now noticed in Twitter
The British Royal
Nice Flag, but why are they flying it aft??
now noticed in Twitter
The British Royal
A Chinese coast guard vessel recently came within about 700 metres of HMCS Regina during a rare transit by a Canadian warship through hotly disputed waters in the South China Sea and Strait of Taiwan.
The unexpected incident near the southern mouth of the strait briefly caused some anxiety on Regina’s bridge. However, Canadian sailors praised the Chinese mariners for their seamanship and courtesy as a series of Chinese warships and coast guard ships – never more than three at a time – shadowed HMCS Regina and the Canadian replenishment ship, MV Asterix. The Chinese followed the Canadian ships for more than 1,000 kilometres as they made their way north through the Strait of Taiwan to the East China Sea.
The voyage through the strait put the Canadian ships in waters between China and Taiwan, which is independent but considered part of China by Beijing.
Chinese interest in what the Canadian ships might be doing appeared to increase as they entered the strait, much of which is claimed by both China and Taiwan, and is considered a potential flashpoint if the two countries ever come to blows.
Taiwanese warships and coast guard vessels also followed the Canadian ships as they transited the strait.
“I never felt there was anything unsafe or unprofessional in anything the Chinese or Taiwanese did,” said Regina’s captain, Cmdr. Jake French. “What we observed were common maritime practices by the Chinese and Taiwanese.”
Tensions have risen between Canada and China since Canada began extradition proceedings against an executive of Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant. But that had nothing to do with why the Canadian ships sailed through the strait, the commander said.
“This is not a statement,” he said. “We were taking the fastest route to the East China Sea to begin Operation Neon,” he said.
Regina and Asterix were in international waters at all times when in the strait and elsewhere during the voyage, French said, adding that the Royal Canadian Navy ships steered well clear of the internationally accepted norm of 12-nautical-mile territorial limits. Most countries, including Canada, consider the waterway international territory.
China now routinely shadows all foreign warships sailing in the South China Sea, the Strait of Taiwan, the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea. They did so when HMCS Winnipeg sailed two years ago in the far western Pacific and again when HMCS Calgary made a similar trip through the Strait of Taiwan last year.
OP Neon is the Canadian name for a multinational operation to hunt for smugglers violating UN sanctions by transferring fuel to North Korea. As well as Regina and Asterix, the RCAF has sent a CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft to assist in finding the smugglers, who use small tankers to transfer fuel to North Korean ships in the East China Sea and Yellow Sea.
The UN sanctions are designed to pressure North Korea to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs, nuclear weapons tests and ballistic missile launches by Kim Jong-Un’s regime.
For more than a week now, six different Chinese warships, usually operating in pairs, have played a cat-and-mouse game with the Canadians by bracketing or trailing their ships. The shadowing began almost immediately when they had completed a brief exercise with the Vietnamese navy after making a port visit to Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, last week.
The Chinese observed an exercise involving the Canadian ships and three Japanese warships, including a helicopter destroyer that some analysts have described as a small aircraft carrier.
At one point, in shallow waters near the southern mouth of the Strait of Taiwan, the Chinese repeatedly hailed the Canadians to ask where they were headed and to tell them to take new course headings. The Canadians initially answered a few of the dozens of hails to identify themselves, but there were so many similar hails and answers that they finally stopped replying. Taiwanese warships also shadowed and hailed the Canadians. The Taiwanese sailed just to the east of the Canadians while the Chinese sailed just to the west, creating an interesting tableau on the sea.
Early in this leg of what has been a six-month voyage that has taken the Regina and Asterix from Victoria to the Middle East, the ships travelled within 25 kilometres of the Paracel Islands, which China, Vietnam and the Philippines all claim. On the outward journey to the Persian Gulf, the Canadian ships passed near the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by half a dozen countries in the region. To support their audacious claim to almost all of the South China Sea, the Chinese have built military airfields on several of the atolls and installed radars and other military facilities as well.
The US Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) participated in bilateral exercises with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships JS Izumo (DDH-183), JS Murasame (DD-101) and JS Akebono (DD-108) in the South China Sea earlier this month.
As informed, the ship quartet practiced communication methods, tactical maneuvering drills and liaison officer exchanges designed to address mutual maritime security priorities and enhance cooperation efforts at sea.
The US Navy and JMSDF regularly fly, sail and operate together with other allies and partners to promote security and stability throughout the region.
Bilateral exercises are said to maintain and strengthen “a prosperous and present” force in the Indo-Pacific region. Through current completion of successful operations, Ronald Reagan and JMSDF pave a road of future successful operational endeavors.
