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Malaysia Risks Enraging China by Inviting U.S. Spy Flights

SCSC - Malaysia’s reported invitation to the United States to fly spy planes out of East Malaysia on the southern rim of the South China Sea seems likely to intensify China’s anger at American surveillance of the strategic waterway and its disputed islands, analysts say.

The United States’ chief of naval operations, Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, told a forum in Washington last week that the recent offer by Malaysia for P - 8 Poseidon aircraft to fly out of the country’s most eastern area would give the United States greater proximity to the South China Sea. [READ MORE]

Dredger shores up Chinese claims to disputed islands

SCSC - Intelligence agencies in the United States and Asia are “intensively” tracking the movements of a vast Chinese dredging ship, whose land reclamation mission in the South China Sea is redrawing the regional map on an hourly basis.

The ship, which has been pictured in recent aerial photographs operating on the hotly disputed Spratly island chain, allows China to rapidly turn what are little more than small, barren rocks jutting from the ocean into expansive artificial islands capable of supporting large buildings, industrial facilities or even small airstrips. [READ MORE]

Why Is China Building Islands in the South China Sea?

SCSC - The BBC has published a multimedia report on the scramble for control over the South China Sea, with a particular focus on the clash between China and the Philippines. In the BBC report, entitled “China’s Island Factory,” reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes describes his journey on a Filipino fishing boat to visit “new islands” created by Chinese land reclamation in the South China Sea.

He then visits two Philippines outposts in the Spratlys (Pagasa Island and the Sierre Madre, a Philippine Navy vessel grounded on Second Thomas Shoal) that Manila uses to legitimize its claims. [READ MORE]

Is China building on disputed Spratly Islands reefs?

SCSC - A chain of islands in the South China Sea has become the centre of a territorial dispute - and a source of growing tension in the region.

The Spratly Islands are situated in a key shipping route, surrounded by natural resources. [READ MORE]

Vietnam-China Tensions Renewed on Maritime Incident

SCSC - Vietnam on Wednesday accused crew members of Chinese boats of harassing fishing vessels and beating Vietnamese fishermen near the contested Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, but China dismissed the accusations as groundless.

Individuals from the Chinese boats—including two identified as rubber dinghies—searched and seized equipment from three Vietnamese fishing vessels on three separate occasions in August, according to a statement posted on the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry's website. [READ MORE]

China expands runway, harbour at Woody Island

SCSC - Satellite imagery shows that since October 2013 China has undertaken substantial land reclamation, harbour redevelopment and other infrastructure construction on the island, which is known as Yongxing Dao by China and Phu Lam Island by Vietnam.

China has occupied Woody Island since 1956 and, since then, has established a military garrison, coastal defensive positions, the runway, four large aircraft hangars, communications facilities, and a municipal headquarters. Vietnam claims the Paracels, as does Taiwan. [READ MORE]

Stop China’s Unlawful “Great Wall” in the South China Sea

SCSC - The first half of 2014 witnessed a significant increase in aggressive behavior by China as it continues its maritime salami - slicing campaign in the South China Sea. Beijing seeks to change the status quo in the region in order to solidify its sovereignty claims over the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands and their adjacent waters.

In February, China began a large - scale land reclamation project at Johnson South Reef in the Spratly Islands, which could house a new PLA military airfield to control the region’s strategic sea lanes that traverse the South China Sea. [READ MORE]

PH, Japan lawmakers call for rule of law in sea disputes

SCSC - Six Japanese parliamentarians and 13 Philippine congressmen signed on Wednesday a joint document for cooperation on the promotion of the rule of law amid ongoing tensions with China over disputed waters.

The Japanese delegation headed by Hiroshi Nakada, a member of the Japanese parliament belonging to the Party for Future Generations, said the document aims to bring together lawmakers from both countries in order to promote the resolution of conflicts in a peaceful manner. [READ MORE]

Top U.S. admiral slams China, accuses Beijing of creating instability

SCSC - The top admiral in charge of U.S. military operations in Asia lambasted China this week, accusing Chinese leaders of actively fomenting instability in the South and East China seas instead of using their expanding economic and military power to create sustainable security in the region.

“China is a regional leader and could be the largest economy in the world very soon”, said Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, who heads the Pentagon’s U.S. Pacific Command. [READ MORE]

China Builds Artificial Islands in South China Sea

SCSC - Sand, cement, wood, and steel are China’s weapons of choice as it asserts its claim over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Brunei have sparred for decades over ownership of the 100 islands and reefs, which measure less than 1,300 acres in total but stretch across an area about the size of Iraq. [READ MORE]

China, Vietnam Try to Repair Ties After South China Sea Dispute

SCSC - A Vietnamese envoy's visit to China this week helped steady ties between the countries after a two - month standoff in the South China Sea, but former Vietnamese officials and security analysts said relief may be temporary amid Beijing's escalating push to control the disputed waters.

Chinese President Xi Jinping attempted to play down tensions between the nations during a meeting with Vietnamese special envoy Le Hong Anh on Wednesday. [READ MORE]

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