Noting a marked shift in China’s behaviour around the islands since last December, a Japanese foreign ministry official said: “The situation in the East China Sea is getting worse.”
Tension over the group of five uninhabited islands and three barren rocks mounted in September 2012, when the Japanese government — which has administered the islands since 1895 — bought them from a private owner.
Japanese officials fear Beijing is using the shift in international attention towards the South China Sea — where China has been constructing artificial islands — to mount a new push in the waters further north.
Tokyo has formally protested the Chinese actions, which it calls a “forceful, coercive attempt to change the status quo”, but has so far avoided any escalation with countermeasures of its own.
In late December, China sailed an armed vessel into territorial waters around the disputed islands for the first time.
Sailing with three other Chinese vessels, a former naval frigate converted for coastguard use but carrying four quick-firing 37mm cannon, entered the 24 nautical mile “contiguous zone” around the islands for the first time on December 22, and the 12 nautical mile territorial waters on December 26. Read the rest of this entry »
The metal balls fell from the sky, scaring local residents.
Vietnam’s military is investigating the appearance of three mysterious metal balls — believed to be debris from space — which landed in the country’s remote north, a senior army official said Friday.
Two metal balls were discovered in northwestern Yen Bai province on January 2, army spokesman Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan told AFP.
Later a larger ball weighing some 45 kilograms (100 pounds) landed in a maize field in neighbouring Tuyen Quang province, he said.
“We are still identifying where they came from,” he said, adding the army had determined they did not contain explosives or hazardous material.
The metal balls fell from the sky, he said, scaring local residents.
“Before and after these objects were discovered, the Vietnamese army was not conducting any military activity in the region,” Tuan said.
China demands end to U.S. surveillance flights
Bill Gertz reports: The Navy is sending a second aircraft carrier strike group to the Asia Pacific region amid new tensions with China over a dangerous aerial encounter between a Chinese interceptor and Navy P-8 surveillance craft.
“We stand by our account of this dangerous and unprofessional incident.”
— Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby
The strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson departed San Diego for the Pacific on Friday, the Navy said in an announcement of what it terms a “planned” deployment.
- Report: Chinese Su-27 Jet Threatened U.S. Navy Intelligence Aircraft Near Japan (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- China Warns U.S. to Stop Close-in Surveillance (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
China’s military on Saturday, meanwhile, demanded an end to all U.S. monitoring flights and called U.S. criticism of dangerous Chinese jet maneuvers false.
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said in a statement that a Chinese fighter jet made a “regular identification and verification” of the Navy P-8 anti-submarine warfare jet during an encounter in an area 135 miles east of Hainan Island.
“We are concerned that the intercepting crews from that unit are acting aggressively and demonstrating a lack of regard for the regard for the safety of our aircrews.”
— Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeff Pool
Yang called Pentagon criticism of the incident “totally groundless” and insisted the Chinese pilot operated professionally and kept a safe distance.
The Chinese spokesman’s account, published in the state-run Xinhua news agency, is at odds with Pentagon officials who called the encounter both dangerous and aggressive. A White House official also said the dangerous intercept was a Chinese “provocation.”
“We have registered our strong concerns to the Chinese about the unsafe and unprofessional intercept, which posed a risk to the safety and the well-being of the air crew and was inconsistent with customary international law.”
— Rear Adm. John Kirby
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby on Friday called the maneuvers by the Chinese J-11—a Russian design Su-27—a dangerous and unprofessional encounter and said the military has protested the incident to the Chinese military. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) — Chinese Defense Ministry here on Saturday urged the U.S. side to stop close-in surveillance of China, and create a sound atmosphere for bilateral military ties.
The ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said in a statement that one U.S. anti-submarine plane and one patrol aircraft flew to an airspace about 220 kilometers east of China’s Hainan Island to conduct close-in surveillance Tuesday morning, and then a Chinese fighter jet took off to make regular identification and verification.
Commenting on relevant criticism made by the U.S. side, Yang said that was “totally groundless,” as the Chinese pilot, with professional operation, kept the jet within a safe distance from the U.S. aircraft.
It was U.S. massive and frequent close-in surveillance of China that endanger the two sides’ air and marine security, and is the root of accidents, he said. Read the rest of this entry »
“Many female tourists felt too awkward to approach the beach.”
Just months after a police crackdown on China’s top nudist destination, naturists ‘flout’ government rules which outlaw skinny dipping and naked sunbathing
Dozens of naked bathers bared all on Dadonghai beach, a 1.4-mile stretch of sand known as China’s premier nudist destination, over the recent holiday weekend.
“The illicit display of buttocks brought a swift government response.”
“Photographs published on Chinese websites showed large groups of naked men smoking cigarettes and reclining on towels on the beach.”
Men “in various states of undress” had been spotted on the seafront, according to a report in the Shanghai Daily newspaper – “some naked, some with their underpants half stripped down”.
“Normal people wouldn’t do such things.”
— Luo Baoming, Sanya’s Communist Party chief
Police banned nudists from Dadonghai beach in Sanya in February following complaints from residents of Hainan, an island in the South China Sea that tourist chiefs promote as “China’s Hawaii”. Read the rest of this entry »
For the Washington Free Beacon, Bill Gertz writes: China has deployed three nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines to a naval base in the South China Sea, according to a recent photo of the vessels that appeared on the Internet.
The submarines appear to be part of China’s plan to begin the first regular sea patrols of nuclear missile submarines.
“This will give China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, probably before the end of 2014.”
“China’s advance in submarine capabilities is significant,” Locklear said. “They possess a large and increasingly capable submarine force. China continues the production of ballistic missile submarines. … This will give China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, probably before the end of 2014.”
Disclosure of the strategic submarine deployment comes as China sharply increased tensions over the weekend after one of its naval vessels rammed and sank a Vietnamese fishing boat in disputed waters claimed by both countries in the region. Read the rest of this entry »