Posts Tagged ‘China’s construction’

South China Sea, Update — China Air Forces Exercises, Indonesia Makes its Claim

July 17, 2017

BEIJING — Jul 17, 2017, 2:55 AM ET

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez

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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INDONESIA RENAMES PART OF SOUTH CHINA SEA TO SECURE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE

Indonesia has named waters in its exclusive economic zone that overlap with China’s expansive claim to the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea, an assertion of sovereignty that has angered Beijing.

The decision announced Friday by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs has been in the works since mid-2016 and was vital to law enforcement at sea and securing Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone, said Arif Havas Oegroseno, the deputy minister for maritime sovereignty.

He said the name would reduce confusion and is already used by the oil and gas industry for the waters.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said at a regular news briefing that the “so-called change of name makes no sense at all.”

“We hope the relevant countries can work with China for the shared goal and jointly uphold the current hard-won sound situation in the South China Sea,” he said.

China claims most of the South China Sea, putting it in dispute with many Southeast Asian nations, and has carried out extensive land reclamation and construction on reefs and atolls to bolster its claims.

Indonesia doesn’t have a territorial dispute with China, but Beijing’s nine-dash line, which signifies its claims, overlaps with Indonesia’s internationally recognized exclusive economic zone extending from the Natuna islands.

“The map of Indonesia has clear coordinates, dates and data, and the government would not negotiate with other nations that make unconventional claims … including those who insist on a map of nine broken lines,” Oegroseno said.

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A YEAR AFTER HAGUE ARBITRATION RULING, CHINA REMAINS DEFIANT

Filipino officials behind an arbitration case in which the Philippines won a resounding victory over China last year are expressing alarm that Beijing continues to defy the decision, in what they are calling a setback to the rule of law.

Last week, they urged President Rodrigo Duterte, who has indefinitely set aside the decision that invalidated China’s sweeping historic claims in the South China Sea, to explore diplomatic and legal means by which to pressure China into complying.

Duterte has promised to take up the arbitration ruling with China before his six-year term ends in 2022, but is also courting China as an economic partner and possible security ally. His administration says his pragmatic outreach has calmed tensions, revived dialogue and reaped pledges of huge Chinese investments and other benefits.

“Despite its friendlier face, we do not see restraint in China’s militarization and unlawful activity in the West Philippine Sea,” said former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who spearheaded moves to bring the Philippines’ disputes with China to international arbitration in 2013. He cited China’s moves to fortify its seven man-made islands in the Spratly group with missile defense systems.

Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio said China is reneging on its treaty obligation because it ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea under which the arbitration decision was based.

China last week marked the anniversary of the ruling with the relatively mild language it has adopted toward the Philippines in recent months. “With the joint efforts by China and the Philippines over the past year, the dispute has been brought back to the peaceful settlement through dialogue and consolation, and bilateral ties have improved overall,” spokesman Geng Shuang said.

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PHILIPPINES SEES TRADE BENEFITS IN LOW-KEY APPROACH TO DISPUTES WITH CHINA

Philippine Trade Minister Ramon Lopez has predicted faster growth of economic ties with China following Manila’s decision to effectively shelve their territorial disputes.

Lopez said in an interview with Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post last week that the Philippines’ “realistic and practical” approach to those controversies would encourage Chinese trade and investment and help the country meet its ambitious economic growth target of 7-8 percent over the coming five years.

“I credit it to the wisdom of (Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte) to really be more realistic and practical, to consider the positive points of having a relationship with China renewed,” Lopez told the newspaper.

“He has mentioned in many of his statements that, ‘Why fight China when we can set aside the differences and focus on areas of cooperation, focus on how China and the Philippines can help in mutual growth?'” Lopez said.

Exports of Philippine bananas and mangos to China and Hong Kong grew by 34 percent in the first five months of this year following the lifting of Chinese restrictions, he said, much higher than the 14 percent rate for the rest of the world.

Lopez said he also backed allowing Chinese to visit for a week visa-free as a further boost to business ties.

“If you want to explore business opportunities and therefore you want to visit the Philippines and meet the people, that is something we can look at,” he said.

The Philippines has become “much safer” to do business in since Duterte launched his bloody war on drug dealers and addicts, with the crime rate dropping 53 percent over the past year, Lopez said. Some 5,000 suspects have died so far in the campaign, and human rights group have called for an independent investigation into Duterte’s possible role in the violence.

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Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.

Related:

 (Contains links to several more related articles)

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Dominance of the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean would solidify China’s One Belt One Road project
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The international arbitration court in the Hague said on July 12, 2016, that China’s “nine dash line” (what Bill Hayton calls the U-shaped line) was not recognized under international law — making the Vietnamese and Philippine claims on South China Sea islands valid and lawful.
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China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning at Hong Kong
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 (Contains links to information about Vietnam’s renewed efforts to extract oil and gas from the sea bed)

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South China Sea: What to expect from Asean statement on Permanent Court of Arbitration rulings

July 7, 2016
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By Shi Jiangtao
South China Morning Post
Thursday, July 7, 2016, 11:17 pm
 

Southeast Asian nations recently failed to get tough with China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea but they’re still likely to come up with a joint statement on an international tribunal’s impending rulings on China’s extensive claims.

