With Swarms of Ships, Beijing Tightens Its Grip on South China Sea

With Swarms of Ships Beijing Tightens Its Grip on South China SeaThe Chinese ships settled in like unwanted guests who wouldn’t leave.

As the days passed, more appeared. They were simply fishing boats, China said, though they did not appear to be fishing. Dozens even lashed themselves together in neat rows, seeking shelter, it was claimed, from storms that never came.

Not long ago, China asserted its claims on the South China Sea by building and fortifying artificial islands in waters also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Its strategy now is to reinforce those outposts by swarming the disputed waters with vessels, effectively defying the other countries to expel them.

H&M upsets Vietnam after kowtowing to Beijing over ‘problematic map’

HM upsets Vietnam after kowtowing to Beijing over problematic mapSwedish fashion retailer H&M is facing a new protest, this time from social media users in Vietnam who accuse it of kowtowing to China over a map of disputed territories in the South China Sea.

The controversy began on Friday when the Shanghai branch of the Cyberspace Administration of China said it had been alerted by members of the public to a “problematic map of China” on H&M’s website.

Winning Vietnam Defends A Line In The Sand

Winning Vietnam Defends A Line In The SandSince 2019 Vietnam has been visibly improving its military facilities on several of the Spratly islands that China has been claiming even though the islands are closer to Vietnam and were often occupied by Vietnamese civilian or military facilities. The latest Vietnamese improvements are most obvious (via commercial satellite photos) on West Reef and Sin Cowe Island. The most obvious change in West Reef is that it is now larger (28 hectares/70 acres) and most of it is recently dredged up sand. Sim Cowe also had about 11 hectares of land added via dredged up sand. Most of that new land is now covered with military structures, including bunkers for coast defense guns or missiles, radars and ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) sensors plus landing pads (for helicopters) or short airstrips. Although Russia is an ally of China, that has not halted the sale of Russian submarines and other weapons to Vietnam. The United States recently proposed installing about $5 billion worth of missiles and sensors on islands within or near the South China Sea that are threatened by China.

How U.S.-China War in the South China Sea Could Start in 2034

How USChina War in the South China Sea Could Start in 2034In the year 2034, U.S. naval destroyers enter the waters of the South China Sea, where they eventually encounter a heavily armed Chinese vessel.

Apparently, it all goes downhill from there.

Relentless cyberattacks put a stranglehold on the United States’ ability for strategic action, and the devastating sea battles lead to thousands of lives lost on both sides.

That’s the lethal scenario imagined in the recently published 2034: A Novel of the Next World War, which was co-authored by combat veteran Elliot Ackerman and Adm. James Stavridis, a former supreme allied commander of NATO.

Beijing’s focus on maritime law ‘reflects rising concerns over South China Sea’

Beijings focus on maritime law reflects rising concerns over South China SeaBeijing’s plan for the next five years includes a call to mitigate risks and prepare for legal battles over its maritime disputes, which analysts say reflects growing concerns over the South China Sea.

The plan – tabled at the ongoing annual legislative sessions in Beijing – also calls for China to draw up a basic maritime law, a task carried over from the previous five-year period.

“[We] must study the current circumstances, mitigate risks and [prepare for] legal struggles,” the plan to 2025 says. “[We] must resolutely defend national maritime interests.”

Vietnam’s deft diplomacy amid China versus US tensions

Vietnams deft diplomacy amid China versus US tensionsVietnam following its chairmanship in ASEAN in 2020 as well as the ongoing membership as a permanent member of the UN Security Council has provided the country with more maturity and adept outlook in addressing both security concerns as well as political manoeuvring in Southeast Asia. Vietnam has been very cautious of the fact that it cannot court the US as a guarantor of its stakes in South China Sea while at the same time could not annoy China to the verge of having a military dispute with a large communist country.

US moves to boost military presence in Indo-Pacific amid China ‘threat

US moves to boost military presence in IndoPacific amid China threatThe United States is moving to boost its military presence in the Indo-Pacific, as President Joe Biden’s administration shapes plans to contain China’s influence in the region.

But observers say it could be a challenge for the US to keep up its push for a military role in the Indo-Pacific and that some Southeast Asian nations fear getting caught in the rivalry.

While the Pentagon is still assessing its China policy via a new 15-member task force, US military officials have hardened their stance in recent weeks, with calls for resources to be shifted to the Pacific to maintain a “competitive edge” over China, and defence chief Lloyd Austin naming the country as a “pacing threat”.

Biden's China reset is already on the ropes

On Mar. 18, senior American and Chinese officials will meet in Anchorage, Alaska, to discuss the tense state of U.S.-China relations.

Bilateral relations spiraled precipitously during the Trump years. Many keen observers thought that the new Biden administration might reflexively adopt an anti-Trump stance, and urgently adopt cooperation with China on global challenges, such as climate change.

Biden Team Pivots to Asia

Biden Team Pivots to AsiaThe U.S. president’s foreign-policy staff hopes to make the pivot real with an early trip to the region.

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Security Brief. Hope everyone is mentally preparing to lose an hour of sleep with the upcoming daylight saving time. (And for those quietly cursing this, there are some U.S. senators who agree.)

The highlights this week: Biden team takes off for Asia on China tough talk tour, a U.S. warship comes home after logging 99,000 miles at sea, the National Security Council beefs up on cybertalent, and more.

U.S. Wants India’s Help on China, but There Are a Few Sticking Points

U.S. Wants Indias Help on China but There Are a Few Sticking PointsThe Biden administration is working to embed India in a network of countries in sharp competition with China, though they need to smooth over disagreements that include human rights and New Delhi’s acquisition of a Russian defense system.

Highlighting the push was Friday’s virtual meeting between President Biden and the prime ministers of two longtime treaty allies—Australia and Japan—as well as of India, the fourth country in the so-called Quad and the least developed economically.

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