“USS Ronald Reagan always welcomes the opportunity to sail and train with our partners from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force,” Capt. Pat Hannifin, Reagan’s commanding officer, said.
“Bilateral exercises, like our most recent interaction with JS Izumo, allows us to strengthen our partnership with our allies.”
Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
The Philippines have begun to push back against the strong and sustained presence of Beijing’s paramilitary ships in the South China Sea, calling the deployment of Chinese militia ships in huge numbers a threat.
Manila filed two diplomatic protests last month against the swarming presence of militia vessels in waters surrounding Pagasa Island (Thitu Island), its biggest occupied island in the South China Sea in the Spratly Island chain.
The diplomatic notes also covered the undeclared passage of four Chinese warships within its territorial waters since February this year, and the sailing of Beijing’s aircraft carrier Liaoning last month in Mindanao waters in the southern Philippines.
As confirmed by Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the warships and the aircraft carrier successively passed through Sibutu Strait in between Bongao and Simunol in the island of Tawi-tawi. All had shut off their automatic identification system (AIS).
Concerns about the naval conduct has been raised by Lorenzana to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua during the celebration of the 92nd founding anniversary of People’s Liberation Army held by China in Manila.
Philippine officials said on July 25, 113 Chinese vessels surrounded Pagasa Island. National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. claimed that the presence of the ships, which is part of the gray-zone strategy that China is practicing in the disputed South China Sea, has grown in number from 61 in February.
Chinese militia vessels have been a regular fixture in the territory claimed and occupied by the Philippines in the South China Sea, raising security concerns among Filipino military officials.
From January to March this year alone, at least 600 Chinese ships from Beijing’s maritime militia have been counted, either in stationary positions or loitering around the waters surrounding Pagasa Island, frustrating Filipino fishermen by blocking their access to their traditional fishing grounds in the territory.
The steel-hulled ships, while masquerading as fishing vessels, are performing a wide variety of missions that included resupply and monitoring for the Chinese Navy. They were even used to intimidate, harass and attack others fishing vessels, such as those from the Philippines, in support of or to assert China’s maritime claims.
On June 9, a Chinese vessel thought to be operated by the militia struck and sank a Filipino fishing boat in the Reed Bank, leaving its crewmen in the sea before they were rescued by a Vietnamese fishing boat.
Just recently, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Shultz said these Chinese ships’ activity in the South China Sea has not been in line with rules of maritime conduct. He called on ASEAN officials to push back against the violation of this rules-based order.
Lorenzana called China a bully, especially due to the way it took control of the Scarborough Shoal in 2012 through a maritime standoff.
He also criticized China for its repeated calls for peace in the South China Sea, despite Lorenzana saying China has been the source of trouble in the region.
U.S Coast Guard is mulling its future in the Asia-Pacific region once the National Security Cutter USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752) completes its current deployment in end November, region commander Vice Adm. Linda Fagan told reporters on Friday.
“That is very much an ongoing conversation right now, at this point, Stratton will return in late fall to Alameda, Calif. I do expect we will have some level of major U.S coast guard cutter deployment to some part of the region but that is very much an ongoing conversation as to how long, where, the [operational] relationship with Pacific Fleet and 7th Fleet,” she said.
The conversation comes as the Coast Guard and the Navy are exercising with Malaysian forces as part of Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Malaysia 2019. In addition to Stratton, the Navy has sent Littoral Combat Ship USS Montgomery (LCS-8), salvage ship USNS Salvor (ARS-52), expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Millinocket (T-EPF-3), Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit 1, an MH-60S Seahawk helicopter and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter. They will exercise with the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA). Following the exercise, Stratton will head to India to conduct port visits and engagements and then move on to the Pacific islands.
Fagan added that the Coast Guard was now also carrying out Operation Aiga in the Pacific Islands. The operation is a 30-day deployment of a 225-foot Juniper-class buoy tender and the Fast Response Cutter USCGC Joseph Gerczak (WPC-1126) to partner with Pacific island nations. Both the ships have been at Pago Pago, American Samoa and are currently conducting activities in the vicinity.
“We’re doing that as a proof of concept this summer with the intention of having a similar deployment for a lengthier time period next summer. Again that is all in the planning and discussion phases as to how long, which partner nations and where,” she said.
The Coast Guard has also discussed on providing Military Training Assistance and Law Enforcement training teams, “I’m hopeful that that conversation will move in a productive way for our partners in the region,” she said.
