Philippines says it and China reaffirm strong relations

By Reuters Staff OCTOBER 10, 202011:15 PMUPDATED 10 HOURS AGO

MANILA (Reuters) – The foreign ministers of Philippines and China reaffirmed their countries’ strong relations on Saturday, Manila’s foreign ministry said, amid bilateral tensions over the South China Sea.

China, which has for years been locked in maritime disputes with other coastal states in the South China Sea, has in recent months held exercises in disputed parts of the strategic waterway, at a time when other claimants are battling coronavirus outbreaks.

“Both sides reaffirmed the continuing vitality of relations despite the constraints imposed by COVID-19,” the Philippines’ foreign ministry said in a statement following talks in Yunnan between Teodoro Locsin and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

Locsin and Wang engaged in a “candid and in-depth exchange on regional security concerns”, the ministry said. The statement did not mention any discussion about the South China Sea, believed to be rich in energy reserves and marine resources.

The ministers “pledged to forge ahead with sustained policy dialogues, as well as economic and infrastructure cooperation projects,” it said.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; editing by John Stonestreet

Source: Reuters “Philippines says it and China reaffirm strong relations”

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

PLA navy calls U.S. destroyer sailing in South China Sea ‘provocative’

CGTN 23:06, 09-Oct-2020

A People’s Liberation Army (PLA) spokesman on Friday said a U.S. destroyer entered China’s Xisha Islands in the South China Sea without permission, calling the sailing “dangerous” and “provocative.”

The Chinese navy is aware of the U.S. navigation and sent naval and aerial forces to monitor the sailing, Senior Colonel Zhang Nandong, also spokesperson for the Southern Theater Command of the PLA, said in a statement.

The guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain entered China’s water without any permission from the Chinese government, and we urge the U.S. to immediately stop such provocative action and restrain its military operation, Zhang said, adding China’s sovereignty over the South China Sea is indisputable, vowing to defend China’s territorial integrity with all necessary measures.

The U.S. has frequently sent warships to the water to flex its muscles and to strengthen its military presence, which severely harms China’s sovereignty and security interests and undermines regional peace and stability, Zhang said.

Source: CGTN “PLA navy calls U.S. destroyer sailing in South China Sea ‘provocative’”

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

South China Sea warning: Beijing’s brutal ‘firepower’ in disputed waters sparks WW3 alert

CHINA’s increased firepower in the South China Sea has ASEAN states on alert for “all-out conflict”.

By CLAIRE ANDERSON07:01, Sun, Oct 4, 2020 | UPDATED: 09:56, Sun, Oct 4, 202017Copy link

South China Sea is ‘rich for resources and minerals’ says expert

China claims it has a historic right of ownership to almost the entire South China Sea, despite a 2016 international arbitration ruling saying Beijing’s claim had no legal basis under international law. But the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims to parts of it. DWF’s Head of Transport, Jonathan Moss, has explained China’s presence puts rival nations on alert due as they don’t “share the same firepower”.

Speaking to, Mr Moss said: “It covers 1.4million square miles, there’s fish, there are potentially billions of barrels of untapped oil.

“There’s $3.7billion of trade passing through the South China Sea.

“It’s obviously a very rich area for resources and minerals and then you’ve got the historic complexities and the sensitives.

“In 1937, Japan invaded certain islands and in 1947, there was a declaration that the South China Sea islands belonged to China.PROMOTED STORY

An expert has said there is a risk of conflict in the South China Sea (Image: GETTY)

South China Sea news

China’s increased ‘fire-power’ in the South China Sea has ASEAN states on alert for ‘conflict’ (Image: GETTY)

“From about the 1970s onwards, China’s been building airfields, artificial harbours.

“There’s been the disputes between Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and China.

“They are at a loss because they don’t share the same firepower as China.”

Mr Moss also noted there is a real risk of further conflict in the waters.

South China Sea news

China claims it has a historic right of ownership to almost the entire South China Sea (Image: GETTY)

Chinese military conduct live-fire drills in South China Sea Video

He said: “I think there’s definitely a risk of all-out conflict.

