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Members of the Indonesian Navy watch as a Vietnamese coastguard ship approaches and rams their vessel off the coast of Borneo in the South China Sea. Photo: AFP

Sinking captured fishing boats is deterrent, not retaliation, Indonesia says after South China Sea clash with Vietnam | Aloysius Unditu – South China Morning Post

02 May 2019

  • Fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti says move is continuation of long-standing policy laid out by President Joko Widodo
  • On Monday Indonesia accused a Vietnamese coastguard patrol boat of ramming into one of its navy vessels
Members of the Indonesian Navy watch as a Vietnamese coastguard ship approaches and rams their vessel off the coast of Borneo in the South China Sea. Photo: AFP

Members of the Indonesian Navy watch as a Vietnamese coastguard ship approaches and rams their vessel off the coast of Borneo in the South China Sea. Photo: AFP

When Indonesia begins sinking 51 captured fishing vessels – mostly from Vietnam – this Saturday, it will not be punishment for the recent clash at sea between the countries, but a continuation of its policy to deter illegal fishing, according to fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti.On Monday, Indonesia accused a Vietnamese coastguard patrol boat of ramming into one of its navy vessels at the southern edge of the South China Sea, which it considers its exclusive economic zone. The Indonesian navy was trying to stop a Vietnamese fishing boat from entering the area, as Jakarta says it has the sole right to exploit resources there.

Twelve of the 14 fishermen were apprehended and the boat sank, the authorities said, leading Vietnam’s foreign ministry to demand their return as well as compensation for the sunken vessel.

Susi, a straight-talking minister who has authorised the seizure, sinking and blowing up of hundreds of vessels from different countries for fishing illegally in Indonesia’s waters, said 38 of the boats to be sunk starting on Saturday had Vietnamese flags.

SCMP Graphics

The rest were from Malaysia, China and the Philippines or registered to Indonesian companies in a bid to disguise their true origins.SUBSCRIBE TO THIS WEEK IN ASIAGet updates direct to your inboxSUBMITBy registering for these newsletters you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy

“It’s not retaliation,” Susi said on Tuesday after visiting sites in Pontianak in West Kalimantan and Batam in the Riau Islands where several boats were being held.

“It has been a policy by Indonesian President Joko Widodo to sink the ships. It is aimed at creating a deterrent effect.”

Jokowi asks Indonesians: If not Jakarta, where should new capital be?

The boats would be sunk in batches, she said, starting with those in Pontianak. She also praised the navy for protecting the North Natuna Sea, a name Indonesia gave the waters two years ago to demonstrate its sovereignty over the area.

Indonesia is not a claimant state in the South China Sea, where China and several other Asian countries including Vietnam have overlapping territorial claims.

But Jakarta and Hanoi are stuck in a long-running discussion over the boundaries of their overlapping exclusive economic zones.

Indonesia's Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti. Photo: Reuters

Indonesia’s Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti. Photo: ReutersShare:

In a statement on Tuesday, Vietnamese foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said the government had issued a diplomatic note to the Indonesian embassy in Hanoi. The boat and fishermen were taken away “while operating within Vietnam’s waters, in an area where Vietnam and Indonesia are delimiting our exclusive economic zones”, it said, according to news site VNExpress International.Indonesia’s foreign ministry said it had summoned Vietnam’s ambassador to explain the incident, which it described as one that “endangered the lives of officers from both countries and is not in accordance with international law or the spirit of Asean[Association of Southeast Asian Nations]”.

Vietnam wants a South China Sea dispute resolution pact with teeth

A video released by the Indonesian navy on social media purportedly showed the Vietnamese patrol boat ramming into the naval ship, as crewmen armed with rifles shouted expletives at the aggressor.

Rear Admiral Yudo Margono, the commander of the Indonesian navy’s first fleet, said the crewmen were taken to the Ranai naval base on Natuna island and “would face legal process”.

International law expert Hikmahanto Juwana said Hanoi and Jakarta needed to create rules of engagement so both sides would know how to deal with incidents of “physical contact” in the area with overlapping claims.

An Indonesian Navy officer targets a seized Vietnamese boat fishing to sink in 2014. Photo: AFP

An Indonesian Navy officer targets a seized Vietnamese boat fishing to sink in 2014. Photo: AFPS

Le Hong Hiep, a researcher from the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said the Indonesia’s arrest of Vietnamese fishermen was the latest in a series of similar incidents over the years.

