South China Sea Dispute : News & Updates

Seiko

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Hong Kong, Dec 5 (ANI): Chinese moves in the South China Sea have been relatively quiet in recent months as President Xi Jinping consolidates the gains he has already achieved. A group of respected academics and experts on the South China Sea issue, speaking at a seminar in Hong Kong jointly organized by Bloomberg, Chatham Houseand Hong Kong's Lingnan University on 1 December, predicted that this is likely continue for the foreseeable future.
Of course, that does not China will be inactive or passive. For example, the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) confirmed that it had deployed J-11B fighters to Woody Island in the Paracel Islands last week. Imagery showed a fighter taxiing into a climate-controlled hangar, as well as flight operations from the island with 3,000m runway.
J-11 fighters have been located there before - in 2016 and April this year - but the PLA never acknowledged those deployments. A Global Times report said "the thermo-stabilized hangar boosts the jet fighters' durability and resistance to the island's humidity and high temperatures," thus making longer-term deployments possible.
Other reclaimed islands in the contested Spratly Islands have similar hangars, suggesting that the PLA may follow this same blueprint of periodic rotational deployments to its island bases.
Last week Y-9 transport aircraft also flew over the region after taking off from the Western Theater Command, demonstrating the PLAAF's ability to dispatch aircraft from thousands of kilometers away in China to support mock combat operations in the South China Sea.
The South China Sea remains a potential flashpoint as Asia undergoes the end of a 25-year era of unipolarity. China is rising and the US rebalance giving Southeast Asian states more options - sometimes bewildering ones - than ever before.
Bill Hayton, associate fellow of the Asia Programme at Chatham House, pointed to strategic reasons and resource-grabbing (including hydrocarbons, fish and seabed mining) for its recent actions in and consolidation over the South China Sea, all underpinned by a sense of entitlement.
He predicted that China will impose greater pressure on fellow claimants over the maritime area for joint development. Indeed, in some countries like the Philippines there seems to be growing desperation verging on defeatism. For example, the Philippines relies heavily on gas from the Malampaya field 65km north of Palawan, but it is expected to run out by 2024. Reed Bank could fill that shortage but China is preventing Manila from pursuing this option.
In his presentation to an audience that included academics, diplomats and media, Hayton listed three threats to the status quo in the South China Sea. One is "claimant states that refuse to accept compromise on territorial claims" and a second is "claimant states that deny the role of UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] in the South China Sea". Finally, he declared "claims to 'historic rights' are a clear threat to peace".
Referring to the latter, China's historical narrative is replete with errors and inconsistencies. For example, James Shoal (83km off Malaysia's Borneo coast, and currently administered by Malaysia) is claimed as the southernmost point of Chinese territory, when in fact there is no above-sea level territory there at all. This oversight stemmed from a clerical error in the 1930s when this shoal was wrongly translated as tan, a land feature, by Chinese geographers.
When James Shoal or Vanguard Bank are removed from the equation, for example, there are vastly reduced overlaps between China's and others' territorial claims via its ambiguous Nine-Dash Line. There is then no overlap with Indonesia, for instance. As another example of a skewed narrative, Chinese fishing boats are issued with atlases claiming various fishing grounds that blatantly violate UNCLOS provisions.
Unfortunately, Chinese textbooks are educating a new generation of young nationalists with historical errors. Hayton said this was a problem for the region, but an even bigger one for China itself. Why? Hayton explained: "China's sense of entitlement to the South China Sea will lead to future clashes and its sense of entitlement is founded on the misuse of historical evidence."
Li Mingjiang, coordinator of the China Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore, also spoke at the Hong Kong seminar. Addressing the endorsement of a Framework on the Code of Conduct (CoC) between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China on 6 August 2017, Li asked two pertinent questions. One is why China is willing to engage with Southeast Asia on a CoC, and the second is what impact will a CoC have on China's behavior?
China and ASEAN ratified the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC) way back in 2002, but the CoC promised at that time has failed to materialize, mainly because China has deliberately dragged the chain and the issue is not of immediate concern to some ASEAN member states.
