Posts Tagged ‘Brunei’

China sidesteps Duterte claim of war threat over sea row — China vows to “work with the Philippines to peacefully resolve disputes through friendly consultation” — But does not deny war threat

May 22, 2017

AFP

© PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO DIVISION/AFP | Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing recently, said the leaders had raised conflict as an option to resolving their competing claims in the South China Sea

BEIJING (AFP) – 

China on Monday sidestepped claims by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that it had threatened to go to war over the disputed South China Sea.

Duterte, who met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing last week, said Friday the leaders had raised conflict as an option to resolving their competing claims to the waters.

“I really said it to their face. That is ours and we intend to drill oil there,” said Duterte, who claimed he made the comments public in response to domestic criticism he was being too weak with China over the row.

“And they told me: ‘Well, we’re friends. We do not want to quarrel with you. We want to maintain the present warm relationship. But if you force the issue we’ll go to war.'”

China’s government on Monday did not directly comment on Duterte’s version of the leaders’ conversation, but said it would “work with the Philippines to peacefully resolve disputes through friendly consultation”.

China sought to “deepen cooperation in other fields so bilateral relations can move forward in a sound steady way and also contribute to regional peace stability,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

The rival claims to the South China Sea, which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits, have for decades made it one of Asia’s potential military flashpoints.

China claims most of the sea, a key waterway for global shipping, and has reclaimed disputed reefs and installed military facilities on them.

Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.

An international tribunal ruled in July last year that China’s claims to most of the sea were without legal basis, in a case filed by the Philippines under Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino.

But China vowed to ignore the ruling and warned the Philippines against trying to use the verdict as leverage.

Duterte, who began his six-year term in June last year, agreed to take a soft stance with China, claiming that if he did it might lead to war.

Duterte has also sought closer ties with China to win billions of dollars of Chinese investments and loans, while loosening the Philippines’ long-standing alliance with the United States.

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 (Contains links to several earlier related stories)

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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.

Philippine minister starts damage control after Duterte’s China war remark — “Now we are on China’s ‘One Belt, One Road,’ and can’t get off?”

May 22, 2017

Reuters

 Newly installed Philippines’ Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano (R) delivers a statement during a flag raising at the Department of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
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Talks last week between leaders of China and the Philippines were frank and friendly, with no threats or bullying, Manila’s foreign minister said on Monday, after his president said he was warned of war if he drills for oil in the South China Sea.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano would not disclose more details of the Beijing meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and China counterpart Xi Jinping, but said they had the kind of relationship in which they could openly discuss preventing maritime conflict.

The notoriously outspoken Duterte said during a televised speech on Friday that Xi warned him there would be war if he tried to explore for oil in a stretch of the sea that both countries claim. China has yet to respond to Duterte revealing contents of the meeting.

“The conversation was very frank. There was mutual respect, there was mutual trust,” Cayetano told reporters.

“The context was not threatening each other, that we will go to war. The context is how do we stabilize the region and how do we prevent conflict.”

The maverick Duterte has faced criticism at home for refusing to push China to comply with an award last year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which ruled largely in favor of the Philippines.

It also said the Philippines had a sovereign right to access offshore oil and gas fields in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), including the Reed Bank.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to sovereignty in the South China Sea, a vital conduit for trade and a hotbed of territorial squabbling that has stoked nationalist fervor in some countries.

“I will not contradict the president’s words. I am just telling you…my interpretation: there was no bullying or pushing around, it was not a threat,” Cayetano added.

“It was more the threat of conflict will always be there if we don’t have dialogue.”

A Philippine Supreme Court judge on Saturday urged the government to file another international arbitration case over the alleged Chinese threat, and also lodge a complaint with the United Nations.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said failure to do that would mean Duterte would be “selling us out” and forfeiting sovereignty to secure Chinese loans and investments needed for his ambitious $180 billion infrastructure program.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Monday said the Philippines was “very clear that we are not giving up our claim of sovereignty and sovereign rights.”

(Reporting by Martin Petty and Karen Lema; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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China is preparing for the reclamation and construction on Scarborough Shoal

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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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.

