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These are the new U.S. military bases near the South China Sea. China isn’t impressed.

The disputed South China Sea will soon see increased U.S. military activity from five Philippine bases, following the signing of a deal between Manila and Washington that will allow the Pentagon to deploy conventional forces to the Philippines for the first time in decades.

The deal — called an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement — was reached Friday between State Department officials and the government of the Philippines, and will allow the Pentagon to use parts of five military installations: Antonio Bautista Air Base, Basa Air Base, Fort Magsaysay, Lumbia Air Base, and Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base. [READ MORE]

Is This the United States' Grand Plan for Responding to China in the South China Sea?

SCSC - It’s certainly been an interesting week in the South China Sea, with reports that China moved coast guard vessels into Jackson Shoal, driving Filipino fishermen out and effectively asserting control over that feature. China’s latest bout of assertion comes not long after it re-stationed J-11 fighters and HQ-9 surface-to-air missile systems on Woody Island, days after ASEAN leaders met with U.S. President Barack Obama in the United States.

On Wednesday, two reports caught my eye that reveal a growing coalition and network of Asian powers to counter Chinese assertiveness in Asian waters, certainly the South China Sea. Incidentally, both these reports stem from comments and observations made recently by Admiral Harry B. Harris, the outspoken head of U.S. Pacific Command, at a security conference in New Delhi, India. [READ MORE]

Navy aircraft carrier group moves into contested South China Sea

SCSC - The U.S. Navy has dispatched an aircraft carrier and several ships accompanying it into the South China Sea in the last few days, a deployment of thousands of U.S. sailors to a region a top U.S. admiral said last week is increasingly militarized by China.

The USS John C. Stennis, the carrier, arrived in the South China Sea on Tuesday, Navy officials said. It is accompanied by the cruiser USS Mobile Bay and the destroyers USS Stockdale and USS Chung-Hoon, said Navy Cmdr. Clay Doss, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet. The ships arrived in the Western Pacific on Feb. 4 on a deployment from the West Coast of the United States. [READ MORE]

US to step up South China Sea

SCSC - WASHINGTON—The United States, worried by China’s military buildup to assert dominance in the South China Sea, will increase freedom-of-navigation operations there, a senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday.

“We will be doing them more, and we’ll be doing them with greater complexity in the future and … we’ll fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” Adm. Harry Harris Jr., head of the US Navy’s Pacific Command, told a hearing of the House of Representatives armed services committee. [READ MORE]

Draw a line in the South China Sea

SCSC - Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), believes China is “changing the operational landscape” in the South China Sea with its deployment of missiles and radar. Harris, a straight-talking military man, says this is part of a plan to achieve “hegemony in East Asia.” It is hard to disagree. [READ MORE]

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]

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