“This time around it was more dramatic because there was an intervention … the incident obviously created an impression that there are growing maritime tensions between Vietnam and Indonesia over the South China Sea, but the problem mainly boils down to the overlapping of the two countries’ EEZs,” he said.

He suggested both nations accelerate negotiations on the zones and for Vietnam to persuade its fishermen not to venture into Indonesian waters.

Vietnam protests China’s sinking of boat in South China Sea

“Increasing tensions between the two countries over fishing rights will undermine their relations and Asean unity, and may pose further challenges to the ongoing negotiation of the Asean-China code of conduct in the South China Sea,” he said.

Between October 2014 and August 2018, Indonesia sunk 488 foreign and domestic ships that had conducted illegal fishing in Indonesian waters. They included 272 Vietnamese-flagged boats, 90 Philippine-flagged ships, 73 with Malaysian flags, 25 from Indonesia and 23 with Thai flags, according to data from the fisheries ministry.

This year alone, Indonesia has detained 33 ships from Vietnam and 16 from Malaysia, according to Lilly Aprilya Pregiwati, head of communication at Indonesia’s fisheries ministry.

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South China Sea tensions at new high after Vietnamese boat rammed and sunk

08 March 2019

China has dramatically escalated tensions in one of the most hotly disputed places on the planet, reportedly sinking a vessel.

A 2015 aerial photo showing land reclamation works in the South China Sea. Picture: AFP/Ritchie B. TongoSource:AFP

Chinese Military Might

Hanoi Vietnam’s government claims that a Chinese vessel rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

The fishing boat was around 370 kilometres off Da Nang near Discovery Reef in the Paracel island chain on Wednesday when it was rammed by a Chinese vessel, the National Committee for Incident, Natural Disaster Response and Search and Rescue said in a statement.

The five Vietnamese men on board the fishing boat clung on to the sinking bow until they were rescued, the statement said.

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Vietnam’s government and state media have previously accused Chinese vessels of attacking Vietnamese fishing boats.

In April and May, more than 10 Vietnamese fishing boats were allegedly hit and robbed while fishing in the South China Sea, according to Vietnam’s Tuoi Tre newspaper.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including waters internationally recognised as Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone where Vietnam has sole fishing rights.

Greg Poling, a fellow with the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, slammed China over the incident.

“A Chinese ship reportedly rams and sinks a Vietnamese fishing boat in the Paracels (again),” he said on Twitter.

“China’s neighbors have become so numb to the constant exercise of low-intensity violence and intimidation that it will warrant barely a mention in regional press.”

A photograph taken from the International Space Station appears to show China building on the reef in the Paracel Islands NASA

A photograph taken from the International Space Station appears to show China building on the reef in the Paracel Islands NASASource:Supplied

The incident came as Vietnam jailed 15 people for “causing public disorder” during anti-China protests.

Scores have been jailed in the wake of rare nationwide demonstrations in June 2018 that quickly turned violent in some areas as police struggled to quell the unrest.

On Thursday, 15 people were sentenced to between two and 3.5 years in jail by a court in southern Binh Thuan province, where police stations were ransacked and security vehicles destroyed.

State-run Vietnam News Agency said “the 15 defendants were shouting, instigating the crowd” and blocked traffic on a major highway for 15 hours, citing the official indictment.

“The jury board concluded that the defendants’ behaviour undermined security, order and social safety… so they need to be seriously punished,” VNA reported.

A court official confirmed the sentences and said several others are currently under investigation on similar charges, he told AFP, refusing to be named.

Last year’s unrest was sparked by a proposal by the government to establish several economic zones with 99-year leases in the country that protesters said were designed to cater to Chinese investors.

The draft bill made no mention of China – and the government backed off the lengthy lease terms – but it was not enough to prevent the demonstrations in several cities, including Hanoi and the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City.

The bill has been shelved for now and officials have not said whether it may be revived.

The investment zones were aimed at attracting foreign cash to the fast-growing, export-oriented economy.

The one-party state has clocked glittering growth in the past decade, while maintaining a firm grip on power.

Source: news.com.au

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World War 3 WARNING: China preparing for MASSIVE conflict warns top US official |James Bickerton – Express UK

31 January 2019

CHINA could be “preparing for World War 3” over the South China Sea dispute according to Senator James Inhofe, chair of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee.

