Posts Tagged ‘ADIZ’

Recent developments surrounding the South China Sea

May 9, 2017

May 8, 2017

The Associated Press

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A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest developments in the South China Sea, the location of several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.

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CHINA SHOWS NAVAL AIR EXERCISES ABOVE SEA

China’s state broadcaster has shown navy fighter bombers taking part in exercises over the South China Sea, including one involving the detection and expulsion of foreign military surveillance aircraft such as those deployed regularly in the area by the U.S. and others.

The video shown on CCTV’s military channel over the weekend shows a squadron of two-seater Xian JH-7 Flying Leopards flying in formation and dropping bombs on targets in the ocean below. Other video showed planes flying just meters (yards) above the ocean surface.

Following that, pilots were “notified that foreign aircraft had entered our airspace to conduct surveillance. One of the planes taking part in the exercise was immediately ordered by the tower to break off and intercept the foreign aircraft,” the report said.

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That plane increased its elevation and “responded effectively,” seizing the commanding position and “successfully expelling” the foreign aircraft, it said.

The report did not say when the exercise took place but said training this year was designed to be more realistic and focused on specific situations, taking the Chinese aircraft to the limits of their range and capability.

“In the process of unceasingly challenging ourselves, the building of our team of talents has entered the fast lane,” Tian Junqing, commander of an unidentified South China Sea naval air force regiment, told the station. “The overall combat capability of the force is increasing by stages, forging a formidable force that dares to fight and thunders over the South China Sea.”

Missions by U.S. Navy surveillance planes flying in international airspace off the Chinese coast are a particular bone of contention for Beijing.

Twice last year U.S. and Chinese aircraft came close, in one instance to within 15 meters (50 feet) of each other. In August 2014, a Chinese fighter jet came within 9 meters (30 feet) of a Navy P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance plane off Hainan Island — a major military hub — and carried out a series of risky maneuvers, including rolling over it.

In April 2001, a Chinese jet fighter collided with a U.S. surveillance plane over the South China Sea, leading to the death of the Chinese pilot and China’s detention of the 24 U.S. crew members for 10 days.

The U.S. and China in 2015 signed rules of behavior to make air-to-air encounters safer, but some analysts say they don’t go far enough.

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PHILIPPINE JUDGE LAUNCHES BOOK ON SEA CLAIMS

A Philippine Supreme Court justice has released a book that questions China’s historic claims to most of the South China Sea and said he will distribute it online to try to overcome China’s censorship and reach its people.

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said his e-book can be downloaded for free in English now and will be made available later in Mandarin, Vietnamese, Bahasa, Japanese and Spanish to help more people understand the basis of the Philippines’ stand against China’s territorial claims.

Carpio said public opinion, including in China, can help pressure Beijing to comply with an arbitration ruling last year that invalidated China’s historic claims based on a 1982 maritime treaty. Carpio helped prepare the arbitration case, which the Philippines largely won.

China has dismissed the ruling and continued to develop seven artificial islands in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago. China’s construction of the islands on disputed reefs has alarmed rival claimants and the United States.

In the book, titled “The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea,” Carpio uses old maps, photographs, excerpts from the arbitration ruling, Chinese government statements and documents to question the validity of China’s claims.

Carpio warns in the book that China may be planning to build more island outposts at Luconia Shoal off Malaysia and Scarborough Shoal off the northwestern Philippines.

If it constructs an island base at Scarborough, China would have enough radar coverage of the South China Sea to be able to impose an air defense identification zone similar to what it did a few years ago in the East China Sea in a region where it has a territorial dispute with Japan, he said.

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WITH AN EYE ON CHINA, TRUMP MAKES DIPLOMATIC INITATIVE TO SOUTHEAST ASIAN COUNTRIES

U.S. President Donald Trump has made an unexpected diplomatic initiative toward several Southeast Asian counterparts, telephoning Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to reaffirm traditional close relations and invite them for meetings.

The invitations extended last week followed another one to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a call during which Trump also affirmed America’s alliance and friendship with the Philippines and its president, who has maintained an antagonistic stance toward U.S. security policies.

Prayuth’s office said he had accepted Trump’s invitation, while a Singapore Foreign Ministry statement said the two leaders “looked forward to meeting each other soon.” No dates were mentioned for the visits.

Duterte said he has not accepted the invitation because of scheduled trips to Russia, Israel and other countries.

Washington’s diplomacy in Asia has focused recently on China and tensions with North Korea, although Vice President Mike Pence included Indonesia on a recent Asia tour.

Washington has strategic concerns in countering Chinese influence in Southeast Asia. Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines are historically the most pro-Western nations in the region, but China’s influence has been increasing as it flexes its economic muscle and projects its military power into the South China Sea.

China and the Philippines, along with Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims to parts or all of the South China Sea that straddle busy sea lanes and are believed to be atop undersea deposits of oil and gas.

