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Weekly key events

December 09 – 16, 2013

Note: On December 05, a Chinese naval vessel attempted to force a U.S. guided missile warship in the international of the South China Sea. The information was released one week later. We have updated the last-week post with this event.

December 09: China dismisses Japan’s opposition to South China Sea ADIZ – China Daily USA

China dismissed the Japanese Defense Minister’s remarks on the South China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

“China is determined to safeguard national security. No country should  make comments on this matter,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a regular press briefing.

December 09: Chinese envoy to UN: China supports building of harmonious ocean – Xinhua

“China is ready to further promote the construction of a harmonious ocean together with other nations,” said Liu, adding that based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other international laws, China will work to contribute to the peace, security and openness of oceans. (…)

On the role of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), Liu said that China supports the important role the tribunal plays in the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes, the maintenance of international maritime order, and the dissemination of the law of the sea.

He also pointed out that China believes that neither the convention nor the tribunal statute confirm the advisory competence upon the full bench of the ITLOS.

“We hope that the tribunal will take into full consideration the concerns of various parties and deal with Case No. 21 involving the South China Sea cautiously in order to ensure the legitimacy and authority of its work,” Liu stressed.

Case No. 21: Request for an advisory opinion submitted by the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC)

Related information:

Manila UN case means China may quit maritime pact – South China Morning Post: Regional security expert Professor Shen Dingli said the decision by the Philippines to refer its territorial disputes with China to UN arbitration demonstrated that it was “a mistake” for China to have joined the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) in the first place.

黄岩岛呼唤中国海洋新战略 – Opinion : In 2012, Professor Shen Dingli was quoted advising China should use UNCLOS

December 09: US navy commander, US President’s Deputy Assistant visit Vietnam – Vietnamnet

The US Pacific Command is willing to expand cooperation with Vietnam as agreed at the Vietnam-US defence policy dialogue in Washington DC in October 2013, said Locklear. (…)

For her part, Caroline Atkinson spoke highly of the significant role Vietnam plays in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the recent establishment of the Vietnam-US comprehensive partnership, noting bilateral relations are developing well, primarily in economics and trade.

December 11:  Call made to US Congress for China war plan – DODbuzz

The U.S. military needs a more focused war plan specific to China, especially after China’s recent declaration of an air defense zone over the East China Sea, a group of defense analysts told a prominent House subcommittee Wednesday. (…)

Andrew Erickson, associate professor at the U.S. Naval War College, testified that the U.S. should do more to deny China the ability to seize and hold off-shore territory. This includes  developing anti-ship cruise missiles such as the recently tested Long Range Anti-Ship Missile as well as long-range surface to air missiles, he said.

Statements/bios/webcast from U.S. House Armed Services Committee Hearing: China’s Naval Modernization & US Asia-Pacific Strategy

In reply to a question by US Naval War College on Twitter, Prof. Andrew Erickson said “China is capable of launching anti-ship cruise missiles from a growing variety of land, air, ship & undersea platforms”: https://twitter.com/NavalWarCollege/status/406564554752409600

December 12: PH warship deployed to patrol West PH Sea – Rappler

As regional tension rises because of China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), Philippine warship BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16) was deployed on Thursday, December 12, to the Palawan-based Western Command (Wescom).

December 12: Joint Statement by US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Singapore Minister for Defense Dr Ng Eng Hen – U.S. Department of Defense

They looked forward to the rotational deployment of the next LCS, USS Fort Worth in late 2014, followed by the third LCS deployment in late 2015, in line with the United States’ plans to deploy up to four LCS in the region by end 2016. (…)

Trans-national threats related to maritime security, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and large scale natural disasters could only be tackled effectively by the combined efforts of many countries. To meet these challenges, countries and their military forces should build confidence with each other through cooperation in bilateral and multilateral exchanges.

December 13: Singapore believes in American military presence: Minister for Defense Ng Eng Hen – The Malaysian Insider

The US-China relationship is of paramount importance to regional and global stability. Singapore looks forward to enlightened and forceful leadership from both the US and China to help achieve stability and progress for Asia and indeed, the world.

December 13:  Japan, Philippines agree on airspace – The Japan News

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Friday agreed the two countries will cooperate on the issue of China’s newly declared air defense identification zone over the East China Sea. If the zone expands into the South China Sea, the Philippines will be affected, Aquino told Abe in their meeting in Tokyo, indicating he hopes to work with Japan on the issue.

December 13: Indonesian President: Indonesia cares about finding fair and peaceful solutions in the region – The Jakarta Post

Indonesia’s Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said China needed “an open line of communication to avoid miscalculation” in its various sovereignty disputes, including that with Japan over a chain of islands in the East China Sea.

“In particular, it must be said that good relations between China and Japan are critical to the future of our region,” he said.

