Monthly Archives: July 2015

China’s South China Sea claims are not supported by its own historical records

Is China starting down a path similar to that followed by Japan and Germany before 1945, when nationalism backed by new economic clout led to overconfidence and adventures which eventually proved disastrous? The question needs asking in the context of China’s latest moves ultimately aimed at making the South China Sea into a Chinese lake. Beijing has been railing against a US overflight of a China-controlled islet being expanded with a massive dredging operation. Mainland-based academics have rushed to condemn this “dangerous provocation”. Yet the brutal fact is that no international body or significant state recognises China’s claim that the sea and its islets and shoals are its territory; least of all neighbouring states. The artificial expansion of the islets may be more for show than to provide any significant strategic advantage. They may even prove impermanent, should they be hit by monster typhoons. But they are part of a pattern which in 2013 saw Chinese vessels occupy the Scarborough Shoal and drive out Philippine fishermen. The shoal lies well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and had long been fished by boats from nearby Luzon. The seizure was an act of imperialism. The US, like any other country, has a right to overfly territory which is not officially acknowledged as part of this or that nation. The same applies to features occupied by Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. China’s claim that its reclamations are to improve security are viewed with derision by its neighbours. But those people do not count. They do not exist in the version of history by which Beijing claims the whole sea, stretching to the coast of Borneo, as defined by its nine-dash line, on the basis that the Chinese had always been in command of the sea.   Read more: http://chinadailymail.com/2015/05/31/chinas-south-china-sea-claims-are-not-supported-by-its-own-historical-records/

China Is Building a New South China Sea Fleet for its Maritime Militia

China is building a new South China Sea fishing fleet for its maritime militia in a move that could intensify regional disputes, an expert told a conference at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) Wednesday. China’s maritime militia – one of the more understudied agencies in the exercise of Chinese maritime power – typically uses civilian fishing vessels for a range of missions from rescuing stranded vessels to conducting controversial island landings. While voices in China have long called for their inclusion in activities, this would be the first time that the militia would get its own fishing fleet, a boost for the world’s largest producer and exporter of fish and consumer of seafood. “It appears that China is building a state-owned fishing fleet for its maritime militia force in the South China Sea,” Zhang Hongzhou, associate research fellow at Singapore’s Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told an audience at the two-day conference on Chinese maritime power.   Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2015/07/china-is-building-a-new-south-china-sea-fleet-for-its-maritime-militia/

AFP is still verifying floaters found off Zambales’ waters — Palace

MANILA, Philippines – Malacanang on Thursday said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is still verifying the floaters reportedly found off Zambales’ waters near the West Philippine Sea. Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the AFP is also confirming the statement of Justice Antonio Carpio that China is actually dredging in 10 other reefs as part of China’s massive reclamation in the WPS. Coloma said if proven that China is dredging 10 more reefs, the information could be used to boost the Philippines’ case against China’s reclamation in the disputed territories. “If it will be verified, this will serve as additional information that we can cite in our petition in the Arbitral Tribunal of the United Nations because there are activities that manifest violations on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Coloma said.   Read more: http://www.interaksyon.com/article/115195/afp-is-still-verifying-floaters-found-off-zambales-waters—-palace

Vietnam Is Pissed that China is Blowing Up the South China Sea

China has found itself involved in another dustup in the South China Sea, as their current amphibious assault rehearsals and live-fire maritime exercises in the region have drawn Vietnam’s ire. Vietnamese authorities, believing that China’s presence in those waters violates their sovereignty, issued a statement demanding that the exercise be halted. On Tuesday, after Vietnam had already lodged their complaint, China’s navy — the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) — took things a step further, beginning live-fire drills that involved at least 100 naval vessels and dozens of aircraft, and during which thousands of shells and dozens of missiles and torpedoes were fired. Part of the problem, as far as Vietnam is concerned, is that they hold claim to the nearby Paracel Islands, and the surrounding waters. But their complaint doesn’t hinge solely on contested waters, per se — though most of China’s claimed islands and waters in the South China Sea are contested by one country or another. Rather, Vietnam is peeved because, on July 20, only two days before their exercise was to begin, China issued a statement declaring that no other vessels would be allowed in the area for the duration of their maneuvers. Sending out warnings about impending military drills and shooing away civilian vessels is standard practice (and very good manners) in most situations. But when that no-go zone is extended into international waters or what you consider to be your territory, it’s considered very rude indeed.   Read more: https://news.vice.com/article/vietnam-is-pissed-that-china-is-blowing-up-the-south-china-sea

