Posts Tagged ‘Filipino fishermen’

Philippines: China “extracting as much as they can” from Duterte on Scarborough issue, expert says — Is Duterte a Chinese “Yes Man”?

February 2, 2018
 / 07:25 PM February 02, 2018
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China will hold off from building in the contested Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) until they have “extracted as much as they can” from the current administration, a maritime expert said Friday.

“There’s a political decision that if China feels right now it is winning, why provoke crisis with the Duterte administration?” Greg Poling, director of Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, told reporters Friday.

Reports circulated last year that China was preparing to build an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal.

But President Rodrigo Duterte is holding on to a promise made by China last year that it will not build on Scarborough Shoal. Filipino fishermen were also allowed to fish in the shoal but with Chinese coast guard ships nearby.

“Last year, [Defense] Secretary [Delfin] Lorenzana said he expects the Chinese to eventually build something over Scarborough. I do, too. It’s a matter of when, not if. It’s a matter of what they built so maybe they won’t build another giant island….maybe it’s a small facility,” Poling said.

Duterte, who has established warmer ties with China when he became President in exchange of economic assistance from the regional superpower, put aside the Philippines’ arbitral win against China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea.

“You know, day by day the Chinese are allowed to strengthen their control to South China Sea and the Philippines does nothing in response. If they overplay their hand at Scarborough Shoal, Malacañang might be forced to respond,” Poling said.

“I think they will hold off and build in Scarborough until they feel like they have extracted as much as they can from the Duterte government,” he added.

While the Scarborough Shoal is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, it was declared as a common traditional fishing ground for neighboring countries in the international court ruling. /jpv

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/163779/china-squeezing-every-ounce-of-chance-from-ph-on-scarborough-expert#ixzz55xtHyPPf
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China has no greater rights than any other in the sea. China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the   in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

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Philippine President Duterte Allowed China “More Extensive” Research Rights in South China Sea, Pacific Ocean Near The Philippines — Chinese Chicanery in the Palace — Who Gains the Most?

January 15, 2018

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Chinese research vessel ‘Kexue’ is seen in the South China Sea. How do we know China is not stealing Philippine oil, fish and other natural resources?

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte personally made a decision to let China conduct scientific research off the Philippines’ Pacific coast, his spokesman said on Monday, despite concern among critics about threats to maritime sovereignty.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that as chief architect of foreign policy, Duterte allowed China to work with the University of the Philippines in Benham Rise, an area roughly the size of Greece and believed by some scientists to be rich in biodiversity and tuna.

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Welcome to The Philippines!

The United Nations declared Benham Rise, off the Pacific coast, part of the continental shelf of the Philippines in 2012. Manila last year renamed it the “Philippine Rise”.

Though China does not lay claim to the area, the lingering presence of its vessels for several months in late 2016 triggered concern about its intentions.

The Philippines granting of the permission to China was not announced and was revealed a few days ago by a lawmaker who has been fiercely critical of Duterte’s close ties with Beijing.

The Philippines and China have a long history of maritime squabbles over sovereignty in the South China Sea, but there has been no disagreement about waters off Manila’s Pacific coast.

Roque said anyone opposed to the joint research project should go to Congress and raise the issue there.

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Filipino fishermen have long complained about their “Chinese overseers.”

“If this is not a wise move of the president, then a law could be enacted to prohibit it,” he said.

The Philippines would grant permission to any other country that might show interest in conducting maritime research at Benham Rise, he added.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel)

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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: Filipino fishermen hope for Chinese benevolence

November 30, 2017

Territorial disputes in the South China Sea are causing a food shortage in the region. Filipino fishermen are at the mercy of the Chinese coastguard as their livelihood takes a blow. Ana P. Santos reports from Zambales.

Manila - Gebietskonflikte im Südchinesisches Meer verursachen Nahrungsknappheit (DW/A. P. Santos)

As Filipino fishermen set sail for the Scarborough Shoal, they hope for three things: a bountiful fish catch, their safety, and benevolence from the Chinese coastguard.

For the past two years, Paolo Pumicpic, captain of the JJ2 fishing boat, has been at the mercy of the sea; he hasn’t been lucky with any of the three.

