Posts Tagged ‘Benham Rise’

Duterte says Philippines can’t afford oil rigs, open to sharing resources with China in disputed sea

March 24, 2017

South China Morning Post, AFP and Reuters

Friday, 24 March, 2017, 1:09pm
 Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature
The Haiyang Shiyou oil rig, the first deep-water drilling rig developed in China, 320 kilometres southeast of Hong Kong in the South China Sea in 2012. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he was open to sharing resources with Beijing in flashpoint South China Sea waters over which Manila has been given exclusive rights by an international tribunal. File photo: Xinhua

Philippines: “Stand Up To China,” Some Allies of President Duterte Urge Him To Change Course Before It Is Too Late

March 23, 2017
ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 23 2017 03:25 AM

Image may contain: 1 person, text

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA — A senator and ally of President Rodrigo Duterte is asking him to rethink his “hands-off” approach in dealing with the South China Sea.

Duterte has drawn criticism for his response to the alleged Chinese encroachment on Benham Rise and reports that Beijing is also planning to build a station in Scarborough Shoal.

Reacting to reports that China plans to build a monitoring station in Scarborough, Duterte recently said that the Philippines cannot do anything to stop China from altering the disputed shoal, located some 124 nautical miles from Zambales.

China has since denied the report.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Duterte’s approach on the issue is wrong and the president must stand up to China.

Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, water, outdoor and nature

A Vietnamese Coast Guard captain speaks to other ships as a Chinese Coast Guard vessel cuts across its path to prevent access to an oil rig situated west of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. | BLOOMBERG

“It is incorrect to say that there is nothing we can do to stop China. We still have several legal and diplomatic options, all of which must be exhausted in defending Philippine territory from foreign aggression,” Gatchalian said.

“The Philippines should never allow itself to be bullied by anyone, no matter how big and powerful that bully might be.”

Gatchalian said Duterte must also invoke the Philippines’ legal victory against China should Beijing step up its aggression in the South China Sea.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, outdoor, water and nature

A Filipino fishing vessel ventures into the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. —REM ZAMORA

Last July, a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal invalidated China’s so-called nine-dash line claim to the South China Sea. It also said, Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground of the countries surrounding it and China may be violating the Philippines’ sovereign rights by blocking access to it.

“The favorable decision in the Philippines vs. China case is a potent tool we can use to enforce our sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea. It is our duty to invoke this ruling and take action before international legal institutions to contest any further acts of Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea,” Gatchalian said.

Philippines Prepares Protest vs China Over South China Sea Island Grab

March 21, 2017
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the administration’s planned course of action was in accordance with Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s suggestion that a strong formal protest against Beijing be filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is preparing to formally protest China’s plan to install a radar station at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal in violation of a ruling by a United Nations-backed international tribunal declaring the shoal a common fishing ground outside any country’s jurisdiction.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the administration’s planned course of action was in accordance with Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s suggestion that a strong formal protest against Beijing be filed with the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague.

“I think so, there will be (a protest to be filed). Medyo malakas-lakas ang ifa-file (A stronger one will be filed),” Aguirre said when asked about the issue in a chance interview.

Aguirre’s statement came on the heels of President Duterte’s voicing helplessness against China’s continued buildup of its forces in waters within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

But Aguirre assured the public that Duterte is committed to protect and defend the nation’s sovereignty despite the latter’s pronouncement that he could not stop China from building a structure at the shoal. “Definitely, he will not let go of (Panatag shoal),” Aguirre stressed.

“As a matter of fact, we are strengthening the relationship with the US,” Aguirre pointed out, indicating a potential shift from Duterte’s earlier declaration of separation from the US and a pivot to China.

The filing of a protest was among the five-point strategy suggested by Carpio for dealing with China’s reported plan to set up facilities at Panatag shoal.

The SC justice has also suggested sending Philippine Navy vessels to the shoal.

“If the Chinese attack Philippine Navy vessels, then invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty which covers any armed attack on Philippine Navy vessels operating in the South China Sea,” he pointed out.

Carpio also stressed the government may ask the US to declare the shoal part of Philippine territory and accept the superpower’s offer to hold joint patrols in the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea.

The SC magistrate also advised Duterte to “avoid any act, statement or declaration that expressly or impliedly waives Philippine sovereignty to any Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea.”

