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Home Weekly Bulletin Weekly Bulletin 9/1-15/1

Weekly Bulletin 9/1-15/1

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China launches new electronic intelligence naval ship; PetroVietnam, ExxonMobil sign gas purchase agreement; Tillerson says China should be barred from South China Sea islands…

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Activities of the related Parties

China

China launches new electronic intelligence naval ship

The new electronic reconnaissance ship, the CNS Kaiyangxing or Mizar, with hull code 856, was on January 10 delivered to a combat support flotilla of the North Sea Fleet at the eastern port of Qingdao. "The Kaiyangxing is capable of conducting all-weather, round-the-clock reconnaissance on multiple and different targets," China Daily said. Last year, the PLA Navy commissioned 18 ships, including missile destroyers, corvettes and guided missile frigates.

Chinese bomber flies around contested Spratlys in show of force

A Chinese H-6 strategic bomber flew around the Spratly Islands over the weekend in a new show of force in the contested South China Sea, a U.S. official on January 10. The flight could be seen as a show of “strategic force” by the Chinese, the official said. It was the second such flight by a Chinese bomber in the South China Sea this year. The first was on January 1. Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said he had no specific comment on China’s recent bomber activities, but added: "we continue to observe a range of ongoing Chinese military activity in the region‎.”

Vietnam

Vietnamese Party General Secretary visited China

At the invitation of Party General Secretary and President of China Xi Jinping, Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong paid an official visit to China from January 12-15. The Joint Communiqué reads: “Both sides agreed to continue to fully and effectively implement the DOC in the East Sea (South China Sea), work towards the early formation of a COC on the basis of consensus consultation, effectively controlling disputes at sea and avoiding actions that would further complicate or expanding disputes, while maintaining peace and stability in the East Sea.”

PetroVietnam, ExxonMobil sign gas purchase agreement

The PetroVietnam Exploration Production Corporation (PVEP) under the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) and ExxonMobil Vietnam signed a framework agreement on the Ca Voi Xanh field project development and a gas purchase agreement from the Ca Voi Xanh field on January 13. The development of the Ca Voi Xanh gas field will provide gas to the central region of Vietnam and the possibility of supplementing the supply of power to the south, contributing to developing the petrochemical industry and the local economy.

The Philippines

Philippines puts off upgrades to South China Sea isles

Speaking in a conference at an army base, Philippine Military chief General Eduardo Ano said the country is deferring plans to repair and upgrade features it occupies in the disputed South China Sea. The decision to defer upgrades was to avoid "any aggressive action in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)." He said the move aimed to preserve a new era of friendlier relations with China under President Rodrigo Duterte.

Philippines says protested against China arms buildup on South China Sea isles

The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest with China, its foreign minister said on January 9, over Beijing's installation last year of anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems on its manmade islands in the disputed South China Sea. The protest note was sent to the Chinese embassy in December, after confirmation of a report from the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies about a weapons buildup on seven artificial islands in the Spratlys. Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay told CNN Philippines it was important to raise concerns carefully, and not create a big row. "I just want to assure the Filipino people that when we take action at engaging China in this dispute, we do not want to take such aggressive, provocative action that will not solve the problem," he said. Responding to the remarks by US Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson that China must be denied access to reefs it had reclaimed in the disputed waters, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said: “If it is the national interest of the US to prevent China from occupying disputed features in the South China Sea, they are free to do so as the area is within international waters.”

The U.S.

Tillerson says China should be barred from South China Sea islands

During his confirmation hearing on January 11 before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state Rex Tillerson said that China's building of islands and putting military assets on those islands was "akin to Russia’s taking Crimea” from Ukraine. "We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”

US calls for a peaceful resolution for South China Sea disputes

Speaking at a press conference on January 13, Whte House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said: “Those with competing claims should seek to resolve those competing claims not through brute force or through intimidation or coercion, but rather through diplomacy and negotiation.”

Regional Snapshots

Abe pledges ¥1 trillion aid package to Philippines for infrastructure development

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on January 12 pledged a ¥1 trillion aid package to the Philippines, including government aid and private investments, over the next five years to help its infrastructure development and strengthen strategic ties with the key Asia-Pacific nation. “We will leverage Japanese technology and know-how to the fullest extent to positively cooperate for the improvement of infrastructure in Metro Manila and the whole of the Philippines,” Abe told a joint news conference in Manila after meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Australia, Japan sign pact boosting defense ties

Following a summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Japan and Australia on January 14 signed a revised pact to boost logistics cooperation between their defense forces. Under the revised Japan-Australia acquisition and cross-servicing agreement (ACSA), the Self-Defense Forces will now be able to supply ammunition to the Australian military. At a news conference, Abe and Turnbull underscored the importance of their cooperation, as well as trilateral cooperation with the United States, and its significance for the Asia-Pacific region.

Japan, Indonesia agree to boost maritime ties

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indonesian President Joko Widodo agreed to bolster maritime cooperation, including on security and economic development, during bilateral talks in Bogor, Indonesia, on January 15. "As maritime nations, cooperation in the maritime sector is our top-most priority," Abe said during a joint press statement. "Japan will proactively partner [with Indonesia] in maritime security and the development of Indonesia's outermost islands." In addition, Abe stressed "the South China Sea is an international topic of interest directly related to regional stability and peace. The two countries affirmed sthe rule of law and peaceful resolution of disputes."


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