The South China Sea, where the Scarborough Shoal is located, is a major maritime route, where an estimated five trillion dollar- (4.2 trillion euros) trade transits annually. The sea also contributes to about 12 percent of the global fish supply.

Read more: South China Sea – what you need to know

But experts say that overfishing, as well as dynamite and cyanide fishing, are depleting the area’s marine resources at an unsustainable rate. A study by the University of British Columbia in Canada shows that the South China Sea fish catch could decline by as much as 50 percent by 2045.

Apart from a dwindling fish catch, Pumicpic tells DW that he and his men also face harassment and bullying from the Chinese coastguard. They are not allowed to fish in the area.

“The Chinese regularly raid our catch. They take away our best fish for their consumption and give us cigarettes and instant noodles in return,” Pumicpic said.

Still, the fisherman does not want to complain. He says the Chinese behavior is much better than before.

“They aren’t using water cannons to turn us back. As long as they allow us to fish, it is fine,” he said.

Wasted opportunity at ASEAN

China, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims to the South China Sea.

Powerhouse China has the biggest claim by far. It has demarcated an extensive area of the sea with a so-called “nine-dash line” that first appeared on Chinese maps in the late 1940s. The Paracel and Spratly Island chains, as well as dozens of rocky outcrops and reefs, fall within this area. These bits of land are highly contested, mainly because they are believed to be surrounded by large oil and gas deposits.

Read more: Indonesia denies wounding Vietnam fishermen in renewed South China Sea clash

In 2012, the Chinese coastguard seized control of the Scarborough Shoal, which is located between the Macclesfield Bank and Luzon Island in the South China Sea. It is a disputed territory claimed by China, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

In response to the blockade, Manila filed a case against Beijing in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague. In July 2016, the PCA ruled that China’s maritime claim was  not valid and encroached on the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, where the Scarborough Shoal lies.

Despite his campaign promise to assert Philippine’s ownership of the disputed territory, President Rodrigo Duterte has so far chosen to take a conciliatory approach with China.

Manila - Gebietskonflikte im Südchinesisches Meer verursachen Nahrungsknappheit (DW/A. P. Santos)

Filipino fishermen say Chinese behavior has improved

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, which was held in mid-November in Manila, could have been the perfect platform for the Philippines to re-assert its claim on the Scarborough Shoal. But the opportunity was missed.

“Raising the West Philippine Sea issue while chairing the ASEAN summit could have made the most impact,” Jay Batongbacal, a maritime law expert and professor at the University of the Philippines, told DW.

Prior to the ASEAN Summit, the Philippine military had started building shelters in the shoal to protect their country’s fishermen from treacherous weather conditions. Beijing slammed the move and demanded that the Philippine government halted the activity. At the ASEAN conference, Duterte announced that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed that they would “set aside” the South China Sea dispute.

“President Duterte’s stance allows China to consolidate its hold in the West Philippine Sea. It is disastrous for the Philippines,” said Batongbacal.

Read more:

Opinion: No solution in sight to SCS dispute

China’s Xi Jinping seeks to win support in Vietnam amid ongoing maritime dispute

‘Can’t go to war’

Salvador Panelo, the legal advisor to the president, says that Duterte is simply taking a prudent approach because the PCA ruling does not have a legal framework that could be implemented.

“Also, we can’t go to war with China,” Panelo told DW.

But others insist there are other alternatives to dealing with Chinese hegemony.

“There are other ways to assert our claim on our territories,” Philippine congressman Gary Alejano told DW. “We can undertake scientific exploration and research and conduct aerial and sea patrols, for example.”

Alejano, who is a former marine captain, claims there have been no naval patrols in the South China Sea since the early 2016.

http://www.dw.com/en/south-china-sea-filipino-fishermen-hope-for-chinese-benevolence/a-41576397

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China’s man-made Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea, shows Chinese military construction (AP photo) — This is one of seven man made Chinese bases near the Philippines  in the South China Sea.

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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 and China To Meet Again This Year — The Elephant in the Room? China’s Claim to Sea Ownership Is Not Valid

July 12, 2017
 / 07:25 AM July 12, 2017

Malacañang said on Tuesday that Manila and Beijing have agreed to discuss “mutually acceptable approaches” to deal with their overlapping claims in the South China Sea, as the Philippines marks the first anniversary of its legal victory over China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on Wednesday.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Philippines-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism would meet again in the second half of the year to find ways to enhance “trust and confidence” on issues related to the territorial dispute.

