Vietnam says others should respect its right to drill for South China Sea oil


HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam on Friday said other countries should respect its legitimate right to drill for oil in its waters amid growing tension with China over energy development in the South China Sea.

The drilling began in mid-June in Vietnam’s Block 136/3, which is licensed to Vietnam’s state oil firm, Spain’s Repsol and Mubadala Development Co [MUDEV.UL] of the United Arab Emirates.

The block lies inside the U-shaped “nine-dash line” that marks the vast area that China claims in the sea and overlaps what it says are its own oil concessions.

China on Tuesday urged a halt to the drilling.

“Vietnam’s petroleum-related activities take place in the sea entirely under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of Vietnam established in accordance with international law,” Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement sent to Reuters.

“Vietnam proposes all concerned parties to respect the legitimate rights and interests of Vietnam.”

This week, the BBC reported that Vietnam had halted drilling there after Chinese threats, but there was no independent confirmation and neither Vietnamese officials nor Repsol made any comment on the report.

Thomson Reuters data showed the drilling ship Deepsea Metro I was in the same position on Friday as it had been since drilling began on the block in the middle of June.

China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

Reporting by My Pham; Editing by Nick Macfie

Source: Reuters “Vietnam says others should respect its right to drill for South China Sea oil”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping Popular for Hardline Leadership


Airport on China’s artificial island built on Yongshu Reef (Fiery Cross Reef). Photo from CCTV footage

Chinese media is full of praise of Xi’s hardline leadership in dealing with China’s maritime territorial disputes in East and South China Seas before the 19th CCP (Chinese Communist Party) Congress with major leadership reshuffle because what Xi has done is popular among CCP elite and common members and Chinese people in general.

SCMP says in its report “Xi personally behind island-building in the South China Sea” yesterday:

An editorial on Friday in Study Times – put out by the Central Party School, the Communist Party’s top academy – was the latest to lavish praise on Xi for his tough stance on territorial issues with the country’s Asian neighbours.

“[President Xi] personally steered a series of measures to expand [China’s] strategic advantage and safeguard the national interests,” the article said.

“On the South China Sea issue, [Xi] personally made decisions on building islands and consolidating the reefs, and setting up the city of Sansha. [These decisions] fundamentally changed the strategic situation of the South China Sea,” it said.

Study Times does not do so alone, according to SCMP, on July 27 PLA Daily also praised Xi for doing so. So did State Councillor Yang Jiechi in his article published in another party mouthpiece, Qiushi magazine, in early July.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2104547/xi-personally-behind-island-building-south-china-sea?utm_source=SupChina&utm_campaign=88412c0d6f-20170728-344DeathHollywoodDream&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_caef3ab334-88412c0d6f-164862477.


China Criticizes CIA Director Comments


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang at regular press conference

Foreign Ministry denounces Pompeo for calling Beijing a greater long-term threat than Russia

BY: Bill Gertz July 28, 2017 5:00 am

China on Thursday accused CIA Director Mike Pompeo of disparaging China in remarks describing Beijing as the most significant long-term security threat to the United States.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters in Beijing in response to Pompeo’s interview with the Washington Free Beacon the comments reflected the CIA chief’s Cold War anti-communism.

“If I follow his logic, the conclusion seems to be that the most economically and militarily powerful country will bring the biggest threat to the international community. Is that right?” Kang said when asked about the interview comments.

Kang, following frequent propaganda themes, insisted in a lengthy rejoinder to Pompeo that China will not threaten other states or undermine foreign nations’ interests.

He also repeated frequent assertions that China’s takeover of American high technology companies or cyber attacks aimed at stealing commercial and military secrets pose threats.

The ministry spokesman then warned that China “will not allow other countries to threaten China or undermine China’s interests.”

“So, the key is to look at state-to-state relations from the perspective of building a community of shared future, rather than cling to the mindset of zero-sum game that belongs to the Cold War,” he said.

A CIA spokesman said: “We stand by the comments made by Director Pompeo and [CIA analyst] Mike Collins at the Aspen Security Forum.”

Pompeo said during the interview that China poses a more significant long term security challenge to U.S. interests based on its large economy and growing military power, when compared to Russia and Iran.

“I think China has the capacity to present the greatest rivalry to America of any of those over the medium and long term,” he said, noting China seeks to counter U.S. military power around the world while stealing American know-how.

“So you see that, whether it’s going on in the South China or East China Sea, or the work they’re doing in other parts of the world,” Pompeo said. “If you look at them, they are probably trying either to steal our stuff, or make sure they can defeat it. And most often, both.”

Chinese propagandists such as Kang frequently use the term “Cold War mindset” as code for anti-communism. However, during the Cold War, the United States achieved unprecedented close ties to China’s Communist dictatorship as part of a strategic initiative that sought to cultivate Beijing as hedge against the Soviet Union.

