China launches first home-built aircraft carrier amid South China Sea tension

UNTV News   •   April 27, 2017   •   2662

 


China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier is seen during its launching ceremony in Dalian, Liaoning province, China, April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier on Wednesday amid rising tension over North Korea and worries about Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.

State media has quoted military experts as saying the carrier, China’s second and built in the northeastern port of Dalian, is not expected to enter service until 2020, once it has been kitted out and armed.

Foreign military analysts and Chinese media have for months published satellite images, photographs and news stories about the second carrier’s development. China confirmed its existence in late 2015.

The launch “shows our country’s indigenous aircraft carrier design and construction has achieved major step-by-step results”, Xinhua news agency said.

State television showed the carrier, its deck lined in red flags, being pushed by tug boats into its berth.

Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, presided over the ceremony, Xinhua said, during which a bottle of champagne was broken on the bow.

The launch follows China’s celebration on Sunday of the 68th birthday of the founding of the Chinese navy, and comes amid renewed tensions between North Korea and the United States over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

Little is known about China’s aircraft carrier program, which is a state secret.

But the government has said the new carrier’s design draws on experiences from the country’s first carrier, the Liaoning, bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China.

The new conventionally powered carrier will be able to operate China’s Shenyang J-15 fighter jets.

Unlike the U.S. navy’s longer-range nuclear carriers, both of China’s feature Soviet-design ski-jump bows, intended to give fighter jets enough lift to take off from their shorter decks. But they lack the powerful catapult technology for launching aircraft of their U.S. counterparts.

“NO NEED” TO MATCH THE UNITED STATES

China’s navy has been taking an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and new Chinese warships popping up in far-flung places.

The Liaoning has taken part in military exercises, including in the South China Sea, but is expected to serve more as a training vessel. State media has said the new carrier will be more dedicated to military and humanitarian operations.

China claims almost all the South China Sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and has been building up military facilities like runways on the islands it controls.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as its own, has said China is actually building two new aircraft carriers, but China has not officially confirmed the existence of another carrier.

Chinese state media has quoted experts as saying that the country needs at least six carriers. The United States operates 10 and plans to build two more.

Major General Chen Zhou, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science, told reporters in March that China would not exceed the United States in carrier groups. “China has no need for this,” he said.

Sam Roggeveen, a senior fellow at the Sydney-based Lowy Institute, said that by the time China had half that number, it could go toe-to-toe with the U.S. navy in the Asia-Pacific.

“Given that the Americans have global obligations and responsibilities but China doesn’t, then effectively by that point they would be evenly matched,” Roggeveen said.

Most experts agree that developing such a force will be a decades-long endeavor but the launch of the second carrier holds a certain prestige value for Beijing, seen by many analysts as keen to eventually erode U.S. military prominence in the region.

“With two aircraft carriers you could say without much fear of contradiction that China, other than the United States, is the most powerful maritime force in the Asia-Pacific,” Roggeveen said. — By Michael Martina | BEIJING

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry and Nick Macfie)

China suspends entry of non-Chinese travelers from PH to prevent imported cases of COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   November 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — China announced it is temporarily closing its borders to non-Chinese nationals from the Philippines in a move to prevent entry of fresh cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The announcement was made by the Chinese Embassy in Manila on Thursday (November 6) through its official social media platforms to notify Filipinos and foreign nationals in the country who intend to travel to China.

“The suspension is a temporary response necessitated by the current situation of Covid-19,” the statement said.

Similar entry ban was also imposed on British and Belgian nationals.

The entry restriction applies to all non-Chinese nationals in the Philippines regardless of whether their visas or residence permits are still valid.

It added that all Chinese embassies and consulates in the Philippines would no longer issue certified health declaration forms to those affected by the entry ban.

“The above-mentioned measures will be assessed in accordance with the evolving situation and any adjustment will be announced accordingly,” the embassy said.

Meanwhile, members of the diplomatic service or holders of C-visas are not covered by the ban including international transport workers such as airline crews. Those who were given a visa after November 3 will also not be affected.

However, foreign nationals visiting China for emergency needs may apply for a visa in Chinese embassy and consulates.

Joint oil exploration with China won’t compromise Phl position on WPS — Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   October 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration stands firm that the Philippines’ position will not be compromised should a joint oil exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea pushes through.

This is in relation to the country’s arbitral award on the disputed territory against China.

“First, this lifting of the moratorium is an exercise of our sovereign rights. In no way it weakens the arbitral decision, and our MOU to explore a joint development program or cooperation with China, in no way that it weakens or gives away our sovereign rights,” noted Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Recently, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation of the Department of Energy (DOE) to lift the suspension and once again issue a resume to work notice for service contractors for oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

“Although sovereign rights are defined as exclusive rights, that exclusive rights may be shared to others. The decision to share it is part of the sovereign rights,” explained Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. –MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

AFP to beef up monitoring amid ‘volatile’ situation in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   October 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will intensify its monitoring in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) amid “volatile and uncertain” situation there.

AFP chief of staff General Gilbert Gapay said they will deploy a Japanese-made radar at the the Matinloc gas platform in Malampaya, Palawan which is near the WPS.

“You see, we [decided that] the Matinloc platform [will] be assigned one of the radars coming from Japan to beef up our monitoring capability in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

Gapay said they are also eyeing to partner with Japan to develop the military’s cyber defense and security capabilities as well as improve its unmanned aerial systems.

“I think we can partner with Japan in this area, cyber-defense and security which is also one of their thrusts of the Japan Self Defense Force,” he said.

The Matinloc gas platform situated in northwest Palawan has ceased operations last year and is being eyed to be converted into floating monitoring stations for the Philippine Navy due to its strategic location.

Gapay said the situation in the West Philippine Sea remains “very tense” due to the “aggressive actions” of China as well as the activities of the United States.

The AFP chief said China has been conducting its own unilateral exercises in the area while the US has been displaying a show of force as it advocates freedom of navigation.

China has been claiming almost all of the South China Sea despite having no legal basis.

The Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Taiwan as well have claims in the disputed seas. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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