Posts Tagged ‘code of conduct’

Chinese general refutes US Defence Secretary’s remarks — Says China upholds international and regional order

June 3, 2017

Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 3, 2017

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China’s People’s Liberation Army Vice President of Academy of Military Science, He Lei, attends the 16th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 3, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE – China has responded to US Defence Secretary James Mattis’ accusation that the Asian power disregards international order, saying that, to the contrary, it is an upholder and supporter of the international and regional order.

Citing China’s signing up to the United Nations charter and its more than 23,000 bilateral agreements and over 400 multilateral agreements, Lieutenant-General He Lei said: “China can be said to be following, supporting and safeguarding the international and regional order.”

Lt-Gen He, who heads the Chinese delegation to this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue, instead countered that sending navy ships to waters and military jets to airspace close to China’s islands to conduct surveillance and military activities was not within the scope of the principle of freedom of navigation.

“The Chinese government and people are resolutely opposed to it,” he said on Saturday (June 3).

While he did not name the country, the US has been conducting freedom of navigation and overflight operations using its military ships and aircraft, including one late last month, in waters close to Chinese-claimed islands in the South China Sea to challenge what it sees as China’s excessive maritime claims.

Mr Mattis said at a plenary session on Saturday morning that the US cannot accept China’s actions that undermine the rules-based order in the Asia-Pacific region.

Lt-Gen He said a regional order should be one that represents the interests of the majority of countries in the region.

He gave as an example the signing of a Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002 between China and Asean, and the two sides’ recent conclusion of a framework on a Code of Conduct to manage disputes in the waters.

China has overlapping territorial claims with four Asean countries in the South China Sea which have escalated tensions in the region in recent years.

Lt-Gen He also took issue with Mr Mattis’ comments on US relations with Taiwan in accordance with the US’ Taiwan Relations Act, which spells out that the US would assist Taiwan in its defence, including the sale of arms to the island.

He said Mr Mattis should also have mentioned the three communiques between Washington and Beijing in which the US acknowledged that there is one China in the world and that Taiwan belongs to that one China and agreed to scale down arms sales to Taiwan, seen by China as a breakaway province.

But Lt-Gen He’s remarks were in the main conciliatory.

He pointed out that as the world’s great powers, the Sino-US relationship affects the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region and of the world.

He added that China greatly values the bilateral relationship.

So long as the two sides adhered to the principles of non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual respect and win-win, and strengthened mutual trust as well as crisis and risk control, there was much room for cooperation.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/chinese-general-refutes-us-defence-secretarys-remarks-says-china-upholds-international

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 (The “Project of the Century” is, at heart, an imperial venture.)

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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.

G7 calls for demilitarization of ‘disputed’ South China Sea areas — A Slap At China

May 29, 2017
The Group of Seven or the seven richest countries in the world have issued a joint communiqué expressing concern about the situation in the East and South China Seas and calling for a demilitarization of “disputed features.” AP/Andrew Medichini

MANILA, Philippines – The Group of Seven (G7) or the seven richest countries in the world have issued a joint communiqué expressing concern about the situation in the East and South China Seas and calling for a demilitarization of “disputed features.”

The joint statement was released following the May 26 and 27 meetings in Taormina, Italy attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump.

The leaders strongly opposed any unilateral action that could increase tensions.

They expressed their “commitment to maintaining a rules-based order in the maritime domain based on the principles of international law.”

The joint communiqué voiced support for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and for the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes “through diplomatic and legal means, including arbitration.”

China was “strongly dissatisfied” with the mention of the East and South China Sea issues in the G7 statement as Beijing called on G7 allies to stop making “irresponsible” remarks.

In April, the G7 foreign ministers called for the implementation of The Hague arbitral ruling on the South China Sea, as they reiterated their strong opposition to threat or use of force and building of outposts and their use for military purposes.

The G7 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the US.

“We consider the July 12, 2016 award rendered by the arbitral tribunal under the UNCLOS as a useful basis for further efforts to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea,” the G7 joint communiqué read.

They also maintained their commitment to the freedom of navigation and over-flight.

The ministers emphasized the fundamental importance of building trust and security and of the peaceful management and settlement of maritime disputes in good faith and in accordance with international law, including through internationally recognized legal dispute settlement mechanisms such as arbitration.

