News / Asia

    China Redeploys Fighter Jets on Disputed Island

    FILE - Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy patrol at Woody Island, in the Paracel Archipelago, which is known in China as the Xisha Islands, Jan. 29, 2016. Fewer than 10 jets – a combination of Shenyan J-11 and Xian JH-7 aircraft – have been spotted on Woody Island.
    FILE - Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy patrol at Woody Island, in the Paracel Archipelago, which is known in China as the Xisha Islands, Jan. 29, 2016. Fewer than 10 jets – a combination of Shenyan J-11 and Xian JH-7 aircraft – have been spotted on Woody Island.

    China has again sent fighter jets to a disputed island where earlier this month it redeployed surface-to-air missiles and appears to be building a sophisticated radar system, according to U.S. officials.

    Fewer than 10 jets – a combination of Shenyan J-11 and Xian JH-7 aircraft – have been spotted on Woody Island in the Paracel chain in the South China Sea, officials in Washington, who spoke on condition they not be named, told reporters late Tuesday.

    On Wednesday, Nina Hachigian, the U.S. ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, told reporters, "We are very concerned that these actions are increasing tensions in the region and are counterproductive."

    The fighter jet sightings follow the placement of HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles on the 210-hectare island, known in Chinese as Yongxing and called Phu Lam by Vietnam, which also claims it.

    Satellite imagery analysis by geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor shows overall land, building and military expansion by China on Woody Island in the South China Sea. (Courtesy of Stratfor)
    Satellite imagery analysis by geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor shows overall land, building and military expansion by China on Woody Island in the South China Sea. (Courtesy of Stratfor)

    Analysts express more alarm about the construction of a high frequency radar facility on the island, 400 kilometers southeast of China's Hainan island.

    Radar advantages

    The radar would bolster Beijing's ability to monitor surface and air traffic in the tense waters and “along with the development of new runways and air defense capabilities, they speak to a long-term anti-access strategy by China – one that would see it establish effective control over the sea and airspace throughout the South China Sea," according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    After Chinese state media last November published images of J-11 fighter jets on Woody Island, the U.S. Navy sailed a guided-missile destroyer past another contested island in the South China Sea and flew B-52 bombers and sailed another warship in the region for a “freedom of navigation” exercise.

    FILE - U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, right, speaks with U.S. Navy Cmdr. Robert Francis Jr., as Carter visited the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. US Ambassador to Asean Nina Hachigian called US freedom of navigation operations "routine" and "lawful."
    FILE - U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, right, speaks with U.S. Navy Cmdr. Robert Francis Jr., as Carter visited the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. US Ambassador to Asean Nina Hachigian called US freedom of navigation operations "routine" and "lawful."

    "Our freedom of navigation operations are routine, they are lawful,” said Ambassador Hachigian, speaking from Jakarta on a conference call. “They're conducted in accordance with international law. We've conducted these operations around the globe since 1979, including in the South China Sea and the South China Sea cannot be an exception."

    Such activities have prompted Chinese officials to blame the United States for increasing tensions.

    Diplomats meet

    China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, visiting the U.S. State Department on Tuesday, said he hoped that such flights and patrols by U.S. forces near the contested islands would cease.

    "Regrettably, there are missiles, fighter aircraft, guns, artillery and other things that have been placed in the South China Sea, and this is of great concern to everyone who transits and relies on the South China Sea for peaceful trade, commerce and use," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, standing alongside Yi, told reporters.

    Secretary of State John Kerry talks with with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as they wrap up their news conference at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 23, 2016.
    Secretary of State John Kerry talks with with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as they wrap up their news conference at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 23, 2016.

    Kerry said, however, not only China but Vietnam and others were also responsible for creating an “escalatory cycle” of reclamation and militarization in the disputed waters.

    Earlier Tuesday, the head of the U.S. military’s Pacific Command, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, was less diplomatic, bluntly blaming Beijing for “clearly militarizing” the South China Sea.

    "You’d have to believe in a flat Earth to believe otherwise," Admiral Harry Harris told senators.

    Asked by lawmakers about the strategic goal of China's military buildup in the region, Harris replied: "I believe China seeks hegemony in East Asia."