With the rulings by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague expected next week, observers say the credibility of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will be at stake if the bloc fails to find a common stance on the case the Philippines brought against China.

I think Asean would lose even more credibility than it has already if it didn’t make a statement
ALEXANDER NEILL, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES

Asean will be keen to move on from last month’s diplomatic debacle, when it rescinded an unusually tough statement on China just hours after it was issued on June 14 at the end of a meeting between China’s foreign minister and Asean foreign ministers in Kunming.

But, more importantly, say diplomatic analysts, the bloc’s 10 members need to demonstrate they can set aside their differences and avoid Asean being further undermined by the divisive issue of how to deal with an increasingly assertive China.

“I think Asean would lose even more credibility than it has already if it didn’t make a statement [in response to the tribunal’s rulings], so I think it is likely,” said Alexander Neill, a researcher at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Dr Daniel Chua, from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said that if Asean wanted to avoid being divided, “the onus is on Asean members to stay together”.

“Asean cannot rely on external powers to make itself more cohesive and united,” he said.

 Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Asean foreign ministers attend an Asean-China foreign ministers’ meeting in Yuxi, Yunnan province, on June 14. Photo: AFP

Professor Huang Jing, a Sino-US relations expert at the National University of Singapore, said: “I don’t think the real question is about whether Asean will be able to issue a joint statement upon the release of the tribunal’s ruling. Rather, it is more about what it has to say,” he said.

Derry Aman, a senior Indonesian diplomat, was quoted by the Jakarta Post on June 10 as confirming that Asean was trying to “reach a common understanding on a possible statement”.

However, given the deep-rooted disunity among Asean nations regarding maritime disputes with China and Beijing’s growing regional influence, analysts said it would be unrealistic to expect a strongly worded consensus, which could further infuriate China, one of Asean’s top trade partners.

Noting that Asean had yet to form unified foreign and security policies, Professor Pang Zhongying, from Renmin University in Beijing, said its efforts to reach a consensus on the tribunal’s rulings were likely to be hampered by the delicate relations among its member nations.

While four Asean nations – the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei – have claims to disputed waters in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest trade routes, that overlap with China’s, they also have competing claims among themselves.

Carlyle Thayer, an emeritus professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy, said: “Asean should certainly be able to issue a joint statement … but Asean consensus building is likely to dilute any sharp wording or reference to China.”

Analysts also urged China to refrain from attempting to divide Asean for short-term gain, saying that could pose serious challenges to China’s national interests in the long run.

 Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Asean foreign ministers attend an Asean-China foreign ministers’ meeting in Yuxi, Yunnan province, on June 14. Photo: AFP

Professor Rommel Banlaoi, director of the Philippines’ Centre for Intelligence and National Security Studies, said China had been successful in using its economic and political clout to gain the support of some Asean nations, such as Laos and Cambodia, on sensitive issues affecting China’s interests.

It is widely believed that behind-the-scenes intervention by Beijing led to last month’s rare and embarrassing decision by Asean to retract a previously agreed statement expressing “serious concerns” over China’s bold island-building efforts in the South China Sea and accusing Beijing of stoking tensions and undermining peace, security and stability in the region. Publicly, Beijing expressed dismay at the statement.

Dr Jay Batongbacal, a law expert at the University of the Philippines, said the debacle showed China was desperate and increasingly resorting to using leverage against smaller, less directly concerned Asean members to prevent the bloc from expressing a full-blown, unified position.

“China has interests to see Asean being united to address multifaceted security challenges in Asia,” Banlaoi said. “But China does not want to see Asean unity as a way to ‘gang up’ against China.”

Huang warned that if Beijing continued to exert pressure on Asean, it could backfire as Asean nations appeared to have sided with the United States-led coalition calling on China to respect a rules-based international order ahead of the tribunal’s rulings.

He said Beijing had made a “stupid mistake” in April when it claimed that partial support for its position in the maritime disputes from three Asean nations – Cambodia, Laos and Brunei – represented a diplomatic victory.

“Asean serves as a strategic buffer zone for China,” he said. “It will not be in China’s interest to see a divided Asean, let alone to split the bloc deliberately.”

Batongbacal said Asean’s differences over how to deal with China would decide if the bloc could come up with a joint statement on the tribunal’s rulings, not the member states’ positions on the maritime disputes .

