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China’s Boldness And Island Building In The South Chia Sea – 2015 To Present


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China’s Boldness And Island Building In The South Chia Sea – 2015 To Present
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:16 am

What China Has Been Building in the South China Sea

“The new islands allow China to harness a portion of the sea for its own use that has been relatively out of reach until now. Although there are significant fisheries and possible large oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea, China’s efforts serve more to fortify its territorial claims than to help it extract natural resources, said Mira Rapp-Hooper, formerly the director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research group.Though too small to support large military units, the islands will enable sustained Chinese air and sea patrols of the area.

The United States has reported spotting Chinese mobile artillery vehicles in the region, and the islands could allow China to exercise more control over fishing in the region. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan have all expanded islands in the Spratlys as well, but at nowhere near the same scale as China.

A satellite image from March showed work on an emerging artificial island at Mischief Reef, part of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. China has been turning submerged reefs into islands to bolster its territorial claims. Credit Center for Strategic International Studies, via Digital Globe

Dredgers pump sediment onto Mischief Reef, March 2015.
Image by DigitalGlobe, via CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Dredgers pump sediment onto Mischief Reef, March 2015. Image by DigitalGlobe, via CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Several reefs have been destroyed outright to serve as a foundation for new islands, and the process also causes extensive damage to the surrounding marine ecosystem. Frank Muller-Karger, professor of biological oceanography at the University of South Florida, said sediment “can wash back into the sea, forming plumes that can smother marine life and could be laced with heavy metals, oil and other chemicals from the ships and shore facilities being built.” Such plumes threaten the biologically diverse reefs throughout the Spratlys, which Dr. Muller-Karger said may have trouble surviving in sediment-laden water.

Sediment is broken up and sucked from the seabed.
Material is transported through a floating pipe.
Dredged material is deposited on the reef.

“The Chinese were relative latecomers to island building in the Spratly archipelago, and “strategically speaking, China is feeling left out,” said Sean O’Connor, principal imagery analyst for IHS Jane’s. Still, China’s island building has far outpaced similar efforts in the area, unsettling the United States, which has about $1.2 trillion in bilateral trade go through the South China Sea every year” (Ref. The New York Times - WASHINGTON - DEREK WATKINS - UPDATED October 27, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-bu ilding-in-the-south-china-sea.html

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary

November 13, 2011 - Press Briefing by NSA for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes and Admiral Robert Willard, U.S. Pacific Command - Moana Surfrider Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii - 10:14 A.M. HAST
https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2011/11/13/press-briefing- nsa-strategic-communications-ben-rhodes-and-admiral-rober

“Construction on Fiery Cross Reef, April 2015.

For China, the Fiery Cross Reef is the most strategically significant new island, with an airstrip that is long enough to allow China to land any plane, from fighter jets to large transport aircraft. But China’s airstrip is not the first in the region — every other country that occupies the Spratlys already operates one as well.

China’s reefs hosted smaller structures for years before the surge in construction. By preserving these initially isolated buildings, China can claim that it is merely expanding its earlier facilities, similar to what other countries have done elsewhere in the region.

Construction on Johnson South Reef, May 2015.

In recent months, China has nearly completed two of its largest island building projects, at Mischief Reef and Subi Reef. Current imagery shows that China has likely started building airstrips on long, straight sections of each of those islands, which would give the country three airstrips in the area.

China’s land reclamation efforts and airstrip construction at Subi Reef, September 2015.

Sources: C.I.A., Congressional Research Service, CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, IHS Jane’s, NASA, China Maritime Safety Administration” (Ref. The New York Times - WASHINGTON - DEREK WATKINS - UPDATED October 27, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-bu ilding-in-the-south-china-sea.html
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Re: China’s Boldness And Island Building In The South Chia Sea – 2015 To Present
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:23 am

“Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter criticized China’s actions in the region in May, asserting that, “The United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world”” (Ref. The New York Times - WASHINGTON - DEREK WATKINS - UPDATED October 27, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-bu ilding-in-the-south-china-sea.html

U.S. Rebukes China on Efforts to Build Artificial Islands

As reported on 27 May 2015, “a day after China laid out its vision for a navy that can project power into the open seas, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter on Wednesday criticized Beijing’s efforts to build artificial islands in the South China Sea, making it clear that the United States would not be deterred by Chinese claims to newly built territories.

Though American officials have long insisted that the Obama administration’s so-called pivot or rebalance toward Asia is not aimed at one country, Mr. Carter’s comments left little doubt that Washington shared the concerns of other Asian nations about China’s growing military presence in disputed areas of the South China Sea, and the increasingly assertive posture of its forces in disputed waters around Asia.

The South China Sea is especially sensitive. It is bisected by vital shipping lanes that connect Asia to the Middle East and Europe, and China’s efforts to create artificial islands and build military structures on reefs and other outcroppings have alarmed the Philippines, a close American ally, and other countries, like Vietnam and Malaysia.
“China’s actions are bringing countries in the region together in new ways. And they’re increasing demand for American engagement,” Mr. Carter said during a ceremony at the naval base at Pearl Harbor marking a change of command of United States forces in the Pacific. “We’re going to meet it. We will remain the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.”

American defense officials say that international law does not recognize Chinese claims of sovereignty over artificial territories reclaimed from the sea. And Mr. Carter, apparently in a warning to China, said Wednesday that American forces would not respect territorial claims that they considered illegitimate.

“There should be no mistake about this: The United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world,” he said.

At issue is more than an abstract legal dispute: The Pentagon is weighing how aggressively it should send aircraft and warships into what it considers international waters. An American surveillance jet last week flew near Fiery Cross Reef, a contested atoll in the Spratly Islands where China has been dredging in recent months. Chinese forces repeatedly ordered the American aircraft to leave the area, and China’s Foreign Ministry later characterized the flight as “irresponsible and dangerous.”

At the same time, China appears to be pushing ahead with its building spree in the disputed waters. On Tuesday, Chinese state news media announced that construction had begun on two new lighthouses in the Spratly Islands, adding to the growing number of structures that satellite images indicate China is building, including airstrips.
Mr. Carter added that the United States favored “a peaceful resolution to all disputes, and a halt to land reclamation by any claimant.”

