rss icon Subscribe
desktop mobile

China Pushing Sea Claims Under Cover of COVID-19 -US Commander

Aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) departs Apra Harbor to continue its scheduled deployment in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by MacAdam Kane Weissman)

By Tim Kelly

China is using the coronavirus as a cover to push territorial claims in the South China Sea through a surge in naval activity meant to intimidate other countries that claim the waters, the commander of U.S. Forces in Japan said on Friday.

There has been a surge of activity by China in the South China Sea with navy ships, coast guard vessels and a naval militia of fishing boats in harassing vessels in waters claimed by Beijing, said Lieutenant General Kevin Schneider.

"Through the course of the COVID crisis we saw a surge of maritime activity," he told Reuters in a phone interview. He said Beijing had also increased its activity in the East China Sea, where it has a territorial dispute with Japan.

Beijing's increased level of activity would likely continue, predicted Schneider: "I don't see troughs, I see plateaus," he said.

China says its maritime activities in the area are peaceful. The press office at the Chinese embassy in Tokyo was not immediately available to comment outside of normal business hours.

Japan hosts the biggest concentration of U.S. forces in Asia, including an aircraft carrier strike group, an amphibious expeditionary force and fighter squadrons. In addition to defending Japan, they are deployed to deter China from expanding its influence in the region, including in the South China Sea.

The latest U.S. criticism of China comes as relations have frayed amid accusations by Washington that Beijing failed to warn it quickly enough about the coronavirus. China has dismissed that criticism as an attempt by President Donald Trump's administration to cover up its own mistakes.

Beijing has built military island bases on reefs in the energy-rich South China Sea, in or near waters claimed by other countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. It imposed a unilateral fishing ban until Aug 16.


(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Peter Graff)

Jun 5, 2020

 

Navy

Navy Mine Countermeasures Contract Awarded

Image: ECA Group

ECA Group awarded UMS SKELDAR a procurement contract to supply the UAV SKELDAR V-200 as part of

Vigor Wins $133 Mln US Navy Repair Job

File photo: Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) (U.S. Navy photo Paul Kelly)

Vigor Marine has been awarded a $133,406,869 firm-fixed-price contract to prepare for and

US Navy Carriers Conduct South China Sea Drills

The USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Groups conduct dual carrier operations in the Indo-Pacific as the Nimitz CSF. (U.S. Navy photo by Olivia Banmally Nichols)

Two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers are conducting exercises in the contested South China Sea within

Government Update

EU Again Halts Probe into Korean Shipbuilding Tie-up

© Angelika Bentin / Adobe Stock

EU antitrust regulators have again halted their investigation into world No. 1 shipbuilding group

US Rejects China's Claims in South China Sea

(U.S. Navy photo by Cody Beam)

The United States on Monday rejected China’s disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the

Video: Trump Says US is Working to Acquire 10 Icebreakers

President Donald J. Trump speaks during a briefing at U.S. Southern Command headquarters in Doral, Fla. (Photo by Michael C. Dougherty, U.S. Southern Command Public Affairs)

President Donald Trump says the U.S. is hashing out a plan to acquire up to 10 additional polar

Maritime Apps