Prayuth’s office said he and Trump reaffirmed the importance of their countries’ long-standing alliance. It also said Prayuth invited Trump to visit Thailand at a convenient time.

The White House statement about the call to Lee mentioned that “robust security cooperation and close collaboration on regional and global challenges” mark the two countries’ partnership.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also spoke by phone last week with Duterte, reflecting radically improved relations between the two governments. China’s official Xinhua News Agency quoted Xi as saying the Philippines and China are deepening political mutual trust, carrying out cooperation in various fields, and have set up a channel of dialogue and consultation on the South China Sea.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (C) returns a salute from a Chinese naval officer (L) as Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (R) looks on during Duterte’s arrival to visit the guided missile frigate Changchun berthed at the Davao international port on May 1, 2017. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on May 1 visited Chinese warships docked in his home town and raised the prospect of future joint exercises, highlighting fast-warming relations despite competing claims in the South China Sea. Manman Dejeto/AFP

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Associated Press writers Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, and Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this report.

Related:

 (Judge Carpio’s book)

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Seismic research vessel of the type typically used by China before mining the sea bed

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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law and nobody has even complained.
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Will China go along with US strategy to dial up pressure on North Korea? — Foreign Policy experts now have a very dim view of China’s promised cooperation — Is Russia Helping North Korea?

May 4, 2017

‘Big gap’ exists between Washington and Beijing’s expectations on how to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme, Chinese analyst says

By Catherine Wong
South China Morning Post

Thursday, May 4, 2017, 4:49pm

The United States’ plan to “lean hard” on China to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions may yield limited results, a Chinese analyst has suggested.

There is a “big gap” between what Washington expects Beijing to do to help curb Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme and what Beijing is actually willing to do, according to Shi Yinhong, a State Council adviser and director of the Centre for American Studies at Renmin University in Beijing.

Shi was commenting on Thursday after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the previous day that Washington was only in the early stages of its campaign to pressure North Korea and that it would “lean hard” on China to do so as well.

“[Tillerson’s speech] was only bluffing to some extent. The Trump administration is in such a mess now I don’t believe they have a comprehensive plan [on North Korea],” he said.

The US campaign to pressure China to rein in North Korea had already achieved some degree of success as Beijing had toughened its response towards Pyongyang, Shi said.

But he added that he was highly sceptical of how far Beijing would be willing to go along with the strategy.

The US had underestimated North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s ability to resist pressure and had also failed to provide Pyongyang a clear offer on the conditions for negotiations, the analyst said.

Tillerson had on Wednesday outlined Washington’s strategy in handling the North Korean nuclear crisis.

The US Secretary of State said America had a tremendous opportunity to refine its relationship with China for the next few decades and that he sensed great interest among the Chinese leadership to do so, too.

 Tillerson pictured addressing the UN Security Council on North Korea last week. Photo: AFP

Tillerson’s comments came during his first address to all State Department employees since he took office in February.

In the address, he offered the most detailed outline of the Trump administration’s foreign policy priorities he had given so far, with North Korea among the top concerns.

The Trump administration strategy – which Tillerson described as a departure from the Obama government’s approach – included preparing for more sanctions against North Korea, convincing other countries to apply existing UN sanctions more rigorously, as well as “leaning in hard” on Beijing and to “test” its commitment to reining in its wayward ally.

Tillerson said the Trump administration had so far only covered about 20 to 25 per cent of its strategy to put pressure on Pyongyang and that it was prepared to assert even stronger force on the reclusive regime.

“So it’s a pressure campaign that has a knob on it. I’d say we’re at about dial setting five or six right now,” he said.

He warned that Washington might take action against Chinese banks or companies that deal with North Korea if Beijing failed to enforce existing UN sanctions.

US-China relations were at a “point of inflection” and ripe for review, he said.

“Let’s kind of revisit this relationship and what it is going to be over the next half century,” Tillerson said. “I think it’s a tremendous opportunity we have to define that and there seems to be a great interest on the part of the Chinese leadership to do that as well.”

 
An undated pictured released by the North Korean Central News Agency in March of a rocket launch drill. Photo: EPA

Beijing has previously said the two countries should work towards a “new type of relations between great powers”, but the idea received a lukewarm reaction from the Obama administration.

In a separate development, Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang discussed China-US economic ties on the phone with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Wednesday.

The three “exchanged ideas on enhancing comprehensive economic cooperation between the two countries” the state-run news agency Xinhua reported late on Wednesday, but without giving further details.

Washington is to host the first round of the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in June.

Tillerson and US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis will chair the talks with their Chinese counterparts.

The discussions on economics and trade will be led by Mnuchin and Ross, according to Xinhua.

Additional reporting by Reuters and Agence France-Presse

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From Peace and Freedom

Our Peace and Freedom foreign policy network is now saying the “China will help the U.S. with North Korea” effort will fail.

