to jointly explore for offshore oil and gas in areas both sides claim, without needing to address the touchy issue of sovereignty. "We're trying to see if we can achieve an agreement…

China: South China Sea Drills 'Routine'

File Image: A Chinese Navy Frigate. (CREDIT: AdobeStock / (c) VanderWolf)

China's Defence Ministry said on Thursday the military was carrying out routine training in the South China Sea, but would not comment on the presence of China's sole operational aircraft carrier there. Dozens of Chinese naval vessels are exercising this week with an aircraft carrier in a large show of force off China's Hainan island in the South China Sea, satellite images obtained by Reuters show. The images, provided by Planet Labs Inc, confirmed a Chinese carrier group had…

Satellite Images Show China's Show of Force in South China Sea

(Photo: Planet Labs)

Dozens of Chinese naval vessels are exercising this week with an aircraft carrier in a large show of force off Hainan island in the South China Sea, satellite images obtained by Reuters show. The images, provided by Planet Labs Inc, confirm a Chinese carrier group has entered the vital trade waterway as part of what the Chinese navy earlier described as combat drills that were part of routine annual exercises. The Liaoning carrier group last week traversed the Taiwan Strait, according to the Taiwanese defense ministry.

Chinese Navy Plans Combat Drills in South China Sea

© Nick Williamson / Adobe Stock

China's navy will carry out combat drills in the South China Sea, the military's official newspaper said on Friday, describing the move as part of regular annual exercises. Taiwan's defence ministry said this week it had shadowed a Chinese aircraft carrier group traversing the Taiwan Strait in a southwesterly direction - meaning into the disputed South China Sea - in what Taiwan judged to be a drill. In a brief report on its WeChat account, the People's Liberation Army Daily said the combat exercises would take place shortly…

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…

China: Stakeholders Should Manage S.China Sea Differences Constructively

China and the United States should manage their differences over disputed waters in the South China Sea constructively, one of China's top military officials has said. Fang Fenghui, a member of China's Central Military Commission, told General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the two sides should "refrain from actions detrimental to the relations between the two countries and the two militaries", state news agency Xinhua reported on Friday. Fang and Dunford discussed the South China Sea in a video link-up on Thursday, it said. The discussion comes at a time of heightened tension between China and the United States…

China Breaks Ground on South China Sea Lighthouse Project

China hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the building of two lighthouses in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Tuesday, a move that is likely to escalate tensions in a region already jittery about Beijing's maritime ambitions. China's Ministry of Transport hosted the ceremony for the construction of two multi-functional lighthouses on Huayang Reef and Chigua Reef on the disputed Spratly islands, state news agency Xinhua said, defying calls from the United States and the Philippines for a freeze on such activity. The reefs are known in English as Cuateron Reef and Johnson South Reef. The Ministry of Transport did not answer calls for comment. Last year, the Philippines accused China of reclaiming land on Johnson South Reef, apparently to build an airstrip.

Chine Cruise Ship's New Destination: Disputed South China Sea

Image: China State Shipbuilding Corporation

China has commissioned a new cruise ship to take tourists to islands claimed by Vietnam in the disputed South China Sea, reinforcing its claim over the area, reports Reuters. The ship called Changle Gongzhu, or Changle Princess, sailed from Sanya with 308 passengers on board. Its first voyage will last four days and three nights, said an official with Hainan Strait Shipping, owner of the vessel. The Paracel Islands, in the South China Sea where Beijing is locked in maritime disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, is also claimed by Vietnam.

US, Japan Keen to Raise South China Sea at G-7

Map courtesy: AFP

South China Sea warning looms over G7 summit. The United States is keen to raise the issue of South China Sea at a Group of Seven foreign ministers (G-7) meeting in Hiroshima. The US expects that this move would likely draw an angry response from the government in Beijing. Japan also wants to discuss South China Sea. The Shinzo Abe administration of Japan has been trying to place the South China Sea on top of the agenda at the upcoming two-day meeting in Hiroshima, despite pressing issues of combating terrorism and extremism, and the refugee crisis troubling Europe and the Middle East.