U.S.-China relations, however, have not been reset since the tilt toward Beijing, despite continued threatening behavior from Beijing.

China remains a major proliferator of nuclear and conventional arms technology and goods to rogue states such as Iran and North Korea. China also is trying to covertly take over strategic waterways in the South China Sea and East China Sea contrary to international law.

Kang insisted U.S.-China relations over the past 40 years have showed common interests and cooperation.

“China and the U.S. should follow the consensus reached between the two leaders and pursue the sound and steady development of bilateral ties along the right track in the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation.”

Kang also challenged Pompeo’s claim of sub rosa commercial activities aimed at taking over companies, noting that for nearly four decades “businesses on both sides have been conducting normal commercial activities following the rule of the market.”

“We believe that if it had not been for the interests of the U.S. companies, they would not have bothered to do it,” he said.

On cyber espionage, Kang said China opposes all forms of cyber espionage.

“We would like to work with the international community, including the U.S., to forge a peaceful, secure, open, and cooperative cyber space based on the principle of mutual respect and mutual trust,” he said.

China was blamed by U.S. intelligence officials for what they said was a damaging cyber attack against the Office of Personnel Management, the federal government’s repository of personal information. Some 22 million records were stolen by Chinese hackers and U.S. intelligence believes the data will be used for new and potentially more damaging human and cyber espionage operations.

Collins, the CIA assistant deputy director and head of the CIA’s East Asian Mission Center, said in a speech in Aspen that Chinese cyber theft is continuing.

“We know the Chinese are very active in targeting our government, U.S. industry, and those of our partners through cyber espionage,” said Collins said. “It’s a very real, big problem, and we need to do more about it.”

The Foreign Ministry comments were followed by a report in the hardline Communist Party newspaper Global Times that quoted Chinese government experts who also criticized Pompeo.

“Such voices have existed for long, and in terms of the overall national strength, China is indeed the only country that could compete with the U.S.,” the newspaper quoted Jin Canrong, associate dean of the Department of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, as saying.

“However, China being powerful is one thing, and how China will use that power is another. Different from some Western countries, China is not a country which advocates expansionism,” he said.

Ni Feng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government-controlled think tank, said the CIA chief’s comments reflected the thinking of the U.S. strategic community in viewing China as the most significant threat.

Source: Washington Free Beacon “China Criticizes CIA Director Comments”

Note: This is Washington Free Beacon’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China air force says to continue with flight drills at sea: CCTV


SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The Chinese air force will keep conducting drills at sea regardless of whatever interference it may encounter, China’s state broadcaster reported, following reports that Chinese warplanes flew near Japan and Taiwan in recent days.

“The air force’s distant sea training has become normal, systemic and practical,” China Central Television quoted air force spokesman Shen Jinke late on Thursday as saying.

The operations “have faced and dealt with a variety of forms of interference and obstruction, but no matter the obstruction we will carry on just as in the past,” Shen said.

“No matter who shadows us we will fly often and frequently,” he said, adding that the flights were legal and reasonable.

The air force said on its microblog earlier this month its planes had recently flown through both the Miyako Strait – which lies between two southern Japanese islands – and the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan and the Philippines.

China’s long-range flight drills at sea, which started three years ago, were not targeted at any specific country or region, Shen was quoted as saying.

But the flights have raised concern among China’s neighbors.

On Tuesday, Taiwan’s defense ministry responded to a series of recent flybys by Chinese fighter and reconnaissance aircraft, saying the self-governed island was prepared to defend itself against China.

Beijing claims Taiwan as a part of China and has never ruled out the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, warning that any moves towards formal independence could prompt an armed response.

Japan’s air force regularly scrambles jets to monitor and chase away nearby Chinese military planes, fearing that China’s probing of its air defenses is part of a push to extend its military influence in the East China Sea and western Pacific, where Japan controls an island chain stretching 1,400 km (870 miles) south towards Taiwan.

Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Michael Perry

Source: Reuters “China air force says to continue with flight drills at sea: CCTV”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


With Drones Tracking Submarines South China Sea Is Indeed China’s Lake


China’s testing of underwater gliding drones in the South China Sea with real time data transmission technology could help pinpoint the location of foreign submarines. Photo: Handout

In its report “Why Beijing is speeding up underwater drone tests in the South China Sea” today, SCMP says, “China is testing large-scale deployment of underwater drones in the South China Sea with real-time data transmission technology, a breakthrough that could help reveal and track the location of foreign submarines.”

As sound much slower than radio wave is used in underwater communication, according to experts real-time underwater communication is very difficult if not impossible.

The US has also used group of gliding drones for submarine tracking but the drones have to come up to the surface to send the information it collects so that there is a time lag and discontinuity in the data collected from the drones.

