China’s lighthouses in Spratlys beckon recognition from passing ships

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The Huayang lighthouse

 

 

The next time the United States sends warships by China’s man-made islands in the disputed South China, officers aboard will have to decide how, if at all, they will engage with a pair of giant lighthouses that Beijing lit up there this month.

Chinese officials say the lighthouses on Cuarteron Reef and Johnson South Reef in the disputed Spratly islands will help maritime search and rescue, navigational security and disaster relief.

Experts, diplomats and foreign naval officers say, however, the lighthouses represent a shrewd move to help buttress China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. Continue reading

China to Extend Military Reach, Build Lighthouses in Disputed Waters

BEIJING (Reuters) – China outlined a strategy to boost its naval reach on Tuesday and held a groundbreaking ceremony for two lighthouses in disputed waters, developments likely to escalate tensions in a region already jittery about Beijing’s maritime ambitions.

In a policy document issued by the State Council, the Communist-ruled country’s cabinet, China vowed to increase its “open seas protection”, switching from air defense to both offense and defense, and criticized neighbors who take “provocative actions” on its reefs and islands.

China has been taking an increasingly assertive posture over recent years in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where it has engaged in extensive land reclamation in the Spratly archipelago. Continue reading

US watches as Beijing forges ahead with S China Sea oilfield plans

China’s recently published Resource Development Strategic Action Plan (2014-2020) says the country plans to establish a large oilfield in the disputed South China Sea in the next six years capable of producing around ten million tonnes of oil a year, according to Duowei News, a media outlet run by overseas Chinese.

From the end of 2013 China has accelerated land reclamation projects in the area, with Fiery Cross Reef, which is also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan, being expanded to 0.9 square kilometers as of Oct. 16, making it now the largest island in the disputed Spratlys. Estimates based on a satellite image taken on Nov. 17 suggest that the reef has now grown in area to 1.3 square km and that the reclaimed land is structured like a landing strip. Under previous administrations China had pushed for the shelving of disputes and the joint exploration of resources in the region by claimant nations out of diplomatic considerations, Duowei stated. Due to the land reclamation projects and moves to build airports as well as calls for bids to exploit oil resources by other claimants, however, the shelving of disputes is no longer on China’s agenda. Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, there has been an increased military presence in the region and moves that suggest China is moving forward with its plans to exploit resources. Continue reading

China says military will respond to provocations

Legislative spokeswoman Fu Ying said China supports resolving disputes through negotiations and its 2.3 million-member People’s Liberation Army — the world’s largest — is for defensive purposes only.

However, Fu warned other nations not to test China’s resolve. Continue reading

China Holds Landing Exercises in Disputed Seas

BEIJING (AP) — China’s increasingly powerful navy paid a symbolic visit to the country’s southernmost territorial claim deep in the South China Sea this week as part of military drills in the disputed Spratly Islands involving amphibious landings and aircraft.

The four-ship task force is headed next to the Pacific Ocean for deep-sea exercises via the Bashi Channel separating Taiwan and the Philippines, Xinhua said. Continue reading

China cyberattacks hit Japan in island row: police

At least 19 Japanese websites, including those of a government ministry, courts and a hospital, have come under cyberattack, apparently from China, police said Wednesday.

Many of the websites were altered to show messages proclaiming Chinese sovereignty over the Diaoyu islands, a Japanese-administered chain Tokyo calls Senkaku, the National Police Agency (NPA) said in a statement.

On Sunday afternoon, when the attack was most intense, 95 percent of traffic to the bureau’s website was from China, Kyodo said, citing minister Tatsuo Kawabata.

Full article: China cyberattacks hit Japan in island row: police (Defence Talk)

Taiwan jumps into South China Sea fray

China is on the ‘charm’ offensive to rein in Taiwan.

Last week, James Chou, deputy director general of the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressed that the disputed islands of the South China Sea were the “undisputed territory” of the ROC. Additionally, Chou expressed a strong desire for the ROC to take part in any multilateral mechanism in resolving the long-standing territorial impasse. He said any resolution of the conflict that did not involve the ROC would be “regrettable”.

Chou’s assertion of the “undisputed” nature of Chinese sovereignty in the area echoed the recurring message of the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China. Both the mainland-based PRC and the ROC maintain the same “nine-dotted line” claim to the vast majority of the South China Sea. It is important to note that the current official policy of both Taipei and Beijing is that there is “one China”, and both governments strongly agree on Chinese sovereignty in the South China Sea. The pivotal disagreement of cross-strait relations hinges on which of the two governments is the legitimate ruler of China itself.

Even more interesting, a high-ranking government official in Taipei has recently called for a ROC-PRC economic alliance in the South China Sea. Chiu Yi, an important member of Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party and an executive in the state-owned energy company CPC, has called for open cooperation between the PRC and the ROC in extracting resources from the disputed waters: “The seabed around Taiping Island has abundant reserves of oil and natural gas … The merit would be great if a cross-strait joint development project is done.” [3]

The ROC Foreign Ministry’s recently stated desire to participate in any multilateral mechanisms for resolving the maritime dispute is particularly telling. Beijing’s insistence on a strict “one China” policy has excluded Taipei from most international organizations. However, Taipei’s participation in a multilateral, negotiated settlement to the South China Sea impasse would likely strengthen the joint Chinese claims of sovereignty over key islands.

Rumors are now circulating of a grand bargain being negotiated between Taipei and Beijing. Joint PRC-ROC cooperation in the South China Sea may be exchanged for Beijing’s approval of Taipei’s participation in some international organizations. Issues of sovereignty would need to be carefully addressed in any deal, but the potential for mutual benefit is significant.

Joint PRC-ROC cooperation in the South China Sea would also pose a significant challenge for US policy. The US government has been strengthening military ties with the Philippines and Vietnam with the unstated aim of containing Chinese ambitions in the area. Meanwhile, Taiwan has long been a US ally. If Chinese nationalism remains politically ascendant in Taiwan, and a joint PRC-ROC alliance is formed in the South China Sea, the US will find itself in a very awkward position.

Full article: Taiwan jumps into South China Sea fray (Asia Times Online)

China media tell U.S. to “shut up” over South China Sea tensions

The CCP / PLA (“state-run media” should clue the reader in) masterfully follows Sun Tzu in painting itself as a victim of US aggression, when in fact they are aggessively pushing for terriritorial gains over natural resources and threatening war with their neighbors. Case in point: Taiwan — with over 2,000 (last count ~2010) missiles aimed at the democratic island. With a US in militarily decline, one foot off the economic cliff and politically weakened because of this, one shouldn’t be surprised to see traditinal allies such as Japan, South Korea and such run towards a new protectorate and form Asian bloc lead by China within the next two to five years.

China’s state-run media ramped up condemnation of the United States on Monday over tensions in the South China Sea, with the Communist Party’s top newspaper telling Washington to “Shut up” and charging it with “fanning flames” of division in the region.

“We are entirely entitled to shout at the United States, ‘Shut up’. How can meddling by other countries be tolerated in matters that are within the scope of Chinese sovereignty?,” said a commentary in the overseas edition of the People’s Daily, an offshoot of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s top newspaper.

The main, domestic edition of the newspaper was equally harsh, and accused Washington of seeking to open up divisions between China and its Asian neighbors.

“Fanning the flames and provoking division, deliberately creating antagonism with China, is not a new game,” said a commentary in the People’s Daily domestic edition. “But of late Washington has been itching to use this trick.”

Full article: China media tell U.S. to “shut up” over South China Sea tensions (Reuters)