South China Sea

South China Sea

China says much of the resource-rich South China Sea is its own, and is building islands and facilities to bolster its claims.

China unsure if it should unveil its new stealth bomber this year
China’s new generation strategic bomber is likely to be ready for delivery this year, but Beijing is said to be undecided about unveiling it at a complex time in regional relations due to the coronavirus pandemic. Military sources said the Xian H-20 subsonic stealth bomber – expected to double the country’s strike range – could make its first public appearance at China’s largest air show, in the southern city of Zhuhai in November, if the pandemic is sufficiently under control. “The Zhuhai Airshow is expected to become a platform to promote China’s image and its success in pandemic control – telling the outside world that the contagion did not have any big impacts on Chinese defense enterpri
Could the pandemic trigger conflict in the South China Sea?
As the USS Barry, one of the US’ most advanced destroyers, sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday last week, an officer on board posted a message on Facebook: “They don’t call us the Finest Forward Deployed Destroyer for nothing! Your Bulldogs always have the watch – together, we ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific!” Based in Yokosuka, Japan, the guided-missile destroyer was no stranger to the sensitive channel separating Taiwan and mainland China. In fact, this was its second passage this month through the 112-mile-wide waterway – defined as part of the South China Sea under international protocol. As the Covid-19 global health crisis continues to rage, infecting more than 3 million p
What’s in a name? China hopes territory
China has named 80 geographical features in the disputed South China Sea in the latest move to assert its territorial claims in the face of increasing opposition from Vietnam. According to a notice jointly released by China’s Natural Resources Ministry and Civil Affairs Ministry, it has given names to features in both the Paracel and Spratly islands. These include 25 islands, shoals, reefs and 55 oceanic mountains and ridges. China has not named geographic features in the disputed area since 1983, when 287 features were named.  The Spratly and Paracel islands are a geopolitical flashpoint because multiple countries have competing territorial claims over the region.  It has also become anoth
US naval researchers want to revive centuries-old tool to contain China’s rise
The United States should encourage the use of privateers to fight Chinese aggression at sea, according to a pair of articles published in a magazine produced by the US Naval Institute. The reports suggest the US government issue letters of marque – a commission authorizing privately owned ships (privateers) to capture enemy merchant ships. The articles, titled “Unleash the Privateers!” and “US Privateering Is Legal,” were published in the April issue of Proceedings, a monthly journal published by the Naval Institute, a professional association of active and retired members of the US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The authors – Mark Cancian, a retired US Marine Corps colonel and senior a
US military requests $20 billion to counter China
American military officials have requested an additional $20 billion in funding from legislators to fortify the country’s naval, airborne and ground-based operations in the Indo-Pacific region. The new funding request is a sign of Washington’s intensifying efforts to counter China’s military presence in the Pacific.  “Without a valid and convincing conventional deterrent, China and Russia will be emboldened to take action in the region to supplant US interests,” read an executive summary of the request obtained by Breaking Defence, a military news outlet that first reported the move. The request by the Pentagon’s Indo-Pacific Command for funding, which would last through financial year 2026,
US Navy launches live-fire missiles in ‘warning to China’
The US Navy was targeting China with live-fire missile tests in the Philippine Sea last week, sending a message that it was up to the challenge of the Chinese military’s new advanced systems, military analysts said. In the drill in waters east of the Philippines on Thursday, the guided-missile destroyer USS Barry launched a medium-range Standard Missile-2, the US Seventh Fleet said on its Facebook page. It was accompanied by the guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh, which also launched an SM-2 during the drill. The Philippines Sea is separated from the disputed South China Sea, a major flashpoint in the US-China rivalry, by the Philippines.  Beijing claims almost all of the energy-rich South Ch
The US is patrolling the South China Sea more than ever
US Navy patrols near disputed features claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea hit a record high last year, newly released figures show, as the Trump administration ramped up its efforts to challenge China’s territorial claims in the contested waterway. US Navy vessels sailed within 12 nautical miles of features claimed or occupied by China seven times in 2019, according to data released by the US Pacific Fleet – the highest number of so-called freedom of navigation patrols (FONOPs) since Beijing controversially began constructing artificial islands around disputed reefs in the waterway in 2014. Washington carried out five such operations in 2018, six in 2017 – President Donald Trump’s fir
Has China outsmarted the US in the South China Sea?
Before assuming his post as commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Philip S Davidson issued a stark warning about Washington’s loosening grip in the fiercely contested South China Sea. “In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios, short of war with the United States,” Davidson said during a Senate confirmation hearing ahead of his appointment as the top US military official in the region in May 2018. For many analysts, the dire assessment was a long-overdue acknowledgment of their concerns. Today, there is a growing sense it did not go far enough. Washington’s strategic advantage in the waterway, which holds massive untapped oil an
China’s first homemade aircraft carrier aims at ‘domination’ in South China Sea
In a ceremony attended by President Xi Jinping, China’s first home-built aircraft carrier officially entered service on Tuesday. The commissioning of the warship, called the Shandong, is a significant milestone in the country’s efforts to build up its naval power. A commentary published by a social media account affiliated with Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily said the Shandong will be deployed to the South China Sea, where “it is very likely that it will have face-to-face encounters with foreign military vessels.”   “The Shandong is aimed at achieving domination in both the air and sea,” the Wednesday commentary said. The article did not name any nation, but Beijing has repeatedly
Chinese warplanes step up drills for ‘unexpected confrontations’
China’s military has stepped up its exercises in the South China Sea to prepare for “unexpected confrontations,” according to a report in Sunday’s PLA Daily. China claims most of the South China Sea, a disputed resource-rich waterway which is also claimed by several neighboring countries.  But tensions have risen over the waters, with a Chinese destroyer almost colliding with a US warship in September last year. The report by the Chinese military mouthpiece said a naval aviation unit under the Southern Theater Command had completed a drill in which participants identified more than 10 kinds of “enemy” radio signals. “Different from the exercises conducted last year on early warning reconna