Li said it was abnormal for governments to make commitments that they do not need to because they like to retain maneuver space. As a more powerful nation than the rest of ASEAN put together, why is Beijing willing to constrain itself by agreeing to pursue a future CoC? Next year negotiations will begin in what could be a drawn-out process to conclude a CoC.
Li offered six explanations for China's promise to participate. First is that the CoC is a legal continuation of the DoC signed in 2002, which legally obliged signatories to adopt one. Secondly, he said that Beijing has figured out strategic advantages to being involved; it could help woo countries away from US influence as part of its regional major-power strategy. Next, Li said having good relations with neighbors is a clear policy objective for China.
Fourthly, there are political benefits from joining CoC talks as it seems to affirm that China is interested in a rules-based order. Further, it better positions China in the South China Sea dispute, legitimizing its claims and reducing international interest or involvement. Finally, Beijing recognizes that a CoC will not be detrimental to its key interests as it is not a legal instrument designed to solve maritime territorial disputes.
As for the second question, Li pondered how the future agreement of a CoC would affect China's behavior. He offered two thoughts. One is that China appears to be at least willing to respect others and maintain the status quo for now. Another is that it could permit a period of relative stability in coming years. Li compared a period of relative calm after the DoC was signed in 2002, and said the same could occur with the CoC. He said Chinese decision-makers know they've gained a lot and created a new status quo, although this came at great expense to international relations. "Is it time for China to take a break and consolidate its gains?" Li asked.
However, the RSIS professor admitted the immense difficulties in predicting China's future policy direction, although the inclusion of Xi's blue ribbon 'One Belt, One Road' (OBOR) in the party's charter signals a desire to strengthen regional relations. By pursuing a more moderate approach in the South China Sea, Beijing could achieve a more advantageous strategic influence.
An interesting side question is whether China will declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea, much as it did over the East China Sea when it unilaterally created a zone overlapping ADIZs belonging to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in November 2013.
With island facilities now in place, it may be easier for the PLA to enforce an ADIZ over the South China Sea, but certainly not to the extent it could in the East China Sea. Gaps over the Spratly Islands would cause China to ensnare itself if it declares an ADIZ it is unable to enforce.
Most panelists at the Hong Kong seminar agreed it would be counterproductive if China declared one in the short term, as it would undo all the recent progress it has made to improve relations with neighbors. Another consideration is where China would draw the limits of any such ADIZ. China does not want to draw baselines and mark the extent of its territorial claims in the South China Sea, thus making it difficult to create an ADIZ.
The panelists conceded that nothing could have been done to stop China reinforcing its claims and reclaim its islands in the Spratlys. Was the USA going to sink China's dredging ships, for instance? Unfortunately, China's rise has cast a shadow over ASEAN and split its unity. Some ASEAN nations want the USA to do something, but only if it will not fuel tensions. This puts the USA in an impossible situation because anything Washington does will simply feed into Beijing's narrative of American interference.
Similarly, the US Navy's freedom of navigation operations (FONOP) in the sea are a tactic rather than a strategy, annoying China but doing nothing to deter it.
In the final analysis, the status quo is likely to continue in the short term. Of course, things could change quickly if one claimant unilaterally decided to opt for joint resource development with China, or if a mistake happened during a FONOP. While an accidental conflict could occur, the US military and PLA have fairly clear-cut sets of rules to give each other space.
Hayton offered three observations relating to South China Sea tensions. He said President Donald Trump's "America First" policy will fail in the South China Sea. He also noted there was no point waiting for a regional solution from ASEAN. Instead, he said it comes down to China's choice - will it be a good neighbor or a pain in the neck? Beijing could invade any territory in the South China Sea within a couple of days, and it can use its economic weight to bully smaller nations.
It must be remembered that military capabilities generally shape strategic intentions. Clearly the PLA is growing greatly in capability and it has already achieved local superiority in the South China Sea. The key driver, then, is China's strategic intentions. If, for instance, it seeks to turn the sea into the South China Lake, then tensions will inevitably escalate. (ANI)


