Philippine ship towed over safety concerns – No more tricks allowed in South China Sea


China confirmed on Wednesday that it sent ships to the Wufang Jiao, an atoll of the Nansha Islands, to tow a stranded Philippine ship to ensure navigation safety and protect the marine environment.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei made the remarks at a daily press conference in response to a Philippine media report that said China’s Wufang Jiao did not allow Philippine fishermen to approach it.

According to Hong, a foreign fishing boat was stranded near Wufang Jiao at the end of 2015. After several failed towing attempts, the shipowner abandoned the ship and removed all its major equipment.

To prevent the stranded ship from affecting navigation and damaging maritime environment, China’s Ministry of Transportation sent salvage ships to tow the ship and dispose of it appropriately, Hong added.

During the process, China persuaded fishing boats in the operation waters to leave to ensure navigation safety and necessary operation conditions, Hong said, adding that the salvage ships had returned after the operation.

The spokesperson reaffirmed China’s sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters. China will implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) comprehensively and effectively with the members of ASEAN and jointly maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea, Hong added.- Xinhua

No more ship-grounding tricks allowed in South China Sea

The Chinese foreign ministry confirmed Wednesday that China had towed away a foreign ship that was grounded on Wufang Jiao in the South China Sea. For safety concerns, China urged nearby fishing ships to leave.

However, Philippine media and some Western reports rendered a different picture of the same affair, saying several Chinese ships were sent to patrol the surrounding waters after a Philippine boat was grounded, and “blocked” the waterway.

In their reports, Wufang Jiao and the surrounding waters are the Philippines’ “traditional fishing grounds.” Due to the blockage of Chinese vessels, Philippine fishermen could not go fishing, feeling they were being bullied by China.

This is not the first time a Philippine vessel was grounded on South China Sea islands and reefs. In 1999, the Philippines sent a warship and grounded it on Renai Reef. Manila kept promising to China that it would tow it away as soon as possible, but 17 years have passed, and Manila shamelessly broke its promise, delivering provisions to the ship and reinforcing its structure, in an attempt to make it a permanent stronghold.

In recent years, China has taken countermeasures to prevent Philippine ships conveying construction materials to the ship, but out of humanitarian consideration, China allowed the Philippines to deliver provisions to the crew. Now the ship, a focal point of Sino-Philippine tension, is in bad condition and about to fall apart.

China will never allow Wufang Jiao to be a second Renai Reef. Towing away the grounded Philippine ship is a once-and-for-all measure to leave no troubles behind.

The Philippines is untrustworthy in the international community, often resorting to dirty tricks to deal with diplomatic issues. What it did on Renai Reef is a vivid reflection.

China has been exercising self-restraint amid fishing disputes with the Philippines in the South China Sea. However, Manila has captured and sentenced Chinese fishermen several times, and even shot Taiwanese fishermen dead. Manila’s barbarity finally triggered a standoff near Huangyan Island in 2012. Since then, China has been in full control of the island.

Now, Manila hopes it can bring US troops back, like a Mafia gangster asking their “godfather” for help. The Philippines, obviously aware that international arbitration has no jurisdiction over territorial disputes, filed a petition to an international court in Hague. China’s non-participation in the arbitration is protected by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, but the Philippines, with the support of the US, has used this chance to taint China’s image internationally

All these shenanigans cannot twist the fact that it is the Philippines that breaks its promises and makes troubles over and over again. China’s countermeasures are reasonable.

China has overwhelming advantages against the Philippines, but its disputes with the Philippines in the South China Sea are complicated due to the West’s bias for Manila. China should be resolute in defending its legitimate rights, and be wise in dealing with the West’s prejudice and US military and diplomatic interventions.

In recent years, China has gained major progress in stemming the encroachment of the Philippines in the South China Sea. Beijing is regaining strategic initiative in the region. The Philippines will have a new president this year, and Benigno Aquino III will step down. After the shift in leadership, Manila will be a spent arrow, and will have nothing left in its bag of tricks. – Global Times

 

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Political issues deserve diplomatic solutions to South China Sea disputes


REFERRING to “Ripples and rumbles in South China Sea” (see below) by K. Thanabalasingam, I wish to share a few more points vital to the issue.

Conventional knowledge is that China’s claim to the islands is arbitrary and violates International Law. But what is left out is an impartial overview of the whole situation based on historical considerations and facts on the ground.

Claims made by Vietnam and China are mostly centred on history. The rest of the claimants are late comers after the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco and 1982 UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).

To avoid complicating the issue, knowledge of history has to be put in perspective. Since there are no “historical titles” to validate, then whatever historical facts, maps or records have to be considered as evidence. At least it sheds light to validate its case.

China has been consistent in her claims since 1279. Marker stones and light houses were on the islands but most were destroyed by Vietnam and the Philippines. Even early European records affirmed Chinese fishermen took annual sojourns on Spratly islands for part of the year.

One interesting event that happened in 1953 involved a Tomas Cloma, (director of the Maritime Institute of the Philippines) who threw away all the marker stones and made a unilateral claim on some Spratly islands and later in December 1974 was forced to sell to the government for 1 peso only, now known as Kalayaan.

All these facts are buried and often not revealed by the West.

The infamous Treaty of San Francisco, also known as Treaty of Peace with Japan, was drafted by US and Allied Powers to settle post-war issues affecting nations. Whatever the circumstances, China/Taiwan and Korea were not invited to attend the negotiations which deprived them of a fair chance and the right to present their cases. This also breached the Cairo/Potsdam declarations.