“China does not need to divide and conquer Asean, because the bloc is divided on the South China Sea disputes to start with, and China is definitely worried about the coming ruling because it could provide a basis for unity within Asean about the maritime disputes,” he said.

While on the one hand the recent debacle might be viewed as favouring China in the short term, “in the long run it may be evidence of Asean becoming increasingly aligned against China”, Batongbacal said.

 http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1979276/what-expect-asean-statement-hague-courts-south-china
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South China Sea: Will The Arbitration Ruling Matter? “I don’t think anyone expects China to reverse its island building.”

July 6, 2016

Chinese tourists are already visiting areas of the South China Sea that are claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and others. Several Chinese military grade airports are already in service in the areas where China has done extensive island building.

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Updated 5:58 AM ET, Tue July 5, 2016

CNN

(CNN) A panel of five experts in maritime law will soon hand down their final decision in a case that will have major, lasting implications for one of the world’s biggest potential flashpoints — the South China Sea.

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In 2013, the Philippines filed a case against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, seeking a ruling on its right to exploit the waters near the islands and reefs it occupies in the South China Sea.
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Beijing has refused to participate in the case but the outcome could have lasting implications for China’s rise as a superpower, global trade and even world peace.
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China is conducting military drills in the disputed waters in the run-up to the ruling, which will be released on July 12.
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What’s the Philippines case?

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There are three key points — firstly, the Philippines wants the court to decide whether certain features in the sea are islands, reefs, low tide elevations or submerged banks.
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It might sound like a minor point, but under the United Nation’s Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) each delivers different rights over the surrounding waters.
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For example, a recognized island delivers an Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nautical miles, giving the responsible country complete control over all enclosed resources, including fish, oil and gas.
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Importantly, artificial islands like those China has been building are not counted.
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China talks tough over South China Sea
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China talks tough over South China Sea 00:52
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Secondly, the Philippines wants the court to rule on exactly what territorial claims in the South China Sea their country is owed under UNCLOS. These may contradict and potentially legally invalidate China’s claims.
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Finally, the Philippines wants the court to determine if China has infringed on its territorial rights through China’s construction and fishing activities in the sea.
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What’s China’s stance?
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China has long refused to take part in the case and, under the terms of the UNCLOS treaty, this is well within their legal right.
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As the verdict gets closer, Beijing has spoken out, saying the case goes beyond the jurisdiction of UNCLOS and insisting multiple times that it won’t acknowledge the court’s decision.
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Additionally, China has been ramping up a propaganda campaign to assert their historical rights in the region with state news agency Xinhua publishing almost daily articles outlining their views.
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Still, the court’s decision is widely expected to go against them.
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“I wouldn’t say it is 100% but it’s expected predominantly to go in the Philippine’s way,” said Euan Graham, international security program director at Australia’s Lowy Institute.
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“There will be something for China but almost everyone I’ve spoken to would expect the bulk of the Philippine’s case to get a positive ruling.”
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China publishes a map outlining its claims in the South China Sea. The map becomes the basis of the “nine-dash line” — the foundation of China’s current territorial claims.

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China builds a military installation on Woody Island with an airstrip and artificial harbor. It has occupied all the Paracel Islands since 1974, when Chinese troops seized a South Vietnamese garrison. The islands are also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

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 What is UNCLOS?
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The United Nation’s Convention on the Law of the Sea, originally agreed to in 1982, was designed to allow countries to clearly lay out who controlled what off their coastline.
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For the purposes of the South China Sea dispute, the most important part of UNCLOS is the exact definitions of what each country controls.
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An island controlled by a country is entitled to a “territorial sea” of 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) as well as an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) — whose resources — such as fish — the country can exploit, of up to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres).
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A rock owned by a state will also generate a 12 nautical mile territorial border but not an economic zone under UNCLOS, while a low-tide elevation grants no territorial benefits at all.
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These obscure definitions are very important in the South China Sea and in the Philippine’s case to the United Nations, as Manila’s UNCLOS-mandated Exclusive Economic Zone overlaps with waters claimed by China and Vietnam.
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It also explains why countries are so desperate to grab islands and reefs in the South China Sea to legitimize their claims.
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Both China and the Philippines are signatories to the convention, as is Vietnam, although several other countries aren’t including the United States.
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Why does it matter?

