The South China Sea Newsletter: Volume 5; June 2015
Hao Duy Phan
ACTS OF CLAIMANTS
29 June 2015: China angered by Philippine documentary on South China Sea
“The Philippines is attempting to mislead and deceive, gain sympathy by cheating and create the illusion of the ‘victim,'” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement on the ministry’s website. He accused the Philippines of aiming to incite the people of the two countries.
27 June 2015: China says changing position on sea dispute would shame ancestors
Wang said China could not face its children and grandchildren if “the gradual and incremental invasion of China’s sovereignty and encroachment on China’s interests” was allowed to continue.
26 June 2015: China Sends Oil Rig near Vietnam Again
Chinese Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) said that China’s Haiyang Shiyou 981 (HD-981) oil rig was being moved to waters where China and Vietnam’s EEZs overlap. The platform is now located 17°03’75’’ North latitude and 109°59’05’’ East longitude. MSA warned that all ships must stay 2,000 meters away from the rig. The HD-981 will explore for oil and gas between now and August 20.
26 June 2015: Philippine officials say China island-building in South China Sea in full swing
Philippine officials say China has continued with its major island-making work in at least two reefs in the South China Sea, casting doubt on a Chinese pronouncement that some of its massive construction in seven sites there would end soon.
25 June 2015: China warns the Philippines about ‘roping in countries from outside to get involved in the South China Sea
“Certain countries are roping in countries from outside the region to get involved in the South China Sea issue, putting on a big show of force, deliberately exaggerating the tense atmosphere in the region,” Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a monthly news briefing.
25 June 2015: China Sea Strategy Boosts Military Use of Civilian Ships
Beijing has already expanded its civilian coast guard fleet into the largest in the world, using the unarmed ships to help shore up its claims in disputed waters, according to a U.S. naval intelligence report published earlier this year.
24 June 2015: Beijing tells Manila, Tokyo not to stoke tensions in South China Sea
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang made the remarks when asked to comment on the ongoing naval exercises between the two countries.
24 June 2015: Philippine fishermen petition UN for action against China’s aggression in South China Sea
Pasilbon is one of the 38 fishermen who have filed an urgent appeal to the UN over the alleged violation of human rights, which, they claimed, arose from China’s presence in the disputed waters.
23 June 2015: China gives more details on South China Sea facilities
The Chinese government rolled out more details of the building work it is undertaking in the disputed South China Sea, listing lighthouses, communications stations and other facilities for civilian and emergency use.
22 June 2015: Philippines steps up drills with U.S., Japan forces near South China Sea
The Philippines holds separate naval exercises with U.S. and Japanese forces on a Philippine island that is not far from the disputed Spratly archipelago.
20 June 2015: China’s intrusion into Malaysia more extensive than reported
China’s intrusion into Malaysian waters may have been more extensive than Kuala Lumpur has acknowledged, new surveillance photos have shown.
19 June 2015: China says island-building ecologically benign
China’s construction on disputed reefs in the South China Sea will not destroy ocean ecology, the country’s maritime regulator said, in the face of complaints from the Philippines that the work is damaging coral in the area.
19 June 2015: Satellite Images Show Pace of China’s Subi Reef Reclamation
China has expanded its land fill of Subi Reef by 74 percent in less than two months, adding an average of eight acres of surface per day on that reef alone.Mischief Reef, larger than Subi, is now more than half filled in.
19 June 2015: Fewer Filipinos back gov’t moves in South China Sea
49% of respondents said they approve of the Philippine government’s “actions regarding the tension” in Panatag. The SWS survey shows a significant decline from previous ratings.
19 June 2015: PLA recalls retired NCOs for S China Sea contingency
Sources said that the primary reason the PLA Navy recalled the officers is to prepare for a conflict with the United States and other claimants of the Spratly islands.
17 June 2015: China has released more details on what it’s building in the South China Sea
The country’s top planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said in a short statement it had drawn up a plan for the use of civil facilities on the Spratly Islands.
