Timid US FON Operation Not Affects China’s Control of South China Sea


A China coast guard ship patrolling South China Sea. Photo: Getty Images

I have just reblogged Reuters’ report that showing Western media’s satisfaction at US Navy’s resumption of freedom of navigation (FON) operation in the South China Sea.

Reuters quotes US officials who would not reveal their identities as describing the operation as challenging China. However, Foreign Policy says in its article “In the South China Sea, the U.S. is Struggling to Halt Beijing’s Advance” yesterday, “The Pentagon sought to downplay the significance of the operation, which it described as routine. Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, described the passage at an event in Washington Thursday as ‘not confrontational,’ and said that the so-called freedom of navigation operations by U.S. ships receive exaggerated scrutiny for the supposed diplomatic messages they convey.”

The US can do nothing to put an end to China’s absolute control of the South China Sea with its artificial islands, therefore Foreign Policy says in its article, “Despite a belated U.S. naval patrol, Beijing’s bid to extend its military power over the South China Sea is moving ahead unchecked.”

As pointed our in my previous posts, such FON operations only give China excuse to militarize its artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Foreign Policy describes the situation by quoting Rapp-Hooper, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, as saying, “They basically succeeded in their construction projects, and are now well on their way to having floating bases out in the Spratly Islands, and there’s been really very little pushback and they’ve had to pay very little cost for doing so….It is, unfortunately, now game over.”

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report that I have just reblogged and Foreign Policy’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/05/25/in-the-south-china-sea-the-u-s-is-struggling-to-halt-beijings-advance/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Edpix%205-25&utm_term=%2AEditors%20Picks.


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.


Hague Ruling Will Trouble the Philippines Forever


FILE PHOTO: Chinese structures are pictured at the disputed Spratlys in South China Sea April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo

In its report “Philippines, China play down Duterte’s talk of war in disputed sea” today, Reuters describes the trouble Philippine President Duterte is in as opposition denounces him for failure to impose the Hague arbitration ruling.

Whenever the Philippines tries to impose Hague ruling, it will face the question whether it wants to fight a war with China. As the US does not want to fight a war for it, it is not able to fight. However, the ruling will always be used to oppose anyone in power in the Philippines who dare not fight to impose the ruling, knowing well the war will result in massacre of Philippine troops.

For thousands of years to come, all those in power in the Philippines will have trouble due to the ruling.

How stupid it has paid millions of dollars to get the trouble!

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-philippines-china-idUSKBN18I0D1.


Philippines calls for ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ between ASEAN, China on sea code


By Martin Petty and Manuel Mogato | MANILA Fri May 19, 2017 | 7:58am EDT

Southeast Asian nations and China should start with a “gentleman’s agreement” on the busy South China Sea waterway because no mechanism exists to legally enforce any deal, the Philippine foreign minister said on Friday.

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China on Thursday finished a draft framework for negotiating a code of conduct, despite regional scepticism whether Beijing will commit to rules likely to restrain its maritime ambitions.

Southeast Asian nations with claims in the South China Sea have long wanted to sign China up to a legally binding and enforceable code. It was unclear if that was mentioned in the framework draft, which has not been made public.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano played down the importance of a legally binding contract.

“If it’s legally binding, which court can the parties go to? And the countries that do not comply, will they respect that court?” he asked reporters.

“Let’s start with it being binding, gentlemen’s agreement. We have a community of nations that signed it.”

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

Click tmsnrt.rs/2qyBNpf for graphic on overlapping claims in the South China Sea

Last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, in a case filed on maritime boundaries filed by the previous Philippine government in 2013.

A code of conduct is the key objective of a 2002 Declaration on Conduct, large parts of which China has ignored, particularly a commitment not to occupy or reclaim uninhabited features.

China has piled sand upon reefs to build seven islands in disputed parts of the Spratly archipelago. China has unfinished business there and has been transforming three of the reefs into what experts believe could be forward operating bases.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday described them as “some kind of armed garrison.”

The code framework would envisage a round-the-clock hotline and urge defense officials to find ways to follow the code, Chee Wee Kiong of Singapore’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Some ASEAN diplomats fear China’s sudden interest in completing it could be a strategy to buy time for Beijing to wrap up construction activities.

Experts say China wants to appear to engage ASEAN or bind its claimant states to a weak code at a time when U.S. policy on the South China Sea is in a state of flux.

One ASEAN diplomat said the latest draft did not mention any dispute settlement mechanism or sanctions for violations, but focused mostly on managing tension and building trust.

“We are very realistic and practical,” said the source, who declined to be identified. “We wanted first to pick the low hanging fruit. If we went straight to the contentious issues, we would not get to where we are now.”

The framework represented progress, but expectations should be realistic, said Jay Batongbacal, a Philippine academic and expert on the South China Sea.

“Given it’s been 15 years to get to a draft, I’m not really holding my breath,” he added.

Click tmsnrt.rs/2pSNmZq for graphic on Turf war on the South China Sea

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: Reuters “Philippines calls for ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ between ASEAN, China on sea code”

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


Duterte says China’s Xi threatened war if Philippines drills for oil


Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Beijing. REUTERS/Etienne Oliveau/Pool

By Manuel Mogato | MANILA Fri May 19, 2017 | 9:30am EDT

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday Chinese counterpart China Xi Jinping had warned him there would be war if Manila tried to enforce an arbitration ruling and drill for oil in a disputed part of the South China Sea.