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The South China Sea is one of the most politically sensitive regions in the world – the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling will be the first time an international court has passed judgment on the region’s mess of claims and counter-claims.
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At least five countries claim territory in the South China Sea, including China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.
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Several tense stand-offs have already threatened to throw the area into conflict, including in 2012 when the Philippine Navy intercepted several Chinese fishermen off the Scarborough Shoal.
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As China begins to stretch its muscles as a growing superpower, the South China Sea has become a testing ground for whether they will rise as part of the global society or outside it.
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If they ignore or go against the court’s arbitration, analysts say it could have worrying implications for the stability of the region and weaken an already fragile peace in the sea.
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The South China Sea is also a major trade corridor, with $5.3 trillion in ship-borne trade passing through the waters each year.
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“The best guesses suggest that more than half the world’s maritime trade goes through the Straits of Malacca, along with half the world’s liquefied natural gas and one third of its crude oil,” southeast Asia expert Bill Hayton wrote in this book The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia.
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Will the ruling resolve anything?
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Legally, the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision will be binding and there may be implications diplomatically for China if they refuse to abide by it.
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“People are saying if China doesn’t abide by the ruling then it undermines its own position that it is committed to maintaining a rules-based order,” Singapore’s Institute of South East Asian Studies senior fellow Ian Storey said.
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“So the consequences will be to its reputation.”
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However, there is no military options to enforce the ruling – United Nations troops will not be forcing China off Fiery Cross or Mischief Reef.
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“The big question mark about the ruling is who is going to reinforce it, because ultimately it’s a binding judgment, but if China chooses to ignore it it’s very difficult for the Philippines to change the status quo,” Lowy Institute’s Graham said.
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“I don’t think anyone expects China to reverse its island building.”
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However, legal experts have said if the ruling is favorable to them, the Philippines could return to court and ask for other, stricter measures against China.
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It’s also important to note the tribunal has no jurisdiction to decide any issues over the sovereignty of islands and rocks in the South China Sea — the heart of the controversy. UNCLOS only deals with control of the waters surrounding them.
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Chinese coast guard ship in the East China Sea. AFP photo provided by Japan’s coast guard

South China Sea Tensions Rise — China Seen As Abusive and Lawless Toward Weaker Neighbors

April 11, 2016

The Associated Press

Tensions in the South China Sea are rising, pitting China against smaller and weaker neighbors who all lay claim to islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters rich in fish and potential gas and oil reserves. China’s recent construction of artificial islands complete with airstrips and radar stations, and U.S. patrols challenging Beijing’s vast territorial claims, have caused concern that the strategically important waters could become a flashpoint.

A look at some of the most recent key developments:

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

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INDONESIA, MALAYSIA WORRIED

Vietnam and the Philippines have been China’s most frequent South China Sea adversaries, but now Indonesia and Malaysia are upset over forays by Chinese vessels close to their shores.

Tensions with Indonesia flared when one of its patrol ships intercepted a Chinese fishing vessel on March 19 off the Natuna Islands. That’s where Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone overlaps with China’s so-called “nine-dash line” — which outlines Beijing’s vast claims to almost the entire South China Sea.

According to Indonesian officials, a Chinese coast guard vessel came to the rescue of the fishermen and deliberately rammed the boat as it was being towed, allowing it to escape.

China uses ramming as part of their intimidation and coercion strategy.

Indonesia has since refused Chinese demands to release eight crewmen who are being held on charges of illegal fishing. Indonesia deployed four special forces units equipped with an advanced air defense system to the largest of the Natuna Islands, according to IHS Jane’s Defence weekly.

Achmad Sukarsono, an analyst at Eurasia Group, said the skirmish could signal a turning point in Indonesian views on the South China Sea. It has “dispelled the notion in Jakarta that Indonesia has no real stake in South China Sea tensions,” he said.

Malaysia, meanwhile, complained that about 100 Chinese fishing boats had encroached near the Loconia Shoals. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said the boats have a right to be there. Chinese officials consider the waters to be traditional Chinese fishing grounds.

China Coast Guard 3901, with a displacement of 12,000 tons, is armed with one 76-millimeter naval cannon, two close-range defense guns and two anti-aircraft guns. This is a new, heavier and well armed Chinese coast guard ship that has recently entered service.  China daily photo

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PHILIPPINES, U.S. TROOPS IN WAR DRILLS

The Philippines, which has turned to the U.S. to beef up its defense against China, has hosted more than 5,000 American troops for annual war games that include a scenario that could be playing out in the South China Sea.

A key exercise involves U.S., Australian and Philippine forces retaking an oil rig seized by hostile units. The mock assault utilizes an unused rig off the western province of Palawan, which faces the South China Sea.

A highly mobile U.S. rocket system, the M142 HIMARS, is being used for the first time in the Philippines during the exercises. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter will witness the drills when he visits this week.

The Philippines is expecting soon a ruling at a U.N. tribunal on its case challenging China’s maritime claims. China has refused to take part in the proceedings and said it would not be bound by the ruling.

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OIL RIG MOVES CLOSER TO VIETNAM — AGAIN

Tensions between Vietnam and China are heating up again.

Vietnam has demanded that China remove an oil exploration rig from an area of the South China Sea where their border is still being demarcated, and has lodged a protest with the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi.

The oil rig was at the center of a standoff in 2014 when China parked it near the Paracel islands, which Vietnam claims as its exclusive economic zone. The incident sparked deadly riots in Vietnam targeting Chinese-owned companies.