The Republican Congressman made the comments during a Tuesday committee hearing on security threats to the US. China claims ownership of the oil-rich South China Sea. This claim is contested by the US and several of the country’s neighbours.

According to US military newspaper Navy Times Mr Inhofe commented: “It’s like China is preparing for World War 3.

“You’re talking to our allies over there and you wonder whose side they’re going to be on.”

China has been fortifying and building bases on islands and artificial reefs in the contested ocean.

The Chinese territorial claim overlaps with rival claims from Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

The US refuses to recognise the Chinese claim, and regularly conducts “freedom of navigation operations” with naval forces in the area.

World War 3 China

“It’s like China is preparing for World War 3 (Image: GETTY )

World War 3 China conflict

Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump pictured together in 2017 (Image: GETTY )

Mr Inhofe claimed the American public are underestimating the threat from China in the Pacific.

He warned: “I’m concerned our message is not getting across.

“There’s this euphoric attitude people have had since World War II that somehow we have the best of everything.”

US naval patrols in the South China Sea have led to confrontations with Chinese forces.

Source: Express UK

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Australia’s Pyne says China must act responsibly in the South China Sea | SBS News

28 January 2019

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne wants to reassure China that no country wants to hamper its growth and it should avoid isolationism.

Australia’s Defence Minister Christopher Pyne is set to call on China to act with greater responsibility in the South China Sea and avoid the “might is right” approach to diplomacy used by isolationist regimes like Russia.

Mr Pyne will also stress in a keynote address to the 2019 Fullerton Forum in Singapore on Monday that no country wants to stifle China’s growth and prosperity in the region, which is playing “host to the defining great power rivalry of our times between the United States and China”.

But he will call on it to rethink a “might is right” approach in the South China Sea as that has eroded regional confidence and increased anxiety.

“On the other hand, resolving disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with international law would build confidence in China’s willingness to support and champion a strategic culture that respects the rights of all states,” Mr Pyne will say.

“As the exhortation goes, “to those that much is given, much is expected”, similarly for nation states, for those with great power comes great responsibility, and so I call on China to act with great responsibility in the South China Sea.”

Christopher Pyne calls on China to act ‘with great responsibility’ in South China Sea

While he will not directly name Russia, the minister will make a thinly-veiled swipe at its annexation of the Crimea from the Ukraine in 2014 and refer to Vladimir Putin’s government as an “oligarchy” that is threatening the international rule of law.

“It is under threat from oligarchies who think it is their birth right to simply annex their neighbour at will,” Mr Pyne will say, according to a copy of his speech.

“It is under threat from countries who treat all of cyber space like their own personal fiefdom, to do with as they will; to take what is not rightfully theirs.”

Mr Pyne will pledge Australian support for conducting multilateral activities in the South China Sea to demonstrate to China that they are international waters, if required.

“In an age of increasing interdependence, a “might is right” approach serves the long-term interests of no country,” the minister will say.

“We fall short of our economic potential when parties choose to withdraw behind walls and withdraw from mechanisms designed to make us stronger.

“Australia envisages a region that is more closely integrated and where we all collectively reject isolationism.”

Mr Pyne will also shrug off previous suggestions of a potential “cold war” between China and the US in the Indo-Pacific.

“It’s a simplistic and unsophisticated characterisation of what is a much more complex and dynamic geostrategic paradigm,” he will say.

“Any division of the region into Cold War-like blocs is doomed to failure, since it would necessitate false choices between prosperity and security.”

But Mr Pyne said the ongoing rivalry between the US and China will be a feature of the international outlook “in the foreseeable future”.

Source: AAP – SBS

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Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty review may provoke China — expert | Patricia Lourdes Viray – PhilStar

24 January 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The proposed review of the provisions of the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) between the Philippines and the United States may push China to become more aggressive in its actions in the South China Sea, a maritime expert said.

In this May 9, 2018 photo, American and Filipino troops participate in an amphibious landing exercise simulating a beach assault during the annual Balikatan exercises in San Antonio, Zambales.

Gregory Poling, director of Washington-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, said Beijing’s future actions on the disputed waterway, part of which is the West Philippine Sea, would depend on the outcome of the MDT review.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had earlier called for a review of the decades-old treaty between the Philippines and the US due to the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

“If the Americans come forward with a statement that is, I would say, insufficiently clear it might very well provoke adventurism from Beijing testing that commitment,” Poling said during the “Asia Forecast 2019” forum in Washington earlier this week.

