India, Vietnam call for order in disputed waters

SCSC Ahead of Xi Jinping’s scheduled three-day visit to India, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee traveled to Vietnam for a state visit. At the conclusion of his trip to Vietnam, Mukherjee and his counterpart, Truong Tan Sang, issued a joint communique in which they called for countries to stand for freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

The communique is ostensibly aimed at China, which was engaged in a major stand-off earlier this year with Vietnam after it placed an oil rig within waters Vietnam claims as its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). [READ MORE]

EU backs PHL’s arbitration push to settle China sea row

SCSC - The Philippines has found an ally in the European Union in its effort to settle its territorial dispute with China through international arbitration.

President Jose Manuel Barroso of the European Commission, EU's executive body, renewed calls to settle conflicting claims over resource - rich portions of the South China Sea through the rule of law. [READ MORE]

Malaysia Risks Enraging China by Inviting U.S. Spy Flights

SCSC - Malaysia’s reported invitation to the United States to fly spy planes out of East Malaysia on the southern rim of the South China Sea seems likely to intensify China’s anger at American surveillance of the strategic waterway and its disputed islands, analysts say.

The United States’ chief of naval operations, Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, told a forum in Washington last week that the recent offer by Malaysia for P - 8 Poseidon aircraft to fly out of the country’s most eastern area would give the United States greater proximity to the South China Sea. [READ MORE]

Dredger shores up Chinese claims to disputed islands

SCSC - Intelligence agencies in the United States and Asia are “intensively” tracking the movements of a vast Chinese dredging ship, whose land reclamation mission in the South China Sea is redrawing the regional map on an hourly basis.

The ship, which has been pictured in recent aerial photographs operating on the hotly disputed Spratly island chain, allows China to rapidly turn what are little more than small, barren rocks jutting from the ocean into expansive artificial islands capable of supporting large buildings, industrial facilities or even small airstrips. [READ MORE]

The South China Sea: Waves of trouble

SCSC - The rocks and coral known as James Shoal are not much: just a raised stretch of seabed 22 metres (72 feet) below the surface and 107km (67 miles) off the coast of Malaysian Borneo.

Yet China, 1,500km to the north, regards it as the southernmost point of its territory, at the base of a vast U - shaped swathe of the South China Sea, demarcated by a “nine - dash line” on maps that now appear even in Chinese passports. [READ MORE]

Why Is China Building Islands in the South China Sea?

SCSC - The BBC has published a multimedia report on the scramble for control over the South China Sea, with a particular focus on the clash between China and the Philippines. In the BBC report, entitled “China’s Island Factory,” reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes describes his journey on a Filipino fishing boat to visit “new islands” created by Chinese land reclamation in the South China Sea.

He then visits two Philippines outposts in the Spratlys (Pagasa Island and the Sierre Madre, a Philippine Navy vessel grounded on Second Thomas Shoal) that Manila uses to legitimize its claims. [READ MORE]

Is China building on disputed Spratly Islands reefs?

SCSC - A chain of islands in the South China Sea has become the centre of a territorial dispute - and a source of growing tension in the region.

The Spratly Islands are situated in a key shipping route, surrounded by natural resources. [READ MORE]

Vietnam-China Tensions Renewed on Maritime Incident

SCSC - Vietnam on Wednesday accused crew members of Chinese boats of harassing fishing vessels and beating Vietnamese fishermen near the contested Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, but China dismissed the accusations as groundless.

Individuals from the Chinese boats—including two identified as rubber dinghies—searched and seized equipment from three Vietnamese fishing vessels on three separate occasions in August, according to a statement posted on the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry's website. [READ MORE]

China expands runway, harbour at Woody Island

SCSC - Satellite imagery shows that since October 2013 China has undertaken substantial land reclamation, harbour redevelopment and other infrastructure construction on the island, which is known as Yongxing Dao by China and Phu Lam Island by Vietnam.

China has occupied Woody Island since 1956 and, since then, has established a military garrison, coastal defensive positions, the runway, four large aircraft hangars, communications facilities, and a municipal headquarters. Vietnam claims the Paracels, as does Taiwan. [READ MORE]

Keeping the South China Sea in Perspective

SCSC - The United States seeks to promote Asia - Pacific economic interdependence and dynamism and to mitigate security tensions in the region.

Unfortunately, maritime territorial disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea increasingly threaten these dual objectives of U.S. - Asia policy. This policy brief focuses on the South China Sea set of issues. [READ MORE]

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