Mr. Carter is en route to Singapore to attend an annual security meeting known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, which begins Friday. There, he said, “I’ll call for the region to strengthen its security institutions and relationships to ensure we can maintain lasting peace and stability in a region undergoing significant change.”

A version of this article appears in print on May 28, 2015, on Page A5 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Rebukes China on Efforts to Build Artificial Islands” (Ref. The New York Times - PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - By MATTHEW ROSENBERG - MAY 27, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/28/world/asia/us-rebukes-china-on-efforts-to-bui ld-artificial-islands.html

“China, in what some Asia analysts interpreted as a gesture to pre-empt the American naval maneuver, sent warships into United States territorial waters in August. Five Chinese ships came within 12 miles of the coast of Alaska while Mr. Obama was visiting the state” (Ref. The New York Times - WASHINGTON - DEREK WATKINS - UPDATED October 27, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-bu ilding-in-the-south-china-sea.html
Last edited by Batman47 on Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:42 am; edited 5 times in total
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Re: China’s Boldness And Island Building In The South Chia Sea – 2015 To Present
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:27 am

In a First, Chinese Navy Sails Off Alaska

As reported on 2 September 2015, “five Chinese Navy ships were sailing in international waters of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska on Wednesday, in what Pentagon officials said was the first such foray by Beijing. The move came on the last day of President Obama’s three-day visit to Alaska, in which he became the first sitting president to travel to Arctic Alaska. The White House said that the intent of the Chinese operation was unclear, but that the Pentagon had not detected any threatening activities.

The foray may be more about economics than defense. The Arctic has become hotly contested as the United States, Russia and China, among other nations, have expanded their economic and security interests. A growing number of vessels have been traveling north through the Bering Strait, and the Coast Guard has diverted ships from other core missions to manage the traffic.

A Pentagon official noted that China has every right to patrol international waters, adding that American warships often ply waters off the coast of China. “I wouldn’t call this something we are very worried about,” the official said. He said that American officials had identified a Chinese amphibious ship, three surface combatant ships and a replenishment vessel in the Bering Sea. Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the Defense Department respected “the freedom of all nations to operate military vessels in international waters.”

The operation, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, came as China has been increasingly flexing its military muscle, particularly off its own coast. Beijing has increased military spending and is working on an aircraft carrier. Last year, Chinese officials took Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary at the time, on a tour of the carrier, the Liaoning. Many American officials interpreted the move as an effort to project naval power, particularly in light of tensions between Beijing and its neighbors over disputed islands in the East and South China Seas.

China is also developing stealth fighters, and it has continued to reclaim islands in the two seas at a brisk pace. A version of this article appears in print on September 3, 2015, on Page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: In a First, Chinese Navy Sails Off Alaska” (Ref. The New York Times - WASHINGTON - By HELENE COOPER - SEPT. 2, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/03/world/asia/in-a-first-chinese-navy-sails-off- alaska.html

“According to statements from David Shear, the top Pentagon official in charge of Asia and the Pacific, the last time the United States sent ships or aircraft that close to the islands was in 2012” (Ref. The New York Times - WASHINGTON - DEREK WATKINS - UPDATED October 27, 2015).
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-bu ilding-in-the-south-china-sea.html

Conflict Flavors Obama’s Meeting With Chinese Leader

As reported on 22 September 2015, “for the past two years, the critical question confronting the Obama administration about Xi Jinping, the Chinese president who defied American predictions by challenging the United States’ superpower status early and directly, has been how forcefully to respond. When Mr. Xi, barely a year in office, declared an exclusive “air defense identification zone” over a vast stretch of territory, the Obama administration immediately sent B-52s right through the space, and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. spent seven hours with the new Chinese leader, telling him, as one participant in the discussion recalled, “You will be seeing a lot more of this.”

But on a range of issues since then, from how directly to challenge China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea to creating a cost for cyberespionage, the response has been less certain. This week’s meeting between President Obama and Mr. Xi is fraught with points of conflict, and its unspoken subtext is whether the president will confront the Chinese directly, deliberately causing friction in the relationship in hopes of drawing some lines around their behavior, or celebrate an unexpected partnership on issues like climate change and Iran, handling contentious issues in private.
Who Is Xi Jinping?

President Xi Jinping of China arrived in the United States on Tuesday for a state visit at a crucial crossroads in the Sino-American relationship. The administration has tried both approaches, and has often come away frustrated and dissatisfied, according to senior officials, some of whom have left the government recently and spoke on the condition of anonymity. But Mr. Obama recognizes that what amounts to his third long meeting with Mr. Xi, a formal state visit full of ceremonial displays of respect and cooperation that begins here Thursday, is likely to be his last chance to start what one White House official calls “long-ball diplomacy with the Chinese.”

By the next major meeting between the two men, the official said, “Obama will have only months left in office.” Musing on his dealings with China before an audience of business leaders last week, Mr. Obama noted that the Chinese were only episodically willing to take on the responsibilities that come with being a global power. “In other areas,” he said, “they still see themselves as the poor country that shouldn’t have any obligations internationally.” President Xi Jinping of China and his wife, Peng Liyuan, in Everett, Wash., at the start of his state visit. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times.

The most potent evidence of that came after Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, traveled to Beijing in late August to see Mr. Xi and try to plan out the trip. She warned that unless Mr. Xi acted on restraining what Ms. Rice in a speech on Monday called “cyber-enabled espionage that targets personal and corporate information for the economic gain of businesses” in China, Mr. Obama was prepared to impose sanctions, perhaps before Mr. Xi’s arrival.

The Chinese reaction was swift: Mr. Xi dispatched Meng Jianzhu, a close Communist Party adviser to Mr. Xi and head of state security, to make a highly unusual trip to Washington, along with some 50 aides, to work out a deal. On his return, he began speaking for the first time about the need to crack down on the theft of intellectual property — as opposed to espionage for national security, a distinction the Chinese never acknowledged before. Negotiations are also underway on embracing a set of rules, expected to be vague in their first iteration, that commit both countries to “no first use” of cyberweapons against each other’s critical infrastructure in peacetime.