China has been encroaching on Philippine waters, constructing artificial islands and installing military facilities within the latter’s exclusive economic zone. Beijing continues to ignore a July 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated its nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

The Department of Defense wants Washington to give a definitive stand on whether it will support the Armed Forces of the Philippines in case of a confrontation with other South China Sea claimants.

“I think if we offer a quite clear clarification on MDT scope, it dissuades China because it lays down… red lines that make clear to Beijing where the trigger for US intervention would be,” Poling added.

The AMTI director also noted that freedom of navigation operations of other countries aside from the US are also factors for China’s aggression in the disputed waterway in the past year.

Poling said Beijing’s response to “multilateralization” of FONOPs in the South China Sea have been “much more aggressive” and “reckless.”

“We had the HMS Albion, the first British FONOP that was clearly a FONOP, we had increased activities by the French, the pace of Australian patrol even though they are not what we would call FONOPs had increased, the Japanese continued to operate so I think China feels that they win the South China Sea if they keep it as a bilateral Sino-US narrative,” Poling said.

It would be harder for Beijing to win the narrative if they would go against the international community, the maritime expert added.

Noting the harassment of Chinese Coast Guard personnel on Philippine troops conducting resupply missions on Ayungin Shoal last year, Poling clarified he could not predict when an incident between the two countries would escalate.

“I don’t know if it happens tomorrow, six months from now or six years from now. There will be a violent incident in the South China Sea that has a potential to escalate. They all do,” Poling said.

Source: PhilStar

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ARIA Reassures Vietnam of Ongoing US FONOPS in South China Sea | James Gordon – Geopolitical Monitor

19 January 2019

Much has been written about US and Vietnam relations since the last helicopter lifted remaining American personnel from the rooftop of the US Saigon Embassy during the 1975 final evacuation, as the final curtain closed on the tragic Vietnam War. Once enemies, Washington and Hanoi are now deeply invested in friendship, mutual respect and peace, working to ensure stability and to uphold freedom of navigation and sustained commerce in the South China Sea.


Vietnam, along with other claimant nations, realize that they can no longer take on China’s advance alone. Beijing’s ambitious naval expansion, militarization of reclamations, and mega-trawler fishing operations challenge Hanoi and other regional nations in the South China Sea. Oil and gas resources, the depletion of species biodiversity, collapsing fish stocks, and overall security—all contribute to the growing importance of the SCS region.

Concerns over China’s intentions to control SCS shipping lanes, along with the creation of its military bases on seven remote Spratly Islands reefs (Cuarteron, Fiery Cross, Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, Mischief and Subi) are alarming both regional stakeholders and Washington. Overall, China’s land reclamation has roughly tripled the size of the entire group of natural islands. While other claimant nations have reclaimed land as well, the total by China over the past several years is equivalent to 17 times of what others have done in the past 40 years.

Vietnam knows all too well the conflicts associated with Chinese measures to occupy and claim disputed islands.

January 19 marks the 45th anniversary of China seizing and and annexing the Paracel Islands, called the Xisha Islands by Beijing and the Hoang Sa Islands by Hanoi. In 1974, as US troops withdrew from Vietnam, China sent troops to the remote islands and more than 70 Vietnamese soldiers died in the resulting invasion. The two countries remain locked in a diplomatic struggle over a panoply of international law and conventions in their respective sovereignty claims.

In Ly Son Island, scores of Vietnamese fishermen commemorate the deaths of those Vietnamese who bravely defended their archipelagos against the Chinese attack. Today, China, along with Taiwan and Vietnam, still legally claim the Paracels.

For now, Vietnam should welcome Washington and the Trump administration to expand the US freedom of navigation operational patrols in the South China Sea since they contribute to peace and security. The presence of US Navy warships streaming through one of the world’s critical merchant gateways bolsters confidence that the United States has not ceded the South China Sea to China.

Hanoi reveals a new geopolitical chart as they continue to navigate a closer and more comprehensive partnership with the United States. Their charm offensive was witnessed over the past several years with White House visits by Vietnam’s former President Truong Tan Sang, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, and Communist Party head Nguyen Phu Trong. Two years ago, the Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was the first Southeast Asian head of state, and the third from Asia (after Japanese Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping) to visit President Trump after he took office.

