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Pentagon mulls sending planes, ships near disputed South China Sea islands
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Gianhập: Nov.15.2002
Nơicưtrú: Global Village
Trìnhtrạng: [hiệntại không cómặt trên diễnđàn]
IP: IP ghinhập
Pentagon mulls sending planes, ships near disputed South China Sea islands


Filipino environmental activists aim water guns at mock Chinese flags as they stage a rally outside the Chinese Consulate in suburban Makati, south of Manila, Philippines on Monday, May 11, 2015 to protest against the continued building of infrastructures along a disputed group of islands known as the Spratlys in the South China Sea. The group is accusing the Chinese military of destroying the fragile ecosystem and livelihood of fishermen during their reclamation projects in the area which both countries have claimed ownership. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Read quoted article below.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon is considering sending U.S. military aircraft and ships to assert freedom of navigation around growing Chinese-made artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter requested options that include sending U.S. military ships and aircraft within 12 nautical miles of reefs that China has been building up in the disputed Spratly Islands, the official said.

Such a move would directly challenge Chinese efforts to expand its influence in the disputed region by literally adding territory through a massive island-building exercise.

"We are considering how to demonstrate freedom of navigation in an area that is critical to world trade," the U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding any options would need to be approved by the White House.

Carter's request for the development of options including using the U.S. ships and aircraft was first reported earlier on Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal.

The Pentagon did not immediately comment.

The practice of sending ships and aircraft near the islands would be in line with regular U.S. military "Freedom of Navigation" operations, which it conducted last year to challenge maritime claims of 19 countries, including China.

Five countries as well as China lay claim to parts of the Spratly archipelago. They are Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Recent satellite images have shown that since about March 2014, China has conducted reclamation work at seven sites in the Spratlys and is constructing a military-sized air strip on one artificial island and possibly a second on another.

Other images have suggested that China is working to extend another airstrip to that length in the Paracel Islands further north in the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, a vital shipping route through which $5 trillion of trade passes every year.

"The U.S. and its allies have a very different view than China over the rules of the road in the South China Sea," the U.S. official said.

Reuters reported last week China had added about 2,000 acres of land since the start of 2014, according to one U.S. estimate.

China drew condemnation from Japan and the United States in 2013 when it imposed an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), in which aircraft are supposed to identify themselves to Chinese authorities.

The United States responded by flying B-52 bombers through the zone in a show of force.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart, David Alexander and David Brunnstrom)



Social Activist Beaten as US Rights Envoy Visits Vietnam

Colin Nguyen
A Vietnamese dissident known for leading anti-Chinese and environmental protests says he was attacked by a group of unidentified men allegedly linked to the authorities.

Anh Chi told VOA’s Vietnamese Service he was hit Monday with a metal pipe without provocation near his home in Hanoi.

Photos of his bloodied head and face have been widely circulated on activist web sites, but none of the photos have been seen on state-owned media.

Chi believes he has been harassed by local authorities in recent weeks for being outspoken against state officials.

“Social activists like me know for sure who is behind such an attack. Even thugs do not attack someone without a reason. We know who stands behind it," said Chi.

Vietnamese officials could not be reached for comment, and Hanoi has not responded to the allegation.

The incident came two days after Vietnam and the U.S. concluded an annual human rights dialogue described as productive by Tom Malinowski, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.”

Anh Chi was actively involved in a campaign to hold officials accountable for a plan to fell thousands of trees, but later scrapped after facing widespread public outcry.

On his official Twitter account, Malinowski retweeted a post by Vietnamese American human rights lawyer Vi K Tran that read “#Vietnam gov't can't say it listens to tree cutting protests while beating protesters.”

During his meetings in Hanoi, Malinowski said that while “Vietnam has made progress on human rights” in recent years, “very significant problems” remain.

“Civil society activists, bloggers, independent journalists and other critics of the government still too often face harassment, threats and even violence for exercising what ought to be their internationally recognized human rights," said Malinowski.

Malinowski added that human rights is still “a sensitive and difficult issue in the relationship between the United States and Vietnam.”

Relations between the two former foes have been strengthened in recent years, but the human rights issue has overshadowed gains in other areas.

The U.S. and Vietnam have been in negotiations with other countries to conclude the long-delayed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact. But worker rights in Vietnam is a thorny issue.

Speaking at Nike headquarters in Oregon last week while seeking support for the trade deal, President Barack Obama said “under this agreement, Vietnam would actually, for the first time, have to raise its labor standards."

“It would have to set a minimum wage. It would have to pass safe workplace laws to protect its workers. It would even have to protect workers’ freedom to form unions for the very first time. That would make a difference. That helps to level the playing field and it would be good for the workers in Vietnam, even as it helps make sure that they’re not undercutting competition here in the United States," said President Obama.

Top Vietnamese officials have expressed strong desire to join the TPP, but it faces resistance in the U.S. Congress, even among members from the president's own party.

Some U.S. lawmakers have stressed that Vietnam should not be granted the membership until it makes significant labor and human rights reforms.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service

Source: www.voanews.com/content/social-activist-beaten-as-us-rights-envoy-visits-vietnam/2765370.html


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