They encouraged dialogue based on international law towards early finalization of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

China earlier vowed not to honor the arbitral tribunal ruling as it continued fortifying its artificial islands and restricting Filipinos’ access to disputed waters even if they are within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/30/1704940/g7-seeks-demilitarization-disputed-sea-features

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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.

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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. Philippine President Duterte on Friday, May 19, 2017, described this as “some kind of armed garrison.” Credit Francis Malasig/Pool Photo via AP — China has now occupied and built up by reclamation seven small reefs and atolls that have been made ready for military use.

South China Sea: Who Gets The Ocean’s Wealth?

May 23, 2017

Resources greater than those held in US shale deposits will be accessible a decade from now in the South China Seabed, according to some estimates. Collaboration between the economies circling would be economically transformative and cool the ongoing militaristic ardour

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By David Dodwell
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South China Morning Post
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 May, 2017, 10:21pm

Down in the weeds, beneath all of the high-level belt and road diplomacy in Beijing on May 14-15, my thoughts were turned to flammable ice and brown laminaria – otherwise known as sea kelp. The obvious connection – the small but sensitive matter of the South China Sea.

Officials from China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathered in remote Guizhou province – where I am sure, 1,000km inland from the Pacific Ocean, there was no evidence either of flammable ice or kelp – to arm-wrestle over the South China Sea.

The claim is that significant progress was made. Officials say they have agreed on a “framework” for a South China Sea code of conduct but they cannot discuss the details in public because consultations are still ongoing and they do not want to attract “interference”.

Whether you trust them or not, the simple fact that no third world war has broken out over the South China Sea since July, when the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China that its “nine-dash line” claiming sovereignty over most of the South China Sea had no legal basis, must surely be encouraging.

 Chinese and Asean officials at the Guiyang meeting last week say they have agreed on a ‘framework’ for a South China Sea code of conduct. Photo: AP

Given that this is not an issue most of us spend much time thinking about, a brief reprise of the conflict so far, the court ruling and recent developments may be in order.

China and Asean leaders began negotiations to settle differences on the South China Sea almost two decades ago. Those negotiations culminated in the 2002 Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

In an honest world where leaders and negotiators all keep their promises, that should have been the end of it. But of course in the world of international affairs, many promises are not kept.

Among them, several of the parties to the agreement – prominently China and Vietnam – went ahead bulking up fragile atolls to make them look more like islands to which they could make territorial claims and then built military facilities on them. The result – rising tensions, simmering conflict and, above all, anxiety over possible expansionist intentions by China.

The Philippines – the country most directly challenged by China’s new assertiveness in the South China Sea – might have tried a flamboyant but ultimately disastrous gunboat approach.

But more intelligently, Rodrigo Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino III chose to take the issue to The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration. The result has been a huge diplomatic coup for the Philippines and the foundations for a possible long-term settlement of the ugly South China Sea conflicts.

In an honest world where leaders and negotiators all keep their promises, that should have been the end of it. But of course in the world of international affairs many promises are not kept

The court ruling – emphatically in the Philippines’ favour – has given the Philippines leverage over China that so small a nation could never expect to wield and undoubtedly played a part in paving a route to last week’s Guiyang meeting.

China has always refused to acknowledge the authority of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and its ruling. From the outset, it argued that the conflicts were integrally linked with conflicting claims of sovereignty, over which the court had no authority.

In strict terms, China was absolutely right. The complaints brought by the Philippines and considered by the court focused exclusively on the rights to resources within the sea areas falling within China’s “nine-dash line”.

However resounding the court’s ruling that China’s claim to historic rights to resources in the South China Sea has no legal basis, the court has no enforcement power (almost none of its rulings over the 118 years of its existence has ever been complied with).

But that did not matter. Beijing likes to be on the right side of International Law and prides itself on observance.

So the court ruling in the Philippines’ favour cut deep, and Duterte’s top officials arrived in Guiyang with the Hague ruling in their back pocket and were using this to exert powerful leverage.

Most important for Beijing was that there was no sniff of US engagement at the Guiyang meeting – a sensitivity that cannot be underestimated.

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 The ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration has given the Philippines leverage over China in the conflicts over the South China Sea. Photo: AP

In the wake of the Hague ruling, a Beijing white paper made this clear: “We firmly insist on maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea and on directly negotiating for a peaceful resolution on relevant disputes with states that are directly involved.” (my emphasis)

And this brings us back to flammable ice and laminaria. Because at the end of the day, whatever the speculation over geopolitical maritime aspirations, much of this dispute is about access to possible resources.