“There have been pockets of conflict before; going back about 20 years there was a naval battle where three Chinese vessels were engaged with the Philippines Navy gunboats.

“That was in the Spratly Islands.

“There’s definitely the risk of isolated incidents and as we know, a string of isolated incidents can lead to major conflict.

“It should be on the radar as a danger.”

Source: “South China Sea warning: Beijing’s brutal ‘firepower’ in disputed waters sparks WW3 alert”

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

South China Sea: Manila and Beijing agreed to shelve dispute, ambassador says – despite Duterte’s vow to uphold ruling

  • Presidents Xi and Duterte had already reached a ‘consensus’ to ‘put aside’ their competing maritime claims, said Chinese envoy to Manila Huang Xilian

  • His comments came just days after Duterte vowed to uphold a 2016 arbitration ruling, and led one retired judge to say the president had been ‘taken for a ride’

Raissa Robles

Published: 8:36pm, 28 Sep, 2020

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pictured with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last April. Photo: AP

China and the Philippines have agreed to shelve their dispute over the South China Sea, according to the Chinese ambassador to Manila – who spoke mere days after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte won praise from critics for vowing before the United Nations General Assembly to uphold a 2016 arbitration award that had invalidated many of Beijing’s controversial maritime claims.

Source: Excerpts from SCMP’s report “South China Sea: Manila and Beijing agreed to shelve dispute, ambassador says – despite Duterte’s vow to uphold ruling”, full tex of which can be found at

Note: These are excerpts of SCMP’s ’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

China’s economy remains resilient despite external risks, says Xi

By Reuters Staff


BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s economy remains resilient and there are ample policy tools at Beijing’s disposal despite rising external risks, President Xi Jinping said in remarks published on Saturday.

The world’s second-largest economy has steadily recovered from a virus-induced slump, but analysts say policymakers face a tough job to maintain stable expansion over the next several years to turn China into a high-income nation.

The basic characteristics of China’s economy with sufficient potential, great resilience, strong vitality, large space for manoeuvre and many policy instruments have not changed,” Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as saying.

China has strong manufacturing capacity, very large domestic markets and huge investment potentials, Xi said.

Xi reaffirmed a “dual circulation” strategy that would help steer the economy towards greater self-reliance, as U.S. hostility and a global pandemic increase external risks.

China still enjoyed “strategic opportunities” in its development, although the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated global challenges as globalisation slows and unilateralism and protectionism are rising, Xi was quoted as saying at a meeting on the country’s 14th five-year plan (2021-2025).

We must seek our development in a more unstable and uncertain world,” he said.

Xi urged calmness amid rising difficulties and challenges.

The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation can never be achieved easily with the beating of gongs and drums,” he said.

Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Alex Richardson

Ssource: Reuters “China’s economy remains resilient despite external risks, says Xi”

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

PH thanks UK, France, Germany for rejecting China’s claim over South China Sea

By: Krissy Aguilar – Reporter / @KAguilarINQ / 05:50 PM September 18, 2020

Map showing the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), including the Spratlys Islands and Scarborough Shoal. AFP FILE

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Friday expressed gratitude to the United Kingdom, France, and Germany for rejecting China’s South China Sea claims before the United Nations.

Nagpapasalamat po kami sa mga bansang ito dahil hindi naman po mabubura iyong panalo natin sa arbitral tribunal na iyan na nagsasabi na wala pong legal na basehan iyong kini-claim ng China,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online briefing.

(We are thankful for these countries because our victory in the arbitral tribunal that says China’s claim has no legal basis won’t be expunged.)

Despite this, Roque opposed anew calls to bring the sea row to the UN General Assembly saying the 2016 arbitral win is already “the victory” and “itself the act of being assertive.”

Alam kasi ninyo hindi naiintidihan ng marami na iyong desisyon itself is the victory, iyong pagkakaroon ng desisyon itself is the act of being assertive dahil kung hindi naman natin pinursue iyong desisyon na iyan, iyong kasong iyan hindi magkakaroon ng desisyon,” Roque said.

