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Beijing deploying more ships to South China Sea

Just a few week's after the close encounter between Chinese naval vessels and the USN Impeccable, China has announced that it is converting old ships in order to boos the number of naval patrols in the South China sea:

Wu Zhuang, director of the Administration of Fishery and Fishing Harbour Supervision of the South China Sea, said: “China will make the best use of its naval ships and may also build more fishery patrol ships, depending on the need.”

He did not specify if the boats would be armed when they are sent out into a region of atolls, islands and reefs that are some or all disputed by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. The boats will be sailing in some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. More than half the globe’s oil tanker traffic passes through the South China Sea since it offers the shortest route between the Pacific and Indian oceans for ships bringing energy from the Middle East to China and Japan.

Mr Wu said that the situation in the region was becoming increasingly complicated. "Faced with a growing amount of illegal fishing and other countries' unfounded territorial claims of islands in China’s exclusive economic zone, it has become necessary to step up the fishery administration's patrols to protect China’s rights and interests.” 

As James Kraska and Brian Wilson wrote on FP's The Argument last week, China is currently engaged in a campaign to redefine international law to give it exclusive navigational rights in its "exclusive economic zone".  So far, the battles have mostly been fought at international law conferences and symposia, but China seems to be increasingly taking its fight to the high seas.

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Morning Brief: The Fed throws in the kitchen sink

Top Story

In what's being called a "shock and awe" strategy to fight the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve announced a series a of measures to inject an additional $1.2 trillion into the economy including purchasing $300 billion in treasury bonds and $750 billion in mortgage backed securities. Having already reduced the key interest rate to zero, the Fed is increasingly turning to more unorthodox methods to pump money into the economy. The stock market rallied with the news but the value of the dollar declined sharply. 

Experts worry that the dramatic expansion of the Fed's balance sheet could make it harder to reduce the money supply once the economy starts to recover, causing inflation.

Africa

A new audiotape reported to be recorded by Osama bin Laden calls for Somalis to overthrow their new president.

As the Pope continued his tour of Africa, the Vatican defended his stance on condoms.

Madagascar's coup d'etat is not going over well internationally.

Middle East

Israel has detained 10 senior Hamas leaders in the West Bank.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad expressed strong praise for President Obama and said he was hoping for a meeting with him.

The Israeli army is investigating reports of abuses committed during the invasion of Gaza.

Asia

Japan is preparing missile interceptors to preparation for North Korea's planned launch.

An Afghan politician who criticized the Taliban was killed by a roadside bomb.

China has blocked Coca-Cola from taking over a local juice-maker over monopoly concerns.

Europe and Caucasus

EU leaders are meeting today to discuss a small energy-focused stimulus plan.

Workers throughout France are striking today, demanding that President Nicolas Sarkozy do more to address the financial crisis.

Azerbaijan voted to scrap term limits, opening the door for indefinite rule by President Ilham Aliyev.

Americas

Some AIG executive have agreed to give back their bonuses.

New Mexico governor Bill Richardson signed a law banning the death penalty in his state.

The U.S. is sending federal agents to its southwest border to help fight Mexican drug cartels.

Scott Olson/Getty Images