Monthly Archives: January 2016

Incentivizing Multilateralism in the South China Sea

  Considering the multiple overlapping claims in the South China Sea, bilateral talks alone cannot yield a lasting solution. However, engaging in more inclusive dialogue will prove difficult for as long China – whose claims in these waters bring it into conflict with all the other claimants – remains averse to multilateral talks. Part of the aversion likely stems from Beijing’s growing confidence in the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s strength relative to its maritime neighbors. With this perceived advantage, rather than multilateral talks – which could give China worse odds of getting all of what it claims in the region – Beijing seems confident that maintaining a preference for bilateral talks, while engaging in incremental island reclamation, more frequent patrols, as well as something occasionally more dramatic, will prove the more effective strategy, eventually forcing the other claimants to reconsider what they are willing to stake to realize their interests in the SCS. However, with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and even non-claimant states like Indonesia and Singapore fast upgrading their navies, while building closer ties with each other – as well as with the United States, Australia and India further away, China is likely to find its military advantage in these waters less clear cut. And rather than spooking the other claimants into conforming to its wishes, Beijing’s assertiveness in the SCS will more frequently provoke responses in kind. For the countries involved in these disputes, for those further away, and perhaps most importantly, for the 500 million people who live within 100 miles of the SCS coastline, the prevailing status quo, which leaves plenty of room for potentially devastating miscalculation, is far from ideal. And in a tense environment, continued obstinacy towards multilateral talks will likely come at a high cost. Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2016/01/incentivizing-multilateralism-in-the-south-china-sea/

China strongly condemns US for sending warship near island

In this June 4, 2010, file photo, the USS Curtis Wilbur arrives at a naval base in Busan, South Korea, for South Korea-U.S. joint drills. China strongly condemned the United States after the missile destroyer deliberately sailed near one of the Beijing-controlled islands in the hotly contested South China Sea to exercise freedom of navigation and challenge China’s vast territorial claims. AP BEIJING, China — China strongly condemned the United States after a U.S. warship deliberately sailed near one of the Beijing-controlled islands in the hotly contested South China Sea to exercise freedom of navigation and challenge China’s vast territorial claims. The missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of Triton Island in the Paracel chain “to challenge excessive maritime claims of parties that claim the Paracel Islands,” without notifying the three claimants beforehand, Defense Department spokesman Mark Wright said Saturday in Washington. China, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the Paracels and require prior notice from ships transiting what they consider their territorial waters. The latest operation was particularly aimed at China, which has increased tensions with the U.S. and its Southeast Asian neighbors by embarking on massive construction of man-made islands and airstrips in contested areas. In October, another U.S. warship sailed in the nearby Spratly Islands near Subi Reef, where China has built one of seven artificial islands. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/760286/china-strongly-condemns-us-for-sending-warship-near-island

Australia backs US in latest South China Sea stoush

Australia has emphatically backed the latest incursion by the United States into the South China Sea and has hinted at naval and air missions of its own. Following Saturday’s exercise in which the US guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur angered Beijing by sailing near a disputed island in the South China Sea, Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne said the US was upholding international law. “It is important to recognise that all states have a right under international law to freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight, including in the South China Sea. Australia strongly supports these rights,” she said in a statement on Sunday. “Australia has a legitimate interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, unimpeded trade and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. Approximately 60 per cent of Australia’s exports pass through the South China Sea. “As we have done for many decades, Australian vessels and aircraft will continue to exercise rights under international law to freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight, including in the South China Sea.” China has been inflaming tensions in the region with its territorial claims over international trade routes, even building artificial reefs and islands to expand those claims. Other nations, Taiwan and Vietnam, are following suit. In a statement, the Pentagon said the USS Wilbur had sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Paracel Islands, to counter “excessive maritime claims of parties that claim the Paracel Islands”. “This operation challenged attempts by the three claimants – China, Taiwan and Vietnam – to restrict navigation rights and freedoms,” said a Pentagon spokesman. Read more: http://www.afr.com/news/politics/australia-backs-us-in-latest-south-china-sea-stoush-20160130-gmhuug

