CCTV shows footage of the launches of YJ-62 anti-ship and HQ-9 air defence missiles by garrisons on Xisha (Paracel) and Nansha (Spratly) Islands in their military drills. The above photos are taken from the footage.
Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Disclosure of Launch of YJ-62 Missile by Xisha (Paracel) Garrison” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)
It puzzles me that when China is militarizing its reefs on the Spratly Islands in disregard of US protest with the excuse of necessary defense, the US, instead, insists on providing China with such excuse by its freedom-of-navigation operations but wants China to extend the pledge of non-militarization to the whole South China Sea including the Paracel Islands.
In addition, it wants China to respect a coming international court ruling on its dispute with the Philippines over the South China Sea that China has repeatedly declared it would not.
What if China keeps on disobeying? Will the US impose sanctions on or fight a war with China? Let’s wait and see.
Comments by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed below:
U.S. urges China’s Xi to extend non-militarization pledge to all of South China Sea
WASHINGTON | By Matt Spetalnick Fri Feb 26, 2016 12:31pm EST
The White House on Friday urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to extend his pledge not to militarize the disputed Spratly Islands to encompass all of the South China Sea.
Dan Kritenbrink, President Barack Obama’s top Asia advisor, issued the call at the end of a week in which China and the United States have sparred over Chinese deployment of missiles, fighter planes and radar on islands in the contested strategic waterway.
Xi had pledged during a U.S. state visit last September not to militarize the Spratly archipelago, which is claimed by Manila and Beijing, but U.S. officials have since said they see military intent in China’s building of air strips and installation of radar there.
Friction has increased over China’s recent deployment of surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets to Woody Island in the disputed Paracel chain. It has been under Chinese control for more than 40 years but is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.
“We think it would be good if that non-militarization pledge, if he (Xi) would extend that across the South China Sea,” Kritenbrink told a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We’re going to encourage our Chinese friends and other countries in the region to refrain from taking steps that raise tensions.”
Admiral Harry Harris, head of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command, said this week China was “changing the operational landscape” in the South China Sea and the United States would increase freedom-of-navigations patrols. His congressional testimony coincided with a U.S. visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
China says its military facilities in the South China Sea are “legal and appropriate,” and on Tuesday, in a reference to U.S. patrols, Wang said Beijing hoped not to see more close reconnaissance or dispatch of missile destroyers or bombers.
Kritenbrink also reiterated that China should respect an international court ruling expected later this year on its dispute with the Philippines over the South China Sea.
China, which claims virtually all the South China Sea, is facing an arbitration case filed by Manila. Beijing rejects the authority of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, even though it has ratified the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea on which the case is based.
“When that ruling comes out, it will be binding on both parties,” Kritenbrink said. “That will be an important moment that all of us in the region should focus on.”
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by James Dalgleish)
China does not want to militarize the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea for fear of upsetting its friends in the ASEAN; therefore, I said in my post “US Gives China the Excuse to Militarize Its Artificial Islands” on May 23:
China must use the vast sea areas it claims in the South China Sea for economic development instead of military purpose.
That was what China had declared repeatedly. In addition China has times and again reiterated that it wants a peaceful rise. In fact there was no military threat for China to make military use of those islands.
However, I predicted that as the US has really begun to patrol those artificial islands and the areas around them China will have the excuse to militarize the artificial islands, which is China’s real goal in building the islands.
True enough, at Chinese Defense Ministry’s November regular press conference, its spokesman Wu Qian said in reply to a reporter’s question that U.S. patrol seriously threatens China’s sovereignty and security and that Chinese military would take all necessary measures to safeguard China’s national sovereignty, security and maritime rights and interests.
What necessary measures? In a CCTV interview, China’s well-known military expert Yin Zhuo says that such measures include sending military forces to station on the islands including facilities of air defense, telecommunications, radar, reconnaissance, etc. and air and naval forces, which is exactly militarization of the islands.
In a mil.huanqiu.com article, the writer discusses in details the special measures to deal with the erosion on the artificial islands to turn them into unsinkable aircraft carriers.
Source: mil.huanqiu.com “The U.S. wants to cruise Nansha again: Defense Ministry: We will take all necessary measures!” and “Expand South China Sea islands and reefs into China’s unsinkable aircraft carriers? Lots of challenges for fighter jets to station there” and people.com.cn “Expert: Chinese military force shall go to station on South China Sea islands and reefs to be strictly on guard against U.S. and Japanese harassments” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the reports in Chinese)
The next time the United States sends warships by China’s man-made islands in the disputed South China, officers aboard will have to decide how, if at all, they will engage with a pair of giant lighthouses that Beijing lit up there this month.
