Posts Tagged ‘exclusive economic zone’

Indonesia opens military base on edge of South China Sea

December 19, 2018
  • President Joko Widodo, who is seeking re-election, stressed the government is ready to make clear that the Natuna Islands are its sovereign territory
  • Jakarta and Beijing have had maritime skirmishes in the area, as China insists the two countries’ claims to rights and interests overlap
Image result for Joko Widodo, on Imam Bonjol, photos
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo stands on deck of Indonesian Navy ship KRI Imam Bonjol after chairing a limited Cabinet meeting in Natuna Islands waters in the province of Riau Islands. (Kompas/.)
.
South China Morning Post
.
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2018, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 December, 2018, 7:21pm
.

The base, which opened on Tuesday, is located in Selat Lampa on Natuna Besar Island – part of the Natuna Islands – one of the country’s outermost areas and more than 200km off the island of Borneo.

Indonesia is not a claimant state in the South China Sea but Jakarta and Beijing have had several maritime skirmishes in the resource-rich area, including one in 2016 when an Indonesian patrol boat seized a 300-tonne Chinese fishing vessel.

Several hours later, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel rammed the fishing boat, resulting in the Indonesian authorities releasing it.

At an inauguration ceremony for the base, Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said the outpost is designed to work as a deterrent against any potential security threats, particularly on border areas, according to military spokesman Colonel Sus Taibur Rahman.

The demolition and sinking of a pirate fishing ship by the Indonesian Navy at the Pangandaran Sea, West Java. Photo: NurPhoto via AFP/ Donal Husni

The demolition and sinking of a pirate fishing ship by the Indonesian Navy at the Pangandaran Sea, West Java. Photo: NurPhoto via AFP/ Donal Husni

On Wednesday, Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who is seeking re-election next year, stressed the Indonesian government was ready to make clear that the Natuna Islands, with a population of 169,000, are its sovereign territory.

“If you want us to fight, yes, together we will do it,” Widodo said, according to local newspaper Kompas.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo touring the Natuna Islands in the South China Sea aboard the Imam Bonjol warship. Photo: Handout

Collin Koh Swee Lean, an analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, said the plan for a military hub in the Natuna Islands had been in the making for years.

“The March 2016 incident with China gave more impetus to the plan,” Koh said.

Image result for Natuna Islands, pictures

Natuna Islands

Aaron Connelly, a research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, described Jokowi’s comments as “clearly campaign rhetoric”.

“He was primed to say something tough on the subject by the previous speaker, Yenny Wahid,” Connelly said, referring to the daughter of Indonesia’s fourth president, Abdurrahman Wahid.

“And perhaps also by the setting: he was speaking at a gathering of religious scholars in Madura, which has a celebrated reputation for bellicosity among Indonesians.”

Hadi did not disclose the exact number of military personnel in the Natuna Islands area, but said the new base is supported by an army battalion, companies of marines and engineers, and artillery. In Indonesia’s military, a battalion consists of between 825 and 1,000 personnel, while a company consists of about 100 personnel.

“The development of this kind of military base will also be done in other strategic islands,” Hadi said.

The new base has a hangar for an unmanned aerial vehicle squadron, according to Hadi, and would be improved in accordance with threat levels, with personnel there prepared to join in any military operation.

Photos on the official Twitter feed of the TNI’s Information Centre also showed an inauguration ceremony for a hospital to serve military personnel at the base.

The South China Sea is home to some of the world’s busiest sea lanes and China has overlapping territorial claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan.

Although China recognises Indonesian sovereignty over the Natuna Islands, it insists the two countries have overlapping claims to maritime rights and interests in the area that need to be resolved – a claim Indonesia rejects.

Last year, the Indonesian government presented an updated national map in which the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) north of the Natuna Islands was renamed the North Natuna Sea. It was previously described as being part of the South China Sea.

In 2002, Indonesia renamed the section of the South China Sea within its EEZ the Natuna Sea, except for the waters north of the Natuna Islands. With the latest name change, the South China Sea is no longer used for any part of Indonesia’s territorial waters.

Immediately after the name change, China expressed opposition to the move, saying it would result in complications and the expansion of the dispute. Changing an internationally recognised name would also affect peace and stability, and is not conducive to a peaceful relationship between Jakarta and Beijing, it said.

Image result for Natuna Islands, pictures

Indonesia countered, however, that it had the right to name its own territorial waters and that the North Natuna Sea falls within its territory.

But while Indonesia has focused on protecting its own interests around the Natuna Islands, this does not mean it wants to antagonise China, given Widodo’s interest in drawing Chinese investment for infrastructure projects, according to a report by Australian think tank, The Lowy Institute.

“Despite Jokowi’s resolute rhetoric on maritime rights, Indonesia has sought to ensure its campaign against illegal fishing does not target Chinese vessels; and in regional diplomacy, Jokowi’s administration has been eager to ensure it does not offend Beijing,” said Connelly, who wrote the report.

https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2178741/indonesia-opens-military-base-edge-south-china-sea-deter

Related:

.
.
.
.

.

An illegal fishing boat being blown up with explosives by Indonesian authorities in Kuala Langsa, Aceh province. Photo: AFP
SOUTH CHINA SEA
Ahead of independence day, Indonesia’s Widodo vows to defend ‘every inch’ of territory
(Indonesia blows up illegal fishing boats caught working in Indonesian waters)

 

Advertisements

The Philippines Can Change The Chinese Mindset: South China Sea Cannot Be “Owned” By China

December 16, 2018

More Filipinos are likely to back calls for a more assertive government stand against China’s provocative activities in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Friday.