China Hopes U.S. Can Help Ease S.China Sea Tension

China hopes the United States can "help and not cause problems" in the disputed South China Sea, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Friday ahead of next week's visit to Beijing by President Donald Trump. The United States has criticised China's construction of islands and build-up of military facilities in the sea, and is concerned they could be used to restrict free nautical movement. U.S. Navy ships have also carried out freedom of navigation patrols in the area, angering China. Speaking to reporters about Trump's trip, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang said China has indisputable sovereignty over islands and surrounding 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. The U.S. navy officer suggested on Tuesday that the Southeast Asian countries form a combined maritime force to patrol areas of the South China Sea.

Vietnam's Submarines to Counter China?

Pic:  Vietnam Navy

Vietnam's new submarines could alter the balance in the South China Sea quite dramatically, say maritime security analysts. Vietnam and China have long contested claims over the Spratly and Paracel islands, including last year's dispute over China's attempted oil drilling and clashes between Vietnamese fishermen and Chinese boats. As Beijing presses territorial claims in the South China Sea, Vietnam is arming itself for a potential air and sea confrontation with its larger neighbor.

Legally China Can't Claim South China Sea: Indonesia

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Photo:  The national association for Amateur Radio)

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said China'a claims to the majority of the South China Sea have "no legal foundation in international law," he told Japan's Yomiuri newspaper. "We need peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. It is important to have political and security stability to build up our economic growth," Widodo was quoted as saying. This was the first time Widodo, who took office in October, has taken a position on the South China Sea dispute. China has had occasionally…

China: South China Sea War Games Underway

China's military carried out war games in the disputed South China Sea this week, with warships, submarines and fighter jets simulating cruise missile strikes on ships, the official People's Liberation Army Daily said on Friday. China claims almost all of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims. The U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander on Monday warned of a possible arms race in the disputed South China Sea which could engulf the region, as nations become increasingly tempted to use military force to settle territorial spats.

Maritime Dispute an Issue for Entire ASEAN, Says US

Image: Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippines

The South China Sea took center stage at the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue between the United States and the Philippines held in Manila, as China continues to engage in "massive" construction activities in the disputed area. Both the countries jointly expressed their concern over recent Chinese activities in the South China Sea which they claimed were inconsistent with the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and international law.

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. The Natuna Sea is an area between Peninsular Malaysia and the Malaysian province of Sarawak on Borneo island, at the southern end of the South China Sea. Indonesia has raised concerns in the past that China's claims in the South China Sea include waters near the Natuna Islands. China has accepted Indonesia's sovereignty over the islands.

US-ASEAN Connect Initiative, Thanks to South China Sea

ASEAN Ministerial Meeting. Photo by US-ASEAN Business Council, Inc.

The United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are taking their relationship to a new level, thanks to heated tensions in the South China Sea. China, a key ally of North Korea, has said its committed to denuclearizing the Northth Korea, but has not been to agree with the US or the United Nations on how to achieve that goal. Asean leaders have reiterated their stand on wanting a peaceful resolution to the overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Kerry: Militarization Does Not Help South China Sea Resolution

The militarization of facilities in the South China Sea does not help efforts to resolve maritime claims in the South China Sea, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said before he was to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday.   The United States is "encouraging the peaceful resolution of competing maritime claims in the South China Sea - a goal that is definitely not helped by the militarization of facilities in that region," Kerry told lawmakers in congressional testimony.   (Reporting By Arshad Mohammed)    

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, because of the technology currently available to it. According to the report, CNOOC previously signed a production sharing contract with Husky, an integrated oil and gas producer, to jointly explore and develop two deep water blocs in the South China Sea.

China sets up South China Sea environment protection fund

China has set up a 15 million yuan ($2.25 million) environmental protection fund for the South China Sea having already spent double that in the past four years, the Xinhua state news agency said on Monday. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled this month that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea and it criticised environmental destruction in the waters. China rejected the ruling and refused to participate in the case. The tribunal found that China's large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands has caused severe harm to coral and violated its obligation to preserve fragile marine environments. China has repeatedly denied damaging the environment in the South China Sea.

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, in particular the Philippines and Vietnam, over the South China Sea is expected to dominate talks.

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