Tag Archives: China

Tensions escalate over South China Sea claims

At security summit, Beijing vows to ignore pending international court ruling while US steps up military patrols.

Published by Al Jazeera English, June 5, 2016

By Tom Benner

Singapore – Asia’s largest defence summit concluded on Sunday amid growing fears of a legal and military showdown in the South China Sea over China’s rapid construction of artificial islands with ports, airstrips and helipads in one of the world’s most bitterly contested waterways.

Admiral Sun Jianguo of the People’s Liberation Army

At the weekend-long Shangri-La Dialogue , Chinese military officials vowed to ignore a legal ruling expected in the next few weeks by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on a Philippines’ challenge to China’s growing assertiveness in the key sea route between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

“We do not make trouble, but we have no fear of trouble,” said Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, who led the Chinese delegation at the summit.

Sun added: “China will not bear with the arbitration award, nor will it allow any infringement of its sovereignty.” Continue reading …

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War of words heats up over South China Sea conflict

At Singapore summit, critics accuse China of setting a confrontational tone and undermining Asia-Pacific security.

Published by Al Jazeera English, May 31, 2015

By Tom Benner

Singapore – While rival claims over the South China Sea fishing grounds and shipping lanes go back centuries, China’s intensifying land reclamation and island-building in the Spratly archipelago and other contested waters is an escalating global dispute.

China laid out its ambitions for a bigger naval presence far from its coasts last week, prompting concerns that Beijing will back up its claims to new territories by flexing its military muscle in one of the world’s most strategic waterways.

Critics from around the world attending Asia’s top defence summit over the weekend accused China of setting a confrontational tone, undermining security in the Asia-Pacific, and hurting diplomatic efforts to resolve competing claims from Vietnam, the Philippines, and other nations surrounding the resource-rich sea. Continue reading …

Singapore rules US death a suicide, but suspicions linger

Singapore has invited the US to audit a firm to ensure the case of Shane Todd didn’t involve secret technology transfer to China.

Published by The Christian Science Monitor, July 8, 2013

By Tom Benner, Contributor, Satish Cheney, Contributor

Singapore authorities on Monday ruled the hanging death of American scientist Shane Todd last year was a suicide. State coroner Chay Yuen Fatt found that there was no foul play and that the 31-year-old Mr. Todd died by asphyxia due to hanging.
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Todd’s family immediately criticized the ruling as predetermined, and vowed to continue a high-profile campaign that has put Singapore’s normally cordial relations with the United States under strain.

Todd was found hanged to death in his Singapore apartment in June 2012, days before he was to leave the country for good and return to the US. His parents in Montana have long rejected the possibility of suicide, instead believing their son died trying to stop a transfer of highly-sensitive military-grade technology from his employer, Singapore’s Institute of Microelectronics (IME), to Huawei Technologies, suspected by some countries of enabling Chinese espionage with their devices. Continue reading …

American’s death in Singapore ruled suicide

Coroner says scientist hanged himself but questions about China and high-tech secrets remain.

Published by Al Jazeera English, July 8, 2013

Tom Benner

Singapore – Authorities in Singapore have ruled that American electronics engineer Shane Todd, whose hanging death in June 2012 touched off accusations of espionage and murder, was a victim of suicide.

State coroner Chay Yuen Fatt on Monday told a packed courtroom in Singapore’s Subordinate Courts building that there was no foul play, and Todd died by asphyxia caused by hanging.

The finding was immediately rejected by family members who say Todd died an American hero, trying to stop the secret transfer of highly sensitive US military technology from his Singapore research agency employer to a Chinese telecommunications giant suspected by some countries of manufacturing devices that can be used for spying.

“We are disappointed, but not surprised, by the coroner’s verdict of suicide,” the Todd family said in a statement.

The coroner’s inquiry focused on the cause of death. Larger questions raised by the case remain: did a clandestine plot actually exist to transfer US export-controlled technology to the Chinese, and could its possible revelation have motivated a suicide or a murder? A separate and highly delicate investigation into whether Todd or his employer actually possessed technological information that may have compromised US national security is planned, but not yet under way. Continue reading …

Hagel on the Asian pivot, China, and cyber espionage

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered two messages this morning to the annual Shangri-La Defense Dialogue in Singapore: he reaffirmed the Obama administration’s strategic “pivot,” or “rebalance” of its focus and resources from the Middle East to Asia, and specifically named China as a source of cyber espionage that threatens US and global security.

Hagel called the Asia-Pacific region the emerging “center of gravity” for world population, global trade, and security. Mandatory spending cuts on the Defense Department will not prevent Washington from allocating new resources and increasing its presence in the region, Hagel said. “The world is undergoing a time of historic transformation, and Asia is at the epicenter of that change,” he said.

Increased partnerships and engagement with countries throughout the Asia-Pacific are designed to encourage inclusive, transnational cooperation on the largest problems facing the region, Hagel said. “Relationships, trust, and confidence are what matter most to all nations,” he said.

Hagel put North Korea on notice that the US will not stand by as it makes nuclear threats, calling on the rogue nation to denuclearize and become a responsible member of the world community; and called for territorial disputes in the South China and East China seas to be settled with restraint, without force, and according to international law.

Hagel also named China as a source of cyber espionage targeting military and government secrets, reflecting Washington’s increasing willingness to directly confront China following reports last week of Chinese hackers stealing secrets from US military systems.

“The United States has expressed our concerns about the growing threat of cyber intrusions, some of which appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military,” Hagel said. “We are determined to work more vigorously with China and other partners to establish international norms of responsible behavior in cyberspace.” Continue reading