In an interview with “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News, Carpio reiterated his call for a more vigorous campaign to change the mindset of the Chinese that the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) does not belong to China.

He also said that there are now bills pending in Congress pushing for the declaration of portions of the West Philippine Sea as a marine protected area.

Image result for china, philippines, flags, pictures

Last month, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released results of a survey showing 84 percent of Filipinos convinced that the Duterte administration was not doing enough to stop China’s intrusion in the West Philippine Sea. He said the 84 percent “would go up by the end of the year.”

“That is good because it is only when we are united can we get the ruling enforced,” he said.

He said the Philippine government should continue to assert its rights over the West Philippine Sea and every year it should do something to fortify the ruling handed down by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016.

The ruling states that China has no legal basis for its nine-dash line territorial claim.

 

Carpio was part of the Philippine legal team that won the landmark case.

He also said Filipinos should take time to understand the issues so that they could better explain the country’s position to other nationalities. Once they have convinced other countries of the Philippines’ position, together they could convince the Chinese that the West Philippine Sea does not belong to them.

“China will not accept the ruling, not unless the Chinese people realize that the historical narrative 2000 years ago is false. Since grade school to college they have been taught that they own the South China Sea and they really believe it because they were not taught other things,” he said.

“We have to change their mindset. The Chinese government will not comply with the ruling until the Chinese people realize that historical narrative is false. If the Chinese government complies with the ruling today, that would delegitimize them before the eyes of the Chinese people,” Carpio pointed out.

He said it should also be impressed upon other nations that “if China can seize the South China Sea and deprive us of our EEZ (exclusive economic zone), your bigger neighbor might seize your EEZ also, it might follow the example of China.”

ANTONIO CARPIO, SOCIAL WEATHER STATIONS, WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/12/16/1877328/change-chinese-mindset-west-philippine-sea-not-yours#T1U5wA3bvieX1GDz.99

Related:

Image result for south china sea, nine dash line, pictures

China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Judge Carpio is saying it is time we get back to the law.

This Sept. 17, 2018 photo shows Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) operates in the Philippine Sea during Valiant Shield 2018. In November, the Chancellorsville sailed near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, pushing China to deploy its own navy and air force assets to drive the American warship away.

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Codie L. Soule
.
Related:
.
.
.

Image result for chinese coast guard, near vietnam, oil rig, photos

Chinese Coast Guard vessel protects a Chinese oil well in the South China Sea near Vietnam  on June 13, 2014. Reuters FILE photo

Xi-Duterte deals stir a furor in the Philippines

November 27, 2018

Chinese President and Philippine leader entered 29 new agreements that opposition critics claim lack transparency and could undermine sovereign interests in the South China Sea

Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) signs the guest book as Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte (R) and his daughter Sarah Duterte (L) look on at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila on November 20, 2018. Photo: AFP/Mark R. Cristino

Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) signs the guest book as Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte (R) and his daughter Sarah Duterte (L) look on at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila on November 20, 2018. Photo: AFP/Mark R. Cristino

South China Sea: Expect China One Day To Use Its Navy To Enforce Sea Claims

November 24, 2018

China's Liaoning aircraft carrier (imago/Xinhua)

China aircraft carrier Liaoning

Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Carpio on Saturday warned that China could one day order its Navy to enforce its sweeping claim to most of the disputed South China Sea, which is widely seen by experts as a potential regional flash point.

The Philippines claims parts of the South China Sea within its exclusive economic zone and calls it the West Philippine Sea.

A staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and was one of the lawyers who represented Manila in closed court hearings in The Hague, Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice Carpio qualified that China’s maritime encroachment is “the biggest external threat to the Philippines since World War II.”

The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

Ties between the Philippines and China have significantly improved under President Rodrigo Duterte, who has set aside a landmark ruling from a United Nations-backed tribunal that struck down Beijing’s “Nine Dash line” claim that encompasses most of the resource-rich sea.

Duterte’s management of the maritime dispute has frustrated nationalists, who criticized his seeming inaction towards China’s military buildup in the strategic waterway.

At a forum in Taguig City, Carpio said there’s a possibility that the Chinese politburo — a top decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party — would send warships to the South China Sea to police the widely contested waters.

“We must prepare for the day the Politburo of China will instruct the powerful navy of China to enforce the nine-dash line as a national boundary of China,” Carpio said.

‘Biggest threat since World War II’

In 2016, Duterte secured a pledge for $9-billion official development assistance during his trip to Beijing — which highlighted his “separation” from the Philippines’ only treaty ally, the United States.

Although it is not a party to the maritime row, Washington has been infuriating China for repeatedly sending warships close to Chinese-controlled reefs in recent years.

Last April, US aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Manila for a port visit just days after China conducted a naval muscle flexing in the South China Sea.

A staunch critic of Duterte and was one of the lawyers who represented Manila in closed court hearings in The Hague, Carpio qualified that China’s maritime encroachment is “the biggest external threat to the Philippines since World War II.”

The Supreme Court magistrate also slammed China for being a “squatter” inside the Philippines’ 376,350-square kilometer EEZ.

“We are going to lose a huge maritime space, we lose all the fish, oil and gas resources here because under UNCLOS [and] the ruling of the tribunal, we have exclusive sovereign rights to all the natural resources in this area but China is claiming all of that,” Carpio said. — Ian Nicolas Cigaral

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/11/24/1871372/carpio-warns-chinese-politburo-could-one-day-send-its-navy-police-south-china-sea#sKQjDRxvD8OpTxYP.99

Philippine diplomacy nowadays is guided not by strategy but by spontaneous instincts of Duterte — China has the upper hand

November 19, 2018

When President Xi Jinping arrives for his first state visit to the Philippines on November 20, Malacañang will be hosting a man at the peak of his power. He has virtually undisputed control of his government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that supervises it. His anti-corruption campaign has rid the regime of likely challengers.