The cooperative ties between the U.S. and Vietnam date back to 1994, when President Clinton lifted the trade embargo against Vietnam and, soon after the normalization of diplomatic relations in 1995, the two governments signed the Bilateral Trade Agreement. This has since paved the commercial road for the steady and substantial growth of trade between the two economies, with an increasingly favorable balance of trade for Vietnam.

By 2006, the US Congress accorded Vietnam permanent normal trade relations status, which represented the completion of full normalization of economic ties and allowed Vietnam to join the World Trade Organization(WTO) in 2007 as its 150th member. While the Trump administration’s protectionist roadmap offers Hanoi some trade impediments, including the discriminatory anti-dumping treatment, policy experts remain bullish and optimistic about Vietnam’s progressive strides toward transforming into a market economy. Economists are quick to acknowledge that globalization has ushered in increased foreign investment in manufacturing plants like Nike in Vietnam, which employees over 400,000 young women.

The tide of foreign direct investment pouring into the country has yielded many dividends including a dramatic decline in Vietnam’s poverty, improved living standards and increased life expectancy. Hanoi’s cautious and sequential adoption of market institutions have yielded two decades of impressive economic performance. “Nike and Coca-Cola triumphed where American bombs failed. They made Vietnam capitalist,” claims Johan Norberg, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington.

It was encouraging news for Hanoi when last month the US Congress approved the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), which was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on December 31. The Act affirms and advances the US National Security Strategy to “develop a long-term strategic vision and comprehensive, multifaceted and principled US policy for the Indo-Pacific region.” A few of the key articles that bolsters confidence in SCS claimant nations, especially Vietnam, are the following:

  • Improves the defense capacity and resiliency of partner nations to resist coercion and deter and defend against security threats, including foreign military financing;
  • Offers mechanism to conduct bilateral and multilateral engagements, particularly with the United States’ most highly capable allies and partners, to meet strategic challenges, including (destabilizing activities by China and North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs);
  • Increases maritime domain awareness programs in South Asia and Southeast Asia;
  • Encourages responsible natural resource management in partner countries, which is closely associated with economic growth;

 

Defense Cooperation Sends Message to China

Renewed Vietnam-US military cooperation is best symbolized by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson’s arrival in Da Nang last year, marking the first time such a ship has docked in the country since the Vietnam War. The Nimitz-class supercarrier with its 6,000 crew members, anchored off the coast of Da Nang and marked the largest US military presence in Vietnam since the war ended in 1975.

This display of military cooperation and reception was also highlighted in 2016, when former President Obama lifted a decades-old ban on the sale of military equipment to Vietnam.

The US-Vietnam defense relationship has included regular Naval Engagement Activities (NEA) over the past decade primarily to curb China’s assertiveness in the contested South China Sea.

Furthermore, in 2017, the U.S. also transferred the decommissioned Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau to Vietnam’s Coast Guard, and signed a three-year plan for defense cooperation. In addition, the US Pacific Partnership has made regular humanitarian relief exercises with its fast transport ships to the coastal city of Nha Trang to provide humanitarian and disaster relief. Vietnam’s leadership does believe that both a symbolic and cooperative defense relationship with the U.S. promotes regional and global peace and security.

Finally, the U.S. should consider the benefits associated with the US Congress ratification of U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It was adopted in 1982 and one hundred and sixty-two countries, including China and Russia, are signatories to the treaty that governs the world’s oceans. The U.S. has yet to adopt it.

While the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet continues to reinforce freedom in the South China Sea’s disputed waters, the treaty formally defines the limits of a country’s territorial sea, establishing clear rules for transit through “international straits,” and “exclusive economic zones (EEZs).” In short, it would allow the US military complete freedom of action.

With ratification, the United States would have legal standing to bring any complaints to an international dispute resolution body and thus avoid possible confrontation with Chinese naval forces and paramilitary fishing trawlers in the Spratly Islands.

Furthermore, the treaty allows for formal cooperation with other countries, because almost all of Washington’s allies, neighbors, and friends are party to the Convention. The geopolitical message is simple: America requires maximum freedom both for naval and commercial vessels to navigate and to operate off foreign coasts without interference. Vietnam and other South China Sea claimant nations urge the U.S. to abide by UNCLOS’s provisions and for the US Congress to ratify it.

At this moment, it’s possible that China is merely banking on the US government’s political impotence – now on display in the shutdown – to translate into its regional ambitions going unchallenged.

 

The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the authors are theirs alone and don’t reflect the official position of Geopoliticalmonitor.com or any other institution.

