China Now Threatens Britain With WAR Over A Decision To Send Aircraft Carriers To SCS.

It seems that after India, Britain has now come in the firing line of the hawkish Chinese state media. The reason is another territorial dispute – the South China Sea – where China is flexing its muscles, like it’s trying to do with India in the Doklam dispute. Britain has announced it will send its two aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth – the largest in the British fleet – and HMS Prince of Wales to the South China Sea. It does so in solidarity with the international community’s pledge to ensure freedom in navigation operations in international waters, and to counter China’s attempts to dominate the area by building artificial islands and militarising it with warships and fighter jets. An editorial in the official Chinese publication Global Times, which regularly threatens India of war over the India-China Doklam plateau border standoff, has warned Britain that sending warships to the South China Sea would be a provocation that would force China to take retaliatory measures. Questioning the British motive behind the move, the editorial says “it is no longer 1840 and there are no longer any British colonies in East Asia” and that Britain has wrongly taken this decision under Australian and American influence. It describes the “US as a police officer, Australia as its assistant and the UK as its accomplice.”

China’s activities in SCS ‘clear and present danger’ to PH security: Golez

MANILA – China’s island-building and military activities in the South China Sea are a “clear and present danger” to the Philippines’ national security, warned former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez. In an interview on ANC’s Early Edition on Thursday, Golez said China can, at any time, deploy combat aircraft that can easily reach the Philippines and Vietnam. Golez said a lot of people are projecting that China can deploy a squadron of fighter jets in Mischief Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, and Subi Reef, which have 3-kilometer runways that can accommodate “all the aircraft and the inventory of China.” “The moment those runways are activated, the moment these fighter jets are deployed there…all these aircraft would have a radius that would cover the entire Philippines, Borneo, and the whole of Vietnam,” he told ANC’s Early Edition. “That to me is a clear and present danger to our national security,” he added. http://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/07/06/17/chinas-activities-in-scs-clear-and-present-danger-to-ph-security-golez

Show ‘utmost respect’ for law of seas: India on SCS row

“India believes that States should resolve disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability,” he said. Identifying maritime cooperation as a key priority, India on Tuesday called for all stakeholders in the South China Sea issue to show “utmost respect” for the U.N. body that establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans as it sought peaceful resolution of the dispute. Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh described the sea lanes of communication passing through the South China Sea as “critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development” and appealed to all parties in the matter to avoid any activity that could escalate tensions. “India believes that States should resolve disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability,” he said, without naming any country. “India has noted the Award of the Arbitral Tribunal constituted under Annex VII of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) in the matter concerning the Philippines and China. “As a State Party to UNCLOS, India urges all parties to show utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans,” he told the 14th ASEAN—India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Vientiane, Laos, referring to the tribunal’s July 12 rejection of Beijing’s claim over the strategic waters. http://m.thehindu.com/news/international/show-utmost-respect-for-law-of-seas-india-on-scs-row/article8901956.ece

Traditional fishing: A game changer in the SCS?

Indonesia’s recent diplomatic protest to China over the resumption of alleged illegal trans-border fishing near the waters of the Natuna Islands marks a new episode of conflict management in the South China Sea. The scholar Ann Marie Murphy in 2014 predicted the unavoidable “game changer” in the South China Sea after Indonesia officially protested China’s “nine-dash line” map at the UN in 2010 and requested China’s clarification. Up until the recent incident, China never replied to this request. China unilaterally declared their map in 2009. Our Defense Ministry alerted everyone to the potential conflict near Natuna waters by making the area a priority for naval patrol. Following the incident of March 19, Jakarta is clearly unable to maintain its neutral position as a non-claimant; neither can it aspire further to be an independent mediator in the conflict over the South China Sea. On March 19, a Chinese coast guard vessel was reported to have intentionally hit the Chinese fishing boat Kway Fey to stop it from being pulled by the Indonesian authority’s vessel to Indonesian shores. The KM Kway Fey was towed and its crew was transferred to Indonesia’s KP Hiu 11 by a patrol from the Indonesian Navy; the Chinese boat’s crew was apprehended for illegal fishing in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone, according to the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry. Similar incidents occurred in 2013 and in 2010 when a Chinese coast guard boat, the Yuzheng 311, reportedly pointed a machine gun at an Indonesian patrol boat to make it release a Chinese fishing boat apprehended for illegal fishing. In response to Jakarta’s protest the Chinese Foreign Ministry reaffirmed official recognition of Indonesian sovereignty over the Natuna Islands but insisted its fishermen were conducting “normal” operations in their “traditional fishing grounds”. The current firm position of Indonesia should not be a surprise. The maritime axis doctrine introduced by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has signaled the focus of Indonesian foreign policy on maritime issues, especially regarding illegal and unreported trans-border fishing. Minister Susi Pudjiastuti’s policy of burning boats found to be guilty of such practices within Indonesian waters is strongly supported by the Navy, following the increased military budget as promised by Jokowi’s administration. Keyuan Zou, an expert in international law, wrote that China’s maritime vision developed especially after the Declaration of its Territorial Sea on Sept. 4, 1958 and China’s participation at the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea in 1971. http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2016/04/14/traditional-fishing-a-game-changer-in-the-scs.html

