US says China missile test in South China Sea ‘disturbing’

Construction is shown on Mischief Reef, in the Spratly Islands, the disputed South China Sea in this June 19, 2017 satellite image released by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). (Reuters file photo)
Updated 03 July 2019
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US says China missile test in South China Sea ‘disturbing’

  • The South China Sea is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the US-China relationship
  • China’s claims in the South China Sea are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon said on Tuesday a recent Chinese missile launch in the disputed South China Sea was “disturbing” and contrary to Chinese pledges that it would not militarize the disputed waterway.
The South China Sea is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the US-China relationship, which include a trade war, US sanctions and Taiwan.
China and the United States have repeatedly traded barbs in the past over what Washington says is Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea by building military installations on artificial islands and reefs.
A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said China tested multiple anti-ship ballistic missiles over the weekend.
“Of course the Pentagon was aware of the Chinese missile launch from the man-made structures in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn said.
“I’m not going to speak on behalf of all the sovereign nations in the region, but I’m sure they agree that the PRC’s behavior is contrary to its claim to want to bring peace to the region and obviously actions like this are coercive acts meant to intimidate other (South China Sea) claimants,” Eastburn added. PRC is an acronym for the People’s Republic of China.
China has not confirmed the missile tests and on Tuesday the foreign ministry declined to comment, referring questions to the defense ministry, which did not respond to a request for comment.
The Chinese government has said that the military was carrying out drills between the Spratly and Paracel Islands starting last weekend and ending on Wednesday, warning other shipping not to enter a designated area.
China’s claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
News of the China missile test was first reported by NBC News.


Malaysia to push Southeast Asian nations for long-term solution to smog

Updated 19 September 2019

Malaysia to push Southeast Asian nations for long-term solution to smog

  • Malaysia and neighboring Singapore have been choked by smoky air blown in from forest fires started to clear land for plantations
  • The situation forced schools to shut and many people to wear masks so as to avoid inhaling smog particles

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will push its Southeast Asian neighbors to strengthen cooperation in finding a long-term solution for smog wafted across the region from forest fires in Indonesia, its environment minister said on Thursday.
In the past few weeks, Malaysia and neighboring Singapore have been choked by smoky air blown in from forest fires started to clear land for plantations, forcing schools to shut and many people to wear masks so as to avoid inhaling smog particles.
“I will have a conference call with the ASEAN secretary-general to raise our views and also express our hope for a more effective mechanism at the ASEAN level for a long-term solution,” Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin told a news conference, but did not elaborate on other participants.
All three countries belong to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which set up a regional haze action plan in 1997, but Malaysia thinks the grouping has not done enough to evolve a long-term solution.
Among its efforts to tackle the hazard, Malaysia could pass a new law to punish any of its companies responsible for starting fires, but only international cooperation could yield a lasting solution, Yeo added.
“Cloud seeding is only temporary. A law here would only deal with Malaysian companies. What we need is international cooperation for a long-term solution.”
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had said Malaysia was considering a new law to compel its companies to tackle fires on land they control abroad.
Yeo said Malaysia will keep up cloud seeding efforts to bring temporary relief in badly-hit areas. This involves spraying chemicals, such as sodium chloride and magnesium oxide, from aircraft in order to spur rainfall.
Malaysia will also consider deploying drones to help in cloud seeding, Mahathir told a separate news conference.
Malaysia’s Islamic Development Department issued the text of a special plea for divine intervention to disperse the smog, to be recited after weekly prayers on Friday by mosque congregations nationwide.