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Challenging China's Claims In South China Sea, US Navy Warship Sails Near Paracel Islands

Challenging Chinas Claims In South China SeaWashington D.C: Challenging Beijing's claims in the highly contested South China Sea, US Navy's Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin on Thursday (local time) sailed near Paracel Islands, reported CNN.

"On May 28 (local time), USS Mustin (DDG 89) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law," Lt. Anthony Junco, a spokesperson for the US Navy's 7th Fleet, was quoted as saying in a statement.

"By conducting this operation, the United States demonstrated that these waters are beyond what China can lawfully claim as its territorial sea," the statement added.

The Paracel Islands are claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.

The move comes amid heightened tensions between two countries on a range of issues including the coronavirus pandemic with the US criticising China over the global spread of coronavirus.

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Why US-China military confrontation risk is highest in the South China Sea

Why USChina military confrontation risk is highest in the South China SeaSingapore: As China and the U.S. trade barbs over everything from trade to Covid-19 to Hong Kong, the two powers are at greater risk of careering into physical confrontation. And nowhere are their warships and fighter jets coming as close to each other, with as much frequency, as the South China Sea.

A military conflict would probably be devastating for both. There are no signs that either side actually wants one. Still, in times of high tension, miscalculations can have unintended consequences.

In the first four months of the year the U.S. Navy conducted four freedom of navigation operations, known as FONOPS, in the South China Sea, which is criss-crossed by competing claims by nations including China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. That puts it on track to surpass last year’s total of eight. At the same time, as China emerged from the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, its Navy steamed back out of port in Hainan and resumed drills in the area.

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A US destroyer challenged China's vast South China Sea claims as tensions rise

A US destroyer challenged ChinaA US Navy warship again challenged China's vast South China Sea claims Thursday as US-China tensions run high.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin sailed within 12 nautical miles of Woody Island and Pyramid Rock in the Parcel Islands during a freedom-of-navigation operation, CNN reported Thursday, citing a defense official.

A 7th Fleet spokesman told the outlet that "the United States demonstrated that these waters are beyond what China can lawfully claim as its territorial sea."

The Paracel Islands are among the contested territories in the South China Sea where China has built military outposts to support its sweeping sovereignty claims.

The Chinese military dispatched naval and air assets to shadow the Mustin, Senior Col. Li Huamin, a spokesman for the Southern Theater Command, said Thursday, adding that the military issued warnings and expelled the ship from the area, China's Global Times reported.

What Washington should do to repel Beijing's provocations in the South China Sea

US strategic expertsOver the years, China has shamelessly challenged international law in the South China Sea, from building illegal military bases to making absurd sovereignty claim under the false "nine-dash line". Beijing's unruly behavior in the South China Sea also includes threatening neighboring countries and dangerous and unethical harassment of vessels operating in international waters. China's expansion in the South China Sea not only threatens the core economic interests and security of the US, its allies and the international community, but also to drive the US and its allies away from mainland China.

Experts and researchers in many countries said that only the US can repel Chinese illegal activities in the South China Sea. However, past US efforts have been impotent, not enough to cause China to flinch – on the contrary China has been more aggressive than ever. If the US and its allies do not respond promptly and comprehensively, China may act even more drastically. US strategists must now ask one another what Washington should do to counteract Beijing's provocations in the South China Sea.

The Global Maritime Axis – Indonesia’s way of protecting self-interests in the South China Sea

The Global Maritime AxisAs a country located between the Pacific and Indian Ocean, Indonesia has over 17,000 large and small islands, and a coastline of over 20,000 km. The international community considers this Islamic island nation to be of great potential at sea. But for the past seven decades, Indonesia has largely overlooked the sea in its development process. It was until President Joko Widodo took office that the Indonesian government overcame these shortcomings in sea policy development. As such, immediately upon assuming office in May 2014, President Widodo announced the Indonesia Global Maritime Axis (GMA) Policy before the People's Representative Council of the Republic of Indonesia, the main goal of which was to make Indonesia a leading “maritime power” in Asia and the world; an interchange for international shipping routes and a global maritime center by 2025.

Indonesia's Global Maritime Axis strategy carries great ambitions. However, initially, the strategy only laid out general principles without specific measures, resulting in Indonesia's ministries branches and localities finding themselves at odds with different interpretations and implementations of the GMA. In order to solve these shortcomings, in June 2017, President Widodo issued Decree No. 06/2017 on "Sea policy" with up to 76 specific measures to realize the GMA strategy, focusing on 7 main pillars of: (1) Maritime potential and human resource development; (2) Strengthening national defense and security, law enforcement and safety at sea; (3) Ocean governance; (4) Development of marine economy, infrastructure and people-centered prosperity ; (5) Marine space management and marine environment protection; (6) Building marine culture; (7) Marine diplomacy.

Historical records: China never has sovereignty over Spratly and Paracel Islands

Historical records China never has sovereignty over Spratly and Paracel IslandsAs its "sovereignty" claim with the "nine-dash line" was rejected by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) due to lack of legal and practical grounds, China has changed its tactics by releasing the concept of "Four Shas" that covers more than 90% of the South China Sea and includes the two archipelagos of Paracel and Spratly. In a latest bid to "realize" this claim, China explicitly announced the establishment of two districts called "Xisha" and "Nansha", which govern both Paracel and Spratly Islands, under the so-called "Sansha City”.

