Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Recent Developments in the South China Sea

Update 13 Mar 2017: SOUTH CHINA SEA EXPECTED TO FEATURE IN TILLERSON MEETINGS IN BEIJING
In this March 8, 2017 photo, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi gestures while speaking during a press conference held on the sidelines of the National People's Congress at the media center in Beijing. Talks between China and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has produced a draft version of a long-awaited code of conduct aiming to reduce the potential for conflicts in the South China Sea, Wang told reporters at the press conference. Mark Schiefelbein AP Photo

Tensions in the South China Sea are expected to feature in meetings this week in Beijing between Chinese officials and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Tillerson raised eyebrows during his confirmation hearings in January when he criticized China's construction of man-made islands in the crucial waterway and suggested the U.S. might step in to prevent Beijing from making use of the facilities.

China has reclaimed more than 1,295 hectares (3,200 acres) of land in the South China sea, built airstrips and equipped its new islands with defensive weaponry, mainly in the Spratly Island chain, where five other governments have territorial claims.


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VIETNAM UPGRADES ITS ISLAND HOLDING
FILE - This Oct. 17, 2016 file image provided by the U.S. Navy, shows the guided missile destroyer USS Decatur, right, pulling into position behind the Military Sealift Command USNS Matthew Perry, during a replenishment-at-sea, seen from the bridge of the guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance, in the South China Sea. The commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific Adm. Harry Harris said he’s concerned with China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and the East China Sea as he headed to the Philippines to discuss the next round of joint exercises. (U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 2nd Class Will Gaskill via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

Satellite imagery suggests Vietnam has extended a runway and constructed new hangars on one of the disputed Spratly islands it controls, apparently enabling it to accommodate surveillance aircraft there.

As in the past, Hanoi has not commented on the imagery provided by the Center for Strategic and International Studies . The think tank says the construction is modest in comparison to rival claimant China's massive island-building on seven Spratly features.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Friday demanded Vietnam stop construction "on China's territory." And in a meeting with Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Peru, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the two neighbors should solve disputes bilaterally by "shelving differences and engaging in joint development." That's Beijing's oft-repeated formula that both Vietnam and the Philippines appear to be adopting after years of a more confrontational approach to China's territorial ambitions.


Singapore in the boiling waters of the South China Sea
Flags from ASEAN countries flying in Jakarta

Singapore is a principled international actor. She does not shirk away from conflict when it comes to defending her interests, and makes it plainly known what she thinks is best for herself and those who are involved in her diplomatic relations.

Now with the South China Sea, the simple story is that Singapore is not a claimant state in the disputes and so is only interested in defending international law and the right to lawful passage in the South China Sea (SCS).

Since Singapore’s not a claimant state, is it fair to say that we can sit back and do nothing about the situation between the regional and international actors like China and the US involved in the dispute?


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China should seize opportunity to reshape South China Sea order

After a series of visits by leaders of ASEAN states to China, China and ASEAN have found common agreement to prioritize economic cooperation and move forward. A golden opportunity has emerged: It is high time for China and its rival claimants in ASEAN to make major progress in the South China Sea disputes.

It's reported that officials and scholars from countries related to the South China Sea issue have met recently to discuss trust-building mechanisms, including nailing down the Code of Conduct, reshaping South China Sea order and the feasibility of joint cooperation on areas including anti-terror, climate change and protecting biodiversity.

US President-elect Trump's aggressive posturing against China has generated a lot of uncertainties in many respects, South China Sea disputes included, which have just quieted down after the tricky and stormy international arbitration process in July.

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VIETNAM UPGRADES ITS ISLAND HOLDING
FILE - In this May 2012 file photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning cruises for a test in the sea. China's first aircraft carrier is now ready to engage in combat, marking a milestone for a navy that has invested heavily in its ability to project power far from China's shores. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Tang, File)  (The Associated Press)

Satellite imagery suggests Vietnam has extended a runway and constructed new hangars on one of the disputed Spratly islands it controls, apparently enabling it to accommodate surveillance aircraft there.

As in the past, Hanoi has not commented on the imagery provided by the Center for Strategic and International Studies . The think tank says the construction is modest in comparison to rival claimant China's massive island-building on seven Spratly features.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Friday demanded Vietnam stop construction "on China's territory." And in a meeting with Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Peru, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the two neighbors should solve disputes bilaterally by "shelving differences and engaging in joint development." That's Beijing's oft-repeated formula that both Vietnam and the Philippines appear to be adopting after years of a more confrontational approach to China's territorial ambitions.

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China, Russia to stage military drills in South China sea
A boy holds Russian, left, and Chinese flags before a welcoming ceremony for Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (File Photo: AP)

China’s military said that on Thursday it will hold joint exercises with Russian forces in the South China Sea, following a recent arbitration ruling that rejected Beijing’s claim to almost the entire strategic body of water.