In the past week, Chinese scientists have told us they have at last mastered technologies that will enable them to capture and use vast methane resources littered across the South China Seabed, trapped by the cold and intense water pressure prevailing in the deep ocean off China’s long continental shelf.

People are talking about gas resources greater than those held in US shale deposits that might be commercially accessible a decade from now.

Clearly, collaboration between the economies circling the South China Sea to exploit these resources would not only be economically transformative, but would do much to cool the militaristic ardour currently dominating the arguments.

Brown sea kelp may not be a deep ocean resource but is a good example of the still-underdeveloped economic potential of our maritime resources.

It is noteworthy that in English, we call kelp seaweed – yes, weed. But in the Chinese and Japanese languages, the word for seaweed is “hai cai”, literally sea vegetables. Therein lies a deep cultural difference in our perception of the value of this critically important maritime resource.

Last year, 26 million tonnes of seaweed were harvested worldwide, worth about US$6 billion. Most of this was commercially cropped, more than half of it from China’s long continental shelf, predominantly off Shandong. It is used for food, as an important source of iodine and supplies the medical and cosmetic industries.

You may not realise it, but the future of this industry rests heavily on international collaboration. Global warming is having a horrible impact on the sex life of seaweeds, which seem unenthusiastic to reproduce if sea temperatures rise above 20 degrees.

So cooperation on the use of maritime resources in the South China Sea might be more important than you think. Discussions in Guiyang last week may have had the headline writers focused on big geopolitical dramas – but there was perhaps more concern about the sex life of seaweed than we imagine.

David Dodwell researches and writes about global, regional and Hong Kong challenges from a Hong Kong point of view

China’s President Xi Jinping Wasn’t Trying to Bully the Philippines When He Threatened War — Philippine Foreign Secretary Says — “Better Ask Vietnam” Expert Says

May 23, 2017

By Norman P Aquino and Andreo Calonzo

May 22, 2017, 2:01 AM EDT May 22, 2017, 4:40 AM EDT

Bloomberg

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China’s President Xi Jinping wasn’t trying to bully the Philippines at a recent meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the Southeast Asian nation’s top diplomat.

In a speech last Friday, Duterte said Xi had threatened to go to war with the Philippines after Duterte expressed an intention to drill for oil in the disputed South China Sea.

“It is but natural that when you talk about peace and you talk about conflict that the word ‘war’ may or may not come up,” new Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said at a televised briefing in Manila on Monday. “My interpretation of the meeting is that there was no bullying or pushing around.”

Since taking power last year, Duterte has sought to improve ties with China while deflecting criticism at home that he’s failed to assert Philippine claims to disputed territory. China’s claim to more than 80 percent of the South China Sea has prevented the Philippines and Vietnam from exploring valuable oil and gas deposits.

An international court ruled last July that China had no historic rights to resources in waters claimed by the Philippines in a case brought by Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino. Duterte has sought to put the ruling aside in his dealings with China, which has ignored the ruling. That stance has won Duterte $24 billion in loan and investment pledges from China.

‘Common Development’

Cayetano said Duterte only disclosed details of the meeting with Xi because he was “being barraged with comments with what he should do.” He added that the Philippines won’t form a military alliance with China, nor would it try to raise emotions against the Chinese.

“I hate the fact that China is claiming part of the territory of the Philippines but I love the Chinese,” Cayetano said in a speech during a flag-raising ceremony in Manila on Monday. “Why? Because we hate the sin but we love the sinner.”

Without specifying when or where his meeting with the Chinese president took place, Duterte said Xi had threatened to go to war with the Philippines after Duterte asserted his nation’s sovereignty over the South China Sea by citing last year’s arbitration tribunal ruling upholding the Philippine claim.

“Well, if you force this, we’ll be forced to tell you the truth. We will go to war. We will fight you,” Duterte quoted Xi as saying.

When asked to confirm Xi’s comments at a press briefing on Monday, China foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying referred reporters to Cayetano’s earlier remarks.

“We are committed to resolving the dispute with parties directly concerned, including the Philippines, through dialogue and negotiation,” Hua said. “Pending final settlement, we advocate shelving the dispute for common development.”