The simultaneous commissioning of two National Security Cutters in Honolulu next week, the USCGC Kimball (WMSL-756) and USCGC Midgett (WMSL-757), the Coast Guard will have additional capacity to bring to the Pacific.
“These have been incredible ships and we’re fortunate we get congressional support for the ships, they have been absolutely critical to our counter-narcotics efforts in the Eastern Pacific and responsible for some of the record-breaking interdictions we had over the past couple of months,” she said.
The main challenge for the Coast Guard in the Asia-Pacific is to ensure that its activities and actions achieve the best effect, “The challenge for us is that many of the Pacific Island nations, threats that they face, are the type of things that we as a Coast Guard are postured to address, whether it’s law enforcement, search and rescue, Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and we view ourselves as the world’s best Coast Guard and we have many friends and partners in the region who we work alongside to continue that engagement, the challenge is there’s just not a lot of us to go around so it’s making sure the capacity that we do have to dedicate to the region are applied for best effect and we’ll continue to do that as a Pacific nation, it’s too critical to not be engaged where and how we can and that gets balanced against the totality of the risks that the Commandant balances as the head of the Coast Guard.”
With new assets such as the National Security Cutters, the Fast Response Cutters and in the future, the Polar Security Cutters and the Offshore Patrol Cutters, the Coast Guard intends for these ships to be employed to the best of their capabilities.
“We’re fielding the new assets, they bring with them increased capability and we are committed to applying that capability for best effect against the threats that are posed against the U.S, threats in the Pacific and we’ll continue to do that and look at how those ships can be employed to ensure that we’re being good stewards of the resources that the American public has trusted with us and provide for national security and safety,” she said.
U.S. Air Force Chief Stresses Importance Of Freedom of Navigation Operations During Pacific Tour
"While in Manila, Goldfein re-emphasized to Philippine Air Force officials the U.S. commitment to the decades-old Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines."
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will visit China next week, Beijing announced on Friday, after Duterte threatened to cancel talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping if he could not discuss South China Sea disputes.
In a brief statement, the Chinese foreign ministry said Duterte would visit China for five days from August 28 at the invitation of Xi.
The ministry did not say what the two leaders would discuss, but observers said joint oil and gas exploration and infrastructure would be on the agenda to ease domestic pressure on Duterte to tougher action against Beijing over the South China Sea.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Duterte would join Xi at the opening ceremonies of the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Beijing on August 30, and then to go Guangzhou to watch a basketball game with Vice-President Wang Qishan on August 31.
He said the two nations will discuss infrastructure projects, but added that China’s stance on the arbitration ruling on South China Sea remain unchanged.
Duterte had also planned to visit Fujian province to inaugurate a school building in honour of his mother. But Philippine foreign affairs assistant secretary Meynardo Montealegre said the plan was called off because “it’s not appropriate at this time”, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
Beijing’s announcement came two days after Duterte hinted that he would raise a 2016 ruling by an international tribunal that found in favour of Manila and rejected China’s claims to the contested waters.
“[China] said it won’t be talked about. I said no. If I’m not allowed as a president of a sovereign nation to talk [about] whatever I want to talk about, then let us not rather talk altogether,” he said.
Xu Liping, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, said Duterte faced mounting pressure to take a tougher line on Beijing after a Philippine fishing boat sank following a collision with a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea.
“[They will probably discuss the] Belt and Road Initiative, and more agreements on infrastructure projects to support Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ efforts,” Xu said.
“The Philippines may also convey to China concerns about Southeast Asian nations, such as the negotiations on the code of conduct for the South China Sea,” he said, adding that the Philippines will chair the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year.
“Steps should be taken to ease the pressure facing Duterte at home.”
Tensions between the two countries have risen since June when a Chinese trawler was accused of ramming a Philippine fishing boat, forcing 22 Filipino fishermen overboard. The fishermen were later rescued by a passing Vietnamese boat.
Beijing played down the incident, saying the Chinese vessel had tried to rescue the fishermen. But tensions erupted again in July as the Philippine defence ministry said several Chinese warships sailed unannounced through the Sibutu Strait in the southwest tip of the Philippine archipelago. Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana then accused China of “bullying” action over the South China Sea.
Collin Koh, a research fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said Duterte would raise the international tribunal’s ruling but Xi was expected to stick to China’s position of not recognising it.
“For Duterte, facing the domestic pressure over what happened recently in the South China Sea, this trip is designed also for domestic consumption – to demonstrate that he’s safeguarding Philippine sovereignty in the South China Sea, so as to placate critics,” he said.
“In sum, [there will] probably be a consensus to agree to disagree.”