Chinese officials say the lighthouses on Cuarteron Reef and Johnson South Reef in the disputed Spratly islands will help maritime search and rescue, navigational security and disaster relief.
Experts, diplomats and foreign naval officers say, however, the lighthouses represent a shrewd move to help buttress China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.
While the U.S. and other navies mostly rely on electronic instruments to confirm their ships’ positions, visual fixes from lighthouses are still used in certain conditions.
Any such moves would play into a strategy “geared to bolstering China’s claims by forcing other countries to effectively recognise Chinese sovereignty by their actions,” said Ian Storey, a South China Sea expert at Singapore’s Institute of South East Asian Studies.
“If naval and other ships from other countries, including the U.S. would be obliged to use and log them, it could be taken as de facto recognition of China’s sovereignty,” Storey said.
U.S. officials have not confirmed or denied reports that the U.S. Navy will soon conduct freedom-of-navigation operations within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands. Asked about those reports on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the United States would sail or fly wherever international law allows.
China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea, which links the Indian and Pacific Oceans. About $5 trillion in shipborne trade passes through its strategic sea lanes every year.
References to the lighthouses are likely to find their way into international shipping charts and registers and the logbooks of foreign navies. That would help China to potentially build a long-term legal picture of effective occupation, despite any formal diplomatic objections of rival claimants.
The lighthouses reinforce Beijing’s continued strategy of gradually “changing the facts on the water”, Storey said.
China has extensively reclaimed seven islets and atolls in the Spratlys over the last two years. The runways and other facilities China is building on them have alarmed the United States and its partners in the region, who say they could be used for military purposes.
Washington has repeatedly stated it does not recognise any Chinese claim of territorial waters around the reclamations built on previously submerged reefs.
Both serving and retired Western naval officers say modern electronic navigation devices, including the U.S.-created Global Positioning System, mean that lighthouses are of declining value to all kinds of shipping.
But, when sailing within several miles of ocean features such as reefs, or when electronic devices fail, ships rely on them to help fix and log a position visually.
Commander Bill Clinton, a spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet, did not detail the circumstances under which U.S. ships would use the lighthouses. But, he said, they had “no impact on 7th Fleet’s ability to fly, sail and operate in international waters of the South China Sea.”
Trevor Hollingsbee, a retired naval intelligence analyst with Britain’s defense ministry, said building lighthouses on the reclaimed reefs was a “rather cunning” move by China.
“The use of lighthouses is declining everywhere, but there will always be times when their use is unavoidable, and that goes for all mariners in the South China Sea,” Hollingsbee said.
The 2014 “Sailing Directions” for the South China Sea produced by the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency gives extensive details on the Spratlys, including lighthouses, visible wrecks and lagoon entrances – but without citing who has sovereignty over them.
It declares some 52,000 square miles (135,000 sq km) as “Dangerous Ground” due to inadequate surveys and bad weather. It also noting that sovereignty in the area is “subject to competing claims which may be supported by a force of arms.”
ASEAN DEFENSE MINISTERS
China on Saturday sought to defuse tensions with Southeast Asian nations who have competing claims in the South China Sea.
“We will never recklessly resort to the use of force, even on issues of sovereignty, and have done our utmost to avoid unexpected conflicts,” said Fan Changlong, one of the vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission which controls the Chinese armed forces and is headed by President Xi Jinpin. He was speaking to defense ministers from the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations at a security forum in Beijing.
China’s artificial islands “will not affect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea”, Fan said.
The new lighthouses “have already begun to provide navigation services to all nations”, he added.
Four ASEAN member nations – the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei – have overlapping claims in the Spratlys. Taiwan also claims the Spratlys.
Gary Roughead, former U.S. chief of naval operations, told the forum the scale of the ports and airfields China is building in parts of the Spratlys raises legitimate concerns.
“I do not see an influx of tourists clamoring to visit these remote outposts,” he said.