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Officials from both countries agreed to discuss “mutually acceptable approaches” to South China Sea issues during a bilateral consultation in the Chinese city of Guiyang last Friday, according to a joint statement released by the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs.

No Disrespect

Cayetano, who claimed to have been present at the meeting, said he couldn’t divulge the exact conversation between the two leaders but claimed it was meant to “increase mutual trust and respect.”

“There was no language or even tone that would lead any of the two presidents to believe that there was disrespect for them or their countries,” he said.

After hosting a meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders in Manila last month, Duterte said discussing China’s recent actions in the South China Sea would have been useless.

“For those who are peace loving just like me, I don’t want trouble,” Duterte said. “You have to be very careful. Whenever we talk about a buildup it would be useless. It would be useless except for fighting terrorism,” he said, adding that the Philippines intended to ask China for more help to develop its economy.

In a communique released after the summit, Asean welcomed “progress to complete a framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea” by the middle of this year, and recognized the long-term benefits of peace, stability and sustainable development in the region.

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-22/china-war-threat-not-serious-philippine-foreign-secretary-says

One of our Asia experts at Peace and Freedom said, “The Philippines better ask Vietnam if the threat of war from China is significant or not. They have longer experience with China.”

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FILE - Vietnam People's Navy personnel carry their country's national flag.

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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: Philippines seeks gentleman’s agreement on sea code

May 20, 2017

Newly appointed Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano made this observation on Friday after the ASEAN and China finished a draft framework for negotiating a code of conduct (COC), despite regional skepticism over Beijing’s commitment to rules that can restrain its maritime ambitions. File

 

MANILA, Philippines – With no legally binding mechanism to enforce any deal on the South China Sea dispute, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) may, in the meantime, settle for a “gentleman’s agreement” to prevent war or at least keep the situation in the region stable.

Newly appointed Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano made this observation on Friday after the ASEAN and China finished a draft framework for negotiating a code of conduct (COC), despite regional skepticism over Beijing’s commitment to rules that can restrain its maritime ambitions.

“Many countries want it to be legally binding. But what I’m saying is, let’s start with it being binding, gentleman’s agreement,” Cayetano said, referring to the absence in the draft framework of a clause specifying that a code should be legally binding.

“We have a community of nations that signed it,” he added.

He explained that legally binding means there is a court or tribunal to which parties can turn if another party reneges on the agreement.

“So, let me say this: definitely, it should be binding. Now, the question is, if it’s legally binding, which court can the parties go to? And the countries that don’t comply, will they respect that court? We’re all trying to avoid not only war, but instability,” Cayetano told reporters during a visit to the DFA Office of Consular Affairs on Macapagal Avenue on his first day as DFA chief. He was replying to a question on whether Manila should insist on a legally binding COC.

He admitted there is a need for a mechanism that would help resolve issues if some parties fail or refuse to comply with the code.

“I’m telling you the practical reality of negotiations in international agreement. So, do most or all of the countries want it to be legally binding? Yes. But will the language include that? We don’t know. Because if one or two do not approve of that, they don’t believe that there can be an independent court, will we go for nothing, no Code of Conduct?” Cayetano said. “Or will we agree to a code of conduct that will be enforced only by the community of nations who signed it?” he said.

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Southeast Asian nations with claims in the South China Sea have long wanted to sign China up to a legally binding and enforceable code.

China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in sea-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the resource-rich waters, aside from China and the Philippines.

Arbitral ruling

In July last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea in a case filed against Beijing by the previous Aquino administration.

A code of conduct is the key objective of a 2002 Declaration on Conduct, large parts of which China has ignored, particularly a commitment not to occupy or reclaim uninhabited features.

China has piled sand upon reefs and other land features to build seven islands in disputed parts of the Spratly archipelago. China has also been transforming three of the reefs into what experts believe could be forward operating bases.

President Duterte on Friday described them as “some kind of armed garrison.”

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 code framework would envisage a round-the-clock hotline and urge defense officials to find ways to follow the code, Chee Wee Kiong of Singapore’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Some ASEAN diplomats fear China’s sudden interest in completing the code could be a strategy to buy time for Beijing to wrap up construction activities.

Experts say China wants to appear to engage ASEAN or bind its claimant states to a weak code at a time when US policy on the South China Sea is in a state of flux.

