Tag Archives: Paracels

A Glimpse Into China’s Military Presence in the South China Sea

Widely published satellite imagery from Feb. 14 shows the presence of new Chinese air defense systems on Woody Island in the South China Sea, highlighting continuing maritime frictions in the area. But new imagery obtained by Stratfor provides a higher-resolution view of the deployment and activities taking place across the island. Specialists at AllSource Analysis have identified two batteries of HQ-9 surface-to-air launchers, as well as supporting vehicles such as an engagement radar and the Type 305B AESA acquisition radar. Chinese military personnel are also moving near the air defense batteries, and cables are connecting vehicles and equipment into a single networked system. Read more: https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/glimpse-chinas-military-presence-south-china-sea#

China’s ‘historical sovereignty’ over East Vietnam Sea is groundless: US expert

The “historical sovereignty” China claims over the East Vietnam Sea is baseless and thus Beijing should comply with international law, according to a U.S. expert. Dr. Patrick M. Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, offered the remark when talking to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, rejecting the argument of a Chinese scholar at an international conference on East Vietnam Sea issues that concluded in the southern Vietnamese city of Vung Tau on Tuesday. The Chinese scholar in question is Dr. Nong Hong, director of a research center under an institute for East Vietnam Sea studies in China. In her speech at the event, Dr. Nong said that China’s “historical sovereignty” under the so-called “nine-dash line” is more meaningful in terms of international law than the concept of “exclusive economic zone” adopted by other countries in the East Vietnam Sea. The line was unilaterally proclaimed by China to illegally claim sovereignty over about 80 percent of the East Vietnam Sea, including Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes. Read more: http://tuoitrenews.vn/politics/31860/chinas-historical-sovereignty-over-east-vietnam-sea-is-groundless-us-expert

U.S. destroyer passes island in South China Sea

The U.S. Navy sent a destroyer within 12 miles of one of China’s man-made islands in a contested area of the South China Sea on Tuesday, a U.S. defense official told CNN. The operation has since concluded, the official said. The U.S. Navy plans to send a destroyer within 12 miles of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea within the next 24 hours, a U.S. defense official confirmed to CNN. The official said the mission now has the approval of President Barack Obama. News of the ship’s plan was first reported by Reuters. The ship could make the pass as soon as Monday night, barring any unforeseen circumstances, a U.S. military source told CNN. There will be air cover as well as reconnaissance in the air, flying in international airspace, the source said. The aircraft will watch the ship and be there, if needed, to record and deal with any problems. The Chinese have not been informed, the source said, adding that no trouble is expected. “This idea of what we call freedom of navigation operations is routine. As a former naval officer I can tell you I did it many, many times myself,” said State Department spokesman John Kirby on Monday. “It’s one of the reasons you have a Navy. To be able to exert influence and defend freedom of navigation on international waters.” Kirby said one country doesn’t need to consult with another “when you are exercising the right of freedom of navigation in international waters.” “The whole point of freedom of navigation in international waters is that it’s international waters and you don’t need to consult with anybody to do that. That’s the idea,” he said. But Chinese Embassy spokesperson Zhu Haiquan said, “Freedom of navigation and overflight should not be used as excuse to flex muscle and undermine other countries’ sovereignty and security.” “We urge the United States to refrain from saying or doing anything provocative and act responsibly in maintaining regional peace and stability,” Haiquan said in a statement Monday night. Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/26/politics/south-china-sea-islands-u-s-destroyer/

