War of Words Escalates Between U.S. and China

By MarEx 2015-10-13 15:40:59

The war of words and posturing between China and U.S. continues to escalate. Four days after China warned the U.S. against violating its territorial waters, Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated that the U.S. military would sail wherever international law allows it to.

“Make no mistake, the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as we do around the world, and the South China Sea will not be an exception,” Carter said.

China claims most of the South China Sea, and its assertiveness in the region has tensed relations with its littoral nations, many of whom are U.S. allies. Early last week, the U.S. said it was considering conducting patrols within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands constructed by China in Spratley archipelago.

In May, the Chinese Navy issued eight warnings to the crew of a U.S. P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft when it conducted flights near China’s artificial islands.

Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, has said China’s development of the artificial islands, including the building of runways which are suitable for military use, was a threat to the region.

The U.S. participated in a number of military exercises in the South China Sea earlier this year, and in August, Beijing stated that it felt American military presence had militarized the region. China has also been vocal in its belief that the U.S. has distorted facts and caused relationships with its neighbors to deteriorate.

The U.S. and its Asian allies, which include Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, have demanded that China cease construction of its artificial islands as well as reclamation projects and offshore platforms in the South China Sea.

In addition to its military vessels and platforms, China also deploys a maritime militia of civilian fishing vessels to press its territorial claims. Those vessels have often clashed with Vietnamese and Filipino boats in the region.

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War of Words Escalates Between U.S. & China

By MarEx 2015-10-13 15:40:59

The war of words and posturing between China and U.S. continues to escalate. Four days after China warned the U.S. against violating its territorial waters, Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated that the U.S. military would sail wherever international law allows it to.

“Make no mistake, the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as we do around the world, and the South China Sea will not be an exception,” Carter said.

China claims most of the South China Sea, and its assertiveness in the region has tensed relations with its littoral nations, many of whom are U.S. allies. Early last week, the U.S. said it was considering conducting patrols within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands constructed by China in Spratley archipelago.

In May, the Chinese Navy issued eight warnings to the crew of a U.S. P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft when it conducted flights near China’s artificial islands.

Admiral Harry Harris, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, has said China’s development of the artificial islands, including the building of runways which are suitable for military use, was a threat to the region.

The U.S. participated in a number of military exercises in the South China Sea earlier this year, and in August, Beijing stated that it felt American military presence had militarized the region. China has also been vocal in its belief that the U.S. has distorted facts and caused relationships with its neighbors to deteriorate.

The U.S. and its Asian allies, which include Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, have demanded that China cease construction of its artificial islands as well as reclamation projects and offshore platforms in the South China Sea.

In addition to its military vessels and platforms, China also deploys a maritime militia of civilian fishing vessels to press its territorial claims. Those vessels have often clashed with Vietnamese and Filipino boats in the region.

Details

Migrants Entering Greece at All-Time Highs

By MarEx 2015-10-13 14:35:27

Though more than 710,000 migrants have reached Europe’s shores this year, Greece says it currently has no plans to conduct joint sea patrols with Turkey.

Greece’s eastern islands, particularly Lesbos, have dealt with the largest influx of migrants as more than 400,000 thousand refugees and migrants crossed from Turkey to Greece in the first nine months of the year.

According to the E.U. Border Control Agency, the number arrivals in the first nine months of 2015 is more than two times higher than the entirety of 2014.

And while the influx of migrants fleeing from war-torn regions shows no signs of slowing, the E.U.’s member states have struggled to agree on a strategy to control the flow of people.

Last week, the E.U. began Operation Sophia, named after a baby born at sea on August 22, which will allow European warships to use all necessary measures to arrest human traffickers and seize vessels.

However, Greek officials do not appear to be amenable to using its warships in an attempt to stem the migrant crisis.

“Greece never considered assigning to its navy or armed forces in general the task of confronting refugees of war, and nor can it even discuss the novel ideas expressed lately, such as that of joint Greek-Turkish patrolling of maritime borders,” foreign ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras said in a statement.

The majority of the people crossing the Mediterranean this year have landed in Italy (about 97,000) and Greece (about 90,000). Most of the migrants rescued by Greek officials have been Syrian.

Koutras added that Greece wants to cooperate with Turkey to improve the management of migrant in flows and crack down on trafficking, but that this could be done mainly by exchanging information or sending back migrants who arrive without documentation.

Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas called on the EU to treat Turkey generously and offer it “incentives and rewards” including financial support to accommodate refugees there.

The flow of migrants coming to the Greek islands has also had an effect on the Western Balkan route, where Hungary reported more than 204,000 detections at its borders. That figure is about 13 times higher than in the same period last year.