Carpio stressed that Panatag is part of the national territory under Republic Act No. 9522 (Philippine Baselines Law) and that President Duterte has the constitutional duty to defend it from China’s incursion.

He earlier warned that the installation of a radar system at the Panatag shoal will complete China’s air defense identification zone in the South China Sea.

In 2012, the Chinese seized the Panatag Shoal after a tense standoff with Philippine Navy personnel who had tried to arrest Chinese poachers in the area. The poachers were allowed to return to China with their illegal harvest of baby sharks, endangered corals and giant clams. The Chinese have never left the shoal since then.

A ruling in July last year by the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague upheld the Philippines’ entitlements in the West Philippine Sea but declared Panatag a common fishing ground. The shoal is only about 230 kilometers from the nearest coast in Luzon and close to 2,700 kilometers from China’s nearest coast in Hainan.

Defending sovereignty

At Malacañang, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella made it clear Duterte has not surrendered the country’s sovereignty over Panatag Shoal or any other area within the country’s EEZ either seized or being coveted by China.

“He has said time and again that he will defend and protect the interests of the Filipino people and will take necessary action at a time most fitting and advantageous to us,” Abella said.

“Furthermore, PRRD has repeatedly asserted that RP is not giving up its claims and our entitlements over the area,” Abella said, referring to Duterte by his presidential initials.

He noted even China has not issued an official stand on reports it was preparing to build a radar station at Panatag Shoal. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), he said, is verifying such reports.

“The DFA is in the process of verifying alleged announcements of proposals to build structures in WPS (West Philippine Sea), since these statements do not reflect the official position of China,” he said.

Duterte earlier declared that the Philippines – with its weak armed forces – cannot stop Beijing from building a radar station at Panatag Shoal.

This prompted Carpio to remind Duterte of his constitutional duty to defend the country from Chinese incursion.

Panatag is part of the national territory, Carpio pointed out, as stipulated under the Philippine Baselines Law.

In his speech in Myanmar Monday, Duterte again ruled out invoking the UN arbitration ruling when dealing with Beijing. But he also vowed to raise the matter if and when China starts extracting mineral resources like oil or uranium in disputed areas.

“Now, if China starts getting oil or uranium or whatever that’s inside the bowels of the sea, I will do something and tell them, ‘We own it. You claim it by historical right, by judgment I won and it’s mine,’” he said.

Duterte also stressed he would not send forces to confront the Chinese in disputed areas to avoid bloodshed.

“First hour, they are finished already. We are not in a position to declare war,” he said.

“But I said to China that someday during my term as President, I will have to confront you about the arbitral ruling and that would be maybe, during the time when you begin to extract minerals and the riches of what is inside the bowels of the earth,” Duterte added.

Not defenseless

Meanwhile, the lawmaker who filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte has asked the President not to portray the country as defenseless against China’s maritime incursion.

“His statement that we cannot do anything is not true. In fact, we have a lot of non-military and non-confrontational options. He just doesn’t want to do them,” Rep. Gary Alejano of party-list group Magdalo said.

During the campaign, then candidate Duterte said if the Chinese intruded into Panatag, he would rush there in a jet ski to confront the intruders.

Alejano has described as “treason” the President’s admission that he had allowed a Chinese research ship to survey Benham Rise, which is part of the country’s territory.

He said Duterte’s statement on China’s building plan at Panatag Shoal “is a defeatist narrative fitting squarely to what China wants us to feel.”

The lawmaker advised the President to listen to Carpio and revisit various recommendations proposed in the past by national leaders and security officials to address Chinese intrusions into Philippine waters.

“He can consult his national security team and other leaders,” he added.

Alejano lamented the Duterte administration is speaking with discordant voices in dealing with China.

He noted that while Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has denounced the presence of China’s research ship in Benham Rise, the President admitted he had allowed it without informing his defense chief.

Alejano urged the President to send the Coast Guard or even the Navy to patrol the Panatag Shoal area.

“The shoal is located 230 kilometers from Luzon, while it is 2,659 kilometers away from the Chinese mainland. Logistically, the replenishing of supplies such as food and fuel will be a challenge for China, not so for our troops since it is closer to our shores,” he said.

