China has stationed several ships near a disputed atoll in the South China Sea, preventing Filipino fishermen from accessing traditional fishing grounds and raising tensions in the volatile region, Philippine officials said on Wednesday. China had deployed up to seven ships to Quirino Atoll, also known as Jackson Atoll, said Eugenio Bito-onon Jr, the mayor of nearby Pagasa Island in the Spratly Islands. The Spratlys are the most contested archipelago in the South China Sea, a resource-rich region and critical shipping lane linking North Asia to Europe, South Asia and the Middle East. "This is very alarming, Quirino is on our path when we travel from Palawan to Pagasa. It is halfway and we normally stop there to rest," Bito-onon Jr told Reuters. "I feel something different. The Chinese are trying to choke us by putting an imaginary checkpoint there. It is a clear violation of our right to travel, impeding freedom of navigation," he said. Fishermen told the mayor one Filipino boat had … [Read more...] about China is Blocking Access to Contested South China Sea Atoll, Says Philippines
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ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in Washington's latest challenge of Chinese land reclamation in the South China Sea, said the scale of Beijing's activities, not the United States, was altering the status quo in the region. Carter, speaking to reporters at the start of a 10-day trip to Asia, said the United States was trying to maintain a shared regional security structure that has advanced "prosperity for everyone" over the past 70 years. "We've been flying over the South China Sea for years and years and years, and ... will continue to do that: fly, navigate, operate. So that's not a new fact," Carter said. "The new facts are the reclamation and the scale on which it is being done, and that's not an American fact, that's a Chinese fact," Carter said. The United States has publicly highlighted Chinese island-building in the disputed Spratly Islands several times in recent weeks. Carter called for an end to the land reclamation work by … [Read more...] about China Land Reclamation in South China Sea Creates ‘New Facts’: U.S.
I had not given much thought to the flight plan of the airline I recently booked to go back to the U.S. from Vietnam, but recent events in the airspace over the South China Sea prompted an online search. As I discovered, my commercial flight would fly not far from where a U.S. surveillance plane was warned to leave on May 20 by a Chinese radar operator. The P8-A Poseidon, the U.S. military's most advanced surveillance aircraft, was flying near artificial islands that China is constructing, and the order is thought to have come from an early warning radar station on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Island chain, on which the Chinese have been constructing military facilities, which include a 10,000-foot runway. New satellite images show heightened reclamation work by China at seven sites in the Spratlys, adding around 2,000 acres of land since March 2014. Beijing claimed last month that the new islands would provide weather forecasting and search and rescue facilities for the benefit of … [Read more...] about The Clash Over Air Space Above the South China Sea
ISE-SHIMA (Japan), (Sputnik) – The South China Sea has recently seen increased tensions between Washington and Beijing as both try to reaffirm their dominance in the region. US air and naval patrols persistently challenge China's claims over territories disputed with Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan. "We are concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, and emphasize the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes," the declaration says. Japan and China have rival claims to the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. The conflict became aggravated in 2012 when China sent warships to the waters around the islands after Japan claimed to have purchased them from private owners. … [Read more...] about G7 Expresses Concern Over East, South China Sea Territorial Disputes
© AP Photo / Ng Han Guan, FileSouth China Sea Flyby: Beijing Defends its Claims 'Rather Robustly'MOSCOW (Sputnik) — US President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on all parties to peacefully resolve the South China Sea territorial disputes during his speech in Vietnam’s Hanoi. "In the South China Sea, the US is not a claimant in current disputes, but we will stand with our partners in upholding key principles like freedom of navigation," Obama said, as quoted by the CNN broadcaster. Obama’s speech come a day after the lifting of the decades-long US ban of lethal weapons’ sales to Vietnam. According to Obama, the Vietnam will now have “greater access to the equipment you need to improve your security." "Disputes should be resolved peacefully," he added. The South China Sea contains a number of disputed islands, including the Paracel Islands … [Read more...] about Obama Calls on All Parties to Peacefully Resolve South China Sea Disputes