China Developing Maritime Aviation Capabilities

Several developments in recent weeks point towards China’s efforts to expand the seaborne aviation capability of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). The PLAN is seeking to procure amphibious assault ships with significant aviation capability, are finishing construction on the world’s largest aircraft carrier dock, while speculation is mounting over a possible new aircraft carrier training facility and photos have emerged of construction of China’s first indigenous aircraft carrier. Currently the PLAN operates a singleton aircraft carrier which is a refitted Soviet-era ship. Now though, it would seem that China is rapidly moving to enhance its aviation capabilities which would provide a significant boost in the South China Sea dispute and elsewhere. New Aircraft Carrier Base According to an article in the August issue of Kanwa Defence Review, a Canada based military affairs magazine that focuses on East Asian security, defense, diplomacy, and weapons technology development issues, the PLAN finished basic construction of a new aircraft carrier dock on Hainan Island last November. Building activity is continuing though. The new aircraft carrier base is located along the southern coast of Hainan Island a few miles from the city of Sanya and is connected to Yulin Naval Base, an existing nuclear submarine base which has significant underground facilities and is the largest submarine base in Asia. The new base has a docking facility that can accommodate two aircraft carriers and is 700 meters long and 120 meters wide, thus being the longest carrier dock in the world. This is the second aircraft carrier base the PLAN has with the other being located at Dalian and the base at Sanya will eventually become the homeport of the two aircraft carriers China is currently building at the shipyards in Dalian. The PLAN’s only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning is based at Dalian though docked at Sanya in November 2013. Construction of the Sanya base began in 2011 and building rapidly progressed over four years. It is reported that the base also holds significant signal monitoring stations which can be used for surveillance in the South China Sea and to collect intelligence on nearby Vietnam.   Read more: http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/07/china-developing-maritime-aviation-capabilities/99999/

Vietnam Is Pissed that China is Blowing Up the South China Sea

China has found itself involved in another dustup in the South China Sea, as their current amphibious assault rehearsals and live-fire maritime exercises in the region have drawn Vietnam’s ire. Vietnamese authorities, believing that China’s presence in those waters violates their sovereignty, issued a statement demanding that the exercise be halted. On Tuesday, after Vietnam had already lodged their complaint, China’s navy — the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) — took things a step further, beginning live-fire drills that involved at least 100 naval vessels and dozens of aircraft, and during which thousands of shells and dozens of missiles and torpedoes were fired. Part of the problem, as far as Vietnam is concerned, is that they hold claim to the nearby Paracel Islands, and the surrounding waters. But their complaint doesn’t hinge solely on contested waters, per se — though most of China’s claimed islands and waters in the South China Sea are contested by one country or another. Rather, Vietnam is peeved because, on July 20, only two days before their exercise was to begin, China issued a statement declaring that no other vessels would be allowed in the area for the duration of their maneuvers. Sending out warnings about impending military drills and shooing away civilian vessels is standard practice (and very good manners) in most situations. But when that no-go zone is extended into international waters or what you consider to be your territory, it’s considered very rude indeed.   Read more: https://news.vice.com/article/vietnam-is-pissed-that-china-is-blowing-up-the-south-china-sea

A First: China Turns Back Commercial Flight For Violating East China Sea ADIZ Rules