Perhaps the most striking measure of his primacy was getting the CCP Congress earlier this year to scrap the constitutionally prescribed two-term limit on the tenure of president.

By Walden Bello and Ia Denise Maranon
Rappler
Commentary

Related image

In the international arena, he has skillfully positioned himself to fill the global leadership role that US President Donald Trump, with his erratic behavior, seems intent to withdraw from. Moreover, he has not hesitated to use the resources of the still rapidly growing Chinese economy to win allies and influence governments. His “Belt and Road Initiative” of transcontinental infrastructure building deliberately evokes the image of the ancient “silk roads” linking imperial China to early modern Europe when the Middle Kingdom was numero uno.

Xi will be meeting with a head of state who is also at the apex of his political career. (READ: Shades of Duterte in China’s Xi Jinping)

Undoubtedly the most powerful Philippine president since Ferdinand Marcos, Rodrigo Duterte has, over the last two and a half years, removed the chief justice of the Supreme Court, achieved undisputed control of both the Senate and House of Representatives, imprisoned his chief political opponent in the Senate, forced most of the media into self-censorship mode, gained the support of most of the rank and file of the military and the acquiescence of the high command, and put a third of the country under martial law.

His consolidation of power has elicited little outcry from the public. Indeed, his popularity ratings remain quite high, inspite of – or perhaps because of – a bloody anti-drug campaign that critics say has resulted in the extrajudicial execution of thousands of alleged drug users and pushers.

There is, no doubt, chemistry between the two leaders.

The uninhibited Duterte has not hesitated to proclaim in public that “I love Xie Jing Ping.” Xi is more reserved, projecting an attitude of benevolent tolerance towards Duterte, much like that of an older brother towards a rowdy sibling (though he is eight years younger than his counterpart). Xi sees Duterte as a godsend that materialized at a time of escalating crisis in the South China Sea, a gift China did not expect or work for. He is grateful to the Philippine leader, though he is careful to separate his personal attitude towards Duterte from Beijing’s unswerving strategic goals in the disputed area.

And beyond the personal rapport, there is that deeper bond between both leaders: a belief in authoritarian leadership, to which they attribute China’s rise to economic and political prominence.

No bromance below

Duterte’s red carpet welcome will not be matched by one from his people.

Beijing’s incursions into the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone in the South China Sea and its continuing base-building on maritime formations belonging to the country has given China the image of a bully and provoked widespread resentment. These moves have unfortunately inflamed the already strongly held prejudices about the Chinese among many Filipinos.

They are not likely be mollified by Premier Li Keqiang’s recent offering of an olive branch to Southeast Asia’s leaders at the recent ASEAN Summit in Singapore: the promise to begin and conclude negotiations within 3 years of a much-delayed code of maritime conduct (COC) in the South China Sea. Filipinos – and ASEAN – are right to be skeptical since China has promised to move on the COC negotiations several times during the last sixteen years but never delivered.

Other Stories


Enemy at sea, friend of the chief: Philippine military navigates ties with China

Bullied and harassed by China in the West Philippine Sea, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is forced to strike ‘cordial’ ties with the staunch ally of its commander-in-chief


DOCUMENT: Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) paves the way for the increased presence of American troops in the Philippines and gives them wider access to military bases


Carpio rebuffs Duterte: China doesn’t possess South China Sea

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio makes these remarks after President Rodrigo Duterte said China ‘is already in possession’ of the South China Sea

The latest promise is likely to be largely a PR effort to elicit popular goodwill for the presidential visit.

The South China Sea dispute is not the only issue bugging Filipinos about their giant neighbor.

To push through its ambitious Build-Build-Build Program, the Duterte government has contracted about 368 billion pesos ($7.2 billion) worth of loans from China at what experts say is a rather high interest rate of 2-3 percent. Partly to fund the effort, the government pushed through Congress the so-called TRAIN law, the main component of which was raising consumption taxes on petroleum products by six pesos over three years.

Since oil is a significant energy input into almost all industries in the country’s-oil intensive economy, TRAIN became a signal to other sectors to raise their prices in anticipation of oil price rises, resulting in a runaway inflation that hit an amazing nine-year high of 6.7 per cent in September, which some say may presage an Argentina-type price spiral that would be extraordinarily difficult to rein in.

Not surprisingly, inflation has become associated in the public mind with the Chinese loans.

Beijing’s concerns

Popular perceptions are of concern to Xi since he wants to make sure that the new Manila-Beijing relationship will be lasting.

His concern has been exacerbated by speculation about Duterte’s health, which could only be fueled by the president’s missing key meetings at the recent ASEAN summit in Singapore, which left the Philippine leader’s subordinates scrambling to explain. The question of who will succeed Duterte and whether that person will be as congenial to Chinese interests is clearly one that Beijing does not take lightly.

The Chinese are probably painfully aware that institutional support for Duterte’s turn to Beijing is fragile.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) high command remains a bastion of support for the US military owing to longstanding ideological, political, and military assistance ties. (READ: Enemy at sea, friend of the chief: Philippine military navigates ties with China)

The professional diplomats at the Department of Foreign Affairs are still smarting from Duterte’s abandonment of the Hague legal victory on the South China Sea that many of them had worked on, and from their having to suffer the embarrassingly amateurish antics of political appointees like former foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

Their simmering resentment is unlikely to disappear under the latest political appointee, Teddyboy Locsin, a former media man known not for diplomatese but for pyrotechnics. To the foreign affairs pros on Roxas Boulevard, amateurs like Cayetano and Locsin are dead meat for Beijing’s disciplined and utterly single-minded diplomatic service.

