Saturday, August 1, 2015

• China Blames U.S. Military Actions for Tensions in the South China Sea - By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZJULY


By JAVIER C. HERNÁNDEZJULY
Adm. Scott H. Swift, left, commander of the United States Pacific Fleet, during a seven-hour surveillance flight over the South China Sea in July. CreditTyler R. Fraser/Reuters


HONG KONG — A top Chinese official said Thursday that American military drills and surveillance flights in the South China Sea were threatening regional stability, a harsh assessment that seemed likely to heighten tensions between the two countries before several crucial meetings.

The official, Col. Yang Yujun, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said it was the United States, not China, that was to blame forrising tensions in the resource-rich South China Sea, where China and several other countries are engaged in territorial disputes.

“The Chinese side expresses its deep concern about the United States pushing the militarization,” Colonel Yang said at a news conference in Beijing. “The behavior by the United States can only lead one to suspect whether the American side is driven by a desire to see the world in turmoil.”

The dispute over the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest trade routes, has emerged as a serious point of contention between China and the United States. 


OPEN INTERACTIVE FEATURE

It is likely to be high on the agenda when President Xi Jinping visits the United States to meet with President Obama in September, and when Secretary of State John Kerry goes to Malaysia next week for a meeting of Asian nations.

China has argued that it is entitled to 90 percent of the sea, putting it at odds with several nearby countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam. In recent months, it has accelerated its efforts to build artificial islands hundreds of miles off its shore, capable of holding runways, radar and missile systems. China maintains that the islands will primarily be used for rescue operations and scientific research.

While the United States has not taken a formal position on the territorial disputes, it has called on China to resolve the disagreements in international courts, an idea that Beijing has resisted. American officials have also worked to deepen military ties in the region, for example, byparticipating in joint military exercises with the Philippines, as well as air and sea surveillance operations.

In his remarks on Thursday, Colonel Yang took aim at those efforts, pointing to a recent seven-hour surveillance flight over the South China Sea by the commander of the United States Pacific Fleet, Adm. Scott H. Swift. Colonel Yang warned that the United States should maintain a “safe distance to avoid unexpected incidents.”

In an aside, he added, “If there are American people willing to board civilian vessels to enjoy the beautiful scenery of China’s South China Sea, we can express our welcome.”

Colonel Yang also criticized recent comments by Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander of the United States Pacific Command. At a panel discussion in Colorado this month, Admiral Harris accused China of pursuing military objectives in the South China Sea and causing damage to the ocean environment.

The Defense Department took issue with Mr. Yang, arguing that the United States had contributed to economic prosperity in the region.

“We have helped to sustain a rules-based maritime regime that safeguards for all nations the freedoms of navigation and overflight and other related lawful uses of the sea,” Cmdr. William Urban, a spokesman for the Defense Department, said in a statement.

Bonnie S. Glaser, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the Chinese seemed eager to gain the upper hand in the debate by criticizing the United States in the same manner that Americans had criticized China recently.

“The region is on edge,” Ms. Glaser said. “China is under a microscope, and I don’t think the Chinese really have an effective strategy for reassuring the region.”


China Accuses US of Militarizing South China Sea
http://www.voanews.com/content/china-accuses-us-of-militarizing-south-china-sea/2886799.html

 
FILE - Philippine and U.S. troops prepare for a combined assault exercise at a beach facing one of the contested islands in the South China Sea known as the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, April 21, 2015.
VOA News - Last updated on: July 30, 2015 11:12 AM

China's Defense Ministry Thursday accused the United States of "militarizing" the South China Sea by staging patrols and joint military drills there, leading to raised tensions in the disputed region.

China Defense spokesman Yang Yujun said Beijing has been angered by U.S. Navy and Air Force forays through waters it claims as its own, strengthened military alliances with the Philippines and others, and frequent military exercises in the region.

Yang said the actions are creating risks of incidents in the air and at sea.

​"The Chinese side expresses its serious concern over U.S. activities to militarize the South China Sea region," he said. "Such actions taken by the U.S. side would inevitably arouse suspicion from others that, does the U.S. want nothing better than chaos in the region?"




