China to hold drills in disputed waters ahead of court ruling


BEIJING: China will hold military drills in the disputed South China Sea, the government said Sunday, ahead of an international tribunal ruling over Beijing’s maritime claims in the resource-rich area.

The drills will be held in waters around the Paracel Islands from July 5 to 11, with other ships prohibited from entering the waters during that time, a short statement by the maritime safety administration said.

The military exercises come as an international tribunal in The Hague prepares to rule on a case brought by the Philippines challenging China’s claims in the strategic waterway.

Manila lodged the suit against Beijing in early 2013, saying that after 17 years of negotiations it had exhausted all political and diplomatic avenues to settle the dispute.

Beijing, which asserts sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea despite rival claims from Southeast Asian neighbors, insists that the Permanent Court of Arbitration has no jurisdiction over the issue and has boycotted the proceedings.

Basing its claims on a vaguely defined “nine-dash” Chinese map dating back to the 1940s, it has rapidly turned reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

Manila contends that the “nine-dash” line has no basis under international law and Beijing has no “historic” claim to the ocean.

Tensions in the South China Sea have alarmed other nations, and most notably the United States which has key defense treaties with many allies in the region, and in a show of strength has sent warships close to some of the Chinese claimed reefs.

But President Xi Jinping said in a speech last week that China will never compromise on sovereignty, and that the country was “not afraid of trouble.”

In an apparent stab at the US, Xi said: “We will not show up at other people’s front doors to flex our muscles. That does not show strength or scare anyone.”

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims to the waterway. AFP



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1 Comment

  1. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    03 July 2016

    Okay, showing more braggadocio than simple common sense, Chinese President Xi Jinping has given the go-signal for the PLA-N to hold drills “in disputed waters [in the South China Sea, around the Paracel Islands in particular]” ahead of the anticipated PCA ruling.

    He must know that two Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier strike forces, the USS John C. Stennis and the USS Ronald Reagan, are now engaged in drills in the Philippine Sea, obviously and pointedly in advance preparations for any eventually with China in the SCS.

    These planned naval drills by China, July 5 to 10, are obviously a response to the US’s own naval drills–and can only be interpreted as highly provocative.

    China’s message seems to be that in the event that the PCA ruling will favor the Philippines, it will simply ignore it and will prefer to go to war against the US should the US attempt to enforce the ruling, the US being a close ally of the Philippines.

    Let’s see what happens when the ruling comes down a week or two from now.