Category Archives: News

Aggression in South China Sea will see new anti-China coalition – Golez

MANILA, Philippines — A former national security adviser predicted that China’s increasing aggression in the South China Sea will spur the creation of a coalition of countries, including the United States, to thwart the Asian giant’s military dominance in the vital sea lanes. “In view of its aggressive stance, China has triggered (the formation of) a coalition against itself … It is an over aggressiveness that is backfiring,” Roilo Golez, who is also a former congressman, said in a talk before leaders of the Greenhills Christian Fellowship in Pasig City. “If there is a bully, he may get his way for a while, but then after a while, people will coalesce and gang up against the bully. And who is the first bully in the area?” the graduate of the US Naval Academy said. He pointed out that the US, Japan, Australia, India and Vietnam have already moved to beef up their forces in the contentious sea lanes. “It is an emerging coalition. You can see sea exercises between India and the US … Japan is considering patrolling the South China Sea, and Australia said it is going to modernize its Navy,” he said. “It looks like the world is now ganging up on China.” At the same time, he said, the world is also keeping close watch on the Philippines’ case China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which accuses China of violating the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea by laying claim to almost the whole South China Sea. The international tribunal is expected to hand down its decision this year although China has refused to recognize and participate in the proceedings. “If we win this case, this would invalidate China’s nine-dash line claims,” Golez said. Recently, China raised hackles by deploying an air defense missile system to Woody Island, part of the Paracel chain which it disputes with Taiwan and Vietnam.—golez

Singapore backs peaceful resolution of sea dispute

  SINGAPORE – The city-state of Singapore has expressed support for a peaceful resolution of the overlapping claims of some areas in the South China Sea.   Although Singapore is not a claimant state, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan noted that majority of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have trade and economic-related interests, which also puts premium on peace and stability in the region.   “So, what are ASEAN’s interests? Our interests are, number one, freedom of navigation and overflight because all of us are dependent on trade and we want trade to be able to flow securely, peacefully, without tension, without risk,” Balakrishnan told the gathering of the 8th ASEAN Visiting Journalists Program last week.   “Even if there’s no war, if there’s tension, your insurance premiums for trade will go up. You immediately erode our profit margins, erode our volumes of trade,” he said.   Balakrishnan discussed the need to address the issue of “peace, stability, with freedom of navigation and overflight so that trade is not affected.”   “We want a rules-based world order where international law counts. Not just because international law itself is something so powerful, but because international law provides avenues for the peaceful resolution of disputes,” he said.

China confirms deployment of fighters to South China Sea island for first time


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  China has for the first time confirmed the deployment of fighter jets to Woody Island in the disputed South China Sea, state media have reported.   Citing footage aired by the official state broadcaster, the Global Times reported late Friday that China had sent J-11B fighters to the island in the contested Paracel chain.   While fighter jets had been spotted on the island in 2016 and in April this year, the footage was the first time Beijing had confirmed the deployments. It was aired by China Central Television (CCTV) on Wednesday as part of a report on the air force’s expanding capabilities.   Woody Island, known in China as Yongxing Island, is the largest of the Paracels, which Beijing calls the Xisha Islands. It is the seat of the Sansha city government — covering several island groups and undersea atolls — in southern China’s Hainan province.  


Combat ready: Chinese air force puts new Y-9 transport planes through paces in South China Sea drill

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force announced on its social media account on Saturday that a fleet of the aircraft from the Western Theatre Command flew thousands of kilometres to simulate an airdrop over an island in the contested waters before returning the same day.   The exercise was conducted in mock combat conditions and without weather data or guidance from a command centre, the statement said.   Military observers said the exercise was an attempt to show the PLA’s ability to fend off attacks from the sea and to mobilise different theatre commands in a crisis. The Y-9 medium-lift transport aircraft can carry up to 25 tonnes of cargo and has a range of around 7,800km.

As China Rises, Australia Asks Itself: Can It Rely on America?

  BEIJING — When the Australian government set out to write a new foreign policy paper, it faced hotly contested questions shaping the country’s future: Will China replace the United States as the dominant power in Asia? If so, how quickly?   The government’s answers came in a so-called white paper released last month by the administration of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. For sure, China is challenging the United States in Asia, though in the end, it argues, America will prevail and Australia can count on its security guarantor of the past 70 years.   But a prominent defense strategist, Hugh White, has disputed that view, arguing in a provocative new essay that China has arrived, the United States is fading and Australia must find a way to survive on its own.   The contrasting assessments have set off a debate in Australia about the durability of the American alliance and China’s intentions toward Australia.   The government tried to reassure the public that there was no need to make a choice between China, Australia’s biggest trade partner, and the United States, its security patron. Despite the America First policies of President Trump, who is unpopular in Australia, the United States of old would endure. Australia would deal with the changing environment, it said, by working “harder to maximize our international influence.”   The arguments come against a backdrop of concerns over China’s growing influence in Australia. These include allegations of Chinese meddling in Australian universities and news stories about ethnically Chinese businessmen with connections to the government in Beijing giving generously to election campaigns.   Australia’s heavy reliance on iron ore and energy exports to China has long raised questions about the need to diversify its economy. However, dependence on China has only grown, as an influx of Chinese students and travelers now also helps to sustain the higher education and tourism industries.