Beijing Plans Aircraft Carrier Patrols in Disputed South China Sea

The Chinese Navy will likely deploy an aircraft carrier for permanent operations in the South China Sea, where China and other countries in the region are feuding over competing territorial claims, an expert said. Professor Chu Shulong, the director of the Institute of International Strategic and Development Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, told IHS Jane’s that the deployment will likely occur when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s second aircraft carrier is fully operational. “For the Northern Sea, Yellow Sea, and Eastern Sea, China does not need an aircraft carrier. Chinese land-based [aircraft] are capable of reaching places like the Diaoyu Islands,” Chu said, in reference to the territories also claimed by Japan and known in Tokyo as the Senkaku Islands. However, the same cannot be said of China’s territories in the South China Sea, the professor told IHS Jane’s on Thursday. “Should the Americans send their [aircraft] and ships into the South China Sea, China currently does not have the [aerial] capacity to deal with such a challenge,” Chu said. He added that it will take about an hour for Chinese fighter aircraft from the nearest airbase on Hainan Island to reach the southern regions of the South China Sea. Read more: http://sputniknews.com/asia/20160129/1033950259/aircraft-carrier-south-china-sea.html

Taiwan president makes waves with South China Sea visit

Wading into choppy political waters, Taiwan’s outgoing president Thursday paid a visit to a disputed islet in the South China Sea and called for peace as China, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines vie more aggressively for territory and influence in the region. Ma Ying-jeou largely couched his visit to Taiping Island, also known as Itu Aba, in conciliatory and eco-friendly terms. But even before his airplane touched down on the 0.2-square-mile outcropping, the trip was drawing criticism from U.S. officials, with one calling it “extremely unhelpful” for resolving disagreements. Taiping — the largest naturally occurring land mass in the Spratly Islands — is claimed by the Philippines, mainland China and Vietnam and Taiwan, but is administered by Taiwan. Taiwan’s government under Ma has expended considerable effort to make the islet “low carbon” and turn it into a haven for storm-battered vessels of any nationality. The palm-covered islet boasts a 10-bed hospital, a lighthouse and $129 million worth of solar panels, along with a small airport for military use. The hospital’s three doctors can treat people from any country, and Taiping sees about 10 foreign boats a year from mainland China and Vietnam as their captains seek safety during storms, Taiwanese authorities say. About 200 Taiwanese, including coast guard personnel, medical workers and scientists, are stationed on Taiping. Ma on Thursday reiterated a proposal he made last year that the rival claimants put aside their territorial disputes and instead start talking about how to share resources in the 1.35 million-square-mile South China Sea, which is rich in fisheries and possibly fossil fuel reserves and is a key international shipping lane. Read more: http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-taiwan-south-china-sea-20160128-story.html

US warship challenges China. What’s the South China Sea strategy?

A US naval ship conducted a patrol Saturday around a disputed island in the South China Sea, in the second such maneuver in recent months. The island is one of many in the area subject to competing claims, in a saga that has raised tensions between China and its neighbors. The United States also has an interest in the region, not only because of its complex relationship with China, but also because the waters represent a key trade route for global shipping. Read more: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2016/0130/US-warship-challenges-China.-What-s-the-South-China-Sea-strategy

Navy sends USS Curtis Wilbur near disputed island in South China Sea

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) is underway in the Philippine Sea in 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Declan Barnes/Released) The U.S. Navy sent a ship near a contested island in the South China Sea on Saturday to challenge “excessive maritime claims that restrict the rights and freedoms of the United States and others,” a U.S. Defense Department spokesman told CNN. “This operation challenged attempts by the three claimants, China, Taiwan and Vietnam, to restrict navigation rights and freedoms around the features they claim by policies that require prior permission or notification of transit within territorial seas,” Cmdr. Bill Urban said. “This operation demonstrates, as President Obama and Secretary (Ash) Carter have stated, the United States will fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows. That is true in the South China Sea, as in other places around the globe.” The USS Curtis Wilbur, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Triton Island, part of the Paracel Islands — an archipelago claimed by the three. Read more: http://wtkr.com/2016/01/30/navy-sends-uss-curtis-wilbur-near-disputed-island-in-south-china-sea/