17 June 2015: Vietnamese fisherman accuse China of attacking them in South China Sea
A Vietnamese official has accused China of attacking its fishermen three times in the past week in the disputed South China Sea.
17 June 2015:China to start construction on reclaimed land in South China Sea
China will now start to build facilities on the land, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said. “Apart from satisfying the need of necessary military defense, the main purpose of China’s construction activities is to meet various civilian demands and … better perform China’s international obligations and responsibilities,” he said.
17 June 2015: China to end reclamation, start building structures
In a sign that developments were far from over, a statement posted to the ministry’s website said China would follow up by building infrastructure to carry out functions ranging from maritime search and rescue to environmental conservation and scientific research.
16 June 2015: South China Sea Clash Complicates Vietnam-China Meeting
Media reports of violence used against Vietnamese fishermen come just before a major bilateral meeting in Beijing between Pham Binh Minh, Vietnam’s deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister and Yang Jiechi, China’s State Councilor.
15 June 2015:Philippines to present China sea case at Hague next month
“Right now we are preparing for the oral arguments in The Hague on July 7 to 13. Our team from Manila and from the United States will be flying there,” Jose told reporters in the Philippine capital.
15 June 2015:Vietnam, Chinese Boats Clash Near Disputed South China Sea Isles
Chinese vessels damaged a Vietnamese fishing boat with water cannons on June 7 and three days later a Vietnamese fishing boat was attacked and robbed of equipment and its catch, Thanh Nien newspaper reported Sunday. The clashes follow other recent incidents, with a Chinese marine police boat reportedly spraying water cannons at a Vietnamese fishing vessel in late May.
15 June 2015: Maylaysia: Asean does not recognise China’s territorial claims
It is not in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of The Sea 1982, says deputy foreign minister.
13 June 2015: Chinese Envoy Rebuts Philippine Accusations over South China Sea
Wang Min says the annual meeting of the convention state parties is not the right place to discuss these issues. “I want to give this state party a warning. You made a mistake and did a bad calculation. The will of the Chinese government to protect its national sovereignty and territorial integrity is as solid as a rock. You won’t get what you want no matter how eagerly you make your voice heard either at this meeting or at the United Nations.”
12 June 2015: Philippines broadcasts program about South China Sea territorial disputes
The 22-minute video, which was also posted on government websites, focuses on the economic impact of China’s actions, including its 2012 seizure of a disputed shoal where Chinese coast guard ships have chased away Filipino fishermen.
12 June 2015: Chinese island-maker seeks foreign flotation
CCCC has not said why it is seeking a listing but the move appears to be aimed at raising private capital to fund China’s strategic capabilities, and possibly to expand Tianjin’s dredger fleet, according to analysts.
11 June 2015: Malaysia urged to toughen stance over China vessels in disputed sea
Malaysian lawmakers have urged the country to toughen its stance against China following reports of the continued presence of Chinese Coast guard vessels in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
11 June 2015: Philippines and China in a ‘video war’ over South China Sea
The Philippines will broadcast a three-part documentary to defend its position on the disputed South China Sea on Friday, countering a Chinese television series that laid out Beijing’s so-called nine-dash line claims.
9 June 2015: Malaysia lodges complaint over Chinese sea intrusion
“This is not an area with overlapping claims. In this case, we’re taking diplomatic action,” National Security Minister Shahidan Kassim said, adding that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will take the issue up directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
9 June 2015: Malaysia Responds to China’s South China Sea Intrusion
Shahidan Kassim, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, told a press conference that he had held meetings with the country’s foreign ministry, national security council, navy and coast guard on the issue. He also announced that Malaysia had sent its navy and coast guard to monitor the area “to ensure the sovereignty of the country.”
6 June 2015: Taiwan coast guard launches new ships as South China Sea tensions rise
Taiwan’s coast guard on Saturday commissioned its biggest ships for duty in the form of two 3,000-ton patrol vessels, as the island boosts defenses amid concerns about China’s growing footprint in the disputed South China Sea.