South China Sea: China’s threat of war against the Philippines is a gross violation of the United Nations Charter — The Philippines can also ask for damages for every day of delay that the Philippines is prevented by China from exploiting Philippine EEZ

May 21, 2017
“The threat of China to go to war against the Philippines if the Philippines extracts oil and gas in the Reed Bank, or in any area within the Philippine EEZ (exclusive economic zone) in the West Philippine Sea, is a gross violation of the United Nations Charter, UNCLOS and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia to which China and the Philippines are parties,” Carpio said. AP/Bullit Marquez/ File
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MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has advised the Duterte government to elevate to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Chinese President Xi Jinping’s threat of war against the Philippines should the latter insist on drilling for oil in the disputed South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea.

“The threat of China to go to war against the Philippines if the Philippines extracts oil and gas in the Reed Bank, or in any area within the Philippine EEZ (exclusive economic zone) in the West Philippine Sea, is a gross violation of the United Nations Charter, UNCLOS and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia to which China and the Philippines are parties,” Carpio said.

Since the Philippine Constitution renounces war as an instrument of national policy, one of the Duterte administration’s options is to bring China’s threat of war to another UNCLOS arbitral tribunal.

It could also secure an order directing China to comply with the ruling of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal that declared Recto (Reed) Bank part of Philippine EEZ.

Recto Bank is vital to Philippine national interest, as it is the only replacement for Malampaya, which supplies 40 percent of the energy requirement of Luzon.

The Philippines can also ask for damages for every day of delay that the Philippines is prevented by China from exploiting Philippine EEZ.

Another option, according to Carpio, is to report China’s threat of war before the UN General Assembly by sponsoring a resolution condemning China’s threat of war against the Philippines and demanding that China comply with the ruling of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech at the 33rd National Convention of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary in Davao City, the Philippines, on Friday.  Photo: AFP

China, Carpio pointed out, has no veto in the General Assembly.

Carpio also said that the UN Charter outlaws the use or threat of force to settle disputes against states.

Since a threat has been issued, Carpio called on the Filipino people to stand united and defend the West Philippine Sea in accordance with the Constitution, international law and the UNCLOS.

“China’s threat of war against the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea reveals the aggressive design of China against the Philippines. No less than Chinese President Xi Jingping has delivered the threat personally to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte,” Carpio said.

“An arbitral tribunal…has already ruled with finality that the Reed Bank is within the EEZ of the Philippines and only the Philippines can exploit the natural resources within Philippine EEZ,” Carpio said, as he reminded the Philippine government to protect the nation’s maritime wealth in its EEZ, as mandated by the Constitution.

Since the Philippines cannot resort to war, the President has the constitutional duty to use all legal means under international law to protect the country’s EEZ.

“(T)he President cannot simply do nothing, or worse, acquiesce to China’s action, for inaction is the opposite of protecting Philippine EEZ,” Carpio, an expert on the issue, said.

Under international law, acquiescence is the inaction of a state in the face of threat to its rights under circumstances calling for objection to the threat to its rights; thus, the Philippines will lose forever its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea to China.

Carpio suggested that the country strengthen its ties with its defense alliances, particularly with the United States, since it is the only country with which the Philippines has a Mutual Defense Treaty.

“The Philippines can ally with the United States because the United States does not claim the West Philippine Sea or any Philippine territory,” he said.

‘Chinese propagandist’

For Magdalo party-list group Rep. Gary Alejano, Duterte acts like a Chinese propagandist on the territorial dispute.

Alejano, author of the dismissed impeachment complaint against Duterte, yesterday said he does not believe that the President directly raised the issue on the dispute with Xi.

“We did not hear that from his Chinese counterpart,” he said, referring to Duterte’s statements made in Davao City, where the President revealed Xi’s war threat.

Alejano said Duterte raises hell whenever the US and the European Union reminds him about human rights and adherence to the rule of law.

“But he is a meek lamb in front of Chinese officials,” Alejano said, adding that Duterte’s statements “are a justification of his subservience to China.”

“He is selling us out,” he said.

Envoys divided

Former Philippine ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Wilfredo Villacorta, however, said Duterte properly handled the crafting of the chairman’s statement during the leaders’ summit of the ASEAN member-states in Manila last month.

“There was no need to mention the arbitral ruling in the sections on the South China Sea. The ruling is now part of international law and we can always invoke it as part of international law jurisprudence,” Villacorta told The STAR.

“The specific provisions on the South China Sea in the latter part of the chairman’s statement recognized the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and over-flight in and above the South China Sea,” he added.

