Coming Soon to the South China Sea: Chinese Fighters and Lethal Missiles?

It's increasingly clear that China intends to use its artificial islands in the South China Sea for military purposes. Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, delivered this assessment on a panel that I was privileged to be part of at the Aspen Security Forum last week.

Harris described the newly-created islands as potential “forward operating posts” for the Chinese military. Beijing hasn't denied that it will use the outposts for military functions, but it has emphasized plans to provide public goods such as maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation and meteorological observation. [READ MORE]

5 questions every presidential candidate should answer: South China Sea edition

China’s seizure of seven islets and reefs in the South China Sea, and its ongoing conversion of these features into military installations, complete with evolving port facilities and a 10,000-foot runway, makes clear that this territorial seizure is of far greater significance than media coverage and administration comments would suggest.

In fact, China’s actions have military, economic, diplomatic and energy components, each of which is of great importance to the United States, its regional allies and partners, and every nation whose seaborne commerce traverses the South China Sea. [READ MORE]

Defense white paper stresses threat posed by China

The Defense Ministry said Tuesday it remains deeply concerned about China’s maritime ambitions in the region, particularly in the light of Chinese domestic trends.

The defense white paper for 2015 examines a range of global threats and pays particular attention to China’s growing military assertiveness in the East China Sea and South China Sea, accusing it of “high-handed” actions to change the status quo by force. [READ MORE]

How Should Vietnam Respond to China's South China Sea Oil Rig Return?

The redeployment of a Chinese oil rig in the South China Sea (SCS) shows an inconsistency in the rhetoric and practice of China’s policy in the disputed waters. Together with its mass land reclamation activities, these actions are part and parcel of coercive diplomacy.

It affirms China’s territorial ambition in the highly strategic sea. But is it likely to escalate into regional conflict? [READ MORE]

The Dual Policy Challenge of the South China Sea

CSIS hosted its fifth annual South China Sea conference on July 21. The event garnered more interest and a considerably larger audience—both in CSIS’s at-capacity conference room and online—than its four predecessors.

Interest in the conference reflected the wider discussion on the South China Sea among policy communities in Washington and around the Asia Pacific—discussions that have risen to the top of the strategic agenda in many capitals. [READ MORE]

PRESS RELEASE: Arbitration between the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China

On Monday, 13 July 2015, the Arbitral Tribunal concluded the hearing on jurisdiction and admissibility in the arbitration instituted by the Republic of the Philippines against the People’s Republic of China under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the “Convention”).

The hearing, which commenced on 7 July 2015, took place in the Peace Palace, the headquarters of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands. [READ MORE]

Abe aims for fivefold increase in marine resources engineers

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday announced a campaign to increase by fivefold the number of engineers engaged in developing marine resources by 2030 as the government looks to expand the economy by growing that sector.

The target, revealed at a ceremony in Tokyo commemorating the Marine Day national holiday, is also aimed at securing the nation’s oil and gas interests as China continues gas development in the East China Sea, observers said. [READ MORE]

US Commander Joins South China Sea Surveillance Flight During Philippines Trip

The new U.S. commander of the Pacific Fleet participated in a surveillance flight over the disputed South China Sea in an American spy plane as part of his inaugural trip to the Asia-Pacific. Admiral Scott Swift, who assumed command of the Fleet in May, joined a seven-hour maritime surveillance mission on board a P-8A Poseidon plane this weekend.

According to the U.S. Pacific Command, he took part “to witness firsthand the full range of the Poseidon’s capabilities.” The P-8A Poseidon is designed for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance missions as well as long-range anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare. [READ MORE]

US Not ‘Neutral’ in South China Sea Disputes: Top US Diplomat

The United States is not neutral when it comes to following international law in the South China Sea and will come down forcefully to ensure that all parties adhere to the rules, Washington’s top diplomat for East Asia said Tuesday.

The United States has repeatedly said that while it takes no position on competing sovereignty claims over disputed land features in the South China Sea, it does want these maritime claims to be advanced in accordance with international law and without the use of coercion (See: “The Case for a Bolder US South China Sea Policy“).

That hedged position has led some to incorrectly read the U.S. stance on the issue as being ‘neutral,’ with China in particular accusing Washington of ‘taking sides.[READ MORE]

Rejection of viewpoints by a Chinese academic on the “nine-dash line”

SCSC - Introduction
Recently, on the website of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Zheng Zhihua, a Chinese academic wrote an article under the title “Why does China’s maritime claim remain ambiguous?” to explain that “there are lots of criticisms that China’s claims in the South China Sea are ambiguous…, China has been criticized for failing to honour the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea despite being a signatory to it…, China has never defined what the nine-dash line included or excluded”.
In his paper, the author put forward four key points as follows:
First, China has an unequivocal and consistent territorial claim on the islands and other land features in the South China Sea.

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