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US forces to continue flying, sailing in South China Sea

Moscow – US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has stated that Beijing is taking steps which will lead to international isolation amid ongoing tensions over disputed territories in the South China Sea.

The comment by the Pentagon top official was made on Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Carter offered that the US is not seeking an excuse for a clash with China, but noted that the American military will keep operating in the region. [READ MORE]

Japan and India need to deal with the South China Sea dispute

China’s recent acknowledgement that it is establishing its first overseas military base in the Indian Ocean rim nation of Djibouti, located on the Horn of Africa, represents a transformative moment in its quest for supremacy at sea.

With Chinese submarines now making regular forays into India’s maritime backyard right under the nose of its Andaman & Nicobar Command, New Delhi must now face up to a new threat from the south. [READ MORE]

Vietnam Objects to Chinese Oil Rig in Disputed Waters

HANOI, Vietnam — The Vietnamese government has lashed out against the presence of a Chinese oil rig in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, the latest in what Vietnam says are a series of provocative actions by Beijing this month.

While the dispute raised tensions between the Communist neighbors, there were no signs yet of the heated escalation that characterized a similar episode in 2014, when relations between the two countries plummeted and anti-Chinese demonstrations spiraled into deadly riots. [READ MORE]

South China Sea Tensions Top Agenda in US-Philippines Talks

STATE DEPARTMENT— A Philippines official says Manila will ask Washington to continue patrols in the South China Sea to ensure freedom of navigation in the area, a strategic passageway for many commercial and military ships, during Tuesday's ministerial level talks in Washington.

Although the possibility of joint patrols by the U.S. and its Asian security allies may also be discussed, analysts see them as unlikely. [READ MORE]

US Littoral Combat Ship Pays First Thailand Visit

On December 30, the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) arrived in Phuket, Thailand for the first time as part of a scheduled port visit.

According to the U.S. Navy, as with regular port visits, the ship’s crew was afforded the opportunity to participate in various activities including a community service event as well as tours. [READ MORE]

SECDEF Carter Letter to McCain On South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Operation

As you know, our Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) are conducted in full accordance with international law.

They are one aspect of our broader strategy to support an open and inclusive international security architecture founded on international law and standards. This system has benefited all nations in the Asia Pacific for decades and will be critical to maintaining regional stability and prosperity for the foreseeable future. [READ MORE]

South China Sea: Vietnamese fishermen attacked by Chinese ships

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - "In 2015, in a single year, tens of thousands of fishing families have been victim 'red empire' attacked by para-military vessels flying the flag of China. They have threatened and used violence against Vietnamese fishermen.

They have an inhuman and aggressive attitude within the territorial waters of Vietnam", denounce associations and groups of fishermen to AsiaNews. They complain of ongoing violence and abuse at the hands of ships, boats and vessels registered to Beijing, which ply the waters of the South China Sea. [READ MORE]

Philippines says it opposes China runway test in South China Sea

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government said Monday that like Vietnam, it opposes China's recent test of a newly completed runway on one of seven islands Beijing has constructed in the disputed South China Sea.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the government was considering protesting China's action, as Vietnam did, adding that the test at Fiery Cross Reef "adds to tension and uncertainties in the region." [READ MORE]

South China Sea tensions surge as China lands plane on artificial island

China's first landing of a plane on one of its new island runways in the South China Sea shows Beijing's facilities in the disputed region are being completed on schedule and military flights will inevitably follow, foreign officials and analysts said.

China's increasing military presence in the disputed sea could effectively lead to a Beijing-controlled air defense zone, they said, ratcheting up tensions with other claimants and with the United States in one of the world's most volatile areas. [READ MORE]

McCain Blasts Lack of US Patrols in South China Sea

WASHINGTON— The chairman of the influential U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Monday criticized the Obama administration for delaying further "freedom of navigation" patrols within 12 nautical miles of islands built by China in the South China Sea.

Senator John McCain said in a statement that the lack of U.S. action was allowing China to continue to "pursue its territorial ambitions" in the region, most recently by landing a plane on a man-made island in the Spratly Islands archipelago on Saturday. [READ MORE]

Vietnam Protests as China Lands Civilian Aircraft on Newly Constructed Spratly Airstrip

The status of China’s artificial islands in the disputed Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea hit a new milestone on Saturday.

China landed a civilian aircraft on Fiery Cross Reef, drawing a sharp reaction from the Vietnamese government. Le Hai Binh, a spokesperson for the Vietnamese foreign ministry, said that a Chinese aircraft had landed on the 3000 meter airstrip on Fiery Cross Reef. [READ MORE]

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