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Stormy South China Sea in 2016

SCSC - 2015 has passed, yet, the South China Sea situation witnesses the continued tensions related to China’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, the latest developments of the Philippine legal case against China brought to the International Arbitral Tribunal and other relevant incidents. 2016 has just started, however, the South China Sea situation has already been heated up even more than last year, resulting from a series of actions by China and forecasting that 2016 to be a rougher year at sea.

China’s increasingly evident ambition to militarize the South China Sea

SCSC - Irrespective of Chinese leaders’ statements, including Chinese President Xi Jinping’s commitment with U.S. President Barack Obama during his recent visit to the U.S. that China did not intend to militarize the South China Sea, China has been, in fact, stepping up actions that demonstrate a strong ambition to militarize the waters. The drastic manner of such activities suggests that militarization of the South China Sea is in line with China’s strategy to transform itself into a military super power.

Joint Statement of the U.S.-ASEAN Special Leaders’ Summit: Sunnylands Declaration

We the Heads of State/Government of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United States of America gathered in Sunnylands, California, on February 15-16, 2016, for a Special Leaders Summit.

This Special U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Summit was the first ever to be held in the United States and the very first Summit following the establishment of the ASEAN Community. [READ MORE]

Forging a New Check on China

U.S. leaders still haven't quite figured out the right formula for the greatest geopolitical challenge facing the United States this century: managing China's rise.

But that may have changed Monday, when President Barack Obama welcomed leaders from the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for a two-day summit at Sunnylands in California, the so-called Camp David of the West. [READ MORE]

U.S. to have ‘very serious conversation’ with China over suspected South China Sea missile deploymen

BEIJING — The United States is very concerned about China’s growing militarization of the South China Sea and intends to have a “very serious conversation” with Beijing after reports emerged that it had deployed suspected ­surface-to-air missile batteries on a disputed island, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Wednesday.

“There is every evidence, every day that there has been an increase of militarization of one kind or another,” Kerry told reporters when asked about the reported deployment, agencies reported. “It’s of serious concern.” [READ MORE]

What is China's HQ-9 air defense system capable of?

Citing civilian satellite imagery, US broadcaster Fox News reported on February 16 that the Chinese military has deployed an advanced surface-to-air missile system to one of its contested islands in the South China Sea.

The report, which was based on pictures from ImageSat International, said the missiles appeared to be the HQ-9 air defense system. [READ MORE]

Foreign Policy Making Under Xi Jinping: The Case of the South China Sea

This paper takes the example of the Chinese claims on the South China Sea, particularly since the appointment of Xi Jinping as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China in late 2012, and looks at the ways in which the Party and the government interact over foreign policy issues, along with how others contribute to this process.

It shows that the Party leadership works through articulation of highly abstract macro policy goals, issuing high-level guidance for state, military, corporate and public entities without risking specific details. [READ MORE]

U.S. Concerned by Non-Navy Chinese Boats in South China Sea

China’s increased reliance on non-naval ships to assert its claims in the South China Sea is complicating U.S. efforts to avoid a clash in the disputed waters, according to 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin.

While the U.S. and Chinese navies are working more closely under an agreed code for unplanned encounters at sea, the deployment of coast guard and other non-naval vessels in the area is “a concern of mine,” Aucoin told reporters on Monday in Singapore. [READ MORE]

US-ASEAN Summit: Preparing for a New Normal

The element of signaling surrounding the first U.S.-ASEAN summit in Sunnylands, California was strong.

The White House decision to host ASEAN leaders at the same venue where U.S. President Barack Obama previously received Chinese president Xi Jinping symbolized the increasingly pivotal role the U.S. was according ASEAN as an institution. [READ MORE]

EDCA REFOCUS: EYES ON THE AFP’S MODERNIZATION PROGRAM

On January 12, the Philippine Supreme Court ruled that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the United States is an executive agreement that does not require Senate approval.

With the ruling in hand, the Philippines and the United States governments can begin in earnest to implement the 2014 deal, which mainly provides for the United States to deploy forces to Philippine bases on a rotational basis, pre-position humanitarian response and defense materiel in the country, upgrade infrastructure within Philippine bases for these purposes. Inked in time for U.S. president Barack Obama’s first visit to Manila and in the shadow of growing tensions with China in the South China Sea, the Aquino government intended for EDCA to complement the Philippines’ rebooted military modernization effort. [READ MORE]

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