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  • 23 Oct 2018 VOAnews: South China Sea Code of Conduct Gains Momentum as China Moves to Complete Militarization source VOAnews: October 22, 2018 2:06 PMNike ChingSTATE DEPARTMENT — As China moves to complete the creation of military outposts in the South China Sea, Beijing’s negotiation ...
    Posted Oct 22, 2018, 5:58 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam
  • 23 Oct 2018 Express.co.uk: UK vows to support for its Pacific allies China FURY as defiant British Navy vows to sail through South China SeaTHE UK will sail through the disputed waters in the South China Sea ignoring Chinese protests and ...
    Posted Oct 22, 2018, 5:53 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam
  • 3 Oct 2018 theguardian.com China's 'aggressive tactics' Australia concerned over China's 'aggressive tactics' in South China Seahttps://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/03/australia-concerned-over-chinas-aggressive-tactics-in-south-china-seaDefence ...
    Posted Oct 22, 2018, 5:45 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam
  • JUNE 6, 2017 Pentagon: Beijing Is Arming Its Manmade Islands in South China Sea BY MARCUS WEISGERBER Source: Defenseone.comAP PHOTO/BULLIT MARQUEZ An airstrip, structures and buildings on China's manmade Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South ...
    Posted Jun 7, 2017, 8:11 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam
  • AOL Mar 13th 2017 8:41AM Japan to send largest warship to South China SeaTIM KELLY AND NOBUHIRO KUBOTOKYO, March 13 (Reuters) - Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour ...
    Posted Mar 17, 2017, 5:13 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 39. View more »

23 Oct 2018 VOAnews: South China Sea Code of Conduct Gains Momentum as China Moves to Complete Militarization

posted Oct 22, 2018, 5:58 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam

source VOAnews: October 22, 2018 2:06 PMSTATE DEPARTMENT —

As China moves to complete the creation of military outposts in the South China Sea, Beijing’s negotiation with southeastern Asian nations over a binding code of conduct is gaining momentum.

But U.S. officials and experts warn China’s insertions in the draft South China Sea code of conduct may put Washington and Beijing on a collision course. The text of the draft also shows that deep divisions remain among claimants.

One of the Chinese provisions in the text states, “The Parties shall not hold joint military exercises with countries from outside the region, unless the parties concerned are notified beforehand and express no objection.”

China also proposed cooperation on the marine economy “shall not be conducted in cooperation with companies from countries outside the region.”

A State Department spokesperson told VOA the United States is concerned by reports China has been pressing members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations “in the closed-door talks, to accept restrictions on their ability to conduct exercises with security partners, and to agree not to conduct oil and gas exploration in their claimed waters with energy firms based in countries which are not part of the ongoing negotiations.”

“These proposals, if accepted, would limit the ability of ASEAN nations to conduct sovereign, independent foreign and economic policies and would directly harm the interests of the broader international community,” added the State Department spokesperson.

Competing for influence

For China, the benefits are apparent. The United States and China are competing for influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

China and Southeast Asian navies are heading to their first joint exercises from October 22 to 28. An inaugural ASEAN-U.S. maritime exercise will be held next year.

“In other words, China would like a veto over all the military exercises held by ASEAN countries with other nations. I think this really provides some evidence that China indeed is trying to limit American influence in the region, one might go so far as to say to push American military presence out of the region eventually, but certainly in the area of the South China Sea,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

While the United States is not a claimant to the sovereignty of disputed islands in the South China Sea, Washington has said China's efforts to militarize outposts in the contested waters endanger the free flow of trade and undermine regional stability, a claim Beijing rebuts.

The United States is also calling for ongoing discussions on the South China Sea code of conduct to be transparent and consultative with the rest of the international community. U.S. officials said the international community has direct stakes in the outcome.

Code of conduct draft

In August, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan announced China and ASEAN’s 10 member countries had reached a draft agreement. (Single Draft South China Sea Code of Conduct Negotiating Text or SDNT). ASEAN leaders are to meet next month in Singapore.

Highlighting the importance of such a draft, a Center for Strategic and International Studies report said for the first time in many years, an effective diplomatic process to manage South China Sea disputes seems possible.

ASEAN and China have been discussing a potential code of conduct (COC) to manage the South China Sea maritime and territorial disputes for more than two decades.

Leaked details of the draft state the code of conduct is “not an instrument to settle territorial disputes or maritime delimitation issues.”

Managing disputes

The draft shows deep divisions among South China Sea claimants over many issues, according to experts, especially over the most sensitive issues like the agreement’s geographic scope, potential dispute settlement mechanisms, and details of resource exploration.