 

This article is originally published at Geopolitical Monitor.

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Senior Chinese military official urges PLAN to attack US naval vessels in South China Sea – Duncan Deaeth |Taiwan News

13 December 2018

The Chinese tabloid Global Times hosted a conference in Beijing, Saturday, Dec. 8 which featured bellicose statements concerning Taiwan and the US

PLAAF Colonel Commandant Dai Xu (Image from Chinese media)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – At a conference held in Beijing on Saturday, Chinese government and military officials discussed issues in the South China Sea and the current state of relations between the U.S. and China.

Chinese media reports that the situation in the South China Sea is expected grow more intense over the coming year, with one senior military official also declaring that China should be prepared to attack United States naval vessels, should the U.S. violate Chinese “territorial waters.”

Dai Xu (戴旭), who is President of the Institute of Marine Safety and Cooperation, as well as a PLA Air Force Colonel Commandant, was quoted by the tabloid Global Times saying the following.

“If the U.S. warships break into Chinese waters again, I suggest that two warships should be sent: one to stop it, and another one to ram it… In our territorial waters, we won’t allow U.S. warships to create disturbance.”

Referring to the increasingly regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) being carried out by the United States in the South China Sea, Dai said he couldn’t understand why people in China were afraid of using military force to counter U.S. FONOP activity.

Most recently, the U.S. sent two naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait four days after the Taiwanese elections held in November, which caused alarm among officials in Beijing .

Speaking about Taiwan, Dai even seemed to express anticipation for increasing tension in the South China Sea, emphasizing that China should not fear conflict.

He suggested that some manner of provocation in the South China Sea might push China towards military action targeting Taiwan.

“It would boost the speed of our unification of Taiwan… Let’s just be prepared and wait. Once a strategic opportunity emerges, we should be ready to take over Taiwan.”

Another speaker, Huang Jing, from the Beijing Language and Culture University, claimed that U.S. foreign policy was no longer capable of competing with Beijing’s in attracting support from other countries in the region.

Huang is a Chinese-American Professor, and an alleged spy for the Chinese Communist Party, who was deported from Singapore in 2017 for passing privileged information to Singaporean officials to “covertly advance the agenda of a foreign power,” while working at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Huang says that Beijing’s policy remains “firm but flexible” in the region, and also expressed his belief that ASEAN countries were increasingly supportive of Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea.

Huang also reportedly made the statement “Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor after it took control of the South China Sea.”

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Taiwan Announces Live-Fire Drills in Disputed South China Sea, Frances Martel | Breitbart

23 October 2018

Taiwan China air force

The government of Taiwan announced a new live-fire drill next month in Taiping Island, a territory disputed by China and Vietnam, the South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday.

Taiwan’s drill shortly follows the passage of U.S. warships through international waters in the region, angering China. The drill may also incense neighboring Vietnam, the Post suggests, as that country claims the relevant part of the Spratly Islands. Taiping is the largest island in the Spratly chain.

China typically disregards Taiwan’s claims in the South China Sea, instead using all manifestations of sovereignty on Taipei’s part as evidence of China’s sovereignty over the region. China claims all of Taiwan as a rogue province.

China has expanded its presence in the South China Sea to include illegal constructions on land belonging to Taiwan and Vietnam. Beijing also claims parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines.

The drills announced this week, according to the Post, are scheduled for November 21-23 and will feature 40mm grenade machine guns. Taiwan’s Coast Guard told the Post that the event will be a “routine shooting practice, which we have held for years.” The Coast Guard added that Vietnam and other neighboring countries were aware of the drill and Taipei had no reason to believe they opposed it.

The announcement comes a day after the U.S. Navy confirmed the passage of two of its warships through the Taiwan Strait, technically international waters.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” spokesman Navy Cmdr. Nate Christensen said, adding, “The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.” The transit was the first of its kind publicly announced since 2007.

“The Taiwan issue concerns the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. It is the most important and sensitive issue amid China-US relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday in response to the report. “We urge the US to observe the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués and prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues so as to avoid undermining China-US relations and the peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.”

Prior to the U.S. passage, Taiwan announced last week plans to expand its military technology arsenal and replace infantry in the Taiwan Straits with a “major automation initiative,” funded in part with over $23 million allocated to buy “six indigenous automated close-range defense systems and two joint-forces management systems.” The control center for this new automated defense and surveillance system is expected to be built on Taiping, known also as Itu Aba.