Beijing then invented the "standard naming" procedure for 80 geographical features in the South China Sea, along with their longitudes and latitudes. It is worth noting that, of these entities, there are shoals located deep within the Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and only about 50 nm from the Vietnamese baseline. These actions constitute an illegal and blind escalation in Beijing's "monopolization" scheme of the South China Sea. Such actions could never give Beijing a cover to exercise its so-called "historic rights," because throughout history, China itself has never had sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands.

There a plenty of literature, documents or statements uncovering China's illegality and blindness in their unreasonable sovereignty claim in the South China Sea, all of which outlined and culminated in the 2016 PCA ruling of the Philippines vs. China case, and the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982). It is a known fact that the two archipelagos of Paracel and Spratly are for long under Vietnam's sovereignty. But it remains relatively unknown that from a historical perspective, Chinese dynasties had declared both Paracels and Spratlys outside of Chinese jurisdiction, while denying the responsibility for enforcing sovereignty over these two archipelagos, as shown in the following historical evidence:

Beijing’s plans for South China Sea air defence identification zone

Beijing plans for South China Sea air defence identification zone cover Pratas Paracel and Spratly islandsBeijing has been making plans for an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea since 2010, the same year it said it was considering the introduction of similar airspace controls over the East China Sea in a move that was widely criticised around the world, a military insider said.

The proposed ADIZ encompasses the Pratas, Paracel and Spratly island chains in the disputed waterway, according to a source from the People’s Liberation Army, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The plans for the zone were as old as those for the East China Sea ADIZ – which Beijing said it was considering in 2010 and introduced in 2013 – the source said, adding that Chinese authorities were waiting for the right time to announce them.

While Beijing might have been reticent on the subject, Taiwan’s defence ministry said on May 4 that it was aware of the mainland’s plans.

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World cannot ignore Chinese aggression in South China Sea

World cannot ignore Chinese aggression in South China SeaFor the past two decades, China's strategy in the South China Sea has been reminiscent of ancient general and strategist Sun Tzu, who said: "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." In this turbulent time, that patience is beginning to change as China, emboldened by the U.S.'s abdication of leadership and by a distracted world, gains in aggression.

Most recently, China has been using its naval forces to pressure the littoral nations, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. A month ago, China sank a Vietnamese fishing vessel, a maneuver that was roundly condemned by the international community.

China is increasing its push against U.S. warships, using aggressive signaling; dangerously close maneuvering; illuminating U.S. ships with fire-control radar, which suggests the imminent launch of weapons; and overflying at very close range.

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Would a US-India cooperation break the legal stalemate in the South China Sea?

Would a USIndia cooperation break the legal stalemate in the South China SeaA year after his presidential election, in November 2017, President Donald Trump made his first trip to five Asian countries and on his Twitter account, he expressed his honor of being present at the center of the Indo - Pacific region. Subsequently, in December 2017, the US announced the National Security Strategy (NSS), to be followed by the National Defense Strategy (NDS) in January 2018. Concurrently in 2018, the US changed the name of the Pacific Command to the Indo-Pacific Command, and also indicated that India is an important security partner of Washington. These moves have signaled the formation of the US vision of a “free and open” Indo-Pacific region that includes India and countries bordering the Indian Ocean. This region, as a matter of fact, is considered to be closely integrated geographically and politically with the rest of the Asia-Pacific. More importantly, the United States has now formally considered India as having a critical role to play in the US’ grand scheme in the Indo-Pacific. Would the US’ more comprehensive approach to the region which includes the strengthening of India's involvement and rebranding Washington’s Indo-Pacific Command possible help align both the US and India’s security interests, especially when China’s recent acts are seen as destabilizing regional order.

First, it is worth noting that the US-India bilateral ties have strengthened and improved, especially in security and defense. In July 2019, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told members of the Senate Armed Forces Committee that the overall goal of the US is to strengthen the long-term “strategic partnership” based on a strong defense cooperation with a capable Indian military forces in order to address common concerns in the region. What Mark Esper said is not without foundation as in the past few years, US-India bilateral defense trade increases significantly, of which the quantity and categories of defense equipment India imported from the US multiplied. The US has become India’s largest weapon supplier. At the same time, military exchanges are also pushed up with regular meetings of the US and Indian army staffs. The two sides are negotiating military cooperation agreements, of which two have already been signed. The positive developments in the US-India defense ties lead many to an early forecast the future US-India relations might become a formal alliance irrespective of India’s membership in the Non-Aligned Movement, past US support for Pakistan and India’s once reliance on Moscow’s advanced weaponry. It is unclear whether these forecasts would come true. However, as long as India continues to upgrade its relations with the US and Japan as well as maintains its posture as a reliable defense partner through a combination of arms trade with joint exercises with these two countries, the US-India relationship will surely continue to develop in a positive direction.

What is China up to in the South China Sea amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic?

What is China up to in the South China Sea amid the raging Covid19 pandemicFrom the beginning of 2020, while countries in the world, from rich and powerful ones, like the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, to poor and backward ones like African countries or developing ones like the East Asia countries, including China, is struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic, Beijing has increased its military, political and economic activities in the South China Sea. It seems that the "losses" caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to China are just a drop in the ocean, so the country still enlisted the "opportunity" of a raging epidemic to exploit the weakness and difficulties of countries inside or outside the region to gain the most advantage and prepare for the next steps of a new strategic level in this important sea.

The first move attracted the attention and precaution from countries in the region was related to China's military activities in the South China Sea. In just over the recent three months, Beijing has had four different military exercises, including:

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