“They’re not denying anymore that it’s a problem,” a senior official said. “We’re not having a dialogue of the deaf anymore.” The question is whether Mr. Xi is looking to pave over disputes, or solve them. The struggle to read China’s leader is not new. When it became clear in 2011 that he was emerging as China’s next president, Mr. Biden was dispatched to get to know him. They visited each other in elaborately choreographed trips in Beijing and Washington. But views of him varied.

Thomas Donilon, Ms. Rice’s predecessor, had been passing around a paper written by Dai Bingguo, the state councilor under Mr. Xi’s predecessor, arguing against provoking the United States and its allies in the South China Sea and warning the Chinese military to bide its time. Others in the administration saw Mr. Xi as a dynamic reformer who would press for broader engagement with the United States while bringing the military under his control. But they missed the other side of Mr. Xi, “the risk taker,” in the words of one of Mr. Obama’s former top aides, “who is more nationalistic than we thought and more willing to be confrontational.”

“This is not the U.S.-China relationship that senior Obama officials expected,” either at the start of Mr. Obama’s tenure in 2009 or the beginning of Mr. Xi’s in 2013, said Michael J. Green, an Asia specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who served at the National Security Council under President George W. Bush. “The assumptions that many people had, that cooperation on transnational threats like climate change would ameliorate problems in geopolitical arenas, was wrong.”

In her speech on Monday, Ms. Rice made it clear the United States and China would showcase their cooperation on climate change, with a deal on carrying out a broad emissions accord they struck last year during a meeting in Beijing. There will also be agreement on a code of conduct to reduce the risk of accidents between American and Chinese aircraft, and steps to expand educational exchanges between the two countries.

But on the areas of sharpest disagreement, such as human rights, the South China Sea and cyberattacks, there is still a wide gulf, and for weeks the White House has been debating how to handle them. A version of this article appears in print on September 23, 2015, on Page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: Visit Underscores Challenges in Dealing With China” (Ref. New York Times’s - WASHINGTON - By DAVID E. SANGER and JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS - SEPT. 22, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/23/world/asia/conflict-flavors-obamas-meeting-wi th-chinese-leader.html
Last edited by Batman47 on Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:44 am; edited 5 times in total
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Re: China’s Boldness And Island Building In The South Chia Sea – 2015 To Present
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:37 am

Document: DNI Clapper Assessment of Chinese Militarization, Reclamation in South China Sea - March 8, 2016 1:44 PM

“The following is an unclassified Feb. 23, 2016 letter from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to Sen. John McCain answering questions on Chinese reclamation and militarization of its disputed holdings in the South China Sea.

The Honorable John McCain
Chairman
Senate Committee on Armed Services
Washington, DC 20510-6050
Feb. 23, 2016

Dear Chairman McCain:

Thank you for your letter of 29 January 2016 in which you articulated concerns about China’s reclamation activity in the South China Sea and the impact this will have on China’s ability to deploy military capabilities across the area. Unclassified answers to the specific questions contained in your correspondence follow:

Would you assess China has militarized its reclaimed features in the Spratly Islands?
We judge that China has the capability to provide basic self-defense at its Spratly Islands outposts. China has also installed surveillance systems to improve situational awareness and is building airfields and ports that can support military operations. Based on the extent of land reclamation and construction activity, we assess that China has established the necessary infrastructure to project military capabilities in the South China Sea beyond that which is required for point defense of its outposts. These capabilities could include the deployment of modern fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles (SAMS), and coastal defense cruise missiles, as well as increased presence of People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surface combatants and China Coast Guard (CCG) large patrol ships.

Has the United States observed the deployment of People ’s Liberation Army Navy vessels to the ports China has constructed in the Spratly Islands?

PLAN surface combatants have pulled into the three largest outposts: Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi Reefs. One PLAN frigate was berthed at Fiery Cross Reef in early December 2015, one PLAN guided-missile frigate was anchored at Subi Reef in late December 2015, and a guided-missile destroyer was anchored at Mischief Reef in early January 2016. In addition to surface combatants, PLAN tank landing ships have been employed widely at the outposts to support the construction efforts. While PLAN and CCG ships have not been permanently based at the Spratly Islands ports, which are still under construction, these facilities will probably have fuel storage and other provisioning facilities once completed.

Has the United States observed People ’s Liberation Army Air Force activity on or near China’s Spratly Islands reclamation?

There has been no People’s Liberation Army Air Force or Naval Air Force aircraft activity on or near the Spratly Islands outpost expansion effort. Several Chinese civil aircraft landed on Fiery Cross Reef in early January 2016. Based on this, we judge that the airfield on Fiery Cross reef is operational and can accommodate all Chinese military aircraft.

Has the United States observed the construction of infrastructure or deployment of capabilities that would enable military-grade early warning, target acquisition, and/or target track radars?

China has installed military radars, most likely air-surveillance/early warning radars, at Cuarteron and Fiery Cross Reefs and a beacon for aircraft direction at Fiery Cross. Additionally, China is employing a combination of solar, wind, and stable base-load generators to power the outposts.

Has the United States observed the construction of infrastructure or deployment of capabilities by China that would enable the deployment of surface-to-air missile systems?

None of the infrastructure developed to date is consistent with the deployment of SAM systems to any of China’s Spratly Islands outposts. However, China’s mobile SAMS are field-deployable and do not require fixed, prepared sites.

Has the United States observed China conducting land reclamation activities in the South China Sea on or after August 5, 2015?

Yes, China continued its land reclamation efforts at Subi and Mischief Reefs after 5 August 2015, based on commercial imagery. Between that date and late October, when reclamation activity ended, China reclaimed more than 100 additional acres of land.

Has the United States observed that China has militarized reclaimed features in the Spratly Islands on or after September 25, 2015?

Although we have not detected the deployment of significant military capabilities at its Spratly Islands outposts, China has constructed facilities to support the deployment of high-end military capabilities, including modern fighter aircraft.

Do you assess China will pursue further reclamation in the South China Sea or East China Sea?

While we have no evidence that China has plans for any significant additional land reclamation at its Spratly Islands claims, there is sufficient reef area at Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi Reefs to reclaim more than 1,000 additional acres. We further assess that the underwater features at the four smaller reefs would support additional land reclamation. We do not assess that China will conduct reclamation efforts in the East China Sea.

Do you assess China will seek to militarize its reclaimed features in the Spratly Islands in the 2016-2018 time period?

