Philippines is not backing down in disputed South China Sea waters

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FILE - A worker holds a new officially approved map of China that includes the islands and maritime area that Beijing claims in the South China Sea, at a printing factory in Changsha in south China's Hunan province.

A Chinese worker holds a new officially approved map of China, crafted entirely by China’s Communist Government in 2014, that includes the islands and maritime area that Beijing claims in the South China Sea, at a printing factory in Changsha in south China’s Hunan province. Most of China’s neighbors believe their claims in the South China Sea are not valid because they have no basis in international law.

By Manuel Mogato
Reuters

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines said on Thursday it would resume repair and reconstruction works in the disputed South China Sea after halting activities last year over concerns about the effect on an arbitration complaint filed against China.

Manila had called on all countries last October to stop construction work on small islands and reefs in the South China Sea, virtually all of which is claimed by China.

China itself is undertaking massive reclamation works in the area, while Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam have also been making improvements to their facilities.

“We are taking the position that we can proceed with the repair and maintenance,” Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario told diplomats, military officers and foreign correspondents on Thursday.

He said the works, including repairs to an airstrip, did not violate an informal code of conduct in the South China Sea because they would not alter the status quo in the disputed area. The 2002 code was signed by China and 10 Southeast Asian states in Phnom Penh.

In 2013, Manila filed an arbitration case at the The Hague questioning Beijing’s “nine-dash-line” claims. Del Rosario said Manila expects a decision in February next year. China has elected not to participate in the case.

China claims almost the entire sea, believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also claim the area, where about $5 trillion of seaborne trade pass every year.

(Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-philippines-says-to-resume-works-in-disputed-south-china-sea-2015-3#ixzz3VZHLkpU0

Related:

  (South China Morning Post)

 (Contains several links to related articles)

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Satellite image analysis South China Sea reclamation in Spratly Islands

Warships from China are frequently seen near the disputed islands.

(Contains links to several related articles)

Reclamation: China has already turned a worthless piece of coral into an island big enough for an airstrip at Fiery Cross reef in the South China Sea

China’s East China Sea air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

Screenshot of a Chinese Coast Guard vessel ramming a Vietnamese vessel in May 2014

China says it owns all the South China Sea north of the “nine dash line” shown above

China claims ownership of about 90% of the South China Sea. Most of China’s neighbors believe otherwise.

The chart below shows the area declared by China on 1 January 2014 as “an area under China’s jurisdiction.” China says “foreign fishing vessels” can only enter and work in this area with prior approval from China. Vietnam, the Philippines and others have said they will not comply with China’s law. Experts say, this could be the geographic area that China could declare an air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

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