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South China Sea Newsletter

The South China Sea Newsletter: Volume 19 (August 2016)

Compiled by Hao Duy Phan


30 August 2016: Philippines says China must recognize South China Sea ruling

“When we start formal negotiations or bilateral engagements with China, we will have to do it within the context of the arbitral decision. There are no buts or ifs insofar as our policy on this matter is concerned,” Yasay said.


30 August 2016: Vietnam says all will lose in any South China Sea war

“Recent worrying developments have had a negative impact on the security environment of the region, especially maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation and overflight. And should we allow instability to take place, especially in the case of armed conflicts, there will be neither winners or losers but rather all will lose,” the President warned.


29 August 2016: More South China Sea Legal Action Needed, Says Philippines Supreme Court Justice

Caprio said that the Philippines can seek to cancel China’s rights to its seabed if Beijing continues to ignore The Hague’s July ruling.


29 August 2016: Duterte appeals to China’s conscience, asks country to consider plight of fishermen

“If we continue to treat each other like brothers and understand, especially the plight of the fishermen, that’s why they are there because they are poor…The Chinese people this time might find a place in their hearts for Filipinos,” said Duterte.


28 August 2016: Brunei, Vietnam vow to fully, effectively implement DOC on South China Sea

The pledge came as Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah held talks with visiting Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, according to a joint statement issued after the talks.


26 August 2016: Vietnam and China’s coast guards hold first meetings

The coast guards of China and Vietnam held their first working meeting during which they signed a conference summary.


25 August 2016: Vietnam seeks help to ease S. China Sea tensions

France should help to keep the peace in the South China Sea, Vietnam’s President said.


24 August 2016: China hopes for early talks with Philippines

China said it expects to hold talks with the Philippines at an early date, after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said that discussions might happen “within the year.”


24 August 2016: Duterte warns China over South China Sea dispute

“I am sure and I guarantee to them that if they invade us, it will be bloody,” he added.


24 August 2016: Chinese rescue drill conducted in South China Sea

China’s Ministry of Transport has conducted a rescue drill in the waters off Hainan.


22 August 2016: Russia-China South China Sea drills to be held on September 12-19

Russia and China have agreed to hold their planned joint drills, Vladimir Matveyev, a spokesman for the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet said.


22 August 2016: Vietnam Extends Exploration of Block 127 in South China Sea to India’s OVL

State-run ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) will continue exploration in its South China Sea hydrocarbon block awarded by the Vietnam government, after it got a fresh extension.


21 August 2016: President Duterte: No War With China Over South China Sea Conflict

“We maintain good relations with China. Let us create an environment where we sit down and talk directly. That is the time we would say we proceed from here,” Duterte said.


18 August 2016: ‘False’ Report on Vietnam Rocket Launchers Sparked Chaos in South China Sea

Vietnam again refuted a Reuters report that it allegedly deployed rocket launchers to bases in the Spratly islands — allegations that led Beijing to remind Hanoi about previous wars.


18 August 2016: Philippines Gets Japanese Coast Guard Vessel To Counter Beijing In South China Sea

This is the first of 10 Philippine coast guard ships being built in Japan, supported by Japanese aid money,.


17 August 2016: China Readies First Indigenous Aircraft Carrier and a Fleet of Destroyers

An Airbus Defense and Space satellite captured footage of extensive production activity on China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warships at Dalian Shipyard.


16 August 2016: Taiwanese minister visits Taiping to assert claim over disputed South China Sea outpost

The trip by Interior Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong comes a month after an international tribunal ruled that no land formations in the disputed waters, including Taiping, could be considered islands.


13 August 2016: China to Deploy Lethal Fleet of ‘Carrier Killer’ Ballistic Missile Destroyers

Beijing recently produced its eleventh “carrier killer” destroyer and is set to deploy a fleet of the fearsome battleships to the South China Sea in an attempt to ward off American naval forces.


12 August 2016: Manila and Beijing agree to initiate talks over South China Sea dispute, but give no timeframe

Following their meeting, Ramos and Fu issued a joint statement saying their “informal discussions focused on the need to engage in further talks to build trust and confidence to reduce tensions to pave the way for overall cooperation”.


12 August 2016: China-Philippines fishing deal ‘may help calm troubled South China Sea waters’

Beijing and Manila could explore ways to open the Scarborough Shoal to fishermen from both countries and jointly develop fish farms in the disputed waters, according to the head of a government-affiliated think tank after talks with former Philippine president Fidel Ramos.