But for former Philippine ambassador to the UN Lauro Baja Jr., Duterte could have handled the summit leaders’ meeting more aggressively.

“He is chairman and in our past experiences, it is the chairman (who) sets the tone,” he told reporters during the launch of a book on ASEAN at the University of the Philippines on Friday.

“It’s not the chairman’s statement, it’s the Chinese statement,” he added.

Baja also expressed doubts that the code of conduct that is being crafted to address the territorial dispute in the South China Sea could resolve the decades-long conflict in the region.

“If the code of conduct will not have a so-called enforcement provision and will not have a dispute mechanism, it will again be in the nature of political declaration,” he said.

Former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario said China’s threat of war is Beijing’s strong statement that it does not honor the arbitral ruling.

“The utterance…clearly demonstrates to the world China’s position regarding the arbitral tribunal outcome that is consistent with UNCLOS,” Del Rosario said.

“Contrary to our position that right is might, China has strongly declared that it is might that will triumph what is right,” Del Rosario said. “China – unless it stands to benefit – does not intend to respect the rule of law,” he added.  –  With Jess Diaz, Janvic Mateo, Pia Lee-Brago

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/21/1701973/philippines-can-bring-china-war-threat-un

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 (Has links to previous articles)

South China Sea: Philippine Supreme Court Justice Says Philippines Can Bring China’s Threat of War Before the UN — Calls For Restoration of Rule of Law in the South China Sea

May 21, 2017
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Philippine President Duterte has said that China threatened the Philippines with war…
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Carpio says that the President has the constitutional duty to use all legal means under international law to protect Philippine territory.
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May 20, 2017 4:24pm

The Philippines can file another case against China before a United Nations tribunal for threatening war against the country and demand that Beijing comply with an international court ruling that invalidated its massive claim over the South China Sea, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Saturday.

Carpio – one of the country’s leading maritime legal experts and a member of the Philippine legal team to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands – was reacting to President Rodrigo Duterte’s revelation that Chinese President Xi Jinping threatened to use force against the Philippines if it will extract oil in the Reed Bank.

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Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio

Reed Bank is an offshore area internationally recognized as part of the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the West Philippines Sea but China claims as part of its territory.

Beijing says it has historic claims over nearly the entire South China Sea, including areas that are within Manila’s EEZ called the West Philippine Sea.

“China’s threat of war against the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea reveals the aggressive design of China against the Philippines,” Carpio said. “No less than Chinese President Xi Jingping has delivered the threat personally to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.”

Carpio stressed that Duterte has the constitutional duty to use all legal means under international law to protect Philippine territory.

“In the face of China’s open threat of war to seize Philippine EEZ in the West Philippine Sea, an area larger than the total land area of the Philippines, the President cannot simply do nothing, or worse acquiesce to China’s action, for inaction is the opposite of protecting Philippine EEZ,” he said.

“Under international law, acquiescence is the inaction of a state in the face of threat to its rights under circumstances calling for objection to the threat to its rights. Acquiescence means the Philippines will lose forever its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea to China,” Carpio warned.

In a statement on Saturday, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Philippines enraged China “in a frank discussion on possible oil explorations in the WPS (West Philippine Sea).”

“President Duterte was forthright about its economic rights awarded by the Arbitral Court in the Hague, a claim the Chinese leader said they would vigorously contest given their historic claims to the area,” Abella said.

He said that because of the “complexity” of  the issue, “both parties agreed to pursue a more peaceful resolution to the matter that satisfies both our sovereign and economic rights.”

Filipinos unite

Carpio said this “extremely troubling development” calls for all Filipinos to unite to defend the West Philippine Sea in accordance with the Constitution, international law and UN Convention on the law of the Sea or UNCLOS.

As a nation that under its Constitution has renounced war as an instrument of national policy, Carpio said the Philippines’ recourse is to bring China’s threat of war to another UNCLOS arbitral tribunal to secure an order directing China to comply with an earlier court ruling that declared Reed Bank part of Philippines’ EEZ.

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“The threat of China to go to war against the Philippines if the Philippines extracts oil and gas in the Reed Bank, or in any area within Philippine EEZ in the West Philippine Sea, is a gross violation of the United Nations Charter, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia to which China and the Philippines are parties,” Carpio said.

Carpio reminded China that the UN Charter outlaws the use or threat of force to settle disputes between states.

