Indonesia Seeks China Clarity on South China Sea Intentions

SCSC - Indonesia is seeking clarity on China’s intent behind its maritime claims in the South China Sea to avoid the risk of miscalculations in a zone rich in natural gas, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said.
Indonesia wants an explanation of a map outlining China’s assertions in the South China Sea that appears on the nation’s passports and has asked the United Nations to help it obtain legal clarity, Natalegawa said in an interview in Jakarta today. [READ MORE]

Defense chief Hagel, in first, to visit China's aircraft carrier

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expects to visit China's sole aircraft carrier when he arrives in the country on Monday, a U.S. official said, in an unprecedented opening by Beijing to a potent symbol of its military buildup.

The planned carrier visit, which will come at the start of Hagel's three - day trip to China, was quietly approved by Beijing at Washington's request and had not been previously announced, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. [READ MORE]

ASEAN's challenge: A swaggering China

SCSC - For a long time China has prided itself on the gradual improvement and solidification of its relations with the countries of Southeast Asian Nations, mainly through economic means.

Since Deng Xiaoping in the 1970s, Chinese leaders have emphasized the significance of shedding decades, if not centuries, of mistrust and confrontation and moving toward cooperation and integration. The China - ASEAN free - trade zone, which came into effect four years ago, was intended to be the symbol of this new relationship. [READ MORE]

U.S. Senators Introduce Maritime Security Resolution for the Asia-Pacific Region

SCSC - On Monday, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced a resolution reaffirming support of the U.S. government for freedom of navigation in the Asia-Pacific region and for the peaceful diplomatic resolution of outstanding territorial and maritime disputes.
Senate Resolution 412 was introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), James Risch (R-ID), and John McCain (R-AZ) – all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. [READ MORE]

South China Sea: Regional States Push Back Against China

SCSC - On March 18, officials from China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met in Singapore to resume consultations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea that began last September.

This meeting should have created an atmosphere for the lowering of tensions in the South China Sea. At the least, China and the ASEAN claimant states could have been expected to avoid provocations while the consultations were progressing. [READ MORE]

A Merkel, a Map, a Message to China?

SCSC - On March 28, German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping at a dinner where they exchanged gifts.

Merkel presented to Xi a 1735 map of China made by prolific French cartographer Jean - Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville and printed by a German publishing house. According to an antique - maps website, d'Anville's map was based on earlier geographical surveys done by Jesuit missionaries in China and represented the "summation of European knowledge on China in the 18th - century”.[READ MORE]

US accuses China of provoking Philippines

SCSC - The United States criticised China as provocative on Monday after its coast guard tried to block a Philippine vessel that was rotating troops in the tense South China Sea.

The attempted Chinese blockade, which led to a two - hour standoff with the Philippine ship, is "a provocative and destabilizing action”, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. [READ MORE]

Implications of China's defence budget for its neighbours

SCSC - Chinese budget announced recently reflected the trend of increasing defence budget in double digits for more than two decades. This year it has reached $132 billion - an increase of 12.2% over the last year.

This has caused anxiety among its neighbouring countries, with whom China is having problems relating to demarcation of borders both on land and sea. With Japan, China is having a dispute over Senkaku Islands and in the recent past the tension increased so much that both sides sent their aircraft to assert their sovereignty. [READ MORE]

Manila raises stakes with Beijing, seeks arbitration over South China Sea

SCSC - The Philippines will file a case against China over the disputed South China Sea at an arbitration tribunal in The Hague next week, subjecting Beijing to international legal scrutiny over the increasingly tense waters for the first time.
Manila is seeking a ruling to confirm its right to exploit the waters in its 200 - nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as allowed under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), its team of U.S. and British lawyers said. [READ MORE]

Is a Philippine - Vietnam Alliance in the Making?

SCSC - Walden Bello, a representative of Akbayan (Citizens’ Action Party) in the Philippine House of Representatives, recently wrote an opinion - editorial in Foreign Policy in Focus (March 18) entitled, “A Budding Alliance: Vietnam and the Philippines Confront China”.

Bello argued that, “The Philippines and Vietnam are natural allies in their common struggle against China’s drive for hegemony in East Asia. Already partners in ASEAN, the two are likely to be driven closer together by Beijing’s increasingly brazen displays of power as it enforces its claim to some 80 percent of the South China Sea”. [READ MORE]

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