MonitorsPublished on Jan 11, 2017
South China Sea Monitor | Volume VI; Issue 1|
The Liaoning, the first aircraft carrier of the Chinese navy, ventured into the western Pacific ocean in late December. The carrier headed towards the Hainan Island sailing around the First Island Chain, the meeting point of the South and East China Seas through the Miyako Strait and past Taiwan through the Bashi Channel. Commissioned in 2012, the vessel, which is now combat-ready, has been remodeled on a hull was purchased from Ukraine more than a decade ago. The Liaoning also conduct open sea training exercises before docking at Sanya, Hainan Island. The drills took place in the Bohai Sea near the Korean peninsula in which ten vessels and ten aircraft (comprising a fleet of destroyers and J-15 carrier-borne fighter jets) engaged in air-to-air, air-to-sea and sea-to-air combat drills. The aim of the exercise according to Chinese state media was to test weapon performance, training levels including reconnaissance, aircraft interception, sea strikes, and missile defense. The aircraft carrier is no doubt a very big achievement for the Chinese navy and is the first in what would probably be a series of indigenously developed naval vessels. The country, which is set to double its military spending by 2020, has already commissioned 23rd Type 054A frigate with anti-surface, anti-submarine capabilities for its East Sea Fleet and has also initiated sea trials of a Type 901 replenishment ship built. Nevertheless, while China has come a long way in terms of modernizing its military capabilities and has made energetic strides in developing its research and technological capacity, it is still far behind the world’s leading military powers in terms of both capacity and quality of weaponry, equipment, vessels and technology. The last couple of years have been significant for the Chinese navy in that its activities increased substantially which were more often than not, the subject of speculation and concern. With the construction of airstrips on islands in the South China Sea, expansion of infrastructure in the islands in the region and naval activities together with the construction of more warships, there has been mounting apprehension among countries in the region regarding Beijing’s motives. At the same time however, countries like the Philippines and Malaysia are seemingly drawing closer to China with the former even playing down the July 2016 tribunal ruling that went against China. In keeping with the government’s usual position regarding such concerns, the PLAN has maintained that the drills were for entirely for research purposes rather than a preparatory test. On the other hand naval experts in the country have also stated that given China is the world’s second largest economy, it requires aircraft carrier battle groups with long-distance capability to protect its national interests. The two positions do not go hand in hand, especially in the case of China. With tensions in the South China Sea rising almost on a daily basis, the strengthening of the PLAN is not a coincidence. Rather, it signals the country’s ability to act as a deterring force in the face of the presence of the US and other countries in these waters.


China deploys aircraft carrier to disputed South China Sea

The Chinese military, in a move analysts described as a challenge to President-elect Donald J. Trump’s strident criticism of China, has deployed an aircraft carrier to patrol the contested South China Sea, officials said on Tuesday. The ship, which is known as the Liaoning and is China’s first and only aircraft carrier, was spotted leading five other Chinese warships this week in patrols near the coasts of Taiwan and Japan. China claims the South China Sea as its own despite objections from neighboring countries and the United States. Source:(The New York Times)

China issues yellow alert for ocean waves

China's National Marine Environmental Forecasting Centre has issued a yellow alert for ocean waves brought by typhoon Nock-Ten and a cold front. Starting Tuesday, Nock-Ten, the 26th typhoon this year, and the cold front are expected to bring waves of 3.5-5 metres in the East China Sea as well as waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands, Taiwan Strait, northern areas of the South China Sea and Bashi Strait, the Global Times reported. Waves of 5-7 metres are expected in the central and eastern areas of the South China Sea, the centre said. Source: (The Times of India)

Japan closely monitoring Chinese aircraft carrier’s voyage in the East China Sea

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday that a Chinese aircraft carrier’s voyage in the Pacific shows Beijing’s expanding military capability and that Japan is closely monitoring the vessel. The Self-Defense Forces will take steps for warning and surveillance activity in the area, Suga told a news conference. China said the Liaoning, its first aircraft carrier, is carrying out routine exercises in the Western Pacific. The carrier was part of a task force spotted sailing in the East China Sea by a Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer and airplane about 110 km northeast of Miyako Island at around 10 a.m. Sunday. Source:(Japan Times)

China to return seized U.S. drone, says Washington 'hyping up' incident

China will return an underwater U.S. drone seized by a naval vessel this week in the South China Sea, both countries said on Saturday, but Beijing complained that Washington had been "hyping up" the incident. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to take an aggressive approach in dealing with China over its economic and military policies, jumped on the unusual drone seizure with a pair of provocative tweets, accusing Beijing of stealing the equipment. The drone, known as an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), was the first seizure of its kind in recent memory. The Pentagon went public with its complaint after the action and said on Saturday it had secured a deal to get the drone back. Source: (Reuters)

Resolve South China Sea dispute without use of force: India, Indonesia

In a veiled message to China amid its growing assertiveness in resource-rich South China Sea, India and Indonesia today asserted that the dispute must be resolved through peaceful means and in accordance with principles of international law without resorting to threat or use of force. The issue figured prominently during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesia President Joko Widodo as they deliberated on developments in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and beyond. Source:  (The Economic Times)

Vietnam invites India to explore energy in South China Sea

Highlighting India’s importance as a regional power, Vietnam has urged New Delhi to intensify economic engagement with Southeast Asia. Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Chairwoman of National Assembly of Vietnam and member of Standing Committee of Politburo, Communist Party of Vietnam, on Saturday extended invitation to India to explore energy in South China Sea and supported India’s multilateral membership plans. Source:(The Hindu)

Chinese aircraft fly around Taiwan

Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew over the East China Sea to the south of Japan’s Okinawa Island and circled the international airspace surrounding Taiwan before passing over the Bashi Channel to return to China, officials from the Ministry of National Defense said. It was the second time in two weeks that Chinese military aircraft have flown around Taiwan and passed over the Miyako Strait between Japan’s Okinawa and Miyako islands. (Taipei Times)

China rescues Filipinos near disputed South China Sea shoal

China's coastguard rescued two Filipino fishermen from a capsized boat near a disputed South China Sea shoal on Friday, underlining the fast thawing of ties between two countries long at odds over sovereignty. A Philippine coastguard vessel navigated choppy waters to collect the two fishermen from the Chinese ship, in what would be the first time in four years both countries' coastguards were in close proximity in the Scarborough Shoal, a rocky outcrop at the heart of years of diplomatic tension. Source:(Reuters)

British fighters to overfly South China Sea; carriers in Pacific after 2020: envoy

British fighter planes visiting Japan will fly over the South China Sea and Britain will sail aircraft carriers in the Pacific once they are operational in 2020, given concerns about freedom of navigation there, Britain's ambassador to the United States said on Thursday. The envoy, Kim Darroch, told a Washington think tank that British Typhoon aircraft currently deployed on a visit to Japan would fly across disputed parts of the South China Sea to assert international overflight rights, but gave no time frame. Source:(Reuters)



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Editor: K. Yhome

Associate Editor: Pratnashree Basu

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