Reed Bank is vital

Reed Bank is vital to Philippine national interest as it is the only replacement for Malampaya, which supplies 40 percent of the energy requirement of Luzon.

Carpio warned that Malampaya will run out of gas in less than 10 years and unless the Philippines develops Reed Bank, Luzon will suffer 10 to 12 hours of brownouts daily 10 years from now and will devastate the Philippine economy.

The Philippines, he said, can also seek damages “for every day of delay that the Philippines is prevented by China from exploiting Philippine EEZ.”

Carpio also said that the Philippines can sponsor a resolution condemning China’s threat of war against the Philippines before the UN General Assembly where Beijing has no veto power.

Manila can also demand that China conform with the July 12, 2016 ruling handed down by the PCA which delivered a sweeping victory to the Philippines on the case it filed against China and declared its historic claim over nearly the entire waters as illegal.

China has ignored the arbitral decision, calling it “ill-founded” and “naturally null and void.”

While ignoring the ruling, China has pressed ahead with its construction of seven artificial islands in the South China Sea. Now completed, the islands have been equipped with military facilities, runways and surface-to-air missiles.

Such move sparked alarm among Southeast Asian nations, Japan, Australia and the United States, fearing that it would increase tensions and hinder freedom of movement in the area where a large volume if international trade passes through.

China has built islands by reclamation of sand and coral and has militarized them for People’s Liberationa Army (PLA) use. Seen here, Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratlys group of islands are shown from the Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane of the Philippine Air Force during the visit to the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials off the disputed South China Sea in western Philippines Friday, April 21, 2017. President Duterte on Friday, May 19, 2017, described this as “some kind of armed garrison.” Credit Francis Malasig/Pool Photo via AP

No respect of rule of law

Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who spearheaded the Philippines’ arbitration case against China, said Beijing’s threat of war against the country is an indication that it does not intend to respect the rule of law.

“Contrary to our position that right is might, China has strongly declared that it is might that will trump what is right,” Del Rosario said.

“The utterance by the leadership of China on a threat to go to war if the Philippines drills for oil within its Exclusive Economic Zone in the South China Sea clearly demonstrates to the world China’s position regarding the arbitral tribunal outcome that is consistent with UNCLOS,” he added.

Carpio explained that an arbitral tribunal created under the UNCLOS, to which China is a party, has already ruled with finality that the Reed Bank is within the EEZ of the Philippines and only the Philippines can exploit the natural resources there.

Strengthen alliances

Duterte said the threat of armed confrontation compelled him to pursue friendly ties with China, which pledged millions of dollars worth of aid and development package to the Philippines.

Carpio stressed that the President has the constitutional duty to use all legal means under international law to protect Philippine territory.

Carpio also said that China’s blatant threat of war against the Philippines demands that the Philippines strengthen its defenses and alliances, particularly with long-time treaty ally, the United States.

The US is the only country with whom the Philippines has a mutual defense treaty.

“The United Nations Charter recognizes the right of states to mutual self-defense against armed aggression.  The Philippines can ally with the United States because the United States does not claim the West Philippine Sea or any Philippine territory,” he said.

He said the country cannot ally with China because it wants to “grab for itself” the West Philippine Sea and the southern part of the South China Sea, called the Spratlys.

“Among all the countries in the world, only China has threatened the Philippines with war over Philippine EEZ in the West Philippines Sea,” Carpio said, adding other claimant states – Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei – recognize Philippine EEZ, including Reed Bank. —ALG, GMA News

– See more at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/611540/carpio-phl-can-bring-china-war-threat-before-the-un/story/#sthash.avCqqa9t.dpuf

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China is preparing for the reclamation and construction on Scarborough Shoal

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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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.

South China Sea: China and The Philippines Start Formal Agreement on Joint Maritime Security and Cooperation

May 20, 2017

Maritime cooperation, security initialed in Philippine-China meeting

The Philippines and China have initialed the terms of reference for joint maritime security and cooperation at a meeting in southern China. US Navy/File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine and Chinese delegations initialed the terms of reference (TOR) that would be a platform for confidence-building measures to promote maritime cooperation and security, a joint press release from a meeting meant to manage disputes in the South China Sea said on Friday.

The statement said that both sides had a frank, in-depth and friendly exchange of views on the issues related to the South China Sea as they both reiterated their commitment to cooperate and find ways to strengthen mutual trust and confidence.