December 14: A senior Philippine maritime security official is quoted saying China has increased the frequency of their maritime patrols in the South China Sea – The Philippine Star

“They have increased the frequency of their maritime patrols that even extended toward the territorial waters of Malaysia,” the official said.

Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon said fishermen also noticed the increasing presence of Chinese surveillance ships and frigates in the waters near Kalayaan Group of Islands (Spratlys), as well as near the Hasa-Hasa (Half Moon) Shoal.

December 14: Japan-ASEAN Commemorative Summit

The announcement of the money, which will come over five years, came ahead of an expected joint statement in which Tokyo will be looking for support in its row with China over disputed islands.

4. Maritime Security and Cooperation: We underscored the importance of maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region and promoting maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce, exercise of self-restraint and resolution of disputes by peaceful means in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

We resolved to enhance maritime security and safety cooperation, such as information sharing and capacity building including through the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum. The ASEAN Leaders also appreciated Japan ’s initiatives and active participation in the efforts to fostering the dialogue with ASEAN Member States on maritime issues. Japan welcomed the official consultations between ASEAN and China on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea .

5. Free and safe maritime navigation and aviation: Recognising the benefits of enhanced connectivity between ASEAN and Japan , we agreed to strengthen cooperation on air and maritime linkages. We also agreed to enhance cooperation in ensuring the freedom of overflight and civil aviation safety in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, and the relevant standards and recommended practices by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

In his speech at the summit, the Vietnamese PM stressed the strategic importance of the ASE AN-Japan ties and called for the mobilization of all resources to carry out existing commitment and agreements between the two sides.

He also laid emphasis on the need to ensure peace, security, safety and freedom of maritime activities, settle disputes in a peaceful manner, abide by international law and the UNCLOS 1982, seriously implement the DOC and work hard to realize the COC.

At the same time, PM Dung called for ensuring aviation freedom and safety on the basis of international law and practice as well as standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)

“To manage tensions, we are advocating the conclusion of a legally binding code of conduct as soon as possible,” he said, referring to the proposed code of conduct in the sea that Asean is trying to sign with China to prevent the territorial rows from erupting into conflicts.

“To resolve disputes, we are [also] advocating arbitration,” Aquino said. (…)

Other Asean leaders also called for a legal approach to resolving the territorial disputes with China.

“The summit had outlined the future direction of Japan as a partner of Asean…equal partner with Asean based on an important document which we had adopted and passed at the summit,” he told Malaysian media at the New Otani Hotel, here.(…)

“I consider this to be comprehensive…encompassing security and cooperation to ensure stability including resolving any problem through negotiations without imposing pressure, as well as maritime safety,” said the Prime Minister.

December 14: Kerry starts trips to Vietnam and Philippines – Bloomberg

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will emphasize the American presence in Southeast Asia in visits to Vietnam and the Philippines after President Barack Obama’s absence from a summit in October ceded the spotlight to China.

US State Dept. Briefing on Kerry Trip to Vietnam, Philippines

December 15: Japan-Vietnam meeting in Tokyo – InterAksyon

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday Japan will begin discussing with Vietnam providing patrol ships to its coast guard in light of China’s growing assertiveness over contested reefs and islands in the South China Sea.(…)

In an effort to boost Vietnam’s economy, Abe pledged about 96 billion yen in new loans mainly for highway and port construction projects.(…)

[Vietnamese Prime Minister] Dung was quoted by Seko as saying that he is worried about moves to change the status quo in the South China Sea by coercive measures and hopes for the conclusion of an effective and legally binding Code of Conduct, which aims to avoid potential conflict over rival claims in the sea.

December 15: Japan announces ¥10 billion in infrastructure aid to Laos – The Japan Times

Money will help expand airport, reduce poverty, build bridge.

December 15: Japan, Cambodia set to upgrade strategic bilateral relations – Japan Daily Press

Sen, who has been in power since 1985, said that the tense situation in the East China Sea represents a source of concern for every country in Southeast Asia, and he was pleased to hear Abe is making efforts to improve relations with China. Hun Sen also supported Japan’s call to hold a defense ministers meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with Abe floating the idea during the Japan-ASEAN summit Saturday in Tokyo.

December 15: Abe Pledges More Aid for Myanmar – The Wall Street Journal

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged ¥63 billion ($610 million) in fresh aid to Myanmar and backed the development of major industrial zones in the country, the latest effort by Tokyo to act as a counterbalance to China’s influence in the Asian region.

December 16: U.S. offers new assistance to Vietnam to patrol seas – Reuters

On his first visit to Vietnam as secretary of state, John Kerry said the United States intended to provide up to $18 million in new assistance to Vietnam “to enhance the capacity of coastal patrol units to deploy rapidly for search and rescue, disaster response, and other activities”.

Kerry said the funding would also be used to buy five “fast” patrol boats for Vietnam’s coastguard in 2014.

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