Vietnam Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh also protested China’s operation of a new lighthouse on Subi Reef in the Spratlys, which is also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Rejecting Vietnam’s demands, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the oil rig is conducting standard exploratory activities within waters under China’s “undisputed” jurisdiction.

Hong also said the lighthouse on Subi Reef is a matter falling within China’s sovereignty.

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U.S. ADMIRAL REPORTEDLY WANTS MORE AGGRESSIVE APPROACH

Adm. Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, reportedly wants a more robust approach to China, including more assertive freedom-of-navigation operations such as helicopter flights and intelligence-gathering within 12 miles (19 kilometers) of Chinese-controlled features.

So far, U.S. Navy ships have twice sailed close to Chinese-controlled islands. However, critics say those maneuvers amounted to innocent passage, during which foreign vessels do not stop or carry out activities that might be perceived as hostile.

The Navy Times quoted defense officials as saying the White House is discouraging strong rhetoric by military leaders on the South China Sea. It reported that National Security Adviser Susan Rice on March 18 imposed a gag order on military leaders over South China Sea comments in the run-up to the nuclear summit in Washington that ended April 1.

“The White House’s aversion to risk has resulted in an indecisive policy that has failed to deter China’s pursuit of maritime hegemony while confusing and alarming our regional allies and partners,” Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

Harris declined to comment on the report, according to the Navy Times.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, speaking in Washington, said that Beijing respects freedom of navigation and overflight but will defend its sovereignty in the South China Sea. Xi said China won’t accept any act disguised as freedom of navigation that violates its security.

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LAST WORD

“Washington should know that the more provocative moves it makes against China, the more counter-measures Beijing will take. Such an undesirable cycle may push both sides nearer confrontation and cause both to prepare for the worst-case scenario, potentially making it self-fulfilling.” — editorial in the U.S. edition of the state-supported China Daily.

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Associated Press writers Hrvoje Hranjski in Bangkok, Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, Christopher Bodeen in Beijing, Tran Van Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam, Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

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

Related:

 (Contains links to several additional related articles)

China In Ugly Media and Propaganda Blitz Over South China Sea — FM Wang Yi lashes out at the Philippines

February 26, 2016
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (left) on Thursday slammed the Philippines for filing an arbitration in The Hague over Beijing’s assertions in the South China Sea. In this photo, Wang and Secretary of State John Kerry (right) participate in a joined news conference at the State Department Feb. 23, 2016, in Washington, DC.
Photo by Alex Wong, Getty Images

China’s foreign minister on Thursday accused the Philippines of “political provocation” by calling for an international arbitration regarding territorial claims in the South China Sea. The arbitration was initiated by Philippines in early 2013 after Beijing refused to remove its ships from a disputed shoal, and claims that the latter’s territorial assertions do not comply with the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and thus should be declared invalid.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, according to the Associated Press (AP), that the Philippines’ decision of lodging a case with the tribunal in Hague was “irresponsible to the Filipino people and the future of the Philippines.”

China has so far denounced the arbitration process as being illegitimate and has refused to participate in it. The tribunal had decided last October that it could hear the case, and a ruling is expected to be announced later this year, AP reported. China has also conducted massive land reclamation in the area over the past two years, a region that is also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Wang blamed Philippines officials for not negotiating with Beijing and filing the arbitration without China’s consent. “We are neighbors just separated by a narrow body of water,” Wang told the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, according to AP, adding: “We want to contribute to the Philippines’ economic development.”

Wang, who was in Washington this week for talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, also said that its military facilities on the island are needed for self defense because other countries have already militarized the shores. The country also reportedly plans to build civilian infrastructure like weather stations and emergency harbors to benefit the international community. Wang also added that while China had stopped reclaiming the land, other countries have not backed off.

Meanwhile, China’s defense ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian criticized U.S. Adm. Harry Harris Jr. over comments about China in front of the Congress, accusing it of militarizing a key waterway and seeking hegemony in East Asia. Harris had said that Beijing has constructed over 3,000 acres (1,210 hectares) of artificial landmass in the region over two years as compared to the 115 acres that is reclaimed by the other claimants in over 45 years. China denied the allegations and said the U.S. and its allies were to blame for raising tensions.

China’s defense ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian

“I have noted that according to media reports, Adm. Harris made his remarks while seeking additional defense budget funds from Congress,” Wu said at a news briefing, according to AP, adding: “We don’t interfere in your seeking defense budget funds, but you can’t carelessly smear China while asking for more money.”

The blame over raising tensions in the area has been exchanged between both the countries for years now as Beijing claims that the Washington has sent U.S. military ships and planes near the man-made islands to get response from Beijing. However, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter denied the allegations Thursday.