After the devastating long war, China got the raw end of the deal with unsettled lands and islands. Scholars and historians viewed this as a deliberate manoeuvre by Western Powers especially the US to create ambiguities to serve their covert interests.

I totally agree with Thanabalasingam on the recent statement by the US and Allies to pre-empt the tribunal’s verdict in favour of the Philippines is an act of prima facie and undermines the whole proceedings of the court. That is why under Article 298 of UNCLOS, China declared that it does not accept compulsory arbitral procedures relating to sea boundary delimitation in 2006. Without guessing, one could easily decipher why the Philippine chose the arbitration court.

On the ground, it doesn’t need a military expert to see what’s happening in the region. It is a tussle between China and US with puppets (the Philippines, Australia, Japan, Vietnam) joining in the fray.

The US’s sole interest is to maintain her status quo and dominance in the region. China, a rising power, is a direct competitor. When Obama announced the pivot to Asia in 2012, tensions started building up day by day with increasing deployment of military assets to frightening level.

More bases have been opened to the US in the Philippines, Japan, Australia, and some Asean nations, creating a “ring of fire” to contain China.

To harness support US raises up the heat and false alarms on China’s threat to “Freedom of Navigation”, etc. Do you expect China to remain docile and silent? Freedom of navigation was not an issue for decades. Deliberately intruding into sovereign territory with frigates, spy planes, etc are direct provocations.

Sad to see nations taking sides just to gain a little leverage to support their claims. As far as I can see, these islands are “bread crumbs” created to inflict tension and even wars among nations. Political issues deserve diplomatic solutions. Don’t allow a Middle East or Ukraine crisis in Asia.

I trust my country will take the path of engagement and diplomacy.

By Ali Saw Kuala Lumpur The Sundaily

Ripples and rumbles in the South China Sea

AFTER the conclusion of the 27th Asean Summit and Related Summits chaired by Malaysia here in late November 2015, I felt optimistic the year 2016 might see a lessening of tensions in the South China Sea and perhaps even witness a Code of Conduct being signed between all the claimant states. I suppose this was hoping too much.

What we have seen instead is a rapid increase in tensions caused by China’s actions in the South China Sea. Understandably, claimant Asean states are anxious and concerned over these latest developments.

Since the start of this year, China has conducted several test flights from its airfield in the Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands Group. There was also news reports that China had moved an oil rig into disputed waters between China and Vietnam.

This brings to mind the January 1974 Chinese/Vietnamese clash over the Paracel Islands with Vietnam suffering heavy losses and being evicted from the Paracels.

More recently it has been reported and confirmed that China has installed long-range anti-aircraft missiles on Woody Island in the disputed Paracels chain.

This does not auger well for calm and confidence-building between the various Asean claimant states and the Republic of China.

In addition, the occasional reported intrusions of Chinese coastguard vessels into other nations’ territorial waters is cause for concern.

The recent statement by the US and some European nations that China must abide by the decision to be made by the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, hearing the Philippines request to invalidate China’s claims, is rather premature in my humble opinion.

The US and other western nations’ statement would have been better coming after the tribunal’s verdict expected sometime near the middle of this year, if it turns out to be in Philippines favour. As it is, I feel the statement pre-empts the tribunal’s verdict.

I had written an article on the South China Sea dispute and stated my personal views in June 2015. I am of the firm belief, based on International Law and UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), that China’s claim to virtually the whole of the South China Sea is arbitrary and unprecedented.

No country has ever claimed such a large expanse of international maritime waters before. There is no provision anywhere that I am aware of for a historical claim, especially when such a claim has never been exercised or enforced until more recent times. China is not only a party to UNCLOS but it has also ratified it. Therefore, China is bound by UNCLOS.

A point to bear in mind is that there are laws and rules to what constitutes an island. Under UNCLOS no shoal or reef can be reclaimed and turned into an island.

A reclaimed land is artificial and not natural. Hence the question of territorial waters or other claims for the artificial island does not arise.

The Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by all members of Asean and the People’s Republic of China on Nov 4, 2002 unfortunately has a number of setbacks. There is also a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES). Although this is mainly to avoid any untoward sea incident between US Navy ships and Republic of China Navy (ROCN) ships. I feel that CUES should also be used more by Asean claimant states’ naval ships and the ROCN ships.

Although I am disheartened by the latest developments in the South China Sea, I sincerely hope that these ripples and rumbles do not develop into a full blown hurricane or typhoon.

By Rear Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri K. Thanabalasingam was the third chief of the Royal Malaysian Navy and the first Malaysian to be appointed to the post.Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

The U.S. should keep away from the South China Sea for regional peace

China is forced to deploy defensive facilities on islands in the South China Sea in response to early militarization action from other parties and to the U.S. close-up reconnaissance in this region, said a China’s professor who specializes in international affairs.

Shen Dingli, a professor specializing in international affairs from Fudan University, wrote in a column that if the U.S. expects fewer disputes in the South China Sea, the country should not choose any side and not support those who infringe upon China’s national interests. The U.S. should make those countries withdraw from the region.

Shen stated that the U.S. should reduce its close-up reconnaissance in the region so that China will not need to spare much time to deploy forces in the region.

According to Shen, statements of spokespersons from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Defense clearly show China’s attitude towards this issue.

