Recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:
CHINA SLAMS ABE FOR DIVIDING ASEAN
China is not happy with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s high-profile visits to the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam over concerns that he may be trying to pull the rug out from under Beijing’s efforts to pacify its neighbors in and around the South China Sea.
PHILIPPINES FILES RARE PROTEST AGAINST CHINA
The Philippine foreign secretary has filed a verbal protest to China over Beijing’s placing of anti-aircraft and anti-missile weapons on its man-made islands in the South China Sea _ a rare move since Manila warmed up to Beijing last year.
VIETNAM, CHINA AGREE TO SET ASIDE MARITIME DISPUTES
Days before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Vietnam, the country’s Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong led a high-power delegation to Beijing for talks with President Xi Jinping. Vietnam has had complicated relationship with China: both are nominally allies ruled by communists, but unresolved maritime boundaries and China’s pressing ahead with its territorial claims over objections of other claimants has rattled Hanoi. In 2014, China moved an oil rig into the disputed Paracel Islands, triggering a tense standoff that involved Vietnamese and Chinese vessels ramming each other
CAMBODIA SHELVES US MILITARY DRILLS
Cambodia, long a loyal friend to China, has told the United States that it is canceling annual joint military exercises this year and next, even though planning had already begun. The reasons given by the Defense Ministry raised some suspicion. According to spokesman Gen. Chhum Socheath, the Angkor Sentinel exercise had to be postponed because Cambodian forces would be unable to fully participate as a result of two important events: local elections in June and a six-month campaign to eradicate drug-related crime.