US Navy Set to Send Destroyer Within 12 Nautical Miles of Subi, Mischief Reefs

After weeks of signaling that it would initiate freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs), the U.S. Navy is set to deploy the USS Lassen, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, within 12 nautical miles of China’s man-made islands in the South China Sea. Reuters, citing a U.S. defense official, confirmed that operations were set to begin “within 24 hours” of its report, suggesting that the Lassen will sail near the Chinese artificial islands sometime on Tuesday, October 27, local time. Per the Reuters report, the Lassen will be accompanied by a P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft. A P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft may support the Lassen as well. The report confirms that the Lassen will sail only within 12 nautical miles of Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea. Subi and Mischief represent two of seven features where China has carried out substantial land reclamation and construction work. The two features are distinct from the other five features where China has carried out similar work, including Cuarteron, Gaven, Fiery Cross, Johnson South, and Hughes reefs, because the original reefs, prior to China’s island-building, were fully underwater at low tide. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), low-tide elevations receive no special consideration that would grant them rights to a 12 nautical mile territorial sea. Similarly, artificial islands are not entitled to a 12 nautical mile territorial sea, but are instead treated like oil rigs and similar installations, entitling them to a 500 meter safety zone. Thus, the Lassen will sail within 12 nautical miles of Subi and Mischief but will likely avoid entering the 500 meter safety zone. Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2015/10/us-navy-set-to-send-destroyer-within-12-nautical-miles-of-subi-mischief-reefs/

US warship heads for South China sea

Washington – The US Navy plans to send the destroyer USS Lassen within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea within 24 hours, in the first of a series of challenges to China’s territorial claims, a US defense official said on Monday. The patrol would occur near Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly archipelago, features that were formerly submerged at high tide before China began a massive dredging project to turn them into islands in 2014. The ship would likely be accompanied by a US Navy P-8A surveillance plane and possibly P-3 surveillance plane, which have been conducting regular surveillance missions in the region, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Additional patrols would follow in coming weeks and could also be conducted around features that Vietnam and the Philippines have built up in the Spratlys, the official added. “This is something that will be a regular occurrence, not a one-off event,” said the official. “It’s not something that’s unique to China.” Read more: http://beta.iol.co.za/news/world/us-warship-heads-for-south-china-sea-1936137

No guns as China’s coast guard chases boats in South China Sea

ARMED with little more than flashing lights, loud hailers and water cannons, China’s coast guard is becoming the vanguard for the country’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Philippine military plane shows the ongoing land reclamation by China in the South China Sea. — Reuters The ostensibly civilian “white-hulled” fleet is a frequent presence in the disputed waters, confronting fishing and coast guard vessels from other claimant nations. By not deploying its gray-hulled navy too visibly, China is seeking to avert international condemnation that might result if it tried to impose its territorial assertions with warships. That distinction is important as the US military is reportedly considering sailing warships into the 12 nautical mile zone that China claims around some man-made islands in the South China Sea. The question is whether China would meet such patrols with the coast guard alone or use it as a reason to bring in its navy, a move that would significantly raise tensions in the area. “Initially it would be the coast guard, but I worry about escalation control,” said Susan Shirk, a former US deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia. “I think we have to anticipate that the PLA navy would respond in some manner.” Ms. Shirk is now chairwoman of the 21st Century China Program at the University of California. ‘AGGRESSIVE INSTRUMENTS’ China has utilized its coast guard in the area in an effort to underline the political message that it considers at least 80 percent of the South China Sea to be its sovereign territory, subject to its domestic laws. The claim is based on a nine-dash line drawn on a 1940s map that doesn’t give precise coordinates. The vessels often operate in waters around the reefs on which it has been building airstrips, buildings and light houses. “China is employing its coast guard as aggressive instruments of state policy to assert territorial claims,” said Lyle Morris, a project associate at Rand Corp. who has traveled this year to Vietnam, the Philippines, China and Japan to study their coast guards. “And they are adopting more assertive tactics.” In June, a Chinese coast guard vessel flanked a Chinese fishing boat in waters around Indonesia’s Natuna Islands, according to Rear Admiral A. Taufiq R., commander of the Indonesian Western Fleet. The islands lie outside the nine-dash line and Mr. Taufiq said he ordered the Chinese vessels to leave. Indonesia doesn’t dispute territory with China, though some officials have expressed concern about China’s intentions. The US says it doesn’t take sides over the South China Sea but officials including Defense Secretary Ashton Carter have repeatedly said the country will protect freedom of navigation by sailing and flying wherever international law permits. It has already flown Poseidon surveillance aircraft in the area, though not within the 12 mile zones set out by China. Read more: http://bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=no-guns-as-china&8217s-coast-guard-chases-boats-in-south-china-sea&id=117598