First of all, China deploys defensive facilities in order to cope with other countries’ militarization in this area. Secondly, China benefits from freedom of navigation and China is willing to maintain this freedom within the international law in cooperation with ASEAN countries. Thirdly, China urges the U.S. to respect its legitimate interests when it comes to sovereign of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Shen also said that if the U.S. really cares about China’s deployment of radars and missiles on relevant islands, it should reduce the close-up reconnaissance by its missile destroyers and strategic bombers in this area.  By Yuan Can (People’s Daily Online)

US militarizing South China Sea

Compared with the progress Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State John Kerry seem to have achieved on sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, finding common ground to resolve their differences over the South China Sea has proved more difficult.

Just as Wang has stressed, the responsibility for non-militarization of the South China Sea is not China’s alone. The United States should lend an attentive ear to China’s stance.

On Tuesday, at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command, said China’s deployment of missiles and new radars on its islands and reefs in the South China Sea and its building of airstrips are “changing the operational landscape” in the waters.

The media in the US also hyped up China sending Annihilates-11 fighters to the Xisha Islands. These voices may be a prelude to Washington escalating the flexing of its muscles in the South China Sea.

Yet as a non-regional country, it is irresponsible of the US to intervene in the South China Sea in disregard of the possibility that has emerged that China and the other parties to the disputes in the waters will be able to stabilize the situation rather than let it spiral out of control.

If those in the region were allowed to settle the disputes themselves, the South China Sea would be free from concerns and troubles within the foreseeable future.

It is the US’ direct interventions in the South China Sea that are exacerbating tensions and adding uncertainty.

The US’ provocative signals have seriously increased Chinese people’s sense of urgency to strengthen the country’s military capabilities. When US military vessels and warplanes intruded into the 12-nautical-mile territorial seas around China’s islands and reefs, Chinese people have reasons to believe their country should not remain indifferent even if its military might is still inferior to that of the US.

On issues concerning national sovereignty, the Chinese military will follow the will of its people.- Global Times

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Philippines violated agreements and laws by filing arbitration over South China Sea


 

China: Rejection of the Philippines’ arbitration ‘in line with law’

 Foreign Minister Wang Yi says China’s rejection of arbitration filed by the Philippines over terroritorial claims, is in line with the law. His remarks came after talks with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Beijing on Wednesday, as Australia called for a resolution to the South China Sea disputes through peaceful means, including arbitration.

“China is actually following international law by not accepting arbitration regarding sovereign and maritime entitlements. Because after joining the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 2006, China issued a declaration according to the rights given to China by Article 298 of the UNCLOS. We issued a government statement excluding China from being subjected to the compulsory settlement measures. The Chinese government will continue to stand by the declaration.” said Wang Yi.

China in 2006 declared it would not accept arbitration of disputes concerning territorial sovereignty and maritime rights, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Wang said.

“Chinese government will certainly stick to this position,” Wang said, adding that more than 30 countries, including Australia, have also made similar “exclusive” declarations.

He gave a list of reasons why the Philippines’ arbitration attempt is invalid and unacceptable, including unilateral moves without consulting China, which goes against international norms, as well as the common sense argument that arbitration applications are usually lodged only when all other means are depleted.

China and the Philippines have several agreements that disputes should be solved through dialogue and consultation.

The Philippines has also signed the fourth article of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), which states that disputes should be solved by those countries directly related, through negotiation and consultation.

Wang said that the Philippines’ arbitration attempt violated previous agreements and raised suspicion of its complicated international background or even hidden political motives.

The minister listed reasons why the Philippines’ arbitration attempt, first made in 2014 to a UN tribunal, is invalid and unacceptable. He said it was a unilateral move by the Philippines, which goes against international norms on arbitration, and that they have not yet exhausted other means to reach a resolution. Wang Yi also said any deployment of defense facilities on China’s own territory would be legitimate.

Wang further said the Philippines not only violated a number of agreements by filing arbitration without China’s consent … but also did not follow the Declaration on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea. According to him, any arbitration should only be filed after all possible solutions are tried and failed.

“The Philippines betrayed our trust and went against justice to file for arbitration. That made us wonder whether they are making these decisions following complicated international circumstances.   They may even have political purposes that they don’t want to share,” he said.

This was in response to western reports that an advanced surface-to-air missile system was deployed to one of the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

“I hope that media everywhere will turn their attention to the lighthouses that we have built on some of the islands in the South China Sea. They are in operation now and they have been very useful in ensuring the safety of passing ships in those waters. The meteorological forecast facilities and other facilities will provide assistance and rescue and emergency response to the fishing boats in those waters. Because I think all of those are actions China, as the biggest state in the South China Sea, has undertaken to provide more public goods and services to the international community and play a positive role there. ” said Wang, ” As for the limited and necessary self-defence facilities that China has built on the islands and reefs stationed by Chinese personnel, this is consistent with the self-preservation and self-protection that China is entitled to under international law. So there should be no question about that.”

The Chinese Foreign Minister also stressed that demilitarization benefits all, but it can not be applied to only one country, or with double or even multiple standards. He said demilitarization in the South China Sea needs joint efforts from countries both in and outside the region. The Chinese Foreign Minister said China noticed that during the just concluded meetings between the US and ASEAN, the two pledged to achieve demilitarization in the region. He said China hopes they can keep their word. Xinhua

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China responds to US’s militarizing the South China Sea


It is the US that is militarizing the South China Sea

The U.S. has recently been hyping the idea that China is militarizing the South China Sea. It first criticized China for deploying missiles in Yongxing Island, then claimed in a report that China is building a radar system on islands or reefs in the Nansha Islands.

However, plenty of evidence suggests that it is the U.S. rather than China who is actually militarizing the South China Sea.