“We can strategically deploy and train our fishermen to utilize the natural resources in the area. We could provide them with study vessels and advanced communication system so that we could aid or defend them should they be threatened by Chinese ships,” he said.

He said Duterte should learn a lesson or two from Vietnam in protecting the country’s interest.

Alejano recalled that in one confrontation with China near the disputed Paracels, Vietnam lost several troops.

The former Marine captain said the country could also invoke its security alliance with the United States, Japan and Australia.

In case of a shooting war, he said he would be “more than willing to fight for our country.”

The military, for its part, said it is ready to deploy a navy ship – recently acquired from the US – to conduct oceanographic survey of Benham Rise.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office chief, said they are just awaiting a written order from Lorenzana or from the President for the deployment of BRP Gregorio Velasquez (AGR-702) to Benham Rise.

“We have one survey vessel and the Philippine Navy has the capability to do maritime research, but so far we don’t have the instructions,” Arevalo said. The other survey vessel acquired from the US was BRP Andres Bonifacio.  – With Christina Mendez, Jaime Laude

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/03/22/1683442/philippines-prepares-protest-vs-china-over-panatag

Related:

 (Contains links to several previos articles on the South China Sea)

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.

Philippines: President Duterte Foes Amend Impeachment Complaint, Call Duterte Stance on China ‘Dereliction of Duty’

March 20, 2017
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano holds a copy of the impeachment complaint he filed against President Duterte at the House of Representatives on Thursday. Philstar.com/File photo
.
MANILA, Philippines — Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said that his group is considering  filing a supplemental complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly being subservient to China.
 .
Alejano’s statement came after Duterte claimed last week that he allowed China to send survey ships to Benham Rise as part of an agreement.
 .
The Department of Foreign Affairs last week said it was not aware of an agreement or policy over the Benham Rise region.
 .
 .
In an interview on CNN’s ‘The Source,’ Alejano said that the president’s action is a matter of national security since there is a conflict of interest with China on the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea that Manila claims.
 .
“We’re talking about national interest here, we’re talking about national security here because we have a clear conflict of interest in West Philippine Sea,” Alejano said.
 .
China has repeatedly reiterated its position over the South China Sea, saying it has a historical and legal claim over the vast area.
 .
An international tribunal however, ruled in favor of the Philippines in an arbitration case against China, saying that China’s “nine-dash line” claim over a large part of the South China Sea, including part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, has no basis.
.
In a speech on Sunday, Duterte also said that he cannot stop China from setting up a reported monitoring station in the Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc.
 .
“We cannot stop China from doing its thing. Hindi nga napara ng Amerikano,” Duterte said.
 .
.
Duterte added that the country will lose all of its military and policemen if he declares war against China.
 .
Alejano however, said that war is not the only solution, saying that the president could constantly raise issues in the West Philippines Sea.
 .
“He’s not doing that because he’s afraid to offend China,” Alejano said.
 .
He added that if Duterte said he cannot do anything to protect the country’s territory “then that’s dereliction of duty.”
.
Related:
.
 (Contains links to several previos articles on the South China Sea)

Vietnam steps up islands battle with Beijing in South China Sea

March 20, 2017

Hanoi presses for return of strategic archipelago central to regional security dispute

Image may contain: one or more people, ocean, sky, water, outdoor and nature

The captain of a Vietnamese Coast Guard vessel patrols waters near the Paracel Islands © Bloomberg

MARCH 18, 2017

By: Michael Peel in Da NangFinancial Times (FT)

Dang Cong Ngu ruled a South China Sea archipelago for Vietnam for five years — but never once set foot in the place.

The now-retired 63-year-old governor of the disputed Paracel Islands was a king without a kingdom, railing from onshore exile against China’s capture of a strategic outpost central to the battle for Asia’s seas.

“We must fight to bring the territory back to the motherland,” a still-fiery Mr Dang declared in his old office, a poster proclaiming “The Paracels belong to Vietnam” in the background.

“All Vietnamese, regardless of ethnicity, living inside or outside the country, know that’s the right thing to do.”

No automatic alt text available.