ANI Analysis: All Calm In the South China Sea?
 

Seiko

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Dec. 15 (UPI) -- China issued a warning to Australia after Australian troops staged a large-scale naval exercise in the South China Sea.

The advisory from Beijing comes at a time when China is making swift progress on fortifying its military base in the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Taiwanese daily China Times reported Friday Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy commander Shen Jinlong met with Australian Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, and told Barrett the drills were not in line with promoting peace and stability in the region.

China's admonishment of the Australian navy comes as a year of heightened tensions draws to a close, owing to perceptions in Australia Beijing is buying influence among politicians in Canberra.

According to Chinese state tabloid Global Times, Shen specifically said the presence of 1,200 Australian servicemen aboard six naval vessels during a drill in September 2017 had stoked concerns in Beijing.

China, meanwhile, has not stopped building sophisticated military facilities on reclaimed islands in the South China Sea.

According to AMTI, China has enjoyed a "constructive year" in base building, as the United States has taken a less critical approach to Beijing's activities in the maritime region in 2017.

There are now "permanent facilities" across the islands, "ranging from underground storage areas and administrative buildings to large radar and sensor arrays," according to CSIS.

Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratlys witnessed the most significant development, with construction taking place across 27 acres of new land.

Underground storage for ammunition, hangars and missile shelters were also built on neighboring Mischief Reef, the study says.

China has been building up its military near the Doklam plateau at the India border, according to Indian media.

In another area where the borders of India, China and Bhutan meet, Beijing has deployed troops in the Chumbi valley.

China wants to prepare for any contingencies on the Doklam plateau, according to analyst Rohan Mukherjee, the South China Morning Post

China warns Australia after naval drill in South China Sea
 

Seiko

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China’s political assertion in the Indian Ocean, especially Sri Lanka and Maldives, is a response to India’s moves in the South China Sea, a post on a Chinese website say

A blogpost on Xilu.com, which focuses on Chinese military affairs, claims that China has delivered “hard blows to India,” citing Beijing’s recent agreements with Colombo and Male.

“India has always been opposing China and creating problems from the China-India border to the South China Sea. We can see India has been busy,” says the blog.

The post, authored by the website’s contributor Zhan Hao, adds:“Without being quite obvious, China gave very hard blows that has caught India off-guard. The Indian backyard has been catching fire.”

Citing foreign media reports, it highlighted that China and Maldives have signed “ocean area cooperation papers” in Beijing on December 7.

The report was referring to the visit of Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to China earlier this month.

The South China Morning Post had earlier reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping told Mr. Yameen that a free-trade agreement and memorandum of understanding on the maritime plan would inject “new energy” into the deepening ties between the two countries.

“This reflects that China is showing more interest in the South Asia area,” the blog says. It cited unnamed “relevant experts” as saying that “it is not the deeper China-Maldives economic cooperation that India worries about, but China’s greater political and security influences in South Asia. Of course, it is just the beginning of India’s nightmare in the area.”

The post said India received a “harder blow” on December 9, when Sri Lanka transferred the operations of Hambantota port to China on a lease for 99 years.

“Because of the geographical advantage of this port - it is called the heart of the Indian Ocean - India is extremely worried that in the future, China will use this port as a naval base. Of course, China denies it but 99 years of lease is giving people a lot of imagination.”

The write-up asserts that India has been warned that it should “care about its own business”. It specifically referred to the tri-service drill that India had undertaken on November 23 in the Malacca straits that “severely influenced our (China’s) strategic safety”.

The Malacca straits, linking the India and Pacific oceans is one of the world’s busiest trade arteries, and is a lifeline for China’s energy security. India had conducted a major military exercise in the Andaman and Nicobar Island archipelago between November 20-24.

“Moreover (the) so called US-Japan-India-Australia group kept interfering in the South China Sea, trying to be the mediator and trying to recruit the neighbouring countries to block China,” the posting observed.

It claimed that while the naval drill was going on, India bought 100 military use cranes to build a road “in the conflicted area between China and India and severely damaged our borders peace and stability”.

“You can see that India’s recent moves have severely touched our bottom line” it observed. “And because (it) does not give up on confronting us, it should take extra care about the area surrounding India.”

According to the blog, the “string of pearls theory” - of China encircling India in the Indian Ocean - is “not unreasonable”.

“Pakistan has conflicts with India. We established military base in Djibouti. Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are now being close to China.”