We assess that China will continue to pursue construction and infrastructure development at its expanded outposts in the South China Sea. Based on the pace and scope of construction at these outposts, China will be able to deploy a range of offensive and defensive military capabilities and support increased PLAN and CCG presence beginning in 2016. Once these facilities are completed by the end of 2016 or early 2017, China will have significant capacity to quickly project substantial offensive military power to the region. China’s continued construction activity and press reporting indicate that Beijing may view the establishment of “defensive” capabilities similar to what some other claimants have installed as consistent with not “militarizing” the dispute. The Intelligence Community continues to monitor these and other critical developments in the region using our full array of collection capabilities to produce analysis with explanatory and predictive power to inform decision makers ahead of emerging trends. Please contact me with any additional questions you might have.

Sincerely,
[SIGNED]
James R. Clapper” (Ref. U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE).
https://news.usni.org/2016/03/08/document-dni-assessment-of-chinese-militarizati on-reclamation-in-south-china-sea
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Re: China’s Boldness And Island Building In The South Chia Sea – 2015 To Present
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:39 am

Challenging Chinese Claims, U.S. Sends Warship Near Artificial Island Chain

As reported on Monday, 26 October 2016, “a United States Navy destroyer entered waters near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea late Monday, Defense Department officials said, directly challenging China’s claims that the artificial island chain is within its territorial borders.

The Lassen, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of the islands, making a long-anticipated entry into the disputed waters, an American military official said. American officials did not inform their Chinese counterparts as they planned the provocative maneuver, saying that to do so would have undercut their message.
“You don’t need to consult with any nation when you are exercising the right of freedom of navigation in international waters,” John Kirby, the State Department spokesman, said at a news conference,

Mr. Kirby said that such a challenge to what he called a questionable sovereignty claim was “one of the reasons you have a navy — to be able to exert influence and defend freedom of navigation on international waters.”

China has been reclaiming land in the South China and East China Seas for several years, and the projects in the vicinity of the Spratlys have come under increasing criticism from the United States and its regional allies, including the Philippines. The United States and several Asian nations dispute the legitimacy of the islands built by China.

As news of the American maneuver circulated in Beijing, China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, urged the United States to “think twice before taking any reckless action,” China’s national broadcaster, CCTV, reported.

“The Obama administration did not make an immediate announcement of the maneuver, and Pentagon officials would only confirm that it had occurred, as they forecast weeks ago.

The White House declined to share any details about the operation, referring questions to the Defense Department. But Josh Earnest, the press secretary, noted that President Obama stood next to President Xi Jinping of China at a Rose Garden news conference last month and said that the United States would operate, fly or sail anywhere that international law allowed.

“That certainly includes the ability of our Navy to operate in international waters,” Mr. Earnest said. “This is a critically important principle, particularly in the South China Sea, because there are billions of dollars of commerce that flow through that region of the world every year — maybe even more than that — and ensuring the free flow of this commerce, and that freedom of navigation of those vessels is protected, is critically important to the global economy.”

China and Japan React to U.S. Navy Move

China’s national broadcaster on Tuesday carried a first reaction to a United States Navy ship’s maneuver in the South China Sea. Japan’s government also issued a statement.

American officials had said for the last month that the Navy would send a surface ship into the waters claimed by China, a vow widely viewed as a signal to the Chinese that most of the rest of the world does not recognize its claim on the island chain. Mr. Obama approved the move this month, administration officials said.

The president signaled the Navy maneuver last month at the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, when he said that the United States had an “interest in upholding the basic principles of freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce and in resolving disputes through international law, not the law of force”” (Ref. The New York Times - WASHINGTON - DEREK WATKINS - UPDATED October 27, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-bu ilding-in-the-south-china-sea.html

What China Has Been Building in the South China Sea

As reported on 27 October 2015, “China has been rapidly piling sand onto reefs in the South China Sea, creating seven new islets in the region. It is straining geopolitical tensions that were already taut.

China has been rapidly piling sand onto reefs in the South China Sea, creating seven new islets in the region. It is straining geopolitical tensions that were already taut. The speed and scale of China’s island-building spree have alarmed other countries with interests in the region.

As of October 27, 2015. it has constructed port facilities, military buildings and an airstrip on the islands, with recent imagery showing evidence of two more airstrips under construction. The installations bolster China’s foothold in the Spratly Islands, a disputed scattering of reefs and islands in the South China Sea more than 500 miles from the Chinese mainland.

China’s activity in the Spratlys is a major point of contention between China and the United States and was a primary topic of discussion between President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China during the Chinese president’s visit to the White House in September. “But American military officials said that the two maneuvers were not comparable, citing international maritime laws that allow passage such as the Chinese transit near Alaska if there is no other passageway for a ship to reach its destination.
In the case of the Spratly Islands, one American military official said, there were several other routes that the United States destroyer could have used, but the military deliberately chose to enter the waters that China claims as its territory.

In recent years, China has been claiming large parts of the strategic waterway by enlarging rocks and submerged reefs into islands big enough for military airstrips, radar equipment and lodging for soldiers, American officials said.

Although China claims much of the South China Sea as sovereign territory, the 12-mile zone around the new islands is particularly delicate because international law says that artificial islands do not have sovereign rights up to the 12-mile limit.

The United States had not traveled close to the Chinese-occupied islands in the South China Sea since at least 2012. In May, a United States Navy surveillance plane flew near three of China’s five artificial islands but did not go within the 12-mile zones. Chinese Navy radio operators warned the Americans to leave the area.

Jane Perlez contributed reporting from Beijing. A version of this article appears in print on October 27, 2015, on Page A7 of the New York edition with the headline: Challenging Chinese Claims, U.S. Sends Warship to Artificial Island Chain” (Ref. The New York Times - WASHINGTON - DEREK WATKINS - UPDATED October 27, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-bu ilding-in-the-south-china-sea.html

“Countries, Cities, Islands (natural and man made) and waters near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea:

Guangzhou; Hong Kong; Kunming; China; Luzon; Hanoi; Hainan; Manila; Vietnam claims the Paracel and the Spratly Islands; Myanmar; Laos; Paracel Islands; Philippines.