The air and sea drills will be held sometime in September and were aimed at deepening relations between the two militaries and boosting their capacity to respond to maritime threats, ministry spokesman Colonel Yang Yujun said at a monthly news briefing.

Yang said the exercises weren’t targeted at any third parties. He didn’t disclose the specific location, and some areas of the South China Sea are not disputed.

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China appreciates Putin's position on South China Sea issue

"With regards to security, our nations reaffirmed our commitment to a regional order, where worldwide rules and laws are upheld and where disagreements are all peacefully resolved".

Obama, speaking to reporters after Thursday's meeting, continued to insist that the tribunal ruling is "legal and binding" and said ASEAN leaders recognized its importance in declaring that Chinese claims to the disputed waters have no legal basis.

He said during the Summit, all nations have agreed to respect the worldwide laws, not militarising disputed areas and not occupy uninhabited islands, reefs and shores.

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South China Sea News: Russia & China Band Against US?

South China Sea news update is zooming in on a potential banding of Russia and China against the US. China’s navy announced that China and Russia are to hold eight days of navy drills in the contested waters of the South China Sea starting on Monday. There are speculations that the drill might not completely be a coincidence that it falls on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US.

The exercises ensued during the time of heightened tension in the wake of the ruling of the arbitration court in the international court at The Hague. The ruling states that China possesses no historic rights to the South China Sea and such actions encourage the environmental destruction in the area.

China has been aggressively pushing an axis that involved Russia in order to counteract the regional tension which has been spearheaded by the anti-China quasi alliance as they attempt to vehemently reject the ruling.

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Obama warns China over sea ruling

In a joint statement released after the Asean-China summit to commemorate the 25th anniversary of dialogue relations, the leaders reaffirmed their respect for and commitment to the freedom of navigation in and flights over the South China Sea.

Hua said China hopes for positive, genuine and constructive efforts from the USA to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea region.

He said that two countries kept trying to "sow discord" during the East Asian summit by bringing up South China Sea "problems and the arbitration".

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China Calls US ‘Source Of Turmoil In The World’
China national flag is raised during the opening ceremony of the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing, China August 22, 2015. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

China has once again publicly decided the U.S. is behind everything that’s wrong with the world, according to a slew of anti-American articles in a state-sponsored newspaper.

The People’s Daily published three articles Sunday blaming the U.S. for everything from the crises in the Middle East to conflicts in Eastern Europe to rising tensions in the East China Sea and South China Sea. The articles called the U.S. the “source of turmoil in the world.”

“The United States seeks to create chaos in the world, cast shadows over order and stability in other regions, and threaten the peace and development of relevant countries,” said the editor’s note.

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How China challenges the West

The red-carpet treatment was given to every world leader attending the Beijing G-20 economic summit meeting Sept. 4-5, 2016, which was hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Everyone, that is, except for the president of the United States of America. There were no stairs for President Obama to emerge from the usual front door of Air Force One. The White House entourage, including the press photographer, were deliberately harassed.

Such an obvious snub, which was seen all over the world, was clearly planned by his Chinese host Xi Jinping. The message that was being sent was that China no longer believes it necessary to be subservient, or even respectful, to the United States. China is clearly superior. It must be remembered that in China “losing face” is paramount. While President Obama tried to downplay the significance of this obvious “slap in the face,” he should have remembered that he was in Beijing representing the United States, as well as the de facto leader of the free world. The treatment by the Chinese was clearly unacceptable. Since the Chinese refused to act as a responsible host, then the president should have ordered Air Force One to immediately depart Beijing. Had he done so, I am confident the Chinese would have found the appropriate stairs for our president to disembark.

China, emboldened by our failure to act as a great power, has totally rejected the The Hague “Court of Arbitration” ruling which declared that China has no legal claim to the implementation of their “Nine-Dash-Line.” It has announced that it plans to continue its militarization of disputed atolls in the South China Sea (SCS). Further, China is conducting an eight-day combined exercise with Russia in the SCS, with the objective of “combined island defense.” The real purpose of the exercise is to send a message to the United States that the South China Sea belongs to China and that Russia will help China defend the contested atolls if need be. It is a clear challenge to our “Freedom of Navigation” tradition and to respecting international law.

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South China Sea and the Sacred Water Wars

The South China Sea seems to be the talk of the town lately. This vast 1.4 million square miles abutted by the Pacific Ocean has been the target of water wars for years. Not only is it a zone with tremendous importance but one-third of the world’s ship sail through the South China Sea at least once a year. Additionally, it not only holds hold vast oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed but apparently has some sacred ties.

What is so sacred about the South China Sea, where numerous nations have made rival territorial claims? The answer might just lie in its history.

The South China Sea is the leading name utilized in English for the sea, but it is occasionally called by various names in China’s neighboring nations, frequently reflecting historical claims to gain control over the sea.

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On the shoulders of giants

In the past week, international media attention was fixed on President Duterte for reasons we already know. Despite reassurances that Philippine-US ties remain strong, the incident calls into question what kind of relationship the Duterte administration will have with Washington.