“What the code of conduct is intended to do is to manage the disputes to prevent them from escalating, and basically to allow the freezing of the thorny territorial questions, while states can manage the resources and manage tensions in the near to medium term,” said Gregory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative” at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

In August a trilateral statement from Japan, Australia and the United States called for the Code of Conduct “to not prejudice the interests of third parties or the rights of all states under international law; to reinforce existing regional architecture; and to strengthen parties’ commitments to cease actions that would complicate or escalate disputes.”

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Amy Searight said Washington’s “concrete position” on no prejudice against third parties “is to really criticize China's attempt to marginalize U.S. influences” in the region.

23 Oct 2018 Express.co.uk: UK vows to support for its Pacific allies

posted Oct 22, 2018, 5:53 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam

China FURY as defiant British Navy vows to sail through South China Sea

THE UK will sail through the disputed waters in the South China Sea ignoring Chinese protests and supporting Pacific allies who are also ignoring Beijing.

PUBLISHED: 11:54, Mon, Oct 22, 2018 | UPDATED: 12:04, Mon, Oct 22, 2018
Express.co.uk
The Royal Navy has said it should “showcase” support for allies in the Asia Pacific region and resist  which is claiming Britain is provoking them....

Despite Beijing’s warnings, UK reasserts role in South China Sea

‘If you are going to have a different interpretation of [international law] to the majority of nations then that has to be resisted’

By ASIA TIMES STAFF OCTOBER 22, 2018 10:48 PM (UTC+8)

After China’s foreign ministry gave the UK a dressing down last month for sending a warship near contested islands in the South China Sea, the British Royal Navy is now suggesting there will be more where that came from.

The UK has an obligation to “showcase” military support for allies in the region, the Royal Navy’s top official, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, told the Financial Times in an interview published Sunday.

“If you are going to have a different interpretation of [international conventions on the laws of the sea] to the majority of nations then that has to be resisted,” Philipp said. “Otherwise you could see right around the world nations who will start to make their own interpretations.”

He added that he expected there will be more exercises that see British ships sail near contested islands.

If UK warships continue to traverse the waters near islands claimed and controlled by China, it would indicate that veiled threats from Beijing have fallen on deaf ears in London.

In September, Britain’s HMS Albion came within what China claimed to be its sea border off of the Xisha Islands, presumably referring to area within 12 nautical miles of land controlled by Beijing. The islands are also claimed by Vietnam and the government in Taiwan.

In response, Chinese state media published an English language editorial which suggested that such actions put trade deals between China and the UK at risk. From the article:

“China and the UK had agreed to actively explore the possibility of discussing a free trade agreement after Brexit, but any act that harms China’s core interests will only put a spanner in the works.

“During her visit to Beijing early this year, British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to intensify “the golden era” of Sino-UK relations. To achieve that, the country should refrain from being Washington’s sharksucker in the South China Sea.”

We will have to wait and see to find out whether the Royal Navy will continue to push the envelope in the South China Sea. But the rhetoric suggests they are calling China’s bluff.

3 Oct 2018 theguardian.com China's 'aggressive tactics'

posted Oct 22, 2018, 5:45 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam


Australia concerned over China's 'aggressive tactics' in South China Sea
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/03/australia-concerned-over-chinas-aggressive-tactics-in-south-china-sea

Defence minister says any intimidation in region is ‘potentially dangerous’ after ‘unsafe’ encounter with US destroyer

 
Beijing claims the entire Spratly island chain in the South China Sea. On Sunday a Chinese warship sailed within yards of an American destroyer, according to a US official. Photograph: Erik de Castro/Reuters


Australia has expressed concerns about China’s “aggressive tactics” in the South China Sea after a Chinese navy destroyer sailed within yards of an American warship on the weekend.

Christopher Pyne, Australia’s defence minister, said the Morrison government would view any use of intimidation in the region as “destabilising and potentially dangerous”.

According to a US official, the USS Decatur guided-missile destroyer was conducting a “freedom of navigation operation” in the South China Sea on Sunday, when it passed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the contested Spratly Islands.


Chinese warship sails within yards of US destroyer in 'unsafe' encounter

Read more

Beijing claims the entire Spratly island chain as part of its sweeping claims across much of the South China Sea, but the archipelago is contested.

China repeatedly asserts its right to build “defence” facilities in the region, which it views as key to pushing its defences beyond China’s coast and securing oil supply routes, but it has been accused of building “island fortresses” on the islands.


Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the region.A US official has claimed the USS Decatur was conducting a freedom of navigation operation in the region on Sunday when a Chinese Luyang destroyer approached in “an unsafe and unprofessional manoeuvre in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea.”

The Chinese destroyer reportedly conducted a series of “increasingly aggressive” manoeuvres, warning the Decatur to depart the area.

It then approached “within 45 yards of Decatur’s bow”, forcing the Decatur to manoeuvre to prevent a collision, Cdr Nate Christensen, US Pacific Fleet spokesman, said on Monday.

Pyne said the Morrison government would view such tactics as “potentially dangerous”, and called the reports “concerning”.

“We would view any use of intimidation or aggressive tactics as destabilising and potentially dangerous,” he told Guardian Australia on Wednesday.

“Australia has consistently expressed concern over ongoing militarisation of the South China Sea and we continue to urge all claimants to refrain from unilateral actions that would increase tension in the region,” he said. His comments were first reported by the Australian.

China’s defence ministry said on Tuesday that a Chinese naval ship had been sent to warn the US vessel to leave, saying it was resolutely opposed to an operation that it called a threat to its sovereignty.

The foreign ministry in Beijing said in a separate statement it strongly urged the United States to stop such “provocative” actions.

US-Chinese relations have been strained since Donald Trump became president.A trade war launched by Trump has infuriated Beijing, as did his authorisation of a $1.3bn arms sale to Taiwan, which China considers a rebel province. Washington last week enacted new tariffs against China covering another $200bn of its imports.

China has taken a series of retaliatory measures, including scrapping a US warship’s planned port visit to Hong Kong and cancelling a meeting between the head of the Chinese navy and his American counterpart.

On Monday, a US defence official said security talks due to take place later this month in Beijing between the defense secretary, Jim Mattis, and his Chinese counterpart had been cancelled.

JUNE 6, 2017 Pentagon: Beijing Is Arming Its Manmade Islands in South China Sea

posted Jun 7, 2017, 8:09 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam   [ updated Jun 7, 2017, 8:11 PM ]


BY MARCUS WEISGERBER 
Source: Defenseone.com
An airstrip, structures and buildings on China's manmade Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea in April 2017.
AP PHOTO/BULLIT MARQUEZ
An airstrip, structures and buildings on China's manmade Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea in April 2017.


With its reef expansion apparently finishing up, China is working to extend the reach of its military power.


China is outfitting its manmade island outposts in the South China Sea with warplane hangars and weapons, the Pentagon said Tuesday in its annual assessment of Beijing’s military.

Once finished, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force intends to base three regiments of warplanes there, says the report, which was “generated” on May 15 and released to the public today.

“Although its land reclamation and artificial islands do not strengthen China’s territorial claims as a legal matter or create any new territorial sea entitlements, China will be able to use its reclaimed features as persistent civil-military bases to enhance its presence in the South China Sea and improve China’s ability to control the features and nearby maritime space,” the report says.

Last year’s edition of the China-power report noted Beijing had completed its reclamation work on the islands. Think tanks and news organizations have previously reported the missile deployments and hangar construction, however this is the first time they have appeared in the Pentagon’s annual China report.

“China’s actions in the South China Sea in 2016, particularly its construction of airfields and other infrastructure on features in the Spratly Islands, enhanced China’s ability to control disputed areas in the South China Sea and caused regional concern over China’s longterm intentions,” the report states.


China has stopped expanding the reefs and is now working to add military infrastructure to them, the report states. New installations include airfields with runways of at least 8,800 feet, water and fuel storage, large port facilities, 24 fighter-sized hangars, communications facilities, fixed-weapons positions, barracks and administration buildings.

In March, the Center for Strategic and International Studies — a Washington think tank that has tracked the island expansion — said China was finishing up construction of the islands.

“China’s three air bases in the Spratlys and another on Woody Island in the Paracels will allow Chinese military aircraft to operate over nearly the entire South China Sea,” it said. “The same is true of China’s radar coverage, made possible by advanced surveillance/early-warning radar facilities at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Cuarteron Reefs, as well as Woody Island, and smaller facilities elsewhere.”

Meanwhile, China could soon have new, advanced warplanes to base on those faux islands. Two new stealth fighters — the J-20 and FC-31 — could be battle-ready as soon as next year, the Pentagon states.

Last July, The Hague international tribunal rejected China’s claims in the South China Sea, including a claim to historical ownership of the region. In turn, the Chinese government rejectedthe ruling, with state media claiming that, “The Chinese government and the Chinese people firmly oppose it and will neither acknowledge it nor accept it.”