Experts say, the foreign policy of the United States has never relied upon the activities of another nation — especially Russia and/or China.

While this drama with North Korea has planed out, China has continued to fortify its position in the South China Sea while the Whit House has refused requests from U.S. Pacific Command to conduct additional “Freedom of Navigation” exercises in the South China Sea. Our experts say China is “very close” to establishing an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over that waterway.

Analysts now believe Russia is trying to take up the slack of any supplies bound for North Korea that China is withholding. Activity on North Korean ships in Vladivostok has been increasing.

Related:

 (This is more about show than real action)

At the end of the UN Security Council meeting in New York on April 28, 2017, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi brushed aside Tillerson’s comments, saying that “the key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side”.

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China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivers remarks outside the Security Council at United Nations headquarters, Friday, April 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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We at Peace and Freedom have learned to take Mr. Wang at his word. We seldom like what he says …. but he is most often speaking the truth as he knows it.

South China Sea: Philippines stresses its claim over tiny Pag-asa Island in response to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua who said occupation of the island was illegal — “More games and public pleasing — No strategic shift”

May 2, 2017

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Philippine military officers operate their drone amidst the presence of Chinese ships seen in the background during the visit of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Eduardo Ano and other officials at the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed South China Sea in western Philippines Friday, April 21, 2017. The trip led by Lorenzana on an air force C-130 aircraft to the island Filipinos call Pag-asa will likely infuriate China, which has claimed virtually the entire sea and aggressively tried to fortify its foothold, to the consternation of rival claimant governments and the United States. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. AP/Bullit Marquez
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MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines stressed its claim over Pag-asa Island in response to the remarks of Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua that occupation of the island was illegal.

Earlier this week, the Chinese envoy said that the plan of the Philippines to improve its facilities in the island was also illegal.

“Pag-asa Island and the larger Kalayaan Island Group are a municipality of Palawan,” Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Robespierre Bolivar said in a statement on Tuesday.

Filipinos occupied the island as early as the late 1960s and built a runway on it in 1975.

“Any visit or activity we undertake there are part and parcel of our Constitutional mandate to ensure the safety, well-being and livelihood of our citizens living in this municipality,” Bolivar said.

The statement is the latest manifestation of the Duterte administration, whose dissonant pronouncements on the South China Sea swing from sympathy with China to outright rejection of its claims. Duterte himself insists on setting aside the Philippines’ arbitral victory in its maritime claims in pursuing direct talks with Beijing.

A few weeks ago, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Año visited the island to assert the country’s claim.

As Lorenzana and Año’s aircraft was circling Zamora or Subi Reef upon approaching the island, they received a warning from Chinese forces to leave the airspace.

The Philippine Air Force pilot responded that the military aircraft was flying in Philippine airspace.

“It’s already normal because each time our planes conduct resupply operations here they are challenged (by the Chinese),” Lorenzana said.

The government plans to repair the 1.2 kilometer-long runway to allow more flights and improve safety of the island.

Lorenzana also said that the administration has set aside P1.6 billion to develop Pag-asa Island.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/02/1695994/philippines-counters-china-lays-claim-over-pag-asa

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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Philippines President Duterte Weakened The Philippines in the South China Sea During ASEAN -– Trillanes

May 1, 2017
/ 12:49 AM May 02, 2017
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO
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President Duterte weakened the country’s position on the West Philippine Sea with the “watered down” final Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) chair’s statement released on Sunday, an opposition senator said on Monday.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said that, as chair of this year’s Asean summit, Mr. Duterte should have insisted that the group’s final statement mention the historic ruling of the international arbitral tribunal in The Hague, which favored the Philippines over China in their dispute over the Spratly group of islands.

“President Duterte weakened the position of our country in relation to the arbitral tribunal ruling,” Trillanes told reporters.

He said the Asean summit was the “ideal” venue to raise the tribunal’s decision.

“It would have been ideal for him to mention it in such a forum. Even if it was just mentioned. At least, our legal victory should not have been ignored or set aside,” Trillanes said.

“So, it weakened our position,” he added.

The final Asean chair’s statement, issued a day after the Asean leaders’ summit ended on Saturday, only “took note of concerns expressed by some leaders over recent developments” in the South China Sea.

“We reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability and security and freedom of navigation and over-flight in and above the South China Sea,” the statement read.

“We reaffirmed the importance of the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities, and avoiding actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursuing the peaceful resolution of disputes, without resorting to the threat or use of force,” it added.

The statement did not mention the arbitration tribunal’s ruling or the issue of militarization and land reclamation in the West Philippine Sea.

