The East Sea

South China Sea: Asean states set course for Beijing’s red line

South China Sea Asean states set course for Beijings red lineIt’s like a fuzzy red line that China imposes on its weaker neighbours involved in the South China Sea dispute: protest all you like about the militarisation and artificial island-building, just don’t mention the international court ruling that rejected Beijing’s far-reaching territorial claims.

Until recently, the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) appeared to abide by this unspoken rule from the behemoth next door.

Though the landmark award by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in 2016 leaned in favour of the Southeast Asian claimants, statements from those countries’ leaders invoking the ruling against China have been few and far between.

China is pushing its South China Sea claims during the coronavirus pandemic

China is pushingAustralia and the United States this month hardened their position on the South China Sea, where Washington has accused Beijing of attempting to build a "maritime empire" in the potentially energy-rich waters, despite regional concerns.

The rivals have accused each other of stoking tension in the strategic waterway at a time of strained relations over everything from the new coronavirus to trade to Hong Kong.

A statement from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on July 13 was the first time the United States had called China's claims in the sea unlawful and accused Beijing of a "campaign of bullying".

Australia then followed suit, writing a letter to the United Nations in which it said China's territorial claims in the contested waters were "inconsistent" with international law.

US, China Play Dangerous South China Sea Game

US China playThe South China Sea, through which an estimated third of global seaborn commerce travels every year, is becoming one of the world’s flashpoints with China and the United States having chosen it as the seaborne arena in which to assess each other’s strength at a time when Trumpian pre-election rocket-rattling can’t hurt at the polls.

Certainly, China has stirred considerable irritation not just with the US, which sees its waning clout being tested, but among the littoral nations as well. Reports of foul play, human rights abuses and trafficking of Indonesians have lately put a new spotlight on the activities of Chinese fishing vessels.

As Vietnam takes more assertive approach to South China Sea, Beijing tries to manage tensions

As VN takes more assertiveBeijing is carefully managing its relationship with Vietnam after the United States took a harder line on the South China Sea dispute and rejected most of its claims in the strategic waterway as “unlawful” this week.

Chinese vice-minister of foreign affairs Luo Zhaohui discussed South China Sea issues with his Vietnamese counterpart Le Hoai Trung on Thursday, according to the Foreign Ministry, which did not provide further details.

The Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) said on Friday that it would lend US$100 million to the Vietnam Prosperity Joint Stock Commercial Bank to help the bank expand lending to private businesses disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The South China Sea, through which one-third of global shipping passes, has been subject to decades of overlapping territorial disputes involving China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. The sea is also believed to contain major reserves of natural gas and oil.

The Australian “dilemma” when it comes to cooperation with the US

BaselineThough Australia has no sovereignty claim in the South China Sea, given its location in the South Pacific, the nation has very practical benefits in this region. Therefore, in recent years, Canberra has increased strong statements and actions, unilaterally, bilaterally and multilaterally, to protect its interests amidst complicated developments in the South China Sea.

According to experts, Australia’s major benefits include: 1/ The geostrategic proximity of the South China Sea to the South Pacific; 2/ Australia's geopolitical importance and its increasing “Asian-oriented” thinking in the 21st century; 3/ the interwoven relationship of Australia's interests and strategies with Asia-Pacific countries, of which the relationships between Canberra and ASEAN, and powers like the US and China, are the most important.

That is not to mention the economic benefits related to the South China Sea, which alone deserve Australia’s special attention. Given that over 60% of its annual exports and 40% of imports pass via the area, Australia has to be particularly interested in free trade and freedom of navigation in the region.

U.S., Chinese Navies Hold Dueling Exercises in the South China Sea

US china navyThe U.S. and Chinese navies are holding competing naval exercises in the South China Sea, as the Beijing accuses Washington of militarizing the region.

On Saturday, the U.S. Navy’s Reagan and Nimitz carrier strike groups transited from the Philippine Sea to the South China Sea and held the first dual-carrier drills there since 2014.

USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and its strike group have been involved in near-constant dual-carrier strike group operations since June 21, first with the Theodore Roosevelt CSG and then the Reagan CSG.

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) operated with Nimitz in the Philippine Sea. The exercises follow a lull in U.S. carrier operations in the Western Pacific while Theodore Roosevelt was sidelined in Guam dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.

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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