Plus, its choice not to raise July’s arbitration ruling in the ASEAN Summit and acquiescing to China’s terms of bilateral negotiations have observers talking about a rapprochement with Beijing. However, placing the Philippines in a spectrum with the Americans on one end and the Chinese on the other is not an appropriate way of analyzing the foreign policy options of our country. We are not playing a zero-sum game where warmer relations with one side must come at the expense of our relationship with the other.

Dividing the region into pro-China and pro-US sides is a superficial practice lingering from the Cold War. Doing so denies the agency of countries caught in the middle and grafts Western security agendas on Southeast Asia. Instead, these smaller states seek autonomy and flexibility in their foreign policies to pursue their national interests. Yet how is this done despite the overwhelming mismatch in material capabilities Southeast Asian states face compared to China and the US?

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Sino-Russian drills show mutual support

The Joint Sea-2016 drill between China and Russia started on Monday in the South China Sea. It features naval surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, ship-borne helicopters, marine corps and amphibious armored equipment from both navies. "Island seizing" activities, including anti-submarine operations, will feature alongside live fire drills and island defense. It is undoubtedly a joint exercise of great scale and depth.

China and Russia have announced that the drill does not target a third party, but countries such as the US and Japan have been extremely sensitive. Let them be. Joint exercises between China and Russia have been conducted in various waters such as the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan, while this is the first time the drills are conducted in the South China Sea. It was arranged long ago, and just happens to follow the South China Sea arbitration. The US and Japan have burnt their own fingers.

The Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is partly attributed to the US which keeps strategically squeezing the two countries. The joint drills by the two in the South China Sea do not differ much from the ones in the other waters.

related: China, Russia stage joint island-seizing drills

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China and Russia to hold joint South China Sea naval drills as pressure rises from US

China and Russia will launch eight days of joint naval drills in the South China Sea on Monday, a move observers said underlined the growing partnership between the countries amid rising military pressure from the United States.

The exercise off Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, would involve surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, ship-borne helicopters and marines from China’s South Sea Fleet, a statement on the defence ministry’s website quoted People’s Liberation Army Navy spokesman Liang Yang as saying.

The drills come two months after an international tribunal in The Hague dismissed China’s historical claims to most of the South China Sea.


Routine China-Russia joint naval drill no reason for fear mongering

As China and Russia started on Monday an eight-day joint naval drill off the coast of south China's Guangdong Province, speculations are going rife that the military exercises are meant as a "sabre-rattling" event in the South China Sea."

Those susceptible to such speculations are either ill-informed about the fact that the joint naval drill has been an annual event since 2012 and that the ongoing drill takes place just off China's southern coast, or misled by their prejudice about China and Russia.

The drill, code-named "Joint Sea - 2016," comprises defense, rescue and anti-submarine operations, as well as island seizing activities, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry, which also said most of the Chinese soldiers participating in the event are from the South Sea Fleet.

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Chinese-Russian Joint-Sea 2016 Naval Drills to Improve Security
Russian-Chinese Joint-Sea 2016 naval exercises will increase the two countries' common security capabilities, the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Deputy Commander Wang Hai said Monday

ZHANJIANG (Sputnik) — China is hosting this year's joint naval exercises with Russia. A total of 18 ships and supply vessels, 21 aircraft and over 250 service personnel from PLAN and the Russian Navy's Pacific Fleet are taking part in the Joint-Sea 2016 naval drills on September 12-19 in the South China Sea. Russian vessels arrived earlier.

The vice admiral expressed hope that Russian and Chinese crews will learn from each other's experience and improve friendly cooperation.

Speaking at a welcoming ceremony for the arriving Russian ships, Russian Navy Deputy Commander-in-Chief Vice Admiral Alexander Fedotenkov said that the two countries are improving their defense capabilities against potential third party aggression.

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Joint China-Russia naval drills in South China Sea focus on anti-submarine, ‘island-seizing’ operations

China and Russia kicked off eight days of naval drills Monday in the South China Sea off southern Guangdong province — a move likely to further stir tensions in the disputed waters.

The joint exercises come after a July 12 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague that decisively rejected Beijing’s expansive claims to much of the South China Sea. China has built artificial islands in the contested Spratly chain, including several with military-grade airfields and high-tech radar systems, in its bid to consolidate its control of the area. Beijing blasted the ruling, calling it “waste paper,” and has vowed to ignore it.

The exercises, called Joint Sea-2016, feature navy surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, ship-borne helicopters, marine corps and amphibious armored equipment from both navies, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted spokesperson Liang Yang as saying Sunday.

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Russia and China embark on LARGEST EVER military operation to seize control of South China
Russia's President Putin and China's President Xi Jinping have teamed up in their military task

China and Russia's military operation, 'Joint Sea-2016', includes eight days of "seizing and controlling" islands and shoals, entrenching island defences, conducting anti-submarine operations and live fire drills.

