Politics South China Sea Thread


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Apr 2, 2017
US sails destroyer near Chinese claimed island
The US Navy destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) sailed close to an artificial island built by China in the South China Sea, Reuters reported citing US officials.

On March 23, 2018, the destroyer reportedly approached Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, a disputed area.

The operation, called by the US Navy the freedom of navigation comes despite Chinese government’s efforts to control navigation in these waters.

Freedom of navigation operations are conducted by the US to challenge whatever excessive claims countries might have in disputed regions.

Earlier this year, Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Hopper came within twelve miles of the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. China’s foreign ministry protested the move saying the destroyer sailed near the shoal without permission from the Chinese government.
Military Communications Jammers Deployed at Chinese Bases in South China Sea

The Chinese military has begun to deploy more defensive fortifications in the South China Sea's Spratly Islands, including technology capable of interfering with radar and communications systems, according to a new report.

"China has deployed military jamming equipment to its Spratly Island outposts," a US Defense Department official told the Wall Street Journal on Monday.

In addition to developing long-term defense infrastructure in the region, which trillions of dollars of goods transit annually, last week Chinese military forces started large-scale exercises in the South China Sea.

"There's some speculation as to the motive of the drills in the South China Sea, some attribute them to the trade war," Collin Koh, a research fellow in maritime security at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, told Sputnik News on April 9.

"I think one of the very interesting observations is that the scale of the more recent navy drills that we've seen, with around 40-something vessels, these boats don't just come from the East Sea, which is basically responsible [for the] South China Sea. What we are seeing here is ...MORE

In show of force, China starts military drills in Taiwan Strait
China has launched live-fire military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, in a show of force following its latest warning to Taipei against seeking independence or official ties with the United States.

The drills started on Wednesday, marking the first of their kind in the waterway since 2016.

The exercises come as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is making an official visit to the small African nation of Swaziland – one of only 20 nations across the globe that recognize Taiwan as an independent state, not Chinese territory.

Most countries adhere to the policy of "One China," recognizing Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.

According to the director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, Liu Jieyi, the maneuvers are "an action to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our motherland." ...MORE

HMAS Toowoomba leaves Sydney Harbour (file)

Three Australian warships were challenged by the Chinese military as they travelled through the disputed South China Sea earlier this month, the ABC can reveal.

The confrontations with the People's Liberation Army are believed to have occurred as China was conducting its largest ever naval exercises in the hotly contested waters.

Defence sources have confirmed HMAS Anzac, HMAS Toowoomba and HMAS Success were challenged by the PLA Navy as they were transiting towards Vietnam where they are now conducting a three-day goodwill visit in Ho Chi Minh City.

One official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, insists the exchanges with the Chinese were polite, but "robust".

The Defence Department has refused to answer questions or discuss details of the interactions between the Australian warships and the Chinese military.

In a statement it has confirmed HMAS Anzac and HMAS Success recently travelled through the South China Sea after leaving Subic Bay in the Philippines, while HMAS Toowoomba also went through the disputed waters after departing from Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.

"The Australian Defence Force has maintained a robust program of international engagement with countries in and around the South China Sea for decades," the Department told the ABC.

"This includes bilateral and multilateral military exercises, port visits, maritime surveillance operations and ship transits.

"As they have done for many decades, Australian vessels and aircraft will continue to exercise rights under international law to freedom of navigation and overflight, including in the South China Sea."

During their port visit to Ho Chi Minh City, HMAS Anzac, HMAS Toowoomba and HMAS Success will conduct a logistic resupply and local engagement with Vietnam People's Armed Forces and local government officials.

Earlier this month, Beijing boasted of the largest-ever military exercises by the Chinese navy in the contested South China Sea.


Han Kuang drill firsts: Coast Guard, civilian UAV operators
Taipei, April 24 (CNA) This year's Han Kuang military exercises, Taiwan's largest scale annual drill, will feature Coast Guard officers and civilian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operators for the first time to make use of all levers of national power in military planning.

The series of exercises will begin with computer-aided war games from April 30 to May 4 before live-fire drills are staged across the country from June 4 to 8, Major General Ye Gou-huei (???) of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced at a briefing Tuesday.

Ye said that during the live-fire part of the drill, the ministry will combine civilian forces and other government branches for the first time to take advantage of all resources available in case of enemy invasions.

For the first time, civilian UAV companies and their operators will join the Army for the live-fire drill; civilian construction companies will also take part in the drill to simulate the repairing of airstrips after airstrikes, he said. ...MORE


China holds live-fire drill in East China Sea
A Chinese aircraft carrier formation, featuring the carrier Liaoning, has taken part in a "live combat drill" in the East China Sea, where China is involved in a territorial dispute with Japan.