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/155951/duterte-weakened-ph-position-sea-row-trillanes#ixzz4fqkVVRML
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Related:

 (Contains links to several related articles)

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Dock workers use cranes to off-load frozen tuna from a Chinese-owned cargo vessel at the General Santos Fish Port, in the Philippines. Tuna stocks in the South China Sea have plummeted in recent years because of overfishing. PHOTOGRAPH BY ADAM DEAN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

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FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

South China Sea: Defense Secretary’s visit in islands “just routine” for the Philippines — But China was “gravely concerned about and dissatisfied” with the trip

April 23, 2017
Pag-asa Island, part of Palawan province, in the disputed West Philippine Sea is controlled by the Philippines despite Chinese claims of sovereignty over it. STAR/File photo
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MANILA, Philippines — The visit of security officials to Pag-asa Island was routine and was in line with international law, Malacañang said Sunday after China expressed alarm over their trip to the island in the disputed Spratly chain.

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and top military officials visited Pag-asa Island in Palawan province on Friday to inspect the facilities in the area, which is inhabited by about 200 people.
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The visit was meant to enable officials to assess what improvements can be done in the island, the second largest in the Spratlys.
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The government has earmarked around P1.6 billion to develop Pag-asa and is planning to build a beaching ramp, fish port, radio station, ice plant, water desalination facility, sewage facility and houses for soldiers.
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The visit did not sit well with China, which claims historical rights over almost 90 percent of areas in the South China Sea, including Pag-asa.
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Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China was “gravely concerned about and dissatisfied” with the trip, which he claimed went against the consensus reached by Manila and Beijing “to properly deal with the South China Sea issue.”
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Lu Kang — File Photo
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Lu also urged the Philippines to “faithfully follow the consensus” between the two countries, “maintain general peace and stability in the South China Sea” and “promote the sound and steady development of China-Philippine relations.”
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Routine patrol

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Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Lorenzana’s visit to Pag-asa was just part of a “routine” patrol in the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea.
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“The Philippines has long been undertaking customary and routine maritime patrol and overflight in the West Philippine Sea which are lawful activities under international law. Such flights will likewise enable us to reach our municipality,” Abella said in a statement.
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Abella said the visit was also in line with the government’s aim to improve the quality of life of Filipinos in the island.
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“The visit of the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to Pag-asa Island is part of the efforts to improve the safety, welfare, livelihood of Filipinos residing and living in the municipality of Kalayaan which is part of the province of Palawan,” the presidential spokesman said.
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China has used a similar argument to justify reclamation activities in the South China Sea.
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China challenges PAF planes

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While on its way to Pag-asa, the military plane carrying Lorenzana and military officials were warned by Chinese forces to leave the area but the pilot insisted that they were in Philippine airspace.
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Lorenzana has downplayed the incident, saying Philippine air assets conducting resupply operations usually receive warnings from Chinese forces.
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During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China last October, Manila and Beijing agreed to hold dialogues on the South China Sea dispute, a move that Chinese officials claimed signaled the “full recovery” of the friendship between the two countries.
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The Duterte administration’s decision to hold dialogues with China on the dispute is a departure from the policy of former President Benigno Aquino III, who preferred that the issue be tackled through multilateral channels.
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In 2013, the Philippines challenged the legality of China’s expansive claim in the South China Sea before an international arbitral tribunal in Hague.
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The court decided in favor of the Philippines last year, ruling that China’s maritime claim has no legal basis.
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China has refused to recognize the ruling, dismissing it as a “mere piece of paper” that would not affect its territorial rights.
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Duterte has said he is ready to set aside the arbitral ruling to enhance the Philippines’ ties with China. He stressed, though, that he would not bargain away the Philippines’ maritime claims and that there would be a time when he would bring up the arbitral ruling before the Chinese government.
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Related:
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 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

What is China so passionate about in the Philippine Seas?

April 23, 2017

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Philippine soldier stands guard over the South China Sea.

By: Artemio V. Panganiban – @inquirerdotnet — Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:20 AM April 23, 2017

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Why is China so passionate in owning Scarborough Shoal and several maritime features in the Spratlys in the South China Sea (SCS)? And yet, so easily conceded the Philippines’ rights over Benham Rise?

No controversy. The short answer is that Benham Rise is outside the so-called nine-dash line under which China claims historic title and sovereignty over almost the entire SCS.

But unlike the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal, Benham Rise is totally submerged in water ranging from 50 to 5,000 meters in depth. This submarine status makes the exploitation of its vast resources extremely expensive and difficult to undertake.

On the other hand, the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal are located in much shallower waters; in fact, China has enlarged some of the isles and rocks therein, not only to extract mineral resources but also, more visibly, to construct airports, seaports, buildings and other structures.

Mendoza’s primer. Superlawyer Estelito P. Mendoza recently wrote a primer on this subject, published by the UP Law Center. As one of the two vice chairs of the Philippine delegation to the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, which convened during martial law in December 1973, he had an insider view of the negotiations.

(The other vice chair was then Foreign Undersecretary Jose Ingles. Alternating as chairs were then Sen. Arturo Tolentino and then Justice Secretary Vicente Abad Santos. All are now deceased.)