(Additional reporting by JR Wu in TAIPEI, Michael Martina and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING and My Pham in HANOI. Editing by Bill Tarrant)
Source: Reuters “China’s lighthouses in Spratlys beckon recognition from passing ships”
China’s qianzhan.com reports today that in early March, the islands and reefs occupied by China in Spratly Islands are covered by China’s mobile phone and TV networks. That is quite a big investment as those islands and reefs spread in quite a large area, but it is necessary if China uses its artificial islands there for development of tourism, fishery, fish farming and exploitation of oil and gas.
Source: qianzhan.com “China’s Spratly islands and reefs connected to mobile phone and TV networks: Troops there no longer feel lonely” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)
China described Vietnam’s claim to disputed South China Sea islands as “ridiculous” on Monday, as tension rises over competing claims of sovereignty in waters believed to be rich in oil and natural gas.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, rejecting rival claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei in one of Asia’s most intractable disputes and a possible flashpoint. It also has a separate maritime dispute with Japan over islands in the East Sea.
The row with Vietnam intensified this month after China dispatched an oil rig to an area near the disputed Paracel islands.
Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry held a press conference on Friday when officials stressed the country’s historical claim to the Paracels.
“Historical and legal evidence shows that Vietnam has absolute sovereignty in the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos,” said Tran Duy Hai, deputy head of Vietnam’s National Border Committee.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang disagreed.
“Seeing that the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry held a press conference last Friday on the subject, I felt it was extremely ridiculous,” he said at a briefing on Monday. “The Paracels are the indisputable territory of the Chinese people.”
Qin said the Paracels had been part of Chinese territory since the Han dynasty, and that Chinese explorers had first discovered the islands.
Source: Reuters “China says Vietnam claims to disputed islets ‘ridiculous’”
- Manila’s Philex plans to drill in disputed waters even without partner dated yesterday
- Philippines’ Aquino says China violates informal code on sea dated May 19, 2014
- China’s Offensives in South China Sea: Coordinated with Russia’s in Ukraine? dated yesterday
- China blames Vietnam, says will not cede inch of disputed territory dated May 16, 2014
- China Takes the Offensive in South China Sea Disputes by Its Oil Rig Move dated May 21, 2014
- Tensions surge in South China Sea as China locks horns with Philippines, Vietnam dated May 7, 2014
According to China Science Daily’s report, China has completed the establishment at Lingshui, Hainan Province its national marine acoustics research base, which is its first hydrophonic observation and detection net.
According to Taiwan comments, that is China’s first public report on the completion of its sonar observation and detection array at the bottom of the South China Sea. However, according to US military analysts, China’s newly established hydrophonic detection system will not only improve by several dozen times Chinese navy’s anti-submarine capability, but also make it difficult for enemy submarines to track and reconnoiter Chinese submarines.
Supported by the radar and observation network based on shore, Chinese navy’s capability to provide real-time underwater intelligence will be greatly enhanced. At the same time, it will be able to effectively deal with the submarines of various countries that are active in the South China Sea.
US military intelligence analysts believe, although it is alleged that the net is for both military and civil use, like the underwater sonar network that the US has set up along the navigation routes by which Chinese navy goes across the first and second island chains, it is specially used to reconnoiter enemy countries’ silent submarines. This set of China’s newest underwater reconnoiter sonar can accurately lock on the movements of US navy’s nuclear submarines.
Dong Jiayao: Well, in the intelligence it has been mentioned that China admits the establishment of its first coast-based underwater reconnoiter net, which is a challenge to US submarines. I would like to ask Mr. Ma, China has now taken the initiative to make public relevant underwater sonar reconnoiter network. Why is the US so nervous about that since it in fact also has corresponding network that constitutes a threat to China?
China has to seize Nansha (Spratly) Islands in order that its coast-based hydrophonic sonar can detect US nuclear submarines
Ma Dingsheng: First, a submarine battle with China is what the US fears most. Compared with aircraft carrier and ballistic missiles, submarines are more powerful. Therefore, it adopts the best method to deal with submarines. Now, if China has enhanced its hydrophonic detection ability many times, US submarines, especially nuclear submarines, will find that themselves under threat. If such sonar network can be set up in the South China Sea, its effect will be greatly enhanced. We know that most of the islands and reefs are now in enemy’s instead of China’s hands. Therefore, in order to set up an effective hydrophone detection network, China must first seize back the islands and reefs in the South China Sea.
Source: Phoenix Satellite TV’s Observation Post of Military Situation “China has set up hydrophonic detection net in the South China Sea, making the US worry that its nuclear submarines will be detected”