A flotilla of Chinese naval vessels participated in "anti-aircraft and anti-submarine warfare training" a mock "opposing force," the official Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday.

Xinhua said the drill, which took place on Sunday, included multiple take-offs from the deck of the Liaoning aircraft carrier by J-15 fighter jets, and "anti-air missiles were fired from ships surrounding the carrier."

The maneuver occurred in the East China Sea, where Beijing asserts sovereignty over almost all of the resource-rich waterway and is building an archipelago of artificial islands, despite rival claims from Japan. ...MORE


Beijing and Tokyo dispute sovereignty over a chain of uninhabited islands
China warns Taiwan of more action after drills
China says a series of recent military drills conducted near Taiwan was aimed at sending an "extremely clear" message to the self-ruled island that Beijing would be ready to take action against any separatist bid.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said on Wednesday that weeks of naval maneuvers in the narrow waterway separating the Chinese mainland from Taiwan was a message that Beijing is ready to take more actions to protect peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the interests of people on both sides of the strait.

"We have the resolute will, full confidence, and sufficient ability to foil any form of Taiwan independence separatist plots and moves and to defend the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Ma said

"If Taiwan independence forces continue to do as they please, we will take further steps," he warned.

China has held several military exercises around Taiwan, including flying bombers and other military aircraft, since Taiwan's pro-independence ...MORE

China Puts 'Guam Killer' Missile Into Service Amid Ongoing Drills Near Taiwan

The Chinese Air Force has stated that the country's fighter jets, reconnaissance planes and bombers have taken part in "combat drills" around Taiwan as part of a series of exercises "to strengthen its capacity to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Speaking at a monthly press conference, Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said that the Chinese military had introduced into service the DF-26 intermediate range ballistic missiles, dubbed "Guam killer" in Chinese media for its ability to attack the US naval base in the Pacific Ocean both with a conventional or nuclear weapon.

"The series of operations we are carrying out is directed against Taiwan independence forces and activities in the island. Their purpose is to prevent that the Taiwan independence forces' plot damages the welfare of the Taiwanese people. If the independence forces continue to wantonly take rash actions, we will take further action," Qian said.
While Chinese state media blamed the drills on Taiwan, calling them a direct response to its "provocations," Taipei accused China of "saber rattling."

Last week, China's Air force also confirmed that nuclear-capable H-6K bombers had conducted a "sacred" military patrol mission, circling Taiwan.

"China has deliberately manipulated [the exercise] to pressure and harass Taiwan in an attempt to spark tensions between the two sides and in the region," Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council spokesman Chiu Chiu-cheng told reporters, adding that Taipei "will never bow down to any military threat or incentive." ...MORE

'Hottest Flashpoint in the Region': Taiwan Wants US Tanks to Counter China
The head of Taiwan's Defense Ministry told lawmakers on Monday that US M1A2 Abrams tanks will be required to defend the island in the event of a conflict with China.

"The Taiwan Strait is very likely to replace the Korean Peninsula as the hottest flashpoint in the region," National Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa said at a panel.

The M1A2 Abrams tanks are said to be high on the Taiwanese Defense Ministry's wish list as a line of last defense in a conflict with mainland China, the South China Morning Post reported Monday.

The M1A2 Abrams is among the most technologically advanced tanks in the world, ranked third-best by Military Today. No Chinese tank appears on their Top 10 list.

"In response to the changing situation, Taiwan's military has also increased its combat readiness," Yen said.

Last month, Taipei announced plans for greater defense spending in 2018 as tensions with Beijing have increased since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016 and refused to ratify the 1992 consensus acknowledging the two countries as "one China." Beijing has since voiced fears that this may lead to a declaration of independence by the autonomous island. MORE

US to China: 'Consequences' for Militarization of South China Sea
The United States is warning China of "consequences" regarding its militarization in the South China Sea, amid reports of new weapons deployments there.

The Trump administration is also increasing the pace and frequency of patrols in the disputed waters to challenge what it says are overly broad maritime claims by nations, under its Asia policy, the "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy."

"We've raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this. And there will be near-term and long-term consequences," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Thursday, in response to a question from VOA.

Her remarks come amid media reports that China has deployed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles to the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. ...MORE

Beijing's Largest Island in Disputed South China Sea Island Has 400 Buildings

China's largest man-made island in the South China Sea is host to nearly 400 buildings, new satellite data shows.

Earthrise Media, a nonprofit that specializes in using satellite imagery to present viewers with the "Earthrise" effect, or sense of perspective that astronauts experience looking at the Earth from space, announced the discovery Wednesday, Reuters reported. The photos, obtained from DigitalGlobe's high-resolution WorldView satellites, showed a large number of buildings on Subi Reef, among them an airstrip, hangars, parade grounds, radar equipment and sports facilities.

Subi is an artificial island, constructed by the Chinese government on a reef that is only naturally above the waterline at low tide. The Chinese government has developed enormous dredging ships, such as the Tian Kun Hao, to pull the seafloor up to create and expand islands and reefs in the South China Sea. Tian Kun Hao can dredge "212,000 cubic feet of sediment from the ocean floor every hour – enough to fill three Olympic swimming pools," Sputnik reported. ...MORE

US warships sail near Chinese-claimed Paracel Islands in South China Sea
US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and a Ticonderoga-class cruiser sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China in a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) on May 27.

USS Higgins (DDG-76) and USS Antietam (CG-54) sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, which are controlled by China. Referred to as Xisha Islands in Chinese, the islands are also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

Destroyer USS Higgins joined the FONOP after launching 23 Tomahawk missiles in the US and ally strike on Syrian chemical facilities in April this year.

Freedom of navigation operations are regularly conducted by the US Navy. The operation on Sunday was the sixth known FONOP carried out since US president Donald Trump took office. However, this is likely the first time the US Navy has sent two warships to challenge China’s claims in the South China Sea.

The operation on Sunday comes shortly after Pentagon announced its decision to disinvite the Chinese Navy from its flagship international naval exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) off Hawaii this summer.

According to the official Chinese People’s Liberation Army(PLA) news website, Chinese military deployed warships and aircraft to identify and verify the US warships and to warn them off.

China’s defense ministry said the US action near Xisha Islands was a “serious infringement on China’s sovereignty”.

US Navy photo of guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam off Guam in March 2018
Despite China's Objections, US to Continue Freedom of Navigation Operations
The U.S. military will continue sailing ships near disputed islands in the South China Sea, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis insisted Tuesday, despite Beijing's increased complaints about the operations.

"They're freedom of navigation operations. And you'll notice there's only one country that seems to take active steps to rebuff them or state their resentment of them," Mattis said while en route to Hawaii.

The South China Sea is expected to be a major focus this week when Mattis heads to Singapore to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual gathering of Asian defense and other leaders.

Two U.S. Navy warships sailed Sunday near islands occupied by China in the Paracel Islands, off the coast of Vietnam. China sent two of its own warships to the area to warn the U.S. vessels to leave, Beijing said.

U.S. officials say the freedom of navigation operations (FONOP) are regularly scheduled and occur globally. But the latest FONOP comes at a particularly tense moment in U.S.-China relations.

The Pentagon last week rescinded its invitation to China to take part in RIMPAC, a major international maritime exercise later this year, citing Beijing's militarization of islands in the South China Sea. MORE

We had some surface units up there not so long ago. Our conventional subs have been making some VERY close runs and "inspections" of the Paracels especially. I have the word from some old friends that because of their silent running capability our subs are in the area "a lot" ;)
We had some surface units up there not so long ago. Our conventional subs have been making some VERY close runs and "inspections" of the Paracels especially. I have the word from some old friends that because of their silent running capability our subs are in the area "a lot" ;)
China Warns Washington as US Reportedly Mulls Sending Warship to Taiwan Strait
Even though it adopted the "One China" policy in 1979, the US maintains close trade ties with the island and remains its top supplier of weapons.

China has reacted to the media report, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying urging the US to show maximum restraint on the Taiwan issue to avoid harming bilateral relations and destabilizing the situation in the region.

"We have repeatedly emphasized that the Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive core issue in the China-US relationship," Hua told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday.

Washington is considering sending a warship to sail through the strategic Taiwan Strait, in what could be seen by Taiwan as a fresh sign of US support in wake of a series of Chinese naval exercises around the island, which Beijing claims as part of its territory, Reuters reported. ...MORE


US flies B52 bombers near South China Sea islands
The US Air Force has flown two B-52 strategic bombers within the vicinity of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, a US military official says, in a move that is expected to draw ire from China.

The flyovers on Monday came a day after US Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned Beijing against militarization of the islands.

The Pentagon chief accused China of "intimidation and coercion" in the Indo-Pacific region, asserting that the US was not going to end its military presence in the region.

Beijing lays claim over the Spratly Islands but the US and other countries surrounding the waters -- Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan – dispute that claim.

