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Who causes the “dangerous” and “worrisome” situation in the South China Sea?

Who causes the dangerous and worrisome situation in the South China SeaOn July 7, 2020, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s website, China Military Online, published an article by Mr. Wu Shicun, President of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies. In his article, this scholar stated that the recent changes in the South China Sea were “very dangerous” and “worrisome” because: 1/ The US provoked “militarization of the South China Sea”; 2/ ASEAN countries including Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia have “colluded” with the US to go “against China”. Judging from what is happening in the South China Sea at the moment, people who are knowledgeable of the current affairs find it true that the South China Sea situation is “very dangerous” and “worrisome”. But the reasons for such “very dangerous” and “worrisome” situation are definitely not what Mr. Wu Shicun said they are. This scholar is deliberately “distorting and bending the truth”. Hence, it is necessary that his arguments be challenged academically.

United Kingdom joins in legal battle over the South China Sea

United Kingdom joins in legal battle over the South China SeaThe Government of the United Kingdom (UK), on 3 September 2020, formally joined in the legal battle over the South China Sea, by issuing a Statement of Position on the legal issues relating to the sea, underlining the importance of 1982 UNCLOS in solving all disputes and calling all parties concerned to abide by the 12 July 2016 Arbitration Award.

Comparing with the 13 July 2020 Statement of the United States and the 23 July 2020 Note of Australia, the Statement of the UK shares the similarities, namely they are based on 1982 UNCLOS and the 12 July 2016 Arbitration Award to reject China’s claims and to oppose to Chinese actions, and at the same time reaffirm the freedom of maritime navigation in the South China Sea. To be more specific:

Peking’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy in South China Sea – “what goes around comes around”

Pekings wolf warrior diplomacy in South China Sea what goes around comes aroundMr. Xi Jinping came to power in Zhongnanhai in 2012 at a time when Peking formally gave up its strategy of “biding its time” and openly pursued the hegemonic ambition and stepped up its assertiveness in an attempt to increase its interests and influence in the world. Peking has more and more fiercely embraced a “wolf warrior” diplomacy, a term that academic and experts circle used to describe the aggressiveness and brazenness of the way China is pursuing its ambition.

Along that line, Chinese diplomats, bypassing all long-existing diplomatic norms, have been demonstrating a superior and arrogant attitude with a view to imposing China’s policy or rules upon other countries regarding almost all matters. China’s “wolf warrior “diplomacy has had a clear manifestation during the Covid-19 pandemic. Right before the start of the Covid-19 crisis, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi instructed his Chinese diplomats to apply a more assertive approach in order to safeguard the interests and reputation of China in other countries.

Opportunities for ASEAN to uphold its role in the South China Sea

Opportunities for ASEAN to uphold its role in the South China SeaChina’s tactic of capitalizing on the Covid-19 pandemic to push up coercion and intimidation against its neighbouring countries to establish total control and monopoly in the South China Sea forces the US to adjust its South China Sea approach in two ways (i) increase the presence of US navy and air force in the South China Sea; and (ii) adopt a clearer and firmer position on China’s claims on the basis of international law.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement on July 13th 2020 marked a milestone in the changes of the US’ South China Sea approach and was in favour of South China Sea littoral states. International analysts opine that such changes will open opportunities for ASEAN countries to fulfil its role in South China Sea dispute settlement because the US position is now convergent with that of the South China Sea littoral states in ASEAN. The convergent position is shown in four aspects:

Indonesia and international law in the South China Sea

Indonesia and international law in the South China SeaDespite not being a directly concerned party to the South China Sea dispute, Indonesia always upholds the rule of law concerning the relevant issues and supports the settlement of disputes by peaceful means provided by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Recently, within only half a month, Indonesia submitted two notes verbales to the UN to take a stand on the South China Sea issue and resolutely decline China’s request to negotiate on maritime issues.

In the recent notes verbales and statements, Indonesia affirms that: (i) Indonesia is not a claimant to the territorial dispute in the South China Sea; their exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or continental shelf does not overlap with any illegal claims by China; (ii) Indonesia highlights the significance of the Award on 12 July 2016 of the South China Sea Arbitration between the Philippines and China; (iii) Indonesia has sovereignty and sovereign rights over the maritime areas in consistency with UNCLOS; (iv) Indonesia urges all parties to respect international law, including UNCLOS.

Mike Pompeo keeps up pressure on China

Mike Pompeo keeps up pressure on China despite cutting short Asia trip after Donald Trumps coronavirus positiveUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has cut short his Asia trip after Donald Trump and other senior officials tested positive for Covid-19.

The State Department confirmed he will still visit Tokyo on Sunday, where he will meet counterparts from Australia, India and Japan for security talks between the strategic Quad grouping, seen as a response to growing Chinese power.

However, he has cancelled plans to visit South Korea and Mongolia.

Cambodia caught in the middle of US-China clash over South China Sea military bases

Cambodia caught in the middle of USChina clash over South China Sea military basesLast weekend, in a speech at the virtual United Nations General Assembly, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen rebuked “some countries” for increasingly interfering in the sovereignty of smaller countries.

“As a peace-loving small country committed to democratic principles, Cambodia can play its part in the international community only if it is assured that the rules governing the international system are fairly applied,” he said.

“Unfortunately, all too often, depending on the political ambition and hidden opportunistic agenda of some countries, Cambodia had to deal with hypocritical double-standards, biased and politically motivated decisions, in short, injustice.”

What could China do to hit back at a US drone attack?

What could China do to hit back at a US drone attackChina’s most effective response to a multiple US drone attack could be to hit back at the unmanned vehicles’ base and destroy the entire fleet, a Chinese military analyst suggested after reports that a recent US drone exercise might have been aimed at China.

As one of the hi-tech weapons of modern warfare, drones can be difficult to detect because they are small and operate at low altitudes.

The Code of Conduct for the South China Sea: A Long and Bumpy Road

The Code of Conduct for the South China Sea A Long and Bumpy RoadDuring last month’s ASEAN Regional Forum, foreign ministers from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) once again called for an expedited negotiation of the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea (COC). But there are many obstacles that will have to be overcome before the long-expected agreement sees the light of day.

The region and world is currently in the throes of a fierce competition between the United States and China. In recent weeks, military exercises and the deployment of aircraft carriers by both powers have left regional observers fearing a potential military conflict. The South China Sea is perhaps the key flashpoint in Sino-American competition. It seems that the current American approach in the South China Sea is to respond to China’s increasingly assertive actions through the deployment of its own military power. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the U.S. is actively building up the capacity needed to prevent China’s domination of the region. “The Indo-Pacific is the epicenter of a great power competition with China,” he said last month. “We’re not going to cede this region – an inch of ground, if you will – to another country.”

Becoming a Chinese Client State: The Case of Serbia

Serbia is a hub for a wide range of Chinese economic activity in the Western Balkans, as previous CSIS research has indicated. This report, the second in a series, examines Serbia in greater detail to shed more light on China’s political and economic objectives, its mechanisms for influence, and the implications of its activities, including a second wave of digital infrastructure projects.

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