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China’s good faith in the South China Sea

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Chinas good faith in the South China SeaOn September 22nd 2020, President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at the 75th session of the United National General Assembly, in which he underscored the following points: China has no intention to conduct either cold or hot war with any country. China has been advocating resolving disputes with other countries through dialogues and negotiations. Relations among countries must be grounded in law and institution. No country is allowed to do whatever it likes and has the right to dominate the world, control other countries’ destiny, or enjoy all the benefits by itself. The world powers must respect international law, avoid double standard, and shall not distort international law to undermine other countries’ legitimate rights and interests or the world’s peace and stability. President Xi also called for cooperation from the United Nations member countries in building rule-based international order and community of common destiny for mankind to bring about a better future for the world.

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Opportunities for ASEAN to uphold its role in the South China Sea

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Opportunities for ASEAN to uphold its role in the South China SeaChina’s tactic of capitalizing on the Covid-19 pandemic to push up coercion and intimidation against its neighbouring countries to establish total control and monopoly in the South China Sea forces the US to adjust its South China Sea approach in two ways (i) increase the presence of US navy and air force in the South China Sea; and (ii) adopt a clearer and firmer position on China’s claims on the basis of international law.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement on July 13th 2020 marked a milestone in the changes of the US’ South China Sea approach and was in favour of South China Sea littoral states. International analysts opine that such changes will open opportunities for ASEAN countries to fulfil its role in South China Sea dispute settlement because the US position is now convergent with that of the South China Sea littoral states in ASEAN. The convergent position is shown in four aspects:

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The rallying of force and the South China Sea note verbale battle

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The rallying of force and the South China Sea note verbale battleAmid the complex and uncertain developments in international and regional landscape, the interests of countries are intertwined. Every state undertakes actions on the basis of their national interests, and thus, the international and regional force rally is characterized with new features, and develops based on particular issue and specific region. When countries have convergent interests, the rallying of the new force is inevitable. This is demonstrated clearly in the on-going note verbale battle on the South China Sea.

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ASEAN summit: South China Sea, coronavirus pandemic cast a shadow

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ASEAN summit South China Sea coronavirus pandemic cast a shadowSoutheast Asia's top diplomats are holding their annual summit with the coronavirus pandemic and rising tensions in the South China Sea amid escalating rivalry between the United States and China topping the agenda.

The 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit began via video link on Wednesday after being delayed by a month due to the pandemic.

The foreign ministers of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are also set to meet Asian and Western counterparts during the summit.

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Is Trump a Turning Point in World Politics?

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Is Trump a Turning Point in World PoliticsCAMBRIDGE – As the United States enters the home stretch of the 2020 presidential election campaign, and with neither party’s nominating convention featuring much discussion of foreign policy, the contest between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden apparently will be waged mainly on the battleground of domestic issues. In the long run, however, historians will ask whether Trump’s presidency was a major turning point in America’s role in the world, or just a minor historical accident.

At this stage, the answer is unknowable, because we do not know if Trump will be re-elected. My book Do Morals Matter? rates the 14 presidents since 1945 and gives Trump a formal grade of “incomplete,” but for now he ranks in the bottom quartile.

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Beijing – The one who is playing victim game

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Beijing The one who is playing victim gameOn August 4, 2020, the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI) ran an article titled “The situation of Vietnamese Fishing Vessels’ Illegal Activities in the South China Sea” on Wechat. The article provides data of 702 Vietnamese fishing vessels that entered China’s close waters in July 2020, of which 91 fishing vessels operated “illegally” in China’s internal and territorial waters, a sharp increase compared to the 75 ships in June 2020.

It is ridiculous to look at the title of the post because it is the thieves that are shouting. The whole world knows that China is using its fishing vessels as a third force to carry out intrusion, violate the waters of neighboring countries, and carry out the plot of monopolization of the South China Sea. More than that, even in the East China Sea, Chinese fishing vessels also constantly encroach on the Japan’s waters and are chased away by Japan Coast Guard.