China claim invalid

On July 12 last year, the Hague tribunal ruled that China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea had no legal basis and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights to fish and explore resources in the West Philippine Sea—waters within Manila’s 372-kilometer exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

“The Philippines and China have reviewed their experience on the West Philippine Sea issue, exchanged views on the current issues of concern to either side, and they have agreed that they will further discuss mutually acceptable approaches to deal with them,” Abella said.

He said Filipino and Chinese officials could discuss the plight of Filipino fishermen who were still having a hard time going to their traditional fishing grounds after these were seized by the Chinese.

“The second meeting coming up within the bilateral … I’m sure items like that will be considered. However, it’s excellent that we are now in dialogue with the other country,” Abella said.

Improving relations

Since coming to power last year, President Duterte has tried to steer the Philippines closer to China, improving diplomatic, trade and tourism ties between the two countries.

In an Asean security forum in Makati last month, Assistant Foreign Secretary Hellen de la Vega said the Philippines had not abandoned the tribunal’s ruling.

“The arbitral award stays. (President Duterte) already said this. The Philippine government has not abandoned it. What he’s trying to say is he would raise it at an appropriate time. So, that appropriate time would have to be defined by him, being the chief architect of policy,” she said.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/913132/manila-beijing-to-discuss-west-ph-sea-dispute-later-this-year#ixzz4mbLuas2q
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The international arbitration court in the Hague said on July 12, 2016, that China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law — making the Vietnamese and Philippine claims on South China Sea islands valid and lawful.

South China Sea: One Year After The Philippines Win At The Permanent Court of Arbitration — Brilliant Statecraft or Treason?

July 12, 2017

By Ellen Tordesillas

Posted at Jul 12 2017 02:46 AM

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One of the good things that President Duterte has done was to rekindle relations with China which reached its lowest ebb during the administration of Benigno Aquino III.

Never mind that during the election campaign, he rode on the anti-China sentiments of most Filipinos fueled by the pro-American leanings of Aquino and his Foreign Secretary, Albert del Rosario.

Remember, a standard in Duterte’s campaign speech was his boast that he will ride on a jet ski to one of the islands in the disputed Spratlys and plant the Philippine flag. He would kiss the flag to dramatize his promise. Once in Malacanang, he was asked when he was going to jetski to Spratlys and he replied it was a joke. He said he didn’t even know how to swim.

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In the guise of independent foreign policy, Duterte didn’t just cozy up to China. He attacked the United States when then President Barack Obama reminded him to respect human rights amid reports of rampant killings in connection with his anti-illegal drugs campaign.

His foreign policy moves can be likened to a pendulum that swung from extreme right to extreme left. Today marks first year anniversary of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands on the case filed by the Philippines against China on the latter’s activities in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

China did not participate in the Arbitral Court proceedings.

It was a major victory for the Philippines. The Arbitral Court declared invalid China’s nine-dashed line map which covers some 85 percent of the whole South China which infringes on the economic exclusive zones of other countries namely the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Arbitral Court also ruled that China’s  artificial islands – rocks that were turned into garrisons through reclamation – in the disputed South China Sea do not generate entitlements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea such as economic exclusive zone (220 nautical miles from the shore) and extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles).

As to Scarborough or Panatag Shoal, which is within the Philippine EEZ, the Arbitral Court said it’s a traditional fishing ground of Philippine, Chinese, Vietnamese and fishermen of other nationalities and should be maintained as such.

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Filipino fishermen had been denied access to the area since April 2012 after a two-month stand off between Chinese and Philippine Coastguards following arrest by a Philippine warship of Chinese fishermen in Scarborough shoal. Two Chinese ships remained even after the Aquino government withdrew its ships.

Duterte takes pride that because of his friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Filipino fishermen are now allowed to fish in the area, which is being guarded by two Chinese ships.

It’s like a battered wife thankful that the husband has stopped beating her.

Duterte’s critics have scored his deference to China even  echoing  the position of China that historically South China Sea is theirs  as the name states.

