Duterte: No weapons in island occupation; India Set to Patrol Malacca Straits That Lead to South China Sea; USS Stethem Operates in South China Sea; Japanese warship visits Cam Ranh port…
A landing ships unit of the South China Sea fleet of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy has recently conducted a military drill in the South China Sea to strengthen the fleet's real combat capacities. The drill started with the "red" side, made up of the Jinggang Shan (999), and Kunlun Shan (998) warships and helicopters and hovercraft, speeding to the designed waters in the South China Sea. "The drill has helped us accumulate data for real battles, and lay the foundation for our success," said Jia Zujing, team leader of the Military Operation Section of one landing ship of the fleet.
In a press conference on April 10, regarding the information that a small Philippine fishing crew are being allowed to fish in the waters near Scarborough Shoal, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said: “Huangyan Dao has been an inherent part of the Chinese territory. Last year, based on the friendliness between China and the Philippines, China made proper arrangement for fishing activities by Philippine fishermen in relevant part of waters near Huangyan Dao. Chinese Coast Guard vessels are stationed there to administrate relevant fishing activities and preserve peace, tranquility and order of the area.”
Speaking to reporters before departing for Saudi Arabia on April 10, Philippine President Duterte said no new weapons are being eyed for islets and land features in the South China Sea. His pronouncements came on the heels of Beijing’s voicing concern over his earlier statement that he had ordered the military to occupy at least nine islets and reefs under Philippine control. “China can relax. We are friends. We will not go to war with you. We’re just trying to maintain the balance of the geopolitical situation there,” he said in a press briefing. “Maybe when we get rich, very rich, I can sell the land to you for – inyo na if the spectacle of a war is gone and nothing is dangerous to the Philippines,” he said without providing details. On April 13, President Deterte cancelled a planned visit to Thitu Island “because of our friendship with China and because we value your friendship I will not go there to raise the Philippine flag."
Government sources said that India has managed to receive a positive response from member countries of the Malacca Straits Patrol Framework and will join the group. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand launched the Malacca Straits Patrol (MSP) in 2006 to ensure the security of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Strategically, India can monitor the movement of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean as well because India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands are also some 100 km from the western edge of the Malacca Straits.
The Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer USS STETHEM (DDG 63) forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, is conducting routine operations in the South China Sea. During operations, Stethem has regularly communicated with naval vessels from the People's Republic of China. Nations utilize the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) to communicate navigational intentions to ensure safe maneuvering.
The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies reiterated its opposition to the militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea. The ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States maintained their commitment to maintaining a rules-based maritime order based on international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). "We consider the July 12, 2016 award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal under the UNCLOS as a useful basis for further efforts to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea," the G7 joint communique read.
India and Australia discussed the prospects of holding a bilateral naval exercise, regional security issues and piracy at a meeting between Indian Defence Minister AK Antony and his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith. "Both sides agreed that challenges in the area of maritime security like piracy and freedom of navigation are important issues which required concerted efforts of the global community," Defence Ministry said in release. However, the Defence Ministry, in its release, didn't mention any specific maritime area.
The Royal New Zealand Navy ship, HMNZS TE KAHA carrying 27 officers and 150 sailors on board docked in central Da Nang city’s port on April 12, starting its five-day friendship visit to Vietnam. Before reaching the port, the guest ship joined vessels of the Vietnam People’s Navy for a number of activities relating to communications and operation performance at sea.
Ship Fuyuzuki of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force docked at Cam Ranh International Port in the south central province of Khanh Hoa on April 11, starting a five-day visit to Vietnam. During the visit, the crewmember will visit leaders of the provincial People’s Committee, Commander of Naval Zone 4 and ships of the Vietnam People’s Navy. They will have sport exchange with officers and soldiers of Naval Zone 4.
A three-ship detachment of the Royal Thai Navy, including H.T.M.S Chaophraya (FF4555), H.T.M.S Makutrajakuman (FF 443) and H.T.M.S Narathitwa (OPV 12), with 755 officers and crew-members on board led by Rear Admiral Chandarodvong docked at Cam Ranh International Port in Khanh Hoa province on April 14, starting a friendly visit to Vietnam. The visit aims to promote and deepen friendly relations and cooperation between the two nations in general and the two navies in particular.
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