6 June 2015: Chinese ambassador to the US talks to CNN about S China Sea
The Chinese envoy reiterated China’s position that its activities in the South China Sea are fully within the scope of its sovereignty and are mainly for civilian purposes, adding that the facilities being built “will mainly help ships of China and other countries.”
6 June 2015: Philippine media accuse president of playing with fire over S China Sea
The Manila Times, a leading daily in the Philippines, said that by announcing the inclusion of the disputed territories issue in his Japan state visit agenda, Aquino is again stirring the pot, adding that “the apparent agitation seems unnecessary and it is unclear what national interest it hopes to serve.”
6 June 2015: Taiwan committed to peaceful cooperation in South China Sea
President Ma Ying-jeou proposed the South China Sea Peace Initiative to reduce tensions by calling on claimants to resolve their differences in a peaceful manner to enable negotiations on sharing resources
5 June 2015:Vietnam sends message to China with bid to buy fighter jets and drones
Vietnam is seeking to upgrade its air defences by acquiring western fighter jets and drones, a move which would further militarise a dispute with Beijing over territorial claims in the South China Sea.
5 June 2015:China says Vietnam cruise to South China Sea interferes with sovereignty
China said that Vietnam’s offer to its citizens of a cruise to disputed South China Sea islands is an “interference” in China’s sovereignty.
5 June 2015: Vietnam launches ‘sovereignty’ cruise to South China Sea islands
Vietnam is offering scores of patriotic citizens the holiday of a lifetime with a cruise to some of Asia’s most hotly contested islands, in a move likely to stoke its simmering dispute with Beijing over South China Sea sovereignty.
4 June 2015: China defends projects in PoK, justifies its objections in South China Sea
China is opposed to India’s oil exploration in the South China Sea because it is a disputed area, but regards its ambitious $46 billion economic corridor through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir a “livelihood project” with issues left over from history.
3 June 2015: In Japan, Aquino reiterates call for peace in South China Sea
In his address in Tokyo, Aquino said the Obama administration’s Asia rebalancing program “becomes a factor that has to be contented with, with those who would perhaps push the envelopes as what the agreements entitle them to or not.”
3 June 2015: Philippine President Slams Beijing for Acting like Nazis in the South China Sea
“I’m an amateur student of history and I’m reminded of… how Germany was testing the waters and what the response was by various other European powers,” said Aquino, in an apparent reference to the Nazis’ territorial conquests in Europe during the run up to World War II.
3 June 2015: Beijing Insists on Legitimacy of Its Actions in South China Sea
“What [international] law forbids China to conduct reasonable construction on its own islands and reefs?” Foreign Ministry representative Hua Chunying asked.
1 June 2015: China: Island building in South China Sea ‘justified’
“I want to reaffirm that this construction is well within the scope of China’s sovereignty and it is justified, legitimate and reasonable,” said Sun, the deputy chief of General Staff Department of the People’s Liberation Army.
1 June 2015: South China Sea ADIZ Depend on security threats, Says Beijing
He also said that China may set up an ADIZ, or air defense identification zone, in the disputed region. “Whether we will establish an ADIZ in the South China Sea will depend on whether our maritime security will be threatened,” he said.
ASEAN AND SOUTH CHINA SEA
29 June 2015: RI vows to work for peace and stability in SCS
“Through a military approach, we will never have any solution to the South China Sea issue. The rule of law must be upheld. We all agree to the UNCLOS. All these disputes must be solved through peaceful negotiations based on the UNCLOS,” Susi said.
1 June 2015: Break the vicious cycle, Singapore PM Lee Hsien tells South China Sea rivals
Singapore’s prime minister called on countries on Friday to break the “vicious cycle” of the South China Sea row, as the United States and China exchanged increasingly angry barbs over reclaimed islands in the disputed waterway.
MAJOR POWERS AND SOUTH CHINA SEA
29 June 2015: Australia ‘deplores’ unilateral action in South China Sea: Tony Abbott
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has delivered a blunt warning to China that Australia “deplores” any unilateral action that would alter the status quo in the South China Sea, a clear reference to China’s ambitious reclamation and island-building projects that are designed to position its military hardware in the disputed Spratly Islands chain.
