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New development in the US South China Sea policy

SouthThe United States has lately made a series of responses to China’s illegal claims and activities in the South China Sea and deployed a powerful military force to “challenge” Beijing’s actions in this area. However, it is worth noting that on the legal front, on June 1, 2020, the US officially sent a letter to the United Nations to protest China’s excessive maritime claims which are contrary to the international law of the sea.

Unlike previous criticisms, this tough move from the US is a sign of “new positive development” in the US South China Sea policy as well as a pre-requisite for “stronger” moves on Beijing in the future. So far, no country supports China’s position on the South China Sea, especially the illegal claim of sovereignty based on the “nine-dash line”. The move by the US, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to send a letter to protest at the United Nations is considered as a “new step” in rebuking the unruly actions of Beijing and demonstrating Washington’s most resolute and strong attitude regarding the South China Sea problem. Previously, the US reactions were only made through expressing views, making statements condemning China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea, or deploying patrol warships, conducting joint exercises with Australia and the Philippines in the South China Sea. Now, it is not just about expressing “concern” but the US has taken tougher and more drastic measures against China’s illegal claims, in the context that many Southeast Asia countries sent Notes Verbale to protest Beijing. Indeed, Washington’s view on the South China Sea is raised to a higher level. Under President Donald Trump, the US South China Sea policy has seen positive developments. The South China Sea issue is also part of the US efforts to compete with China in a comprehensive manner. At this time, the US has taken a stronger step, which is quite beneficial to the legal struggle of relevant countries in the South China Sea. This is not a change, but a positive development.

Tensions heat up in South China Sea as US makes significant show of force

TensionHong Kong (CNN)-For the first time in six years, two US Navy aircraft carriers are in the South China Sea, the latest show of military might from Washington as it pushes back against China's sweeping claim to much of the contested region.

The two US carriers arrived in the region as China wrapped up its own set of naval exercises near a disputed island chain, an apparent synchronicity not lost on Beijing's state media, which carried reports boasting of the country's readiness to repel any US attempt to challenge its claims.

Operating under the name the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force, the American carriers, the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, "conducted several tactical exercises designed to maximize air defense capabilities, and extend the reach of long-range precision maritime strikes from carrier-based aircraft," a US Navy statement said.

China’s Superpower Dreams Are Running Out of Money

China SuperpowerSeen from afar, China’s current all-fronts offensive gives the impression of a rising power on the march. China is simultaneously starting a border skirmish with India, militarizing the South China Sea, cracking down on Hong Kong, pressuring Taiwan, confronting Japan over disputed islands, and quelling internal unrest—all while fighting a resurgent coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, it is investing billions of dollars in a bid to dominate emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and advanced semiconductors. And then there’s the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s $1 trillion program to build the transportation infrastructure for a China-centered world.

This is no time to take eyes off the South China Sea

Four ShadsRegional flashpoints are heating up, as we’ve seen with the fatal clash in Ladakh on the India–China border, the protests in Hong Kong and provocative sorties in the airspace over Taiwan and Japan. But the South China Sea may be the most dangerous of all.

Recent developments suggest that China is making even more decisive, and potentially long-lasting, moves to override other countries’ claims in this large and strategically crucial body of water.

Concern is growing that Beijing plans to declare an air defence identification zone over the Spratly, Paracel and Pratas islands. An ADIZ is a region of airspace over land or sea in which the identification, location and control of aircraft are ‘performed by a country in the interest of its national security’. This is not a new idea, of course; China unilaterally declared an ADIZ over the East China Sea in 2003.

US, China inch closer towards a conflict at sea

US ChinaThe United States and China have just simultaneously conducted military exercises in the disputed South China Sea, dueling big boat deployments that threaten to tilt the volatile maritime region ever closer to a superpower conflict.

The US Navy deployed two aircraft carriers, namely the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz, to the sea while marking America’s Independence Day on July 4.

The Pentagon described the dual-carrier operations, the first launched since 2014, as “exercises in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”  

The truth about the “U-shaped seamless line” in the South China Sea

U shapeFollowing the so-called “Sansha city”, China asserted the “Four Shas” claim. Recently, it established two “districts” called “Xisha” and “Nansha” to govern the Paracel and Spratly Islands, as well as other maritime features in the South China Sea. Furthermore, Beijing also announced the “standard names” of 80 features with exact geological coordinates in the South China Sea, including those lie along China’s unilaterally claimed “nine-dash line”. These acts are nowhere different from China’s determination to pursue its claim on the South China Sea “nine-dash line”. China also vociferously promotes the so-called “new discovery” about the “U-shape seamless line” initiated by numerous Chinese scholars several years ago. However, China's acts are excessively prominent, and thus expose its ambitions to the masses. Beijing disregards international law to obtain its goals by all means.