Now, China is able to collect information from its group of drones real time, it is certainly a breakthrough in technology ahead of the US. US submarines will have nowhere to hide in the South China Sea, which will thus indeed become China’s lake.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2103941/why-beijing-speeding-underwater-drone-tests-south-china?utm_source=edm&utm_medium=edm&utm_content=20170726&utm_campaign=scmp_china&utm_source=SupChina&utm_campaign=772eae8a1b-20170726-342OrganTransplants&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_caef3ab334-772eae8a1b-164862477.


China backs joint energy development with Philippines in disputed sea


Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano (R) shakes hands with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines July 25, 2017. Photo: Erik De Castro

Manuel Mogato July 25, 2017 / 5:32 PM / 14 hours ago

MANILA (Reuters) – China’s foreign minister on Tuesday said he supported the idea of joint energy ventures with the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea, warning that unilateral action could cause problems and damage both sides.

Wang Yi, on a two-day visit to Manila, made the remarks after President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said a partner had been found to develop oil fields and exploration and exploitation would restart this year.

Duterte did not identify the partner. The energy ministry on July 12 said drilling at the Reed Bank, suspended in 2014, might resume before year-end, and the government was preparing to offer new blocks to investors in bidding in December.

“In waters where there are overlapping maritime rights and interests, if one party goes for unilateral development, and the other party takes the same action, that might complicate the situation at sea,” Wang told a news conference.

“That might lead to tension, and as the end result, nobody would be able to develop resources.”

The Philippines suspended energy activities while awaiting a ruling in a case by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. When it ruled a year ago, the court invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of seaborne goods passes each year.

Beijing’s harassment of a survey ship of an Anglo-Filipino consortium in the Reed Bank in 2011 and its control of Scarborough Shoal in 2012 were among the reasons Manila filed the arbitration case, which China refuses to recognize.

The tribunal clarified Philippine sovereign rights to access offshore oil and gas its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), within which the Reed Bank is located.

The Philippines relies overwhelmingly on imports to fuel its fast-growing economy and needs to develop indigenous energy resources. Its main source of natural gas, the Malampaya field near the disputed waters, will be depleted within a decade.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the proposal to jointly develop resources in the disputed waters began in 1986, but the two countries “had not found wisdom to be able to push through to the next step”.

Experts say setting up such an arrangement would be extremely complex and politically sensitive. Both countries claim the oil and gas reserves, and a deal on sharing could be seen as legitimizing the other side’s claim, or giving away sovereign territory.

Wang also said China and Southeast Asian countries were firming up a maritime code of conduct framework, showing the world they could handle differences.

However, in a veiled reference to the United States, he said it was important for regional friends to stand up to outside interference.

“If there are still some non-regional forces in the region, they don’t want to see stability and want to stir up trouble, we need to stand together and say ‘No’ to them together,” he said.

In the latest confrontation, Chinese fighter jets intercepted a U.S. Navy surveillance plane over the East China Sea at the weekend, according to U.S. officials.

Editing by Martin Petty and Clarence Fernandez

Source: Reuters “China backs joint energy development with Philippines in disputed sea”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China urges halt to oil drilling in disputed South China Sea


BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Foreign Ministry has urged a halt to oil drilling in a disputed part of the South China Sea, where Spanish oil company Repsol had been operating in cooperation with Vietnam.

Drilling began in mid-June in Vietnam’s Block 136/3, which is licensed to Vietnam’s state oil firm, Spain’s Repsol and Mubadala Development Co of the United Arab Emirates.

The block lies inside the U-shaped ‘nine-dash line’ that marks the vast area that China claims in the sea and overlaps what it says are its own oil concessions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China had indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, which China calls the Nansha islands, and jurisdiction over the relevant waters and seabed.

“China urges the relevant party to cease the relevant unilateral infringing activities and with practical actions safeguard the hard-earned positive situation in the South China Sea,” Lu said at a regular briefing, when asked if China had pressured Vietnam or the Spanish company to stop drilling.

He did not elaborate.

This week the BBC reported that Vietnam had halted drilling there after Chinese threats, but there was no independent confirmation and neither Vietnamese officials nor Repsol made any comment on the report.

Thomson Reuters data showed the drilling ship Deepsea Metro I was in the same position on Monday as it had been since drilling began on the block in the middle of June.

An Indonesian naval ship that passed there on Saturday reported that three coastguard vessels and two Vietnamese fishing boats were nearby and there was no sign of trouble.

The Norwegian drilling ship operator, Odfjell Drilling Ltd., did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

China’s naval build-up and its increasingly assertive stance over disputed territory in the South China Sea have unnerved its neighbors.

The United States has criticized China’s construction of islands and military facilities there, concerned they could be used to restrict free movement and extend Beijing’s strategic reach.

Reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing and Matthew Tostevin in Bangkok; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Source: Reuters “China urges halt to oil drilling in disputed South China Sea”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.