Continued tensions in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait, a reemphasized U.S. naval focus on China, and Japanese outreach to European nations.
Latest in Water Wars
Philippine and Chinese officials will launch a joint investigation into the at-sea collision that left 22 Filipino fishermen stranded in the South China Sea. On June 9—the official Philippines-China Friendship Day—a Chinese vessel rammed and sank a Philippine fishing vessel near Reed Bank (known in Tagalog as Recto Bank), northeast of the Spratly Islands, and reportedly fled after the collision. A Vietnamese fishing vessel later rescued the Filipino crew members who had been left in the water.
The Shangri-La Dialogue, the highest profile annual security forum in Asia, was held from May 31 to June 2 in Singapore. Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered an opening speech that received widespread praise from Chinese netizens for its “objective analysis” of Sino-U.S. ties.
In the first weeks of May, U.S. vessels have been busy all over the South China Sea, drawing China’s ire and frustration. From May 2 to May 8, the destroyer USS William P. Lawrence joined ships from the Philippines, India and Japan in transiting through the South China Sea, performing formation exercises and other low-profile drills during the voyage.
Despite a diplomatic row between China and the Philippines, U.S. and Philippine military officials denied that their recent military exercise was a response to Chinese threats.
In a cabinet meeting on Dec. 18, the government of Japan adopted new National Defense Program Guidelines that call for the “drastic strengthening of Japan’s defense capabilities.” The new guidelines adopt a “multidimensional joint defense force” strategy, based on investment in technological advancement.
Water Wars: Pence Accuses China of Domestic Interference and Warships Have Close-Call in South China Sea
In a speech delivered on Oct. 4, Vice President Mike Pence escalated the Trump administration’s rhetoric against China. At the Hudson Institute, Pence warned that Beijing represents the greatest strategic competitor to the United States and outlined what the U.S. sees as increased economic and political interference by China, in addition to the existing military competition.
At the ASEAN Regional Forum on Aug.
The 26th biennial Rim of the Pacific naval military exercises, the largest international maritime exercises in the world, kicked off in and around Hawaii on June 27 with one participant notably absent. The U.S. military chose to disinvite China this year due to its “continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea,” Pentagon spokesman Marine Lt. Col.
On May 18, the China Daily reports, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force landed multiple H-6K bomber aircrafts on the disputed Woody Island in the South China Sea. This is the first time China has publicly landed its bombers on any of the features in the South China Sea region.