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China building artificial islands and airstrips in South China Sea

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YANGJIANG, CHINA - DECEMBER 22: (CHINA OUT) Two maritime affairs officials show the Chinese national flag as the wreck of the 800-year-old sunken merchant ship "Nanhai No.1" (or "South China Sea No. 1") is raised by a specially designed steel basket from the bottom of the sea in the background, on December 22, 2007 in South China Coast near Yangjiang of Guangdong Province, China. The 30 metres (about 100 feet) wooden vessel, discovered in 1987, containing thousands of gold, silver and porcelain trading goods. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)
Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)
Two maritime affairs officials show the Chinese national flag (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

By NewsGram Staff Writer

China has claimed that it built artificial islands on reefs in the Spratly Islands — which are also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines — to improve weather forecasting.

The official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, People’s Daily, published two interviews with two scientists — Ding Yihui from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and director of China Meteorological Administration Zheng Guogang — to back up this claim.

The argument comes a day before US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue on Tuesday in Washington.

The meeting is expected to address the issue of Chinese structures on the islands.

Both scientists defended the new facilities as aimed at enhancing weather forecasts, in a region with extreme climatic conditions.

“The construction of infrastructure for observation and communication is the first step towards enhancing and improving marine meteorological monitoring, warning, forecasting, prediction and scientific research,” Ding said.

According to Zheng, better weather forecast is a responsibility that China owes the region, to help neighbouring countries avoid ravages of typhoons and dangerous natural phenomena, and increase security for dense fishing and maritime traffic in the area.

Those same neighbouring countries, however, had expressed alarm last year seeing Chinese activity on regional islands and reefs, a concern backed by Washington.

Beijing has repeatedly stonewalled Washington’s request to stop building on these islands.

Meanwhile, South China Morning Post on Monday quoted analysts as saying that China could use such facilities to deploy its J-11 fighter-bombers in the area, a model developed between 1990 and 2009 from the Soviet Su-27.

The J-11 has a flight range of 1,500 km, expandable with the installation of additional fuel tanks under its wings.

With such devices in the area, China could extend the presence of its air force by an additional 1,000 km to the south.

In fact, in one of the islands, a three-km track is being readied (which can be used not only by a J-11 but also by transport aircraft), and together with its aircraft carrier, ‘Liaoning’, it would allow Beijing to expand its air influence to defensive operations in mid-ocean for the first time.

(With inputs from IANS)

 

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Dalai Lama says that India and China have great potential

The spiritual leader feels that both the countries are doing compassionate works

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Dalai Lama talks about India and China
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai says that India and China can work together. VOA

New Delhi, Nov 19

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Sunday said India and China have “great potential” and they could work together at a “practical level”.

“I think, a great potential… India and China combined are doing more compassionate work… At a practical level also. Imagine two billion people working together,” he told reporters here after inaugurating Smile Foundation’s initiative, The World of Children.

The spiritual leader, who has lived in India in self-imposed exile since 1959, said neither country had the “ability to destroy the other”.

“Whether you like it or not, you have to live side by side,” he said.

Underlining the ancient spiritual connection between the two countries, he said Chinese Buddhist Hsuan Tsang visited Nalanda (now in Bihar) and brought Nalanda Buddhist traditions to China.

“All thinkers of Nalanda are Indian. So Nalanda’s tradition is India’s tradition,” he said.

The Nalanda traditions had turned Tibetans, who were warriors, into more compassionate, peaceful and non-violent nation, he said.

“So sometimes in Delhi, teasing my Indian friend, (I say) if Tibet still remained in the previous way of life, like Mongols, Chinese invasion may not have taken place,” the Dalai Lama said in a lighter vein.

He said nobody in the world wanted violence but it was happening “because our minds are dominated by destructive emotions due to short-sightedness”.

“Nobody wants problems. Yet, many problems are our own creation.”

The Dalai Lama said the existing modern education was oriented to material values. India can take lead in improving the education system by combining modern education with ancient knowledge, he said. (IANS)

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Donald Trump Planning to meet Putin during his Asia tour

Donald Trump's first trip to Asia is the longest international tour.

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US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump. wikimedia commns
  • US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during his Asia tour.

“I think it’s expected we’ll meet with Putin, yeah. We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One before landing at the Yokota Air Base in Japan, Efe reported.

Putin is scheduled to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, which Trump will also attend as part of his long Asia tour.

The North Korean nuclear threat is expected to dominate Donald Trump’s meetings in Japan and the next two stages of his tour, South Korea and China, where he will have a highly anticipated sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The remainder of the tour will be more focused on economic issues, with Trump scheduled to take part in the APEC meeting in Da Nang and then in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the East Asia Summit in the Philippines.

Donald Trump’s first trip to Asia is the longest international tour by a US head of state since the one then-President George H.W. Bush embarked on in 1992.

Bush became ill at the end of that trip, famously vomiting on the Japanese prime minister’s lap at a formal dinner before fainting.(IANS)

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China-ASEAN Naval Exercise Hopes to Build Rapport Among Rivals

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China's frigate Huangshan is seen anchored in the waters off RSS Singapura Changi Naval Base
China's frigate Huangshan is seen anchored in the waters off RSS Singapura Changi Naval Base, May 15, 2017, in Singapore. China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will engage in naval exercises next year. VOA

 proposed for next year will ease a stalemated dispute over the South China Sea by letting adversaries meet one another’s front-line personnel and work on common issues, experts in the region say.

Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen and his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan agreed Monday to plan for the first maritime exercise with ships from China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Singaporean defense ministry said on its website. Singapore will lead the association next year.

Beijing has angered four Southeast Asian states by expanding its coast guard and military presence in the South China Sea, a 3.5 million-square-kilometer tract of water rich in fisheries and fuel reserves. Claims by Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines overlap that of China, which calls nearly the whole sea its own.

China-ASEAN Naval Exercise would break down suspicion by letting naval personnel meet one another, said Termsak Chalermpalanupap, political and security affairs fellow with the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore. Foreign ministries, he added, would be in charge of handling disputes.

“I think it’s good to have the joint exercise,” Chalermpalanupap said. “At least interpersonal contact, that will be important.”

Nonpolitical focus

Joint exercises will be especially welcomed if they cover search and rescue work or efforts to stop piracy at sea, said Oh Ei Sun, international studies instructor at Singapore Nanyang University. The countries must avoid politics to ensure the success of any maneuvers, he said.

“They would have to really focus on the exercise at hand and all sides should not try to in any way, shall we say, proclaim sovereignty during the exercise,” Oh said.

China began to expand in the sea in 2010 by reclaiming land to build artificial islands, some apparently for military use. It’s ready to deploy radar systems and fighter jets on some, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative under American think tank Center for Strategic & International Studies.

China’s coast guard ships, oil rigs and unilateral fishing bans in disputed waters have further riled Southeast Asian countries.(VOA)