The East Sea

China says it 'expelled' U.S. Navy vessel from South China Sea

statementChina's military said it "expelled" a U.S. navy vessel from the hotly contested waters of the South China Sea this week. It said the "USS Barry" had illegally entered China's Xisha territorial waters on Tuesday. U.S. officials disputed the account. China's Southern Theater army command "organized sea and air forces to track, monitor, verify, and identify the U.S. ships throughout the journey, and warned and expelled them," said Chinese military spokesperson Li Huamin, in a statement.

"The provocative actions of the United States seriously violated relevant international law norms, seriously violated China's sovereignty and security interests, artificially increased regional security risks, and were prone to cause unexpected incidents," he said.

On Friday, a spokesman for the Pentagon denied that Chinese forces had impacted on the U.S. ships' movements during "two successful freedom of navigation operations" earlier in the week — including one involving the guided missile destroyer, USS Barry.

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Vietnam strongly opposes China’s proclamation of features in South China Sea

The Hanoitimes - Hanoi said Beijing's promulgation of geographical features is totally illegal.

Hanoi has strongly opposed Beijing’s promulgation of the so-called “standard” names for 80 entities in the South China Sea, including those within Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands.

Vietnam firmly protests all activities that do harm to its sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands, and to its sovereign rights and jurisdiction rights over Vietnamese waters, Deputy Spokesperson of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ngo Toan Thang said at a regular press conference on April 23.

Such activities are totally illegal, he stressed.

“As stated in multiple occasions, Vietnam has full historical evidence and legal basis to claim sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly islands in accordance with international law, and claim sovereign rights and jurisdiction rights over waters in the South China Sea as established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982,” Thang stated.

On April 19, Beijing marked out 25 islands, shoals, and reefs, and 55 underwater locations in the South China Sea that partly covers Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes, Chinese media reported.

Naming geographical features is part of China’s activities to cement its territorial claims in the face of increasing opposition from Vietnam and no recognization of the international community.

The statement came a day after China announced it had set up the so-called two administrative districts namely Xisha and Nansha to govern Paracels and Spratlys.

On April 19, Spokesperson of Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement that Vietnam firmly protests the establishment of the two districts and “demands China respect Vietnamese sovereignty, abolish its wrongful decisions related to the moves and ensure no recurrence in the future.”

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Mike Pompeo Accuses China of Pushing Territorial Ambitions Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Pompeo accuse china(BANGKOK) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told his Southeast Asian counterparts on Thursday that China is taking advantage of the world’s preoccupation with the coronavirus pandemic to push its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea.

Pompeo made the accusation in a meeting via video to discuss the outbreak with the foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Beijing’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea conflict with those of ASEAN members Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, and are contested by Washington, which has an active naval presence in the Pacific.

“Beijing has moved to take advantage of the distraction, from China’s new unilateral announcement of administrative districts over disputed islands and maritime areas in the South China Sea, its sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel earlier this month, and its ‘research stations’ on Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef,” Pompeo said.

Australia joins U.S. ships in South China Sea amid rising tension

Aus Join US SCSKUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - An Australian frigate has joined three U.S. warships in the South China Sea near an area where a Chinese vessel is suspected to be exploring for oil, near waters also claimed by Vietnam and Malaysia, officials said on Wednesday.

The warships arrived this week close to where the Chinese government survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 has been operating, which is in turn near where a vessel operated by Malaysia’s Petronas state oil company is conducting exploratory drilling, regional security sources have said.

The U.S. navy said on Tuesday the USS America amphibious assault ship and the USS Bunker Hill, a guided missile cruiser, were operating in the South China Sea.

They were joined by Australia’s frigate HMAS Parramatta and a third U.S. vessel, the destroyer USS Barry, as part of a joint exercise, the Australian defence department said.

Vietnam protests Beijing's expansion in disputed South China Sea

VN protestChina 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.