In an ambush interview last April. Duterte said, “They really claim it as their own, noon pa iyan. Hindi lang talaga pumutok nang mainit. Ang nagpainit diyan iyong Amerikano. Noon pa iyan, kaya (It goes way back. The issue just did not erupt then. What triggered the conflict were the Americans. But it goes all the way back. That’s why it’s called) China Sea… sabi nga nila (they say) China Sea, historical na iyan. So hindi lang iyan pumuputok (It’s historical. The issue just had not erupted then) but this issue was the issue before so many generations ago.”

VERA Files fact-check about the name of South China Sea showed  that  South China Sea used to be called the Champa Sea, after the Cham people who established a great maritime kingdom in central Vietnam from the late 2nd to the 17th century.

That is contained in the book,  ‘The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea” by  Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

Carpio said it was the  Portuguese navigators who coined the name South China Sea.

“The ancient Malays also called this sea Laut Chidol or the South Sea, as recorded by Pigafetta in his account of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world from 1519 to 1522. In Malay, which is likewise derived from the Austronesian language, laut means sea and kidol means south,” he further said.

“The ancient Chinese never called this sea the South China Sea. Their name for the sea was “Nan Hai” or the South Sea, he adds.

Reading Duterte’s blurting the Chinese line on the South China name, Ruben Carranza, former commissioner of the Presidential Commission on Good Government and now director of the Reparative Justice Program at the International Center for Transitional Justice, said “In football, that would be an ‘own goal.’

That’s when a player delivers the ball to the opponent’s goal.

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http://news.abs-cbn.com/blogs/opinions/07/11/17/opinion-ph-win-in-arbitral-court-one-year-after

Blog:www.ellentordesillas.com
E-mail:ellentordesillas@gmail.com

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 (Contains links to information about Vietnam’s renewed efforts to extract oil and gas from the sea bed)

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Dominance of the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean would solidify China’s One Belt One Road project
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The international arbitration court in the Hague said on July 12, 2016, that China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law — making the Vietnamese and Philippine claims on South China Sea islands valid and lawful.
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China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning at Hong Kong
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Time To Take Action To Defend The Philippines

June 13, 2017
OPINION
/ 12:22 AM June 13, 2017

I meant to write on Rizal and President Duterte, but taking part in the Defend Democracy Summit at the UP School of Economics on Monday brought me face to face with the human toll of the Duterte administration’s irresolution in defending the West Philippine Sea. We must make time to understand the Duterte era from a historical perspective; on Thursday, the Inquirer and the De La Salle University seek to do just that, with a historians’ forum on Philippine independence and the rise of China. But today—today I want to talk about Norma and Ping and the fishermen in Zambales they represent.

Let me belabor the obvious: The Defend Democracy Summit was called out of the sense that democracy in the Philippines today needs to be defended. The organizers defined four areas that needed defending: national sovereignty, human rights, democratic institutions, truth.

Assigned to the first workshop, I had the chance to listen to Prof. Jay Batongbacal, one of the world’s leading experts on the South China Sea disputes. (I added a few words on the Chinese view, from confusion in the 1930s about the location of the Spratlys to allegations in the English-language Chinese press of Philippine aggression in 2016.) In the discussion that followed, the diversity of the perspectives represented was striking: women, businessmen, students, environmentalists, political activists, fisherfolk. I was especially impressed by the intensity of the intervention of the likes of Norma and Ping, who represented fishermen from Zambales whose lives and livelihood are increasingly at risk.

 

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Not for lack of trying: The fishermen are organized, conduct roundtables in their communities, connect to local and national reporters. But since the start of the Duterte administration, they have found themselves at the mercy of the Chinese—and the authorities do not seem to be of any help. One of the representatives spoke of a recent incident where Chinese fishermen were arrested while poaching in internal waters, and a Chinese Embassy official appeared to tell police officers: “Philippine law does not apply to them (the poachers).” (I will try to get to the bottom of this incident.) He also vigorously rejected media reports that Filipino fishermen can now fish inside Scarborough Shoal.

A group of Zambales fishermen has been conducting meetings and workshops among themselves. In their last workshop, they came up with a list of five demands, in Filipino, that illustrates the immediate effect of the government’s failure to protect their way of life.

The five demands they addressed to the Duterte administration include:

Remove China’s illegal structures and stop certain practices that only favor China.