In 1982, the UN finally adopted the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) that came into force in 1994. Mendoza related that our delegation was able to include the “archipelagic principles” in the Unclos, and eventually the “ultimate compromise … to have a 12-mile territorial sea and an exclusive economic zone of 200 miles…”

On March 10, 2009, Republic Act No. 9522 was approved. It defined the baselines from which to measure our 1) 12-nautical-mile (NM) territorial sea, 2) 24-NM contiguous zone, 3) 200-NM exclusive economic zone, and 4) 350-NM continental shelf. (See my column on 4/2/17 for details.)

Thereafter, the Philippines notified the UN Secretary General (UNSG) of the baselines defined under RA 9522. It claimed the status of an “archipelagic state,” composed of the “Philippine archipelago” (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) plus two “regimes of islands,” the Kalayaan Island Group in the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal (or Bajo de Masinloc).

Soon after, China submitted to the UNSG a “Note” dated April 13, 2009, alleging that RA 9522 “illegally claims Huangyan Island (referred to as ‘Bajo de Masinloc’ in the Act) and some islands and reefs of Nansha Islands (referred to as ‘The Kalayaan Island Group’ in the Act) of China… The Chinese Government hereby reiterates that Huangyan Island and Nansha Islands have been part of the territory of China since ancient time.”

Notably, it did not contest our rights over the “Philippine archipelago” and implicitly its corresponding territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf including Benham Rise.

No ruling on land. Mendoza opined, “Considering that … China had taken possession and occupied several of the islands (or features) within the Kalayaan Group of Islands and over Bajo de Masinloc,” the Philippines should have initiated a proceeding “in regard to these matters.”

As it is, however, our arbitral claim and the arbitral award itself did not settle the issue of Chinese occupation and sovereignty over these islands or features. In fact, the arbitral tribunal had no jurisdiction to award title or sovereignty over land territory. Consequently, China cannot be expected to surrender its occupation or sovereignty over them.

Mendoza recalled that in a conversation with then President Ferdinand Marcos, then Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping, during a state visit here in June 1975, advised that negotiation is the only solution. And if no agreement is reached, how should the matter be resolved? His answer was simply “to talk some more, and more until agreement is reached.”

Consistent with this “talk, talk, talk” approach is the Duterte administration’s pursuit of the proposed Code of Conduct between Asean and China, spoken about by Acting Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo in a recent Inquirer Forum. Is this a better strategy to resolve the impasse in the SCS? (To be continued.)

Comments to chiefjusticepanganiban@hotmail.com

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/103399/scarborough-spratlys-benham#ixzz4f4JlFpes
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Related:

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

South China Sea: on the Small Toehold of the Philippines, China’s Military is over the horizon but only 24 km away — Three Chinese airbases, seven total militarized land masses

April 23, 2017

Reuters

Filipinos living in Philippine occupied (Pagasa) Thitu island, in disputed South China Sea, sing the country’s national anthem April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
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By Ronn Bautista | THITU ISLAND, SOUTH CHINA SEA

If the Filipinos on the remote South China Sea island of Thitu had binoculars, they might just be envious of how their neighbors on the next island live.

Just 15 miles (24 km) across the shimmering sea from this rundown outpost of the Philippines lies a different world shown by an unbroken line of new, four-storey white buildings. Radar towers and a lighthouse complete Subi Reef, a mini city China has raised from the sea at an astonishing pace since 2013.

Subi symbolizes China’s increasingly assertive claim to most of the South China Sea, a claim it reinforces in building manmade islands from dredged sand and equipping them with runways, hangars and surface-to-air-missiles.

For the 37 Filipino families who call Thitu their home, however, life is basic with just a few buildings, no television or internet, and no shops or street-side eateries.

There isn’t even a street, just a dirt track used by the island’s one vehicle – a small truck.

At only 37 hectares (0.37 sq km) the coral-fringed Thitu, known to Filipinos as Pagasa, is the biggest of the eight reefs, shoals and islands the Philippines occupies in the Spratly archipelago, 280 miles away from the mainland.

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Chinese coast guard ships an frequently be seen from Pagasa

But Thitu’s inhabitants have a strategic purpose – preserving a Philippine claim of sovereignty in the face of a resurgent China.

According to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, China will soon be capable of deploying fighter jets on three reefs, including Subi.

Chinese structures and an airstrip on Zamora or Subi Reef in the Spratly islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane, April 20, 2017. AP

By comparison, Thitu’s military muscle is a few dozen rotating troops with small arms, and a dirt runway through a patch of grass.

Jenny May Ray, 24, has taught for one year at the island’s school. She says Thitu’s residents are heroes.

“We should be thankful for their sacrifices for staying on an island far away from civilization, away from their loved ones and families and I hope some day, something can be written about them in our history,” she said.

“Pagasa will see progress one day and they will not be forgotten because they have a big role in protecting the island.”