With the military and DFA being inhospitable territory, the de facto liaison with China has become the Department of Finance under Duterte crony Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez. Not surprisingly, the Philippines’ foreign policy toward China has become driven less by strategic concerns and more and more by dollars and cents, or, more appropriately, by renminbi and yuan.

From its experience during the corrupt presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Beijing knows that the benefits from yuan diplomacy are not lasting, and that what is decisive is gaining the assent of the institutions that determine the Philippines’ strategic foreign and military policies.

Missed opportunity

The Duterte administration had a chance to stake out a truly independent approach in its first months.

As we proposed in an article that appeared in the New York Times on Oct 18, 2016, since it was the fear of military encirclement by Washington that was driving China’s behavior, the Philippines could have pursued a more calculating policy of using the Hague legal victory as part of a strategy of getting China to agree to demilitarization of the South China Sea in return for the Philippines’ withdrawing from the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States.

Instead, Duterte unthinkingly leaped to a policy of strategic appeasement in return for economic largesse, of trading territory and legal advantage for money.

The result has been economic largesse that is turning into a debt trap even as the strategic situation of the Philippines gets worse, as Beijing continues its base-building in the country’s territories in the West Philippine Sea, while in the heartland of the archipelago, the US is quietly using EDCA to rebuild the bases network that it lost in 1992 in order to massively project power towards China.

The new China-Philippine relationship is only two and a half years old. Some think there is still a chance for a reset. This is wishful thinking. Unfortunately, Philippine diplomacy nowadays is guided not by strategy but by spontaneous instincts of Duterte, which are no match for the cold calculation of his idol, Xi.

Xi’s state visit will be marked by a lot of hyperbolic toasts to the “eternal friendship of the Filipino and Chinese peoples.” But the glitter of the Xie-Duterte bromance will not conceal the reality that, just as previous administrations allowed themselves to be had by Washington, this one set itself up to be conned, eyes wide open, by Beijing. – Rappler.com

Former Congressman Walden Bello opposed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States and authored the House resolution calling for renaming the South China Sea the West Philippine Sea. Ia Denise Maranon is a political analyst in the research team organization Laban ng Masa. Contact: waldenbello@yahoo.com.

https://www.rappler.com/thought-leaders/216908-beneath-the-glitter-xi-jinping-duterte-bromance

Related:

Philippines’ South China Sea Exploration Plan With China Draws Scrutiny — China’s Propaganda Machine Touts Deals With Asean, Nations China Wants To Exploit

August 5, 2018

The Philippines and China are finalizing an exploration deal in a disputed area of the South China Sea, where 60 percent of the proceeds would go to Manila and the rest to Beijing despite warnings the development could diminish Manila’s claim to the region.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

The deal was announced by Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier this week, before he traveled to Singapore to attend a regional ministerial meeting where China was also present.

While full details of the proposed deal were not disclosed, Cayetano said officials from both sides and independent experts on international law were drafting a framework for the agreement. The draft deal is likely to be ready this month or in September.

He did not say where the proposed exploration site is, but President Rodrigo Duterte had hinted that an area in the Reed Bank could be open for exploration.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor and water

Filipinos should ask the Vietnamese how the oil sharing with China is going….

Initial seismic surveys have indicated that Reed Bank, also called Recto Bank, could be rich in natural deposits. While it is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, which was affirmed by an arbitration court in 2016, China has continued to contest its ownership.

Gary Alejano, a former Marine captain who serves as an opposition member of the House of Representatives, said the arbitration ruling specifically puts the area under Philippine control.

“We do not co-own the West Philippine Sea with China,” he said, using the Philippine name for the South China Sea. “Why would our government want to share resources that we alone legally own?”

“Just because the Philippines will presumably take a larger share given the 60-40 scheme being proposed, does not guarantee that we are going to be on the winning end,” said Alejano, who has been following developments in the sea region.

No automatic alt text available.

“This is ultimately an issue of sovereignty, especially on the question of which law will apply: Is it the Philippine law, Chinese law, or international law? We also have to make sure that the joint exploration would not in any way diminish the arbitration ruling which largely favored the Philippines,” he said.

Meanwhile, security analyst Rommel Banlaoi said the reported agreement was a breakthrough that could propel exploration forward even as Manila should continue to assert its rights in the sea.

“We should not compromise with China, and let them know that we are not giving our rights in that area,” Banlaoi said. “Otherwise, our arrangement with China would fall under suspicion.”

Alejano said it was not a guarantee that Beijing would stick to the agreement, as it has shown in past actions in the region.

China had thumbed down the ruling, even as governments around the world welcomed it as a step toward ensuring peace in the vital sea lane. The South China Sea is considered a powder keg in a region where varying claimants have had armed confrontations.

Image may contain: sky

Chinese bomber over Philippine territory. Coercion?

A sham policy?

The Spratlys, an island chain in the sea, are claimed in whole or in part by China, Taiwan and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

It is considered a flashpoint in the region, and while the claimants have agreed to desist from any actions that would complicate the matter, China has been expanding and militarizing islands it occupies.

Alejano argued that the Philippine-China exploration deal would have implications to the other claimants and may be used by Beijing as a premise that it could enter into bilateral agreements with other countries.

“The Duterte administration should realize that the decision whether to pursue a joint exploration or not would define our relationship with China and our relationship with our neighboring countries as well,” Alejano said.

Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros branded the Philippines-China deal as “preposterous and dangerous.”

“It reverses our historic victory at The Hague and signs away Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea,” she said in a statement.

“We have sovereign rights to access offshore oil and gas field, including the Reed Bank, within our 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. We don’t share ownership of the West Philippine Sea with China,” Hontiveros said.

She also questioned Duterte’s independent foreign policy which was turning out as a sham policy meant to benefit China.

Duterte has adopted a pro-China policy since he took power in June 2016.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

ASEAN

In Singapore, where ASEAN foreign ministers were attending their annual ministerial meeting, the 10-nation bloc announced it had reached a milestone in talks with China to establish a code of conduct in the sea region.

Negotiations for the code started in March, and the first draft was completed in June in China, Singapore’s foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan said. He declined to divulge details, citing the sensitivity of the issue, but did say that while negotiations were completed, the code would not necessarily bring an end to territorial disputes.

Image may contain: one or more people, stripes and sky

A draft of the ministerial statement seen by BenarNews said foreign ministers would express their concerns to China’s continued reclamation in the region. It said China’s move has eroded trust and confidence and could undermine security and stability.

The group also emphasized the importance of “non-militarization and self-restraint” in the conduct of activities in the disputed region, so as not to escalate tensions.

The draft is subject to negotiations and could be refined by the time the ministerial meeting ends on Saturday.

Felipe Villamor in Manila contributed to this report.

https://www.eurasiareview.com/03082018-philippines-south-china-sea-exploration-plan-with-china-draws-scrutiny/

Related:

  (propaganda)

  (This is what China cares about what people think….)

(Why give away what you own?)

.

Above: China’s seven military bases near the Philippines in the South China Sea

Related:

No automatic alt text available.

China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. China occupies the South China Sea illegally. Asean seems ready to agree to China’s “de facto ownership” — even though it violates rule of law.

South China Sea: Evolving Strategy

August 1, 2018

For many who follow developments in the South China Sea, the July 2016 tribunal ruling in the Philippines’ case against China has become the equivalent of the birth of Jesus in the Gregorian calendar: Developments are considered B.A. and A.A.—Before Award and After Award.

In the first year after the award, compliance was fair: Beijing largely kept its actions, if not its words, within the letter of the ruling.

By  Lynn Kuok
Lawfare

In late July 2017, however, things went south. The Chinese government insists that the situation in the South China Sea is “calm” and that the region is “in harmony”; it accuses the United States of stirring up trouble. But any stability in the past year has largely been the result of smaller countries in the region resigning themselves to the notion that the weak suffer what they must.

Two years on from the ruling, the stakes are clear: The challenge immediately after the award was getting smaller countries on China’s periphery to be less risk-averse in openly supporting the rule of law; now, the test has become whether the United States and its allies can help countries stand firm against incursions into their exclusive economic zones and defend a rules-based order.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor and water

Exclusive Economic Zone Encroachments

The main significance of the 2016 ruling was to clarify resource rights. An international tribunal in The Hague ruled that China cannot claim historic rights to resources in the waters within a “nine-dash line” encompassing much of the South China Sea if these waters are within the exclusive economic zone, or EEZ, of other coastal states. Such rights, the tribunal determined, were extinguished when China ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1996.

The tribunal also clarified that none of the features in the Spratly Islands—a group of features in the south of the South China Sea that China and five other actors claim—generates an exclusive economic zone that China can claim overlaps with the exclusive economic zones of coastal states. Taken together, the findings make clear that coastal states in the South China Sea are entitled to full 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zones unencumbered by any Chinese claims.

Although the award is not technically binding except between the parties to proceedings, namely, the Philippines and China, it was clear on China’s maritime entitlements. Beijing should adhere to its findings.

Instead, shortly after the one-year anniversary of the award, Beijing reportedlythreatened Vietnam with military action if Vietnam did not stop drilling in its own exclusive economic zone. Prompted by concerns that Washington did not have its back, Hanoi stopped its operations. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the rest of the international community averted their gaze. This might well come to be regarded as the point when a rules-based order began unraveling in the region. In March and May this year, Vietnam again attempted to drill for oil and gas in its exclusive economic zone, and Beijing issued similar warnings.

Vietnam is not the only country Beijing has leaned on. Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines have all come under pressure to concede “joint development” in their exclusive economic zones, a term that has come to suggest legitimate overlapping claims: Where there are such claims, the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates that parties should seek to enter into “provisional arrangements of a practical nature” prior to delimitation of the exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.

Image may contain: sky

China H-6 bomber over Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines

Fortresses in the Sea

In recent months, Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea has escalated. In April, it deployed anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers to Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef in the Spratlys. In May, it landed long-range bombers on Woody Island in the Paracels, features to the west of the South China Sea.

The tribunal did not directly address the question of whether the militarization of features was lawful. It considered only whether Beijing’s island-building activities in the South China Sea were military in nature to determine whether it had jurisdiction to rule on these activities. Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, when a state signs, ratifies or accedes to the convention, it may declare that it does not accept compulsory procedures entailing binding decisions in certain categories of disputes, including military activities. China availed itself of this option in 2006. The tribunal determined that for ascertaining whether the exclusion applied to deny it jurisdiction, it would take Beijing’s word when it insisted that activities were not military in nature.

Image result for china, militarized islands, south china sea, photos

Still, China’s activities on features in the South China Sea are problematic. Beijing maintains that it is entitled to do as it wishes on its territory and that this is allowed by international law.