    WATCH: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticizes China militarization of  South China Sea island

    Kerry Slams China on Militarization of South Sea Islandi
    X
    February 17, 2016 5:32 PM
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized China Wednesday, over its militarization of an island in a disputed region of the South China Sea.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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    Comments page of 2
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    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 24, 2016 1:28 PM
    Even the Obama administration for all its seeming timidity will not allow China to establish a de facto territorial claim to the South or East China Seas. The US would do well to waste no time allowing China any leeway but should use its incredible military power to challenge and humiliate China into backing down. The US has other powers such as trade policy. Even a hint that the US might temporarily ban imports from China would send its markets and currency reeling. They are so fragile already. All of this talk about China being an economic or military superpower is pure fluff. Like Russia they have the power to blow up the world with nuclear weapons. Beyond that they are no match for America's military with their primitive knockoffs of American technology.
    In Response

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 24, 2016 10:18 PM
    meanbill, it's not a bluff. There is only one global power and China is not it. China is a complete fraud, a total deception. Even the mirage it created is collapsing, disappearing from sight. The US holds all of the aces and the Trump cards. China holds the low cards. It is China that is the bluff. At any time, American corporations that are the backbone of China's economy could pick up and move their factories elsewhere. China is a greasy, grimy, sweatshop where it is dangerous to breathe the air, drink the water, or eat the food. What kind of fools build huge cities with capacity for 64 million inhabitants but at prices they can't afford and out in the middle of nowhere? Build it and they will come? Well they built it but no one came.
    In Response

    by: Commodus from: Germania
    February 24, 2016 9:48 PM
    I am tired of tyrant philosophers who fight to the last centurion. Someday I will get what is mine.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    February 24, 2016 6:11 PM
    Hey Marcus _ Don't you think that the US commander in chief Obama wasted all that time (over 7 years) and all that taxpayer money, and most of it's military resources, on trying to bluff and intimidate China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria and Yemen, instead of waging war against the terrorists that have become a real world power now, that's attacking and threatening the US and every country in the whole world? ..

    Look for the obvious, and ignore the propaganda? .. The US military strategy under Obama, is a military strategy that only a moron or lunatic would understand? .. The terrorists are the real life threat now? .. Use all our (the US) military resources to defeat the terrorists? .. and not try to bluff and intimidate China?

    by: TQLCVNCH from: Michigan, USA
    February 24, 2016 1:15 PM
    I'm curious how many Chinese commentators in here that live and work in the USA but spying for China. To me, the Obama administration should just stfu and nuke that fake/man-made island. Remember when the world keep conceding to Hitler's territorial demands at the early stage of WW II? This is history repeat! If we keep pleasing the thief, he will just want more. Time for a stronger USA president to step up and say "enough is enough China. We're taking away all your feedings (U.S. contracts, business, factories).

    by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
    February 24, 2016 11:02 AM
    The way China is moving to reclaim the Sprattly Islands is reminiscent of the Aesop fable "The Camel and the Camel Driver!" The camel told the driver that it was too cold in the night desert, and wanted to put her head inside the tent. The driver agreed, but soon the camel said her shoulders were freezing, and the driver said "Ok," and then her back was freezing, but since there was no room for the camel in the small tent with the driver in, the driver moved outside in the cold, and the willy camel slept in!

    The moral of the story? If you are too nice, others would take advantage of you! The Chinese started building a weather station in the Sprattlys; then came the ship docks, then came the airstrips, and then the anti-aircraft batteries. Like the willy Camel in the Aesop fable, China is now in, and the local nations owners are out! Nikos Retsos, retired professor
    In Response

    by: pflau from: US
    February 26, 2016 5:07 PM
    To put things in context, the Spratley has a hundred or so major reefs and islands. Vietnam has been most active by building more than 48 man made features since the end of the US/Vietnam war . China with all of the recent activities has 8 features. Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia each has less.

    Vietnam activity in the SCS is liken to the camel. China's response Is measured and not inappropriate. US is blind to everyone else but singles out China for attack.
    In Response

    by: willim li from: canada
    February 24, 2016 12:19 PM
    Good story, I guess it is how Europeans occupied the land of America, right? Retired professor?
    Who is the Camel and who is the Camel driver? Europeans or Native Americans?
    Should the Camel gives back the tent to the driver now? Should Native Americans take back America continent now?
    In Response

    by: Peter from: USA
    February 24, 2016 11:48 AM
    Looking at claimant time via international announcement. ROC China claims are during the 1920's during League of Nations. Then came the French on behalf of Vietnam, then Japan. After WWII, French and Japan withdrew those claims. PRC China came and claim the same as ROC. During the 60's after Vietnam War with French, South Vietnam started to claim the islands. Then Philippine, Malaysia, and Brunei.

    So in the end, who is the camel and who's the camel man?

    by: lusa from: iraq
    February 24, 2016 9:54 AM
    May be most people don't know there occured a war for Xisha island(Vietnam call it woody island) between Vietnam and China, Since then this area is peaceful until US return to ASIA strategy to arouse argue which has settled down for decades. Benefit drive world go around!

    by: PC from: PA, USA
    February 24, 2016 9:43 AM
    I do not think that will be American best interest to push China too far in the Asia-Pacific regional or from global stage and encroach on China's sovereignty.

    China’s attitude now is that More American military provocation in South China Sea, veiled or naked, certainly will instigate and justify Chinese militarization. Such Chinese counter-measures may be of increasingly surprising and asymmetrical forms. Just as self-serving American military build-up in Asia took place unilaterally over the years after WWII, China does not and certainly will not need to consult or to seek approval from others in its militarization activities.

    by: TolucaJO
    February 24, 2016 9:28 AM
    Mybusiness(chicago) GOP fault? Shutting factories down? It must be the GOP's fault of how stupid your are.

    by: jeff.f from: montreal,can
    February 24, 2016 9:19 AM
    If the U.S.A. did not have such a strong military, there would not be such a thing as Western civilization today. The Chinese Communist Party is a blood-thirsty regime that has murdered eighty million of its own people since 1949 and has been and still is committing unthinkable atrocities that are never mentioned by Western media or the useless U.N. because of Western corporate greed.
    In Response

    by: william li from: canada
    February 24, 2016 12:31 PM
    really? I am Chinese. I am telling you stop lying!
    Why would communist murder Chinese? Communist built up their power from Chinese people. At 1949, Communist had no weapon no money, it was the whole Chinese population's support that helped communist to win the civil war and then the Korea war.
    You must be very stupid to believe that communist would kill its own people. I grew up in China and I tell you its a white lie.
    China was poor thats true and thats the reason I came to Canada and enjoy the prosperous life here, but China was poor not because the communist, on the contrary, the communist helped to lift millions from poverty. I am so happy that China is strong and rich now! Good job China! And wish one day Chinese can enjoy the same prosperous life as I have in Canada!
    In Response

    by: American Eskimo from: San Jose, USA
    February 24, 2016 12:26 PM
    USA is misusing her strong military to wage wars all over the world from Ukraine, ME, Afghanistan, North & Central Africa, Latin-America and NOW pivot/balance to Asia, killing MILLIONS, mass destructions and tons of REFUGEES.
    You seems too patriotic to recognize your duplicity and double standard.
    PS, what happens to the Native Americans, were they massacred? Do the Indians lives matter?

    by: h
    February 24, 2016 9:03 AM
    Those artificial islands can house captured ISIS goons.

    by: Anglo White from: Sydney, Australia
    February 24, 2016 8:56 AM
    I hope China develop excellent strike capability against Air Carrier Groups and excellent anti-submarine systems. Why not?

    Just because Asians are not white does not mean they do not have the right to build their trade wealth and diplomatic influence. Yes China should work through arrangements with ASEAN nations but I have confidence this can be best achieved without the UK, USA or any of the white colonies sticking their beak in.

    Has the US paid compensation to Vietnam yet? Are all the land mines and poison dioxins been cleared yet? No. Can we all swim around the islands America detonated nuclear bombs on? No...

    I see no problem for China building in the South CHINA Sea... America should simply stop causing trouble as we are all sick and tired of their tactics (yes even those of us that are white are done with you).

    by: GabeS
    February 24, 2016 8:49 AM
    The US and the Obama administration should just park couple of aircraft carriers in this area. Even land on island and create a base. Show China that they are nothing more than the cheap manufacturing country that we use to make our goods. We can just as easily move these manufacturing jobs to India or South America and make these countries richer than their wildest dreams. We are the greatest country in the world still.
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