US struggles to counter Chinese maritime hegemony

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has spoken out against China’s strategy of “intimidation and coercion” in the South China Sea, including the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers, and, more recently, the landing of nuclear-capable bomber aircraft at Woody Island. There are, Mattis warned, “consequences to China ignoring the international community.”

But what consequences? Two successive US administrations – Barack Obama’s and now Donald Trump’s – have failed to push back credibly against China’s expansionism in the South China Sea, which has accelerated despite a 2016 international arbitral tribunal ruling invalidating its territorial claims there. Instead, the US has relied on rhetoric or symbolic actions. Continue reading

Vietnam Bends the Knee to China

Chinese President Xi Jinping accompanies President Tran Dai Quang of The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to view a guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People on May 11, 2017 in Beijing, China. GETTY IMAGES

 

More proof that in the South China Sea, Beijing is king.

In recent decades, Vietnam has distinguished itself several times as a nation not afraid to stand up to its larger and far more powerful neighbor to the North. From the border conflicts of the 1970s and ’80s to the passage in 2012 of the “Law on the Sea” resolution, Hanoi has demonstrated its willingness to resist Beijing. But last month, in a sign of the shifting power balance between China and the United States, Vietnam yielded to Beijing’s intimidation. Continue reading

Islands, not rocks: China rejects arbitration ruling

MANILA – China’s Foreign Ministry rejected Tuesday the ruling of an international arbitration court that nixed Beijing’s claims to economic rights across large swathes of the South China Sea.

In response, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China said the award of the Permanent Court of Arbitration “is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it.” Continue reading

Chinese Navy Threatens Plane in International Airspace

https://fsmedia.imgix.net/ce/9c/05/0a/83c3/456a/978f/488e7f011fe3/a-screen-capture-from-the-bbc-flying-close-to-beijings-new-south-china-sea-islands.png?dpr=1&auto=format&q=75

A screen capture from the BBC “Flying close to Beijing’s new South China Sea islands.”

 

A BBC reporter is among the crew of a plane warned to leave open waters.

Journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes recently took flight in a civilian-piloted plane to gauge what sort of reaction his presence might invite upon flying over the Spratly Islands—a field of reefs, atolls and small land masses located off the coast of the Philippines in the South China Sea of the Pacific Ocean, through what is widely recognized as international airspace. Continue reading

US move may force Beijing to change S China Sea strategy: Duowei

On Oct. 20, President Barack Obama authorized the US Pacific Command to send warships into the South China Sea, most of which is claimed by China. On Tuesday, the destroyer USS Lassen “conducted a transit” within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef in the Spratly archipelago. The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was also sent to monitor the mission.

US officials noted that the US vessel would have been in an area considered Chinese sovereign territory if the US recognized the islands as belonging to China.

China strongly objected the US actions, with the Chinese foreign ministry, foreign minister Wang Yi, the Chinese embassy in Washington, and the country’s official Xinhua news agency all condemning the move. Continue reading

U.S. Pacific Fleet commander warns against ‘egregious’ restrictions in South China Sea

Some countries appear to view freedom of the seas as “up for grabs” in the South China Sea, imposing superfluous warnings and restrictions that threaten stability, a U.S. Navy commander said Tuesday in comments apparently aimed at China.

Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a strongly worded address in Australia the United States remained “as committed as ever” to protect freedom of navigation through the region. Continue reading

Taiwan to build pier for warships in Spratlys

MANILA, Philippines – Taiwan has earmarked $110 million for the construction of a pier on Spratlys’ Taiping Island, which the Philippines has also laid claims, set to be completed by 2015.

The new project can hold frigates, radar-evading corvettes and Taiwanese Navy’s Kuang Hua VI-class missile boats, according to reports by Taiwanese media on Monday. Continue reading

Inside the Ring: Blunt warning on China

A senior Navy intelligence official issued a blunt warning last week that China’s growing “hegemonistic” threat to security is destabilizing the Asia-Pacific region.

“Make no mistake, the [Chinese] navy is focused on war at sea and about sinking an opposing fleet,” said Capt. James Fanell, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and information operations at the U.S. Pacific Fleet, at a defense conference in San Diego on Jan. 31. Continue reading