The two countries have teamed up for the ambitious operation to control the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in annual trade passes.

The military move is likely to anger US officials who regularly sail military ships through the region in a bid to assert the right to freedom of navigation.

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China, Russia begin joint exercises in South China Sea
The Russian destroyer Admiral Tributs arrives for exercises with the Chinese navy

Chinese and Russian naval forces began joint exercises in the South China Sea on Monday, adding a new twist to ongoing tensions over Chinese island-building in the region.

The eight-day exercises will highlight marine corps units in "live-fire drills, sea crossing and island landing operations, and island defense and offense exercises," Chinese navy spokesperson Liang Yang said in a report from China's official Xinhua News Agency.

Aside from the marines, Chinese and Russian surface ships, submarines, planes, helicopters and amphibious armored equipment would be used, Liang said.

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CHINESE-RUSSIAN NAVIES HOLD JOINT WAR GAMES

The Chinese and Russian navies launched eight days of war games in the South China Sea on Monday, in a sign of growing cooperation between their armed forces against the backdrop of regional territorial disputes.

The "Joint Sea-2016" maneuvers include surface ships, submarines, ship-borne helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, along with marines and amphibious armored vehicles who will conduct live-firing exercises, according to a Defense Ministry statement issued Sunday.

Tasks will include defensive and rescue drills, anti-submarine exercises and the simulated seizure of an enemy island by marines from both sides.

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China, Russia launch South China Sea naval war games
People walk past a poster that reads "The South China Sea is China's inland sea" in Shanghai, China, Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. The Chinese and Russian navies launched eight days of war games in the South China Sea on Monday, in a sign of growing cooperation between their armed forces against the backdrop of regional territorial disputes. (Chinatopix via AP)

The Chinese and Russian navies launched eight days of war games in the South China Sea on Monday, in a sign of growing cooperation between their armed forces against the backdrop of regional territorial disputes.

The "Joint Sea-2016" maneuvers include ships, submarines, ship-borne helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, along with marines and amphibious armored vehicles who will conduct live-firing exercises, according to a Defense Ministry statement Sunday.

Tasks will include defensive and rescue drills, anti-submarine exercises and the simulated seizure of an enemy island by marines from both sides.

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China, Russia launch South China Sea naval wargames
This combination of Sept. 3, 2016 photos provided by the Philippine government shows what it claims to be surveillance pictures of Chinese coast guard ships and barges at the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. (AP photo)

China and Russia have launched eight-day joint naval wargames in the disputed South China Sea amid tensions with the US which is expanding its military presence in the region.

The "Joint Sea-2016" maneuvers kicked off on Monday with the participation of 21 aircraft and 18 ships from both sides including destroyers, cruisers, amphibious warfare ships and supply vessels.

In a statement, the Chinese navy said the exercises will be conducted in an area off China’s southeastern province of Guangdong.

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Russia over a South China Sea barrel

Russia and China have just kicked off a joint naval exercise in the South China Sea, Joint Sea 2016. It is scheduled to last until 19 September, including a visit by the Russian surface contingent to China’s South Sea fleet headquarters at Zhanjiang. This is the latest in a series of Russo-Chinese drills that have evolved steadily into more frequent and sophisticated interactions over the past decade. Previous exercises have taken place as far away as the Mediterranean, demonstrating a global dimension to the budding Beijing-Moscow strategic axis.

Joint naval exercises have allowed both parties to engage in concerted strategic signaling to the US and its allies, while deriving military benefits from operating together. Last year’s amphibious drill in the Sea of Japan was especially noteworthy for its scale and complexity. At the same time, these naval interactions occurred within the confines of a loose alignment in ways and in places that did not expose the reality of Russia’s increasingly junior status within the relationship.

In a broader but related context, President Vladimir Putin has shown recent signs of using Russia’s limited room for maneouvre in East Asia. Moscow has engaged in parallel outreach to Japan and South Korea, including a curious cameo role for Kevin Rudd in Vladivostok. Western sanctions and the under-development of Russia’s Far East make such outreach an economic imperative. But diversification from growing economic dependency on China is primarily a strategic need for Russia.

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Beijing and Moscow begin naval drills in South China Sea
A satellite image of Subi Reef, an artificial island being developed by China in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Image taken on 4 September 2016

China and Russia begin naval drills in the South China Sea on Monday in what Beijing calls a "routine exercise," but the move could revive tensions in the long-running territorial conflict.

Over the next eight days, both nations will carry out rescue and anti-submarine operations as well as live-fire drills, island defense and landing operations, Reuters reported, citing a statement by the Chinese navy. The drills, first announced in July, are supposedly the largest naval project ever taken together by the two countries.

On surface, the drills aren't surprising. Both countries boast a close relationship, reflected by years of technology transfers, arm sales and a common aim of preventing U.S. hegemony in Asia-Pacific.

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China and Russia start joint war games

In spite of tense regional debate over the South China Sea, the two countries are set to conduct joint drills. Moscow and Beijing have enjoyed increasingly close military cooperation in recent years.