But Mischief Reef is not China’s territory. While the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to rule on competing claims to sovereignty, it did have jurisdiction to determine whether a feature is, at first instance, entitled to an independent sovereignty claim. The tribunal made clear that jurisdiction over a low-tide elevation lies with the country in whose territorial sea or exclusive economic zone it is located. Because Mischief Reef is a low-tide elevation in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, the Philippines has jurisdiction over it.

As for the rest of the features in the South China Sea, sovereignty continues to be fiercely contested. International law on the responsibility of an occupying state in a disputed area is far from clear, so Beijing’s actions are, at best, in a legal grey zone.

Lawfare

While Beijing’s dramatic military buildup in the South China Sea has received much attention, its attempts to undermine the tribunal’s award through “lawfare” have been largely overlooked. In the long run, this could shape the narrative on the South China Sea and promote Beijing’s ability to justify its claims and actions.

In mid-May, the Chinese Society of International Law published a “Critical Study” on the South China Sea arbitration case. Over nearly 750 pages, it detailed why it thought the tribunal erred. It was mostly an unremarkable rehash of arguments long raised by Beijing.

Notably, however, the study also attempted to advance an argument that China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs first laid the foundation for in a statement issued just after the award. The statement’s wording was vague, but it flagged that China was seeking to claim maritime zones from groups of features in the South China Sea rather than from individual features. In other words, Beijing appears to be making the case that even if not entitled to historic rights within the nine-dash line, it was entitled to resources in a wide expanse of sea on the basis of an exclusive economic zone generated from outlying archipelagos.

But under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, only archipelagic states (such as the Philippines and Indonesia) may draw straight archipelagic baselines from which maritime zones may be generated. The tribunal explicitly found that there was “no evidence” that any deviations from this rule have amounted to the formation of a new rule of customary international law.

China’s arguments are unlikely to convince lawyers, but that is not their intended audience. Rather, their target is the political and business elites in Southeast Asia who are already predisposed to accept Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. They fear Beijing’s threat of coercive economic measures and eye promises of development through offerings such as the Belt and Road Initiative.

China is also seeking to shape international law to its liking through the strategic use of research funding and has prioritized issues of national import, including the law of the sea.

Holding Beijing Accountable

In April, Adm. Phil Davidson, then commander-designate of U.S. Pacific Command, testified at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that China has attained peace-time control of the South China Sea.

At present, such control is not complete: The United States continues to assert maritime rights in the South China Sea and, in a positive development, other maritime powers—Australia, France and the United Kingdom—have also asserted such rights. These operations send the important message that countries apart from the United States care about maintaining an open South China Sea and that rules matter.

However, the Trump administration’s failure to express support for Vietnam or to condemn China’s threats suggests that while smaller countries on China’s periphery are expected to support maritime powers’ defense of navigation, overflight and other freedoms of the seas, the United States and others are quite willing to hang these countries out to dry when it comes to  defending their economic rights—a matter that directly impacts their interests. It also feeds into the narrative that support for the United States’ “America First” agenda is effectively a one-way street: all for one and one for none. As countries make their strategic calculations, this will hurt U.S. interests.

Holding Beijing accountable requires action. A comparison of  Beijing’s behavior in the first and second year after the tribunal ruling suggests that it responds to coordinated pressure to abide by the rule of law and, conversely, takes advantage of times when the world looks away. As a major power, the United States must organize a regional and international effort to insist that Beijing abide by international law. What should this entail?

First, coastal states must be supported in standing up to any incursions into their exclusive economic zones, including through legal action initiated by coastal states. Second, there must be renewed calls to abide by the tribunal’s ruling. Washington went quiet on this partly because of Manila’s own reticence but also because of the ruling’s implications for U.S. claims to EEZs from small, uninhabited features in the Pacific. The United States should not miss out on the opportunity to demonstrate consistency in supporting the rule of law both within and outside of the South China Sea.

In this vein, the United States should finally accede to UNCLOS. The United States has already committed itself to abiding by the convention; acceding to it, as Adm. Davidson points out, “would give the United States greater credibility when calling on other states to adhere to the same rules.” Many observers note the double standard when the United States calls on other states to abide by the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and comply with decisions of courts and tribunals regarding its interpretation when the United States itself has not acceded to the convention.

Fourth, Beijing’s claims that it is entitled to do as it likes on its own territory should be challenged. This involves reiterating that Mischief Reef is not Chinese. It also involves giving greater consideration to the responsibilities of an occupying state on disputed territories. Beijing should keep its behavior in check on features it occupies but that are also claimed by other parties.

Finally, a successful South China Sea policy must be part of a well-conceived and implemented Asia policy. Regional countries consider wider strategic developments in determining how best to respond in the South China Sea. The United States must continue to demonstrate a clear commitment to the region if it is to effectively counter growing sentiments that China is an unstoppable force and that caving in to Chinese demands now avoids greater pain later. In particular, the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy will need a strong economic component to provide viable alternatives to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

Mattis at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore

At the International Institute for Strategic Studies’s Shangri-La Dialogue meeting of defense officials in Singapore in June, Defense Secretary James Mattis was sensitive to the region’s need for greater investment, including in infrastructure. But it is unclear whether “private sector-led economic development” will be sufficient. Other possibilities include a coordinated infrastructure fund that the United States and its allies could contribute to. A compelling vision must accompany any such fund: Japan outspends China in infrastructure investment in Southeast Asia, but this goes largely unnoticed.

Beijing is adept at using all instruments, including the law, to reinforce its claims. The United States and other like-minded partners must learn to do likewise if they are to have any hope of turning the tide in the South China Sea. The question for the Trump administration is less one of capacity, or even means, than one of will and focus.

https://www.lawfareblog.com/countering-chinas-actions-south-china-sea

Topics:
Related:
.
.
.
.

