May 11, 2018

News Briefs – May 11, 2018

Vietnam asks China to withdraw missiles from South China Sea

HANOI, Vietnam–Vietnam has requested that China withdraw its military equipment from South China Sea outposts, saying its deployment seriously violates Hanoi’s sovereignty, increases tension and destabilizes the region.
CNBC reported last week that China has installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems on three outposts in the contested Spratly Islands which are also claimed by Vietnam, among others.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement that Vietnam has sufficient legal basis and historical evidence to affirm its sovereignty over the Spratlys and the Paracels in the South China Sea.
“Vietnam requests that China … show its responsibility in maintaining peace, stability in the East Sea, do not carry out militarization activities, withdraw military equipment illegally installed on features under Vietnam’s sovereignty,” she said, using Vietnam’s name for the South China Sea.
In Manila, the Philippines, which claims ownership of the three Chinese man-made islands where missile systems have reportedly been installed, Sen. Panfilo Lacson backed calls for a Philippine Senate investigation. He also urged the convening of the National Security Council, a top-level grouping of political and security leaders, to tackle threats posed by the purported Chinese missiles.
“If up to now, the government still has not confirmed the presence of a foreign country’s missiles in one of our islands, we may have a serious national security problem,” Lacson said in a statement.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has backed away from his predecessor’s vocal criticism of China’s expansionist moves in the disputed waters and reached out to China for trade and investment.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said May 4 that “peaceful constructions and deployed defensive facilities” were aimed to “meet the need of safeguarding national sovereignty and security, which is also the right of a sovereign state.”
Hua denied such work constituted militarization and accused the U.S. of increasing military tensions in the area, adding that “they should be prepared for the consequences.”
China has constructed seven man-made islands and equipped them with runways, hangers, radar and missile stations, further cementing its vast territorial claims in the busy waterway. The U.S. says that militarization of the South China Sea runs contrary to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s assurances to Washington. AP

China says stealth fighter conducts first training over sea

China’s homebuilt J-20 stealth fighter has conducted sea training for the first time, the air force said May 9.
The recent mission took the plane or planes out to sea for drills under “actual war conditions,” air force spokesman Senior Col. Shen Jinke posted to the service’s microblog. He called that a “further upgrade of the air force’s combat capabilities.”
China said in February that the plane had obtained initial operational capability and was being introduced into combat units.
First flown in 2011, the J-20 is China’s answer to fifth-generation jets such as the U.S. F-22 and F-35.
With its stealthy capabilities, speed and maneuverability, it potentially represents a major upgrade to Chinese air power, although questions have been raised about some of its technologies, especially its engines.
Though developed domestically, the J-20 is believed to have initially relied on Russian engines for propulsion due to manufacturing problems in China.
Some reports say they have since been replaced with Chinese engines, the WS-10B, which do not have a big enough thrust-to-weight ratio to allow the J-20 to cruise at supersonic speeds without using afterburners, something that would expose it to detection.
China increased its defense budget by 8.1 percent this year to 1.1 trillion yuan ($173 billion), as it prepares to launch its second aircraft carrier and field an array of advanced warplanes and missiles able to attack air and sea targets at vast distances. AP

Congress wants review of military child-on-child sex abuse

Congress has asked its watchdog agency to investigate the Pentagon’s handling of child-on-child sex assaults on U.S. military bases.
The request follows reporting by The Associated Press that documented nearly 700 sexual assault reports over 10 years on bases where military kids live and learn. The reporting detailed how failures of justice leave victims with little support and offenders with little consequence.
In a recent letter, the top Republican and Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee asked the Government Accountability Office to get involved. That would mean a more transparent review of an opaque system.
The two lawmakers wrote that they worried Pentagon-run schools, which educate about 70,000 military kids worldwide, do not have consistent policies. They also questioned how military investigators and lawyers seek justice. AP

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