Map showing disputed claims in the South China Sea. Includes locations for Reed Bank and Benham Rise, where Chinese survey ships were seen last year, according to the Philippine government. AFP

The elder statesman’s tough talk underscores why analysts see the islands and other China-Vietnam territorial disputes as potential flashpoints for confrontation that could pit Beijing against not just Hanoi but the new administration in Washington.

Vietnam fought a border war with China as recently as 1979 — and, like other Southeast Asian countries, it is waiting nervously to see how Donald Trump’s government deals with Beijing and its territorial ambitions.

China’s Xi Jinping is set to meet Mr Trump in the US next month. Jonathan London, a Vietnam specialist at the Netherlands’ Leiden University, said: “For Hanoi and the Vietnamese, Beijing’s claims and its efforts to enforce these through aggressive practices remain clear and present threats to national security and sovereign interests.

The great unknown in all of this is how the Trump administration will manage its relations with Hanoi — and in the region more broadly.”

Vietnam’s lost province

Hanoi this week called for Beijing to stop running cruise ship trips to the Paracels, which are known as Hoang Sa in Vietnamese and the Xisha islands in Chinese. Those tours are part of a broader effort by Beijing to press its territorial claims to more than 90 per cent of the South China Sea, by building military facilities and artificial islands around the region.

The great unknown in all of this is how the Trump administration will manage its relations with Hanoi — and in the region more broadly Jonathan London, Vietnam specialist

The Paracels are a strategic way station south-east of China’s Hainan Island and its nuclear submarine fleet, in a wider seaway crucial to international trade. Beijing has built harbours, helipads and an air base in the archipelago, according to a report published last month by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

China last year deployed anti-aircraft missiles in the Paracels and recently cleared still more land in preparation for possible further construction, according to satellite images, the latest of them released this week.  Communist-ruled Hanoi has made its own military preparations by strengthening ties with a range of international powers, including its former enemy the US.

It has also increased security co-operation with Japan and India, which are both trying to curb Chinese expansion in the region.  Another element of Hanoi’s response is to maintain the bureaucratic fiction of its rule over the Paracels, which South Vietnamese forces lost to China in a 1974 battle while they were sliding to civil war defeat.

The Paracel administration’s headquarters in the Vietnamese coastal town of Da Nang is filled with maps, photos and other historical documents ostensibly in support of its claim.

Le Dinh Re, a former South Vietnamese naval officer, recalled rescuing troops defeated by the Chinese in 1974. “I didn’t think China would still be there after 43 years,” said Mr Le, 73.

“I really hope that one day I can set foot in Hoang Sa.”

The deployment of a Chinese oil rig in the area three years ago triggered anti-Beijing protests. Mobs later ransacked or torched hundreds of foreign-owned businesses in Vietnam’s industrial zones.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, water and outdoor

A Chinese marine surveillance vessel sail in the South China Sea. In the background is an oil rig China illegally deployed in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in May 2014.

Nowadays Vietnamese fisherman at a Da Nang boat repair yard complain that they are chased away from the Paracels by Chinese vessels.

Authorities say one large fishing boat was deliberately rammed: the plan is to put it in a new Da Nang museum devoted to the islands and Vietnam’s imagination of them.

“Our fishing boats are wooden and their vessels are steel, so we have no solution to this,” lamented Nguyen Vu, 35. “It’s our traditional fishing area, so we will never give it up.”

No automatic alt text available.

China has rejected both Vietnam’s Paracel sovereignty arguments and a wider ruling made by an international court in July against most of its South China Sea territorial claims.

Beijing argues that the US is the aggressor in Asia because of its warship deployments and military bases around the region.

China says it is committed to a long-planned code of conduct for countries in the region.  Hanoi is now sensitively placed as the Southeast Asian capital most publicly at odds with China’s maritime ambitions, after Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte sought to repair his country’s relationship with Beijing.

Vietnam’s belligerence is necessarily tempered by China’s far greater firepower — and by longstanding trade, cultural and political links between the two countries. But those caveats may yet be swept aside in this high-stakes and fast-evolving battle to rule the waves.

Former governor Mr Dang says the Paracels’ administration-in-exile will push ever harder to build diplomatic and legal pressure on China to hand the islands over. “Ours is an extremely difficult and complex mission,” he said.

“We must use all means that we can to regain Vietnamese sovereignty over Hoang Sa.”