Allow fishermen to fish and to seek cover in Scarborough Shoal in times of typhoons and calamities.

Provide livelihood for fishermen’s families affected (by Chinese control of Scarborough Shoal since 2012).

Avoid classifying Scarborough as a marine sanctuary because in the end this will only become a fishing area for China.

Stop the illegal quarrying in Zambales used for the reclamation (of Chinese-occupied reefs) and the building of Chinese military structures, in the West Philippine Sea.

Another representative warned: “In five years, maybe in two years, Zambales will be out”—meaning out of fish stock, because of aggressive Chinese fishing.

Yesterday, June 12, was the 90th birthday of an extraordinary teacher who is, amazingly, still teaching. Onofre Pagsanghan, better known to generations of students at the Ateneo de Manila High School, and to thousands of students and parents who have heard his lectures in different schools across the country, as Mr. Pagsi, was—is—a spellbinding speaker. His gift is equal parts heart and craft; a lifetime of integrity and excellence becomes visible through his lectures, even his casual remarks.

What a privilege it was to study under him.

On Twitter: @jnery_newsstand

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/104727/remove-chinas-illegal-structures#ixzz4js4z0UQu
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FILE 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 China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law.

Duterte goes soft on Chinese ‘harassment’ of Filipino fishermen

April 28, 2017
China’s construction activities on Subi Reef is seen from Philippine-controled Pagasa Island in the South China Sea off Palawan province on April 21, 2017. Since 2013, China has launched an ambitious, aggressive island-building project in the disputed waterway that serves as a key global trade route. AP
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MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte skipped the expected expression of concern over Chinese actions against Filipino fishermen and called a recent incident in the disputed South China Sea a “misunderstanding.”

After Philippine authorities ordered an inquiry, Duterte confirmed on Thursday reports that the Chinese Coast Guard blocked and harassed Philippine-flagged vessel Princess Johann near the Union Banks in the Philippine-claimed Spratlys region. Even as no casualties were noted, the Filipino fishermen accused Chinese officers of firing at them.

“There is a misunderstanding there. We have talked about it. And sabi ko I hope it will not happen again,” Duterte said, a few days ahead of the Manila-hosted Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit.

Prodded by reporters to explain what was discussed among his officials about the incident, Duterte said it was the Filipino fishermen who were taking the risk despite Chinese presence in the area.

 

“Parang papasok talaga sila do’n farther,  (They were going further in) testing the waters and tempting the gods… Sinabi na nga nila d’yan na muna e (The Chinese even warned them to stay where they were),” Duterte said.

A Chinese speedboat supposedly approached the Filipino boat after it dropped anchor about 3.7 kilometers off the Chinese side of the atoll, according to reports.

“The crew hid and eventually cut their anchor line and fled the area,” the statement added.

Duterte, who has taken a friendly stance toward China and Russia instead of warming up to the country’s traditional ally, the United States, was resigned about what occurred in Philippine-claimed waters.

“Tanggapin na lang natin ‘yan (Let’s just accept that),” Duterte said. “You know guys, you must realize by now para mahinto na ‘yang dream ninyo. We cannot on our own enforce the arbitral judgment.”

In July, a few days after Duterte was installed president, the Philippines won in its maritime entitlements overlapping China’s in a United Nations-backed arbitration ruling. Beijing refused to recognize the landmark verdict.

The case was among the legacies of Duterte’s predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III, but the newly elected leader has keen on setting aside the ruling in building closer ties with China.

ALSO READ: For Duterte, pressuring China with arbitral award is ‘all dreams’

Duterte refused to raise the ruling in the ASEAN Summit the Philippines is hosting and in the bilateral negotiations with Beijing in May, promising to use the legal leverage at a later time. — with a report from Agence France Presse

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/28/1694800/duterte-goes-soft-chinese-harassment-filipino-fishermen

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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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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

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Push for South China Sea code stirs Asean suspicions about Beijing’s endgame — Many remain unconvinced on the bypassing of international law — Voice suspicions of Beijing’s sincerity

April 27, 2017

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China-occupied Subi Reef at Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (REUTERS) – China’s support for finalising a code of conduct in the hotly contested South China Sea is generating some hope in South-east Asia of settling disputes, but those working out the terms remain unconvinced of Beijing’s sincerity.