Yang's remarks were prompted by comments made last week by Admiral Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, who criticized Chinese island-building in the disputed waters.

In the past year, China has stepped up its creation of artificial islands in the South China Sea, alarming neighbors and provoking U.S. criticism.

Security leaders
Harris, speaking at a Colorado gathering of U.S. national security leaders hosted by the Aspen Instititue, warned China that its aggressive build-up could undermine international norms that have long supported the global economy and political order.

More than $5.3 trillion in global sea-based trade relies on unimpeded sea lanes through the South China Sea, Harris said. That is made possible through regional partners' recognition of international law and protection of freedom of navigation, he said.

Harris also argued the newly created islands are clearly intended for China’s military use, possibly as forward operating bases.

Speaking at a monthly news conference, Yang said China rejected the claims and accused the U.S. of ulterior motives.

"The U.S. side disregards and distorts the facts and plays up China's military threat to sow discord between China and the littoral states in the South China Sea. We firmly oppose such actions," Yang said.

 

FILE - Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this video image taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the U.S. Navy, May 21, 2015.

Earlier this month, Chinese military officials also issued a warning to the U.S. over reconnaissance flights being carried out in the region after Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said he had participated in one.

Swift said at the time the flight allowed him to see "first-hand" new operational capabilities in the fleet, although he gave no specifics of the flight.

Disputed waters
China and five other claimants – Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines – have competing claims to all or parts of the South China Sea, home to rich fishing grounds, potentially significant mineral reserves and some of the world's most crucial shipping lanes.

Harris said the amount of land reclaimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan over the past 45 years totaled a mere 40 hectares (100 acres), a fraction of the more than 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) reclaimed by China in the last 18 months alone.

“The South China Sea is front and center in the tug-of-war between the majority of regional nations that want to maintain the status quo and China that wants to change it to suit its narrow self-interest,” he said at the security panel discussion July 24.
 
Protesters carry a boat painted with slogans during a rally outside the Chinese Consulate in Makati city, east of Manila, Philippines, to protest China's reclamations of disputed islands off South China Sea, July 3, 2015.

​Washington has demanded China halt land reclamation and militarization of the disputed area and to pursue a peaceful resolution with other regional claimants according to international law. Beijing has said the outposts will have undefined military purposes, as well as help with maritime search and rescue, disaster relief and navigation.

The South China Sea is likely to feature prominently at next week's security meeting in Malaysia, attended by Southeast Asia and Chinese foreign ministers and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

On Thursday, Philippine military head General Hernando Iriberri told journalists in Manila it was investigating reports China had reclaimed three more reefs in the South China Sea as well as activities in Scarborough Shoal. 


http://news.yahoo.com/china-says-u-militarizing-south-china-sea-102020626.html

July 30, 2015

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Defence Ministry on Thursday accused the United States of "militarizing" the South China Sea by staging patrols and joint military drills there, ramping up the rhetoric ahead of a key regional security meeting in Malaysia next week.

China has repeatedly urged Washington not to take sides in the escalating maritime dispute over the area, where the Asian giant last year stepped up its creation of artificial islands, alarming neighbors and provoking U.S. criticism.

Washington has demanded China halt land reclamation and militarization of the disputed area and pursue a peaceful resolution according to international law.

China has been angered by U.S. navy and air force forays through waters it claims as its own, especially this month, when U.S. Navy Admiral Scott Swift said he joined a routine surveillance flight.

The United States has also stepped up military contacts, including drills, with regional allies such as the Philippines, which also has claims in the South China Sea.

The United States was hyping up the "China threat" and attempting to sow discord between China and other claimant countries, Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a news briefing.
 

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed …


"China is extremely concerned at the United States' pushing of the militarization of the South China Sea region," he said.

"What they are doing can't help but make people wonder whether they want nothing better than chaos."

For a long time, the United States had carried out frequent, widespread, close-in surveillance of China, by sending ships and aircraft to the region, he added.

"Recently they have further increased military alliances and their military presence, frequently holding joint drills."

But if certain U.S. officials wanted to take civilian flights over the South China Sea to "enjoy its beauty", China had no problem with that, he said.
 

Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spr …


China's own drills there were a normal part of its routine military exercises and not aimed at any third party, Yang said.

But he expressed concern at reports that Filipino fishermen had found buoys with Chinese markings near the disputed Scarborough Shoal and towed them back to shore northwest of Manila.

"If these reports are correct, then certain people have elbowed their way into somebody else's home, and taken others' possessions."

On Thursday, the head of Philippine military, General Hernando Iriberri, told journalists in Manila it was investigating reports China had reclaimed three more reefs in the South China Sea as well as activities in Scarborough Shoal.

The South China Sea is likely to feature prominently at next week's security meeting in Malaysia, attended by Southeast Asia and Chinese foreign ministers and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, but Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and others have overlapping claims.

Related Stories
China accuses US of 'militarizing' South China Sea Associated Press
U.S. Admiral says his South China Sea surveillance flight 'routine' Reuters
China urges Philippines to ditch its South China Sea case Associated Press
China in the South China Sea: Has Beijing overstepped the mark? Christian Science Monitor
China says U.S. trying to influence Philippines' sea case Reuters

 

 


China Holding Military Exercises in South China Sea
http://learningenglish.voanews.com/content/china-holding-military-exercises-in-south-china-sea/2887113.html
 

In this file photo, a Chinese warship launches a missile during a live-ammunition military drill held last year in the South China Sea.

China held a military exercise in the South China Seathis week and will hold another on Saturday. One of theexercises on Tuesday was said to have involved morethan 100 ships, including some with nuclear devices.

Chinese state media reported that many ships took partin the “live-fire” exercises on Tuesday. They reportedthat many aircraft and “several missile launchbattalions” with an “unknown number of information-warfare troops” also took part.

China’s defense ministry began warning shippingcompanies and countries in the area about the militaryexercises 10 days ago. It said the training would takeplace southeast of Hainan Island, close to the ParacelIslands -- which Vietnam claims -- and north of theSpratly Islands.

Philippines Armed Forces spokesman Restituto Padillasays countries have the right to hold military exercisesin international waters. He says the Philippine militarydoes not object to the Chinese exercises. But he saidChina should communicate better with the militaries ofother countries in the area about such exercises.

Philippine Defense spokesman Peter Paul Galvez toldVOA in a text message that his country wasconcerned about the “lack of transparency andsincerity” on China’s part.

Mr. Galvez noted China’s recent build-up of sevenman-made islands in the disputed waters around the Spratly Islands. Theislands were once coral reefs. The Philippines claims six of the islands.Security experts say at least one of the developed reefs is big enough to beused by military airplanes and ships. American officials are concerned aboutthe island-building and have called for it to stop.

Mr. Galvez says China is acting without concern for the effect of its actionson its neighbors.

China claims nearly all of the 3.5-million square kilometer South China Sea. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim territory in the Sea, which is said to be rich in natural resources such as oil and naturalgas. Ships passing through the Sea carry trillions of dollars in products everyyear.

Sam Bateman is an advisor for the Maritime Security Studies program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. He says the factthat the exercises only lasted a day likely means the Chinese military did not go very far in the disputed waters. He says there is a “security dilemma”playing out in the South China Sea. He says one player was the United StatesNavy.

“We’ve had the issue of the USN (U.S. Navy) had recent exercises in theSouth China Sea with the Philippines and, of course, you know, they can beprovocative towards China and likely could well provoke this sort of responsefrom China having its own exercises.”

U.S. and international security experts have expressed concerns aboutChina’s actions in the South China Sea. They think China may soon establishan air defense identification area over some of the disputed waters. Thiswould permit China to demand that aircraft from other nations identifythemselves and would strengthen China’s claims to territory in the area. Chinacreated an air defense identification area over the East China Sea in 2013. The United States does not recognize the identification area. And it haswarned China not to try to establish such an area in the South China Sea.

A spokesman for China’s defense ministry said the military exercises thisweek are part of a long-term training program. He said they should not beconsidered anything more than that.

Without naming the United States, the spokesman said “some powerfulcountries outside the region lured” other countries into holding recentexercises with “China as the imaginary enemy.”

China has announced it will hold another military exercise on Saturday, in anarea east of Hainan Island.

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