Additional reporting by Khac Giang Nguyen

https://www.ft.com/content/32abaea8-0924-11e7-97d1-5e720a26771b

See also:

https://amti.csis.org/paracels-beijings-other-buildup/

Related:

Image may contain: outdoor and water

Seismic Research Vessel of the type used by China before mining the sea bed. Ships like this one from China have been seen at Benham Rise east of Luzon in Philippine waters

.
.
.
.
.
.

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.

Related:

.

 

 

Philippines’ Duterte says can’t stop China developing shoal — He described the complaints against China as “nit-picking.” — National Sovereignty and Natural Resources Not Important?

March 19, 2017

on March 19, 2017, 8:25 pm

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reacts during a press conference at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Monday, March 13, 2017.  AP/Aaron Favila

Manila (AFP) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday he could not stop China from building on a disputed shoal near his country’s west coast because it was too powerful.

The mayor of China’s Sansha city has reportedly said his country would set up an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal, which China seized from the Philippines in 2012.

“We cannot stop China from doing (these) things,” Duterte told journalists when asked about the reports.

Image may contain: 1 person

“What do you want me to do? Declare war against China? I can’t. We will lose all our military and policemen tomorrow and we (will be) a destroyed nation,” he told a press conference before departing for a visit to Myanmar.

Duterte said he would tell the Chinese: “Just keep it (the waters) open and do not interfere with our coast guard.”

He also brushed aside concerns over Chinese survey ships that had been seen near Benham Rise — waters east of the main Philippine island of Luzon that have been recognised by the United Nation as indisputably Philippine territory.

Image may contain: outdoor and water

Seismic Research Vessel of the type used by China before mining the sea bed. Ships like this one from China have been seen at Benham Rise east of Luzon in Philippine waters

Earlier this month Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he was very concerned that the ships had been seen at that location, sometimes for as long as a month.

But Duterte said: “So what if they stop there? They admit it is within the territory of the Philippines. That does not satisfy you?”

He described the complaints against China as “nit-picking.”

The Philippines under Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino had actively challenged China’s claim to control most of the South China Sea, despite counter-claims by several other nations.

However Duterte, who took office last year, has reversed that policy and is seeking billions of dollars worth of investments and grants from Beijing.

“We are now improving the economy because of the help of China. Why will you be so shameless just because they are passing by?” he told reporters on Sunday.

Beijing has already reclaimed large areas around several islets and reefs in the Spratly archipelago elsewhere in the South China Sea, and installed military facilities on some of them.

However analysts warn that building on Scarborough Shoal would radically change the situation since it is just 230 kilometres (143 miles) from Luzon.

Outposts on the shoal would put Chinese jet fighters and missiles within easy striking distance of military bases in the Philippines, some of which could host US troops.

The shoal also commands the northeast exit of the sea, so a Chinese military outpost there could stop other countries’ navies from using the waters.

Related:

.
.
.
.
.
.

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.

Related:

Philippines scrambled to explain why China is building on Philippine islands in the South China Sea

March 18, 2017
By: – Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 02:49 PM March 18, 2017

Ernesto Abella

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. KING RODRIGUEZ/ Presidential Photo

The Philippine government has sought clarification from China amid reports that it was building a permanent structure at the disputed Panatag Shoal.

“We are seeking information from Chinese authorities to clarify the accuracy of the report,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a text message to reporters on Saturday.

Hainan Daily newspaper, quoting Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie, has reported that China would build an environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal.

READ: China to build environmental monitoring station on Panatag

On Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it could not comment on the said constructions plans as it had yet to verify the report.

In a text message on Saturday, foreign affairs spokesperson Charles Jose echoed the same statement from Abella, saying the government was still clarifying the report with China.

The Philippines and China have been locked in a long-standing maritime dispute over the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea). In July 2016, the Philippines won its diplomatic protest at the United Nations arbitral tribunal but China refused to recognize the landmark ruling.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said the he would not raise the issue for now with China as the Philippines rebuilds its strained relationship with the superpower nation.

READ: ‘Let’s not fight over sovereignty at this time,’ says Duterte on Benham Rise

Duterte, however, said that diplomatic talks would continue and assured that the issue would be raised within his term as President. JE

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/153485/govt-seeks-to-clarify-reports-on-china-construction-in-panatag

 

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/153485/govt-seeks-to-clarify-reports-on-china-construction-in-panatag#ixzz4bh0wAtoW
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Related:

.
.
.
.
.
.

