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Is U.S.-China Conflict Imminent in the South China Sea?

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Is U.S.-China Conflict Imminent in the South China Sea?

by Joseph Nye, Huffington Post

Philippines_sea_code_China_CNNPH.jpg

OXFORD, England -- When a U.S. Navy P8-A surveillance aircraft recently flew near Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, it was warned eight times by the Chinese Navy to leave the area. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that, "China's determination to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity is as firm as a rock." U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter replied that, "There should be no mistake [about this]: the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows us, as we do all around the world." So, is a U.S.-China conflict in the South China Sea imminent?

In 1995, when I was serving in the Pentagon, China began building structures on Mischief Reef, which is claimed by the Philippines and lies much closer to its shores than to China's. The U.S. issued a statement that we took no position on the competing claims by five states over the 750 or so rocks, atolls, islets, cays and reefs that comprise the Spratlys, which cover a vast area -- 425,000 square kilometers (164,000 square miles) -- of the South China Sea. We urged that the parties involved to settle the disputes peacefully.

But the U.S. took a strong stand that the South China Sea, which includes important sea lanes for oil shipments from the Middle East and container ships from Europe, and over which military and commercial aircraft routinely fly, was subject to theUnited Nations Law of the Sea Treaty.

To back up its territorial claim, China relies on a map inherited from the Nationalist period -- the so-called "nine-dashed line," which extends nearly a thousand miles south of mainland China and sometimes as close as 40 or 50 miles from the coastline of states like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines. All of these states claim the 200-mile exclusive economic zones granted under UNCLOS.

When the dispute over Mischief Reef erupted, Chinese officials failed to clarify themeaning of the nine-dashed line, but, when pressed, they agreed that the dashes demarcated areas where China had sovereign claims. At the same time, they agreed that the South China Sea was not a Chinese lake, and that it was governed by the UN treaty. On this basis, the U.S. and China avoided conflict over the issue for nearly two decades.

But China did not avoid conflicts with its maritime neighbors. Although it pledged to adhere to a code of conduct negotiated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2002, it used its superior military might in disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam. In 2012, Chinese patrol vessels chased Philippine fishing boats away from Scarborough Shoal off the Philippine coast, and the Philippine government has taken the dispute to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which China claims has no jurisdiction. In 2014, after China stationed an oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam, ships from the two countries engaged in ramming and water-cannon battles at sea; anti-Chinese riots in Vietnam followed.

The region's smaller states sought American support. But the U.S. remained careful not to be drawn into the competing claims over sovereignty, some of which are tenuous, while on others China sometimes has a stronger legal position. Moreover, the U.S. had to focus on larger issues in its relationship with China.

This began to change when China initiated an active policy of dredging sand to fill in reefs and build islands in at least five locations. Earlier this year, analysts released images of what is expected to be a 10,000-foot (3,000-meter) runway on Fiery Cross Reef.

The U.S. argues that UNCLOS grants foreign ships and planes free access beyond a12-mile territorial limit, while China claims that military flights cannot cross its 200-mile economic zone without its permission. If China claimed such a zone for each of the sites it occupies, it could close off most of the South China Sea. As one U.S. official put it, China seems to be trying to "create facts on the ground" -- what Admiral Harry Harris, the U.S. commander in the Pacific, calls a new "great wall of sand."

China correctly declared that it was within its sovereign rights to dredge, and that it was merely following the lead of its neighbors, whose governments had also been creating structures to bolster their claims. But American suspicions were heightened by the fact that in 2013, in a separate dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku/Daiyou Islands in the East China Sea, the Chinese government unilaterallydeclared an Air Defense Identification Zone without prior warning. The U.S. response was to fly two B-52 bombers through the unrecognized zone. This set a precedent for the recent naval reconnaissance flight (which had a team of CNN reporters on board).

The U.S. response was designed to prevent China from creating a fait accompli that could close off large parts of the South China Sea.