First, the U.S. is clearly “a thief calling on others to catch a thief” when accusing China of escalating militarization in the South China Sea.

It is the U.S. that has been enhancing military deployment in neighboring regions of the South China Sea.

The U.S. not only acquired access to eight military bases in the Philippines, the superpower has also continued increasing its military presence in Singapore and sent warships and aircraft to the South China Sea.

What’s more, it has repeatedly pressured its allies and partners to conduct targeted military drills and patrols to play up regional tension.

Besides selling weaponry to the Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries, the U.S. also repeatedly sent missile destroyers, strategic bombers and anti-submarine patrol aircraft to approach or even enter relevant reefs and islands, as well as the adjacent waters and air space of China’s Nansha and Xisha Islands. Such acts betray ambition to provoke China.

Secondly, the U.S. obviously has a guilty conscience when criticizing China for deploying national defense.

As islands and reefs in the South China Sea have been an indisputable part of China’s territory since ancient times, China is entitled to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.

By deploying necessary defense for its own territory, China is exercising the right of self-preservation granted by international law to sovereign states. This has nothing to do with militarization and is completely legitimate.

China’s defense is not fundamentally different from the defense installation by the U.S. in Hawaii. If other countries have zero intention to threaten China’s sovereignty and security, they needn’t worry about defensive measures.

Thirdly, the U.S. revealed its double standard when criticizing China’s construction on the Nansha Islands.

Such construction falls completely within China’s sovereignty. The light houses built by China on its stationed islands and reefs, as well as the facilities for meteorological observation, emergency shelter and rescue, are public services and goods offered by China to the international community as the largest coastal state in the South China Sea.

They are by no means military facilities, but the U.S. has continued picking on China nonetheless.

In contrast, the U.S. turns a blind eye to military actions taken by the Philippines and Vietnam on the Nansha Islands, which they illegally occupy.

Lastly, so-called “safeguarding navigation freedom” is just a cover-up for the U.S. to destroy peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The U.S. military has been carrying out “navigation freedom” activities for a long time. Such activities, in essence, are challenges to other countries’ sovereignty and jurisdiction in their own waters and exclusive economic zones. The U.S. carries out these activities just to maintain its own maritime supremacy.

The freedom of navigation and flight over the South China Sea, to which all countries are entitled under international law, has never been threatened. Over 100,000 vessels from various countries pass through the region every year without a hitch.

However, the “navigation freedom” actions conducted by the U.S. destroy peace and tranquility in the South China Sea and escalate regional tensions.

Not only won’t this selfish and overbearing act help to peacefully resolve the South China Sea issue, it will further disrupt regional peace and stability.

The U.S. must realize that as a party not concerned in the South China Sea issue, it should respect the efforts of China and concerned nations to peacefully handle their own disputes and safeguard the stability of the region.

If the U.S. intends to make sincere contributions, the best way is to stop stirring up tensions through risky military actions in the South China Sea.

–  By Zhang Junshe – The author is a research fellow of China’s Naval Research Institute

China said on Friday that it does not intend to pursue militarization of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea and criticized U.S. air and naval patrols in the region.

China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, adding “China is serious about its commitment not to pursue militarization of the Nansha Islands.”

Hong made the remarks after U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said commercial satellite imagery suggested “very recent” placement of missiles on Yongxing Island that goes against China’s pledge not to militarize the South China Sea.

“We see no indication that … this militarization effort, has stopped. And it’s doing nothing … to make the situation there more stable and more secure,” Kirby said at a regular news briefing on Thursday.

Hong said that demilitarization in the region is not a matter for just a single country. “There should not be double standards or multi-standards for demilitarization in the South China Sea, and the process requires joint efforts from countries in the region and beyond.”

He said the United States is strengthening military deployment in the South China Sea and frequently sends military vessels or planes to waters in the South China Sea to conduct close-in reconnaissance against China.

He also accused the United States of sending missile destroyer and strategic bombers into waters and airspace adjacent to the Nansha Islands and had its allies hold targeted joint military exercises or joint cruises in the region.

The U.S. actions have escalated tensions in the South China Sea and constitute the militarization of the South China Sea, said Hong.

Yongxing Island, the largest island in the Xisha Islands group in the South China Sea, is an inherent part of China’s territory, he said.

In 1959, the Chinese government set up an administrative office and the ensuing government facilities on the Yongxing Island.

The deployment of defense facilities on Yongxing Island amounts to China exercising its sovereignty and it has been going on for decades, he said, urging the U.S. side to learn the basic facts regarding the South China Sea before commenting on the issue.

HQ-9 missile prompted by US threat

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that “There is every evidence, every day that there has been an increase of militarization of one kind or another,” referring to the reported Chinese deployment of missiles in the “disputed” islands in the South China Sea. He said “it’s of serious concern” and the US will “have further very serious conversation” with China. The US media has responded strongly to the allegations that China has deployed HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles on Yongxing Island, one of the islands in the Xisha chain. US Senate Armed Forces Chairman John McCain suggested the US consider “additional options to raise the costs on Beijing’s behavior.”

The HQ-9 missile is a typical type of defensive weapon. The Xisha Islands are Chinese territory and have long been under China’s actual control. Previous disputes in the South China Sea did not involve this area, but this time the US has targeted Yongxing Island in Xisha to attack China’s “militarization” of the South China Sea. Washington intends to not only tarnish China’s image, but also expand the disputes so as to contain China’s activities in the Nansha Islands.