12 August 2016: Philippines wants to begin South China Sea formal talks with China soon, says Duterte’s envoy Ramos

Mr Ramos “expressed the Philippine government’s desire to hold formal discussions with the Chinese government on issues of mutual concern and interest at the appropriate time to explore pathways to peace and cooperation”, the statement said.


12 August 2016: China is building hangars for jets on South China Sea islands

China has been spotted via satellite building dozens of hardened structures atop some of their new, man-made islands in the South China Sea.


11 August 2016: PHL can file new arbitral case vs. China for damages, Carpio says

“We can file a new case to quantify the damages that we are entitled. We can still do that. That has not been resolved because we did not pray for it, but we can still file a new case,” Carpio added.


11 August 2016: China open to contact with Philippines: Chinese FM

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Ramos would have private communications with his old Chinese friends during his stay in Hong Kong.


10 August 2016: China launches a satellite for South China Sea to monitor its maritime rights

Gaofen-3, China’s first SAR imaging satellite, will be used for disaster warning, weather forecasting, water resource assessments, and the protection of maritime rights, said state-run news agency Xinhua.


10 August 2016: Vietnam moves new rocket launchers into disputed S.China Sea

Diplomats and military officers told Reuters that intelligence shows Hanoi has shipped the launchers from the Vietnamese mainland into position on five bases in the Spratly islands in recent months.

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said the information was “inaccurate”, without elaborating. Military analysts say it is the most significant defensive move Vietnam has made on its holdings in the South China Sea in decades.


7 August 2016: Beijing Flies Bombers over Disputed South China Sea

China’s air force said that several of its aircraft, including H-6K bombers and Su-30 fighter jets, had completed a patrol of airspace above two land formations in the South China Sea—the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal—where Beijing’s claims overlap with Manila’s.


4 August 2016: Chinese hackers are attacking organisations involved in the South China Sea dispute

Targets included, F-Secure says, the Department of Justice of the Philippines, the organisers of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, and an international law firm that represents one of the Parties involved.


4 August 2016: Vietnamese Fishing Association Dismisses China’s Threat to Jail Fishermen

“Those statements that ban fishing activities within their nine-dash line are illegitimate, and nobody should acknowledge them.”


3 August 2016: China Opens New Port in Hainan as Annual Fishing Ban Ends in South China Sea

A ceremony was held for the opening of the port at Yazhou, some 50 kilometers west of Sanya in Hainan Province, which also coincides with the culmination of the annual fishing ban that started May 16, in the South China Sea.


3 August 2016: China launches website to highlight its case on South China Sea

Run by China’s National Marine Data & Information Service, the Chinese language website site has 10 sections that cover basic information, news, historical archives, development and management, expert opinion, law and regulations, a timeline of major events, pictures and videos and Q&A.


2 August 2016: China must prepare for ‘people’s war at sea’: Minister

China’s Defence Minister has urged preparations for a “people’s war at sea” to counter offshore security threats and safeguard sovereignty.


2 August 2016: China court warns against illegal fishing in riposte to South China Sea ruling

On Tuesday, the Chinese Supreme People’s Court issued a regulation on judicial interpretation saying there was a “clear legal basis for China to safeguard maritime order, marine safety and interests, and to exercise integrated management over the country’s jurisdictional seas.”


1 August 2016: China Restates Sovereignty Claims Amid S. China Sea Tensions

Defense minister Chang Wanquan told a reception on Sunday that China would firmly safeguard its “state sovereignty, national security and development interests.” However, Chang also said China’s military is “destined not to fear war, but will definitely cherish peace.” China has not fought in a major confrontation since its 1979 invasion of Vietnam that ended in a stalemate.



31 August 2016: ‘Philippines no longer needs Asean unified statement’

“If you ask the Philippines, we already have the arbitral ruling. We have legal foundation. The Philippines is not concerned with a united ASEAN statement but you have to live up to the founding principles of ASEAN,” Yasay said.


26 August 2016: RI to push for closer ties in maritime security

“We will emphasize the importance of maritime cooperation at the summit, especially the
implementation of the EAS [East Asia Summit] statement initiated by Indonesia,” said Derry Aman.


24 August 2016: China Welcomes Philippine Decision Not to Raise S China Sea Dispute in Laos

China appreciates the recent decision made by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte not to raise the South China Sea dispute at the upcoming East Asia Summit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.


24 August 2016: Don’t Mention South China Sea, Cambodian National Assembly Tells Asean

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap confirmed on Tuesday that the National Assembly will ask the head of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) to strike a paragraph referring to the conflict from a statement the organization plans to issue at the end of a September meeting in Vientiane.


22 August 2016: Indonesia to resolve South China Sea dispute peacefully

“Indonesia continues to be actively involved in conflict resolution in the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations after,” President Joko Widodo said.