URGENT UPGRADES

But the islanders want more in return. Ray said the school needed improvements, the childrens’ diets are poor, and they are short on books.

The Philippine government is wary of China’s ambitions and knows life needs to be better for the Filipinos who get free food and housing in exchange for maintaining the four-decade Philippine occupation.

Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia also have communities in the Spratlys, but they enjoy far better living standards

Defence minister Delfin Lorenzana visited Thitu with journalists aboard a C-130 plane on Friday to inspect sites earmarked for 1.6 billion pesos ($32.1 million) of development, including a small fishing port, a beaching ramp, desalination facilities, and runway repairs.

“You saw Subi Reef a while ago and we really lagged behind,” he said.

China has built up and militarized seven reefs – Fiery Cross Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Gaven Reef, Johnson South Reef, McKennan Reef, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef – in the South China Sea

“We are now the last. You saw Vietnam’s (islands) when we passed by the area, it’s already very built-up a long time ago. We should have done this before.”

Lorenzana and a planeload of day-tripping troops and airmen joined villagers for a ceremonial raising of the national flag, a staple of daily life in the Philippines’ most isolated village, where patriotism comes before anything else.

 

Within an earshot is a school of just over 30 children. A teacher leads fifth-grade students in reciting songs about their pride in Thitu belonging to the Philippines.

Change comes slowly on the island, in sharp contrast to China’s activities. Since Reuters last visited Thitu two years ago, Subi Reef has transformed from a single building and cranes on an artificial sand bank to what looks look a forward operating base with its own town.

China insists these islands are for defensive purposes and objects strongly to planes or boats that come near them.

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

Lorenzana said his plane received a warning over the radio from Chinese on Subi as it approached Thitu.

He described it as “procedural”.

Thitu islanders seem less concerned about China’s military buildup than they do the storms that could delay the next boatload of supplies of food, or petrol needed for generators that support the tiny output from its few solar panels.

For many islanders, boredom is the biggest problem.

Daniel Yungot, an army private, says he plays a lot of basketball now.

“We entertain ourselves,” he said. “We do anything just for the day to pass.”

(Additional reporting by Manuel Mogato in Manila; Writing by Martin Petty)

Related:

 (FROM 2013)

 (Contains links to related articles)

See also:

http://www.philstar.com/news-feature/2015/06/17/1466961/photos-pre-and-post-reclamation-spratlys

Related:

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

China alarmed, angered by Philippine government, military visit to Pag-asa Island — “We are gravely concerned about and dissatisfied with this.” — South China Sea Being Run By China Upon Oral Agreement With Philippine President Duterte

April 22, 2017
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (3L) gestures as he and military chief Eduardo Ano (R) inspect the runway of the airport during a visit to Thitu island in The Spratlys on April 21, 2017. Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana flew to a disputed South China Sea island on April 21, brushing off a challenge by the Chinese military while asserting Manila’s territorial claim to the strategic region. AFP/Ted Aljibe

BEIJING (Philippines News Agency) – China has lodged representations with the Philippine side following a visit by the Filipino defense and military officials in Pag-asa Island, according to the spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry.

”Gravely concerned about and dissatisfied with this, China has lodged representations with the Philippine side,” Lu Kang said in a press statement posted on China’s Foreign Ministry Affairs website.

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 Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang. File photo. Peace and Freedom screengrab

Last Friday, Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Año, along with other military officials, visited Pag-asa Island, a Philippine-occupied territory that is part of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

Lu said the move of the Philippines defense and military officials has negated the important consensus reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

”This move runs counter to the important consensus reached between the two leadership, which is to properly deal with the South China Sea issue,” Lu said.

Lu said China is hoping that the Philippine government would continue to cherish a five-decade China-Philippines bilateral relations which rejuvenated under the leadership of Duterte.

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. The Chinese say they are enforcing fishing rules in the South China Sea now. Renato Etac

”We hope that the Philippine side could faithfully follow the consensus reached between the two leadership, maintain general peace and stability in the South China Sea, and promote the sound and steady development of China-Philippine relations,” he said.

Since Duterte’s visit in China last year, Lu said China and the Philippines have been keeping good communication to properly manage and resolve the maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

”We hope that this momentum can continue,” the Chinese foreign ministry official said.

In media reports, Lorenza described the trip to Pag-asa Island as a “normal visit within our territory”.

”We believe and we know that this is our territory and I am just visiting to look at the conditions of our people here,” the top Filipino defense official said.

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Above: While Lorenzana visited Pag-asa Island he personally witnessed the presence from a distance of four to five Chinese Coast Guard ships

Pag-asa Island was occupied by the Philippines in the late 1960s and is categorized as a fifth-class municipality of Palawan province.