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Pondering over Vietnam’s policy versus the East Sea

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Pondering over Vietnams policy versus the East SeaBeing an overseas Vietnamese, I have always followed closely the situation in the East Sea with concern and indignation at the ongoing tensions in the East Sea in the recent time. The strategic competition between the United States and China has been taking place in the fiercest manner up to now.

Availing itself of the situation when the whole world is facing the Covid-19 pandemic caused by China itself, the country is now accelerating its hostile activities and repeatedly holding military exercises in the East Sea in attempt to solely occupy it. The United States is determined not to let China “do whatever it wishes to do” in the East Sea. While the United States is focusing its efforts to respond to the pandemic, it is still strengthening its presence in the East Sea through deploying warships (aircraft carriers, missile-guide frigates, coast combat ships, landing ships, submarines, advanced surveillance aircraft, strategic bombers…) to operate in the East Sea. Of late, there were two major drills involved two aircraft carriers, namely USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, right after China started its military exercise in the Hoang Sa archipelago of Vietnam in early July.

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China Builds Surveillance Network In South China Sea

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China builds surChina has been building a series of surveillance platforms spanning parts of the South China Sea (SCS). Many of these are in Chinese waters, but several are floating in international waters.

This is controversial, not least the dual-use military context of the network. While ostensibly civilian, these can be viewed as part of the Chinese Navy’s (PLAN) efforts to control the SCS. It is unrealistic to assume that their sensor data cannot be accessed by the PLAN for military purposes. And they may be part of a much larger sensor network, most of which is unseen beneath the waves. This reinforces China’s strategic advantage over other countries in the region, and can be used to monitor U.S. Navy movements.

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Vietnam’s Response to the United States’ Changing Approach to the South China Sea

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Vietnam responseJuly 2020 marked a significant shift in developments regarding the South China Sea. The Trump administration announced a series of high-level statements that explicitly reject China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea as inconsistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The U.S. statements further reaffirm the 2016 tribunal ruling, from The Hague, against China’s claims. The U.S. shift from being officially neutral and not taking the side of claimant states in the South China Sea to rejecting Beijing’s claims as unlawful and excessive are advantageous to the Southeast Asian claimant states. Yet, across Southeast Asian capitals, views on the United States’ new statements are divided. A few have publicly and directly referred to the statements, but many are worried that the United States’ seeming position change is less related to upholding international law and has more to do with Washington trying to escalate tensions with China.

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U.S. health chief to be highest-ranking official in decades to visit Taiwan, angering China

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US health chiefTAIPEI (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar will visit Taiwan in coming days, his office said on Tuesday, making the highest-level visit by a U.S. official in four decades - a move that angered China, which claims the island as its own.

Azar’s visit will worsen already poor Beijing-Washington relations, inflamed over trade, the pandemic and human rights, even as democratic Taiwan has welcomed the show of support in the face of unrelenting Chinese pressure.

During his visit, Azar will meet with President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said, which may infuriate China further.

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A Feast to commemorate the 4th anniversary of the PCA South China Sea Ruling

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PCADifferent from the last three years, this year is marked with the high-profile 4thanniversary of the PCA South China Sea Ruling. Various events to praise the rule of law in the South China Sea took place.

1. The ‘feast’ begins with a message from the Philippines Foreign Secretary on July 12th 2020. July 12th was the exact day four years ago when The Hague Tribunal issued a ruling rejecting China’s sovereignty claims over most of the South China Sea.

In his message, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. stated that the PCA South China Sea Ruling 2016 was “non-negotiable”, and called for China’s serious compliance with the ruling. Mr Locsin also underscored that the ruling “conclusively settled the issue of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea… under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS)”.

By adducing China’s acts in violation of international law cited by the Tribunal, including massive reclamation and construction of artificial features in the South China Sea with severe environmental impacts, Mr Locsin stressed the Tribunal’s conclusion that certain actions of China within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights and “were thus unlawful”.

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