south china sea
KONFRONTASI-Japan’s biggest warship, the Kaga helicopter carrier, joined naval drills with Britain’s HMS Argyll in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday as the frigate headed toward the contested South China Sea and East Asia.
Britain, Japan and their close ally the United States have found common cause in countering growing Chinese influence in the region that they worry could put key commercial sea lanes linking Asia with Europe, the United States and elsewhere under Beijing’s sway.
“We have traditional ties with the British navy and we are both close U.S. allies and these drills are an opportunity for us to strengthen cooperation,” Kenji Sakaguchi, the Maritime Self Defence Force (MSDF) commander of the Kaga group’s four helicopters said on the hangar deck.
The more frequent presence of the Royal Navy in a region is a chance for the two navies to train more closely in the future, he added.
The Argyll, Kaga and its destroyer escort the Inazuma practiced formations on calm seas in the Indian Ocean close to commercial sea lanes plied by container vessels and oil tankers. Three helicopters from the Japanese carrier hovered above, monitoring the drill.
The Argyll’s arrival in the region comes after Britain’s amphibious assault ship HMS Albion, last month challenged Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea on its way to Vietnam from Japan by sailing close to Chinese bases in the Paracel islands in a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP).
China dispatched a warship and helicopters to counter the British presence and warned London that similar actions in the future could endanger talks for a possible trade deal that Britain is seeking as it prepares to leave the European Union.
KONFRONTASI-China’s air force has held another round of drills in the disputed South China Sea and the Western Pacific after passing though Japan’s southern islands, the air force said on Sunday, calling such exercises the best preparation for war.
China is in the midst of an ambitious military modernization program overseen by President Xi Jinping with a heavy focus on its air force and navy, from building stealth fighters to adding aircraft carriers.
KONFRONTASI-China pushed for a maritime code of conduct with Southeast Asian countries that would not be legally binding, the Philippine foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Alan Peter Cayetano said some countries wanted the South China Sea code to be legally binding, and China preferred only "binding". He said all parties realized it was better to drop all mention of it from the framework and move forward.
KONFRONTASI-A U.S. warship sailed near a disputed island in the South China Sea claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam on Sunday in an operation meant to challenge the competing claims of all three nations, a U.S. Defense Department official said.
The USS Stethem, a guided-missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, part of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, the official said.
The operation was first reported by Fox News on Sunday.
It was the second "freedom-of-navigation operation," or "fonop," conducted during the presidency of Donald Trump, following a drill in late May in which a U.S. warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement the U.S. ship had made an unauthorized entry into China's territorial waters.
The operation was a "serious political and military provocation," said the statement, issued late on Sunday, citing ministry spokesman Lu Kang. It said China had sent battle ships and fighter jets to warn off the Stethem.
"China strongly urges the U.S. side to immediately stop this kind of provocative action which seriously violates China's sovereignty and puts at risk China's security," Lu said. China would take all necessary measures to defend itself, he said.
China's Defence Ministry said in a social media post on Monday the U.S. action had seriously damaged peace and stability in the South China Sea and reiterated its resolute opposition to the warship's entry.
"The U.S. conduct seriously damages strategic trust between the two sides and seriously damages the political atmosphere of the development of China-U.S. military relations," the ministry said, without elaborating.
KONFRONTASI-China has built new military facilities on islands in the South China Sea, a U.S. think tank reported on Thursday, a move that could raise tensions with Washington, which has accused Beijing of militarizing the vital waterway.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), part of Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, said new satellite images show missile shelters and radar and communications facilities being built on the Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs in the Spratly Islands.
KONFRONTASI-There was "no such thing" as man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea, China's Defence Ministry said on Thursday, and reiterated that any building work was mainly for civilian purposes.
China, which claims most of the resource-rich region, has carried out land reclamation and construction on several islands in the Spratly archipelago, parts of which are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
KONFRONTASI - The Philippines’ military has blocked a group of lawmakers and security chiefs from visiting one of nine Philippine-held features in the disputed South China Sea due to safety issues, defense officials said on Friday.
But one senior Philippine general said the cancellation of this week’s trip to Thitu Island, known locally as Pagasa, had more to do with concerns over how China would react.
KONFRONTASI - China has once again warned the United States against any military activities in the South China Sea, as reports have emerged that Washington is planning to conduct fresh naval patrols in the disputed area.
In a news briefing on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said tensions in the South China Sea had stabilized due to the hard work between China and the Southeast Asia countries that also lay claims to territory in the sea.