Lorenza has revealed a plan to set aside at least P1.6 billion to develop Pag-asa Island and a proposal by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to build a fish port in the area.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/22/1692807/china-alarmed-philippine-military-execs-visit-pag-asa-island

Related:

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
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No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

In this July 14, 2016, file photo, Marcopolo Tam, a member of a pro-China business group in Hong Kong, points to what is now known as the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on a Japanese World War II-era map purporting to support China’s claims to vast parts of the South China Sea, in Hong Kong. AP/Kin Cheung, File

South China Sea: Philippines acting like a colony or a lackey of China

April 21, 2017

Peace and Freedom Commentary

Philippine media reports today detail the level of control China has on the South China Sea.

The Philippine Defense Secretary could not fly in sovereign air space over sovereign sea toward a sovereign Philippine island without first answering a challenge from the Chinese military.

Filipino fishermen are required to follow the instructions of Chinese fishing supervisors. The Philippine Star reported on April 22, 2017 that Chinese fired warning shots near Filipino fishermen at Union Bank recently. The Filipino fishermen scurried away to save their own skins — without any fish.

From Pag-asa island, a possession of the Philippines, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana observed four to five Chinese Coast Guard ships.

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The Filipinos most knowledgeable of the situation at Pag-asa refer to one side of the island as “the dangerous side” or the “Chinese side.”

Sounds like the well know Chinese plan of salami slicing — that is, incrementally taking liberties including encroaching on sovereign territory and rights until Chinese full ownership is fait accompli — has worked wonders in the Philippines. The Chinese method of “talk and take” has worked marvelously. If Filipinos can’t fish in their own sovereign sea, what hope has the Philippines of “sharing” with China any oil and gas from beneath the sea?

Philippine news reports seem to be telling us that a large swath of the South China Sea is already turning into a Chinese lake.

And the Philippines seems to be turning into a Chinese colony or vacation destination or lackey — without any true rights or sovereignty of its own.

My family has loved the Philippines for decades. But now that rule of law is no longer honored and enforced, we’ll retreat to safer ground. Or learn to speak Chinese.

Image result for Vietnamese fishing boat Dna 90152 sinking May 2014 after being rammed intentionally by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel

Related:

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
.
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No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

In this July 14, 2016, file photo, Marcopolo Tam, a member of a pro-China business group in Hong Kong, points to what is now known as the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on a Japanese World War II-era map purporting to support China’s claims to vast parts of the South China Sea, in Hong Kong. AP/Kin Cheung, File

Chinese challenge Philippines defense chief’s plane (If another sovereign power can question why you are in your own sovereign air or sea space your own sovereign power is worthless)

April 21, 2017
Chinese structures and an airstrip on Zamora or Subi Reef in the Spratly islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane yesterday. AP

MANILA, Philippines – A military aircraft flying Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año over the West Philippine Sea received a warning yesterday from Chinese forces to leave the airspace.

The Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 transport aircraft was circling over Zamora or Subi Reef for its final approach to the unpaved Rancudo airfield on Pag-Asa Island in the Spratlys when it received a radio warning from the Chinese to stay away from the area.

The PAF pilot responded that the aircraft was flying in Philippine airspace.

Lorenzana downplayed the incident. “It’s already normal because each time our planes conduct resupply operations here they are challenged (by the Chinese),” he said.

“We replied that we are flying over Philippine territory,” Lorenzana later told reporters.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the Chinese told the Filipino pilots to stay away from Subi to avoid a miscalculation.

“As before, (the pilots) were once again challenged as they made their pattern of landing,” Padilla said.

From being merely a “seabed” in “international waters” under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Subi Reef has metamorphosed into a bustling artificial island, with massive structures, a 3,000-meter runway, two ports, gun emplacements, and radar domes.

There were reports the Chinese have installed a missile defense system on the reef. Based on UNCLOS, there can be no territorial waters for features built on the seabed. Subi Reef is about 40 nautical miles from Pag-asa Island.

With Lorenzana and Año on the plane were Army commanding general Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, Western Command (Wescom) commander Lt. Gen. Raul del Rosario, and other AFP officials and members of the media. The aircraft touched down at around 8 a.m. The DND chief attended a flag ceremony along with 45 military officials and personnel stationed on the island.

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. Renato Etac

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The group, with Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez and representatives of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), toured the island.

On the West side of Pag-asa facing the West Philippine Sea, Lorenzana personally witnessed the presence from a distance of four to five Chinese Coast Guard ships.

Image result for chinese coast guard ships, photos

Above: Lorenzana personally witnessed the presence from a distance of four to five Chinese Coast Guard ships

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it welcomed efforts of the Department of National Defense and the AFP to secure Pag-asa Island.

“We defer to the DND and the Armed Forces on how best to fulfill their Constitutional mandates with respect to improving the safety, welfare, livelihood and personal security of Filipinos in the Palawan municipality of Kalayaan,” the DFA said.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana touring Pag-asa Island near the reef. The visit yesterday was aimed to assert the country’s claim to the heartland of a disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands. A UN court has invalidated China’s territorial claim in the South China Sea. The dispute is expected to be discussed at the 20th Asean summit next week.
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‘Unsafe side’

Soldiers assigned on Pag-asa island told The STAR they call the Eastern side of the island the Philippine side and the Western part the “unsafe side” as they wouldn’t want to call it the Chinese side.