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International Transportation Forum Wants Emissions Tax

By MarEx 2015-10-13 11:09:31

The International Transportation Forum (ITF) favors a carbon tax for shipping in order to curb emissions in the coming decades.

ITF, a think-tank affiliated with the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), has suggested a carbon tax of about $25 per ton of CO2. In addition, the ITF states that operators should aim to reduce carbon emissions by half over the next 35 years and entirely by 2080.

ITF stated in a report: “The impact on maritime trade would be marginal if the tax were set at around USD25 per tonne of CO2. The receipts of such a carbon tax could provide a substantial source of finance for the Green Climate Fund.”

Thought not everyone is pleased with the ITF’s tax proposal. The International Chamber of Shipping recently released a statement questioning a potential tax.

“This would be almost three times higher than the carbon price paid by shore based industries in developed nations, ICS said in response to a potential tax.

ICS added: “ICS emphasizes that shipping is committed to reducing CO2 and has a responsibility to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations’ climate change goals. But the UN Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC) recognizes that developed and developing nations should accept differing commitments, and shipping is no different, especially in view of its vital role in the movement of about 90% of global trade.”

ITF contends that such a tax would raise about $26 billion in revenue which could be used toward further financing climate mitigation projects in those developing nations.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) implemented a cap on Sulphur content of fuel to a maximum of 0.1% in Emissions Control Areas (ECAs) to reduce Sulphur Oxide emissions on January 1. The areas currently affected are Europe (North and Baltic Seas) and North America.

In addition to an emissions tax, ITF has also called for IMO to set an absolute emissions target for the 35 years and develop an action plan in order to reach it.

“it would be odd if countries are expected to adhere to emission targets but not the shipping sector, especially since it would be impossible to apportion shipping emissions to countries,” ITF said in its report.

Click here to read the full ITF report.

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Chinese Invest in Australian Port

By MarEx 2015-10-13 11:05:34

China’s Landbridge Group purchased a 99-year lease in the Port of Darwin in north Australia for $370 million as the country seeks to capitalize on rising Chinese demand for imported food and overseas travel.

Landbridge is a privately-owned Chinese energy and infrastructure company, and are expected to significantly upgrade the port’s cargo and cruise terminals. Landbridge is reportedly investing over $200 million in growth projects which include container handling and refrigerated storage for beef exports over the next 25 years.

Under the terms of the agreement, Landbridge will take over operations of Darwin Port as well as the facilities of East Arm Wharf, the Darwin Military Supply Base and Fort Hill Wharf. Landbridge aims to increase two-way trade between Australia and Asia by using its existing port and logistics businesses in Asia.

Landbridge reportedly paid the full price for the lease but has only taken an 80 percent stake in Darwin Port. Landbridge will be required to find an Australian investor to purchase the remaining 20 percent within five years. The Australian government will hold the remaining 20 percent stake until an investor is found.

Darwin is the latest in a string of ports sold by cash-strapped state and territory governments as they seek funds for infrastructure.

In April 2014, the China Merchants Group partnered with Australia-based Hastings Fund Management to secure a 98-year of Australia’s Newcastle Port, which is the world’s largest coal export terminal.

Australia’s state governments, once hesitant to give up tax revenue by selling infrastructure, have had a change of heart since New South Wales sold its desalination plant for $2.3 billion in 2012.

In early 2014, the federal government said it would pay states to sell assets as treasurers across jurisdictions to lure local and international investment.

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Piracy Attempt Thwarted

By MarEx 2015-10-13 10:57:00

The crew aboard the Philippine-flagged M/V Cecilia V thwarted a piracy attempt off the Davao del Sur province on October 10.

According to Sarangani Coast Guard officials, nine pirated approached the ship on two motorized boats. Captain Elvy Elim spotted the pirates as they approached his vessel and ordered his 22 crewmembers to close all possible entry points and to lock themselves in their rooms.

Elim then notified the coast guard that there were pirates approaching his ship.

The pirates reportedly walked around the ship for close to an hour trying to enter its rooms and asking for food. The coast guard’s response team arrived on the scene about one hour after Elim’s distress signal, but the pirates had already fled the scene.

Maritime piracy has skyrocketed in Southeast Asia this year. In July, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) said that incidents of piracy and armed robbery had risen 18 percent during the first half of 2015 over last year.

Last week, the Philippines, the U.S. and five other nations participated in a five-day naval exercise to combat rising regional piracy. The Singapore-based Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training Exercise (SEACAT) included more than 100 U.S. sailors and personnel from the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Thailand. Bangladeshi navy officials also observed the exercises.

The Cecilia V was carrying 950 metric tons of copra from Davao to Santos City.

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