In late-2013, Asia-Pacific security watchers wrangled with what China’s then newly declared unilateral air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea would mean in practice for civil aviation in the region. Two powerful status quo states – the United States and Japan – immediately refused to recognize the ADIZ and reacted accordingly: The United States flew unarmed bombers through the airspace and Japan instructed its civilian aviators not to comply with the new Chinese requirements. Of course, the ADIZ was never going to immediately hurt the material interests of Japanese and American aviation – for these states, the Chinese ADIZ was more a signal of Beijing’s growing intent to revise the status quo in its near seas than anything. The states that would suffer, as is almost always the case in international affairs, would be the smaller and weaker ones. A little-noticed report published earlier this week in Air Transport World showcases one such case. Although considerably ambiguity continues to surround this incident, according to that report, a Lao Airlines flight flying from South Korea’s Gimehae International Airport to Laos was asked to turn back by Chinese air traffic controllers and complied. The report notes that the Chinese air traffic controllers told the aircraft that it did not have adequate approval to pass through China’s airspace. According to the report, the flight (No. QV916), an Airbus A320, was an hour into its scheduled flight path, “which would have put the aircraft over disputed areas of the China Sea,” before it turned back. Starting last year, Chinese air traffic authorities began to require that all civilian flights flying through the East China Sea ADIZ file pre-flight plans, transponder details, and other technical details ahead of their flights, according to the Air Transport World report. The incident involving QV916 is the first instance of a commercial flight being turned back due to a failure to comply with Chinese air traffic authority requirements, but at least 55 airlines worldwide are complying with the terms of China’s ADIZ.   Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2015/07/a-first-china-turns-back-commercial-flight-for-violating-east-china-sea-adiz-rules/

China claims U.S. ‘militarizing’ disputed sea

BEIJING – China’s Defense Ministry on Thursday accused the United States of “militarizing” the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) by staging patrols and joint military drills there, ramping up the rhetoric ahead of a key regional security meeting in Malaysia next week. China has repeatedly urged Washington not to take sides in the escalating maritime dispute over the area, where the Asian giant last year stepped up its creation of artificial islands, alarming neighbours and provoking U.S. criticism. Washington has demanded China halt land reclamation and militarisation of the disputed area and pursue a peaceful resolution according to international law. China has been angered by U.S. navy and air force forays through waters it claims as its own, especially this month, when U.S. Navy Admiral Scott Swift said he joined a routine surveillance flight. The United States has also stepped up military contacts, including drills, with regional allies such as the Philippines, which also has claims in the South China Sea. The United States was hyping up the “China threat” and attempting to sow discord between China and other claimant countries, Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a monthly news briefing.   Read more: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/global-filipino/world/07/30/15/china-claims-us-militarizing-disputed-sea

Beijing’s dredging activities, if verified, could be included in PHL case before int’l tribunal

“We need to verify the location of where these dredging activities are and if any new similar activities have been conducted,” Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said in a press briefing on Thursday. “If verified, these could be used as additional information that can be included in our petition before the Arbitral Tribunal of the United Nations.” Mr. Coloma made these remarks after Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio on Wednesday said that China is dredging 10 reefs, in an area that is being claimed by both the Philippines and China as well as other countries. The damage of reefs is one of the principal claims presented by the Philippines before the Permanent Court of Arbitration earlier this month. In his statement at the Hague in Netherlands on July 7, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario said China has “irreversibly damaged the regional marine environment, in breach of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), by its destruction of coral reefs in the South China Sea, including areas within the Philippines’ EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone), by its destructive and hazardous fishing practices, and by its harvesting of endangered species.”   Read more: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=beijings-dredging-activities-if-verified-could-be-included-in-phl-case-before-intl-tribunal&id=112625

China may use microwave weapon against maritime rivals

China is likely to deploy its newly designed WB-1 microwave directed energy weapon against Philippine and Vietnamese vessels in the contested South China Sea, according to the state run Reference News on July 27. The WB-1 was originally developed as millimeter-wave beam-projecting non-lethal anti-riot system by the China Poly Group Corporation based in Beijing. With an effective range of 80 meters, it can project the millimeter-wave beam to heat water molecules below the skin causing intense pain, the UK-based IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly reported in November 2014. The weapon’s attack range can be increased to one kilometer when its transmitting power is increased.   Read more: http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?cid=1101&MainCatID=11&id=20150729000083