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VIET NAM AND MALAYSIA TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PHILIPPINES’ LAWSUIT TO REFUTE THE NINE - DASH LINE

SCSC - It has been one year since the Philippines officially filed the lawsuit against China in the Court of Arbitration on 22 Jan 2013 in accordance with Annex VII the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

During the last year, the East Sea has gone through complex developments.

CHINA'S DEFENSE SPENDING - A BIG THREAT TO ITS NEIGHBORS

SCSC - On 5 March 2014, the second session of the 12th National People’s Congress of China was opened at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The budget report submitted to the Congress recommended to approve 808.23 billion yuan for defense in 2014 (approximately US$ 132 billion), an increase of 12.2% against 2013.

China has continuously increased its defense budget to a double - digit number and 2014 witnessed the record high since 2011 (a rise of 11.2% in 2012 and 10.7% in 2013).

Obama looks to salvage Asia 'pivot' as allies fret about China

SCSC - When a Philippine government ship evaded a Chinese blockade in disputed waters of the South China Sea last month, a U.S. Navy plane swooped in to witness the dramatic encounter.
The flyover was a vivid illustration of the expanding significance of one of Asia's most strategic regions and underscored a message that senior U.S. officials say President Barack Obama will make in Asia next week: The "pivot" of U.S. military and diplomatic assets toward the Asia - Pacific region is real. [READ MORE]

Indonesia keeping close eye on developments in South China Sea

The Indonesian military is evaluating its troop deployment in its territory closest to disputed islands in the South China Sea. The Commander - in - Chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces said he was closely monitoring developments there, as any conflict would spillover to Indonesian territory.

While Indonesia does not have competing claims over islands in those waters, the four - star general has met his counterparts from several ASEAN countries which do, and he has relayed their concerns to his Chinese counterparts. [READ MORE]

COUNTRIES ARE WARY OF CHINA'S "21ST CENTURY MARITIME SILK ROAD" PROPOSALS

SCSC - For more than a year in power, the new leaders of Beijing have come up with various ideas and initiatives aimed at competing with the U.S. for the top super-power in the world, such as the idea of "Reviving China", and also enticing countries to cooperate with China on maritime issue, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on countries to establish a "21st Century Maritime Silk Road".

The idea for a "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" first appeared in the Southeast Asia visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in October 2013. In a speech before the Indonesian Parliament, he offered a proposal for maritime cooperation between China and ASEAN countries.

Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force debuts

SCSC - The Vietnam Fisheries Surveillance Force made its debut on April 15 in the central city of Da Nang in the presence of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Operating under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s General Department of Fisheries, the force’s key tasks include patrolling the country’s waters, monitoring and inspecting fisheries activities as well as detecting and handling violations. [READ MORE]

China, ASEAN set sea dispute meeting

SCSC - Officials from China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states are scheduled to meet in the Thai city of Pattaya on April 21 to accelerate the process of formulating a Code of Conduct (CoC) in the disputed South China Sea.

The forthcoming meeting to be hosted by Thailand comes amid critical developments in the region, including China’s the declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the disputed East China Sea, the implementation of Hainan Island’s new fishing regulations, and the rising tension in the South China Sea involving major claimants, including the Philippines’ decision to file a case against China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea before a United Nations - backed Arbitral Tribunal. [READ MORE]

Chinese signaling in the East China Sea?

SCSC - The dispute between Japan and China over the sovereignty of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands is one of the most volatile flashpoints in East Asia today. After the Japanese government purchased three of the contested rocks from a private Japanese citizen in September 2012, China began to use its coast guard to conduct regular patrols within the 12 - nautical - mile territorial waters around the islands.

These patrols have contributed to frictions in the Sino - Japanese relationship because they directly challenge Japan’s claim to sovereignty and administrative control. [READ MORE]

PH case vs China a model for int’l sea disputes

SCSC - The Philippines’ case against China in the United Nations arbitral tribunal would be the country’s contribution to international maritime jurisprudence, setting an example of legal remedies that smaller nations could seek instead of submitting to lopsided negotiations with bigger countries, according to the Philippine ambassador to the United States.

Speaking at a gathering of businessmen in Makati City on Friday, Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. asserted the Philippines’ right to seek international arbitration in the face of Chinese incursions into the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea within the country’s exclusive economic zone. [READ MORE]

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]

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