Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, May 2016
China Warns US Against Sending Warship Near its Claimed Reef, in the South China Sea
May 10, 2016
China warns U.S. against shows of strength in South China Sea
China on Tuesday expressed "resolute opposition" to a U.S. warship patrol in the South China Sea near Yongshu Jiao in the Nansha Islands.
The U.S. warship, USS William P. Lawrence, illegally entered China's waters near the islands on Tuesday without the permission of the Chinese government, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said, adding that the warship was monitored, tracked and issued with a warning.
It is reported that Bill Urban, the spokesman for U.S. Department of Defense, said the freedom of navigation operation was in direct challenge to "excessive maritime claims of some claimants in the South China Sea."
"The action by the U.S. threatens China's sovereignty and security, endangers the safety of people and facilities on the reef, and harms regional peace and stability," Lu said.
"China strongly opposes such action by the U.S. and will continue to take measures to safeguard our sovereignty and security," Lu said, adding China and other coastal states in the South China Sea have been working together to keep navigation and overflight free in the South China Sea for a long time. In fact, the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea has never been a problem.
According to Lu, the United States introduced freedom of navigation operations in 1979 before the signing of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a treaty to which the United States is still not a party. The purpose of these recurring "patrols" is to disrupt the order of the seas and oceans without adhering to the UN convention.
The United States sends military vessels and aircraft on surveillance missions against China as simple acts of provocation, said Lu, adding that the United States actually considers itself above the UNCLOS and these activities are opposed by many countries.
Lu said that the flexing of U.S. military muscle in the name of freedom of navigation is the biggest threat to peace and stability in the area.
Source: Xinhua | 2016-05-10 20:22:48 | Editor: huaxia
China scrambles fighters as U.S. sails warship near Chinese-claimed reef
Reuters, Tue May 10, 2016 12:52pm EDT
China scrambled fighter jets on Tuesday as a U.S. navy ship sailed close to a disputed reef in the South China Sea, a patrol China denounced as an illegal threat to peace which only went to show its defense installations in the area were necessary.
Guided missile destroyer the USS William P. Lawrence traveled within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of Chinese-occupied Fiery Cross Reef, U.S. Defense Department spokesman Bill Urban said.
The so-called freedom of navigation operation was undertaken to "challenge excessive maritime claims" by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam which were seeking to restrict navigation rights in the South China Sea, Urban said.
"These excessive maritime claims are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention in that they purport to restrict the navigation rights that the United States and all states are entitled to exercise," Urban said in an emailed statement.
China and the United States have traded accusations of militarizing the South China Sea as China undertakes large-scale land reclamation and construction on disputed features while the United States has increased its patrols and exercises.
Facilities on Fiery Cross Reef include a 3,000-metre (10,000-foot) runway which the United States worries China will use to press its extensive territorial claims at the expense of weaker rivals.
China's Defence Ministry said two fighter jets were scrambled and three warships shadowed the U.S. ship, telling it to leave.
The U.S. patrol "again proves that China's construction of defensive facilities on the relevant reefs in the Nansha Islands is completely reasonable and totally necessary", it said, using China's name for the Spratly Islands where much of its reclamation work is taking place.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the U.S. ship illegally entered Chinese waters.
"This action by the U.S. side threatened China's sovereignty and security interests, endangered the staff and facilities on the reef, and damaged regional peace and stability," he told a daily news briefing.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waved aside a question as to whether the U.S. aim was to send a message ahead of a visit to Asia by President Barack Obama this month.
"This is not a pointed strategy calculated to do anything except keep a regular process of freedom of navigation operations underway," he told reporters in London.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.
The Pentagon last month called on China to reaffirm it has no plans to deploy military aircraft in the Spratly Islands after China used a military plane to evacuate sick workers from Fiery Cross.
"Fiery Cross is sensitive because it is presumed to be the future hub of Chinese military operations in the South China Sea, given its already extensive infrastructure, including its large and deep port and 3,000-metre runway," said Ian Storey, a South China Sea expert at Singapore's ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.
"The timing is interesting, too. It is a show of U.S. determination ahead of President Obama's trip to Vietnam."
Speaking in Vietnam, Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, said freedom of navigation operations were important for smaller nations.
"If the world's most powerful navy cannot sail where international law permits, then what happens to the ships of navy of smaller countries?" Russel told reporters before news of the operation was made public.
China has reacted with anger to previous U.S. freedom of navigation operations, including the overflight of fighter planes near the disputed Scarborough Shoal last month, and when long-range U.S. bombers flew near Chinese facilities under construction on Cuarteron Reef in the Spratlys last November.
U.S. naval officials believe China has plans to start reclamation and construction activities on Scarborough Shoal, which sits further north of the Spratlys within the Philippines-claimed 200-nautical-mile (370-km) exclusive economic zone.
Tough-talking city mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who looks set to become president of the Philippines after an election on Monday, has proposed multilateral talks on the South China Sea.
A Chinese diplomat warned last week that criticism of China over the South China Sea would rebound like a coiled spring.
(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Paris and London, and My Pham in Hanoi; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel and James Dalgleish)
China says South China Sea criticism could rebound like coiled spring
Fri May 6, 2016 3:57am EDT
International criticism of China over the disputed South China Sea will rebound like a coiled spring, a Chinese diplomat said on Friday, as a U.S. warship visited Shanghai against a backdrop of rising tension in the region.
China claims almost all of the energy-rich South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade passes each year. The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims.
China's increasingly assertive moves in the waters, including building artificial islands and air strips, have rattled nerves, with the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies warning last month they opposed provocation there.
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Ouyang Yujing, director-general of Chinese Foreign Ministry's Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, said China took note of the criticism.
"Of course we're willing to take on board constructive comments and criticism by the relevant countries," Ouyang told a news briefing.
"But if they are aimed at putting pressure on China or blackening its name, then you can view it like a spring, which has an applied force and a counterforce. The more the pressure, the greater the reaction."
China has been stepping up its rhetoric ahead of a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on a case the Philippines has brought against China's claims in the sea.
U.S. officials have expressed concern the ruling, expected soon, could prompt China to declare an air defense identification zone, as it did over the East China Sea in 2013. China has neither confirmed nor denied it could do that.
The ruling is expected to favor the Philippines and risks raising tension because China rejects the court's authority to hear the case, even though it is a signatory of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea under which it is being heard.
China has been particularly angered by what it sees as interference by the United States, whose military has carried out "freedom of navigation" patrols through the sea.
Last Friday, the U.S. Defense Department said China had denied a request for the 7th Fleet's aircraft carrier strike group, to visit Hong Kong.
Still, China has allowed the 7th Fleet's command ship, the USS Blue Ridge, to visit Shanghai, where on Friday, Joseph Aucoin, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, declined to speculate on the reason for the cancellation of the Hong Kong visit.
"I'm not going to let that get in the way of fostering better relations with the country and especially with their navy," he told reporters at Shanghai's dock.
(Editing by Paul Tait, Robert Birsel)
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