China has long marked its claim with a “nine-dash line” that skirts the coasts of other countries:

Visayas; Thailand; Mindanao; Palawan; Vietnam; Yangon; Sulu Sea; Cambodia; Spratly Islands; Bangkok; Fiery Cross Reef; Ho Chi Minh City; Phnom Penh; Celebes Sea; Claimed by Brunei; Gulf of Thailand; Malaysia; Andaman Sea
Claimed by Malaysia:
Brunei; Indonesia and Sulawesi
Claimed by Indonesia:
Borneo

Sources: C.I.A., NASA, China Maritime Safety Administration” (Ref. The New York Times - WASHINGTON - DEREK WATKINS - UPDATED October 27, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-bu ilding-in-the-south-china-sea.html

“The United States reinforced that assertion on Monday and angered the Chinese when it sent the Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer, within 12 nautical miles of the islands, the conventional limit for territorial waters” (Ref. The New York Times - WASHINGTON - DEREK WATKINS - UPDATED October 27, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-bu ilding-in-the-south-china-sea.html
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Re: China’s Boldness And Island Building In The South Chia Sea – 2015 To Present
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:48 am

White House Moves to Reassure Allies With South China Sea Patrol, but Quietly

As reported on 27 October 2017, “for months, lawmakers and national security hawks have urged President Obama to stand up to China’s land reclamation of disputed islands in the South China Sea. But now that the Obama administration finally has, the White House does not want to talk about it. In sending a guided missile destroyer late Monday into waters China considers its territory, the Obama administration sought to exercise what officials called the right to freedom of navigation in international waters.
The move was meant to reassure allies in Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines that the United States would stand up to China’s efforts to unilaterally change facts on the ground by building up artificial islands in the Spratly Islands chain. But even as it was authorizing the naval patrol, which China promptly called a “deliberate provocation,” the White House tried to play down the episode, anxious to avoid escalating a conflict between the nations, a pair of adversarial Pacific behemoths.

Dangerous Ground

The White House directed Department of Defense officials not to say anything publicly about the episode. No formal announcements or news releases alerting the media to the passage of the destroyer, the Lassen, were to go out, White House officials ordered. And if asked, officials were instructed not to speak on the record about the maneuver, administration officials said.

As a result, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter was left flailing during a scheduled appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, just hours after the Lassen left territorial waters near Subi Reef, one of several artificial islands that China has built in the disputed Spratly Islands chain.

Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, told Mr. Carter he had initially planned to “express concern” about American “inaction” in combating Beijing in the South China Sea, but changed his mind after hearing that the Navy warship had entered the 12-nautical-mile zone claimed by China.

“Is that true? Did we do that?” Mr. Sullivan asked. Mr. Carter demurred. “We have said and we are acting on the basis of saying that we will fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits — — ” Mr. Sullivan interrupted him. “Did we send a destroyer yesterday inside the 12-mile zone?”

Again, Mr. Carter sidestepped the question, and the two men went back and forth a few more times. The exchange prompted Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, to express exasperation. “Why would you not confirm or deny that that happened?”

Finally Mr. Carter acknowledged the episode. “I don’t like in general the idea of talking about our military operations,” he said. “But what you read in the newspaper is accurate.” It was an extraordinary exchange considering the Pentagon had just hours before quietly informed reporters of the naval movement.

“This move seems to have been carefully planned and well executed to mitigate as much risk as possible,” said Derek Chollet, a former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. He said the administration might have just wanted to “let our actions do the talking for us.”

In fact, Mr. Carter was simply following White House orders, administration officials said. “Look, we don’t want to make this a bigger deal than it already is,” a senior administration official said Tuesday, speaking on the grounds of anonymity. China accused the United States of committing a “deliberate provocation” by sending the destroyer into waters it claims as its own.

The Lassen, a guided missile destroyer, during an exercise in May. The American warship entered disputed waters Monday near China's land reclamation project in the Spratly Islands chain. Credit Evan Kenny/U.S. Navy, via European Pressphoto Agency. “China will firmly react to this deliberate provocation,” Lu Kang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a regularly scheduled news conference on Tuesday.

Chinese authorities summoned the American ambassador, Max Baucus, to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday evening and told him that the United States should stop “threatening Chinese sovereignty and security interests,” the national broadcaster CCTV said.

The Chinese Defense Ministry said Tuesday night that two Chinese vessels — a missile destroyer, the Lanzhou, and a patrol boat, the Taizhou — had warned the American warship to leave the disputed waters. Beijing’s response, though heated, essentially repeated language it has used in the past about its sovereignty over the South China Sea.

The Pentagon said that the Lassen stayed within the 12-nautical-mile border of the Spratly Islands chain for less than an hour, and that American surveillance equipment recorded images. The Spratly archipelago is closer to the Philippines than to China. Satellite images show that China has built Subi Reef into an island, using huge dredging equipment, and that it has started constructing a runway capable of accommodating military aircraft. It has completed another such runway in the Spratlys, on Fiery Cross Reef, and is working on a third.

The artificial islands built by China, and the broader issue of its claims over islands and small reefs in nearly 90 percent of the strategically important South China Sea, are among the most contentious issues between Washington and Beijing. The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all dispute China’s claims to the Spratly Islands. The naval maneuver came a month after China’s president, Xi Jinping, and President Obama met in Washington and failed to reach an agreement on China’s claims.

Mr. Xi said at a news conference during his Washington visit that China had no intention of militarizing islands in the South China Sea, but he did not expand on that pledge during his private talks with Mr. Obama, administration officials said. Officials had said before the Lassen’s mission that one purpose of such a patrol would be to test Mr. Xi’s words.

The Lassen operation was intended to show that the United States does not agree that China can prevent American ships from entering a 12-nautical-mile zone that Beijing is claiming around the artificial islands.

The Pentagon apparently chose Subi Reef, which is known as a low-tide elevation, with great care, said Andrew S. Erickson, associate professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute at the United States Naval War College in Rhode Island.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a low-tide elevation — one naturally submerged at high tide — is not entitled to a 12-nautical-mile territorial limit, Mr. Erickson said. Beyond a 500-meter safety zone, foreign ships and aircraft are free to operate without consultation or permission, he said.

