Chinese Navy commissions sub killer stealth warship for service in SCS; Duterte: Occupy PH islands in South China Sea; ASEAN progresses on South China Sea code of conduct framework; China – US to boost dialogues and cooperation…
Activities of the Related Parties
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has commissioned a new Type 056/056A Jiangdao-class corvette at Yulin naval base in the port city of Sanya on Hainan Island on March 31. The new warship, named Liupanshui (pennant number 514), will serve in the PLAN’s South Sea Fleet, the force responsible for conducting Chinese naval operations in the South China Sea, and is specifically designed to conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations.
In a press conference on April 7, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said: “The Chinese side is committed to defending its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, and safeguarding peace and stability there. Having noted the report, the Chinese side is concerned about it. We hope the Philippine side will continue to properly manage maritime disputes with China and work with us to maintain the sound and steady growth of China-Philippines relations.”
Regarding Duterte’s statement that he might visit Thitu (Pagasa) Island in the Spartlys, Vietnam’s foreign ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said Vietnam has sufficient evidence to prove its sovereignty over the Spartlys and the Paracel archipelago. Without permission from Vietnam, any action by other countries on the two island chains is illegal and invalid, she said.
President Duterte on April 6 said he had ordered troops to deploy to and fortify unoccupied South China Sea islands and reefs claimed by the Philippines, “It looks like everybody is making a grab for the islands there, so we better live on those that are still vacant. We try to be friends with everybody, but we have to maintain our jurisdiction, at least [in] the areas that we control.” “This coming Independence Day, I may go to Pagasa (Thitu) to raise the flag. We want to make a strong point that that is ours,” he said. On April 7, a Philippine navy commander said the Philippines will upgrade existing facilities on its inhabited islands and reefs in the South China Sea and not occupy new territories. Philippine Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana said there were plans to only repair and upgrade facilities in the Spratly.
For the first time yesterday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) patrolled Benham Rise, following the reported presence of Chinese vessels in the area declared by the United Nations as part of the extended continental shelf of the Philippines. The PCG said a Britten Norman Islander aircraft was sent to the area to conduct maritime domain survey. Recently, the Philippine Navy’s cutter BRP Ramon Alcaraz surveyed the vast waters of Benham Rise.
In the joint statement after the meeting between Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and his counterpart Najib Abdul Razak, the two leaders reiterated “their commitment to respecting freedom of navigation and over flight, and unimpeded lawful commerce, based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982. They urged all parties to resolve disputes through peaceful means without resorting to threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities, and avoid unilateral actions that raise tensions, and they emphasized that all parties should show utmost respect to the UNCLOS 1982, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans.”
Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Acting Secretary Enrique Manalo on April 4 said: “We are making progress on working with the framework on a possible Code of Conduct with China, and this will include how to avoid escalating tension and how to deal with issues that can be handled peacefully.” “There is already an understanding. We started from zero in January… I don’t want to jeopardize the good negotiations, I’d just say that the feeling now is positive,” he added. “The key is managing tensions while improving relations. Our goal is to make our region prosperous.”
On April 7, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with President Donald Trump of the US upon invitation at Mar-a-Lagoin Florida, the US from April 4 to 7. After the meeting, Foreign Minister Wang Yi briefed the press on the meeting. On the overall relationship, President Xi stressed that good China-US relations benefit not only the two countries and the two peoples but also the rest of the world, and that cooperation is the only right choice for the two countries. President Donald Trump noted that China and the US shoulder enormous responsibilities as two major powers in the world. The two countries should maintain communications and coordination on important issues to accomplish major achievements together. Both sides also announced to establish four high-level dialogue mechanisms, including diplomatic and security dialogue, comprehensive economic dialogue, law enforcement and cyber-security dialogue, and social and cultural dialogue. Wang Yi said that both countries agreed to make joint efforts to expand mutually beneficial cooperation, and manage and control differences on the basis of mutual respect. China's positions on the South China Sea were also reiterated. Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson said the two sides had candid discussions on regional and maritime security. President Trump noted the importance of adherence to international norms in the East and South China Seas and to previous statements on non-militarization.
Vice President Mike Pence will travel to the Republic of Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, and Hawaii from April 15-25, 2017. This trip will serve as the Vice President’s first official travel to the Asia-Pacific region. During his trip, the Vice President will emphasize President Trump’s continued commitment to U.S. alliances and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region, highlight the Administration’s economic agenda, and underscore America’s unwavering support for our troops at home and abroad.
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