The Philippine delegation to the bilateral consultation mechanism (BCM) held in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China on Friday was led by Ambassador Jose Santiago Sta. Romana while the Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenmin was the head of the party from Beijing.

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Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenmin

The two parties exchanged views on the importance of addressing South China Sea issues, incidents and disputes in “an appropriate manner,” the statement said.

This action was consistent with an October 2016 joint statement where both sides reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, freedom of navigation in and over-flight over the South China Sea without resorting to violence, in accordance with the charter of the United Nations and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The joint statement also said that the bilateral consultation mechanism was useful to manage the issues in the South China Sea and to explore other areas of cooperation.

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“During the meeting, the Heads of Delegation initialed the TOR which they agreed should be a platform for confidence-building measures and for promoting maritime cooperation and maritime security. The BCM will comprise equivalent officials from the respective foreign ministries and relevant maritime affairs agencies, and will meet alternately in the Philippines and China once every six months,” the statement said.

The two sides also exchanged views on current and other issues of concern as well as approaches to deal with these problems.

“Both sides reviewed their experiences on the South China Sea issue. They exchanged views on current and other issues of concern to either side, and agreed to further discuss mutually acceptable approaches to deal with them,” the statement said, adding that discussions also tackled the next steps for practical marine cooperation and the possible forming of technical working groups.

The experiences of both parties to the South China Sea issue were also reviewed, according to the press release.

China has built islands by reclamation of sand and coral and has militarized them for People’s Liberationa Army (PLA) use. Seen here, Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratlys group of islands are shown from the Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane of the Philippine Air Force during the visit to the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials off the disputed South China Sea in western Philippines Friday, April 21, 2017. Francis Malasig/Pool Photo via AP

The establishment of the BCM and the consensus on the terms of reference were decided during the diplomatic consultations between the two countries’ ministries of foreign affairs in January 2017.

The next meeting of the BCM will be held in the Philippines in the second half of 2017. The exact date and place are yet to be threshed out by the diplomats from both sides.

The Philippines and China are locked in a dispute in South China Sea where around US$5 billion worth of trade passes through. Aside from the two, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims in the region.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/20/1701774/maritime-cooperation-security-initialed-philippine-china-meeting

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China is preparing for the reclamation and construction on Scarborough Shoal

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

No automatic alt text available.

No automatic alt text available.
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.

South China Sea natural resources could be a pillar of Philippine economy growth, Metro Pacific Investment Corporation Chairman says

May 19, 2017
Manny Pangilinan, the chairman of the Metro Pacific Investment Corporation, said that the resources that South China Sea held could be a pillar of Philippine economy growth. File

MANILA, Philippines — Manny Pangilinan, the chairman of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MIPC), said that the resources in South China Sea could be one of the major pillars of Philippine growth as he called on the private sector to help the government in growing the economy.

During the BusinessWorld Economic Forum in Shangri-La at the Fort in Bonifacio Global Cityon Friday, Panglinan said that although not yet visible in the economic radars of businessmen, South China Sea held vast amounts of resources that could spur Philippine economic growth.

“The South China Sea and its resource potential are something that probably are not visible on our economic radars,” Pangilinan said in his keynote address.

The MIPC chairman said that with the impending depletion of the gas reserves at Malampaya, the Philippines should start looking for other sources. Otherwise, he said, the country would have to import this source of energy.

“We simply cannot leave the three gas plants we have of about two or three thousand megawatts that are in Batangas stranded,” Pangilinan said as he also warned that failure to look for other energy sources could result in a slew of blackouts hitting the country.

Pangilinan however admitted that exploring the potential of South China Sea would be difficult without getting Chinese cooperation. Hence, the first critical step is to determine if there are indeed gas resources in the area.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea where US$5 billion worth of trade passes through yearly. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have rival claims over the area.

According to Pangilinan, the best estimates of resources at North Bank in South China Sea put gas reserves there at 2.6 trillion cubic feet of gas, about the size of Malampaya when it opened. This is on top of around 65 million barrels of oil that could possibly be found in the location.

Pangilinan said that the open and constructive approach of President Rodrigo Duterte was encouraging as the Philippines would need to deal with Beijing because it was an economic and military superpower.

“We need to deal with China. They are undoubtedly a military and economic superpower,” he said.