Black propaganda po iyan na mayroon pa tayong ibang dapat gawin, iyong sinasabi nila na dapat gawin sa UN General Assembly, puwede po iyan pero let’s be realistic. Hindi po natin mase-sway ang 197 member ng UN kung ang kalaban po natin ay Tsina dahil alam naman natin limited ang ating kakayahan,” he added.

(It’s black propaganda to say that we have to do other things, what they say that we should bring it to the UN General Assembly, that’s possible but let’s be realistic. We cannot sway 197 members of the UN if we are up against China because we know we have limited ability.)

China has consistently refused to acknowledge the 2016 ruling of the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague UN has that invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line claim, which encompasses even the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. (This reblogger’s note: UN has announced that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is not a UN agency to deny the said court is UN-backed. If it was a UN-backed court, the Philippines might apply to the UN Security Council for imposition of the court’s arbitration decision.)

China’s reclamation activities and militarization in the heavily contested area have also raised concerns about the peace and stability in the strategic waterway.

Source: “PH thanks UK, France, Germany for rejecting China’s claim over South China Sea”

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

South China Sea: after all its posturing, the US is struggling to build a coalition against China

August 18, 2020 9.19pm AEST


Pak K Lee

Senior Lecturer in Chinese Politics and International Relations, University of Kent

Anisa Heritage

Research Fellow, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent

Disclosure statement

Anisa Heritage is affiliated with the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The opinions expressed are the author’s own and are solely drawn from open-source published research and data.

Pak K Lee does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

As tensions continue to mount in the waters surrounding the contested islands of the South China Sea, a US navy aircraft carrier conducted exercises in the region on August 17. This came after the Trump administration hardened the US’s longstanding neutral position on China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea.

In May 1995, following China’s occupation of Mischief Reef in the South China Sea – which is also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan – the US announced that it would take “no position on the legal merits of the competing claims to sovereignty over the various islands, reefs, atolls and cays in the South China Sea”.

But the US has not remained neutral on how the multiple disputes in the region should be managed or resolved – something we’ve written about in a recent book.

In July 2020, US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, took things one step further when he stated that most of China’s claims to offshore resources in the South China Sea were unlawful. Four years after a ruling by the South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal, which found China’s claims had no basis in international law, the US has now endorsed that ruling.

Pompeo’s statement was followed a few days later by a speech from the US secretary of defense, Mark Esper, in which he accused China of “brazen disregard of international commitments”. He said China had bullied nations around the Pacific, and that its aggressive tactics in the South China Sea obstructed other countries’ rights to fishing and natural resources.

Two shoals and a reef

Pompeo’s announcement deviated from 25 years of US neutrality over three key issues. First, the US now argues that Mischief Reef and the Second Thomas Shoal, located 130 nautical miles and 105 nautical miles west of the Philippine Palawan Island respectively, are not Chinese but Philippine territories.

Island reef in South China Sea developed by China.

A 2018 photo of Mischief Reef after it was reclaimed and redeveloped by China. Tony Peters/Flickr, CC BY

Second, the announcement amounted to a declaration that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has no lawful territorial or maritime claim to James Shoal. Although the Chinese government claims James Shoal as its southernmost territory, it is an entirely submerged feature, 50 nautical miles from Malaysia and 1,000 nautical miles from China’s coast. Under international law, underwater features cannot be claimed by any state. So the US declared that James Shoal “is not and never was PRC territory”.

And third, Pompeo asserted that China had not put forward a “lawful, coherent maritime claim” and a legal basis for the “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea which it uses for the basis of its territorial claims. Under international law, sovereignty extends 12 nautical miles into the seas surrounding a land feature that can sustain human habitation. This means the US also does not accept China’s claims to a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone in the region, far beyond 12 nautical miles surrounding any of the islands, atolls, reefs or rocks.

Still, except for the two shoals and Mischief reef, when it comes to the ownership of the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, the US has stuck to its longstanding position of neutrality and not taken a position.

Why now?

As the Trump administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic worsens and Trump’s re-election chances appear to be diminishing, his administration’s backlash against China has accelerated. Some reports suggest hawkish senior officials in the Trump administration, concerned about potential defeat in the November presidential election, are trying to introduce irreversible changes in China-US relations.

