Monday May 27, 2019
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China to accelerate militarising new islands in South China Sea

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Beijing: China will “accelerate militarizing its newly built islands”, warned a state-run daily after a US bomber flew close to it in the South China Sea.

The Pentagon said that an American B-52 bomber “unintentionally” flew over the South China Sea within two nautical miles of an artificial island built by China. Chinese authorities described the move as “provocation”.

An editorial “US actions prompt islands militarization” in the Global Times said on Monday that the US military has adopted a mild tone this time, but “its action is aggressive”.

“The moves of the US will undoubtedly propel China to accelerate militarizing its newly built islands and make them capable of coping with direct military threat from the US.

“As the Chinese mainland is far from this area and China only has one aircraft carrier, it would be too late for China to send fighter jets from the mainland when US jets intrude into the airspace of the islands. The only choice is to deploy the fighter jets on these islands,” the daily said.

“Communist country stressed that these islands serve a peaceful purpose, but the premise of such assertion is that no external military force threatens their security. The US military is undermining this premise, and China should carry out corresponding security deployment.”

It observed that nowadays US warplanes and bombers fly over nearby waters and airspace at will.

“If China does not take due measures, it can be implied that it tacitly approves such hostile actions. This, in turn, will jeopardize the country’s South China Sea strategy. It, therefore, has no other options, but to build up its military capability on those islands. In that case, next time when the US warplanes come over again, there will be Chinese military planes taking off and safeguarding our sovereignty.”

The daily went on to say that there is worry that militarization of the islands will bring more pressure on China from the international community and some Southeast Asian countries will especially be unhappy about it.

“But it is the US military provocations that are propelling China to do so. Chinese countermeasures will be morally correct. They may further complicate the situation in the South China Sea, but will not tarnish China’s international image.”

The editorial noted that if all parties wish for the peaceful South China Sea, they should fulfill their responsibilities rather than providing assistance to the US which intends to intrude China’s island demilitarization.

“The island militarization doesn’t mean a significant rising potential for military clashes. Neither Beijing nor Washington wants a war,” it said, adding: “The US’ exercise of freedom of navigation in the South China Sea should not threaten the security of Chinese facilities. In view of China’s overall military capability and national strength, the US should renounce its arrogance.”(IANS)

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US Warships Pass Through Taiwan Strait, China Rebukes

Beijing views any ships passing through the strait as essentially breaching its sovereignty

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US Warships, Taiwan Strait
The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. Pixabay

China said Thursday it had lodged a protest with Washington after two US warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait amid rising tensions between the two powers.

The US Navy said the USS Preble, a destroyer, and USNS Walter S. Diehl, a supply ship, conducted a routine transit “in accordance with international law” on Wednesday.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the navy said. “The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

US warships periodically conduct “freedom of navigation” exercises in the narrow waterway separating the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, triggering angry responses from Beijing every time.

US Warships, Taiwan Strait

China said Thursday it had lodged a protest with Washington after two US warships sailed. Pixabay

Beijing views any ships passing through the strait as essentially breaching its sovereignty, while the US and many other nations view the route as international waters open to all.

“We have lodged solemn representations with the US,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular press briefing.

The sail-by comes on top of tensions between the United States and China over trade and US efforts to thwart Chinese telecom giant Huawei over security concerns.

The transit also comes as the US, Japan, South Korea and Australia kicked off operation “Pacific Vanguard” near Guam, bringing together more than 3,000 sailors from the four countries.

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Drills will focus on “live fire exercises, defensive counter-air operations, anti-submarine warfare, and replenishment at sea,” the US 7th Fleet said.

In April, Beijing said its navy warned off a French warship that had entered the Taiwan Strait and lodged an official complaint with Paris.

China sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949.

The US diplomatically recognizes China over Taiwan, but remains the island’s chief military ally and arms supplier.

US Warships, Taiwan Strait
China sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified. VOA

For the Guam naval drills, Australia has contributed two frigates, Japan two destroyers and South Korea one destroyer. The USS Blue Ridge, the 7th Fleet’s flagship, will lead the operation from the US side.

Home to more than 160,000 people, Guam was at the center of nuclear tensions between Washington and Pyongyang in 2017, with North Korea threatening to hit the US territory with “enveloping fire.” (VOA)