Aside from the potential resources in the South China Sea, Pangilinan also mentioned the government’s tax reform, infrastructure drive and investments in businesses as the other drivers of Philippine economy.

Pangilinan said that comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) of the government would make the tax system simpler and fairer by decreasing the number of tax brackets and reducing the tax rate for low-income groups.

Corporations will also benefit from the reform the tax system of the country as it would lower tax rates for them, according to Pangilinan.

“CTRP is central to Dutertenomics. It is in fact the catalyst to the government’s 10-point economic program. That is why I believe the business sector should support it,” said Pangilinan who noted that the government needed the money to be generated by the CTRP to fund its infrastructure projects and investments in education, healthcare and social safety nets.

Pangilinan said that the government’s increase infrastructure spending would also spur economic development. He said that with the government’s plan spending for infrastructure would rise from 5.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to 7.4 percent of the GDP.

He however recognized that there might be dangers in this platform of the government.

It is important for the country to maintain robust economic growth to accommodate the debts that the Philippines will incur with these plans, according to Pangilinan.

“That’s why it’s important for business to support in whatever way we can to keep the GDP growing at 6 to 7 percent,” he said.

He also asked the government to assess if it had the capacity to executive these big-ticket projects.

Miguel Belmonte, the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of BusinessWorld, agreed with Pangilinan that infrastructure was a pillar of Philippine economic growth.

In his opening remarks, Belmonte said that a central piece of the local economic puzzle was the money the government would allocate for roads, bridges, airports and transportation systems.

Belmonte also recognized that infrastructure could be mired with many difficulties such as issues with right of way, delays, inadequate funding, endless re-bidding and corruption.

“We are pleased that in its bid to spur national development the government is dead set in making the golden age of infrastructure happen behind the framework of what it calls ‘Dutertenomics,’” he said.

The last pillar of economic growth according to Pangilinan is the investments of the government in businesses that would complement its projects.

He cited as an example investments in tourism, hotels, restaurants and recreational facilities that could be done once an airport had been constructed in an area.

http://www.philstar.com/business/2017/05/19/1701592/south-china-sea-resources-pillar-economic-growth-says-mvp

Duterte: China warned the Philippines of war over South China Sea

May 19, 2017
Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2017 07:21 PM | Updated as of May 19 2017 07:48 PM

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a signing ceremony held in Beijing, China October 20, 2016. Ng Han Guan, Reuters (FILE)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday bared that China warned his administration of war if Manila would insist on its ownership of the disputed South China Sea.

Duterte said the Chinese side issued the warning after he expressed the Philippines’ intent to drill oil in the resource-rich waters.

It was unclear who issued the warning and when.

But Duterte said he asserted the Philippines’ right to its exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The president held bilateral talks with Xi on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation last week.

“I said, Mr. Xi Jinping, I will insist that it is ours and we will drill oil,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.

“Sinabi ko talaga harap-harapan, that is ours and we intend to drill oil there. My view is I can drill the oil. Ang sagot sa akin, ‘Well we are friends. We don’t want to quarrel with you. We want to maintain warm relationship, but if you force the issue we will go to war.’”

China’s military is one of the world’s most powerful.

Duterte made this revelation just as representatives from the two sides met Friday in Guiyang, China for inaugural bilateral discussions on the dispute.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have also finished drafting the framework for the code of conduct in the South China Sea.

The binding code of conduct, which shall replace the non-binding 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, will lay down the rules for all claimant states.

Since assuming the presidency, Duterte has pursued warmer ties with Beijing despite the sea dispute, aiming to boost economic ties with one of the world’s largest economies.

At his debut hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the concluding leaders’ statement was silent on China’s militarization and island-building activities in the South China Sea.

The statement also did not mention the Philippines’ landmark arbitral victory over China, which invalidated Beijing’s sweeping nine-dash line claim over the waters.

Four ASEAN members- the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei- have partial claims in the resource-rich waters, overlapping with China’s sweeping claims.

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China Conducts Demolitions at Tibetan Buddhist Study Site

May 19, 2017

BEIJING — Chinese authorities in southwestern Sichuan province have evicted followers and razed scores of homes at one of the world’s largest centers of Tibetan Buddhist learning in a months-long operation that has drawn protests from Tibetans in exile.