One ASEAN diplomat said the latest draft did not mention any dispute settlement mechanism or sanctions for violations, but focused mostly on managing tension and building trust.

“We are very realistic and practical,” said the source who declined to be identified. “We wanted first to pick the low hanging fruit. If we went straight to the contentious issues, we would not get to where we are now.”

The framework represented progress, but expectations should be realistic, said Jay Batongbacal, an expert on the South China Sea issue. “Given it’s been 15 years to get to a draft, I’m not really holding my breath,” he added.

What green light?

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, meanwhile, rebutted yesterday the claims of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that President Duterte had given a green light to China’s further reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.

Abella explained Duterte maintains a two-track approach to keep a stable relationship with China.

“One, to grow our healthy economic, trade and investment relationships, and to ensure that our arbitral rights in the West Philippine Sea are not compromised, more so now through the newly established bilateral consultation mechanism to manage disputes in the area,” he said.

“The Philippines engaged (China) in a frank discussion on possible oil explorations in the WPS,” Abella said in a separate statement yesterday.

“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,” he added.

He stressed the President would never stop exploring peaceful ways of resolving the country’s maritime dispute with China.

“Given this complexity, both parties agreed to pursue a more peaceful resolution to the matter that satisfies both our sovereign and economic rights,” he added.

Abella echoed Duterte’s chastising the United States for not directly confronting China over its island building activities in the West Philippine Sea.  He said the US chose to remain on the sidelines despite having in its possession satellite images of Chinese activities in disputed waters.

“With all due respect to the Senior Associate Justice, Chinese island-building and military deployment activities on certain features in the West Philippine Sea have been ongoing for some years now,” Abella added.

“The disputes in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea are not the sum total of our relations with China, but we are cognizant of the warmer relationships we have in the region.”

Old issue

Duterte on Friday took Carpio and former foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario to task for criticizing him over his decision to cozy up to China and separate from the US, a long-time ally.

He said Carpio and Del Rosario have had no basis to claim that he had totally disregarded the arbitral tribunal ruling favoring the Philippines’ position.

It was in the same remarks – delivered at the Philippine Coast Guard’s 333rd anniversary celebration in Davao City – that Duterte revealed that China’s President Xi Jinping had threatened war if the Philippines would force the issue of the arbitration ruling.

A senior security official, who declined to be named, said China was just bluffing. “China could just be exploiting our weaknesses using all elements within its national power,” he said.

“This is a very difficult issue but if push comes to shove, let it be known to all that we are determined, as protector of the people and state, to defend what is ours,” another official said.

Last Thursday, Carpio said Duterte had practically allowed China to continue its reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea when he did not mention the territorial dispute in his ASEAN chairman’s statement.

“In 2017 we were the host (of the ASEAN Summit), the President was responsible for the chairman’s statement (and made) no mention of reclamation or militarization. For the Chinese this is a green light,” Carpio said.

Reports said that ASEAN leaders revised the final statement and removed any reference to the arbitration ruling. The revision reportedly happened after intense debates and lobbying among ASEAN leaders.

Carpio was a member of the country’s legal team that argued the Philippines’ case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The magistrate said even the 2016 chairman’s statement in Cambodia mentioned China’s land reclamation activities.

“That statement was very good despite the fact that we were not happy. It was strong, it mentioned land reclamation, expressing concern about land reclamation, about land militarization. It was directed at China – do not reclaim further – especially Scarborough Shoal,” he said.

Carpio earlier cautioned that it would be “game over” for the Philippines if China succeeds in reclaiming Panatag or Scarborough Shoal. – With Christina Mendez, Jaime Laude 

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/21/1701969/philippines-seeks-gentlemans-agreement-sea-code

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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.

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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Philippines Calls for ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ Between ASEAN, China on Sea Code — “No need for a legally binding contract.”

May 19, 2017

MANILA — Southeast Asian nations and China should start with a “gentleman’s agreement” on the busy South China Sea waterway because no mechanism exists to legally enforce any deal, the Philippine foreign minister said on Friday.

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China on Thursday finished a draft framework for negotiating a code of conduct, despite regional scepticism whether Beijing will commit to rules likely to restrain its maritime ambitions.

Southeast Asian nations with claims in the South China Sea have long wanted to sign China up to a legally binding and enforceable code. It was unclear if that was mentioned in the framework draft, which has not been made public.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano played down the importance of a legally binding contract.