The U.S. has also has refused to recognize the claims, and has sending military ships and aircraft near them in what it calls freedom-of-navigation operations — most recently last month.

William Morris IV contributed to this report.

AOL Mar 13th 2017 8:41AM

posted Mar 17, 2017, 5:12 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam   [ updated Mar 17, 2017, 5:13 PM ]


Japan to send largest warship to South China Sea
TIM KELLY AND NOBUHIRO KUBO




TOKYO, March 13 (Reuters) - Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, three sources said, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.

China claims almost all the disputed waters and its growing military presence has fueled concern in Japan and the West, with the United States holding regular air and naval patrols to ensure freedom of navigation.

The Izumo helicopter carrier, commissioned only two years ago, will make stops in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka before joining the Malabar joint naval exercise with Indian and U.S. naval vessels in the Indian Ocean in July.

It will return to Japan in August, the sources said.

"The aim is to test the capability of the Izumo by sending it out on an extended mission," said one of the sources who have knowledge of the plan. "It will train with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea," he added, asking not to be identified because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

A spokesman for Japan's Maritime Self Defence Force declined to comment.

Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei also claim parts of the sea which has rich fishing grounds, oil and gas deposits and through which around $5 trillion of global sea-borne trade passes each year.

Japan does not have any claim to the waters, but has a separate maritime dispute with China in the East China Sea.

Japan wants to invite Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has pushed ties with China in recent months as he has criticized the old alliance with the United States, to visit the Izumo when it visits Subic Bay, about 100 km (62 miles) west of Manila, another of the sources said.

Asked during a news conference about his view on the warship visit, Duterte said, without elaborating, "I have invited all of them."

He added: "It is international passage, the South China Sea is not our territory, but it is part of our entitlement."

On whether he would visit the warship at Subic Bay, Duterte said: "If I have time."

Japan's flag-flying operation comes as the United States under President Donald Trump appears to be taking a tougher line with China. Washington has criticized China's construction of man-made islands and a build-up of military facilities that it worries could be used to restrict free movement.

Beijing in January said it had "irrefutable" sovereignty over the disputed islands after the White House vowed to defend "international territories."

The 249 meter-long (816.93 ft) Izumo is as large as Japan's World War Two-era carriers and can operate up to nine helicopters. It resembles the amphibious assault carriers used by U.S. Marines, but lacks their well deck for launching landing craft and other vessels.


Japan in recent years, particularly under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been stretching the limits of its post-war, pacifist constitution. It has designated the Izumo as a destroyer because the constitution forbids the acquisition of offensive weapons. The vessel, nonetheless, allows Japan to project military power well beyond its territory.

Based in Yokosuka, near to Tokyo, which is also home to the U.S. Seventh Fleet's carrier, the Ronald Reagan, the Izumo's primary mission is anti-submarine warfare.

Reuters: Fri Mar 17, 2017 | 4:35pm EDT

posted Mar 17, 2017, 4:59 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam


China to build on disputed shoal in South China Sea


Boats at Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea are shown in this handout photo provided by Planet Labs, and captured on March 12, 2016. REUTERS/Planet Labs/Handout via Reuters




China will begin preparatory work this year for an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, an official said, as two U.S. senators introduced a bill to impose sanctions on its activities in the disputed waterway.

China seized the strategic shoal, which is also claimed by the Philippines, in 2012 and the United States has warned Beijing against carrying out the same land reclamation work there that it has done in other parts of the South China Sea.

This week, Xiao Jie, the mayor of what Beijing calls Sansha City, an administrative base for disputed South China Sea islands and reefs it controls, said China planned preparatory work this year to build environmental monitoring stations on a number of islands, including Scarborough Shoal.

The monitoring stations, along with docks and other infrastructure, form part of island restoration and erosion prevention efforts planned for 2017, Xiao told the official Hainan Daily.

The report comes ahead of a visit to Beijing at the weekend by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, where he is expected to reiterate U.S. concern about Chinese island building.

Tillerson has called the activity "illegal" and last June, then U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned that any move by China to reclaim land at Scarborough Shoal would "result in actions being taken by the both United States and ... by others in the region which would have the effect of not only increasing tensions, but isolating China."

A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, Anna Richey-Allen, said it was aware of the Chinese report and reiterated a call on South China Sea claimants to avoid building on disputed features.

The Philippine foreign ministry declined to comment, saying it was trying to verify the reports.

Washington stresses the importance of free navigation in South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of trade passes each year. China claims nearly all of the sea and Washington is concerned its island-building is aimed at denying access to the waters.