China and Russia began eight days of joint naval exercises on Monday as the two nations moved to fortify military cooperation. While China has maintained that the maneuvers do not target any specific third parties, their South China Sea setting has drawn criticism given the fierce territorial disputes in the region.

The "Joint Sea-2016" war games aim to "consolidate and advance the Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, and deepen friendly and practical cooperation between the two militaries," said Liang Yang, a spokesman for the Chinese navy.


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2016 marks the sixth 'Joint Sea' drill

This year marks the sixth time that China and Russia have conducted such drills. Starting from 2012, the first China-Russia "Joint Sea" exercise was held in China's northern waters of the Yellow Sea.

The following year, they took place in the waters near the Russian city of Vladivostok. The Chinese navy assembled its largest number of seamen ever for that drill.

In 2014, the third "Joint Sea" drill was held in the north of the East China Sea, where vessels from the navies mixed together for the first time.

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China and Russia to stage 8-day naval war games in South China Sea

China and Russia are reportedly going to start a joint military exercise in the South China Sea from Monday (12 September).This comes at a time when tensions continue to mount over the disputed waters. The eight-day naval war games are reported to be an apparent show of force after The Hague international tribunal invalidated Beijing's unilateral and historical claims in the region.

The massive military exercises – termed as the Joint Sea 2016 – will include a focus on "seizing and controlling" of islands and shoals in the hotly contested waters, Chinese navy spokesman Liang Yang said in a statement on Sunday (11 September).

The drill is expected to feature surface ships, submarines, ship-borne helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Besides, marines and amphibious armoured vehicles are also said to participate in the live-firing exercises, which is believed to be the single largest joint military operation by the navies of two countries.

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Sino-Russian military drill begins in South China Sea

China and Russia on Monday began their largest joint military drill in the South ChinaSea off Guangdong province.

Five ships, two helicopters, submarines and nearly 100 soldiers are part of the eight-day long drill, said the Chinese Ministry of National Defence.

The military sources had said over the weekend that Russian and Chinese forces will be conducting defence and rescue operations and anti-submarine exercises along with simulation of island takeovers by the navy, EFE news reported.


China, Russia launch 1st naval drill in South China Sea

China and Russia launched Monday their first joint naval exercise taking place in the disputed South China Sea.

The state-run China Daily cited navy spokesman Liang Yang as saying that the eight-day war games will cover rescue, defense and anti-submarine operations, as well as “joint-island seizing missions and other activities”.

The drill, the fifth held by the countries’ navies since 2012, will take place east of Zhanjiang, the southernmost city of coastal Guangdong province.


Pyongyang has changed South China Sea dynamics

It’s been two months since the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that China did not have any historic rights to coral reefs it is turning into islands to bolster its marine and territorial claims — and there has been little to suggest that that ruling has changed anything on the ground. Beijing is still pushing ahead with its construction of airfield and military facilities on the disputed islands in the South China Sea — a maritime area contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam and one through which more than $5 trillion (Dh18.39 trillion) in international trade passes through annually.

While Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has spoken in his usual brash and street-smart style about teaching Beijing a lesson, he has done little to press Manila’s claims further since The Hague panel sided with it and his foul-mouthed bluster at the recent gathering of Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Vientiane, Laos, merely antagonised his allies there.

There is also the reality that whatever the rival claims of the neighbouring nations are, there is now a far more serious threat that needs to be addressed in the region — North Korea and the regime’s dangerous obsession in obtaining nuclear weaponry, small enough to be mounted on its ballistic missiles.

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Rody wants US special forces to pack up, leave

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said the United States Special Forces based in Mindanao should leave.

In a speech Monday before new appointees, Duterte said that the world’s most powerful country has not yet apologized for its wrongdoings against Moros and Filipinos during the American occupation and again brought up the March 1906 Bud Dajo massacre, where hundreds of Moros, including women and children, were killed by US forces in Sulu.

Once again flashing pictures of the Bud Dajo Massacre which he presented during the Asean-East Asia Summit, Duterte said the Americans should leave to prevent further damage between Filipinos and Americans.

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South China Sea: is Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte charting a course away from US?

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has signalled he wants to move his country away from dependence on the United States, ordering all US special forces out of the southern Philippines.

The order came after Mr Duterte boasted about snubbing his US counterpart Barack Obama at a summit of world leaders in Laos last week, after earlier labelling him the "son of a whore."

The US has long been most important military ally of the Philippines, which Washington ruled from 1898 until 1946, except for a period of Japanese occupation during World War II.

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Connection with US reason for terrorist threat in S. Philippines: official

The Philipine government blamed Monday the United States for the continued terrorist threat in Mindanao.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella made the statement after President Rodrigo Duterte said that American special forces in southern Philippines have to leave the place.

"The statement reflects PRRD's (Duterte) new direction towards coursing an independent foreign policy; he has made reference to the unrecognized, unrepented and un-atoned for massacre at Bud Dajo in Sulu by the Americans, hence our continued connection with West is the real reason for the 'Islamic' threat in Mindanao," he said.

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China, Vietnam Vow to 'Maintain Peace, Stability' in South China Sea
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Sept. 12, 2016

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc officially started his high-profile visit with Chinese officials in Beijing Monday, amid simmering tension over the territorially-contested South China Sea issue.

The first official visit to China by a Vietnamese premier in six years, Phuc’s trip came at the invitation of Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang. Vietnamese and Chinese media are reporting that Phuc and Li jointly pledged to "manage maritime differences" and "maintain peace and stability" at a Monday news conference that followed wide-ranging talks at the Great Hall of the People.

Phuc's visit coincides with the launch of annual Sino-Russian naval drills, which, according to Chinese military officials, will include simulated "seizure and control" of contested islands and shoals. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the training exercises aren't "against any third party.”

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China, Vietnam vow to properly manage maritime differences

China and Vietnam pledged on Monday to properly manage maritime differences and further enhance bilateral substantial cooperation.

The pledge came as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held talks with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who is paying an official visit to China starting Saturday.

During the talks held at the Great Hall of the People, Li told Phuc the South China Sea issue is related to territorial sovereignty, maritime interests as well as national sentiment.

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China, ASEAN must cooperate on sea issue

The 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting was concluded Tuesday in Vientiane, Laos, the first such meeting since the result of the South China Sea arbitration was released earlier this month. The scene that happened in Phnom Penh four years ago did not reoccur this year.

When Cambodia hosted the meeting in 2012, foreign ministers unprecedentedly failed to produce a joint communiqué because Cambodia objected to the Philippines' proposals to include the South China Sea disputes into the statement. They just issued a joint statement over the South China Sea issue a week later.

I was then reporting the 2012 Foreign Ministers' Meeting. Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong revealed that Cambodia objected to the communiqué draft proposed by countries including the Philippines because it included the China-Philippines spat over Huangyan Island. Cambodia believed at the time that this is a bilateral dispute and should not involve the entirety of ASEAN.

related: South China Sea arbitration

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Territorial Disputes: Malignant and Benign

Some things are worth fighting for. What about a few desert islands occupied mainly by birds, goats and moles? China and Japan seem to think so, the rest of the world is alarmed and a look at other territorial disputes around the globe shows that stranger things have happened. There are about 60 such conflicts simmering worldwide. Most will bubble along, unresolved but harmless, 400 years after the Peace of Westphalia established the notion of national sovereignty. Others are more dangerous.

The Situation - China claims more than 80 percent of the South China Sea, where it has constructed artificial islands and built up its military presence. Five others — Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan — claim parts of the same maritime area, a thriving fishing zone through which more than $5 trillion of trade passes each year. In a case brought by the Philippines, an international tribunal in The Hague ruled against China in July, saying it had no historic rights to the resources within a dashed line drawn on a 1940s map that had formed the basis of its claims. While the court said the ruling was binding, China said the tribunal has no jurisdiction. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called for restraint and in October held talks with China on contested territory.

The U.S., the longtime guarantor of freedom of navigation in the waters, has stepped up support for Southeast Asian maritime law enforcement agencies and Indonesia has accused Chinese fishing boats of increasingly encroaching into its waters. One thousand miles to the northeast, in the East China Sea, China is in dispute with Japan over century-old claims to a separate set of islands — called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese — that have been administered by Japan since 1972. U.S. President Barack Obama in 2014 said a U.S.-Japan security treaty applies to the islands, meaning the U.S. military could act if Japanese waters were violated. Meantime, Donald Trump's election as U.S. president adds a new element of uncertainty. Trump has accused the Chinese of building a military fortress in the South China Sea and of doing so “at will because they have no respect for our president and they have no respect for our country.” China is also locked in a disagreement with India over the two countries’ land border.
Full Coverage:
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South China Sea dispute and ASEAN
Report of Japan training with US Navy in South China Sea draws Beijing's notice
Japan is sending its largest warship into the South China Sea
'If & why?' Beijing wants to hear from Tokyo on sending largest warship
Japan's Largest Warship Will Train with US Navy in the South China Sea
China awaiting Japan's statement on deployment of aircraft carrier in SCS
Are China And Japan At War Over The South China Sea?
Japan Plans To Sail 'Izuma' Warship In South China Sea
China Sends Warning to Japan Over Deployment of Warship to the SCS
China Hopes Japan's Biggest Warship Has Good Reason for Going to SCS
Japan's largest warship to train with US Navy
Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea
South China Sea code of conduct | The Diplomat
2002 declaration on the conduct of parties in the south china sea
China begins new work on disputed South China Sea island
China says first draft of South China Sea code of conduct ready
Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea
More for South China Sea code of conduct
China says first draft of South China Sea code of conduct ready
'Urgent homework' to be done on South China Sea Code of Conduct
South China Sea 'code of conduct' will help Asean remain 'oasis of
ASEAN begins talks on Code of Conduct in South China Sea amid
ASEAN, China and the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea
Wishful thinking for South China Sea Code of Conduct, AsiaOne Asian
China and Asean agree on draft code of conduct for South China Sea
China's Navy Will 'Intercept' and 'Follow' Military Vessels and Aircraft
Vietnam demands China stop cruises in South China Sea
Japan send largest warship to SCS in biggest show of naval force since WWII
Japan's Largest Warship Heading to SCS Will Train With US, Indian Navies
South China Sea BATTLE Japan sends BIGGEST WARSHIP to disputed waters
Japan to send its largest warship to disputed South China Sea
Japan Plans Largest Show of Naval Force Since WWII in South China Sea
Japan Sends Largest Warship To South China Sea In WWII-Level Power Play
Japan's largest warship to tour SCS, train with Indian, US naval vessels
Show of Force: Japan Sending Largest Warship to South China Sea
Japan to send largest warship to South China Sea
South China Sea: Japan to deploy largest warship
Japan raises China tensions by sending largest warship to 'train with US Navy'
Japan sending largest warship for biggest show of force since WWII in SCS
South China Sea BATTLE? Japan sends BIGGEST WARSHIP
Japan training with US Navy in South China Sea draws Beijing's notice
Duterte says he might visit Japanese warship in disputed sea
Vietnam Asks China to Dump Tourist Cruise Plans for Disputed Islands
Vietnam protests Chinese cruise ships in South China Sea
A New Washington Naval Conference Could Prevent a Deadly SCS Showdown
Japan Send Its Largest Warship Into Contested Waters In A Major Show
South China Sea fears laid at US's door
This is Why US is Unlikely to Block China's Access to South China Sea Islets
'Biggest show of force since World War 2' sent to US-China war zone
SCS popular with patriotic tourists, experts predict greater visitors in future
Thanks to China, Australia expect more Vietnamfishermen poaching in its waters
Japan's show of force
China urged to respect Vietnam's sovereignty, international law
China is pleased to see relationship with Philippines progress steadily
Vietnam accuses Chinese cruise ships of violating sovereignty
Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea
Japan should deepen defence ties with Asean: The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan Vietnam reiterate joint efforts to peacefully resolve SCS disputes
China: Iron Out South China Sea Disputes Ourselves
Japan 'willing to play peace role in South China Sea disputes'
South China Sea Row: China Vows To Isolate US In Dispute Talks
Vietnam expanding South China Sea runway: U.S. think tank
China urges Japan not to stir up troubles on S. China Sea issue
New PH diplomacy–negotiating out of fear
Can anyone really rule the South China Sea?
Jet set no go: Plan to train Vietnam sukhoi pilots grounded
Expert warns vs sub patrols
China's destroyers stage drills in the South China Sea
Xi calls for transforming SCS issue into friendly cooperation opportunity
For China's fishermen, working South China Sea blends necessity, duty
China, Russia set to start military drills in South China Sea
China, Russia launch South China Sea naval war games
China and Russia launch joint naval drills in South China Sea
Recent Developments Surrounding the South China Sea
Asean, US to boost measures vs militarization in South China Sea
China, Russia to stage military drills in South China sea
Joint China-Russia naval drills focus on anti-submarine, 'island-seizing'
Defiantly drilling: the South China Sea
Popular appeal in looming confrontation between China and Japan
China, Russia begin joint naval drills in South China Sea
Russia over a South China Sea barrel
China &Russia 8-day joint military drill to 'seize' islands & shoals
Sino-Russian military drill begins in South China Sea
Routine China-Russia joint naval drill no reason for fear mongering
Joint China-Russia drills in disputed waters could renew tensions
Peace parks pushed to prevent hunger, war in South China Sea
China, Russia launch 1st naval drill in South China Sea
China, Russia to stage military drills in S.China Sea
China and Russia start joint war games
China, Russia ready for joint navy drill in South China Sea