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South China Sea and the Coronavirus: New Vietnam-China Incident Spotlights Old Realities

ChinaLast week, reports surfaced related to the sinking of a Vietnamese vessel near the South China Sea. The development spotlighted longstanding tensions that continue to simmer between China and Vietnam with respect to the South China Sea and the old, evolving dynamics of the flashpoint that continue to be important to watch even amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

As I have observed previously, even amid COVID-19 which has impacted countries across the Asia-Pacific, it continues to be important to monitor some of Asia’s key flashpoints including the South China Sea. Despite an illusion of calm with respect to the South China Sea, we have nonetheless seen continued tensions over the past year, including between Beijing and Hanoi which remain the two most capable claimants in a series of complex disputes.

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US accuses China of using coronavirus to build military edge in South China Sea

Build edgesChinese officials are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to enhance a military advantage over their neighbors in a critical international shipping waterway, according to U.S. officials.

“We call on the PRC to remain focused on supporting international efforts to combat the global pandemic and to stop exploiting the distraction or vulnerability of other states to expand its unlawful claims in the South China Sea,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Monday, referring to the People’s Republic of China,

Chinese President Xi Jinping has deployed military assets to artificial islands in the South China Sea in the last several years, claiming sovereignty over the vast swaths of ocean despite objections from other nations in the region and American leaders. That policy took an unexpectedly violent turn on Friday when the Chinese Coast Guard reportedly rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel operating in the contested waters.

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Natural Gas Discoveries Could Add to Chinese Claims in South China Sea

Natural gasChina has reportedly discovered a rare form of natural gas in the South China Sea.

The substance is known as flammable ice. It is a frozen mixture of gas and water that comes from under the sea floor.

China’s Xinhua News Agency reported last week that China had removed at least 861,400 cubic meters of flammable ice as part of operations that began in February.

International observers say the discovery could give China a new source of energy for its 1.4 billion people and another reason to support its claims to the South China Sea.

China claims most of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer sea as its territory. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim parts of the area.

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South China Sea: US State Department Criticizes China for Reported Ramming, Sinking of Vietnamese Fi

China rammingOn Monday, the U.S. State Department criticized China after reports emerged that a Vietnamese fishing vessel had been sunk near the disputed Paracel Islands.

In a statement, Morgan Ortagus, the U.S. Department of State’s spokesperson, said that the United States was “seriously concerned by reports of the PRC’s sinking of a Vietnamese fishing vessel in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.”

“This incident is the latest in a long string of PRC actions to assert unlawful maritime claims and disadvantage its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea,” she added.

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Xi Jinping calls on Trump to improve US-China relations amid Covid-19 crisis

Xi Jin PIngChinese president Xi Jinping has called on Donald Trump to take “substantive actions” to improve relations between the two countries, as China prepared to shut its borders to foreign arrivals amid fears of infections coming from abroad.

On Friday, Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping held a phone call about the coronavirus outbreak in an attempt to repair strained relations, following weeks of traded barbs over the virus. According to state media, Xi told Trump in a phone call on Friday that US-China relations had reached an “important juncture”.

“Working together brings both sides benefits, fighting hurts both. Cooperation is the only choice,” he said. Xi said he hoped the US would take “substantive actions” to improve US-China relations to develop a relationship that is “without conflict and confrontation” but based on “mutual respect and mutually beneficial cooperation.”

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China’s use of force to take over features in Spratly Islands for monopoly of the South China Sea

ChinaIt was not until 1988 that there was Chinese presence in the Spratly Islands (Itu Aba Island was occupied by the Republic of China in Taiwan). Taking advantage of Vietnam’s difficulties in the late 1980s, China dispatched its navy to take over the features in the Spratly Islands, establishing a foothold in the south of South China Sea in pursuit of its ambition.

In late 1987 and early 1988, Vietnam was at the bottom of a socio-economic crisis with a stagnant economy and an extremely hard life of its people. At that time, the Soviet Union – Vietnam’s biggest backing – was also experiencing a socio-political crisis. Beijing took advantage of this opportunity to take over some features in the Spratly Islands. In early 1988, China illegally occupied the Fiery Cross Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Gaven Reefs, Subi Reef, and Hughes Reef of the Spratly Islands.

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