U.S. warship drill meant to defy China’s claim over artificial island –officials


The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey prepares for a replenishment-at-sea in the South China Sea May 19, 2017. Picture taken May 19, 2017. Kryzentia Weiermann/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

By Idrees Ali and David Brunnstrom | WASHINGTON Thu May 25, 2017 | 4:04pm EDT

A U.S. warship carried out a “maneuvering drill” when it sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, to show Beijing it was not entitled to a territorial sea around it, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
The operation near Mischief Reef on Thursday, Pacific time, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has disputes with its neighbors, was the boldest U.S. challenge yet to Chinese island-building in the strategic waterway.

It drew an angry response from China, which President Donald Trump has tried to court in recent weeks to persuade it to take a tougher line on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. [nL1N1IQ2FH]

Analysts say previous U.S. “freedom-of-navigation operations” in the Spratly archipelago involved “innocent passage,” in which a warship effectively recognized a territorial sea by crossing it speedily, without stopping.

On Thursday, the destroyer USS Dewey conducted a “man overboard” exercise, specifically to show that its passage within 12 nautical miles was not innocent passage, U.S. officials said.

“USS Dewey engaged in normal operations by conducting a maneuvering drill inside 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef,” one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The ship’s actions demonstrated that Mischief Reef is not entitled to its own territorial sea regardless of whether an artificial island has been built on top of it.”

It drew an angry response from China, which President Donald Trump has tried to court in recent weeks to persuade it to take a tougher line on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. [nL1N1IQ2FH]

Analysts say previous U.S. “freedom-of-navigation operations” in the Spratly archipelago involved “innocent passage,” in which a warship effectively recognized a territorial sea by crossing it speedily, without stopping.

On Thursday, the destroyer USS Dewey conducted a “man overboard” exercise, specifically to show that its passage within 12 nautical miles was not innocent passage, U.S. officials said.

“USS Dewey engaged in normal operations by conducting a maneuvering drill inside 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef,” one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The ship’s actions demonstrated that Mischief Reef is not entitled to its own territorial sea regardless of whether an artificial island has been built on top of it.”

Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said that freedom of navigation operations are not specific to one country and the Defense Department would release summaries of these operations in an annual report and not sooner.

“We are continuing regular FONOPS, as we have routinely done in the past and will continue to do in the future,” Ross said, using an acronym for freedom of navigation operations.

The Pentagon has not confirmed the most recent operation.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea and Washington has criticized its construction of islands and build-up of military facilities there, concerned they could be used to restrict free movement and broaden Beijing’s strategic reach.

U.S. allies and partners in the region had grown anxious as the Trump administration held off on carrying out South China Sea operations during its first few months in office.

Greg Poling of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank said that under international law, Mischief Reef was not entitled to a territorial sea as it was underwater at high tide before it was built up by China.

“This was a statement to the Chinese,” he said.

“The previous two freedom-of-navigation operations only challenged China’s demand for prior notification for innocent passage through the territorial sea; this one asserted that there is no territorial sea at all.”

The Trump administration vowed to conduct more robust South China Sea operations after President Barack Obama was criticized for potentially reinforcing China’s claims by sticking to innocent passage.

Even so, this was the first freedom-of-navigation operation since October and since Trump took office in January.

It comes ahead of a visit to Singapore next week by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to discuss security with regional counterparts.

Beijing said two Chinese guided-missile warships had warned the U.S. vessel to leave the waters and that it had lodged “stern representations” with the United States.

China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish and Marguerita Choy)

Source: Reuters “U.S. warship drill meant to defy China’s claim over artificial island –officials”

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


Recent Photos of China’s Artificial Islands with Airports Superior to Others’


Airport on Maiji Island

Airport on Meiji Island

China has so far completed and tested three airports on Yongshu (Fire Cross) Reef, Meiji (Mischief) Reef and Subi (Zhubi) Reef, but Vietnam and the Philippines have also built airports on Chinese Islands illegally occupied by them.

The above is a photo of the airport on Meiji Reef 140 kilometers from Chigua (Johnson South) Island and 295 km from Yongshu Island. There is an airport 2,700 meters long completed and tested. More photos of the island are provided below:

Airport on Meiji Island

Airport on Meiji Island

meiji-island-1
meiji-island-2

Zhubi Reef is a large reef good for China to have built an artificial island with airport and port. The following are photos of it and its airport:

Zhubi Island and Its airport

Zhubi Island and Its airport


Airport on Zhubi Island

Airport on Zhubi Island


Airport on Zhubi Island

Airport on Zhubi Island

Yongshu (Fire Cross) Reef is located in the middle of the South China Sea. A big island with a large airport has been built on it due to its strategic value. The following are photos of it and its large airport:

Yongshu Island and its airport

Yongshu Island and its airport


Yongshu Island

Yongshu Island


Yongshu Island airport

Yongshu Island airport

All the three airports China built on its artificial islands are large civil airports though they can be used by warplanes, which have conducted test landing and takeoff there.

Zhongye Island is a Chinese island illegally occupied by the Philippines. It has an area of 0.33 square km. A military airfield with a concrete runway 1,500 meters long and 90 meters wide has been built on it to support the air force and navy stationed there. The following are photos of the airport:

Zhongye Island and its airport

Zhongye Island and its airport


Zhongye Island airport

Zhongye Island airport


airport-on-zhongye-island-3

Nanwei Island is a Chinese Island illegally occupied by Vietnam, where Vietnam has built a military base for its first line military command center in the South China Sea and stationed 550 troops. A concrete runway 600 meters long has been built there. The following are photos of the island and its airfield:
airport-on-nanwei-island
airport-on-nanwei-island-2
airport-on-nanwei-island-3

Danwan Reef is a Chinese reef illegally occupied by Malaysia since 1979. It has been expanded from 0.1 to 0.35 square km. Malaysia has built not only a navy base but also luxurious hotel and airport for prosperous tourism there.

The airport has a runway 1,500 meters long and 100 meters wide with regular civilian flights. The following are photos of the island and its airport:
airport-on-danwan-island

Source: mil.news.sina.com.cn “Comparison of the airports on six major islands and reefs in South China Sea: See how China’s are superior to Vietnam’s, Philippines’ by far” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


China to Build USD5 Billion South China Sea Military Base at Fiery Cross Reef


Planned artificial island at Sourh China Sea

Planned artificial island at Sourh China Sea

Sources say due to changes in international situation and the need to resolve South China Sea issues, Chinese military has recently drawn up a plan to conduct reclamation at Mischief and Fiery Cross Reefs. The construction of the two artificial islands there will be equivalent to that for building an aircraft carrier, but the strategic gains will be very big.

Mischief reef will be a fishery center at the South China Sea to provide fishing and fish farming income enough to recover the construction costs so that the construction of the artificial islands will not be a financial burden on the state.

The artificial island at Fiery Cross Reef will be an unreplaceable military base with great strategic significance due to its location and size. Such a base will realize the value of the South China Sea for China and ensure China’s status in South East Asia.

It is planned that the military base built through reclamation at Fiery Cross Reef will be 3 meters above sea level and has an area of 5 square kilometers. The construction of the base will cost US$5 billion and take 10 years similar to the construction of a 100,000-ton nuclear aircraft carrier.

If this plan is adopted by the government instead of the plan to seize the Zhongye Island back from the Philippines, there will be no war at the South China Sea to affect China’s relations with the US and ASEAN.

Source: qianzhan.com “Revelation of China’s plan on US$5 billion ‘super aircraft carrier’, a shocking deployment at South China Sea”

Related posts:

  • US Not Willing to Be Drawn into War by Japan or Philippines dated February 11, 2014
  • US general criticises Japan, Philippines’ anti-China views dated February 10, 2014/2/12
  • Aquino Desperate in Hinting UN, ASEAN Appeasing China dated February 6, 2014
  • The US Will Be the Biggest Winner if Japan Is Defeated by China in the War dated February 5, 2014