South China Sea: Leoni warns of a 'block on flow of global trade'
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Singapore’s Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng has warned that a “Black Sea-type blockade” in the South China Sea could be on the horizon, an Australian senator revealed. Jim Molan appeared to be suggesting that Russia’s efforts to surround Ukraine could be imitated by China in the South China Sea. He told Sky News Australia: “If we think this is an emergency, wait until a range of other things which are coming down the track towards this country.
“It might be an energy crisis at the moment, it might be an industry crisis at the moment, it might be manifesting itself with every Australian on the cost of living, but let’s just look back at what was said in Singapore over the last month.
“The Japanese Prime Minister … said that Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow. He’s talking about war with China in our region.”
The Chinese government, led by President Xi Jinping, has been accused of increased aggression in the South China Sea in recent years.
Beijing has attempted to assert its country’s authority over 90 percent of the South China Sea with its Nine-Dash line claim, but other countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines also stake claims to the waters.
The ‘Nine-dash line’ is a demarcation on a map which outlines which areas of the South China Sea China claims ownership over.
The region is hotly contested because of its lucrative shipping lanes, capacity for military-strategic advantages and a wealth of natural resources such as oil and minerals.
And, as China continues to build military infrastructure, other Asian nations are increasingly frustrated over contested claims to various archipelagos.
Australia has also found itself embroiled in the tensions, as seen earlier this month.
The country complained to China after the interception of an Australian maritime surveillance flight over the South China Sea.
Canberra branded the move “very dangerous” and said it risked the safety of the Australian aircraft’s crew.
Australia’s defence ministry said: “An RAAF P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese J-16 fighter aircraft during a routine maritime surveillance activity in international airspace in the South China Sea region”.
“The intercept resulted in a dangerous manoeuvre which posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew.
“The Australian government has raised its concerns about the incident with the Chinese government.”
Australia’s defence minister, Richard Marle, added that the aircraft “flew very close to the side of the [Australia] P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft” then “released flares”.
He continued: “The J-16 then accelerated and cut across the nose of the P-8, settling in front of the P-8 at very close distance.
“At that moment, it then released a bundle of chaff, which contains small pieces of aluminium, some of which were ingested into the engine of the P-8 aircraft. Quite obviously, this is very dangerous.”
In 2016, a UN tribunal overwhelmingly rejected China’s claims to ownership of the South China Sea.
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Countries such as Australia and the US have vowed to increase their defence cooperation with other Asian countries in the region.
But last week, China accused Australia of being the “dangerous” party in the dispute.
Chinese defence ministry spokesman Tan Kefei claimed that the Australian plane threatened China’s sovereignty and security.
He added: “The measures taken by the Chinese military were professional, safe, reasonable and legal.
“The Australian side has turned black and white, repeatedly spread false information, and advocated confrontation. China firmly opposes this.
“We are warning the Australian side to immediately stop such dangerous and provocative actions and strictly restrain the actions of naval and air forces, otherwise it will bear all the serious consequences arising therefrom.”
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