“The reason these activities are getting noticed isn’t because the United States is doing something new,” Carter said during congressional testimony on Thursday, according to AP, adding: “We’ve been sailing in the South China Sea — and will continue to sail wherever international law allows — for decades now. We’re not doing anything new.”

http://www.ibtimes.com/south-china-sea-chinas-foreign-minister-accuses-philippines-political-provocation-2324615

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China Propaganda Machine: China accuses US commander of using smears to seek funds from Congress

February 25, 2016

The Associated Press

China’s defence ministry says the commander of US forces in the Pacific smeared China while seeking additional defence funding from the US Congress, in the latest accusation in a war of words accompanying rising tensions in the South China Sea.

On Thursday, ministry spokesman Colonel Wu Qian strongly criticised Admiral Harry Harris’ testimony before Congress, in which Harris said China was militarising the economically and strategically vital waterway and seeking “hegemony” in East Asia. China adamantly denies such accusations and says Washington and its allies are responsible for raising tensions.

“I have noted that according to media reports, Admiral Harris made his remarks while seeking additional defence budget funds from Congress,” Wu said.

“We don’t interfere in your seeking defence budget funds, but you can’t carelessly smear China while asking for more money.”

In his testimony before the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Harris commented on the Chinese armed forces’ construction and extension of islands in the highly disputed South China Sea. China is also adding airstrips, harbours, radar stations and other infrastructure and deploying surface-to-air missiles on some.

READ MORE: China signals it will not back down over South China Sea deployments as foreign minister heads to US

Harris described Chinese militarisation as being “as certain as a traffic jam” in Washington. On Tuesday, he told senators that to believe otherwise, “you have to believe in a flat Earth”.

He has also dismissed as “tone deaf” a Chinese government official who compared China’s deployment of defence facilities on land features in the South China Sea to what the US does in undisputed Hawaii.

Wu said Beijing “really needs” its defences in the South China Sea in the face of a militarisation process being pushed by the United States, and could deploy whatever equipment it wanted on its own soil.

“The US is the real promoter of the militarisation of the South China Sea,” defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said. “China’s construction of military facilities on the islands and reefs of the South China Sea is really needed.”

READ MORE: China may send anti-ship missiles to disputed South China Sea to beef up defence: analysts

In all, China has reclaimed more than 1,200 hectares of land in the South China Sea as it looks to assert what it contends is its historical right to sovereignty over most of those waters.

Five other Asian governments have territorial claims there.

Wu added that Beijing would send warships to the US-hosted Rim of the Pacific exercise in Hawaii in June and July.

“US-China military-to-military relations are maintaining stable development momentum,” Wu said.

Separately, he said China had begun building facilities to support troops escorting ships off the Somali coast in Djibouti.

Additional reporting by Reuters

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1917087/china-accuses-us-commander-using-smears-seek-funds

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Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama at the White House, Sept. 25, 2015. Xi told President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry that China would not militarize the South China Sea.

Anti-China rally in Manila, the Philppines. The Philippines says China is bullying its fishermen, steeling their catch, and doing irreparable damage to the ecosystem. The Philippines took its complaint to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. NOEL CELIS, AFP photo

South China Sea

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 (Washington Post)

 (Reuters)

China has asserted its claim to almost all of the South China Sea by rapidly building artificial islands including airstrips said to be capable of hosting military jets

China has asserted its claim to almost all of the South China Sea by rapidly building artificial islands including airstrips said to be capable of hosting military jets

Chinese HQ-9 System

China again lands planes on disputed island in South China Sea: Xinhua

January 6, 2016
World | Wed Jan 6, 2016 7:26am EST

China on Wednesday landed two test flights on an island it has built in the South China Sea, four days after it angered Vietnam with a landing on the same runway in the disputed territory, the Xinhua state news agency said.

The two flights are likely to spark further condemnation from Vietnam, which launched a formal diplomatic protest over the weekend, and the Philippines, which said it was planning to do the same.

Both countries have claims to the area that overlap with that of China, which claims almost the whole of the South China Sea.

Xinhua said the two planes landed on an artificial island in the Spratly Islands on Wednesday morning.

“The successful test flights proved that the airport has the capacity to ensure the safe operation of large civilian aircraft,” Xinhua said, adding that the airport would facilitate the transport of supplies, personnel and medical aid.

Xinhua did not give any more detail about what type of aircraft had landed.

The runway at the Fiery Cross Reef is 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) long and is one of three China has been building for more than a year by dredging sand up onto reefs and atolls in the Spratly archipelago.

On Saturday, China landed a civilian plane on the same runway in the Spratlys in its first test, which was also the first time it had used a runway in the area.

The United States has criticized China’s construction of the islands and worries that it plans to use them for military purposes, even though China says it has no hostile intent.

The United States said after the first landing it was concerned that the flight had exacerbated tension.