This week, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin introduced the South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act, which would ban visas for Chinese people helping to build South and East China Sea projects.




It would also sanction foreign financial bodies that "knowingly conduct or facilitate a significant financial transaction for sanctioned individuals and entities" if China steps up activity at Scarborough Shoal, among other actions.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called the bill "extremely grating" and said it showed the "arrogance and ignorance" of the senators.

Bonnie Glazer, an Asia expert at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said it was unclear if China planned dredging work at Scarborough Shoal, something that could wreck efforts to agree a code of conduct for the region that Beijing professes to support.

She noted that parties to a 2002 declaration of conduct had agreed to refrain from inhabiting uninhabited features.

During his January confirmation hearing, Tillerson said China should be denied access to islands it has built up in the South China Sea. He subsequently softened his language, saying that in the event of an unspecified "contingency," the United States and its allies "must be capable of limiting China's access to and use of" those islands to pose a threat.



(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd; Additional reporting by Manuel Mogato in Manila and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and James Dalgleish)

abc.net.au: 18 Nov 2016

posted Nov 22, 2016, 2:27 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam

South China Sea: Vietnam expanding runway on Spratly Island, US think tank says

Fri at 10:53pm: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-18/vietnam-expanding-south-china-sea-runway/8037248


Vietnam is extending a runway on an island it claims in the South China Sea in apparent response to China's building of military facilities on artificial islands in the region, according to a US think tank.

Satellite images taken this month showed Vietnam had lengthened its runway on Spratly Island from less than 760 metres to more than 1 kilometre, Washington's Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative reported.


View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

New satellite imagery shows Vietnam is strengthening its posture in the South China Sea. https://amti.csis.org/vietnam-responds/ 

AMTI, a project of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said continued reclamation work would likely mean the runway was extended to more than 1.2 km.

It said the upgraded runway would be able to accommodate maritime surveillance aircraft and transport planes, as well as combat aircraft.

The report said Vietnam had added about 23 hectares of land to Spratly Island in recent years, but its reclamation work remained modest by Chinese standards.

China has built military-length runways on three artificial islands it has built up in the South China Sea since 2013.

The United States, which has criticised China's reclamation work in the South China Sea and stepped up defence cooperation with Vietnam in response, said it was aware of the reports that Hanoi had upgraded some of its facilities on outposts in the Spratly Islands.

"We encourage all claimants to take steps to lower tensions and peacefully resolve differences," Anna Richey-Allen, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, said.

Reuters recently reported that Vietnam had discreetly fortified several of its islands in the disputed South China Sea with mobile rocket launchers capable of striking China's runways and military installations across the vital trade route.

Military analysts said the deployment of the launchers was the most significant defensive move Vietnam has made on its holdings in the South China Sea in decades and it underscored Hanoi's concerns about China's assertive pursuit of territorial claims in the disputed region.

Vietnam, China, Malaysia have eyes on the prize

Explore the conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea

Rich in resources and traversed by a quarter of global shipping, the South China Sea is the stage for several territorial disputes that threaten to escalate tensions in the region.

At the heart of these disputes are a series of barren islands in two groups - the Spratly Islands, off the coast of the Philippines, and the Paracel Islands, off the coasts of Vietnam and China.

Wall Street Nov. 1, 2016 12:28 p.m. ET

posted Nov 1, 2016, 7:09 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam

Dominoes in the South China Sea

First the Philippines, now Malaysia is being drawn deeper into China’s orbit.

By 
EUAN GRAHAM

A Malaysia's national flag flutters next to the Chinese national emblem during a welcome ceremony for visiting Prime Minister Najib Razak outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Nov. 1.ENLARGE
A Malaysia's national flag flutters next to the Chinese national emblem during a welcome ceremony for visiting Prime Minister Najib Razak outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Nov. 1. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Are dominoes teetering again in Southeast Asia? The limitations of that metaphor were clear in the Cold War, and are even more so now given the region’s much greater geopolitical fluidity. Nevertheless, anxiety is mounting among the U.S. and its stalwart Pacific allies after the Philippines’ abrupt tilt toward Beijing. President Rodrigo Duterte’s kowtow from Davao suggests a wave of realignment could happen within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak is the latest Southeast Asian leader to be feted with red-carpet treatment in Beijing. In advance of this week’s trip, Mr. Najib confidently exclaimed that new heights will be scaled in Malaysia’s already strong economic relationship with Beijing, worth $56 billion in annual trade last year.

China’s planned investments in “maritime silk route” infrastructure astride the Malacca Strait are likely to receive a further boost during the visit. A Chinese firm has been awarded a $13 billion contract to build a new 620-kilometer east-coast rail link from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.

The most eye-grabbing element of the agenda concerns Malaysia’s anticipated decision to order at least four, and as many as 10, Chinese-designed warships. Arms deals don’t automatically signal strategic reorientation. But Kuala Lumpur’s first major defence purchase from China has particular symbolism in a South China Sea setting, where Beijing claims territory occupied by Malaysia, and Chinese fishing and coast-guard vessels routinely appear in its exclusive economic zone.

The context is discouraging. Malaysia’s recently announced defense budget will sharply cut air-force and navy spending, denying capabilities that Malaysia needs most as a maritime nation bisected by the South China Sea. Plans for a new amphibious unit within the armed forces have been ditched, curtailing a promising area of engagement with the U.S. Marines. Under these circumstances, earmarking funds to buy Chinese ships looks like supplication.

Malaysia counts less in strategic terms to the U.S. than the Philippines. That is as much a function of geography as of alliance fealty, given the Philippine archipelago’s bulwark position in the South China Sea. But Malaysia also carves a long crescent around the Sea’s southern periphery, from the Gulf of Thailand to eastern Borneo.

Malaysia has longstanding military links with the U.S., but is more directly and historically important to Australia, through the Five Power Defence Arrangements. Australia continues to play a role in Malaysia’s air defence and flies scheduled surveillance patrols over the South China Sea from the peninsula.

There is little risk that Mr. Najib is contemplating a full-fledged “defection,” à la Mr. Duterte, on his visit to China. Nor is he likely to renounce Malaysia’s existing ties to Western defense partners. Malaysia’s security establishment by and large values these links over others. Past acquisitions, including Russian fighters, don’t commend the addition of another untried foreign supply chain, especially one with unseen conditions attached.

But politics trump such reservations. Mr. Najib has none of Mr. Duterte’s visceral animus towards America. Indeed, his balancing inclinations brought Malaysia into the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. But U.S. legal probes, lodged this July, into the country’s sovereign wealth fund, personally stung him.

Battling domestic political opponents on multiple fronts and reliant on Chinese investment to prop up distressed government assets, Mr. Najib’s diplomatic compass has fixed north on China, the obvious source of nonjudgmental largesse. He harks back to the legacy of his father, who normalized relations with China back in 1974. But in reality bonds of political expediency tie him to Beijing.

More likely, Malaysia will gradually shy away from exercises or activities deemed potentially “provocative” to Beijing. Kuala Lumpur is likely to tread with increasing caution in the South China Sea, seeking bilateral accommodation where it can.

Thailand is the other U.S. treaty ally beside the Philippines in Southeast Asia, but its political fate is deeply uncertain and a submarine purchase from China is still potentially in the works. Singapore, a non-ally, is currently Washington’s most dependable defense partner. If the Philippines holds its eccentric course under Mr. Duterte, this odd state of affairs will become the new normal.

Mr. Najib’s visit could also be a nadir. Reports this week that Australia and Indonesia are discussing maritime patrols together in the South China Sea send a countervailing message that exploratory “rules-based” alignments are also possible outside of the traditional U.S. alliance framework. Tenuous as this bilateral undertaking remains, it should ease fears of dominoes collapsing in the South China Sea.

Mr. Graham is director of the international security program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney.


EDWARD COHEN7 hours ago

Obamas foreign policy focus swing to the Pacific shows the same results as it did in the middle east, terrible results.  China through slow insidious intrusion has resulted in militarized islands being built, the Philippines leaving the US sphere of influence, Malaya slowly moving away and countries like Thailand developing a military dependence.  The reality is that the US foreign policy now is as bad if not worse than it was when Carter was president and that is BAD!

Geoff Aronson8 hours ago

What, an article about China and nothing from Joker Liar Tantrum in nearly 3 hours?


Peter Solstad8 hours ago

So much for our 'Pivot to Asia": another Obama failure stewn with wreckage that will haunt the United States for decades to come, if not longer...