 No automatic alt text available.
China has seven military bases near te Philippines
.

No automatic alt text available.

China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Philippines: Former President Against Proposed Sharing of South China Sea Oil, Gas With China — Philippines has no obligation to share its resources

August 1, 2018

Former president Benigno Aquino III opposes the proposed 60-40 sharing of natural resources between the Philippines and China in the joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea.

Aquino said the area is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the country has no obligation to share its resources with the Asian giant.

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and closeup

Benigno Aquino III

He again shared a “joke,” China’s supposed motto, which was often used during his term. What started as a joke, he said, seems to be coming true under the Duterte administration.

“Exclusive economic zone ang pinag-uusapan eh. Parang wala tayong obligasyon na makihati sa kanila. Noong panahon ko may joke eh, sabi raw nila: ‘What is ours is ours. What is yours, we share.’ So ngayon, parang nagiging totoo na ata ito,” Aquino said.

(We’re talking about our exclusive economic zone. We have no obligation to share it with them. During my time, there was a joke. China said: “What is ours is ours. What is yours, we share.” So now, it seems this is coming true.)

“Balikan lang natin fundamental dito: exclusive ito sa atin, meron ba tayong obligasyon na bahagian sila?” he added. (Let’s just go back to the fundamental issue here: This is exclusively for us. Do we have an obligation to share it with China?)

For Aquino, who brought China to court over the disputed waters, the Asian neighbor cannot be trusted. He said the proposed 60-40 scheme favoring the Philippines could end up being disadvantageous to the country.

“Ang bargaining position, 60-40. Baka naman sa dulo nito ay baliktad, baka sila 60, baka 70… Sa halip na wala silang karapatan, biglang ngayon eh baka naman kailangang amuhin sila sa dulo. At para mapaamo, kailangang mas malaki ang parte nila,” the former president said.

(The bargaining position is 60-40. But in the end, it might become the opposite. They might get 60% of the share or 70%. Instead of them having no rights, all of a sudden we might have to woo them in the end. And to woo them, we have to give them a larger share.)

“Bantayan natin na sana ‘di maging gano’n ang mangyari (Let’s be vigilant that it won’t happen),” he added.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano previously said China is “open” to the joint exploration proposal, adding that the draft framework might be out by September.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself made the proposal in a speech last April.

“Precisely I said, with the issue of the [South] China Sea, leave it at that, it’s geopolitics. Anyway, China has offered joint exploration and joint operation. And I said, maybe, we give you a better deal, 60-40,” Duterte said.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

Malacañang earlier spoke of two areas in the West Philippine Sea being considered for the joint activity – Service Contracts 57 (Calamian) and 72 (Recto Bank).

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned, however, that the 1987 Constitution prohibits joint development within the Philippines’ EEZ.

Maritime expert Jay Batongbacal also said allowing joint development in such an area could be seen as “inconsistent” with the arbitral ruling won by the Philippines in 2016.

In its ruling, the Permanent Court of Arbitration said “there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources, in excess of the rights provided for by the Convention, within the sea areas falling within the ‘9-dash line.'” (READ: FAST FACTS: South China Sea dispute)

Despite the ruling, China continues its military buildup in the West Philippine Sea and harassment of Filipino fishermen in areas declared by the decision as common fishing grounds. – Rappler.com

https://www.rappler.com/nation/208651-noynoy-aquino-warns-vs-west-philippine-sea-joint-exploration

Related:

 No automatic alt text available.
China has seven military bases near te Philippines
.

No automatic alt text available.

China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

South China Sea: Philippines Defense Secretary Calls International Court Ruling “Empty Victory” — The Rule of Law Administration of Rodrigo Duterte

July 28, 2018

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana apologized for saying the ruling favoring the Philippines over disputes in the West Philippine Sea is an “empty victory.”

He extended his apologies to former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Carpio. The two helped argue the Philippines’ case against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague.

DIPLOMATIC PROTEST. Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario urge the Duterte administration to file a diplomatic protest against China's bombers in the South China Sea. File photos by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario

CNN

“I sincerely apologize to these two great gentlemen for ruffling their feelings when I said that the PCA ruling in our favor is an empty victory. Both have reasons to be miffed for they worked hard to win our case before the PCA. It was not my intention to denigrate their achievement,” Lorenzana said in a message to reporters Friday.

Earlier media reports claimed Carpio and Del Rosario did not take Lorenzana’s statements well.

But Lorenzana then said that with current realities, the victory claimed is premature and incomplete.

“The phrase ’empty victory’ does not pertain to the efforts of Mssrs. Carpio and del Rosario in successfully winning our case in the PCA but rather, to the outcome of the ruling. With the realities on the ground, the victory being claimed is premature and incomplete since the ruling has no enforcement mechanism,” he added.

The Defense chief explained that until our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is under the country’s complete control, and until the ruling is fully enforced, it remains just “a piece of paper.”

“If it is a victory, then why is the (West Philippine Sea) not under our complete control? If we are victorious, why are the Chinese still in the (West Philippine Sea)? Lest we forget, the Malaysians and Vietnamese are also within our exclusive economic zone, occupying many islands which they have improved through the years,” he said.

Lorenzana’s remark came Monday, after the Social Weather Stations’ latest survey showed that 9 of 10 Filipinos deemed important that the Philippines to regain control over island occupied by China in the contested waters.

“We won, but it is an empty victory. The Chinese won’t leave our EEZ  and instead it continues to assert its historical rights over the areas within the nine-dash line,” he earlier said.