In remarks, Lorenzana assured government troops the administration of President Duterte and the AFP are looking after their welfare despite the Chinese menace.

The Chinese, he explained, “believe that this is theirs, they protest to say that they do not want what we are doing here.”

The Philippines maintains that the island group including Pag-asa is part of its territory, which Filipinos occupied as early as the late 1960s, and on which a runway was built in 1975.

“I don’t think I should give them any message. This is just a normal visit within our territory, we believe and we know that this is our territory and I am just visiting to look at the conditions of our people here,” Lorenzana said.

Reacting to China’s challenging the PAF’s flight over Subi, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the administration takes seriously the Chinese action.

“We mind and we respond appropriately. We have our challenges and answers where protocols to be made if it is bad enough that that could be the basis for some note verbales,” Esperon said after President Duterte’s visit to Russian ship Varyag yesterday.

“A challenge is not something that is really positive. But a challenge could be just to identify yourself but it could also mean that you’re challenging because you think that’s your territory,” he added.

Asked if Duterte would go to Pag-asa island in the future, Esperon said: “In the future? Let me answer you that in the future.”

Pressed if the President would spend a night in the island, the national security adviser replied: “Why not? But not now.”

Meanwhile, Loranzana also revealed the administration has set aside at least P1.6 billion to develop Pag-asa.

He said the building of a beaching ramp would be prioritized and hopefully done by July this year so that construction materials like gravel and cement as well as heavy equipment could be brought to the island by sea.

He told reporters in a press briefing that BFAR also intends to build a fish port in the area.

The government also wants to put up a radio station, an ice plant, water desalination facility, homes for soldiers stationed in the island, and put up a sewage system.

“We will develop this into a tourism area and marine research (facility),” Lorenzana said.

“These are our plans, the plans of the President and he said do it now and do not delay. That’s why we are here now,” he stressed.

“We’ve been here since 1971, and our flag has been planted way back in the 1970s. We were here first, the others just followed,” he said of the country’s claim on the Kalayaan Islands.

Lorenzana said the development of Pag-asa has long been delayed because of the arbitration case filed by the Philippines that resulted in a moratorium on the implementation of projects.

The DND chief said President Duterte’s treatment of China shows that he is just trying to develop friends around the neighborhood.

“China is the most powerful country in our neighborhood, economically and militarily, and we are trying to manage the issue and talk to them one-on-one bilaterally, settle this dispute in the South China Sea,” he said.

“I believe that the President is right in talking to the Chinese leadership on how to manage the issue here in South China Sea,” he added.

The second biggest island next only to the Taiwanese-occupied Itu Aba, Pag-asa is a fifth class municipality in Palawan exercising overall jurisdiction over the country’s regime of islands in the disputed Spratlys region.

Lorenzana’s trip to Pag-asa came only a day after reports came out about Chinese coast guards firing warning shots to drive a group of Bataan-based Filipino fishermen from Union Bank. The incident, which reportedly happened on March 27, involved Chinese coast guards securing the reclaimed Gaven Reef.

Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo confirmed receiving information about the Chinese harassment of Filipino fishermen around Union Bank.

He said a Chinese coast guard speedboat with guns and carrying seven personnel fired shots at the fishing boat Princess Johann, which is owned and operated by Dionisio Cabacungan.

The Chinese reportedly fired warning shots when the Filipino boat dropped anchor some two nautical miles from Union Bank. The crew panicked, cut off their anchor line and fled the area.

Balilo said they were not able to interview the fishermen as they had already returned to the sea. “We were only able to communicate with them via radio. But according to the boat captain, the Chinese Coast Guard did not directly fire shots at them,” he said.

Vietnamese and Chinese forces have already occupied most of the maritime features within the Union Bank, a wide body of submerged features right within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping maritime claims in the region. Only Brunei has no military presence in the areas it claims.  – With Evelyn Macairan, Helen Flores, Alexis Romero

Related:

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/22/1692733/chinese-challenge-philippines-defense-chiefs-plane

Preace and Freedom OPINION: By disregarding human rights law and international norms, and by ignoring international law entirely in the South China Sea, the Philippines has demonstrated itself to be a lawness land — and is starting to reap what it has sown which will be its own horrific reward — a situation likely to continue until rule of law is restored — if it can be.

Related:

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
.
.

No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

In this July 14, 2016, file photo, Marcopolo Tam, a member of a pro-China business group in Hong Kong, points to what is now known as the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on a Japanese World War II-era map purporting to support China’s claims to vast parts of the South China Sea, in Hong Kong. AP/Kin Cheung, File