In remarks that could infuriate China, Duterte hit back at domestic critics who said he has gone soft on Beijing by refusing to push it to comply with an award last year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which ruled largely in favor of the Philippines.

Duterte said he discussed it with Xi when the two met in Beijing on Monday, and got a firm, but friendly warning.

“We intend to drill oil there, if it’s yours, well, that’s your view, but my view is, I can drill the oil, if there is some inside the bowels of the earth because it is ours,” Duterte said in a speech, recalling his conversation with Xi.

“His response to me, ‘we’re friends, we don’t want to quarrel with you, we want to maintain the presence of warm relationship, but if you force the issue, we’ll go to war.”

Duterte has long expressed his admiration for Xi and said he would raise the arbitration ruling with him eventually, but needed first to strengthen relations between the two countries, which the Philippines is hoping will yield billions of dollars in Chinese loans and infrastructure investments.

The Hague award clarifies Philippine sovereign rights in its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone to access offshore oil and gas fields, including the Reed Bank, 85 nautical miles off its coast.

It also invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim on its maps denoting sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.

Duterte has a reputation for his candid, at times incendiary, remarks and his office typically backpeddles on his behalf and blames the media for distorting his most controversial comments.

Duterte recalled the same story about his discussion with Xi on oil exploration in a recorded television show aired moments after the speech.

He said Xi told him “do not touch it”.

He said Xi had promised that the arbitration ruling would be discussed in future, but not now.

Duterte said China did not want to bring up the arbitral ruling at a time when other claimant countries, like Vietnam, might also decide to file cases against it at the arbitration tribunal.

It was not the first time the firebrand leader has publicly discussed the content of private meetings with other world leaders.

His remarks came the same day that China and the Philippines held their first session in a two-way consultation process on the South China Sea.

They exchanged views on “the importance of appropriately handling concerns, incidents and disputes involving the South China Sea”, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that gave few details.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Martin Petty)

Source: Reuters “Duterte says China’s Xi threatened war if Philippines drills for 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.


China World Leader in Fuel Ice Exploitation Technology


World largest and deepest oil rig Blue Whale I. Global Times photo

SCMP says in its report “The promising new energy source Beijing is tapping from the South China Sea and why it matters” today, “With its successful collection of methane gas from icy methane hydrate, China joined other nations exploring a potential and abundant clean energy resource”.

“Under the China-claimed waters in the South China Sea, mainland scientists found icy deposits with energy content matching 70 billion tons of oil. That was half the country’s total oil and natural gas reserves on land, according to a People’s Daily article on Thursday, says SCMP. “The test production was carried out by Blue Whale 1, the world’s largest and deepest drilling rig. Built last year, the domestically designed and constructed platform could operate in almost any waters in the world,”

According to Europe’s OffshoreEnergyToday.com, with an operational depth up to 3.658 meters and drilling depth to 15,240 meters, Bluewhale I can operate in all global waters. It is the ninth deepwater semi-submersible drilling rig delivered by China’s CIMC Raffles.

Global Times says in its report “China is world leader in fuel ice test exploitation technology, achieving stable gas production for 8 consecutive days” today that test exploitation of fuel ice has always been a difficult issue in the world. The US and Canada began dealing with the issue earlier, but as they have rich energy resources, they have not made real efforts. Like China that seriously depends on energy import, Japan has made great efforts but failed yet to achieve continuous test exploitation.

China has developed brand new technology for the test exploitation. Its success perhaps also due to its use of Blue Whale I, a much better equipment than the ship Japan uses in its text exploitation.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP and Global Times’ reports, full text of SCMP’s report can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2094906/promising-new-energy-source-beijing-tapping-south-china and that of Global times in Chinese can be viewed at http://mil.huanqiu.com/strategysituation/2017-05/10695802.html.


China installs rocket launchers on disputed South China Sea island: report


China has installed rocket launchers on a disputed reef in the South China Sea to ward off Vietnamese military combat divers, according to a state-run newspaper, offering new details on China’s ongoing military build-up.

China has said military construction on the islands it controls in the South China Sea will be limited to necessary defensive requirements, and that it can do what it likes on its own territory.

The United States has criticized what it has called China’s militarization of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing.

The state-run Defense Times newspaper, in a Tuesday report on its WeChat account, said Norinco CS/AR-1 55mm anti-frogman rocket launcher defense systems with the capability to discover, identify and attack enemy combat divers had been installed on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.

Fiery Cross Reef is administered by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

The report did not say when the defense system was installed, but said it was part of a response that began in May 2014, when Vietnamese divers installed large numbers of fishing nets in the Paracel Islands.

China has conducted extensive land reclamation work at Fiery Cross Reef, including building an airport, one of several Chinese-controlled features in the South China Sea where China has carried out such work.

More than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped through the South China Sea every year. Besides China’s territorial claims in the area, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.

(Reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Ben Blanchard)

Source: “China installs rocket launchers on disputed South China Sea island: report”

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