But Lorenzana said how the survey questions were framed might be wrong.

“Many people also need to understand that the PCA ruling was about ‘sovereign rights’ and not ‘sovereignty,’ which are two different things,” Lorenzana added.

The 2016 ruling junked China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, which overlaps with parts of the country’s 200-nautical mile (EEZ). China has refused to observe the international tribunal’s ruling.

No automatic alt text available.

China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticized for his warmer ties with China, but he vowed to protect the country’s sovereign rights in his third State of the Nation Address on Monday.

“Our improved relationship  with China does not mean we will waver to defend our interest in the West Philippine Sea,” Duterte had said. 

CNN:

Related:

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

The Philippines has extensive defenses on its island holdings

China Is Winning in the South China Sea

July 18, 2018

The U.S. should respond more vigorously to Beijing’s violations of international law.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
.

Two years after an international tribunal rejected expansive Chinese claims to the South China Sea, Beijing is consolidating control over the area and its resources. While the U.S. defends the right to freedom of navigation, it has failed to support the rights of neighboring countries under the tribunal’s ruling. As a result, Southeast Asian countries are bowing to Beijing’s demands.

The tribunal’s main significance was to clarify resource rights. It ruled that China cannot claim historic rights to resources in waters within the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone of other coastal states. It also clarified that none of the land features claimed by China in the Spratlys, in the southern part of the South China Sea, generate an exclusive economic zone.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor and water

In late July 2017, Beijing threatened Vietnam with military action if it did not stop oil and gas exploration in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone, according to a report by the BBC’s Bill Hayton. Hanoi stopped drilling. Earlier this year, Vietnam again attempted to drill, and Beijing issued similar warnings.

Other countries, including the U.S., failed to express support for Vietnam or condemn China’s threats. Beijing has also pressured Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines to agree to “joint development” in their exclusive economic zones—a term that suggests legitimate overlapping claims.

Meanwhile China is accelerating its militarization of the South China Sea. In April, it deployed antiship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers to artificial islands constructed on Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef and Mischief Reef. In May, it landed long-range bombers on Woody Island.

Chinese envoy to the Philippines Xiao Jinhua, right, said that the Philippines was not and would not be a province of China.  Presidential Photo/Simeon Celi Jr., File

Beijing says it can do as it wishes on its own territory. But under international law, Mischief Reef isn’t Chinese. The 2016 tribunal decision made clear that jurisdiction over a low-tide elevation lies with the country in whose territorial sea or exclusive economic zone it is located, and no other country can claim sovereignty. Because Mischief Reef is located in the Philippines zone, the Philippines has jurisdiction over it.

Sovereignty over the rest of the features in the South China Sea continues to be fiercely contested. As I wrote in these pages last year, international law on the responsibility of an occupying state in a disputed area is far from clear, so Beijing’s actions are at best in a legal gray zone.

While Beijing’s dramatic military buildup in the South China Sea has received much attention, its attempts at “lawfare” are largely overlooked. In May, the Chinese Society of International Law published a “critical study” on the South China Sea arbitration case. It rehashed old arguments but also developed a newer one, namely that China is entitled to claim maritime zones based on groups of features rather than from individual features. Even if China is not entitled to historic rights within the area it claims, this argument goes, it is entitled to resources in a wide expanse of sea on the basis of an exclusive economic zone generated from outlying archipelagoes.

But the Convention on the Law of the Sea makes clear that only archipelagic states such as the Philippines and Indonesia may draw straight archipelagic baselines from which maritime zones may be claimed. The tribunal also explicitly found that there was “no evidence” that any deviations from this rule have amounted to the formation of a new rule of customary international law.

China’s arguments are unlikely to sway lawyers, but that is not their intended audience. Rather Beijing is offering a legal fig leaf to political and business elites in Southeast Asia who are already predisposed to accept Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. They fear China’s threat of coercive economic measures and eye promises of development through offerings such as the Belt and Road Initiative.

Why did Washington go quiet on the 2016 tribunal decision? One reason is Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s turn toward China and offer to set aside the ruling. The U.S. is also worried about the decision’s implications for its own claims to exclusive economic zones from small, uninhabited land features in the Pacific.

The Trump administration’s failure to press Beijing to abide by the tribunal’s ruling is a serious mistake. It undermines international law and upsets the balance of power in the region. Countries have taken note that the tide in the South China Sea is in China’s favor, and they are making their strategic calculations accordingly. This hurts U.S. interests in the region.

The U.S. still has a chance to turn things around. It must coordinate a regional and international effort to insist that Beijing abides by international law. Coastal states must be supported in standing up to any incursions into their exclusive economic zones, including through coastal state-initiated legal action.

There must also be greater pushback against Beijing’s claims that China is entitled to do as it likes on its own territory. In all of this, the U.S. will have greater credibility if it finally accedes to the Convention on the Law of the Sea. These efforts will be critical to defend a rules-based order against China’s bid for hegemony in the region.

Ms. Kuok is an associate fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies-Asia and a senior research fellow at the Centre for Rising Powers, University of Cambridge.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-is-winning-in-the-south-china-sea-1531868329

Related:

No automatic alt text available.

See also:

China won’t allow Philippines to fall into a ‘debt trap’: envoy

Tor:https://peoplestrusttoronto.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/china-wont-allow-philippines-to-fall-into-a-debt-trap-envoy/

and

Zhao: China’s loan to finance infrastructure projects will not make the Philippines fall into debt trap

https://durianburgdavao.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/chinese-loans-not-a-death-trap/

Related:

.

No automatic alt text available.

.

No automatic alt text available.

China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior.