What you need to know
An overview of the past week's key developments in the South China Sea.
China appears to be actively continuing its militarization program in the contested Spratly Islands. Business Insider UK quotes a senior U.S.-based analyst as saying satellite images show China is constructing hangar space for more than 20 fighter jets and up to four larger military planes at Mischief Reef, Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef – the three largest of the Spratly’s artificial islands.
China has also designed new drones to monitor the disputed South China Sea, Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) reports. The agency quotes the head of a Chinese technology firm as saying the “stealthy” drones will use a Chinese satellite navigation system and are particularly useful for surveying open sea reef.
Polarizing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has again confounded South China Sea watchers this week. On Sept. 28, speaking from Hanoi, Duterte signaled a slow-down in South China Sea cooperation between the Philippines and the U.S. He was quoted as saying a military joint exercise with the U.S. planned for next month would be the last between the two countries. However, he said the Philippines would continue to honor the existing treaties it has with the U.S., Channel News Asia reports.
Duterte also noted that “China does not want” the war games between the U.S. and the Philippines to continue. However, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Perfecto Yasay Jr. later said the two sides will review whether the exercises are needed in 2017, according to CBS News.
Conversely, Jakarta is looking to strengthen its relationship with Washington D.C. to help Indonesia’s position in the South China Sea. Jakarta has sought financial assistance from the U.S. to boost the Indonesian Navy’s South China Sea presence, IHS Jane's Defence Weekly reports. The publication says Indonesian officials are in Washington to see whether funds from the U.S. foreign military financing program can pay for upgrades of a key naval base.
First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: J.Michael Cole