The runways would be long enough to handle long-range bombers and transport aircraft as well as China’s best jet fighters, giving it a presence deep in the maritime heart of Southeast Asia that it has lacked until now.

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

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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A Vietnamese fishing boat Dna 90152 sinking May 2014 after being rammed intentionally by a Chinese Coast Guard vessel. Vietnam and the Philippines have reported numerous acts of violence against them at the hands of Chinese nationals during 2013- 2015. On January 1, 2016, Vietnam accused China again of intentionally ramming (twice) a Vietnamese fishing boat that sank but was salvaged.

The fishing boat QNg 98459 (R) of Huynh Van Thach is pictured being towed ashore after it was rammed by a Chinese vessel (twice) and salvaged. The boat seen here one the left towed the damage craft into port.
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South China Sea: Philippine Government Legal Team Tells Arbitration Court China’s Sea Claim is “Hopeless and [Legally] Indefensible”

November 26, 2015
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, quoting Andrew Loewenstein, one of the counsels representing the Philippines, said China’s claim was “hopeless and indefensible.” STAR/File photo

MANILA, Philippines – China’s expansive claim in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea is “hopeless and indefensible” and without legal or historical basis, the Philippines told an international arbitration court on Wednesday.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague continued the oral arguments on the merits of the case filed by Manila seeking clarification of its territorial entitlements in the West Philippine Sea and contesting Beijing’s massive claims, which cover the coasts of smaller neighbors.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, quoting Andrew Loewenstein, one of the counsels representing the Philippines, said China’s claim was “hopeless and indefensible.”

A bulletin from The Hague said Loewenstein emphasized there was no basis for China to claim historical rights and that its artificial islands could not be used as reference points for what it claimed as its territories in disputed waters.

The Philippines also said China’s construction activities have eaten into parts of Philippine territory, deprived Filipinos of fishing rights and destroyed marine resources.

The bulletin also cited professor Philippe Sands’ making a presentation of China’s construction activities that he stressed did not give the Asian power additional entitlements.

Sands argued that Mischief (Panganiban) Reef, Second Thomas (Ayungin) Shoal, Subi (Zamora) Reef, Mckennan Reef and Gaven (Burgos) Reef were all low tide elevations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and, as such, were not entitled to their own territorial sea, exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, the bulletin read.

 

“Sands discussed China’s interference with the Philippines’ exercise of sovereign rights under the UNCLOS with respect to living and non-living resources in the exclusive economic zone,” the bulletin, relayed by Valte to reporters, said.

“Sands gave as examples several incidents involving service contracts given by the Department of Energy wherein the private companies were prevented from exploration,” the bulletin read.

“In addition, the fishing ban mandated by China’s Ministry of Agriculture covering even areas in the Philippines’ EEZ was also discussed,” it added.

Another counsel for the Philippines, Lawrence Martin, argued that based on the Mandarin, Spanish and English translations of Article 121 of UNCLOS, features classified as rocks could not have maritime entitlements despite China’s building structures over them, the bulletin read.

Martin also stressed that under UNCLOS, a feature can only be considered an island if it is capable of sustaining human habitation and economic life.

In the afternoon session, the principal counsel for the Philippines, Paul Reichler, returned to the floor to prove to the tribunal that no civilian settlements had ever been established on features in the Spratly island group.

“There can only be one reason why this is the case, as the features themselves are not capable of sustaining human habitation,” the bulletin stated, quoting Reichler.

Valte said the Philippines’ arguments centered on how China’s maritime claim – as embodied in its so-called nine-dash line – has been depriving Filipinos of fishing and exploration rights.

China’s massive land reclamation, construction activities and apparent militarization in disputed waters are believed to be intended to extend or expand the Asian giant’s exclusive economic zone based on UNCLOS to cover even the Philippines’ internal waters. Under UNCLOS, countries are entitled to a 200-nautical mile EEZ from the nearest land features within their territories.

The bulletin cited Martin’s presenting various testimonies from Filipino fishermen to prove China’s interference in their traditional fishing activities at Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. Bajo de Masinloc is also locally called Panatag Shoal.

“A map from 1784 was presented to prove that Bajo de Masinloc has always been part of the Philippines,” it added.

Loewenstein closed the afternoon session by presenting satellite images of various installations constructed by China on Mischief (Panganiban) Reef, among others.

“A video simulation was also shown to the tribunal to demonstrate how a cutter suction dredger destroys the sea bed and transfers sand to a pre-selected area, a machine used by China in its construction activities,” the bulletin further read.

“Loewenstein argued further that by engaging in these activities, China has violated the sovereign rights of the Philippines with regard to living and non-living resources in its EEZ and continental shelf,” it added.

As stated by Sands, Valte said China’s violations were “flagrant and persistent” and that “they continue today” despite protests from the Philippines.

