U.S. Navy ‘will sail warships’ through contested waters around Chinese artificial islands in the South China Sea
October 08, 2015
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing on Thursday that China was paying attention to the reports of impending U.S. naval action, and that it and the United States have maintained ‘extremely thorough communication’ on the South China Sea issue.
‘I believe the U.S. side is extremely clear about China’s relevant principled stance,’ she said.
‘We hope the U.S. side can objectively and fairly view the current situation in the South China Sea, and with China, genuinely play a constructive role in safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea.’
U.S. President Barack Obama said he told Chinese President Xi Jinping he had ‘significant concerns’ about the islands when Xi made his first state visit to Washington late in September.
Xi said at the time that China intended to militarize the islands, but Washington analysts and U.S. officials say China has already begun creating military facilities, and the only question is how much military hardware it will install.
Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, has said China’s development of the islands, including the building of runways suitable for military use, was of ‘great concern’ and a threat to the region.
U.S. Boosting ASEAN Capacity Amid South China Sea Tensions
October 10, 2015
The United States has been boosting aid to four Southeast Asian states amid continued Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, a U.S. official told journalists Thursday evening.
According to William R. Brownfield, assistant secretary at the bureau of international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, the Southeast Asia Maritime Law Enforcement Initiative – initially announced by Secretary of State John Kerry in December 2013 – had now grown to $100 million with funding from all parts of the U.S. government targeted at four ASEAN states: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
“This initiative at this time constitutes more than $100 million of United States assistance for maritime law enforcement to these four nations from all sources,” Brownfield said.
The $100 million figure represents a sum that has built on the assistance that Kerry had announced back in 2013, which was an additional $32.5 million that had intended to take total U.S. maritime security assistance to the region above $156 million over the next two years.
The nature of the support, Brownfield said in fleshing out the initiative, comprises construction, infrastructure, equipment (including vessels), training and capacity-building, and support for greater regional cooperation and coordination. The initiative, he added, was partner-driven and maritime law enforcement-focused, though Washington was prepared to cooperate with any element of governments involved in such activities and would welcome the participation of other international donors as well.
Chinese government warns against provocations in South China Sea
October 9, 2015
BEIJING (Oct 9): China said it won’t allow any country to violate its territory in the South China Sea, in response to reports that the U.S. may send ships to the disputed area.
Several media organizations, including Financial Times, earlier reported plans by the U.S. to sail inside the 12 nautical-mile zone near islands China constructed around the Spratly chain. China claims more than 80% of the South China Sea, butting up against claims from Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
“We urge relevant parties to refrain from any provocative words and actions, and play a responsible role in regional peace and stability,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement on the ministry’s website Friday, when answering a question about the reported patrol plans. “China will never allow any country to violate China’s territorial waters and airspace in the South China Sea.”
U.S. naval manoeuvres in South China Sea risk clash with Beijing
October 9, 2015
Officials in Beijing have expressed concern after the United States signalled it was poised to up the ante in the South China Sea by sending warships through waters claimed by China.
American navy vessels are preparing to sail through a 12-nautical mile zone around the disputed Spratly islands that China claims as its own territory, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, citing a senior US official.
Those manoeuvres are expected to begin over the next two weeks, the newspaper added.
Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, said: “We hope the United States can look upon the current situation of the South China Sea from an objective and fair perspective and play a constructive role together with China in keeping the peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
Navy will challenge Chinese territorial claims in South China Sea
October 8, 2015
The Navy is preparing to send a surface ship inside the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit China claims for its man-made island chain, an action that could take place within days but awaits final approval from the Obama administration, according to military officials who spoke to Navy Times.
Plans to send a warship through the contested space have been rumored since May, but three Pentagon officials who spoke to Navy Times on background to discuss future operations say Navy officials believe approval of the mission is imminent.
If approved, it would be the first time since 2012 that the U.S. Navy has directly challenged China’s claims to the islands’ territorial limits.
The land reclamation projects in the vicinity of the Spratly Islands have been the focus of increasing tensions between China and the United States along with its regional allies, including the Philippines, since reports of the land reclamation project began surfacing in 2013. However, the U.S. and other nations have disputed the legitimacy of the islands built by China in what is viewed as an act of regional aggression.
A spokesman for the National Security Council deferred questions regarding the Navy’s plans to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, but drew attention to President Obama’s remarks before the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 28, where he said the U.S. has “an interest in upholding the basic principles of freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce, and in resolving disputes through international law, not the law of force.”