The government of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has also planned a visit by several Taiwanese military officials to the United States this month to request expanded military sales to the country. Taiwan is reportedly particularly interested in buying military aircraft to protect from a mainland invasion.

Under the Trump administration, Washington has proven more open to Taiwanese requests for support. Last month, the State Department confirmed the sale of $330 million in spare aircraft parts to Taipei.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security and defensive capability of the recipient,” the State Department said in a press release.

Taiwan itself has changed to a more proactive stance regarding seeking out international alliances, however, under President Tsai. Tsai engaged in an unprecendented phone call with President Trump in 2016 to congratulate him on his election victory, triggering a stern rebuke from Japan. She has also undertaken several visits to Latin America, traditionally one of the most Taiwan-friendly regions in the world, and made a historic visit to the Johnson Space Center in Houston in August.

In a speech commemorating Taiwan’s founding day this month, Tsai urged the international community to support Taiwan’s sovereignty, challenging China directly.

“For some time now, China’s unilateral diplomatic offensive and military coercion have not only harmed cross-strait relations. They have also seriously challenged the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” she said. “The best way to defend Taiwan is to make it indispensable and irreplaceable to the world.”

“The people of Taiwan will never accept any attempt by external forces to unilaterally change the cross-strait status quo. And the international community will never approve of and support the violation of universal values,” she concluded.

The shooting drills next month are far from the first such exercises appearing to prepare for a Chinese invasion. Last week, Taiwan simulated a Chinese attack in the direction of the East China Sea, training to attack the nation’s only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

This article is originally published on Breitbart

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How Vietnam Benefits From US Strategy in the South China Sea – Gary Sands | The Diplomat

19 October 2018

The Trump administration’s free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy is quickly gaining more definition.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) fires two Standard Missile (SM) 2 missile during a live-fire evolution.
Image Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Logan C. Kellums/Released

As Washington starts to counter Beijing on multiple fronts — economically, politically and militarily — the Trump administration’s free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy is quickly gaining more definition. The United States has struggled to define its FOIP, a regional construct also led by Australia, India, and Japan, ever since Trump signed on to the concept last November at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit held in Da Nang.

In recent days, however, U.S. officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, have started to comment publiclyon details of the strategy.  Another U.S. official, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall G. Schriver, recently visited Vietnam to speak on what the U.S. FOIP means for Hanoi. Schriver was making his third visit to Vietnam as part of the annual Defense Policy Dialogue between the United States and Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defense, amid growing military ties between the two former combatants.

In his speech at the American Center in Ho Chi Minh City on October 5,  Schriver began by referring to the Indo-Pacific region as a “priority theater,” while highlighting some of the more aggressive actions undertaken by China in the region, particularly in the South China Sea (which Vietnam refers to as the East Sea). Schriver defined the new U.S. National Defense Strategy as based upon three pillars: 1) recognition of great power competition, primarily between China, Russia, and the United States; 2) the development and nurturing of defense allies and partners; and 3) structural reforms of the U.S. Defense Department to better undertake its mission.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.How Vietnam Benefits From the New U.S. Strategy

One of the ways in which Vietnam can gain from the FOIP strategy is through freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) conducted by major players in the region. These FONOPs are intended to show Beijing and the other littoral nations of the South China Sea that passage by naval vessels can be free and open — despite Beijing’s claim to some 90 percent of the waters and its determination to control rights to passage.

Schriver spoke at some length concerning one such recent U.S. FONOP involving the near collision between the USS Decatur, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and the Lanzhou, a Luyang-II class guided-missile destroyer, near the Gaven Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands (also claimed by Vietnam). During the FONOP, the Chinese destroyer reportedly passed within some 45 yards (40 meters) of the U.S. destroyer, causing the U.S. warship to alter its course in order to avoid a collision. This year, the U.S. has conducted four FONOPs in the South China Sea so far, compared to four in 2017, three in 2016, and one in 2015.

According to Schriver, the U.S. FONOPs are in response to the construction of artificial islands by Beijing — built around reefs and rocks to create “facts on the ground” in an effort to further China’s claims. Some of those rocks and reefs claimed by China (such as Gaven Reef) used to be submerged during high tide. Schriver suggested further action may be taken by the Trump administration against Chinese companies involved in the construction of these artificial islands — presumably through the implementation of economic sanctions.