At the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, Mr. Lu, the spokesman, said that China had sovereignty over the Spratly chain, and hence claimed the 12-nautical-mile zone. “China has indisputable sovereignty of the Nansha Islands and adjacent waters,” Mr. Lu said, using China’s name for the Spratlys. He said that China was building in the South China Sea for the “public good.”

Referring to the United States, Mr. Lu said, “If the relevant party keeps stirring things up, it will be necessary for China to speed up its construction activities.” The Lassen’s patrol came a week before the head of the United States Pacific Command, Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., is scheduled to hold talks in Beijing with senior Chinese military officials. Admiral Harris, who has criticized China for moving “walls of sand” to create the artificial islands, has been an outspoken proponent of freedom-of-navigation patrols and has warned that the United States will conduct such forays whenever it sees fit.

Helene Cooper reported from Washington, and Jane Perlez from Beijing. Michael Forsythe contributed reporting from Hong Kong, and Yufan Huang contributed research from Beijing. A version of this article appears in print on October 28, 2015, on Page A7 of the New York edition with the headline” (Ref. The New York Times - WASHINGTON - By HELENE COOPER and JANE PERLEZ - OCT. 27, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/28/world/asia/south-china-sea-uss-lassen-spratly -islands.html
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Re: China’s Boldness And Island Building In The South Chia Sea – 2015 To Present
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:07 am

“China announced in June that the creation of islands — moving sediment from the seafloor to a reef — would soon be completed. Since then, China has focused its efforts on construction” (Ref. The New York Times - WASHINGTON - DEREK WATKINS - October 27, 2015). https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/world/asia/what-china-has-been-bu ilding-in-the-south-china-sea.html

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang's Remarks on Issues Relating to China's Construction Activities on the Nansha Islands and Reefs - 2015/06/16

“Q: Please introduce the recent progress of China's construction activities on the Nansha islands and reefs and China's relevant position. A: The construction activities on the Nansha islands and reefs fall within the scope of China's sovereignty, and are lawful, reasonable and justified. They are not targeted at any other country, do not affect the freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all countries in accordance with international law in the South China Sea, nor have they caused or will they cause damage to the marine ecological system and environment in the South China Sea, and are thus beyond reproach.

It is learned from relevant Chinese competent departments that, as planned, the land reclamation project of China's construction on some stationed islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands will be completed in the upcoming days. Apart from satisfying the need of necessary military defense, the main purpose of China's construction activities is to meet various civilian demands and better perform China's international obligations and responsibilities in the areas such as maritime search and rescue, disaster prevention and mitigation, marine scientific research, meteorological observation, ecological environment conservation, navigation safety as well as fishery production service.

After the land reclamation, we will start the building of facilities to meet relevant functional requirements. China is committed to the path of peaceful development. She follows a foreign policy of forging friendship and partnership with her neighbours, and a defense policy that is defensive in nature. China remains a staunch force for regional peace and stability.

While firmly safeguarding her territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China will continue to dedicate herself to resolving relevant disputes with relevant states directly concerned, in accordance with international law, through negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts, pushing forward actively the consultation on a "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea" together with ASEAN member states within the framework of fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. China will continue to uphold the freedom of navigation as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea” (Ref. Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People's Republic of China - Contact us Address: No. 2, Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100701 Tel: 86-10-65961114).
http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/2535_665405/t1273370.sh tml

Quote:
US intel: China to put missiles on S China Sea man-made islands to guard airstrips
By Lucas Tomlinson - FoxNews.com - December 24, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: The U.S. intelligence community thinks the "hundreds" of surface-to-air missiles that China recently shipped to its Hainan Island in the South China Sea will be moved to the country’s nearby and disputed man-made islands in the coming months, two military officials told Fox News on Saturday.

The plan follows what U.S. intelligence officials say is Beijing’s expressed desire to protect its three airstrips on three of the man-made islands.

The missiles now on Hainan island, China’s largest in the South China Sea, are a combination of short- medium- and long-range weapons. And they include one battalion of the advanced SA-21 system, a long-range missle system that is based on fourth-generation Russian software and capable of knocking out aircraft from as far away as 250 miles.

The total number of surface-to-air missiles on Hainan could reach 500, one of the military officials told Fox News.

China shipping more surface-to-air missiles from the mainland to the South China Sea was first reported Friday by Fox News.

The new missiles have been seen by American intelligence satellites on China’s provincial island province of Hainan, which is not part the disputed islands.

Officials think the location is “only temporary” and likely a training site before the missiles are deployed in early 2017 to the contested Spratley Islands or Woody Island.

The two missile systems seen on Hainan island are known as the CSA-6b and HQ-9. The CSA-6b is a combined close-in missile system with a range of 10 miles and also contains anti-aircraft guns. The longer-range HQ-9 system has a range of 125 miles, and is roughly based on the Russian S-300 system.

This latest deployment of Chinese military equipment comes days after the Chinese returned an unclassified underwater research drone in the South China Sea. The Pentagon accused a Chinese Navy ship of stealing the drone, over the objections of the American crew operating it in international waters to collect oceanographic data.

The escalation comes weeks after President elect-Donald Trump received a congratulatory phone call from Taiwan’s president breaking decades-long “one-China” protocol and angering Beijing.

China has deployed surface-to-air missiles to Woody Island in the South China Sea before, as Fox News first reported in February.

It has yet to deploy missiles to its seven man-made islands in the Spratly chain of islands. Weeks ago, civilian satellite imagery obtained by a Washington, D.C., based think-tank showed gun emplacement on all the disputed islands, but not missiles.

Earlier this month, Fox News first reported China getting ready to deploy another missile defense system from a port in southeast China. China also flew a long-range bomber around the South China Sea for the first time since March 2015 and days after Mr. Trump’s phone call with his Taiwan counterpart.

Days before President Trump’s call, a pair of long-range H-6K bombers flew around the island of Taiwan for the first time.

Beijing has long expressed interest in fortifying its seven man-made islands in the South China Sea.

Last year, China’s President Xi Jinping pledged not to “militarize” the islands, in the Rose Garden at the White House.

“This another example of the adventurous and aggressiveness of the Chinese in the face of an anemic and feckless set of policies that we've seen over the last eight years,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, former head of Air Force intelligence, in an interview with Fox News.