Professor Philippe Sands and Paul Reichler are part of the legal team representing the Philippines in its arbitration case against China. Official Gazette

On Tuesday, the country’s legal team discussed the nature of China’s claim of historic rights, with Reichler pointing out how these purported historic rights, supposedly derived from UNCLOS, “in fact do not exist under the provisions of the convention.”

Loewenstein argued that even assuming, for the sake of argument, that a claim of historic rights could exist after the UNCLOS, China nonetheless failed to satisfy the requirements to establish such claim, namely: a continuous exercise of exclusive control for a long period of time over a specific area.

Loewenstein presented eight maps, the first of which dates back to the Ming Dynasty, to show that China’s territory did not include those encompassed by its so-called nine-dash line.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters the hearing in The Hague was a provocation under the guise of law as he reasserted China’s “indisputable” sovereignty over South China Sea.

“The Philippines’ unilateral initiation and obstinate pushing forward of the South China Sea arbitration is a political provocation under the cloak of law,” Hong said.

“It is in essence not an effort to settle disputes but an attempt to negate China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea,” Hong added.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2015/11/27/1526314/china-sea-claim-hopeless

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South China Sea Arbitration: Court Hears How China Pushed Filipino Fishermen out of Their Lawful Fishing Grounds; China destroyed the sea bed

November 26, 2015
Professor Philippe Sands and Paul Reichler represent the Philippines in its arbitration case against China. Official Gazette
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MANILA, Philippines – During the second day of the hearing on the merits of the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, the Philippines focused on China’s deprivation of fishing and exploration rights.

China’s aggressive assertion of exclusive rights in their so-called nine-dash line deprives fishing and exploration in the region.

The Philippine delegation argued that China’s construction activities in the region destroy the sea bed.

Counsel Andrew Loewenstein argued that China’s claim is “hopeless and indefensible” as none of the three conditions to establish historic rights are present in China’s case, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a statement.

He pointed out that China’s construction activities in the region violate the sovereign rights of the Philippines in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.

Meanwhile, Professor Philippe Sands pointed out that the reefs being claimed by China – Mischief Reef, Second Thomas Shoal, Subi Reef, Mckennan Reef and Gaven Reef – are low tide elevations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Under the UNCLOS, these reefs are not entitled to its own territorial sea, EEZ or continental shelf.

Sands added that China’s construction activities in the features cannot be the basis of additional maritime entitlements. He also discussed China’s interference with the Philippine’s exercise of sovereign rights in its EEZ.

“Sands gave as examples several incidents involving service contracts given by the Department of Energy wherein the private companies were prevented from exploration,” Valte said.

The fishing ban that China’s Ministry of Agriculture implemented in some areas covered by the Philippines’s EEZ was also discussed.

Counsel Lawrence Martin stressed the UNCLOS provision that an island must be capable of sustaining human habitation and economic life for it to be considered an island.

The features in the Spratly group of islands are classified as rocks and cannot have maritime entitlements, Martin said.

Martin showed a map which dates to 1784, proving that Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines.

On the other hand, principal counsel Paul Richler proved that no civilian settlements were established on the features in the Spratlys as they are not capable of sustaining human habitation.

The second day of the oral arguments of the hearing on merits was concluded through a video simulation showing the tribunal how a machine used by China in its construction activities destroyed the sea bed.

China still refuses to participate in the arbitration case and maintained that it has indisputable sovereignty over the disputed sea.

“China has expounded on many occasions its position that the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction over the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines and that China will neither accept nor participate in the arbitration. This position is clear and consistent,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said in a press conference on Wednesday.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2015/11/26/1526167/day-2-hague-china-hit-interfering-fishing-disputed-sea

RELATED: Day 1 at The Hague: Philippines hits China’s lack of basis on claims

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China to Obama: Back off from South China Sea dispute

November 19, 2015

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President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference with Philippines’ President Benigno Aquino III in Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, ahead of the start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. AP/Susan Walsh

MANILA, Philippines – Beijing on Wednesday warned United States President Barack Obama to keep out of the South China Sea issue.

“The United States should stop playing up the South China Sea issue, stop heightening tensions in the South China Sea and stop complicating disputes in the South China Sea,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said in a press briefing.

Obama earlier called on China to halt all reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea and South China so as to ease tensions in the disputed seas.

READ: Obama: China must stop all reclamation

The Chinese official, however, stressed that no country has the right to “point fingers” at China’s massive reclamation activities.

The American leader said in a statement after a bilateral meeting with President Benigno Aquino III that they discussed the impacts of China’s reclamation and construction activities on regional stability.

“We agreed on the need for bold steps to lower tensions including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea,” Obama said.

Obama earlier assured the commitment of the US to defend its longtime ally, the Philippines.

The US president is in the country for the 23rd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

RELATED: Obama: US has ‘rock solid’ commitment to defend Philippines

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2015/11/19/1523660/china-obama-back-sea-dispute

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