China PLA build up on disputed islands in South China Sea which they unilaterally claim as part of their hereditary territories ‘Nine-Dash-Line’ is clear and present danger.
South China Sea dispute: US attacks China ‘militarisation’
17 February 2016
Media captionWhy is sovereignty of the islands disputed and how serious could the row get? Rupert Wingfield-Hayes explains
US Secretary of State John Kerry says Washington is seriously concerned about increased Chinese militarisation in the contested South China Sea.
He was responding to reports Beijing has deployed surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island in the region.
China dismissed the reports as “hype”, but said it had the right under international law to defend itself.
Several nations claim territory in the resource-rich South China Sea, which is also an important shipping route.
A spokesman for Mr Kerry said satellite images appeared to confirm China had deployed anti-aircraft missiles on Woody or Yongxing Island in the Paracels.
The island is claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam and the presence of missiles would significantly increase tensions.
See images from Woody/Yongxing Island
China’s Island Factory
Flying close to Beijing’s new South China Sea islands
What is the South China Sea dispute about?
Mr Kerry said the US expected to have a “very serious conversation” with China over its presence.
“There is every evidence, every day, that there has been an increase of militarisation from one kind or another. It’s a serious concern,” he said.
Map showing military presence on Woody Island – 17 February 2016
The latest images of Woody Island were captured by ImageSat International.
A picture dated 3 February shows a beach on the island empty. By 14 February it contains several missile launchers and support vehicles.
But the Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, said reports were a Western media invention.
He defended “the limited and necessary self-defence facilities” on islands inhabited by Chinese personnel as “consistent with the right for self-preservation and self-protection…. under the international law”.
China has been carrying out extensive land reclamation work in the region, which it says is legal and for civilian purposes.
But the work has angered other countries which also claim the territory, and there is growing concern about the implications of the area becoming militarised.
The South China Sea dispute has been a topic of debate at a meeting of South East Asian regional leaders in California.
US President Barack Obama said the members had discussed the need for “tangible steps” to reduce tensions.
What is the South China Sea dispute?
Rival countries have wrangled over territory in the South China Sea for centuries, but tension has steadily increased in recent years.
Its islets and waters are claimed in part or in whole by Taiwan, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.
China has backed its expansive claims with island-building and naval patrols, while the US says it opposes restrictions on freedom of navigation and unlawful sovereignty claims – by all sides, but seen by many as aimed at China.
The frictions have sparked concern that the area is becoming a flashpoint with global consequences.
US secretary of state John Kerry was aloud on his concern on the China PLA-N aggressive presence in South China Sea, which poised the military threat and stability in the region.
South China Sea: Militarisation of disputed island ‘a serious concern’, John Kerry says
By US correspondent Michael Vincent, China correspondent Bill Birtles and wires
Updated about 9 hours ago
Aerial of Sansha, on Woody Island
PHOTO: The surface-to-air missiles were deployed from Woody Island in the latest in the ongoing dispute over control of the South China Sea. (AFP)
RELATED STORY: Chinese missile base ratchets up tension in South China Sea
The US Defence Department has confirmed that China has deployed a surface-to-air missile system on a disputed island in the South China Sea, in a move Secretary of State John Kerry has described as a “serious concern”.
South China Sea islands part of disputed territory
US, Australia concerned about new missiles deployed on Woody Island by China
China dismisses reports as ‘hype’, says it has right to defend itself
Images from civilian satellite company ImageSat International showed two batteries of eight surface-to-air missile launchers as well as a radar system on Woody Island, according to US outlet Fox News.
The Pentagon urged all countries that have staked claims to disputed areas in the region to address their territorial and maritime claims in accordance with international law, and to commit to peacefully manage or resolve their disputes.
The Taiwanese defence ministry confirmed that China had installed surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island, although China said its self-defence facilities had existed for many years and latest media reports were “hype”.
“But there is every evidence, every day that there has been an increase of militarisation of one kind or another — it’s of serious concern,” Mr Kerry said.
Mr Kerry said the US would raise its concerns with China to ensure the disputed claims in the South China Sea were resolved peacefully.
“Not through unilateral action, not by force, not through militarisation, but through diplomacy and by working with the other countries and claimants and trying to resolve these differences,” Mr Kerry said.
Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims on the island in question, Woody Island, which is part of the Paracel Islands.
Satellite image from ImageSat which show a Chinese missile set-up on the South China Sea’s Woody Island
PHOTO: Satellite image shows a Chinese missile set-up on the South China Sea’s Woody Island. (Supplied: ImageSat International)
Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop held talks with senior Chinese government officials in Beijing today, a day after raising concerns with China’s foreign minister about reports of surface-to-air missiles.
She met with China’s top-ranked diplomat Yang Jiechi for more than an hour.
Ms Bishop said the South China Sea was discussed, but in all meetings, the Chinese side challenged reports missiles had been deployed, but did not outright deny it.
When asked if she believed Beijing was militarising the disputed sea, she said: “It depends on the definition of militarisation.”
The United States has no territory claims in the South China Sea but has expressed serious concerns about how China’s increasingly assertive pursuit of territorial claims could affect the vital global trade routes that pass though it.
Before and after: South China Sea
See how China is converting reefs to military facilities by building artificial islands in the South China Sea.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters the “limited and necessary self-defence facilities” China had on islands and reefs where it has personnel stationed was “consistent with the right to self-protection that China is entitled to under international law”.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion in global trade passes every year.
News of the missile deployment came as US President Barack Obama and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) concluded a summit in California, where they discussed the need to ease tensions in the South China Sea.
It also followed a patrol by a US Navy destroyer within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Paracels last month, a move China condemned as provocative.
China has been projecting power with the manifestation of their military might through the constant manoeuvres within several ASEAN exclusive economic zone (Zone) as per outlined under the United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS).
Despite signing the Document of Conduct (DOC) with ASEAN nations in 2002 where all parties agreed to settle disputes which include multiple claim on overlapping territories using UNCLOS provisions.
The vast area in disputes by the various ASEAN nations which over lapped on China unsubstantiated ‘Nine-Dash-Line’ is world’s second most strategic maritime passage and hydrocarbon deposits of China’s much needed energy.