In the airspace over the disputed waters, Schriver mentioned the FOIP policy would also resist any existing or new declarations by Beijing of Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ), one of the ways in which China attempts to assert its sovereignty in the region. Schriver stated that under a free and open Indo-Pacific “the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows,” consistent with the previous policy of former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter under the Obama administration “pivot to Asia,” and revealing implicit support for the territorial claims of littoral states such as Vietnam.

With a Little Help From My Friends

While the new U.S. National Defense Strategy calls for the development and nurturing of defense partners such as Vietnam, Hanoi will not get too friendly thanks to its foreign policy of “Three Nos”: no foreign bases on its territory, no military alliances, and no involving third parties in its disputes.

While Hanoi does not officially involve third parties in its dispute over the South China Sea, Vietnam will stand to gain from an increase in FONOPs and other challenges to Beijing’s assertion of authority under the U.S. administration’s free and open Indo-Pacific strategy. Some of the naval vessels conducting FONOPs will continue to make port call visits at Cam Ranh Bay, furthering the development and nurturing of defense partnerships between Hanoi, the United States, and other major naval players in the region, while their FONOPs will show implicit support for the claims of Vietnam and other littoral nations.

Finally, with the potential for greater cooperation among the great naval powers in the region to promote and administer a free and open Indo-Pacific strategy, in an era of greater economic, military, and political competition among China, Russia, and the United States, Hanoi may find it easier than ever to skillfully play all three partners off against each other to maximum advantage.

Gary Sands is a Senior Analyst at Wikistrat, a crowdsourced consultancy, and a Director at Highway West Capital Advisors, a venture capital, project finance and political risk advisory. A former diplomat with the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, he has contributed a number of op-eds for Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, Washington Times, The Diplomat, Asia Times, National Interest, EurasiaNet, and the South China Morning Post. He is currently based in Taipei.

This article is originally published on The Diplomat

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US says Chinese destroyer was ‘aggressive’ and ‘unsafe,’ coming dangerously close to American ship – Reuters & AP | CNBC

01 October 2018

  • China expressed anger on Tuesday after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by Beijing in the disputed South China Sea.
  • The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.
  • “China’s military is resolutely opposed to this,” China’s defense ministry said.

Diana Quinlan | U.S. Navy | Reuters
Guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) operates in the South China Sea.

China expressed anger on Tuesday after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by Beijing in the disputed South China Sea, saying it resolutely opposed an operation that it called a threat to its sovereignty.

Beijing and Washington are locked in a trade war in which they have imposed increasingly severe rounds of tariffs on each other’s imports.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the destroyer the USS Decatur traveled within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands on Sunday.

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate.

China’s Defense Ministry said a Chinese naval ship had been sent to warn the U.S. vessel to leave.

The ministry said China has irrefutable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and the waters around them, and the situation there is progressing well thanks to the hard work of China and countries in Southeast Asia.

“The U.S. side repeatedly sends military ships without permission into seas close to South China Seas islands, seriously threatening China’s sovereignty and security, seriously damaging Sino-U.S. military ties and seriously harming regional peace and stability,” the ministry said.

“China’s military is resolutely opposed to this,” it said. The Chinese armed forces will continue to take all necessary steps to protect the country’s sovereignty and security, the ministry said.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement it strongly urged the United States to stop such “provocative” actions and to “immediately correct its mistakes”.

For its part, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said Tuesday that the Chinese destroyer came aggressively close to a U.S. Navy ship in the South China Sea, forcing it to maneuver to prevent a collision, describing an encounter that could worsen tensions between the nations.

The Chinese warship approached the USS Decatur in an “unsafe and unprofessional maneuver” on Sunday near Gaven Reefs in the South China Sea, said U.S. Pacific Fleet Spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman.

The Chinese destroyer “conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for Decatur to depart the area,” Gorman told the Associated Press in an emailed statement.

It approached within 45 yards (41 meters) of the Decatur’s bow, forcing it to maneuver, Gorman said.

The operation also comes as military ties between the two countries have dived, with China also angered by U.S. sanctions on China’s military for buying Russian arms and by U.S. support for self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday he did not see relations between the United States and China worsening, a day after his trip to China was canceled.

Reuters reported on Sunday that China canceled a security meeting with Mattis that had been planned for October. A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mattis was no longer going to China.

China has not yet commented on the matter.

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe is due to visit the United States later this year but China’s Defense Ministry suggested last week that may not happen.

This article is originally published on CNBC

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