Signing China up to a legally binding and enforceable code for the strategic waterway has long been a goal for claimant members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).

But given the continued building and arming of its artificial islands in the South China Sea, Beijing’s recently expressed desire to work with Asean to complete a framework this year has been met with scepticism and suspicion.

“Some of us in Asean believe this is just another ploy by China to buy time,” said one senior diplomat familiar with the talks. “China is expectedly stalling until it has completely attained its strategic objectives… What need is there for the green grass when the horse is dead?”

The framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, which commits to following the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight, and”refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features”.

But the DOC was not stuck to, especially by China, which has built seven islands in the Spratly archipelago. It is now capable of deploying combat planes on three reclaimed reefs, where radars and surface-to-air missile systems have also been installed, according to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative think tank.

Beijing insists its activities are for defence purposes, in areas it considers its waters. Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines, however, all claim some or all of the resource-rich waterway and its myriad of shoals, reefs and islands.

BINDING CONTRACT

The Asean diplomat said the two rounds of talks so far this year gave the impression of progress, but details worked out so far were “essentially the same” as the DOC.

Another diplomat from the 10-member bloc said the framework would be “re-stating most of the major points” of the DOC, but the hard part was getting China to agree to a legally binding contract.

“Here lies the big challenge. You need to understand this is not just a simple matter of conforming to a set of words,” the diplomat said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang did not directly answer a question on whether China would support an enforceable code of conduct, but said China hoped for the framework and code to be completed this year.

Finalising the framework would be a feather in the cap for the Philippines, which chairs Asean this year. Manila has reversed its stance on the South China Sea, from advocating a unified front and challenging Beijing’s unilateralism, to putting disputes aside to create warm ties.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has opted not to press China to abide by an international arbitration decision last year that ruled in Manila’s favour and invalidated Beijing’s sweeping South China Sea claims.

There will be no mention of the Hague ruling in an Asean leaders’ statement at a summit in Manila on Saturday, nor will there be any reference to concerns about island-building or militarization that appeared in last year’s text, according to excerpts of a draft seen by Reuters.

A diplomat at the Asean secretariat said there was urgency from all parties to get the framework done this year, but Asean was taking “a leap of faith” with China and there were concerns about what the end result might be.

Richard Heydarian, an expert on politics and international affairs at Manila’s De La Salle University, said China’s strategy was to project an image of being a responsible stakeholder rather than an aggressor, and avoid being bound to rules that could weaken its geopolitical position should the United States assert itself in the South China Sea.

“China wants to come up with a symbolic framework that says to America ‘Hey, back off, we’re dealing with Asean on a very diplomatic level’, but nothing significant enough to operationally restrict their ability to respond if the Trump administration takes a tougher position,” he said.

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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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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

Philippines and the South China Sea: “We must not accept the position that China’s South China Sea build-up is a fait accompli that renders us helpless.”

April 26, 2017
Chinese structures and buildings on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratlys group of islands are seen 18 kilometers (11 miles) away from the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed South China Sea Friday, April 21, 2017. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials flew to Thitu Island Friday to assert the country’s claim to the heartland of a disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. AP/Bullit Marquez
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MANILA, Philippines — Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who led the Philippines in filing an arbitration case against China, expressed disappointment over the reported draft of a communique that will be issued at the end of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Manila.

A draft of the “chairman’s statement” did not mention the arbitration decision issued by a United Nations-backed tribunal last year that invalidates China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, according to a report by the Associated Press.

“We shared the serious concerns expressed by some leaders over recent developments and escalation of activities in the area which may further raise tensions and erode trust and confidence in the region,” the draft statement said.

READ: ASEAN leaders likely to go soft on sea feud in Manila summit

Asked to comment on the draft statement’s treatment of the South China Sea developments, Del Rosario said that there is a minimum expectation of positive leadership to be attributed to President Rodrigo Duterte’s chairmanship of the 10-nation regional bloc.

“The draft of the Chairman’s Statement is deeply disappointing and, if not revisited, would manifest an absence of the desired leadership,” Del Rosario said in a statement released Wednesday.

Del Rosario has been urging the government to assert effective leadership as this year’s ASEAN chair by bringing up the arbitral tribunal ruling during the discussion of the maritime dispute.