Russia's pivot east ignores South-east Asia
Strategic trust crucial in China-Asean ties
Chinese ships sail near disputed islands: Japan
Russian naval fleet arrives at port
The “strategic triangle” that would allow Beijing to control SCS
South China Sea: Navigating a storm
Chinese-Russian Joint-Sea 2016 Naval Drills to Improve Security
China and Russia to begin joint naval exercises in South China Sea
China, Russia navies to hold navy drill in South China Sea
Chinese, Russian Navies to Hold 8 Days of Naval Exercises in SCS
China-Russia naval drill begins in South China Sea
China, Russia Begin South China Sea Drills
China, Russia hold joint naval drills in South China Sea
China, Russia naval drill in South China Sea to begin Monday
Russia-China to hold joint naval exercise in South China Sea
China, Russia to hold joint naval drill in South China Sea
Beijing, Moscow begin South China Sea drills
China, Russia to start naval drills in South China Sea from Monday
China & Russia to Begin Joint Naval Maneuvers in South China Sea
China & Russia hold joint SCS naval drills as pressure rises from US
Russia, China Begin Joint Naval Exercises
South China Sea News: Russia & China Band Against US?
China-Russia naval drill to begin in S.China Sea
The “strategic triangle” that would allow Beijing to control SC Sea
China, Russia to stage military drills in S.China Sea
China, Russia naval drills start in South China Sea
China, Russia to stage military drills in South China sea
China-Russia naval drill begins in September in South China Sea
China, Russia naval drill begins Monday
China and Russia start joint war games
Russia, China to conduct joint military exercises in S China Sea
Can China disarm Japan's moves in the South China Sea?
2016 marks the sixth 'Joint Sea' drill
China appreciates Putin's position on South China Sea issue
Russian-Chinese Naval Exercise Cooperation 'Highly Effective'
Navy drill highlights strong ties
Japan Detects 4 Chinese Ships Near E China Sea Disputed Islands
4 China Coast Guard Vessels Enter Disputed East China Sea Waters
Russia-China Economic and Trade Partnership Falters
'Shelve sea dispute to save reefs'
China's Non-Peaceful Rise Already In Play? – Analysis
US: Superpower or Fictitious Kingdom?
Chinese ships sail near disputed islands: Japan
Japan expresses concern over Chinese ships near disputed islands
International outlaw
The real story behind the South China Sea dispute
The Truth Behind the Philippines' Case on the S China Sea
Territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Why is the South China Sea contentious?
Historical Fiction: China's South China Sea Claims.
The Real History of the South China Sea Disputes
The truth about the South China Sea issue
What evidence does China offer to substantiate its claims of
The South China Sea Dispute: A Brief History - Lawfare
The South China Sea: Explaining the Dispute
Recent Developments Surrounding the South China Sea
Developments Surrounding the South China Sea
Recent Developments Surrounding the South China Sea
Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea dispute
Armed Clash in the South China Sea - Council on Foreign
Recent Developments Surrounding the South China Sea
Tectonics of the South China Sea
Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea
Recent Developments Surrounding the South China Sea
Recent Developments in the South China Sea
Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea
Recent developments surrounding the S China Sea
Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea
South China Sea: Recent Developments and
India and the South China Sea Dispute | The Diplomat
Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea
Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea
Asia leaders tiptoe around South China Sea tensions
Beijing places missile launchers on disputed South China Sea
Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea dispute
Joint Development in the South China Sea: A New Approach
The South China Sea‎
Why is the South China Sea contentious? - BBC News
Territorial disputes in the South China Sea
Everything you need to know about the South China Sea conflict
South China Sea dispute: what you need to know about The Hague
The South China Sea: Explaining the Dispute
KiniGuide on the South China Sea dispute
South China Sea - GlobalSecurity.org
South China Sea dispute – A summary
territorial disputes in the South China Sea
The South China Sea Dispute: A Brief History
Timeline of the South China Sea dispute
Timeline: South China Sea dispute - FT.com
South China Sea Dispute Timeline: A History Of Chinese And US
Timeline: The China-Philippines South China Sea dispute
TIMELINE: 1955-PRESENT | Center for a New American Security
Philippines versus China in the South China Sea: Timelines of dispute
What has been the timeline of the South China Sea conflict?
What a U.N. Ruling Against China Means
Why is the South China Sea contentious?
South China Sea - The New York Times
Connection with US reason for terrorist threat in S. Philippines
Rody wants US special forces to pack up, leave
History according to Digong
China, Vietnam Vow to 'Maintain Peace, Stability' in S China Sea
China says should maintain South China Sea peace with Vietnam
Vietnam, China deepen comprehensive strategic cooperative
China, Vietnam vow to properly manage maritime differences
Prime Minister meets head of China National People's Congress
Chinese Premier meets Nguyen Xuan Phuc
China, Vietnam vow to properly handle maritime disputes
Beijing and Hanoi Pledge to Safeguard Stability at Sea
China, Vietnam vow to promote bilateral ties
China, Vietnam vow to promote healthy development of ties
India-Vietnam: setting a new benchmark
Chinese premier urges Vietnam to calm troubled S China Sea waters
How China challenges the West
Philippines eyes talks with China sans preconditions
South China Sea and the Sacred Water Wars
China Calls US 'Source Of Turmoil In The World'
On the shoulders of giants
The Philippines and China: An Alliance in the Making?
Guy W. Farmer: American diplomacy in disarray
China under pressure at Asia summit over sea row
US imperialist power declines across Asia as Beijing expands
The Crucial South China Sea Ruling No One Is Talking About
Philippines to hold bilateral talks with China on investments
No country could be an island
Why did Obama visit Asia?
Beijing sets the pace on South China Sea
South China Sea Tensions Persist at ASEAN
China: 'Third parties' complicate South China issues
Presidents Duterte, Obama shake hands, chat after cancelled meet
Philippines accused of spreading Chinese 'whispers'