Navy challenges China, others in South China Sea

WASHINGTON — The Navy challenged China and other countries’ “excessive” attempts to restrict navigation in the South China Sea on Saturday, sailing the guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur near disputed islands there, according to the Pentagon. The “freedom of navigation operation” took the vessel within 12 miles of Triton Island, said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. The operation took place late Friday ET. The Curtis Wilbur’s passage makes good on pledges by President Obama and Defense Secretary Ash Carter to assert legitimate claims to sail freely in international waters, Davis said. There were no Chinese ships in the area when the Curtis Wilbur sailed past. “This operation demonstrated, as the president and secretary have stated, that we will fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” Davis said. “That is true in the South China Sea, as in other places around the globe.” China, Taiwan and Vietnam have attempted to restrict navigation around islands and other features in the area, seeking prior permission from vessels sailing near them. Their claims do not comply with international law, Davis said, and no permission was sought before the Curtis Wilbur sailed past. Chinese government officials criticized the Navy’s action, calling it a violation of law that threatened peace in the region, according to the official Xinhua news agency. “The U.S. warship violated Chinese law and entered China’s territorial sea without authorization,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, according to Xinhua. “The Chinese side conducted surveillance and vocal warnings to the U.S. warship.” The South China Sea has become a flashpoint as China and countries in the region seek control of trade routes and mineral deposits beneath the seafloor. China has been hauling massive amounts of sand and other material to build on reefs and other features, setting up landing strips. Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/01/30/navy-challenges-china-others-south-china-sea/79562402/

U.S. Navy Destroyer Sails Near Disputed Island in South China Sea

A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island Saturday, an island claimed by China in the Paracel Islands chain in the South China Sea. The Pentagon said the warship’s passage was a freedom of navigation operation intended to “challenge excessive maritime claims of parties that claim the Paracel Islands,” which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. The destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) “transited in innocent passage within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island,” said Department of Defense spokesman Mark Wright. There were no Chinese Navy vessels in the vicinity at the time of the Curtis Wilbur’s transit. Navy Destroyer Sails Near Disputed Island Claimed by China B-52 Mistakenly Flew Close to Disputed Island Claimed By China ”This operation challenged attempts by the three claimants, China, Taiwan and Vietnam, to restrict navigation rights and freedoms around the features they claim by policies that require prior permission or notification of transit within territorial seas,” said Wright. “The excessive claims regarding Triton Island are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention.” None of the three countries were notified by the U.S. of the destroyer’s transit, “which is consistent with our normal process and international law,” said Wright. Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/International/us-navy-destroyer-sails-disputed-island-south-china/story?id=36612069

China strongly condemns US for sending warship near island

BEIJING (AP) — China strongly condemned the United States after a U.S. warship deliberately sailed near one of the Beijing-controlled islands in the hotly contested South China Sea to exercise freedom of navigation and challenge China’s vast territorial claims. The missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of Triton Island in the Paracel chain “to challenge excessive maritime claims of parties that claim the Paracel Islands,” without notifying the three claimants beforehand, Defense Department spokesman Mark Wright said Saturday in Washington.. China, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the Paracels and require prior notice from ships transiting what they consider their territorial waters. The latest operation was particularly aimed at China, which has increased tensions with the U.S. and its Southeast Asian neighbors by embarking on massive construction of man-made islands and airstrips in contested areas. In October, another U.S. warship sailed in the nearby Spratly Islands near Subi Reef, where China has built one of seven artificial islands. Read more: http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/us-warship-sails-near-disputed-island-in-south-china-sea/