An overview of the past week’s key developments in the South China Sea.
The News Lens
By: Mo Tz-pin
Firearms ordered from China by the Philippines are ready to be shipped, GMA News reports. The firearms are payable in 25 years, according to President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte did not immediately disclose the details of the deal, such as the value of the transaction and the number of firearms involved, but said that China is “practically giving” the weapons to the Philippines. He also said that the Philippines will also consider buying weapons from Russia. The deal was driven by the halt of a 26,000 rifles-sale from the U.S. which reportedly stopped the sale of rifles after opposition from U.S. senator amid alleged human rights violations in the Philippines.
China flew a long-range nuclear-capable bomber in South China Sea on Dec. 9, an act considered by U.S. officials to be sparked by the controversial call between U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Reuters reports. U.S. officials said that the action was meant to send a message to the Trump administration. It is the first time Beijing flew bombers outside of China since the call, and the second in the South China Sea since Trump’s election. U.S. officials are also concerned that China might be implementing its “militarization” of the South China Sea as U.S. intelligence satellites picked up evidence of China preparing to ship more advanced military equipment to the region.
Regarding his phone with the Taiwanese president on Dec. 2, Trump said on Fox News Sunday that the U.S. did not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of “one China.” In an interview on Dec. 11, Trump criticized China over its monetary policies, its activities in the South China Sea, where Trump said it was “building a massive fortress,” and its stance toward North Korea. Chinese officials are “seriously concerned” by Trump’s remarks, the Guardian reports. Beijing’s state media Global Times warns Trump in an editorial that “Beijing could offer support, even military assistance to U.S. foes” if the U.S. abandons the “one China” policy or supports Taiwan independence, adding that the U.S. should not use the policy to bargain for economy deals. [FULL STORY]