26 June 2015: U.S. compares China’s South China Sea moves to Russia’s in Ukraine
“In both eastern Ukraine and the South China Sea, we’re witnessing efforts to unilaterally and coercively change the status quo — transgressions that the United States and our allies stand united against,” Blinken said in a speech at the Center for a New American Security think tank.
25 June 2015: Japan Says It May Join U.S. in South China Sea Patrols
Japan’s military may join U.S. forces in conducting regular patrols in the South China Sea, according to the nation’s top uniformed officer, underscoring how China’s territorial claims are encouraging Tokyo to play a greater role in regional security.
25 June 2015: Obama calls on China to take ‘concrete steps’ to ease tensions
During a closed-door meeting at the White House on Wednesday, Obama urged a Chinese delegation to take “concrete steps” to ease tensions over alleged cyber intrusions and maritime disputes in the South China Sea.
24 June 2015: Naval drill in South China Sea may lead to larger role for Japan
Japan and the Philippines flew patrol planes near disputed waters in the South China Sea for a second straight day on Wednesday, defying Chinese warnings.
23 June 2015: China aims to challenge U.S. dominance in air and space
China is mounting a serious effort to challenge U.S. military superiority in air and space, forcing the Pentagon to seek new technologies and systems to stay ahead of its rapidly developing rival, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said.
23 June 2015: China says South China Sea not an issue with US
“We have noticed Assistant Secretary of State Russell’s comments, and we have been stressing to the US side the South China Sea issue is not and should not be an issue between the two countries,” Lu said.
19 June 2015: U.S. Calls China’s South China Sea Building Efforts ‘Troubling’
U.S. finds China’s efforts to build military facilities on reclaimed South China Sea islands “troubling” and plans to raise the issue during annual talks in Washington this month, a top State Department official said.
18 June 2015: Indian Navy in disputed South China Sea as part of operational deploymen
They will be deployed at Malaysia’s port city Kuantan that faces South China sea, for four days, Navy officials said in Delhi. The ships will exercise with Royal Malaysian Naval ships for achieving interoperability in communication and search and rescue procedures.
13 June 2015: Beijing says Tokyo’s activism in South China Sea could harm warming ties
China said Friday that Japanese actions regarding territorial disputes in the South China Sea threaten recent improvements in bilateral relations that soured over tensions linked to their row in the East China Sea.
13 June 2015: China urges US to reduce military moves in South China Sea
China urged the US military to reduce its naval and air activities in the South China Sea while sticking to its stand of not taking sides on the territorial dispute there, in order to maintain peace and stability in the region.
13 June 2015: China to Japan: Stay Out of South China Sea
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei revisited the question of Japan’s involvement in the South China Sea issue, accusing Tokyo of “abnormal” behavior and of having “maliciously created tensions in the South China Sea.” “Japan is not a party concerned to the South China Sea issue,” Hong said, adding that Japan’s interest in the issue “runs counter to the momentum of improving bilateral relations” between China and Japan.
12 June 2015: Pentagon repeats call for China to end island building, seeks more military contact
In reiterating U.S. concerns about tensions in the South China Sea, Carter called on China and all rival claimants to halt land reclamation and militarization of disputed territory, and to pursue a peaceful resolution in accordance with international law, the Pentagon statement said.
11 June 2015: Australia will back US to repudiate China’s acts in the South China Sea
The Australian Coalition government, with the support of the Labor Party opposition, has signalled its backing for the Obama administration and its provocative repudiation of China’s long-standing territorial claims in the South China Sea.
10 June 2015: G7 remarks on East and South China Seas ‘irresponsible:’ China FM
“The remarks of the G7 fall far short of the facts and international justice,” said Hong Lei at a regular press briefing, referring to a declaration released on Monday, after a summit of the G7, which groups the industrialized nations Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States.
9 June 2015: G7 leaders voice strong opposition to South China Sea land reclamation
“We strongly oppose the use of intimidation, coercion or force, as well as any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo, such as large-scale land reclamation,” the G7 leaders said.