This month, U.S. intelligence satellites also spotted components for the Chinese version of the SA-21 system at the port of Jieyang, in southeast China, where officials say China has made similar military shipments in the past to its islands in the South China Sea.

The Chinese SA-21 system is a more capable missile system than the HQ-9.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews


http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/12/24/us-intel-china-to-put-missiles-on-s-c hina-sea-man-made-islands-to-guard-airstrips.html
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Re: China’s Boldness And Island Building In The South Chia Sea – 2015 To Present
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:09 am

While some of the operations are primarily prompted by North Korea's nuclear saber-rattling, all of them are meant to be noticed by Chinese authorities. A senior Navy officer told NBC News that the Trump administration had inherited the Obama "pivot" to Asia. "This is a perfect example of how routine can stay routine or be a flash point for greater tension," the officer said. On Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry acknowledged the USS Vinson's patrol. "China always respects the freedom of navigation and overflight of all countries in the South China Sea in accordance with international law," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang.

"But we oppose those who threaten and harm the sovereignty and security of coastal countries under the pretext of freedom of navigation and overflight." The Chinese, of course, have not been inactive. On February 10, U.S. and Chinese military planes had what the Pentagon describes as "an unsafe close encounter" near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. A war of words ensued. There have also been joint Chinese-Russian naval exercises in recent months. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the Peoples Liberation Army has nearly finished building two dozen structures on three atolls in the Spratly Islands that U.S. military analysts believe could house surface-to-air missiles, a dramatic uptick in capability” (Ref. NBC News - Robert Windrem and William M. Arkin – February 24, 2017). http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/us-flexes-its-military-muscle-off-china/ar-A Ank76Y?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=iehp

China lashes out at Mattis remarks on East China Sea islands

As reported on 3 February 2017, “the U.S. is putting regional stability in East Asia at risk, a Chinese spokesman said Saturday following remarks by President Donald Trump's defense secretary that a U.S. commitment to defend Japanese territory applies to an island group that China claims.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang on Saturday called on the U.S. to avoid discussion of the issue and reasserted China's claim of sovereignty over the tiny uninhabited islands, known in Japanese as the Senkaku and Chinese as Diaoyu.

The 1960 U.S.-Japan treaty is "a product of the Cold War, which should not impair China's territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights," Lu was quoted as saying in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

"We urge the U.S. side to take a responsible attitude, stop making wrong remarks on the issue involving the Diaoyu islands' sovereignty, and avoid making the issue more complicated and bringing instability to the regional situation," Lu said.

On his first trip to Asia as secretary of defense, Mattis explicitly stated in Tokyo that the Trump administration will stick to the previous U.S. stance that the U.S.-Japan security treaty applies to defending Japan's continued administration of the Senkaku islands.

The islands that lie between Taiwan and Okinawa were under U.S. administration from the end of World War II until their return to Japan in 1972. China cites historical records for its claim, and Japan's move to nationalize several of the islands in 2012 set off anti-Japanese riots in China and prompted the government to dispatch ships and planes to the area around them as a challenge to Japanese control.

China also registered its displeasure with Mattis' remarks Friday in South Korea that Trump's administration is committed to carrying through on a deal the Obama administration reached with the Seoul government last year to deploy a high-end U.S. missile defense system to South Korea this year.

The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, is meant to improve protection of South Korea and Japan — as well as U.S. troops stationed in both countries — against a North Korean missile attack.

Beijing objects to the system because its powerful radar would allow it to peer deep into northeastern China, possibly allowing it to observe Chinese military movements. At a Friday news conference, Lu said China's "resolute opposition to the deployment ... remains unchanged and will not change."

The deployment "will jeopardize security and the strategic interests of regional countries, including China, and undermine the strategic balance in the region," Lu said.

Chinese officials and scholars say they anticipate further turbulence in relations with the U.S. under Trump. The president sparked anger among Chinese following his election when he broke with decades by talking on the phone with the president of Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy that Beijing considers its own territory.

Trump has also raised concerns with criticism of China's military buildup in the South China Sea, accusations of currency manipulation and unfair trade policies and allegations that Beijing was doing too little to pressure its communist neighbor North Korea.

In a lighter moment, however, Chinese media and internet users praised an appearance by Trump's daughter Ivanka and granddaughter Arabella Kushner's visit to the Chinese Embassy in Washington on Wednesday to attend Lunar New Year festivities. A video clip of Arabella singing a song of holiday greetings also set alight China's internet” (Ref. Associated Press - BEIJING - Published February 03, 2017).
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/02/03/china-lashes-out-at-mattis-remarks-on-east- china-sea-islands.html
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Re: China’s Boldness And Island Building In The South Chia Sea – 2015 To Present
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:11 am

US Flexes Its Military Muscle Off China

As reported on 24 February 2017, “as China flexes its military muscle in the South China Sea, the U.S. is responding with its own show of force that includes ships, fighter jets and submarines, as well as the test launch of nuclear-capable missiles. According to internal military reports reviewed by NBC News, almost every week brings another display of U.S. hardware in the waters off China, in a response that has only grown more aggressive since the inauguration of President Trump. A U.S. Navy carrier battle group centered on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-71) is now moving through the South China Sea, the stretch of Pacific bounded by China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Three attack submarines, the USS Alexandria, USS Chicago and USS Louisville, have deployed in the Western Pacific in the past month, and at least one has entered the South China Sea.

Also in February, the U.S. sent a dozen F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to Tindal AB in northern Australia, the closest Australian military airbase to China, for coalition training and exercises. It's the first deployment of that many F-22s in the Pacific. And if that didn't get the attention of the Chinese government, the U.S. just tested four Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles during a nuclear war exercise, sending the simulated weapons 4,200 miles from the coast of California into the mid-Pacific. It's the first time in three years the U.S. has conducted tests in the Pacific, and the first four-missile salvo since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. effort is deliberately broad and overt, according to Pentagon officials, and is meant to be obvious to the Chinese government.

Mark Lippert, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and deputy national security advisor during the Obama administration, said America is trying to send a message about freedom of navigation, "free and open commerce and [the] rule of law." You have to remember what is stake here is principles," Lippert told NBC in an interview. "Adhering to those principles has led to the unprecedented economic and democratic growth in the region. The Chinese are challenging our freedom of navigation." In the last decade, China has converted dozens of tiny islands and coral outcroppings - many claimed by other countries — into forward military bases, adding airfields, piers and other facilities. The new bases range from the Paracel Islands in the northern part of the sea, claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, to the Spratlys in the south near the Philippines and Malaysia.

