m3n4.net February 22, 2019

Concrete and coral: Beijing's South China Sea building boom fuels concerns

27 May 2018, 02:09 | Tara Lloyd

China's indigenous aircraft carrier lifts anchor in Dalian in northeast China in a file

China's indigenous aircraft carrier lifts anchor in Dalian in northeast China in a file

The US military said on Thursday it had disinvited China from the Rim of the Pacific exercises, the world's biggest worldwide naval drill, citing "China's continued militarisation of the South China Sea".

In another sign of the heightened tensions over China's militarization of islands in the South China Sea, the United States has disinvited China from participating in an upcoming large-scale worldwide naval exercise to be held off of Hawaii.

"We have noticed relevant reports", said spokesperson Lu Kang, noting that China had indisputable sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea and its adjacent waters.

This was reported by the official representative of the U.S. Department of defense Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan, reports AFP.

Washington also is engaged in a sprawling trade dispute with China over USA complaints about market access and technology policy.

Fanell also warned US naval leadership to remain on guard as it is highly likely that Beijing will dispatch another PLA Navy intelligence collection ship to the RIMPAC exercise area just as they did in 2012 and 2014.

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The Navy announced a year ago that China's PLA navy was invited to RIMPAC 2018.

Exercise Rim of the Pacific is held every two years near Hawaii and Southern California.

China claims most of the South China Sea, believed to hold vast oil and gas deposits and through which $5 trillion in trade passes annually.

Large military transport aircraft have also been spotted on Subi and other Chinese islands in the contested sea in recent months. The Obama administration's invitations to China in 2014 and 2016, extended as part of a an effort to stabilize military relations, elicited some criticism in Congress each year as potentially allowing a competitor insight into the US military.

Satellite imagery of the Fiery Cross Reef located in the South China Sea.

The disinviting of the Chinese navy contrasts sharply with the Obama administration's conciliatory policies toward China that sought to play down or ignore China's creeping takeover of the South China Sea, as well as Beijing's widespread human rights abuses, aggressive cyber attacks on American companies and the USA government, and theft of secrets.

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The U.S.no longer wants China participating in a joint naval drill in the Pacific.

Over the weekend, China's air force landed bombers on islands in the sea as part of a training exercise, triggering concern from Vietnam and the Philippines. However, China has not commented on these claims.

At issue is the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy presence in the Spratly Islands, an archipelago also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

Wang describes China's deployments as necessary defense of its sovereign territory.

"We have strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea", Logan said in the Pentagon statement. -China military-to-military contacts, which are both broad and deep without the PLAN's participation in the multilateral exercise. "We don't hope to see any exaggeration or hype-up of this matter", Wang said.

While the Trump administration does not back any of the rival claims to the islands and smaller features, it has insisted on freedom of navigation and challenged Chinese assertions of sovereignty over virtually all the South China Sea, which US allies in the region see as key to their economic interests and security.

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