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Satellite images appear to show China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy at Woody Island, the country’s main administrative centre and military base in the South China Sea’s Paracel Islands. The islands are disputed between Vietnam, China, and Taiwan, but are occupied by China, which has built a settlement there.
China’s Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) announced a military exercise would take place in the South China Sea from July 1st to 5th and the warship is expected to be used in the large-scale naval exercise.
The Type 071 warship consists of a landing platform dock capable of carrying helicopters, a battalion of marines, amphibious vehicles and other cargo for amphibious warfare.
PlanetLabs Inc, a private satellite image company who took the images, appear to show the ship arriving at Woody Island between June 25 and June 27th.
It is understood that navy warships are rarely seen in Woody’s Island’s harbour.
Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington told RFA: “China’s provocations in the South China Sea have grown more frequent during the global pandemic, and Beijing seems committed to escalate rather than try to calm things down.”
Sino-Western relations are becoming strained after China’s parliament passed national security legislation for Hong Kong today.
The legislation sets the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony’s way of life since it returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago.
But is feared by international governments including the US that the legislation will crush the global financial hub’s freedoms.
The editor-in-chief of the Global Times, a tabloid published by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, said on Twitter the heaviest penalty under the law was life imprisonment, without providing details.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the legislation is aimed at a few “troublemakers” and will not affect rights and freedoms, nor investor interests.
But the United States, already in dispute with China over trade and the novel coronavirus as well as the South China Sea, began eliminating Hong Kong’s special status under U.S. law on Monday, halting defence exports and restricting access to high-technology.
But China said it would retaliate with Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam throwing a jibe at the United States saying: “No sort of sanctioning action will ever scare us.”
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The Chinese docking of the warship also comes after the United States Navy conducted a naval exercise with two aircraft carriers in the Philippine Sea on Sunday.
Rear Adm. George Wikoff said in a statement: “Dual carrier operations demonstrate our commitment to regional allies, our ability to rapidly mass combat power in the Indo-Pacific, and our readiness to confront all those who challenge international norms that support regional stability.”
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