The London Economist in its latest issue reported tempers are flaring as the South China Sea grows crowded.
“The maritime hubbub is an attempt to push back against China’s claim to the entire South China Sea”.
Few New Zealanders are aware that this country is part of that push- back and one of the RNZN’s frigates will be sailing into those waters, even though – as the Economist said – it is getting harder to sail across the South China Sea without bumping into a warship.
On September 30 an American destroyer passed within 50 metres of of a Chinese naval vessel which was conducting “unsafe and unprofessional manoeuvres”, according to the Americans.
Ships from Australia, NZ, Singapore, Malaysia and Britain this month will take part in more than two weeks of joint naval drills in the crowded waters. The RNZN frigate Te Mana is joining the large Five Power Defence Arrangements exercise, named Bersama Lima.
This follows a major deployment involving visits to Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
Major General Tim Gall, Commander Joint Forces NZ, says the visits reflect the importance placed on these relationships and NZ’s commitment to the region’s security and stability. They also seek to strengthen cooperation with regional military forces.
Last year the frigate Te Kaha spent six months in the region. The presence of the Navy close to the contested South China Sea has created concern among some National MPs who are sensitive to China’s reaction.
However, the current visit reflects the hardened view of regional security contained in the latest defence assessment, and underlines how the Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and the Minister of Defence Ron Mark have realigned NZ closer to Australia and the US in defence policy and exercises.
2 thoughts on “Ahoy there – it’s one of our frigates headed for the crowded South China Sea”
Freedom of navigation is vital for New Zealand. The fact that National Party MPs are sensitive to China’s reaction shows they are unfit to govern this country.
On the one hand we have to demonstrate that we abide by the International rules based order system and freedom of navigation is part of testing that construct. So we do that. On the other hand we have to recognize that China is our major trading partner. This clearly creates a schitzophrenic situation where NZ doesn’t really know where it sits. Jab the hornets nest but still expect to suck honey from it.
NZ has to decide where we really sit in relation to China.
Are we happy to have our IP predated/ lifted by China? Are we happy that a whole chunk of the South China Sea has been militarized by China – contrary to International Law?
There are events occurring that are similar to German history from the 1930s.
We should not be comfortable with that regardless of the trading environment.