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U.S. - China Rivalry Simmers Underseas

SCSC - A close midair encounter between U.S. and Chinese military planes last week reflected long - running tensions in the skies—a rivalry that is building under the waters below, as well.

The Defense Department didn't explain the mission for the U.S. Navy P - 8 aircraft—a plane designed to track submarines—that was intercepted by a Chinese J - 11 fighter over the South China Sea to the east of China's Hainan Island on Aug. 19. U.S. officials say in that encounter, and several others in recent months, Chinese fighter pilots have flown dangerously close to U.S. aircraft. [READ MORE]

Avert Escalation Of South China Sea Disputes, Says Thai Official

SCSC - Asia - Pacific countries have to ensure that the territorial disputes in the South China Sea do not escalate and affect regional peace and security, which are the very foundation of the region's economic success, said a Thai official.

The parties concerned need to work together to come up with additional confidence - building measures and help prevent incidents at sea, said Sihasak Phuangketkeow, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and acting Foreign Minister. [READ MORE]

India May Explore Oil in South China Sea

SCSC - India is assessing whether to explore oil in five blocks in the South China sea, on the invitation of Vietnam, a crucial and strategically located south east Asian friend, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is on a three - day visit to Vietnam starting today. [READ MORE]

Pentagon Says Chinese Fighter Jet Confronted American Navy Plane

SCSC - A Chinese fighter jet flew within 30 feet of a Navy surveillance and reconnaissance plane this week in international airspace just off the Chinese coast, the Pentagon said Friday.

The encounter, known as an intercept, was “very, very close, very dangerous”, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary. [READ MORE]

PetroVietnam Sees Exxon Pact by 2015 in $10 Billion Project

SCSC - Vietnam Oil & Gas Group Chief Executive Do Van Hau said the company may reach an agreement by next year with Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) on a $10 billion natural gas and power project, the country’s biggest of its kind.

Vietnam’s plans to develop its natural gas fields, estimated to be the fourth - largest in East Asia, received a boost from Exxon’s gas discovery off the coast in 2012, which Hau described last year as “huge”. [READ MORE]

US - Viet romance puts China in a fix

SCSC - The intrigue in the US - China - Vietnam triangular relationship deepened on Aug 13, when General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Armed Forces, visited Vietnam and met top military and political leaders. No doubt, China will watch with weary eyes, and perhaps even lament that this romance between its competitors is all its own doing.

Gen Dempsey, sent by Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, said Mr Hagel and President Barack Obama told him: "The place for you right now is Vietnam”. [READ MORE]

A sense of destiny inspires China’s maritime claims

SCSC - Beijing is seeking to turn the South China Sea into a ‘Chinese lake’, writes Philip Bowring

China’s creeping occupation of the South China Sea is not primarily motivated by oil, let alone by its diminishing stock of fish. It is about two things: strategic position, and what the nationalists running the country today view as its “manifest destiny”, to borrow a phrase from American history. [READ MORE]

Top U.S. General Visits Vietnam as Asian Tensions Simmer

SCSC - The U.S.'s top - ranked military officer met his Vietnamese counterpart here Thursday, as the U.S. capitalizes on tensions between China and its Asia - Pacific neighbors to revamp its own regional alliances.

Gen. Martin Dempsey became the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to visit the Southeast Asian country since the Vietnam War. Vietnam's Defense Ministry said in a statement that he and Gen. Do Ba Ty, the chief of General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army, discussed future cooperation between the American and Vietnamese militaries. [READ MORE]

US pledges to monitor South China Sea after Beijing rejects calls to curb its actions

SCSC - The United States will monitor actions in the South China Sea to see whether "de - escalatory steps" are being taken, a senior State Department official said yesterday, a day after Beijing rejected US pressure to rein in its actions in the disputed waters.

The official spoke as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Sydney for a meeting between Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Australian officials to discuss increased defence and cybersecurity cooperation. [READ MORE]

A View From the Sea, as China Flexes Muscle

SCSC - In the South China Sea — As the large white Chinese ship closed in, the smaller Vietnamese Coast Guard vessel could only veer off, black exhaust billowing from its stack. The Vietnamese vessel had advanced to within 13 miles of the Chinese offshore oil rig, and the Chinese decided it could come no closer.

With the rig barely visible on the horizon but the Chinese ship looming close behind, the Vietnamese patrol boat, CSB - 8003, blasted a two - minute recorded message in Chinese, from loudspeakers on the back of the boat. [READ MORE]

China Thwarts U.S. Bid to Reduce South China Sea Tensions

SCSC - China’s rejection of U.S. and Philippine proposals to regulate countries’ behavior in the South China Sea signaled tensions are likely to persist in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

At a regional security meeting this weekend, China rebuffed a U.S. proposal for nations involved in disputes to voluntarily avoid actions that could be provocative. The proposal, and a similar measure by the Philippines at the Asean Regional Forum in Myanmar, were aimed at breathing life into stalled talks on drafting a code of conduct. [READ MORE]

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