The confrontation between China and the US in the South China Sea is likely to escalate. The whole of Chinese society should be cool-minded and be prepared for long-term competition with the US.

First, we should be clear about the country’s stance toward the South China Sea. We are safeguarding our legitimate rights without any radical moves. Island building in Nansha and missile deployment in Xisha are in accordance with international law.

Second, China cares about developing ties with all regional countries. The missiles in Yongxing do not target any South China Sea claimants.

Third, China should send clear messages to the outside world that its defensive deployment in Yongxing targets external military threats. The freedom of navigation in the South China Sea only applies to civilian vessels and aerial vehicles. Outside warships and jet fighters must obey the principle of “innocent passage.” American warships and flights have constantly made provocations in the South China Sea. The US is bold about imposing pressure on China, and China must make an appropriate response.

Fourth, how the PLA deploys weapons and the defense levels should be determined by the threat level from external military forces. If the US military stages a real threat and a military clash is looming, the PLA may feel propelled to deploy more powerful weapons.

Fifth, China does not want to see an escalation of Sino-US frictions in the South China Sea, but it should let the US know that its every single provocative act will face countermeasures from China.

Sixth, the main risks come from the uncertainty of intensity of China-US competition. It is unrealistic for relevant countries to woo the US to balance China.

Last, China should adopt an active approach to cope with an opinion war and express its stance to the world. China holds firm strategic initiatives in the South China Sea, and the US has no actual effective tools to contain China in the waters. It is best at rhetoric offense, so we must reason with it head-on. – Global Times

Washington’s destabilizing role in South China Sea

 

South China Sea. (Photo/Xinhua)

After failing to get its way at the first U.S.-ASEAN summit in California, Washington appears ready to grasp at anything that could be used against China.

And the media hype over China’s deployment of a surface-to-air missile system in Yongxing Island, part of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea, just provided Washington a much-needed excuse to once again criticize Beijing for its alleged role in “militarizing” the region.

For starters, China has indisputable sovereignty over the Xisha Islands and deploying limited and necessary national defense facilities on China’s own territory has nothing to do with militarization in the South China Sea.

China has repeatedly made it clear that it has no intention to militarize the region. Its activities are mainly for maintenance purposes, improving the living conditions for the stationed personnel there and providing more public goods in the region.

With trillions of dollars’ worth of goods traversing the patch of water every year, the South China Sea is vital both to global trade and to China’s development. Beijing has no reason to disrupt one of its own crucial arteries of trade.

Meanwhile, the United States, which has become fixated on the South China Sea since Washington announced a pivot to the Asia-Pacific, has been the primary source of destabilization in the area.

It has conducted a slew of naval and air patrol trips in the vicinity of the China-owned islands, which is in clear violation of China’s sovereignty, not to mention international law.

In addition, it has also reopened military bases in the Philippines, in a move widely interpreted as stirring up tension in the region.

Furthermore, some countries in the region are taking more provocative measures to press for illegitimate territorially claims ever since the U.S. put the South China Sea on its radar.

If there were a ranking for destabilizers in the South China Sea, there’s no doubt Washington would top the list.

China’s practices in the region are defensive in nature, and it sees direct talks between rival claimants rather than military means as the best way to resolve any dispute.

For the sake of regional stability and the common good, let’s hope the United States honor its previous commitment of not taking sides on the issue or stirring up tensions. Only then can the South China Sea be home to calm waters. Xinhua

Military factors injected by US provocation in the South China Sea

In an exclusive report, Fox News claimed that it obtained civilian satellite imagery which appears to show China’s HQ-9 air defense system on Yongxing Island, part of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. Fox News used this as evidence that China is increasingly “militarizing” its islands and “ramping up tensions in the region.” Many Western media picked up the news.

They probably aren’t clear about the differences between the constructed islands in Nansha Islands and Yongxing Island in Xisha. The disputes over the sovereignty of islands in Nansha are sharp, while the Xisha Islands are under the actual control of China.

China has released the baseline of the territorial sea to the Xisha Islands and their sovereignty is not disputed. Meanwhile, Yongxing is the largest of the Xisha Islands and the location of the city of Sansha. Defensive weapons were deployed on the island in the past. Even if the presence of the HQ-9 system is true as the West has claimed, it is a matter of China’s sovereignty and it is fully legitimate for China to do so.

US authorities and opinion have paid particular attention to the “militarization” of the South China Sea, which shows the absurdity of US-style hegemonic mentality. The US, an outsider, has injected the most military elements in the region. It will reopen military bases in the Philippines. It also advocates its allies, Japan and Australia, to join its military navigation in the South China Sea. The biggest act of militarization is that it sent warships within 12 nautical miles of islands claimed by China.

Facing more frequent provocations from the US military, China should strengthen self-defense in the islands in the South China Sea. The deployment of defense systems is not in the domain of militarization, as militarization of islands often means they are built into a fortress to become an outpost of military contests.

Guam is a typical example of US militarization. In recent years, Guam has deployed offensive nuclear submarines and various missile systems which are aimed at deterring China, making it the new pillar of US military deterrence in the Pacific.

At least currently, China finds it does not need to militarize the islands to cope with the other South China Sea claimants. As long as Washington does not inject tensions, China has no motivation to do so. Uncertainties in the future come from the US side.

Once the US repeatedly sends warships to make provocations at Chinese islands and threatens the security of Chinese people and facilities on the islands, more military equipment should be deployed to counter US provocations. This is common in contemporary international relations.

Once the South China Sea is militarized, it will only add to China’s strategic costs. Therefore, China will hardly resort to the last choice. But China is not the decisive factor, as it is propelled to react due to provocations from the US and its allies.

China is serious about ensuring stability and prosperity around the South China Sea and has invested enormous energy and resources. The region is adjacent to the route of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative and China’s efforts are eliminating vulnerability caused by a lack of security trust.

Even if the HQ-9s are deployed on South China Sea islands, regional countries would not raise much concern as these claimants have no intention to fight for air supremacy. Jet fighters from the US, an outside country, may feel uneasy when making provocative flights in the region. To us, that’s a proper result. – Global Times

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US militarizing South China Sea

On issues concerning national sovereignty, the Chinese military will follow the will of its people.

Commentary: U.S. has hard time justifying criticism of China’s actions in South China Sea

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) — The U.S. government is recently
struggling China Sea, because it is clear that it is the United States,
not China, that is the real source of militarization of the region.

China’s deployment of a surface-to-air missile system on the Xisha
Islands, an inherent part of China’s territory, is defensive in nature
and falls within its sovereign rights and international law.Full Story

China Voice: Provocation no good for peace in South China Sea

BEIJING, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) — Sending a warship to another country’s
territorial waters without notice is hardly the right thing to do,
regardless protocols and codes.

The Saturday maneuvers of a U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer 12
nautical miles off Zhongjian Dao, Xisha Islands, was “deliberate
provocation”, according to China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Yang
Yujun.

It also drew angry outcry from Chinese on the Internet, with many
comments much more radical than the official response. The Chinese
people have every reason to feel offended. Full Story 

U.S. should be more inclusive in diplomacy

When the U.S. is excluding others such as China, China pursues a philosophy of openness, transparenc[Read it]

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North Korea: launched a long-range rocket, cannot repeat China’s nuclear weapons path


North Korea launched a long-range rocket on Sunday morning. Pyongyang authorities said they had successfully launched the Kwangmyongsong-4 earth observation satellite, while the US, South Korea and Japan considered the launch to be a long-range missile test.

Pyongyang has made progress in long-range rocket and missile technology, but it is far from mastering mature long-range missile system and building a strategic deterrence. North Korea hopes it can effectively threaten the US homeland, but it views the matter too simply. Washington regards Pyongyang’s rocket launch as “severe provocation.” The majority of the international community doesn’t believe that in the foreseeable future, Pyongyang can miniaturize warheads and have the long-range nuclear strike ability to coerce Asia-Pacific countries and the US.

Long-range missile technology is similar to rocket technology, but there are differences. The deterrence of long-range missiles using liquid propellant is limited due to their restrained mobility and slow response times. According to analysis from the US and South Korean side, Pyongyang’s liquid propellant is backward and unreliable. North Korea has no successful record in long-range missile launch. As long as the Kwangmyongsong-4 enters the target orbit, it can be considered successful. But after all, the launch of a rocket and a missile is different.

Long-range missiles need a huge supportive system, for instance, the ability to measure flight attitude, orbit accuracy and landing location, but Pyongyang doesn’t have any of this. Washington and Seoul believe that North Korea has a rather limited missile testing ability. With the missile and rocket launched by the North landing in the ocean with little possibility of it being retrieved, it is extremely difficult for Pyongyang to collect the test data. Its industry is also not able to manufacture all the materials necessary for developing long-range missile and nuclear bomb.

Some believe Pyongyang’s research into nuclear weapons and long-range missiles is similar to China’s atomic and hydrogen bomb development in the 1960s. Since China succeeded, so will North Korea.

This is a serious misreading. China faced a different environment than North Korea today in developing nuclear weapons. It was before the Non-Proliferation Treaty was adopted in 1968. Plus, China has a vast territory, and has nuclear test sites in the desert, while North Korea’s limited space makes this impossible.

China’s strategic deterrent power of nuclear bomb and missile, limited at the beginning, were enhanced as science and technology improved in the country. It has become even more credible with the mobility of land-based ICBMs and the upgrading of sea-based missile launching system.

Pyongyang is at the stage of developing nuclear equipment and long-range rockets, which however has developed far from the reality of the country’s technology and economic development. So far, it is hard to tell whether it brings more strategic security or strategic harm to Pyongyang.

How far can Pyongyang’s nuclear bomb and missile develop? It is not up to the political determination of Pyongyang, since it involves complicated geopolitical forces which North Korea can hardly harness. Pyongyang must think carefully how to extricate itself from the increasingly grave situation. – Global Times

Related:

Discussion of THAAD deployment is shortsighted move of Seoul and Washington

However, China’s determination to safeguard its national security should be clearly shown, so that the other stakeholders will have to think carefully before they make any decision that might challenge China’s position.

China will “by no means allow war on the Korean Peninsula” a foreign ministry spokesperson said Wednesday, stressing Beijing was deeply concerned over Pyongyang’s announced plan to launch a satellite later this month, only weeks after it tested a nuclear bomb in defiance of international sanction

US playing a messy game of provocations in SCS; China build up defense to thwart the provocation


In October, the US guided missile destroyer USS Lassen conducted a “freedom of navigation” operation within 12 nautical miles of China’s Meiji and Zhubi reefs.

In December, a United States Air Force B-52 bomber “accidentally” flew within 2 nautical miles of China’s Huayang Reef.

On Saturday, the Pentagon announced an “innocent passage” by the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur within 12 nautical miles of China’s Zhongjian Island.