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.

Related:

South China Sea: China says It Will Build Upon Scarborough Shoal — Apparently Breaking a Promise made to President Dutere

March 17, 2017

.

 0  0 googleplus0  0

The top official in Sansha City that has administered China’s island claims since 2012 was quoted by the official Hainan Daily newspaper as saying that preparations were underway to build an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal off the northwestern Philippines. File photo

BEIJING – China plans to build the first permanent structure on a South China Sea shoal at the heart of a territorial dispute with the Philippines, in a move likely to renew concerns over Beijing’s robust assertions of its claims in the strategically crucial waterbody.

The top official in Sansha City that has administered China’s island claims since 2012 was quoted by the official Hainan Daily newspaper as saying that preparations were underway to build an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal off the northwestern Philippines.

The preparatory work on the stations and others on five other islands in the strategically vital waterway was among the government’s top priorities for 2017, Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie was quoted as saying in an interview published in the paper’s Monday edition seen online yesterday in Beijing. No other details were available.

Beijing seized tiny, uninhabited Scarborough in 2012 after a tense standoff with Philippine vessels. Taiwan also includes the island within its South China Sea claims that largely overlap with those of China.

The other stations mentioned by Xiao would be situated on features in the Paracel island group that China has controlled since seizing parts of it away from Vietnam in 1974.

China’s construction and land reclamation work in the South China Sea have drawn strong criticism from the US and others, who accuse Beijing of further militarizing the region and altering geography to bolster its claims. China says the seven man-made islands in the disputed Spratly group, which it has equipped with airstrips and military installations, are mainly for civilian purposes and to boost safety for fishing and maritime trade.

Prior to the announcement, South China Sea tensions had eased somewhat since Beijing erupted in fury last year after a Hague-based arbitration tribunal ruled on a case filed by the Philippines. The verdict invalidated China’s sweeping territorial claims and determining that China violated the rights of Filipinos to fish at Scarborough Shoal.

China has since allowed Filipino fishermen to return to the shoal following President Duterte’s calls for closer ties between the countries, but it does not recognize the tribunal’s ruling as valid and insists it has historical claims to almost the entire South China Sea, through which an estimated $5 trillion in global trade passes each year.

Scarborough has no proper land mass and any structure on it would likely have to be built on stilts. The shoal forms a triangle-shaped lagoon of rocks and reefs running for 46 kilometers, with its highest point just 1.8 meters (about 6 feet) above water at high tide. Known in Chinese as Huangyan Island, it lies about 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of the main Philippine island of Luzon, and about 600 kilometers (370 miles) southeast of China.

US diplomats have said privately that reclamation work on the shoal would be seen as crossing a red line because of its proximity to the main Philippine islands and the threat it could pose to US and Filipino military assets.

During his Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson compared China’s island-building and military deployments to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and suggested China’s access to the islands should not be allowed. The US says China has reclaimed more than 1,295 hectares (3,200 acres) of land in the area.

The topic is likely to be high on the agenda when Tillerson visits Beijing for talks with top officials on Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang was visiting the Philippines, just days after Duterte said Monday that he had told the military to assert Philippine ownership of a large ocean region off the country’s northeastern coast where Chinese survey ships were spotted last year, in a discovery that alarmed Philippine defense officials.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have long contested ownership of the South China Sea, which straddles one of the world’s busiest sea lanes and is believed to sit atop vast deposits of oil and gas.

Also this week, the commander in chief of China’s navy, Vice Adm. Shen Jinlong, noted improving relations in a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Rear Adm. Pham Hoai Nam, in Beijing.

China and Vietnam have had long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Tensions spiked in 2014 after China parked an oil rig near Vietnam’s central coast, sparking mass protests in Vietnam.

The two navies and their countries should “together play a positive role in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Shen was quoted as saying by China’s defense ministry.

Related:

.
.
.
.
.
.

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.

Related:

China to build on Scarborough Shoal in South China Sea — Did the Philippines Get Swindled? —

March 17, 2017

Reuters

China will begin preparatory work this year for an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, an official said, as two U.S. senators introduced a bill to impose sanctions on its activities in the disputed waterway.