8 June 2015: Japan, the Philippines to hold joint maritime drill in South China Sea
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) will dispatch a P- 3C surveillance aircraft to the drill, while the Filipino navy will send a vessel and a plane to the high sea southwest of Manila, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK cited the Japanese Defense Ministry as reporting.
7 June 2015:US calls for Seoul to be more vocal about South China Sea tensions
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said South Korea should speak out against China’s forceful assertion of its territorial claims in the South China Sea as it is a major stakeholder in the international order in which it has thrived.
4 June 2015:Tokyo, Manila boost security ties as China pushes maritime claims
Japan and the Philippines agreed to strengthen security ties and discussed transferring military equipment and technology on Thursday in Tokyo’s latest move to strengthen cooperation with Southeast Asian countries to counter China’s maritime ambitions.
4 June 2015: India, US discuss measures for South China Sea stability amid Chinese aggression
The matter was a key item on the agenda when US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval here. Carter coming to India straight from Vietnam emphasized on the need for stability in the South China Sea as his Indian interlocutors stressed on freedom of navigation and right to oil exploration in the area, diplomatic sources said
2 June 2015: Australia won’t rule out expanded surveillance flights
Defence minister says it is in everyone’s interest to have ‘free and unencumbered transit through international waters, including … the South China Sea’.
1 June 2015: Vietnam, U.S. discuss land reclamation in South China Sea
Carter told a joint news conference with Defense Minister Phung Quang Thanh that he and the general had discussed his proposal for a permanent halt to reclamation and militarization of the islands and that Vietnam was considering the idea.
1 June 2015: Russia Plans South China Sea Naval Exercise With China in 2016
Russia and China intend to hold naval exercises in the South China Sea, according to comments by Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov. The exercises will include Russia’s allies in the Asia-Pacific region, though Antonov did not clarify which countries, beyond China, would participate in the exercises.
1 June 2015:South China Sea dispute: Japan to boost support for ASEAN to thwart China
“In order to ensure the safety of regional waters as a strategic focal point of our sea-lanes, it is with an extreme importance to enhance capabilities for maritime domain awareness and ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) with ASEAN countries,” Mr Nakatani said in a speech Saturday at the Asia Security Summit meeting in Singapore.
1 June 2015: Japan says China, others must behave responsibly on South China Sea
“If we leave any unlawful situation unattended, order will soon turn to disorder, and peace and stability will collapse,” Gen Nakatani said during a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.
1 June 2015: China, U.S. tone down rhetoric but far from South China Sea solution
After a months-long row over Beijing’s island-building in the South China Sea, the United States and China were relatively restrained at Asia’s top security forum this weekend, but no closer to any solution.
1 June 2015: China’s activity in South China Sea ‘beyond anything previously seen’
China’s rapid claim on contested islands in the South China Sea is beyond anything seen previously and raises legitimate questions about Beijing’s intentions in the region, the secretary of the Australian defence department, Dennis Richardson, said.
1 June 2015:Obama Sternly Warns China About South China Sea Expansion
“We’re not parties in the dispute,” he said. “But we do have a stake in making sure that they’re resolved peacefully, diplomatically in accordance with internationally established standards. And for that reason we think that land reclamation, aggressive actions by any party in that area are counterproductive.” He said the U.S. will work with any country willing “to establish and enforce norms and rules that can continue growth and prosperity in the region.”
1 June 2015: Pentagon chief criticizes Beijing’s South China Sea moves
Carter told the room full of Asia-Pacific leaders and experts that the U.S. opposes “any further militarization” of the disputed lands. His remarks were immediately slammed as “groundless and not constructive” by a Chinese military officer in the audience.
1 June 2015: US: China Creates New Facts
“We’ve been flying over the South China Sea for years and years and years, and … will continue to do that: fly, navigate, operate. So that’s not a new fact,” Carter said. “The new facts are the reclamation and the scale on which it is being done, and that’s not an American fact, that’s a Chinese fact,” Carter said.