Taking advantage of the geographic features in the region, China has built several man-made islands there, equipping some of them with advanced military facilities such as anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles. ...MORE

US sending warship through Taiwan Straits may provoke Chinese mainland response
Carrier in Straits may provoke Chinese mainland response

The US sending a warship through the Taiwan Straits will do nothing to improve Taiwan's declining situation and may provoke more actions from Beijing, said Chinese mainland observers.

The US should prudently handle the Taiwan question so as to avoid harming bilateral ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits region, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday.

"The Taiwan question is the most important and sensitive core issue in the China-US relations," Hua said.

Her remarks came after Reuters reported that the US was considering sending a warship through the Taiwan Straits.

The US already examined plans for passage of an aircraft carrier but did not pursue them, presumably out of concern about upsetting China, Reuters quoted a US official as saying. ...MORE

France, UK announce South China Sea freedom of navigation operations
French and UK Royal Navy ships will be joining their US counterparts in challenging China’s territorial claims in disputed regions of the South China Sea, the two countries’ defence ministers have announced.

The announcement was made at the Shangri La security dialogue in Singapore which was attended by French defense minister Florence Parly and the UK defense minister Gavin Williamson, in addition US defense secretary James Mattis.

Speaking at the conference Parly said French and Royal Navy ships would visit Singapore prior to sailing together for the freedom of navigation operation without specifying which disputed South China Sea territory the warships would patrol. Defense ministers also refused to say whether the warships would sail within 12 nautical miles of the islands, which are defined as territorial waters under UNCLOS.

China is in territorial disputes with its neighbors over several reefs, banks and artificially built islands in the South China Sea which include the Spratly and Paracel Islands and the Scarborough Shoal among others.

The announcement of the Franco-English patrol comes less than a week after the US Navy sent two destroyers to sail within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, prompting the Chinese PLA Navy to deploy warships and aircraft in response.

What is more, news emerged on Tuesday of Pentagon officials considering sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait, according to a Reuters report. Taiwan is considered a Chinese territory by official Beijing.

Responding to the report, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that China had “repeatedly emphasized that the Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive one sitting at the core of the China-US relationship. The US should strictly adhere to the one-China principle and the three joint Communiqués and prudently handle the Taiwan issue so as to avoid harming bilateral ties and cross-Straits peace and stability.”

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson speaking on board HMS Sutherland in Singapore. Photo: Crown Copyright
French, British Ships to Sail Disputed Asian Sea, Rile China
British and French warships will sail to the disputed South China Sea in a display of naval strength that may satisfy domestic audiences but ruffle the waterway's major stakeholder, China, and lead to more militarization, analysts say.

Vessels from the two European naval powers, which have no South China Sea claims of their own, will use the event to justify military spending at home, experts say. Their voyage would also prove the mettle of French defense technology and help the United States keep the sea open internationally, despite China's increasing control

A proposed passage through the 3.5 million-square-kilometer sea was announced in early June at a Shangri-La Dialogue military leadership event attended by French Defense Minister Florence Parly and her British counterpart Gavin Williamson.

"Legally they are entitled to the right of innocent passage in the South China Sea, but politically and strategically they are complicating the situation and assisting the U.S. to conduct a counter-strategy towards Beijing's assertive posture in the area," said Huang ...MORE

The US sent a warship Sunday to challenge China's expansive claims to the disputed South China Sea, sailing near Chinese-occupied territories.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation, sailing within 12 nautical miles of Chinese-held territories in the Spratly Islands, CNN reported Sunday. The US Navy's freedom-of-navigation operations "challenge excessive maritime claims and demonstrate our commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law," a US official told reporters.

The Navy has conducted more than half a dozen such operations since the start of the Trump administration.

The latest challenge to China comes on the heels of three different US B-52 bomber flights over disputed seas. Two B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range bombers flew over the South China Sea last Sunday and this past Tuesday, and another linked up with Japanese fighters for joint drills over the East China Sea Wednesday, according to Pacific Air Forces.

Last month, B-52 bombers flew over the East and South China Sea a total of four times.

US allies and partners have also been stepping up their activities in the contested South China Sea. Earlier this month, the UK Royal Navy amphibious assault ship HMS Albion sailed near the Paracel Islands, prompting China to send out a frigate and two helicopters to challenge the British vessel.

Over the past month and change, Japan has sent submarines to the South China Sea for exercises, a first for the country, and drilled alongside the US.

China called the most recent bomber flights "provocative," warning that it would take "necessary measures" to safeguard its national interests. This weekend, China conducted "live fire shooting drills" in the South China Sea to improve its combat capabilities.

These incidents on and above tense tides in the East and South China Sea come amid the deterioration of US-China relations over issues ranging from trade to Taiwan to military matters.


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