Local officials in Garze prefecture say they are carrying out demolitions to prevent overcrowding and to renovate Larung Gar, a sprawling, mountainside settlement that housed more than 10,000 monks and nuns who stayed and studied for months at a time. Authorities are reportedly seeking to cut the population by half, to 5,000.

Overseas Tibetan groups say the forced evictions and demolitions are meant to put a damper on the spread of Tibetan Buddhism. Larung Gar’s academy has increasingly attracted large numbers of disciples from China’s Han ethnic majority as well as foreign visitors.

A Tibetan Buddhist nun walking past dwellings during the annual Bliss Dharma assembly at the Larung Gar religious institute in Sertar, in northern Sichuan Province, last year. CreditKevin Frayer/Getty Images.

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Photos circulated on social media show advance dismantling of dwellings before the arrival of government demolition crew at Larung GarPhotos circulated on social media show advance dismantling of dwellings before the arrival of government demolition crew at Larung Gar

Recent photos of housing destroyed by residents themselves before the arrival of government demolition crew at Yachen GarRecent photos of housing destroyed by residents themselves before the arrival of government demolition crew at Yachen Gar

Nuns and monks in Larung Gar on their way to a prayer hall. CreditGilles Sabrie for The New York Times

China installs rocket launchers on Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan Reef)—report

May 17, 2017
/ 04:13 PM May 17, 2017
KAGITINGAN REEF  China is expanding construction on Fiery Cross Reef, also known as Kagitingan Reef, as seen in this June 28 satellite image. A 3,000-meter airstrip is nearly complete. China continues to pave and mark the airstrip and an apron and taxiway have been added adjacent to the runway. Personnel are now visible walking around the island. A sensor array has also been constructed and additional support facilities are being built. CSIS ASIA MARITIME TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE/DIGITAL GLOBE

Fiery Cross Reef, also known as Kagitingan Reef, as seen in this June 28 satellite image. CSIS ASIA MARITIME TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE/DIGITAL GLOBE

China has installed rocket launchers in the Philippine-claimed Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef) in the Spratly Islands, according to a report by the state-run Defense Times.

The report said a Norinco CS/AR-1 55mm anti-frogman rocket launcher defense systems “with the capability to discover, identify and attack enemy combat divers” had been installed in the disputed reef.

The report, however, did not detail when the rocket launchers were installed, but said that it was in response to Vietnam’s installation of fishing nets in the Paracel Islands in May 2014.

The Kagitingan Reef is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. In January last year, China has allowed a group of civilians to visit the newly built airport on the island, which the Chinese have been calling “Yonshu Island.”

The development comes in the wake of upcoming bilateral talks between China and the Philippines on May 19 to discuss the South China Sea Dispute.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who recently attended the One Belt One Road forum led by Xi in Beijing, has forged friendlier ties with China since he assumed office.

Beijing has ignored an arbitral ruling by the United Nations-backed court in The Hague that favored Manila and invalidated China’s claims to almost all of the South China Sea. JE

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/156833/china-installs-rocket-launchers-kagitingan-reef-report#ixzz4hK7q96jA
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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.

China installs rocket launchers on disputed South China Sea island: report

May 17, 2017

Reuters

China has installed rocket launchers on a disputed reef in the South China Sea to ward off Vietnamese military combat divers, according to a state-run newspaper, offering new details on China’s ongoing military build-up.

China has said military construction on the islands it controls in the South China Sea will be limited to necessary defensive requirements, and that it can do what it likes on its own territory.

The United States has criticized what it has called China’s militarization of its maritime outposts and stressed the need for freedom of navigation by conducting periodic air and naval patrols near them that have angered Beijing.

The state-run Defense Times newspaper, in a Tuesday report on its WeChat account, said Norinco CS/AR-1 55mm anti-frogman rocket launcher defense systems with the capability to discover, identify and attack enemy combat divers had been installed on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.

Fiery Cross Reef is administered by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.

The report did not say when the defense system was installed, but said it was part of a response that began in May 2014, when Vietnamese divers installed large numbers of fishing nets in the Paracel Islands.

China has conducted extensive land reclamation work at Fiery Cross Reef, including building an airport, one of several Chinese-controlled features in the South China Sea where China has carried out such work.

More than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped through the South China Sea every year. Besides China’s territorial claims in the area, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.

(Reporting by Philip Wen; Editing by Ben Blanchard)