On the surface, these are “routine” operations US Senator John McCain says are “normal occurrences” China will have to accept.

Yet this is not a Tom-and-Jerry kind of game where no party gets seriously hurt.

There is real potential danger, because the US challenges to China in the South China Sea are showing a trajectory of escalation.

Zhongjian Island is part of the Xisha Archipelago, where there is no current, active dispute, and hardly part of the issue of the day.

The Pentagon did display some diplomatic sophistication this time, claiming that the USS Curtis Wilbur “challenged attempts by the three claimants-China, Taiwan and Vietnam-to restrict navigation rights and freedoms around the features they claim by policies that require prior permission or notification of transit within territorial seas”.

Ignoring the fact this violates the US’ recognition of “one China”, reaffirmed by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, the Pentagon’s statement raises legitimate suspicions that it has an agenda to further complicate the South China Sea issue.

As in the rest of the South China Sea, there is no evidence the named “claimants” are attempting to “restrict navigation rights and freedoms”. Enlarging the South China Sea issue by extending it to the Xisha Archipelago may be an attempt to drive a wedge between the mainland and Taiwan by dragging the latter into a long dormant and increasingly forgotten “dispute”.

The US wants a larger role in the Asia-Pacific. And it is bent on preempting a perceived Chinese challenge.

There is no better way to do this than by making things messier, to make itself “needed” and “wanted”.

What China needs and wants is peace, but as the Chinese saying goes, while the tree craves calm, the wind will not abate. Beijing needs to react accordingly, and prepare for all possibilities.

However, the country learned the significance of comprehensive national strength the hard way. It should not be distracted. It should rise above stress responses and stay focused on its development agenda. – China Daily)

Build up defense to thwart US provocation 

China firmly upholds her sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea. [Photo/Xinhua]

The US on Saturday sent one of its naval vessels within 12 nautical miles of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. The move, according to the Pentagon, was about “challenging excessive maritime claims that restrict the rights and freedoms of the United States and others.” The Chinese side criticized the behavior of a “serious political and military provocation.”

Until recently, China-US frictions have been fixed on the Nansha Islands. The latest intrusion by US vessels is a high-profile US provocation that has expanded to the Xisha Islands. Xisha is under China’s actual control and China has released the territorial sea baseline of the Xisha Islands, including Zhongjian Island. Therefore, the US provocation this time is more vicious.

Currently, China and the US have been focused on making their own moves in the South China Sea disputes. China is building islands in accordance with the law, and the US cannot prevent China from doing so despite strong protests. The US sent warships to provoke, and China protests against it strongly, yet with few effective countermeasures.

It is hard to evaluate the strategic nature of Sino-US confrontations in the South China Sea. China seems to have more room to maneuver, while the US apparently has more control over the overall situation.

Since it happens at the door of China, China feels that the US is circling to contain it and the US vigilance against China is aggressive. There is a long way to go before China can have an equal footing with the US. Such equality can only be achieved with the build-up of strategic strength.

China’s military strength still significantly lags behind that of the US. If the US is ready for a face-off in the South China Sea, it can quickly gather its military strength despite the far distance.

We also face similar setbacks in the East China Sea. We bear enormous pressure from Washington in our peripheral areas, and the relative backwardness of China’s military might is the weakest link in our competition with the US. Chinese people must be clear about the broader strategic significance of this reality.

The US provocation comes ahead of the 2016 two sessions which are scheduled in March. This reminds us that we must retain a high growth rate of military spending in spite of the economic downward trend.

The defense expenditure of a big power must constitute a certain percentage of its overall expense. China’s military budget only takes up 2 percent of its GDP, much lower than the US figure of 4 percent. Before we reach the same ratio as the US, we should hold a cautious attitude toward decreasing the defense budget.

China needs to accelerate its speed of building up strategic strike capabilities, including a nuclear second-strike capability. The US provocation will not stop due to Chinese objections. In the short-term future, we will have limited means to counter the US.

It will probably take China a dozen years or longer of military build-up before it faces a different situation in the South China Sea. – Global Times

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US making trouble & provocation out of nothing; China warns US Navy in South China Sea



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 Video:http://t.cn/RUq2b2l http://t.cn/RUqAHgx

The USS Lassen on Oct. 27 sailed within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built and claimed by China. © AP

By sending its warship within 12 nautical miles of China’s isles in the South China Sea, the United States is raising tensions in the waters and sending a dangerous signal to the region.

On Tuesday, the US warship USS Lassen illegally entered waters near Zhubi Reef, part of China’s Nansha Islands, without the permission of the Chinese government. Such a blatant provocation was naturally met with strong condemnation from China, which deems the US move as a threat to China’s sovereignty and security interests.

To justify this reckless move, high-ranking US officials have been raising their voices recently accusing China of militarizing the South China Sea and claiming the US operation is to exert “freedom of navigation” in the waters.

These are just pretexts the US is using to mislead the public and confuse right with wrong.

China has repeatedly said it has no intention of militarizing the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea. All its deployments at the islands and reefs are necessary, limited and defense-oriented. As a nation that relies heavily on the sea lanes in the waters, militarization would threaten, instead of serving, its interests in the region.

As to freedom of navigation and overflights in the waters, they have never been a real issue of concern. China has reiterated many times that its reclamation work is primarily for civilian purposes and does not in any way hamper freedom of navigation.

Yet, these words have apparently fallen on deaf ears. By challenging a threat that does not exist, the US move is creating a bigger and more real threat itself. By flexing its muscle on China’s doorstep, the US is using coercion to challenge China’s legitimate territorial claims.