Wall Street: Nov. 1, 2016 11:25 a.m. ET

posted Nov 1, 2016, 7:01 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam

Australia, Indonesia in Talks Over Joint South China Sea Patrols

Maritime exercises could help bring peace and security to region, says Australian foreign minister

An Indonesian Navy vessel inspects a Chinese-flagged fishing boat in waters near the Natuna Islands. Joint maritime patrols between Australia and Indonesia were discussed in talks between the two countries last week. ENLARGE
An Indonesian Navy vessel inspects a Chinese-flagged fishing boat in waters near the Natuna Islands. Joint maritime patrols between Australia and Indonesia were discussed in talks between the two countries last week. PHOTO: REUTERS

By 
ROB TAYLOR
Updated Nov. 1, 2016 11:25 a.m. ET

CANBERRA, Australia—Indonesia and Australia are considering joint patrols in the contested South China Sea, with Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop saying exercises in the flashpoint area could help bring “peace, stability and security in the region.”

Joint maritime patrols in the area, as well as between Indonesia and the Philippines, were discussed in talks with Indonesia’s Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu in Jakarta last week, Ms. Bishop said on Tuesday. The exercises, she said, would be in accordance with international law.

She didn’t clarify what the patrols could look like and whether they would be conducted by air and sea, or a combination of both.


Indonesian President Joko Widodo, third right, on the deck of warship KRI Imam Bonjol, in the waters of Natuna Islands, Indonesia, in June this year. He was in the area to demonstrate his nation’s sovereignty over waters at the center of a fishing-rights dispute between Jakarta and Beijing.ENLARGE
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, third right, on the deck of warship KRI Imam Bonjol, in the waters of Natuna Islands, Indonesia, in June this year. He was in the area to demonstrate his nation’s sovereignty over waters at the center of a fishing-rights dispute between Jakarta and Beijing. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

“We have agreed to explore options to increase maritime cooperation and of course that would include coordinated activities in the South China Sea and the Sulu Sea,” Ms. Bishop said. “This is all consistent with our policy of exercising our right of freedom of navigation.”

Indonesia has for years tried to avoid being dragged into territorial disputes in the region, where countries including China, Vietnam and the Philippines claim all or part of the South China Sea as their own. But strains have grown after China began building artificial islands on atolls in the area and an arbitration court in The Hague ruled some Chinese claims were invalid.

Indonesia’s navy has fired at China-flagged boats fishing illegally near the Natuna Islands claimed by Jakarta, while Indonesia’s government has also protested at some of Beijing’s claims over waters thought to contain rich oil and gas fields.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, who will address Australia’s Parliament on a state visit next week and discuss additional military cooperation, traveled to the South China Sea in June to demonstrate his nation’s sovereignty over waters at the center of a fishing-rights dispute between Jakarta and Beijing.

More recently, however, Mr. Widodo has sought to ease tensions, saying in an interview that there was no message intended in a decision to hold Indonesia’s largest air-force exercise of the year around the Natunas in October. While cautioning that “sovereignty cannot be compromised,” the president has been courting Beijing for billions of dollars of investment in aging ports and other infrastructure.

China was Indonesia’s fourth-largest source of foreign direct investment in the first half of 2016, up from 10th in the same period last year, and Mr. Widodo says he needs to match rising economic competitiveness in the region through continued foreign investment.

Australia, a close ally of the U.S., has also refused so far to conduct so-called freedom-of-navigation exercises near disputed islands as a challenge to Chinese muscle-flexing, despite Washington urging other regional nations to carry out their own patrols in a demonstration of international solidarity.

But Ms. Bishop said Australia has carried out joint-training exercises with the U.S., Japan and other allies in the South China Sea region, and was open to stepping up patrols with Indonesia, despite occasionally brittle relations.

Indonesia canceled joint naval exercises in the Timor Sea—north of Australia—in 2013 after a diplomatic row concerning the hacking of a phone belonging to Indonesia’s former president by Australian spies.

Since then, both countries have been drawn closer amid worries about China’s assertiveness in a region that is key to global maritime trade, as well as the signaling by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte of a shift away from Washington, the country’s traditional ally, in favor of closer alignment with Beijing.

“Defense Minister Ryacudu talked about increasing our maritime exercises and both [Australia’s Defense Minister] Senator [Marise] Payne and I said we would look into that,” Ms. Bishop told Australian radio. Any decisions would likely comes after the Indonesian president’s first official visit to Australia, Australian government sources said.

Top U.S. Navy and Marine commanders in the Pacific have been urging Australia to consider joining multilateral naval policing missions in the South China Sea, helping to reinforce American forces in the Asia region.

Australia and Singapore in October announced an increase in strategic cooperation that will see the Asian city-state send 14,000 troops to train in Australia each year, as well as military bases being developed on Australian soil.

Australia is also joining other regional nations in beefing up its military and modernizing its navy and air force with new submarines, destroyers, frigates, amphibious carriers and fighter aircraft, as a hedge against uncertainty triggered by China’s rise.

