Monday, November 12, 2018

China makes scary breakthrough in the South China Sea

WHILE we were all distracted by the royal wedding at the weekend, the Chinese government was making ground in the South China Sea.
WHILE the Western world was focused on the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, China was making a breakthrough in the South China Sea.
On Friday night, the rising superpower’s state media uploaded a video of Chinese bombers conducting take-off and landing training on an island in the disputed region.
It marked the first time the bombers, including the H-6K, had landed in the area.
“A division of the People’s Liberation Army air force recently organised multiple bombers such as the H-6K to conduct take-off and landing training on islands and reefs in the South China Sea in order to improve our ability to ‘reach all territory, conduct strikes at any time and strike in all directions’,” the air force confirmed in a statement.
Wang Mingliang, a military expert, was quoted in the statement as saying that the take-off and landing exercises will help the air force improve its “real combat ability against all kinds of marine security threats’’.

Why does this matter? Because it shows China is getting increasingly bold about its pursuits in the disputed region. Until now, Beijing had denied militarising the artificial islands, saying military outposts were for defence purposes and nothing more.
But by openly stating that these weapons can “reach all territory” and “strike in all directions”, it appears the country is not afraid to be more transparent about its military activities.
The long-range H-6K bomber is capable of carrying out strategic and nuclear strikes, with a combat radius of nearly 3520 kilometres.

(China has deployed surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island.Source:Supplied)

The Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, using Chinese social media posts, identified the location of the exercise as Woody Island, China’s largest base in the Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.
The move prompted immediate criticism from the US, with a Pentagon spokesman condemning China’s “continued militarisation of disputed features in the South China Sea”.
But China rejected concerns that the deployment had raised tensions in a region home to vital global shipping routes, saying there is “no need to over-interpret it”.
“The South China Sea islands are Chinese territories,” foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a regular briefing.
Mr Lu said moving the bombers into the area was “part of the normal training for the Chinese military”, and that the US “sending its own warships and planes to the region … poses a danger to other countries”.
Hanoi slammed the drills and demanded Beijing “immediately cease” its military moves in the area, the foreign ministry said in a statement to AFP on Monday.
The exercises “seriously violated Vietnam’s sovereignty … raising tensions (and) destabilising the region”, it said.
The Philippines also expressed “serious concerns” on Monday over the presence of the bombers in the area and said its foreign ministry has taken “appropriate diplomatic action”.
Julie Bishop today raised objections to China’s militarisation of the artificial islands.
The Foreign Minister met with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi ahead of the G20 summit in Argentina.
“Australia’s position has been very clear and consistent and it is very well known to China,” Ms Bishop told ABC radio today. “Our concern about militarisation of disputed features of the South China Sea has been the subject of a number of discussions, and was again today.”
But she also trumpeted the meeting as “warm, candid and constructive”, saying she “gets along very well” with Mr Yi and that their meeting was positive.
Ms Bishop’s emphasis on the constructive relationship between the two countries echoed that of Steven Ciobo, who last week heaped praise on Beijing and described China as a “true global giant”.
“Speaking plainly, our partnership is benefiting both sides and making Australians and Chinese richer together,” he said.
“Australians are not making gains at the expense of Chinese, and Chinese are not making gains at the expense of Australians.”
But the tone from Beijing was less amicable.
Last week, Chinese communist party mouthpiece The Global Times said Australia-China relations were “among the worst of all Western nations”, referring to the ongoing controversy over our foreign interference laws.
“Misinterpretation of Sino-Australian ties has only made more troubles for Canberra, not Beijing,” the editorial warned. “The China-Australia relationship doesn’t carry much weight in Beijing diplomacy, and Chinese have no sense of urgency to improve ties with Canberra.
“But the situation is different for Australia. China has tremendous influence on Australia’s development.
“Canberra will certainly feel uneasy for upsetting ties with Beijing.”
— with AFP



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