The US warship displays exactly who is the real hand pushing the militarization of the South China Sea.

The US’ so-called freedom of navigation operations also go against its own public statements that it takes no stand over the territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The US calls itself a Pacific country and claims it too has a stake in peace and stability in the region. If that is the case it should be playing a more constructive role in the waters, rather than stirring the waters at the risk of regional peace and stability.

If the US still deems itself a responsible power, it should refrain from making further provocations. – China Daily

China warns US over incursion

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Video:  http://english.cntv.cn/2015/10/27/VIDE1445955726138180.shtml 

File photo: China’s Lanzhou Missile Destroyer.

  • Chinese warships gave warnings to US navy ship

  • Chinese warships gave warnings to US navy ship. Chinese Defense Ministry has also slammedUS over its warship patrol near Zhubi Reef. It says two Chinese warships, Lanzhou guided missile destroyer and Taizhou patrol ship, gave warnings to US warship USS Lassen. The ministry has lodged serious representations…
China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday expressed “strong discontent” over a US warship’s “illegal entry” into waters near a reef in the South China Sea, threatening to take whatever measures are necessary against any deliberate provocations.

Experts said the announcement represented a warning from China, but that the nation is not willing to see an escalation into military conflict. Experts called for both parties to resort to legal and diplomatic approaches.

According to a Reuters report on Tuesday, one US defense official said the destroyer USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of Zhubi Reef.

A second defense official said the mission, which lasted a few hours, included Meiji Reef.

Earlier this year, China revealed that it was building civil and military facilities over both reefs, which are part of its Nansha Islands.

The operation was approved by US President Barack Obama, CNN reported on Tuesday, citing an anonymous official as saying that the mission was “routine.”

The US warship was monitored, tracked and issued a warning, said Lu Kang, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Tuesday

A guided-missile destroyer and a patrol boat gave warnings to the US warship, Yang Yujun, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said on Tuesday.

He said the reoccurrence of similar incidents should be prevented in the future.

China will continue to watch the situation and “do whatever is necessary,” Lu said during a regular press briefing in Beijing.

Stressing that China’s sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters is “irrefutable,” Lu said China is prepared to respond to any deliberate provocation by any country and urged the US to “immediately correct its wrongdoing.”

Lu said that China is firmly opposed to any action that harms China’s sovereignty and security in the name of freedom of navigation.

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui also summoned US Ambassador Max Baucus on Tuesday to protest against the US naval patrol, calling it “extremely irresponsible.”

‘Predictable’ act

The dispatch of the US warship was predictable since the US had reiterated the plan several times, Zhu Feng, a professor of international security at Nanjing University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. He said the US had to follow through with its action to maintain credibility with its allies.

The US will take such measures against any country that is considered by the US as curtailing its freedom of navigation, in a bid to show that it aims at defending the right, an expert at the Academy of Military Science, who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times.

A US defense official told Reuters that “It’s not something that’s unique to China.”

US warships have defended this right against almost all coastal countries, a research fellow at the Chinese Naval Research Institute, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times on Tuesday, citing the passage of US warships from the Mediterranean into the Black Sea during the Cold War as an example.

Given the current situation, the US is unlikely to let go if its demands are not met, said the research fellow at the Chinese Naval Research Institute.

The second US defense official said additional patrols would follow in coming weeks and could be conducted around features that Vietnam and the Philippines have built up in the Nansha Islands, according to Reuters.

Probe reaction

“The US move is more of a probe of China’s reaction rather than a showdown,” Zhu said, adding that China needs to have a well-considered plan in response, such as getting ready to monitor US warships or planes, or driving them off when necessary.

But China should move carefully to avoid military conflict, he said.

The expert at the Academy of Military Science said the passage of the USS Lassen is the least serious move available to the US, compared with other options like conducting military drills and joint passage of Japanese and Philippine warships.

China also made a minimal response, he said.

Unlike the intense relationship between the US and former Soviet Union, the US is also worried that radical military actions would harm Sino-US cooperation, the research fellow at the Chinese Naval Research Institute added.

The research fellow suggested setting up a “security alert zone” by China in the controversial waters in order to prevent further conflicts.

China and the US in September signed two documents on “notification of military crisis” and “encounters in the air” in a bid to avoid military conflicts caused by miscalculation over the seas, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

It has to be noticed that China has already carried out construction work in the area. This is the concrete achievements Beijing has gained. Completing building the islands still remains as a major task for China in the future. At present, no country, the US included, is able to obstruct Beijing’s island reclamation in the region.

In face of the US harassment, Beijing should deal with Washington tactfully and prepare for the worst. This can convince the White House that China, despite its unwillingness, is not frightened to fight a war with the US in the region, and is determined to safeguard its national interests and dignity.

Beijing ought to carry out anti-harassment operations. We should first track the US warships. If they, instead of passing by, stop for further actions, it is necessary for us to launch electronic interventions, and even send out warships, lock them by fire-control radar and fly over the US vessels.

Chinese should be aware that the US harassment is only a common challenge in China’s rise. We should regard it with calm and be confident of our government and troops. It is certain that the Chinese government, ordering the land reclamation, is able and determined to safeguard the islands. China is gradually recovering its justified rights in the South China Sea. China has not emphasized the “12 nautical miles.” It is the US that helps us to build and reinforce this concept. Then, it is fine for us to accept the “12 nautical miles” and we have no intention to accept 13 or more than 13 nautical miles.

By Chen Heying Source:Global Times

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