Vietnam-Philippines port call amid concern over China’s SCS airstrip

Late last week, an IHS Jane’s report corroborated claims that China was embarking on an island-building project in the South China Sea. Based on satellite imagery, Jane’s reported that China was building an airstrip-capable island on Fiery Cross Reef, a group of three reefs in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. China claims the territory as part of Hainan province’s Sansha prefecture and exerts de facto control over the area. The reef’s central location in the broader South China Sea renders it a strategic position for an island-based airstrip. The Jane‘s report substantiates speculation earlier this year that China was constructing an airstrip on a man-made island in the South China Sea. Based on the most recent satellite imagery, Jane’s notes that “Chinese dredgers have created a land mass that is almost the entire length of the reef.” Fiery Cross Reef is an underwater reef, but China is looking to develop a new island that is roughly 3 km long and 200 to 300 m wide — just wide enough for a functional airstrip. The strategic advantages of an airstrips in the middle of the South China Sea include shorter resupply routes for deployed PLAN patrols, a base for reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned system, and a potential permanent installation for anti-submarine warfare equipment including undersea radar arrays. For China, this island on Fiery Cross Reef could fulfill the strategic role of an “unsinkable aircraft carrier.” As Beijing continues to raise the stakes in the South China Sea, developments such as this airstrip will cause concern among the other claimants.   Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/chinas-spratlys-airstrip-will-raise-south-china-sea-stakes/

Vietnam-Philippines port call amid concern over China’s SCS airstrip

In what was the first ever port call between the countries, two Vietnamese frigates visited the Philippines on Tuesday. An unnamed Filipino naval officer said the two countries would hold peaceful joint patrols and operations in the Spratlys. But the timing of the maiden port call was clear. It coincides with the first anniversary of China’s declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) over parts of the East China Sea, including the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Ever since, Southeast Asian states have worried about Beijing’s intentions for its territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The year seems to have only drawn us closer to a major incident, miscalculation or serious conflict in the South China Sea. Yet there is little unity from the ASEAN bloc, despite much discussion. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in May managed a joint communiqué expressing ‘serious concerns’ (the adjective was added at Vietnam’s insistence and only after much debate). The November ASEAN Summit statement managed to declare that ‘we remain concerned’, with a further affirmation of ‘the importance of maintaining peace and stability’ including the ‘freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea’. A leaked pre-Summit draft document cited progress on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea, but with no firm agreement on the decade-long process of negotiation.  Read more: http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2014/11/28/Vietnam-Philippines-port-call-amid-concern-over-Chinas-SCS-airstrip.aspx

China’s SCS claim threatens RI sovereignty

Has China abandoned its policy of resolving the contentious South China Sea (SCS) issue through peaceful means? China’s recent big brother behavior and unilateral military measures like naval blockades and xenophobic rhetoric have all given the impression that overconfident China is increasingly shedding its soft-power image in resolving both the East China Sea and SCS disputes. China — the world’s second largest economy — has already aroused deep suspicions among its neighbors by increasing its defense budget in 2014 by 12 percent to US$132 billion, making it second in the world only to the US’s defense spending of $528 billion. China’s recent measures such as new fisheries laws, the establishment of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea and, most recently, a naval blockade around Second Thomas Shoal, known in China as the Ren’ai Reef and in the Philippines as Ayungin — which is in the SCS — have aggravated the fears.   Read more: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/03/17/china-s-scs-claim-threatens-ri-sovereignty.html

The Rise of Maritime China


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As The People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues its historically unprecedented economic expansion, with its accompanying prestige, she has accordingly sought to expand her hegemony on the world stage. The centerpiece of this incrementalist program has been an ambitious and destabilizing program of building up airstrips and bases atop disputed reefs within the South China Sea (SCS). A glance at any map shows that the concept of “East Asia” is indelibly defined by the sea — and the SCS is, at its heart, astride access to both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Given its centrality, author Robert Kaplan holds that “the South China Sea is as central to Asia as the Mediterranean is to Europe.” The United States must pay close attention to Beijing’s disturbing program. Through this massive construction of a “Great Wall of Sand,” or as China herself puts it, creation of “facts on the ground,” the PRC seems intent to create a regional fait accompli of sovereignty over this strategic sea. This expansion has been disconcerting to China’s many neighbors which reject China’s claims — nations such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore — and see access to this key waterway as central to their own economies. A watershed event occurred July 12, 2016, when The International Court at The Hague rebuked the PRC, stating China’s claim of sovereignty over the SCS had no legal basis. This ruling, which drew a strong negative reaction from the Chinese public as well as leadership, seems to have created further intransigence on the issue. Unfortunately, International Law does not have its own police force, so China continues its buildup so far unopposed, save occasional blows between fishermen and the occasional diplomatic complaint. China is confident its “incrementalist” buildup will get them where they want.  

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