22 August 2016: Singapore must choose its own place to stand on South China Sea issue, says PM Lee

Mr Lee laid out Singapore’s interest in and stand on the issue, saying that while the country does not have any claims of its own in the South China Sea, and does not take sides on the specific claims of claimants, Singapore still has a lot at stake in three areas: International law, freedom of navigation and unity in ASEAN. “If rules do not matter, then small countries like Singapore have no chance of survival,” Mr Lee said.


19 August 2016: Indonesia pushes for finalization of South China Sea code of conduct

Indonesia continues to push for the finalization of the code of conduct (COC) in the disputed South China Sea amid rising tensions in the disputed waters, an official said on Thursday.


18 August 2016: In bid to defend sovereignty, Indonesia plans to change name of South China Sea to Natuna Sea

The plan would involve renaming the sea surrounding the Natuna Islands, which lie to the northwest of the Indonesian part of Borneo, within their 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.


17 August 2016: China, ASEAN aim to complete framework of South China Sea rules next year

Meeting in northeastern China, the two sides agreed to get the framework for the code of conduct done by mid-2017, and also approved guidelines for a China-ASEAN hotline for use during maritime emergencies, the official China Daily said.


16 August 2016: Chinese diplomat tells Singapore to stay out of South China Sea disputes

“As Singapore is not a claimant in the South China Sea, we hope that the Singapore government, on the condition of not interfering in South China Sea issues, will actively promote cooperation between China and Asean,” Liu said.


16 August 2016: Indonesia actively involved in resolving South China Sea disputes: President

“Indonesia continues to be actively involved in conflict resolution in the South China Sea through peaceful negotiations after,” Widodo said, referring directly to the ruling.


7 August 2016: Beijing to S’pore: Respect China’s position on South China Sea issue

“China hopes that Singapore… can maintain an objective and fair position as the coordinator of China and ASEAN dialogue relations, so as to advance Sino-Singapore relations and promote healthy and stable China-ASEAN ties”, she said.


2 August 2016: Jokowi raises South China Sea issue in talks with Najib

“The South China Sea issue was also discussed by President Jokowi and Prime Minister Najib in the annual consultative meeting,” Retno said.


1 August 2016: China appreciates Cambodia’s support on S. China Sea

China highly appreciates Cambodia’s firm support on the South China Sea and Taiwan issues, vice Premier Liu Yandong said while meeting with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng Sunday.



31 August 2016: Kerry says no military solution to South China Sea dispute

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on China and the Philippines to abide by an international tribunal’s decision and said there was no military solution to the problem.


31 August 2016: South China Sea dispute: China can learn from India, John Kerry hints

“India’s decision to accept an international tribunal judgment regarding its maritime border with Bangladesh actually stands apart. This is the model to help potentially dangerous disputes in different danger spots…these can be resolved peacefully including (the) South China Sea (dispute),” Kerry said.


31 August 2016: Respect International Law, Say India And US

In a joint statement issued following the Second India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, the two sides “stressed the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight, and unimpeded lawful commerce throughout the region, including in the South China Sea”.”They (India and the US) urged the utmost respect for international law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos),” the statement said.


21 August 2016: China called SDF dispatch to South China Sea ‘red line,’ hinted at military action if sent

According to the sources, Cheng told the high-level official in Tokyo that Japan should not take part in a “joint military action with U.S. forces that is aimed at excluding China in the South China Sea.” He also said China “will not concede on sovereignty issues and is not afraid of military provocations.”


12 August 2016: India has to decide its stand on South China Sea: Wang Yi

“It is up to India what position it has to take,” Wang said in response to a question whether he is in India to seek its support on the South China Sea dispute.


12 August 2016: Japan in talks to provide Philippines with two coast guard ships to patrol South China Sea

Japan is said to be in a dialogue with the Philippines to provide Manila with two large coastguard ships to patrol the South China Sea. An official from Japan’s foreign ministry has said this transfer is part of a bilateral deal on defence equipment.


11 August 2016: US says it’s aware of reports Vietnam fortified South China Sea islands

State Department Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said at a news briefing that the United States is aware of the reports and added: “We continue to call on all South China Sea claimants to avoid actions that build tensions, take practical steps to build confidence and intensify efforts that find peaceful, diplomatic solutions to dispute.”


9 August 2016: U.S. says more military transparency needed in South China Sea

The response from Beijing and others to an arbitration panel’s ruling invalidating China’s vast South China Sea maritime claims has brought no surprises, but much more military transparency is needed to reduce tensions in the region, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet said.



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