In a forum earlier this week, Del Rosario said that the country must speak out and work with its Southeast Asian neighbors to stand in protest.

“We cannot wait for a ‘better time’ to come—we must create that time ourselves lest that opportunity be lost forever,” Del Rosario said.

The former Secretary of Foreign Affairs added that the arbitral award should be an integral part of the Code of Conduct being finalized.

“Moreover, we must not accept the position that China’s South China Sea build-up is a fait accompli that renders us helpless,” Del Rosario said in a forum last Tuesday.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/26/1694140/del-rosario-laments-draft-asean-statement-sea-row

RELATED: ASEAN countries urged to draft sea code, pressure China

Related:

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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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this:

 

South China Sea: Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Suggests ASEAN Member States Make Hague International Court Ruling Part of Code of Conduct

April 25, 2017
The Philippines’ former top diplomat said the position that China’s SCS build-up is a fait accompli should be rejected. File

MANILA, Philippines –  Former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario yesterday urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to make the South China Sea (SCS) ruling an “integral” part of the Code of Conduct framework and the eventual finished document.

The Philippines’ former top diplomat said the position that China’s SCS build-up is a fait accompli should be rejected.

While most states strive for a peaceful, rules-based regional order in Southeast Asia, Del Rosario said China’s unilateralism has put this common vision at grave risk.

He urged ASEAN to be united in countering this challenge to its regional centrality and solidarity, noting that promoting the rule of law and strengthening multilateralism in support of the law must be key parts of ASEAN’s response.

“ASEAN and the international community as a whole should utilize the principles in the arbitral ruling to move diplomatic engagement forward,” Del Rosario said during the forum titled “The South China Sea: The Philippines, ASEAN, and their International Partners.”

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

“On shelving the ruling, what would happen if we should pass the point of no return?” Del Rosario asked.

The Philippines took a risk when the Philippine government went to arbitration at The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013 with Del Rosario as foreign affairs secretary.

The ruling of the international arbitral tribunal not only vindicated the Philippines, but also upheld the rule of law over the waters and global commons of the SCS, making the ruling an integral part of the universal body of international law.

Manila made a strong contribution to the region, as the ruling benefited not only the claimants but also the whole world.

“My hope is that our ASEAN neighbors share the pride of what a member state like ours can accomplish, and see in the ruling an opportunity for all of the Southeast Asian region. Ultimately, advocating a rules-based regime is deeply embedded in who we are and what we must do,” Del Rosario said.

As this year’s chair of the ASEAN, the Philippines, he emphasized, has a unique and important opportunity to dwell on how it can work with its neighbors to ensure that a rules-based order succeeds.

Del Rosario also pointed out that the purpose of the cooperation should go beyond maintaining friendly ties, as the Philippines must also cooperate to ensure a neighborhood where countries follow the rules and uphold their commitments.

In 2002, ASEAN and China committed to a non-binding agreement over how claimants should all behave in the SCS. In the spirit of preventing and reducing tensions, the countries committed to self-restraint from activities that would complicate or escalate disputes.

“I am sorry to say that in the years that followed, one country did not exercise the necessary restraint expected of it,” Del Rosario said.

In 2017, as in 2012, he said that the greatest immediate source of regional uncertainty has been China’s unlawful efforts to expand its footprint throughout the SCS.

“Our region cannot promote the rule of law while ignoring the law as it stands,” Del Rosario said. “Moreover, we must not accept the position that China’s South China Sea build-up is a fait accompli that renders us helpless.”

It should be unthinkable for any diplomatic mechanism – whether bilateral or multilateral – to be used as a channel to reward unilateral activity or preserve unlawful gains, according to Del Rosario.

He urged the Philippines to speak out and work with its neighbors and friends to stand united in protest of island-building and militarization, Filipino fishermen being barred from entering Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, irreparable destruction of marine commons and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s challenged flyover in the SCS.

“We cannot wait for a ‘better time’ to come – we must create that time ourselves, lest that opportunity be lost forever,” Del Rosario said.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/26/1694039/asean-urged-make-scs-ruling-part-sea-code

Related:

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 (Philippine Star)

 — From March 25, 2017 with links to other related articles

 

 (National Geographic on the South China Sea)

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No automatic alt text available.

On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

Despite all this: