Asia Times | Beijing strengthens its hold on South China Sea

Beijing has taken another major step in its slow but doggedly persistent campaign to fix the South China Sea as a “Chinese lake.” Between June 29 and July 3 it test-fired a series of anti-ship, medium-range missiles into a 22,000 square kilometer bloc of the South China Sea between the disputed Paracel and Spratly island groups. The tests are bringing to the waters of the South China and East China seas a situation that is alarmingly reminiscent of one of the most dangerous periods of the Cold War in Europe. Throughout…

Asia Times | China-Vietnam: Comrades in words, not in actions?

While a visiting senior politician from Vietnam and her Chinese hosts talked in Beijing about the friendship and comradeship between the two communist neighbors, it was reported that their coast-guard vessels had been involved in a confrontation over a reef in the South China Sea. Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, chairwoman of the National Assembly, Vietnam’s parliament, made an official visit to the People’s Republic from July 8-12. According to Vietnamese state media, the purpose of Ngan’s trip was to consolidate “the Vietnam-China traditional friendship and comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership in a stable,…

Asia Times | US, Philippines face moment of treaty truth

The Philippines and United States are set to review their mutual defense alliance, critically timed deliberations that will have major implications for regional security, including in the South China Sea. Both allies face new and rising security risks from China’s militarization of the contested sea, moves that could soon tilt towards a balance of power-testing military confrontation for control of the waterway. Those perceived threats were accentuated by China’s unprecedented military drills this month around the sea’s contested Paracel and Spratly islands, which according to news reports included a live-fire…

MACAU DAILY TIMES 澳門每日時報 » South China Sea

China’s naval and coast guard ships shadowed a pair of Canadian naval vessels through the South China Sea and Chinese fighter jets buzzed them as they passed east of Shanghai on a mission to monitor illicit trade with North Korea. The Canadian defense department said the HMCS Regina and the navy’s interim resupply ship MV Asterix arrived in the East China Sea after traveling through international waters from Vietnam. They were on a mission to monitor activity off the coast of North Korea to ensure the enforcement of United Nations…

Asia Times | Coalition of the willing builds in South China Sea

A coalition of the willing is building in the South China Sea as European powers bolster the United States and its Asian allies’ freedom of navigation operations vis-à-vis China in the hotly contested waterway. While Europe’s military footprint in the area is still modest, the presence of a growing number of like-minded powers in China’s adjacent waters highlights shared concerns about Beijing’s strategic ambitions for the area. Europe’s entry also arguably gives greater international legitimacy to Washington’s freedom of navigation and overflight operations in the area, maneuvers China has consistently…

Asia Times | US, China tensions put Cambodia in potential peril

In a now common refrain, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe publicly denied at a recent defense forum that Beijing intends to build a naval base in Cambodia. It was Beijing’s latest response to widespread speculation that a China-backed eco-tourism project in Cambodia’s coastal Koh Kong province is secretly designed to have military purposes. “There is no such thing as for China to establish its military presence in Cambodia. There is no such thing out there,” said Wei at the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore last weekend, an event also…

Asia Times | China launches satellites from barge in Yellow Sea

A powerful blast-off in the Yellow Sea on Wednesday afternoon has shot China into the same elite league as the US and Russia – countries capable of catapulting rockets and payloads offshore into space. A Long March 11 rocket lifted off from a mobile launch pad floating in the Yellow Sea off eastern Shandong province, delivering as many as five commercial satellites and two others, allegedly containing experimental technology for weather forecasting and ship navigation systems, into orbit. Xinhua reported that the nation’s first successful launch at sea was also the 306th…

Asia Times | Is a cold war brewing in the South China Sea?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the administration of President Donald Trump is working on an Indo-Pacific strategy to guarantee the free passage of ships and cargo in the South China Sea. In a recent interview on Fox News, Pompeo indicated that the US was determined to protect its interests and those of its allies in the region. The dispute over sea borders between China and five other countries has now turned into a power tussle between the US and China. China is claiming more than 80%…

Asia Times | Fuel constraints will limit PLA’s 2nd carrier

Replenishment issues may emerge as a big drag on the combat capabilities of China’s second aircraft carrier, known only as “Type 001A”, which is now in its final stage of trials and tweaks before going into service, likely by the end of this year. The homemade carrier, which runs on marine fuel, is modeled on its predecessor, the Soviet-built Liaoning, and it has the same basic propulsion and powertrain systems as her sister ship. As with the Liaoning and other Kuznetsov–class vessels from the Soviet era, the new carrier will need to store…

Asia Times | China’s contradictory words and deeds

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) on Sunday, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe made many bold, controversial remarks. One such statement was his assertion that since its founding in 1949, the People’s Republic of China “has never provoked a war or conflict, nor has it ever invaded another country or taken an inch of land from others.” To portray the Asian behemoth as a benign, peace-loving country in his speech at the Singapore-based security conference, Wei also said: “History has proven and will continue to prove that China will not follow…