Rectangles show disputed areas in South China Sea.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sept. 2 that China is building on another shoal in the South China Sea despite an international court ruling rejecting most of China’s claims in the resource-rich area. The Communist Party dictatorship of President Xi Jinping has been aggressively militarizing parts of the sea.
A U.N.-backed tribunal has ruled in July that China’s claims to almost all of the strategic sea had no legal basis and that its construction of artificial islands in disputed waters was illegal.
Mr. Duterte said he received an “unsettling” intelligence report showing China had sent barges to the contested Scarborough Shoal and had appeared to begin construction in the area for the first time.
China has already built artificial islands in the Spratly chain in the South China Sea. The United States has warned of unspecified “actions” if Beijing extended its military expansion to the Scarborough Shoal.
To read the Straits Times article on this, please hit this link.
Reuters reported that “A senior U.S. soldier said on Sept. 1 that Australia must choose between a stronger U.S. alliance or closer ties with China, and urged Canberra to take a tougher stance against Chinese claims in the South China Sea.
“The Pentagon, however, disputed the statement by U.S. Army Assistant Chief of Staff Colonel Tom Hanson, saying it did not represent the position of the U.S. government.
“I think the Australians need to make a choice … it’s very difficult to walk this fine line between balancing the alliance with the United States and the economic engagement with China,” Colonel Hanson said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. Radio.
“There’s going to have to be a decision as to which one is more of a vital national interest for Australia,” he said, adding that the comments reflected his personal view and were not necessarily that of the U.S. government.
“The idea that Australia, or any country, needs to choose between its longstanding ties to the United States and its emerging links with China presents a false choice,” U.S. Navy Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said. . “Australia has strong, multifaceted ties with its Pacific neighbors, including China, just as we seek the same.”
Colonel Hanson’s comments came after a parliamentary booklet warned Australian lawmakers to treat Chinese motives in Asia-Pacific region with caution as Beijing moves, many observers think, to establish hegemony in the South China Sea
To read the entire article on this, please hit this link.
In a rare show of cooperation between the two superpowers, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted joint operations in the Pacific with its Chinese counterpart this summer, part of annual patrols to deter illegal fishing.
A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said the USCG Mellon “rendezvoused and conducted a professional exchange” with two Chinese Coast Guard ships.
“The exchange focused on professional goodwill between coast guards,” U.S. Coast Guard District 17 spokesman Lt. Brian Dykens said. He added that the U.S. government has a “shiprider agreement” with China in which the U.S. Coast Guard vessel works with one or two Chinese Coast Guard ships.
Earlier this week, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said “cooperation between the two countries’ coast guards has deepened through personnel exchanges and joint operations.”
Xinhua also reported that the China Coast Guard plans to expand patrols in northern parts of the Pacific Ocean and deepen cooperation with the U.S. side.
The U.S., Japan and nations on the South China Sea have sought to counter Beijing’s militarized expansion into the South and East China seas.
To read The Japan Times’s story on this, please hit this link.
Japan’s annual defense review has expressed ”deep concern” over what it sees as China’s ”coercion” and aggressiveness, particularly in the South China Sea.
The review comes amid heightened tension in East and Southeast Asia less than a month after an arbitration court in the Hague invalidated China’s sweeping claims in the disputed South China Sea.
An increasingly aggressive and militaristic China refuses to recognize the ruling.
Japan fears that Chinese military bases being built on shoals and tiny islands in the sea will dangerously expand Beijing’s influence over a region through which $5 trillion in trade passes every year, much of it to and from Japanese ports.
And so, notes Reuters, Japan provides equipment and training to Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines and Vietnam, that “are most opposed to China’s territorial ambitions.”
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China’s increasingly aggressive military is pushing the nation’s also aggressive Communist political leadership to be willing to attack the U.S. and other nations that are pushing back against China’s attempt to take over the South China Sea through military threats. But so far, anyway, the government of President Xi Jinping has shown some wariness of provoking a direct armed clash with the United States.
China has called for a peaceful resolution of South China Sea disputes through talks at the same time as it continued to build up its military in the sea, especially by militarizing reefs and shoals.
To read a Japan Times article on this, please hit this link.