Last month, a Philippine minister said Chinese President Xi Jinping had promised his Philippine counterpart China would not build structures on the rocky outcrop both countries claim, but China called the comments “baffling and regrettable”.

China seized the shoal, which is northeast of the Spratly islands, in 2012 and denied access to Philippine fishermen. But after President Rodrigo Duterte visited China last year, it allowed them to return to the traditional fishing area.

This week, Xiao Jie, the mayor of what China calls Sansha City, said China planned to begin preparatory work this year to build environmental monitoring stations on a number of islands, including Scarborough Shoal.

Sansha City is the name China has given to an administrative base for the South China Sea islands and reefs it controls.

The monitoring stations, along with docks and other infrastructure, form part of island restoration and erosion prevention efforts planned for 2017, Xiao told the official Hainan Daily in an interview.

A spokesman for the Philippine foreign ministry, Charles Jose, declined to comment, saying it was trying to verify the reports.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Beijing on Saturday for a two-day visit, where the South China Sea, almost all of which is claimed by China, is likely to figure.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim parts of the waters, which have rich fishing grounds, along with oil and gas deposits. About $5 trillion worth of trade passes through the waterway each year.

The United States has criticized China’s construction of manmade islands and its build-up of military facilities there, expressing concern they could be used to restrict free movement.

This week, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin introduced the South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act that would ban visas for Chinese people contributing to building development projects in the South and East China Seas.

It would also put sanctions on foreign financial bodies that “knowingly conduct or facilitate a significant financial transaction for sanctioned individuals and entities” if China steps up activity at Scarborough Shoal, among other actions.

The senators’ proposal was “extremely grating,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday.

“I think the proposal put forward by individual senators shows their arrogance and ignorance,” Hua told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Image may contain: 1 person

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

China resolutely opposes the proposal, which infringes international law and international relations norms, she added.

Tension over the South China Sea reached a flashpoint after the Philippines filed an arbitration case against China in the Hague and as China started militarizing artificial islands it built up on reefs in the region.

China is also involved in a separate dispute with Japan over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd; Additional reporting by Manuel Mogato in MANILA; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Related:

.
.
.
.
.
.

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.

Related:

China can’t legally conduct surveys at Benham Rise – Philippine Justice Carpio says

March 14, 2017

By  – Reporter / @T2TupasINQ

/ 09:26 PM March 14, 2017
benham-rise

Benham Rise

The Chinese government cannot conduct seismic surveys to look for oil, gas and minerals at Benham Rise, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said in a statement.

Carpio, who was part of the Philippine delegation that argued before the United Nation’s Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in 2015 and tapped by President Rodrigo Duterte as consultant in the territorial issues with China, said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has reserved the oil, gas and mineral in the Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) to the Philippines.

The magistrate said that while Benham Rise is not part of the Philippine national territory, the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf confirmed that it is part of the ECS of the Philippines.

Image may contain: outdoor and water

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

“We have sovereign rights over it because we have exclusive right to explore and exploit the oil, gas and other mineral resources in the area,” Carpio said.

“If the Chinese vessels were conducting seismic surveys to look for oil, gas and minerals, then they could not do that because UNCLOS has reserved the oil, gas and minerals in the ECS to the Philippines,” Carpio added.

But Carpio said other states like China have the right to conduct fishery research in Benham Rise “because the fish in ECS belongs to mankind.”

Aside from fishery research, he said other countries like China can also conduct surveys on water salinity and water currents because the water column in the ECS also belongs to mankind.

China and other countries are also allowed to conduct depth soundings for navigational purposes because there is freedom of navigation in the ECS.

“If the Chinese vessels were looking for submarine passages and parking spaces, that would be part of freedom of navigation and the Philippines has no reason to complain,” Carpio added.

There are recent reports that Chinese ships have been conducting oceanographic research in Benham Rise located about 250 kilometers east of Dinapigue, Isabela.

Justice Carpio is the one who wrote the SC decision that unanimously affirmed the constitutionality of the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines Law of 2009 which determine the Philippines 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/153320/china-cant-conduct-surveys-benham-rise-justice-carpio#ixzz4bJycg1Pv
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Related:

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.

Related: