As noted earlier, there doesn’t seem to be universal agreement on what the “Law of the Sea” (UNCLOS) means. The Washington Post is reporting that Senior Col. Geng Yansheng, a Ministry of Defense spokesman, has claimed that China has “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea but would continue to allow others to freely navigate the 1.3 million-square-mile waterway.
On July 23 Secretary Clinton crossed the Chinese by suggesting an multilateral approach to resolution of competing claims. Competing claims involve Japan, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines. Claims to the Spratley Islands group seem to be particularly contentious. There is an outline of competing claims here. China has used force in the past, seizing the Paracel Islands from Vietnam in 1976. Dai Bingguo, China’s state councilor in charge of foreign policy, had told Secretary Clinton in May during a tense exchange on the region that China viewed its claims to the sea as a “core national interest.” In addition they seem to have thrown down the gauntlet to the US over exercises in the Yellow Sea.
To complicate matters, the Chinese have a new weapon system, and anti-ship ballistic missile, to enforce their claims, that makes the Navy’s traditional response to Chinese aggressiveness appear much more dangerous.
A call for the dispute to be submitted to international tribunal.
More on the Chinese military build up, an expectation that the Chinese will build 30 additional submarines by 2020, working up to a total of 100 by 2030. (Most of those are diesel electric. The US builds two nuclear subs a year, generally half of those go to the Pacific.):
Looks like some of the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) will be stationed in Singapore and perhaps also the Philippines.
Since according to the Adm. Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations, these ships are expected to “focus on the South China Sea, conducting operations to counter piracy and trafficking, both of which are endemic in the area,” Coast Guardsmen are likely to see some service on these ships.
Nice overview of what is happening with the Chinese Navy.
Interesting presentation of the events in the area here:
Latest in the clash between China and Vietnam:
The innovation here,
is that India is getting into the act.
“India has also declared itself ready to deploy naval vessels to the South China Sea to protect its oil-exploration interests there, a new source of tension in a disputed area where fears of conflict have been growing steadily.
“Indian navy chief, Admiral D.K Joshi, said on Monday that, while India was not a territorial claimant in the South China Sea, it was prepared to act, if necessary, to protect its maritime and economic interests in the region.
“”When the requirement is there, for example, in situations where our country’s interests are involved, for example ONGC (Indian State run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation–Chuck) … we will be required to go there and we are prepared for that,” Joshi told a news conference.”
Another report here: http://rt.com/news/india-china-navy-oil-221/
Vietnam is pushing back. China attempts to warn them off.
Conducting Naval exercises that seem to be intended to “send a message” to Malaysia now:
More here http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2013/03/201332762124185963.html and here http://www.eaglespeak.us/2013/03/china-attempted-island-grab-in-south.html.
Question is, now that they have landed, will they stay or leave?
The Chinese are acting on their sovereignty claims by starting to drill for oil in the Vietnamese EEZ. http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2014-05-05/vietnam-protests-chinese-oil-rig-in-disputed-sea
Chinese reaction to US criticism: http://www.defensenews.com/article/20141124/DEFREG03/311240018/China-Blasts-US-Comments-Spratlys-Project-Irresponsible-
Vietnam submits its position to the International Court of Arbitration, without actually joining the Philippine case. http://thediplomat.com/2014/12/vietnam-launches-legal-challenge-against-chinas-south-china-sea-claims/
Looking at China’s “reclamation” efforts in the South China Sea through the prism of China’s efforts to reclaim Taiwan. http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/warfare/2015/06/28/taiwan-china-reclamation-island-invasion-spratly-south-china-sea-pla/29260999/
The Diplomat reports, “Section 1261 of NDAA 2016 (National Defense Authorization Act for FY2016) outlines a new “South China Sea Initiative,” which appears first in a sector on “Matters Relating to the Asia-Pacific Region.” It notes that the secretary of defense is authorized to provide assistance and training to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, and, finally, Taiwan, “for the purpose of increasing maritime security and maritime domain awareness of foreign countries along the South China Sea.”” http://thediplomat.com/2015/10/us-to-support-taiwan-in-south-china-sea-per-2016-defense-budget-bill/
China sets up a ASW Helicopter base on reclaimed land in the South China Sea near Vietnam. http://news.usni.org/2016/02/15/china-reclaimed-land-for-south-china-sea-anti-submarine-helicopter-base-near-vietnam
Vietnam also making changes to features in the South China Sea. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-vietnam-idUSKBN13X0WD
Marco Rubio introduces bill to sanction those who facilitate Chinese illegal activities in the South China Sea and East China Sea.http://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?id=736A0B2B-6A0C-45DA-B671-8F749CEEABE4
More here: http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/12/07/rubio-calls-for-sanctions-on-beijing-for-south-china-sea-antics/
US leading push back against Chinese claims.
Vietnam has conducted a major expansion of dredging and landfill work at several of its South China Sea outposts in the second half of this year, signaling an intent to significantly fortify its claims in the disputed waterway, a U.S. think tank reported on Wednesday. https://www.marinelink.com/news/vietnam-big-push-expand-south-china-sea-501638