The strengthening of the US position on the South China Sea signals an effort to build a coalition of allies and partners to counter and – in Esper’s words “openly compete” with – China. In more substantial terms, the US may be considering deeper defence support to regional states such as the Philippines and Malaysia, which has effectively managed James Shoal, to confront Chinese encroachment there.

To date, only Australia has agreed to pursue “increased and regularised maritime cooperation” with the US in the South China Sea. Despite American pressure on Canberra to participate in operations guaranteeing international freedom of navigation surrounding disputed features such as reefs or islands, Canberra has so far resisted a specific commitment to conduct operations within 12 nautical miles of the features. While Australia rejects China’s illegal maritime claims, it doesn’t want to inflame further tensions over the sensitive sovereignty issue of disputed islands and their surrounding waters.

South-east Asian reticence

In contrast to Australia, south-east Asian states such as the Philippines are more reticent about working with the US to rein in China’s expansionism.

The inherent contradictions between the Trump administration’s America First strategy and the current calls for a coalition against China remain a sticking point. Trump has never attended an East Asia Summit, and his administration’s denigration of regional alliances has reduced American capacity to create a coalition of like-minded partners to support its position in the South China Sea.

Rhetorical posturing against China will not inspire regional allies to rally to America’s side while it trumpets its America First policy. A better US strategy would be to rebuild relations with democratic allies, such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and even Indonesia. But the Trump administration’s attempts to permanently harden US policy towards China, without prior consultation with the rest of the world, will make it harder to build much needed collective resilience against China’s activities in the South China Sea.

Source: The Conversation “South China Sea: after all its posturing, the US is struggling to build a coalition against China”

Note: This is The Conversation’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

Why the US’ tough South China Sea rhetoric is not very smart

It was never realistic to think Southeast Asian claimants would hop on the China-bashing bandwagon. With a more aggressive military presence, the US could force nations to choose between it and China, but Washington might not like the outcome

Mark J. Valencia

Published: 3:30am, 14 Aug, 2020

Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a position on the South China Sea, declaring in a statement: “The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire. America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources…”

He then mounted a diplomatic full-court press to round up Southeast Asian countries for the US’ campaign against China’s actions in the South China Sea.

He vowed the US would “support countries … who recognise that China has violated their legal territorial claims”, adding: “We will go provide them the assistance we can, whether that’s in multilateral bodies, whether that’s in Asean, whether that’s through legal responses, we will use all the tools we can.” Presumably, that would include military “tools” if necessary.

But the reaction of many Southeast Asian countries was cautious. Indeed, this policy initiative seems likely to fail. Why?

China hits back at US after Pompeo says most of Beijing’s claims in South China Sea are illegal

Mainly, these states are concerned that, as in the Cold War, they will become pawns and suffer accordingly. It did not help when, days later, Pompeo crossed the political Rubicon by directly attacking the Chinese Communist Party.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper poured petrol on the fire by declaring: “Goodwill and best wishes do not secure freedom. Strength does.”

This ramped-up rhetoric was preceded by a show of force involving two US Navy aircraft carriers. Yet, Pompeo did not get the response from Southeast Asia he might have hoped for.

As William Choong of Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute noted, a challenge to China on values was “not going to take off” in Southeast Asia. “We are not going to see the same kind of pushback that the US expects to see in Asean,” he said. “This whole confronting China and kicking down the front door, I don’t think that’s an Asean way.”

That’s not the only problem. Some worry that Pompeo’s tough talk is just a ploy to help President Donald Trump’s re-election. Others see the US presence in the region as a double-edged sword, which could deter or escalate tensions with China.

In the analysis of Shahriman Lockman at Malaysia’s Institute of Strategic and International Studies: “The worst-case scenario is for things to escalate, and then the US gets distracted … and we get saddled with more Chinese ships in our waters.”

Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations like Indonesia and Singapore have remained neutral. Indonesia described any country’s support for Indonesian rights in the Natuna Sea as “normal”.

Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein called on countries to “avoid military posturing”. He added that Malaysia should not be “dragged and trapped” in a tug of war between superpowers.

The Philippines did not join a recent US-led naval exercise in the South China Sea, with Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr saying: “We’re sitting out this one.”

Washington’s hardened position on Beijing’s claims in South China Sea heightens US-China tensions

There are good reasons that a US-instigated anti-China front is unlikely to materialise in Asean. These nations each have their own economic and geopolitical reasons for not wanting to be out of favour with China.

Indeed, it was never realistic to think Southeast Asian claimants to the South China Sea would jump on the China-bashing bandwagon – especially if it involves military intervention.

With the exception of Vietnam – and even its support remains in question – it is doubtful that Southeast Asia will welcome any attempt to back up a threat of the use of force with specifics.

Yet, there are those who say the Trump administration made a “smart” move, in clarifying its position on the South China Sea. Maybe they think China’s rival claimants can be persuaded by US rhetoric and convinced that the US has interests beyond freedom of navigation (or freedom to engage in intelligence probes into China).

Perhaps they are counting on anti-China (or anti-Chinese) sentiment in some countries in the region. They might even be hoping that some will follow the US’ example if it uses military force. If so, this is dangerous wishful thinking.

If the US fails to deter China, it might have to choose between a credibility loss and a “kinetic” conflict. This is the very dilemma it had avoided by being ambiguous. But now the cat is out of the bag. The US must either back up its bold words, or lose more credibility with regard to its staying power and its commitment to friends, allies and the region.

Worse is the possibility of unilateral provocative actions by those like Vietnam, which may feel emboldened by the idea that the US will support China’s rival claimants. That clarification was not a smart move.

The US has been rapidly losing soft power in Southeast Asia since the Trump administration withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump’s “America first” mantra has made Asean nations feel like they are on their own. With a more aggressive diplomatic and military presence, the US could force nations in the region to choose between it and China, but the US might not like the outcome.

An appeal to Southeast Asia to join in the US’ ideological struggle against China is not sufficient. The only way to rebuild the integrity of its relationships is to respect the region’s self-defined interests as much as its own. Otherwise, this US policy initiative, like others before it, is likely to fail.

Mark J. Valencia is an adjunct senior scholar at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, Haikou, China

Dr Mark J. Valencia is an internationally known maritime policy analyst, political commentator and consultant focused on Asia. He is the author or editor of some 15 books and more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles. Currently he is adjunct senior scholar at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies.

Source: SCMP “hy the US’ tough South China Sea rhetoric is not very smart”

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

China Avoids Confrontation with the US

Regarding US provocation in the South China Sea, SCMP says in its report “South China Sea: Chinese military told not to fire first shot in stand-off with US forces” that China has told its military not to fire the first shot so as to avoid confrontation with the US.

South China Sea disputes are about energy and fish resources not right of navigation as the US has advocated with its freedom of navigation operations so that as long as the US refrains from interference in China’s exploitation of resources,, it has not hurt China’s interests there.

The US refrains from intervention with the disputes over resources there. That has been proved by its refraining from interference with the Scarborough Shoal standoff between China and its ally the Philippines. It allowed China to solely occupy the shoal and ban the Philippines from fishing in the area around the shoal.

Even if the US actually interferes with China’s exploitation of resources in disputed waters, China may adopt the measures bumping into US warships with fishing boats instead of launching a war.

Patience and forbearance are the key for China to focus its efforts to attain its long-term goal for 2050 to develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful.

To attain that great goal, China has to adopt the strategy of avoiding confrontation with the US and striving to maintain good relations with EU and help poor and backward Asian, Eastern European and African countries develop their economies and become rich to expand its market and obtain investment opportunities there.

Confrontation and even war with the US will on the contrary hinder China’s achievement of its great goal.

If China has attained its great goal for 2050, it will become a real superpower and all the humiliation and provocation caused by the US will but be failed hindrance in the past.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which may be viewed at

South China Sea: Chinese military told not to fire first shot in stand-off with US forces

  • Sources say that troops have been given orders not to escalate situation as both sides step up their activities in the disputed waters

  • Beijing said to be keen to cool the ‘tense and dangerous situation’ and agreed to a conversation between defence ministers after initially snubbing the request

Wendy Wu and Minnie Chan

Published: 10:30pm, 11 Aug, 2020

The USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan recently carried out drills near the Chinese coast. Photo: EPA-EFE

China has told its service personnel “not to fire the first shot” as Beijing looks to de-escalate tensions with the United States in the South China Sea, sources familiar with the situation told the South China Morning Post.

Both sides have stepped up their operations in the disputed waters, increasing the risk of incidents that spiral out of control, but Beijing does not want to give American hawks the opportunity to escalate things further.

The sources said Beijing had ordered pilots and naval officers to exercise restraint in the increasingly frequent stand-offs with US planes and warships.

Meanwhile, further details have emerged about a phone conversation between the two countries’ defence ministers last week.

The call was first suggested by the US side about “a month earlier” but was initially given a frosty reception in Beijing. But a source said the Chinese leadership later had a change of heart and decided to reach out as tensions escalated in the South and East China seas.

Chinese personnel have been ordered not to escalate a confrontation. Photo: Reuters

Last month, the US deployed two aircraft carrier battle groups, the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, for drills near Chinese waters and has also carried out rare nighttime aerial reconnaissance missions close to Guangdong and Fujian provinces in recent weeks.

China has also conducted naval drills and flyover missions around Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Despite tough public language dismissing the US carrier strike groups as “paper tigers”, sources said the PLA was wary of accidental clashes.

One source close to the military also said Beijing had communicated through “various channels” to the US that it had told its military “never to fire first” in a goodwill gesture to keep the situation under control.

It’s easy to give the order to shoot, but neither China nor the US is able to control the consequences. The current situation is highly tense and very dangerous,” the person said.

He said the PLA was a “different military force” from 2001 – a reference to the Hainan incident when a US intelligence aircraft collided with a PLA fighter jet.

The Chinese pilot Wang Wei was killed and the US plane was forced to land on Hainan island. The crewmen were eventually released after the US issued a carefully worded statement on the incident.

Today, the PLA has developed many countermeasures. The Americans won’t be able to return in one piece if such an accident ever happens again,” he said. “But we are very clear that we will respond with force only as the last resort, when everything else has failed.”

Another source said the two sides had established protocols to handle military encounters but these arrangements needed to be updated to reflect the latest situation.

The source did not elaborate on whether this was discussed by the two defence ministers, Mark Esper and Wei Fenghe, in their August 6 conversation.

China, US militaries in crunch talks to avoid conflicts in Taiwan and South China Sea

7 Aug 2020

China and the US established the military maritime consultative agreement in 1998 to avoid accidents during close encounters.

In 2014 they agreed on an initiative to notify each other of major military operations and a code of conduct for naval and military encounters.

But in recent years the relationship between the two countries has steadily worsened. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has become increasingly belligerent in his rhetoric against China, taking aim directly at the Communist Party and declaring that the policy of engagement with China was “a failure”.

Apart from increasing its operations in the South China Sea, the US has also rejected China’s sweeping claims in the disputed waters, saying they were “unlawful” and threatened the freedom of navigation.

Meanwhile, the Chinese leadership has become increasingly concerned about security, with President Xi Jinping telling the Politburo late last month that “uncertain and unstable factors” were an increasing threat.

But in recent weeks, senior Chinese diplomats have subtly changed their combative tone and called for dialogue to contain risks. Foreign Minister Wang Yi also picked up a more conciliatory approach when discussing the South China Sea in an interview with the state news agency Xinhua last week.

Wang did not mention the “nine-dash line”, which marks out China’s claims over 90 per cent of the disputed waters.

Instead he said the South China Sea was “the shared home for the countries in the region” but should not be “a wrestling ground for international politics”.

But Wang said the US had breached its commitment not to take sides in Beijing’s dispute with the other South China Sea claimants and accused it of seeking to drive a wedge between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

On Monday the foreign ministry in Beijing called for “candid and effective dialogue” to control conflicts, but said it would firmly defend the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: PLA warned not to shoot first in South China Sea encounters with US

Source: SCMP “South China Sea: Chinese military told not to fire first shot in stand-off with US forces”

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