VN Islands‎ > ‎

Headlines about Paracel Islands

Just for personal readings

Recent Announcements

  • JULY 13, 2020 U.S. Position on Maritime Claims in the South China Sea U.S. Position on Maritime Claims in the South China SeaPRESS STATEMENTMICHAEL R. POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATEJULY 13, 2020 ...
    Posted Jul 26, 2020, 7:59 PM by Lovely Vietnam
  • 21 July 2020 Australian Defence Force Australia, Japan and US exercise in Philippine Sea21 July 2020Australia, Japan and the US are currently conducting a trilateral passage in the Philippine Sea on the way to ...
    Posted Jul 26, 2020, 7:53 PM by Lovely Vietnam
  • 20 Apr 2020 Vietnam protests Beijing's expansion in disputed South China Sea as world remains occupied with coronavirus Vietnam protests Beijing's expansion in disputed South China Sea as world remains occupied with coronavirus Posted 20 Apr 2020 China is becoming resurgent in the disputed South China Sea ...
    Posted Apr 30, 2020, 11:22 PM by Lovely Vietnam
  • 23 Oct 2018 VOAnews: South China Sea Code of Conduct Gains Momentum as China Moves to Complete Militarization source VOAnews: October 22, 2018 2:06 PMNike ChingSTATE DEPARTMENT — As China moves to complete the creation of military outposts in the South China Sea, Beijing’s negotiation ...
    Posted Oct 22, 2018, 5:58 PM by Lovely Vietnam
  • 23 Oct 2018 UK vows to support for its Pacific allies China FURY as defiant British Navy vows to sail through South China SeaTHE UK will sail through the disputed waters in the South China Sea ignoring Chinese protests and ...
    Posted Oct 22, 2018, 5:53 PM by Lovely Vietnam
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 42. View more »

JULY 13, 2020 U.S. Position on Maritime Claims in the South China Sea

posted Jul 26, 2020, 7:59 PM by Lovely Vietnam

U.S. Position on Maritime Claims in the South China Sea

JULY 13, 2020

The United States champions a free and open Indo-Pacific. Today we are strengthening U.S. policy in a vital, contentious part of that region — the South China Sea. We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.

In the South China Sea, we seek to preserve peace and stability, uphold freedom of the seas in a manner consistent with international law, maintain the unimpeded flow of commerce, and oppose any attempt to use coercion or force to settle disputes. We share these deep and abiding interests with our many allies and partners who have long endorsed a rules-based international order.

These shared interests have come under unprecedented threat from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Beijing uses intimidation to undermine the sovereign rights of Southeast Asian coastal states in the South China Sea, bully them out of offshore resources, assert unilateral dominion, and replace international law with “might makes right.” Beijing’s approach has been clear for years. In 2010, then-PRC Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told his ASEAN counterparts that “China is a big country and other countries are small countries and that is just a fact.” The PRC’s predatory world view has no place in the 21st century.

The PRC has no legal grounds to unilaterally impose its will on the region. Beijing has offered no coherent legal basis for its “Nine-Dashed Line” claim in the South China Sea since formally announcing it in 2009. In a unanimous decision on July 12, 2016, an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention – to which the PRC is a state party – rejected the PRC’s maritime claims as having no basis in international law. The Tribunal sided squarely with the Philippines, which brought the arbitration case, on almost all claims.

As the United States has previously stated, and as specifically provided in the Convention, the Arbitral Tribunal’s decision is final and legally binding on both parties. Today we are aligning the U.S. position on the PRC’s maritime claims in the SCS with the Tribunal’s decision. Specifically:

  • The PRC cannot lawfully assert a maritime claim – including any Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claims derived from Scarborough Reef and the Spratly Islands – vis-a-vis the Philippines in areas that the Tribunal found to be in the Philippines’ EEZ or on its continental shelf. Beijing’s harassment of Philippine fisheries and offshore energy development within those areas is unlawful, as are any unilateral PRC actions to exploit those resources. In line with the Tribunal’s legally binding decision, the PRC has no lawful territorial or maritime claim to Mischief Reef or Second Thomas Shoal, both of which fall fully under the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction, nor does Beijing have any territorial or maritime claims generated from these features.
  • As Beijing has failed to put forth a lawful, coherent maritime claim in the South China Sea, the United States rejects any PRC claim to waters beyond a 12-nautical mile territorial sea derived from islands it claims in the Spratly Islands (without prejudice to other states’ sovereignty claims over such islands). As such, the United States rejects any PRC maritime claim in the waters surrounding Vanguard Bank (off Vietnam), Luconia Shoals (off Malaysia), waters in Brunei’s EEZ, and Natuna Besar (off Indonesia). Any PRC action to harass other states’ fishing or hydrocarbon development in these waters – or to carry out such activities unilaterally – is unlawful.
  • The PRC has no lawful territorial or maritime claim to (or derived from) James Shoal, an entirely submerged feature only 50 nautical miles from Malaysia and some 1,000 nautical miles from China’s coast. James Shoal is often cited in PRC propaganda as the “southernmost territory of China.” International law is clear: An underwater feature like James Shoal cannot be claimed by any state and is incapable of generating maritime zones. James Shoal (roughly 20 meters below the surface) is not and never was PRC territory, nor can Beijing assert any lawful maritime rights from it.

The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire. America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law. We stand with the international community in defense of freedom of the seas and respect for sovereignty and reject any push to impose “might makes right” in the South China Sea or the wider region.