“If it’s legally binding, which court can the parties go to? And the countries that do not comply, will they respect that court?” he asked reporters.

“Let’s start with it being binding, gentlemen’s agreement. We have a community of nations that signed it.”

China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in sea-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

Click http://tmsnrt.rs/2qyBNpf for graphic on overlapping claims in the South China Sea

Last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, in a case filed on maritime boundaries filed by the previous Philippine government in 2013.

A code of conduct is the key objective of a 2002 Declaration on Conduct, large parts of which China has ignored, particularly a commitment not to occupy or reclaim uninhabited features.

China has piled sand upon reefs to build seven islands in disputed parts of the Spratly archipelago. China has unfinished business there and has been transforming three of the reefs into what experts believe could be forward operating bases.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday described them as “some kind of armed garrison.”

The code framework would envisage a round-the-clock hotline and urge defense officials to find ways to follow the code, Chee Wee Kiong of Singapore’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Some ASEAN diplomats fear China’s sudden interest in completing it could be a strategy to buy time for Beijing to wrap up construction activities.

Experts say China wants to appear to engage ASEAN or bind its claimant states to a weak code at a time when U.S. policy on the South China Sea is in a state of flux.

One ASEAN diplomat said the latest draft did not mention any dispute settlement mechanism or sanctions for violations, but focused mostly on managing tension and building trust.

“We are very realistic and practical,” said the source, who declined to be identified. “We wanted first to pick the low hanging fruit. If we went straight to the contentious issues, we would not get to where we are now.”

The framework represented progress, but expectations should be realistic, said Jay Batongbacal, a Philippine academic and expert on the South China Sea.

“Given it’s been 15 years to get to a draft, I’m not really holding my breath,” he added.

Click http://tmsnrt.rs/2pSNmZq for graphic on Turf war on the South China Sea

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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The Associated Press

BEIJING  — China and the 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asia Nations have agreed on the rough outline of a legally binding code of conduct designed to prevent clashes in the strategic South China Sea, officials said.

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Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin was quoted in state media Friday as saying the agreement laid a “solid foundation” for further negotiations.
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“All parties have vowed to continue to constructively advance the negotiations” toward the early conclusion of the code of conduct, Liu was quoted as telling Xinhua News Agency following Thursday’s meeting in the southern Chinese city of Guiyang.
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The Philippines welcomed the finalization of the draft of the framework. It contains elements that the parties agreed upon and will be presented to Chinese and ASEAN foreign ministers in August for consideration, the statement from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said.
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Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Chee Wee Kiong said the sides hoped that would produce needed “political support” from the ministers.
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No details were given and Liu said the text of the framework agreement would remain secret for now. No date was given for the adoption of a full code of conduct.
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Also Friday, Liu and the Philippines ambassador to Beijing Jose Santiago “Chito” Santa Romana were to meet separately to discuss an agenda for future talks on their dispute over islands and waters in the eastern portion of the South China Sea.
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China was enraged by a ruling last year from a Hague tribunal invalidating most of its South China Sea claims in a case brought by the Philippines. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has downplayed that ruling as part of his push for a broad improvement in relations between the sides since taking office in June that has cast a shadow over Manila’s ties to its longtime ally, the United States.
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Despite the thaw in relations, China protested a visit last month by Manila’s defense and military chiefs to a disputed island in the South China Sea. The Philippine government maintained that it owns the territory where Filipino troops and villagers have lived for decades.
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At a briefing in Beijing earlier this week, Romana said the sides had “turned a new page” on dealing with their South China Sea issues.
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“Generally, the situation has eased in terms of tensions between the Philippines and China,” he said, citing regained access by Philippine fishermen to Scarborough Shoal after years of being blocked by Chinese ships.
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“It does not mean the differences have disappeared. As (Duterte) told President Xi (Jinping), there will still be problems, but we are willing to discuss the issues with the Chinese side and he is optimistic that the bilateral negotiations and bilateral dialogue is the way to go,” Romana said.
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China and the members of ASEAN committed 15 years ago to signing a code of conduct, but progress has been slow amid disputes over the body of water that China claims virtually in its entirety.
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In the absence of such an agreement, they have followed a separate document called the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, or DOC, which among other provisions, commits the parties to “exploring ways for building trust and confidence … on the basis of equality and mutual respect.”
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Along with the Philippines, ASEAN members Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei also maintain claims in the South China Sea that overlap with those of China and Taiwan.
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An estimated $5 trillion in global trade annually passes through the South China Sea, which is also home to rich fishing grounds and a potential wealth of oil, gas and other natural resources.
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Related:

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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: Japan, New Zealand Support International Law, Arbitral Ruling, Angering China

May 19, 2017
New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English, right, accompanied by his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, reviews an honor guard prior to their meeting at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. AP/Shizuo Kambayashi, Pool
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MANILA, Philippines — Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English have expressed concern over the disputed South China Sea following their meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday.