“India should see clearly the trend and stop pushing itself to a cliff.”

India’s foray into South China Sea root cause of Indo-China tensions : Chinese blog
 

_Anonymous_

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China’s political assertion in the Indian Ocean, especially Sri Lanka and Maldives, is a response to India’s moves in the South China Sea, a post on a Chinese website say

A blogpost on Xilu.com, which focuses on Chinese military affairs, claims that China has delivered “hard blows to India,” citing Beijing’s recent agreements with Colombo and Male.

“India has always been opposing China and creating problems from the China-India border to the South China Sea. We can see India has been busy,” says the blog.

The post, authored by the website’s contributor Zhan Hao, adds:“Without being quite obvious, China gave very hard blows that has caught India off-guard. The Indian backyard has been catching fire.”

Citing foreign media reports, it highlighted that China and Maldives have signed “ocean area cooperation papers” in Beijing on December 7.

The report was referring to the visit of Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom to China earlier this month.

The South China Morning Post had earlier reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping told Mr. Yameen that a free-trade agreement and memorandum of understanding on the maritime plan would inject “new energy” into the deepening ties between the two countries.

“This reflects that China is showing more interest in the South Asia area,” the blog says. It cited unnamed “relevant experts” as saying that “it is not the deeper China-Maldives economic cooperation that India worries about, but China’s greater political and security influences in South Asia. Of course, it is just the beginning of India’s nightmare in the area.”

The post said India received a “harder blow” on December 9, when Sri Lanka transferred the operations of Hambantota port to China on a lease for 99 years.

“Because of the geographical advantage of this port - it is called the heart of the Indian Ocean - India is extremely worried that in the future, China will use this port as a naval base. Of course, China denies it but 99 years of lease is giving people a lot of imagination.”

The write-up asserts that India has been warned that it should “care about its own business”. It specifically referred to the tri-service drill that India had undertaken on November 23 in the Malacca straits that “severely influenced our (China’s) strategic safety”.

The Malacca straits, linking the India and Pacific oceans is one of the world’s busiest trade arteries, and is a lifeline for China’s energy security. India had conducted a major military exercise in the Andaman and Nicobar Island archipelago between November 20-24.

“Moreover (the) so called US-Japan-India-Australia group kept interfering in the South China Sea, trying to be the mediator and trying to recruit the neighbouring countries to block China,” the posting observed.

It claimed that while the naval drill was going on, India bought 100 military use cranes to build a road “in the conflicted area between China and India and severely damaged our borders peace and stability”.

“You can see that India’s recent moves have severely touched our bottom line” it observed. “And because (it) does not give up on confronting us, it should take extra care about the area surrounding India.”

According to the blog, the “string of pearls theory” - of China encircling India in the Indian Ocean - is “not unreasonable”.

“Pakistan has conflicts with India. We established military base in Djibouti. Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are now being close to China.”

“India should see clearly the trend and stop pushing itself to a cliff.”

India’s foray into South China Sea root cause of Indo-China tensions : Chinese blog

Its often observed that the loudest man in the room is the one who's most insecure.
 

PeeGooFeng41

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Dec 4, 2017
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Quite wrong.

Indian foray into South China Sea is harder and involves players who have a stake in South China Sea, namely Japan, US, Vietnam and to an extent Australia. India didn't have to spend much to be involved over there. They just needed another big Asian country to be a part of the 'group'.

Further Indian involvement in South China Sea was a response to Chinese apathy to Indian interests in PoK.

Chinese involvement in all the small South Asian smaller countries comes at a cost of their own money or political capital. In Sri Lanka they have already created a situation where they have to choose between either to forgo their investment or to face political opposition. Maldeevs are too new. Both of them are very small countries, ecnomy wise and area wise. So all there is to be done needs to be done by China. It will lead to white-elephant kind of 'investments' like that Airport in SL, like that road to no where in Pakistan -- which seems to only make sense if other path is blocked fails. These country are into Chinese fold for Chinese capital and money. Once that shakes a bit they will fly away.

In conclusion, Indian foray into South China Sea is based on alliance of countries which face a real threat from China and each is bringing something on the table and involves quite a a number of big economies and countries. Chinese 'alliance' against India is a alliance of giver and taker. China gives and rest all take. India may be a Chinese target but for rest of these countries, it does not even concern India. On the very contrary, these countries want to encash favours from both India and China.
 