Nevertheless, the original policy of not becoming embroiled in the sovereignty dispute continues to make sense. The irony is that the U.S. Senate's failure to ratify UNCLOS means that the U.S. cannot take China to ITLOS over its efforts to convert reefs into islands and claim exclusion zones that could interfere with the right of free passage -- a major U.S. interest.

But, because China has ratified UNCLOS and the U.S. respects it as customary international law, there is a basis for serious direct negotiation over clarification of the ambiguous nine-dashed line and the preservation of freedom of the seas. With properly managed diplomacy, a U.S.-China conflict in the South China Sea can and should be avoided.

Link to article - http://tinyurl.com/non4ouu

Edited by zuluweta

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who?


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Vietnam wants more fun and games in Spratlys
by Cynthia Balana, Inquirer, May 29, 2015

000_Hkg9917502.jpg

Vietnam wants to conduct more friendly engagements with the Philippines following the successful holding of ball games and other sports activities on Wednesday in Parola Island (Northeast Cay) in the West Philippine Sea.

“They (Vietnamese Navy troops) were encouraged by the results and they would like to have a follow-on,” Philippine Navy spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo said on Thursday.

“The ibformation that we had was they were very happy about the turnout of the activity and they would like to have another similar event,” Arevalo said.

The Navy-to-Navy engagement was held in the Philippines-occupied territory in the Kalayaan Island Group.

A total of 62 personnel from the Vietnamese People’s Navy and the same number of sailors from the host Navy took part in the sports games.

This return visit followed after an equally successful hosting by the Vietnamese troops of a similar event in June 28 last year at the Vietnamese Navy’s island detachment.

Among the events played this year were volleyball, football, tug-of-war, sack race and centipede race. The host Navy won in the tug-of-war and the sack race for male.

The visiting team Navy won in the volleyball, soccer, centipede race and sack race for female. The Vietnamese troops were declared the overall winner.

The action-packed sports competition was capped by a cultural presentation rendered by the host Navy that the Vietnamese team met with acclamation.

Arevalo said the local Navy personnel reflected the true Filipino virtues of hospitality and friendship.

“Even language did not pose a barrier. The participants understood each other through signs and gestures,” he said.

He said the event showed that winning in the sports event was second only to what was attained in this activity—keeping peace, maintaining goodwill and promoting camaraderie between and among the participants.

“Sailor-to-sailor interactions like this foster understanding notwithstanding varying positions and overlapping claims between Vietnam and the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea,” Arevalo said.

“The Philippine and Vietnamese Navies are in the forefront of ensuring peace, amity, cooperation and assistance in that part of the sea,” he said.

The assistance recently rendered by the Vietnamese People’s Navy in helping six distressed Filipino fisherfolk near their island detachment this year is one good example of such cooperation and assistance.

Link to article - http://tinyurl.com/nfh3ztl

Edited by zuluweta

Check my timeline for K-1 visa & AOS details

Conditional Permanent Resident: 16 September 2014

Conditional GC Expires: 16 September 2016

ROC Journey (CA Service Center)

2016-Sep-14: I-751 form, check, supporting docs sent USPS Priority Express

2016-Sep-15: ROC application received & signed for by Lakelieh

2016-Sep-15: NOA receipt date

2016-Sep-19: $590 check cashed by USCIS

2016-Sep-20: NOA/ 1-year extension letter received in mail

2018-Feb-26: ROC case transferred to local office

2018-Mar-06: ROC approved via USCIS website (WAC status check)

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yay gestures !


Sometimes my language usage seems confusing - please feel free to 'read it twice', just in case !
Ya know, you can find the answer to your question with the advanced search tool, when using a PC? Ditch the handphone, come back later on a PC, and try again.

-=-=-=-=-=R E A D ! ! !=-=-=-=-=-

Whoa Nelly ! Want NVC Info? see http://www.visajourney.com/wiki/index.php/NVC_Process

Congratulations on your approval ! We All Applaud your accomplishment with Most Wonderful Kissies !

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