Freedom of navigation not rocking the boat in the South China Sea

Recent statements suggest that the United States will soon conduct freedom of navigation (FON) operations against China’s artificial formations in the South China Sea (SCS). But there is far more handwringing going on than necessary, as demonstrated in a recent East Asia Forum article in which Mark Valencia warns that proposed FON challenges are ‘ill-advised, and even dangerous’. There are always risks associated with conducting FON operations. But in light of recent posturing by both sides, failure to conduct a FON in the vicinity of China’s manmade islands will cause irreparable harm to US strategic maritime mobility and credibility in the Asia Pacific. Valencia correctly notes that China claims sovereignty over all the features in the SCS. But four other nations and Taiwan reject Beijing’s claim, which is not recognised by the United States or any other nation. Establishing maritime zones is a function of sovereignty over land territory. Under international law, a state may establish a 12 nautical mile territorial sea and the sovereignty of the state extends to the territorial sea and the airspace above it. If sovereignty over a feature is not established or recognised, it follows that any maritime zone claimed (which China is yet to do) for that feature is null and void. Until the sovereignty issue is resolved, no nation (including China) can claim maritime zones around these features. In the meantime, all nations (including the United States) can legally sail or fly within 12 nautical miles of the features. Valencia then makes the astonishing statement that sailing a warship into the territorial sea of another country to ‘demonstrate the right of free navigation could also be construed as a threat to use force’ in violation of the UN Charter and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Read more: http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/10/27/freedom-of-navigation-not-rocking-the-boat-in-the-south-china-sea/

South China Sea: US Navy warship sails by China’s artificial islands, says US

Beijing/Washington: The US Navy sent a guided-missile destroyer on Tuesday within 12 nautical miles of two artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea, in a challenge to Beijing’s territorial claims in the area, Reuters has reported. The USS Lassen was nearing Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly archipelago, which have been built upon to create small islands, the report said, citing an unnamed US defence official. The Pentagon could not confirm the report when contacted by Fairfax Media on Monday evening in Washington, DC, though the US has made clear its intention to conduct so-called freedom of navigation exercises in the region. Advertisement Islands and reefs in the region are subject to competing claims by China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. America takes no position on the various claims, but insists that under international law no nation can make territorial claims preventing free international navigation over the sea surrounding the islands. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/south-china-sea-us-navy-warship-nears-chinas-artificial-islands-says-us-20151026-gkj8r4.html#ixzz3pjdPZugF

U.S. Navy destroyer patrols near islands built by China in South China Sea

The U.S. Navy sent a guided-missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea on Tuesday, a U.S. defense official said, in a challenge to China’s territorial claims in the area. The official said the USS Lassen was sailing near Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly archipelago, features that were submerged at high tide before China began a massive dredging project to turn them into islands in 2014. “The operation has begun … It will be complete within a few hours,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The mission would be the start of a series of challenges to China’s territorial claims in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes, another U.S. defense official said. The second official earlier said the ship would likely be accompanied by a U.S. Navy P-8A surveillance plane and possibly P-3 surveillance plane, which have been conducting regular surveillance missions in the region. Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/27/us-southchinasea-usa-idUSKCN0SK2AC20151027

The Tipping Point: Has the U.S.-China Relationship Passed the Point of No Return?

Conflict between a rising power and an established power is not inevitable as most realist scholars suggest. However, in every relationship, there is a tipping point or a point of no return, and China and the United States are rapidly approaching this point. As traditional diplomatic outlets have done little to resolve the more challenging issues presently affecting the Sino-American relationship, these two great powers have been increasingly relying on their military capabilities and hard power tactics. That’s especially true in the South China Sea, which is one of the single greatest points of contention between China and the United States. While there is a realization on both sides of the Pacific that a kind of strategic stability is necessary to prevent great power conflict, both China and the United States remain unwilling to compromise and make the kind of meaningful concessions required to move the relationship further from confrontation and conflict and closer to cooperation and rapprochement. Instead, these two countries are drawing lines in the sand and preparing for the worst. Read more: http://nationalinterest.org/feature/the-tipping-point-has-the-us-china-relationship-passed-the-14168