(14.9.2018) The Franco-English joint patrol and the HMS Albion operation exemplified the increased engagement of other external powers in the South China Sea dispute. Southeast Asian states are likely to respond with caution to recent developments.
German soldiers will soon participate in maneuvers in the Pacific and will be on hand as observers on patrols in the South China Sea, according to announcements by the US Navy and the French Minister of Defense, Florence Parly. At a top-level conference in Singapore last weekend, Parly declared that Paris will dispatch warships to the South China Sea in the next few days and will also navigate through the territorial waters of Islands China claims as its territory. According to Parly, German military observers will embark on these ships. At the same time, German soldiers are preparing their participation in the US led RIMPAC 2018 maneuver, taking place mainly near Hawaii. RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime exercise. During RIMPAC 2016 German soldiers trained in „liberating“ an island, which, according to the scenario, was held by the „Draco“ militia. „Draco“ is the Latin term for „dragon“ – a symbol for China.
The U.S. Pacific Air Forces, which oversees operations in the region, told The Japan Times that the two nuclear-capable bombers departed a navy facility on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean for training “in the vicinity of the South China Sea” prior to returning to Diego Garcia.
Intelligence sources told CNBC News that China had placed supersonic YJ-12B anti-ship cruise missiles and HQ-9B anti-air missiles on Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs in the Spratly Islands. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tried to downplay the significance of the deployment, but the White House Press Secretary said that China would face consequences for the missile emplacements and its continued militarization of its Spratlys features, without elaborating on what those might be.