The construction, sometimes on reclaimed land, has extended China's defensive perimeter hundreds of miles from the mainland. In January, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during his confirmation hearings that the U.S. would block China's access to the disputed islands, and send a "clear signal" that "island-building stops." Lu Kang, a senior official with the Chinese foreign ministry, told Richard Engel of NBC News that the islands were Chinese territory and China was free to do what it wanted. Lippert says the Pentagon's recent actions are meant to checkmate any attempt by the Chinese to exploit any turmoil from the U.S. presidential transition, particularly one as dramatic as that from Obama to Trump. "During a transition," he explained, "the Chinese and United States will test each other, feeling around a bit. Is the Obama policy, which has been fairly aggressive on protecting these principles, going to continue, or is there going to be change?

"What this says is that, for now, nothing has changed." The recent operations are just the tip of the spear. An NBC News analysis of military movements in the region notes other major operations and basing decisions, including:

-- A new, continual bomber presence at Andersen AFB in Guam, after two decades of absence. Last fall, in fact, the U.S. deployed all three of its strategic bombers - the B-52, B-1 and B-2 - at Andersen. It was the first time all three were deployed to the Pacific.
-- Other transits of the South China Sea by U.S. warships and submarines, culminating with this winter's Vinson transit;
-- The build-up of modernized ballistic missile defense systems in South Korea and Japan as well as increased integration with the militaries of Japan and South Korea.
-- Increased port calls in Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei, all countries that have challenged Chinese sovereignty over the islands and outcroppings in the region. The U.S. military presence in the Philippines is now bigger than it's been in 25 years.
-- An almost continual air and naval presence in Singapore, increasingly a major U.S. ally. The littoral combat ship USS Coronado has spent all of 2017 in and out of Singapore. It's the only forward-deployed ship of this new, futuristic class.
-- Deployment of the new F-35B Lightning II fifth-generation fighters at Iwakuni AB on the Japanese island of Okinawa. It's the first permanent deployment of the aircraft overseas.

While some of the operations are primarily prompted by North Korea's nuclear saber-rattling, all of them are meant to be noticed by Chinese authorities. A senior Navy officer told NBC News that the Trump administration had inherited the Obama "pivot" to Asia. "This is a perfect example of how routine can stay routine or be a flash point for greater tension," the officer said. On Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry acknowledged the USS Vinson's patrol. "China always respects the freedom of navigation and overflight of all countries in the South China Sea in accordance with international law," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang.

"But we oppose those who threaten and harm the sovereignty and security of coastal countries under the pretext of freedom of navigation and overflight." The Chinese, of course, have not been inactive. On February 10, U.S. and Chinese military planes had what the Pentagon describes as "an unsafe close encounter" near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. A war of words ensued. There have also been joint Chinese-Russian naval exercises in recent months. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the Peoples Liberation Army has nearly finished building two dozen structures on three atolls in the Spratly Islands that U.S. military analysts believe could house surface-to-air missiles, a dramatic uptick in capability” (Ref. NBC News - Robert Windrem and William M. Arkin – February 24, 2017). http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/us-flexes-its-military-muscle-off-china/ar-A Ank76Y?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=iehp
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Re: China’s Boldness And Island Building In The South Chia Sea – 2015 To Present
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 5:14 am

China’s Big Three Near Completion

As reported on 27 March 2017, “he wasn’t far off the mark. Major construction of military and dual-use infrastructure on the “Big 3”—Subi, Mischief, and Fiery Cross Reefs—is wrapping up, with the naval, air, radar, and defensive facilities that AMTI has tracked for nearly two years largely complete. Beijing can now deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time.

Chinese Detection/Defense Capabilities in the South China Sea Map; published by the CSIS Asia Martime Transparency Initative

Report Of China’s Island Building In The South Chia Sea – 2015 to 2016 to CVN-70 2017 South China Sea dep. http://rleeermey.org/viewtopic.php?p=239175

China’s Boldness and Island Building in the South Chia Sea – 2015 to 2016 to CVN-70 2017 South Chin Sea dep.

China’s three air bases in the Spratlys and another on Woody Island in the Paracels will allow Chinese military aircraft to operate over nearly the entire South China Sea. The same is true of China’s radar coverage, made possible by advanced surveillance/early-warning radar facilities at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Cuarteron Reefs, as well as Woody Island, and smaller facilities elsewhere. China has maintained HQ-9 surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems on Woody Island for more than a year and has on at least one occasion deployed anti-ship cruise missiles to the island. It has now constructed hardened shelters with retractable roofs for mobile missile launchers on the Big 3.

Fiery Cross Reef

Construction of all the hangars at Fiery Cross Reef—enough to accommodate 24 combat aircraft and four larger planes (such as ISR, transport, refueling, or bomber aircraft)—has finished. In January, radomes were installed atop three previously unidentified large towers on the northeast arm of the reef as well as a tower at the north end of the airstrip. A large collection of radomes installed to the north of the airstrip represents a significant radar/sensor array.

Mischief Reef

On Mischief Reef, the hangars for 24 combat aircraft have been completed and in early March construction teams were putting the finishing touches on five larger hangars. A finished radar tower stands in the middle of the reef and a trio of large towers have been constructed on the southwestern corner. The recent placement of a radome on the ground next to one of these towers indicates that they will follow the same pattern as the identical sets at Fiery Cross and Subi. Retractable roofs are also being installed on the recently-built missile shelters.

Subi Reef

On Subi Reef, construction is complete on hangars for 24 combat aircraft and four larger hangars. Recent imagery shows the radomes on Subi’s three-tower array in various stages of completion, along with a completed radar tower next to the runway. Subi Reef also sports what appears to be a high-frequency “elephant cage” radar array on its southern end. This is unique among the Big 3. As with radar facilities at the other reefs, this high-frequency radar is close to a point defense structure, providing protection against air or missile strikes” (Ref. The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative and The Center for Strategic and International Studies). https://amti.csis.org/chinas-big-three-near-completion
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