—Anita Rachman in Jakarta 
contributed to this article.

Write to Rob Taylor at rob.taylor@wsj.com

Geoff Kelly12 hours ago

The worl should be very concerned with China's "assertiveness". What they can't buy I'm sure they will threaten militarily. The dragon is patient, very patient.

Reuters Fri Oct 21, 2016 | 2:38pm EDT

posted Oct 23, 2016, 6:36 PM by Vnspirit.com Lovely Vietnam


U.S. warship challenges China's claims in South China Sea
By Idrees Ali and Matt Spetalnick | WASHINGTON

A U.S. navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Friday, drawing a warning from Chinese warships to leave the area.

The U.S. action was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, U.S. officials said.

The Chinese Defense Ministry called the move "illegal" and "provocative," saying that two Chinese warships had warned the U.S. destroyer to leave.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur challenged "excessive maritime claims" near the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The latest U.S. patrol, first reported by Reuters, is expected to anger Beijing and could further escalate tensions over the South China Sea. The destroyer sailed within waters claimed by China, close to but not within the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits of the islands, the officials said.

The Pentagon said the Decatur "conducted this transit in a routine, lawful manner without ship escorts and without incident." One official said the ship, which sailed near Triton and Woody Islands, was shadowed by three Chinese vessels and that all interactions were safe.

The White House confirmed the Reuters report.

"This operation demonstrated that coastal states may not unlawfully restrict the navigation rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea that the United States and all states are entitled to exercise under international law," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a news briefing.

It was the fourth challenge that the United States has made to what it considers overreaching maritime claims by China in the South China Sea in the past year, and the first since May.

China, Washington's main strategic rival in Asia, claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of trade passes each year. The United States has criticized Beijing's build-up of military facilities in the sea and expressed concerns they could be used to restrict free movement.

China's Defense Ministry said it had declared its "baseline" for the Paracel Islands in 1996, something the United States knew. Despite that, the Chinese government said, the United States had sent a ship into Chinese "territorial waters."

A statement from China's Foreign Ministry said the U.S. ship did not ask for permission to enter Chinese territorial waters, and had broken both Chinese and international law.

The ministry accused the United States of deliberately creating tensions.

China has a runway on Woody Island, the site of the largest Chinese presence on the Paracels, and has placed surface-to-air missiles there, according to U.S. officials. Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on the Paracels.

In the last three U.S. freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea within the last year, U.S. warships cruised within 12 nautical miles of islands claimed by Beijing. The actions drew angry responses from China, which has accused the United States of stirring up trouble there.

The latest operation comes just after the volatile president of the Philippines announced, during a visit to China, his "separation" from Washington and realignment with Beijing. The Philippines has been a key ally of the United States and a territorial rival of Beijing in the South China Sea. Rodrigo Duterte took office as Philippine president in June.

Duterte's announcement on Thursday was a significant turnaround after a tribunal in The Hague ruled that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea in a case brought by the previous Philippine administration and strongly backed by the United States.

But in Washington a person close to the matter said the latest naval operation was not timed for Duterte's China visit this week and that planning for the patrol had long been in the works.

U.S. officials have said they will continue such operations despite objections by Beijing.



"The U.S. Navy will continue to conduct routine and lawful operations around the world, including in the South China Sea, in order to protect the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of sea and airspace guaranteed to all. This will not change," Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said during a trip to China in July.

RIVAL CLAIMS

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all have rival claimsin the South China Sea, but Beijing's is the largest. It argues it can do what it wants on the islands it claims as they have been Chinese since ancient times.

The last U.S. freedom-of-navigation operation in May went within 12 miles of Fiery Cross reef in the Spratly Islands and China scrambled fighter jets in response.

In January, a U.S. destroyer went within 12 miles of Triton Island, and China called the action "irresponsible and extremely dangerous."

U.S. officials have said the operations will continue despite Beijing's protests, but the Obama administration has been criticized in Congress for not conducting them more regularly and robustly.

Greg Poling, a South China Sea expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said the administration was likely to face further criticism after opting for relatively uncontroversial challenges to China in all of its freedom-of-navigation operations in the past year.

"They will have essentially performed the same FONOP, meaning an objection to China's demand for prior notification, four times in a year," he said.

"That is not only redundant, but it does nothing to put a spotlight on the other, much more worrying, restrictions China is placing on freedom of navigation."

China has been placing more serious restrictions on movement, he said, around artificial islands China has built on reefs in the Spratly chain, notably Mischief Reef.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom and Jeff Mason.; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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