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BMD

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China should stop warning people about using international water.
 

BMD

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Chinese ship heads away from Vietnam in South China Sea standoff

Chinese ship heads away from Vietnam in South China Sea standoff


By James Pearson

,
ReutersAugust 7, 2019

By James Pearson

HANOI, Aug 7 (Reuters) - A Chinese survey ship which has been embroiled in a tense month-long standoff with Vietnamese vessels has headed away from Vietnam's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a Washington-based think tank said on Wednesday.

Since early July, Vietnamese ships have closely tracked Chinese vessels operating within the Southeast Asian country's EEZ, in the latest confrontation in waters that are a potential global flashpoint as the United States challenges China's sweeping maritime claims.

"Ship tracking data show that China's survey ship has exited the Vietnamese EEZ for now, but at least two of its coast guard escorts remain in the area of the survey," Devin Thorne, senior analyst at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS) told Reuters, citing data from maritime analytics company Windward.

"Vietnamese ships pursued Haiyang Dizhi 8 as it returned to Fiery Cross Reef and now appear to be loitering just outside of Vietnam's EEZ," Thorne added.

Fiery Cross Reef is a man-made island, controlled by China, built on a disputed South China Sea reef, to which Vietnam and the Philippines have competing claims.

It was not clear late on Wednesday if China's Haiyang Dizhi 8 survey vessel planned to return to Vietnam's EEZ, Thorne said.

The survey ship, operated by the China Geological Survey, has been conducting what appears to be seismic survey of Vietnam's offshore oil blocks, according to the Windward data.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has criticised Chinese "coercion" in the disputed South China Sea, while Beijing's top diplomat, Wang Yi, said last week that maritime problems involving Vietnam should not interfere with two-way ties.

The offshore impasse has stoked anti-China sentiment in Vietnam, where previous tensions between Beijing and Hanoi over the disputed waters have erupted into protest.

Last week, a Vietnamese fishermen's group urged the government to take stronger measures to remove the ships, saying they were disrupting fishing activities.

And on Tuesday, Vietnamese police broke up a brief demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Hanoi against the operations of the vessel and its escorts.
 
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lcafanboy

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There has been "An Incident" in the South China Sea -- UPDATE 11:17 PM EST: RADIATION DETECTED!!!!
WORLD NEWS DESK 20 NOVEMBER 2019 HITS: 53676



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Oceanographic instruments monitoring the South China Sea have reportedly registered a significant undersea EXPLOSION.

Details are sketchy as of 6:22 PM eastern US time, but military sources are saying an explosion took place at a depth of approximately 50 Meters, which caused an underwater shock wave of such sudden presence, and of such strength, that the explosion itself "had to be between 10 and 20 Kilotons." Those sources (military) also say explicitly "An earthquake has been ruled out."

United States submarines routinely operate in that area of the world's oceans.

If an explosion of that magnitude took place, it could reek havoc with the submarine(s) and their instruments; perhaps forcing them to leave an area, or perhaps put into port for re-calibration or repairs.

There is nothing in the area of the South China Sea which, on its own, can account for such a possible event.


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Details remain very sketchy at this hour, but tune-in to the Hal Turner Show tonight on WBCQ (7.490 or 5.130 AM) or WRMI (9.455 AM) or KYAH 540-AM "Utah's Talk Authority" for the latest details. You can also tune-in here on the net using the LISTEN ONLINE button in the menu bar above. (Those internet links do not go active until about an hour before the show starts, and stream commercial-free music until the show begins at 9:00 PM eastern US time (GMT -0500)



UPDATE 11:1 Radiations now being detected at shore monitoring points around the South China Sea!

According to this official map from the uRADMonitor Global Environmental Monitoring Network, "significant" radiation readings are now registering on their radiation monitors, shown on the map below:



You can view these LIVE readings for yourself HERE

Did China detonate a small, tactical, nuclear device to send a warning to the United States over the US Senate and US House approving the Hong Kong Democracy Act, which China views as an "assault" upon China's internal affairs?