21 July 2020 Australian Defence Force

posted Jul 26, 2020, 7:53 PM by Lovely Vietnam

Australia, Japan and US exercise in Philippine Sea

21 July 2020

Australia, Japan and the US are currently conducting a trilateral passage in the Philippine Sea on the way to participate in Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in Hawaii.

An Australian Defence Force (ADF) Joint Task Group has joined the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, which includes the United States Navy’s guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam and guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Akizuki-class destroyer JS Teruzuki.

With HMA Ships Canberra, Hobart, Stuart, Arunta and Sirius taking part, the activity includes replenishment at sea, aviation operations, maritime manoeuvres and communications drills.

Commander of the Australian Joint Task Group, Commodore Michael Harris, said the opportunity to work alongside Japan and the US was invaluable.

“Maintaining security and safety at sea requires navies to be able to cooperate seamlessly,” Commodore Harris said.

“The combined activities between our navies demonstrates a high degree of interoperability and capability between Australia, Japan and the US.”

Captain Sakano Yusuke, Commander of Japan’s Escort Division 4, said strengthening cooperation with the US Navy and Royal Australian Navy is vitally important for Japan and contributes to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“The experience in this exercise will give us tactical and operational advantages and make our friendships stronger, in addition to our regular joint exercises with both like-minded navies,” Captain Sakano said.

US Navy Captain Russ Caldwell, Commanding Officer USS Antietam, said the US Navy routinely exercised with regional partners, showing their shared commitment to regional stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“The relationships we've developed enable us to meet at sea and immediately operate at an advanced level. This highlights the enduring nature of our alliances with Japan and Australia,” Captain Caldwell said.

"The United States is fortunate to routinely operate alongside its allies across the Indo-Pacific and coordinated operations like these reinforce our mutual commitment to international maritime norms and promoting regional stability.”

The trilateral passage is planned to conclude on 23 July 2020.

The Joint Task Group left Darwin on 5 July 2020 to begin a regional deployment to Southeast Asia and Hawaii. 

The deployment demonstrates Australia’s enduring commitment to enhancing security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and increasing the capability and interoperability of the ADF.

Imagery will be available at:

Preview image for asset

Media contacts

Issued by Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication,
Department of Defence, 
Canberra, ACT

20 Apr 2020 Vietnam protests Beijing's expansion in disputed South China Sea as world remains occupied with coronavirus

posted Apr 30, 2020, 11:21 PM by Lovely Vietnam   [ updated Apr 30, 2020, 11:22 PM ]

Vietnam protests Beijing's expansion in disputed South China Sea as world remains occupied with coronavirus

Posted 20 Apr 2020

An aircraft carrier is accompanied by navy frigates and submarines in the South China Sea.

China is becoming resurgent in the disputed South China Sea area (file photo).(AP: Li Gang)


China has bolstered its presence in the South China Sea by setting up two administrative bodies on islands in the disputed water, dubbed "its youngest city".

Key points:

China says it has established an administrative district on two islands

The two districts are under the control of China's Sansha city

The US has called on China to stop its "bullying behaviour" in the region

Beijing claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, directly challenging the territorial claims of its neighbours — the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia.

China has recently been pushing its presence in the energy-rich waters while other claimants are pre-occupied with tackling the coronavirus pandemic, prompting the United States to call on China to stop its "bullying behaviour" there.

On Saturday, Beijing said it had established an administrative district on the Paracel islands and another on the Spratly islands.

The two districts are under the control of China's Sansha city, according to China Global Television Network.

Chinese dredging vessels in South China Sea

Chinese dredging vessels are seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.(Reuters/US Navy)

"As one of the youngest cities in China, Sansha city was established ... to administer the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea," the official Chinese Military website states.

It adds that Sansha city only has around 1,800 permanent residents, with the smallest land area and population in China.

"The establishment of the so-called Sansha city and related activities seriously violated Vietnam's sovereignty," Vietnam's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement.

"Vietnam demands that China respect Vietnam's sovereignty and abolish its wrongful decisions."

A Chinese government survey ship was seen earlier this week tagging an exploration vessel operated by Malaysia's state oil company Petronas in the disputed waters, and remained offshore of Malaysia as of Sunday.

A map showing competing territory claims in the South China Sea.

The competing territory claims in the South China Sea.(ABC News: Illustration/Jarrod Fankhauser)

Earlier this month, Vietnam lodged an official protest with China after the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat it said had been rammed by a China Coast Guard vessel near the Paracels.

Last year, on a state visit to Vietnam, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison took a thinly-veiled swipe at Beijing's aggression in the South China Sea.

Mr Morrison used a speech he gave in Hanoi to emphasise the importance of an "open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific neighbourhood".

In 2016, an international court found China had no legal basis to claim historical rights in South China Sea.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Competing for influence

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

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

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

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

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

Code of conduct draft

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

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

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

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

Managing disputes

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

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

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

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

23 Oct 2018 UK vows to support for its Pacific allies

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Oct 2018 China's 'aggressive tactics'

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

Australia concerned over China's 'aggressive tactics' in South China Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An airstrip, structures and buildings on China's manmade Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea in April 2017.
An airstrip, structures and buildings on China's manmade Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea in April 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

William Morris IV contributed to this report.

AOL Mar 13th 2017 8:41AM

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

Japan to send largest warship to South China Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China to build on disputed shoal in South China Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd; Additional reporting by Manuel Mogato in Manila and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and James Dalgleish) 18 Nov 2016

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

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

Fri at 10:53pm:

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

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

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

New satellite imagery shows Vietnam is strengthening its posture in the South China Sea. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vietnam, China, Malaysia have eyes on the prize

Explore the conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea

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

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

1-10 of 42