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Weekly key events

December 16 – 22, 2013

December 16: Pentagon Downplays Near-Collision in South China Sea – VOA News

U.S. Defense Department spokesman Army Colonel Steve Warren told reporters the incident did not trigger a crisis.

“I don’t think it was a crisis-level incident by any stretch.  I think this was ships at sea operating the way ships at sea operate,” he said. “I don’t believe tensions have heightened. I will tell you we have not changed any procedures since the incident. I think we believe collectively this was resolved professionally.”

December 16: Indonesian Defense Minister announced that RI, China`s navy will hold joint military exercise – ANTARA News

“The location for the joint exercise will be in Indonesias territory of the South China Sea,” said Purnomo after meeting with his visiting Chinese counterpart General Chang Wanquan.

December 16: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced  Expanded U.S. Assistance for Maritime Capacity Building in Southeast Asia – Fact Sheet from U.S. Department of State

On December 16, Secretary of State John Kerry announced an initial commitment of $32.5 million in new regional and bilateral assistance to advance maritime capacity building in Southeast Asia. Including this new funding, our planned region-wide funding support for maritime capacity building exceeds $156 million for the next two years.

As an example of our commitment to strengthen maritime capacities in Southeast Asia, the United States intends 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, including through provision of five fast patrol vessels in 2014 to the Vietnamese Coast Guard. This assistance directly responds to priorities identified in the Joint Minutes on Vietnam and U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Cooperation signed October 1, 2013, by VCG Major General Nguyen Quang Dam and USCG Commandant Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr.

December 16: Viet Nam, US pledge closer ties ahead of new trade pact – Vietnam News

Minh welcomed the US’s grant of US$4.2 million to help improve Viet Nam’s capacity in the TPP negotiation process and urged greater technical support to facilitate its implementation as well.

December 17: US bolsters PHL sea defense as China threat heightens – GMA News

“The US is committed to working with the Philippines to address its most security challenges,” Kerry told a joint press conference with Philippine counterpart Albert del Rosario after a one-hour meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs where they tackled issues of mutual political, economic and security concerns.

“We have committed $40 million to improve the Philippines’ maritime security and maritime domain awareness,” he added.

December 17: US warns China against imposing South China Sea air zone – Times of India

US secretary of state John Kerry warned China on Tuesday against imposing an air defence zone over the South China Sea, similar to one it declared over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

“The zone should not be implemented and China should refrain from taking similar, unilateral actions elsewhere in the region, and particularly over the South China Sea,” Kerry told a news conference in Manila.

December 18: After South China Sea incident, China praises ties with US – AP

Military relations with the United States face a rosy outlook, China’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday, in an apparent attempt to limit damage from a recent confrontation between the countries’ navies in the South China Sea.

December 19:  Hagel Criticizes Chinese Navy, Citing Near Miss – The New York Times

“It was unhelpful,” he said. “It was irresponsible.”

“What we don’t want is some miscalculation here to occur,” Mr. Hagel added, and he warned that a near collision “could be a trigger or a spark that could set off some eventual miscalculation.”

December 19: First Japan-India Maritime Exercise in Indian Waters from December 19 22 – Marine Link

The Indian Navy will be represented by the indigenously built stealth frigate INS Satpura, the Guided Missile Destroyer INS Ranvijay and missile corvette INS Kuthar. From the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) two Guided Missile destroyers, JS Ariake (with Commander Escort Division – 7 embarked), and JS Setogiri will participate.

December 20: After Hagel’s criticism on the  South China Sea incidient, China calls for boost in military ties – Global Times

When asked to respond to Hagel’s accusation, China’s defense ministry on Friday told the Global Times that the channel for communication between the two militaries is smooth. “In order to promote the healthy development of ties between the two countries and the two militaries, both sides should make joint efforts and meet each other halfway,” it said.

Similarly, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Friday told a regular press briefing that both sides should work toward the same goal to maintain a healthy and stable military-to-military relationship that is beneficial to both countries.

December 20: Indonesian Air Force chief of staff said Indonesia would buy 24 F-16 fighters from US – The Jakarta Post

Air Force chief of staff Air Marshall Ida Bagus Putu Dunia said the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) would purchase 24 F-16 fighter jets from the US to modernize the country’s primary weapons defense system (Alutsista).

“We will also improve doctrines and increase personnel skills to face the challenges of modern war,” said Putu Dunia. (ebf)

December 20: Philippine President vowed to continue the modernization of the military – Philippine Daily Inquirer

… by acquiring more ships and helicopters to perform a variety of missions such as economic zone protection, surface surveillance, search and rescue, and maritime security operations.

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