In their joint statement released after the meeting, the two leaders called on concerned parties to settle disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and in light of the award issued by an international arbitral tribunal.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration issued the award invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters. The court also ruled that Beijing violated its commitment under the UNCLOS for building artificial islands within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

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The Philippines, under the Duterte administration, has decided to set aside the ruling in settling the dispute with China.

‘Inopportune’

Abe and English called for the early finalization of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

“They called on all parties to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight and ensure unimpeded trade while avoiding provocative actions that could increase tensions and erode regional trust and confidence, including land reclamation, building of outposts, construction and militarisation,” the joint statement read.

Beijing, however, finds the statement of Japan and New Zealand “rather inopportune.”

“Given all these, Japan still exerts itself in every possible way to stir up trouble and exaggerate what it called ‘the tense situation’ which does not exist at all,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press briefing Thursday.

Hua stressed that the arbitration case on the South China Sea has “already been turned over as a page of history.”

Philippine-China bilateral talks

Beijing urged Tokyo to adjust its mindset for mutual trust between regional countries and for peace and stability in the region.

“We cannot help but wondering: what does Japan really want? Peace and stability in the South China Sea? Or is it exactly peace and stability in the South China Sea as well as improving relations between China and the Philippines and other ASEAN member states that worry Japan so much?” Hua said.

The Philippines and China are set to hold the inaugural meeting of their bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea dispute on Friday.

“The two sides expect to have friendly exchanges during this meeting on the relevant maritime issue and properly manage disputes through bilateral dialogues so as to create favorable conditions for the final settlement of the relevant dispute and ensure a good atmosphere for the sound and steady development of bilateral ties and the smooth progress of practical cooperation in various fields,” the spokesperson said.

RELATED: China expects to ‘disperse suspicion’ in planned talks with Philippines

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/19/1701542/japan-new-zealand-underscore-arbitral-ruling-south-china-sea-angering

Related:

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.

China, ASEAN agree on framework for South China Sea code of conduct

May 18, 2017

China and Southeast Asian countries agreed on Thursday to a framework for a long-mooted code of conduct for the disputed South China Sea, China’s foreign ministry said, as both sides step up efforts to ease tension in the strategic waterway.

China and the members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) had been hoping to this year agree on the framework, 15 years after committing to draft it.

Some ASEAN diplomats have expressed concern about whether China is being sincere, or whether ASEAN has enough leverage to get China to commit to a set of rules.

Some Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as the United States, have expressed concern at what they see as China’s militarization of the South China Sea, including building air strips on man-made islands.

After a meeting between Chinese and ASEAN officials in the Chinese city of Guiyang, China’s foreign ministry said the framework had been agreed upon, although it gave no details of its contents.

The talks had been candid and deep and made positive achievements, it added in a statement.

All parties “uphold using the framework of regional rules to manage and control disputes, to deepen practical maritime cooperation, to promote consultation on the code and jointly maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea”, it added.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhemin, in comments carried on state television, said the framework was comprehensive and took into account the concerns of all sides.

But he called on others to stay out, apparently a coded message to the United States.

“We hope that our consultations on the code are not subject to any outside interference,” Liu said.

The permanent secretary of Singapore’s foreign ministry, Chee Wee Kiong, said what he called a “draft” framework would be submitted to a meeting between the foreign ministers of China and the ASEAN states in August in the Philippines.

