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Friday, November 17, 2017

South China Sea News

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 Unveils Huge Island Building Vessel

Photo by the state media Xinhua

China has has unveiled a massive island-building vessel, which has been called “a magic island-maker” by its designer and is considered the most powerful vessel of its type in Asia, the state media reported. Named Tian Kun Hao, the ship is reported to have a deck the size of nine basketball courts and be capable of dredging up to 6,000 cubic meters an hour and digging as deep as 35 meters under the sea floor. The ship, capable of building artificial islands of the sort the country has constructed in the contested South China Sea…

China, Philippines to Draft Protocol to Avoid Maritime 'Miscalculations'

China and the Philippines will negotiate a military protocol to avoid maritime “miscalculations”, Manila’s defence minister said on Wednesday, following a brief standoff near a Philippine-occupied island in a disputed part of the South China Sea. Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines tried to put up makeshift structures on a sand bar about 4 km (2.5 miles) off Thitu island in the Spratly archipelago in August, but China objected and sent ships to the area. President Rodrigo Duterte sought to defuse tensions by ordering troops to pull out. Construction was stopped. “We intend to sit down with China to draft and agree on a protocol to resolve immediately any incident,” he said, adding he hoped talks could start this year.

Three-Carrier Strike Force Exercise to Commence in Western Pacific

Photo: United States Navy

The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) strike groups will commence a three-carrier strike force exercise in the Western Pacific, Nov. 11-14. Units assigned to the strike force will conduct coordinated operations in international waters in order to demonstrate the U.S. Navy's unique capability to operate multiple carrier strike groups as a coordinated strike force effort. "It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three," said U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. Scott Swift.

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.

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.

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.

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…

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.

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)    

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.

G7 May Address South China Sea Dispute

Challenges in the South China Sea. Map by Transatlantic Academy

AFP reports that the G7 summit would express concern about unilateral efforts to assert sovereignty claims in the disputed South China Sea. John Kirton, director of think-tank the G7 Research Group, has said maritime disputes between China and its neighbours would be on the agenda of the summit in Germany. Japan's Yomiuri newspaper also said Saturday the summit would take up the issue. Citing sources, the paper said a closing statement would express concern about unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.

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: Media Ignores Other Claimants' S.China Sea Weaponry

China on Wednesday complained the media were ignoring radars and weapons deployed by other claimants in the South China Sea, and unfairly targeting China, following reports of its deployment of fighter jets and radars in the disputed waterway. Over the past week or so China has been reported to have deployed advanced missiles, fighters and radar equipment on islands in the South China Sea, especially on Woody Island in the Paracels. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated that as far as China was concerned, there was no dispute over ownership of the Paracels, and so China could deploy what it wanted on its territory without reproach.

US, Australia and EU Warn China on South China Sea

Pic: International Affairs.org

China was warned by many the United States and the European Union  that it should respect a ruling later this year on its dispute with the Philippines over territory in the South China Sea, reports Reuters. In a message has been sent to China, which is attempting to turn the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea into military strongholds, US warned that its self-serving actions are unacceptable. With the South China Sea in mind, a joint statement by the leaders…

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.

Maritime Reporter Magazine Cover Nov 2017 - The Workboat Edition

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