Has China had enough of US "freedom of navigation" exercises in the South China Sea?

Is China feeling the sting of economic downturn from its Trade War with the USA, and are they "upping-the-ante" signaling actual war?
There has been "An Incident" in the South China Sea -- UPDATE 11:17 PM EST: RADIATION DETECTED!!!!
Did China tested nuclear bomb or their nuclear submarine go KABOOM.....:ROFLMAO:
 

drunken-monk

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Dec 8, 2017
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On Thursday, November 21, a nuclear submarine exploded in the South China Sea off the coast of China, as a result of which radiation was recorded in three countries.
Hal Turner Radio Show reports it. The power of the explosion, which occurred at a depth of 50 meters, was about 10-20 kilotons (comparable to Hiroshima).
Excess radiation levels were noticed in China, which is credited with the submarine, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Details of the incident are unknown, but experts have pointed out that such an explosion could happen only from a nuclear warhead.
There is still no official confirmation of the information.
UPDATE
Radiation is now being detected at shore monitoring points around the South China Sea!

According to this official map from the uRADMonitor Global Environmental Monitoring Network, “significant” radiation readings are now registering on their radiation monitors, shown on the map below:

According to the source, the U.S. submarines spend duty in the South China Sea, so it is probably that one of them could be damaged as a result of the explosion.
Chinese nuclear submarine tore into the sea – RADIATION DETECTED! | FREE NEWS

Some say nuclear explosion, others say submarine got exploded..
 

Aniruddha

Member
Oct 3, 2019
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Mumbai
On Thursday, November 21, a nuclear submarine exploded in the South China Sea off the coast of China, as a result of which radiation was recorded in three countries.
Hal Turner Radio Show reports it. The power of the explosion, which occurred at a depth of 50 meters, was about 10-20 kilotons (comparable to Hiroshima).
Excess radiation levels were noticed in China, which is credited with the submarine, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Details of the incident are unknown, but experts have pointed out that such an explosion could happen only from a nuclear warhead.
There is still no official confirmation of the information.
UPDATE
Radiation is now being detected at shore monitoring points around the South China Sea!

According to this official map from the uRADMonitor Global Environmental Monitoring Network, “significant” radiation readings are now registering on their radiation monitors, shown on the map below:

According to the source, the U.S. submarines spend duty in the South China Sea, so it is probably that one of them could be damaged as a result of the explosion.
Chinese nuclear submarine tore into the sea – RADIATION DETECTED! | FREE NEWS

Some say nuclear explosion, others say submarine got exploded..
Never heard a nuke reactor of a submarine exploding. Possible that one of the Type94 class submarine of the PLAN was on deterrence patrol when a SLBM might have exploded.
 

Bon Plan

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It may be a weapon nuclear test, made at sea so as to force USN SSN to move away in a near future?

A nuclear reactor can't explode in a way to produce 10 to 20Kt effect. It can explode, but will produce radioactivity and "act" as a dirt bomb, not an explosion : a nuclear core isn't made of enough enriched fissile material (in the 7% to 20% when a nuclear weapon need more than 90% enriched Pu or U)
 

vstol Jockey

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Dec 1, 2017
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It may be a weapon nuclear test, made at sea so as to force USN SSN to move away in a near future?

A nuclear reactor can't explode in a way to produce 10 to 20Kt effect. It can explode, but will produce radioactivity and "act" as a dirt bomb, not an explosion : a nuclear core isn't made of enough enriched fissile material (in the 7% to 20% when a nuclear weapon need more than 90% enriched Pu or U)
This is also a method to destroy SOSUS kind of underwater fixed listening devices to protect submarines.
 
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Bon Plan

Well-Known member
Dec 1, 2017
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876
France
It may be a deliberated Chinese nuclear explosion, made at sea so as to force US navy SSN to move away in a near future?

A nuclear reactor can't explode in a way to produce 10 to 20Kt effect. It can explode, but will produce radioactivity and "act" as a dirt bomb, not an explosion : a nuclear core isn't made of enough enriched fissile material (in the 7% to 20% when a nuclear weapon need more than 90% enriched Pu or U)

see also : Mysterious 10-20 KT explosion detected in south china sea