Analysis: ADIZ in South China Sea unlikely for now say experts

  Last week the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) deployed J-11B fighters to Woody Island in the South China Sea. Simultaneously, Y-9 transport aircraft from the Western Theatre Command flew to the same maritime area to support mock combat operations.   In the light of such activity, it is an ideal time to address speculation that China will establish an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea. A group of academics and experts on the South China Sea issue, speaking at a seminar in Hong Kong organised by Bloomberg, Chatham House and Hong Kong’s Lingnan University on 1 December, predicted that no ADIZ will be declared in the near future.   In fact, Chinese moves in the South China Sea have been relatively quiet in recent months as President Xi Jinping consolidates the gains he has already achieved. Nevertheless, the South China Sea remains a potential flashpoint as Asia witnesses the end of an era of unipolarity.   With reclaimed island facilities now in place in the Spratly Islands (e.g. Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef) plus bases in the Paracels, the PLA’s ability to enforce an ADIZ over the South China Sea has improved. However, it still could not do so to the extent it can over the East China Sea where it unilaterally created an ADIZ in November 2013. Incidentally, one academic noted that China’s East China Sea ADIZ has not been well implemented, as there is internal competition between the PLAAF and the PLA Navy Air Force (PLANAF) as to who should be responsible for it. Most panellists at the Hong Kong seminar, unnamed here because of Chatham House rules, agreed it would be counterproductive if China declared a South China Sea ADIZ in the short term, as it would undo all the recent improvement in relations with neighbours such as the Philippines.

South China Sea: Filipino fishermen hope for Chinese benevolence

  As Filipino fishermen set sail for the Scarborough Shoal, they hope for three things: a bountiful fish catch, their safety, and benevolence from the Chinese coastguard. For the past two years, Paolo Pumicpic, captain of the JJ2 fishing boat, has been at the mercy of the sea; he hasn’t been lucky with any of the three. The South China Sea, where the Scarborough Shoal is located, is a major maritime route, where an estimated five trillion dollar- (4.2 trillion euros) trade transits annually. The sea also contributes to about 12 percent of the global fish supply.   Read more: South China Sea – what you need to know But experts say that overfishing, as well as dynamite and cyanide fishing, are depleting the area’s marine resources at an unsustainable rate. A study by the University of British Columbia in Canada shows that the South China Sea fish catch could decline by as much as 50 percent by 2045. Apart from a dwindling fish catch, Pumicpic tells DW that he and his men also face harassment and bullying from the Chinese coastguard. They are not allowed to fish in the area.   “The Chinese regularly raid our catch. They take away our best fish for their consumption and give us cigarettes and instant noodles in return,” Pumicpic said. Still, the fisherman does not want to complain. He says the Chinese behavior is much better than before.

Experts call for ‘strategic trust’ in East Sea

  HCM CITY — While the East Sea (South China Sea) situation remains uncertain, nations should build “strategic trust” to maintain peace, stability and development in the region, a Vietnamese official told an international conference held in HCM City yesterday.   Nearly 200 senior officials, business executives, experts, academics and diplomats are participating in the ninth International Conference on the East Sea.   Assoc Prof Dr Nguyễn Vũ Tùng, director of the Diplomatic Academy of Việt Nam, said the East Sea issue remains “one of the most difficult and unpredictable questions for international academics and scholars.”   Since the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal, the East Sea situation has seen positive changes, but in the long run there is still fear of “disorder and conflict,” he said.   This is mainly due to the fact that “international law is not fully respected” and nations in the region lack “strategic trust,” he said.   “The role of the East Sea in the security of the region will continue to grow.”     Read more at  

Opinion: China Has Tempered Its Expansion In The Disputed South China Sea

  The government in Beijing has made no official statement to this effect, but connect the dots and here’s a picture: It has mothballed for now a quest to landfill new islands in Asia’s major disputed waterway, the South China Sea. Land reclamation had alarmed five other Asian governments that vie with China for sovereignty over the sea, which is packed with valuable fisheries as well as fossil fuel reserves, because the resulting new islets can support military installations.   China has put any new, controversial reclamation work on hold under a rising tide of foreign pressure, at least two veteran Asian geopolitics analysts believe. The last time you heard about it was in June, when an American think tank called China’s work on three of the sea’s Spratly Islands “near completion.” The construction began at least a year earlier.

Trump administration backs Australia white paper

  The Trump administration has endorsed the Turnbull government’s foreign policy white paper which tilted more hawkish on China, with a senior US diplomat saying the document outlines “issues of concern” that are shared by the US and Australia.   In contrast to China’s response that Australia should stop making “irresponsible” comments about territorial disputes in the South China Sea, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matt Matthews said the US welcomed the paper and would work with Australia to uphold order in the Indo-Pacific.   “Both our nations are diverse democracies with foreign policies based on the principles of individual freedoms, open markets and the rule of law,” Mr Matthews said in a statement.   “Our alliance and overall relationship is an affirmation of the timeless nature of these shared foundational principles.     Read more:

A Defiant Map-Hunter Stakes Vietnam’s Claims in the South China Sea

  Tran Duc Anh Son, a historian in Danang, Vietnam, says his government is afraid to use the records he uncovered to challenge Beijing. “That’s why we have many documents that are kept in the dark.” Credit Quinn Ryan Mattingly for The New York Times DANANG, Vietnam — Eight years ago, officials in Danang asked Tran Duc Anh Son to travel the world in search of documents and maps that support Vietnam’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.   He did, and he concluded that Vietnam should challenge China’s activities in waters around some of the sea’s disputed islands, as the Philippines successfully did in a case that ended last year. But his bosses would not be moved.   “They always say to me, ‘Mr. Son, please keep calm,’” he said during an interview at his home in Danang, the coastal city where he is the deputy director of a state-run research institute. “‘Don’t talk badly about China.’”   Vietnam’s top leaders are “slaves” to Beijing, he added bitterly, as torrential rain beat against his windows. “That’s why we have many documents that are kept in the dark.”   Dr. Son’s mission, and his bosses’ demurrals, are signs of the times in Vietnam, which has always lived in China’s shadow but also harbors a fierce independent streak.