In early April 2018, the South China Morning Post, an English language daily owned by Alibaba Group (China), ran a story introducing the researches of six scholars sponsored by the Chinese government on the so-called “U-shaped seamless line”. They showed their excitement for the “new discovery”: the “U-shaped seamless line”, also known as the former “nine-dash line” that China has publicly asserted as its sovereignty in the South China Sea since 2009, could be considered as China’s maritime border.

Australia cooperation – an essential factor for the South China Sea’s peace and stability

CooperationOn June 4th, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi partook in a virtual summit because Mr. Morrison had to put off his visit to India due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 severe acute respiratory syndrome pandemic.

Both India and Australia are concerned about the rise of China and its aggressive activities in the South China Sea, which has also expanded to the Western region of the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. What concerns India is the territorial dispute with China and its increasing presence in the Indian Ocean while for Australia, it is China’s increasing military presence through the “Belt and Road” initiative and its extending influences over minor island states in the Western Pacific – Australia’s longstanding backyard. Both India and Australia do not wish to see the establishment of an order led by China in the Asia-Pacific region.

U.S. aircraft carriers hold joint drills after ASEAN lambastes Beijing over South China Sea

US carrierTwo U.S. aircraft carriers kicked off joint exercises in the Philippine Sea on Sunday, a day after Southeast Asian leaders delivered some of their strongest remarks opposing Beijing’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea on historical grounds.

The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Groups began the drills to bolster the United States’ “responsive, flexible, and enduring commitments” to mutual defense agreements with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific, the Navy said in a statement.

China vs. America: A Submarine Showdown in the South China Sea?

China USRival U.S. and Chinese sub-hunting surveillance assets continue to track one another in the South China Sea as part of an ongoing competition to both gain intelligence about the other and, ideally, establish some kind of maritime superiority in the South China Sea in light of ongoing tensions. The Chinese have been operating KJ-500 airborne early warning and control systems and KQ-200 Y8 sub-hunting aircraft in the South China Sea area, according to the Global Times.

Citing Taiwanese media reports pointing to satellite images, the Global Times quotes Chinese experts saying “China has the right to deploy defensive weapons there, according to the military threats China is facing.” While it notes that Chinese officials have not formally confirmed the missions, the report quotes Chinese leaders emphasizing the country’s right to defend its national security interests. Satellite images of Chinese weapons and surveillance operations in the South China Sea are by no means unprecedented, as they have previously been identified on numerous occasions. At one point there were multiple reports of Chinese artillery, rockets and land war assets being placed in the South China Sea, as well as reported satellite images of fighters being placed in the island region. Years ago, U.S. Poseidon P-8 surveillance planes detected phony island-building, or “land reclamation” in the area, at times identifying overt Chinese efforts to build airplane landing strips on newly added territories.

The Decline of the American World

 

The decline“He hated America very deeply,” John le Carré wrote of his fictional Soviet mole, Bill Haydon, in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Haydon had just been unmasked as a double agent at the heart of Britain’s secret service, one whose treachery was motivated by animus, not so much to England but to America. “It’s an aesthetic judgment as much as anything,” Haydon explained, before hastily adding: “Partly a moral one, of course.”

I thought of this as I watched the scenes of protest and violence over the killing of George Floyd spread across the United States and then here in Europe and beyond. The whole thing looked so ugly at first—so full of hate, and violence, and raw, undiluted prejudice against the protesters. The beauty of America seemed to have gone, the optimism and charm and easy informality that entrances so many of us from abroad.

Philippines challenging China in South China Sea

PhilMANILA – The Philippines is slowly but surely pushing back against China in the disputed South China Sea, a reflection of revived strategic relations with the United States and a rising need to secure new indigenous energy sources amid an impending economic crisis.  

Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials are now lobbying President Rodrigo Duterte to resume stalled energy exploration in the sea to shore up the nation’s sagging energy security and reassert sovereign claim to seabed energy resources contested by China.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is pushing for Chinese compensation for Filipino fishermen who nearly drowned during an incident last year in which a Chinese militia vessel sank their wooden boat, named F/B GimVer 1, in waters near the contested and energy-rich Reed Bank.

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