“We hope to continue the positive momentum of consultation and make steady progress toward a substantive CoC based on consensus as directed by our leaders,” Chee said, in remarks also shown on Chinese state television, referring to the code of conduct.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in goods pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

Negotiators from China and ASEAN met in Indonesia and Cambodia in the last few months to try to reach a final draft, which could be approved ahead of the August meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in the Philippines.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel)

South China Sea: Philippine President Duterte Expect Code of Conduct Agreement With China, Next Week

May 16, 2017
“There will be a code of conduct. I will not speculate on how or rather the dimension of the agreement. It has to be worked out. So I don’t want to speculate,” the President said upon his arrival at the Davao International Airport before dawn yesterday from China. Francis Malasig/Pool Photo via AP, File

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – For years an elusive target for nations with conflicting claims in the South China Sea, a code of conduct for managing the dispute is expected to be ready on May 19 when the China-led Bilateral Consultation Mechanism convenes for the first time, President Duterte said yesterday.

“There will be a code of conduct. I will not speculate on how or rather the dimension of the agreement. It has to be worked out. So I don’t want to speculate,” the President said upon his arrival at the Davao International Airport before dawn yesterday from China.

The President was in Cambodia and Hong Kong before his China visit.

The President stressed that both China and the Philippines are looking forward to a bilateral mechanism for settling the dispute over areas in the South China Sea.

The Philippines refers to the side of the disputed waters within its exclusive economic zone as West Philippine Sea.

Other claimants in the South China Sea aside from the Philippines and China are Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan. China claims almost the entire South China Sea through which 40 percent of world trade passes.

Many of the disputed areas were uninhabitable land features on which the Chinese built fortresses with airstrips and bristling with sophisticated weapons system.

“We look forward to the bilateral meeting on the South China Sea. This is one step forward in peacefully managing disputes,” the President said.

The President emphasized that the forging of deals with China amounting to billions of dollars under the latter’s One Belt One Road development strategy would not influence – much less undermine – the Philippines’ position in next week’s bilateral talks on the South China Sea issue.

He said the government does not have to take extra measures to ensure the sovereignty of the country is not compromised.

“It is not really the safety measure that you are talking about. The safety measure is that when you avoid trouble, we avoid violence and we avoid war because frankly, we cannot afford it and China cannot afford it also at this time. Masisira tayong dalawa (We’ll both lose),” the President further said.

While acknowledging there is indeed a dispute with China over territories, Duterte said he and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping had agreed there is a proper time to raise the July 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling on the issue.

The UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague invalidated China’s massive claims in the South China Sea and reaffirmed the Philippines’ maritime entitlements. Beijing, however, made it clear it would not comply with the ruling.

“There is a time for me to ask about the arbitral ruling but it is not now. We have to go into the mechanics of… We have to have an agenda, the structure of the meeting and… how to present the case to them first because we agreed to talk, to have a dialogue,” the President pointed out.

“Maybe at some future time these things will crop up. And you cannot avoid it because there is the arbitral ruling,” he added.

“In the end it would always be legal. The arbitral ruling rendered by an organ of the United Nations will always be there,” he said.

The previous Aquino administration filed a case against Beijing in 2013 with the arbitral tribunal in response to China’s escalation of island building activities in the West Philippine Sea.

The filing of the case came a year after the Chinese took control of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales after a standoff with the Philippine Navy. Chinese maritime surveillance vessels arrived in the area to rescue Chinese poachers arrested by the Philippine Navy earlier.

The poachers were allowed to leave with their illegal cargo of endangered corals, giant clams and baby sharks.

Fair and balanced

Meanwhile, President Duterte said he still has to study the suggestion of former speaker Jose de Venecia that the Philippines conduct joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea with China and Vietnam, as he stressed any deal would have to be “fair and balanced.”

De Venecia, recently named special envoy for intercultural dialogue, raised the idea at the Belt and Road Forum in China last Sunday.

He said the three countries should “discard occasional enmity and exaggerated pride” and consider conducting a three-way energy exploration in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea.

He expressed belief his suggestion, if adopted, could promote peace and development in the area.

Duterte said De Venecia’s proposal should be examined to ensure that the Philippines would not end up shortchanged.

“Let us see the wherewithals. Tingnan muna kung ’di ba ako malugi (Let’s see if we will not be shortchanged)? It has to be fair and it has to be balanced,” the President said. “So if we can get something there with no hassle at all, why not?”

A Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking signed by the Arroyo administration with China drew flak from various sectors, which saw the deal as tantamount to giving Beijing unbridled access to the Philippines’ maritime territory. – With Alexis Romero

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/17/1700690/rody-expects-china-nod-sea-code-conduct