Three fishermen dead after explosion in South China Sea

Geraldine Edwards
May 27, 2018

The move comes after Fox News exclusively reported that the Chinese military had deployed another advanced surface-to-air missile system to one of its contested islands in the South China Sea.

It is in both countries' interests to develop healthy military ties, and China hopes the United States keeps the broader picture in mind, abandon its "zero sum" mentality and appropriately handle disputes, the ministry said.

"China is only building civilian and some necessary defense facilities on our own islands".

Chinese President Xi Jinping said at a White House press conference with President Barack Obama in 2015 that Beijing "did not intend to pursue militarization" of islands it controlled in the Spratly chain.

Adm. Phil Davidson, who is expected to head Pacific Command after the retirement of Adm. Harry Harris, recently told Congress that China has already consolidated its hold on the South China Sea.

In the Pentagon's Wednesday statement, it accused Xi of going back on his promise not to militarize the South China Sea. China claims the waters and its islands virtually in their entirety, though Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei also have overlapping claims.

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Some U.S. analysts noted PLA photographs appeared to show a bomber landing on Woody Island in the Paracels, and the Chinese military has yet to confirm planes actually landed on its Spratlys holdings.

Following the July 2016 ruling by the Hague-based arbitral tribunal in the Philippines' favor in its 2013 case against China over maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, Beijing observed that reputational costs for its militarization and other activities in the region were negligible.

"We have called on China to remove the military systems immediately and to reverse course on the militarization of disputed South China Sea features", he added.

China has made it clear the Paracel Islands are part of its sovereign territory and that the South China Sea, within its unilaterally designated nine-dash line, is under its control. It's a reflection of expanding U.S.

China has participated twice previously, in 2014 and 2016. Plans for this year's 26th RIMPAC were finalized last month with over 1,000 personnel from 27 nations set to participate, including debut appearances from Brazil, Israel, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

Pentagon's decision was immediately hailed by many who have always been critical of China's inclusion in the RIMPAC. Countries surrounding the South China Sea could eventually find themselves forced to accept Chinese hegemony in the region.

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RIMPAC enabled the armed forces of the world's two largest economies to directly engage with each other.

"In wartime, China's military assets on these islands will increase the risk to the United States of intervening militarily".

By excluding China from the event in 2018, the United States was sending a clear message that Beijing was stepping outside global norms, Schuster said. "China's behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise".

Despite the looming threat, the worldwide community - including India, Japan, the U.S. and Australia - has failed to achieve a united front against China's island-building spree, Choong said.

The United States has revoked an invitation to China to the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC).

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