Posts Tagged ‘nine-dash line’

Philippines President Duterte says will ‘go to war’ over South China Sea resources, but nobody believes it

May 29, 2018

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has said China will cross a red line if it unilaterally mines the natural resources of the South China Sea, according to the country’s Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano.

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Updated 1:29 AM ET, Tue May 29, 2018

“(Beijing) said some red lines, we said some red lines … The President has already said that. If anyone gets the natural resources in the Western Philippines Sea, South China Sea, he will go to war. He said, “Whatever happens, happens.” He will go to war,” Cayetano said.
Tensions in the hotly disputed region have risen in recent weeks, amid reports of the Chinese military landing bombers on their artificial islands for the first time.
Under Duterte, who took office in 2016, the Philippines has toned down its rhetoric towards China on the dispute. In April, he publicly declared that he “loved” Chinese President Xi Jinping.
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It’s not clear whether the latest statement marks a tougher approach from Duterte, who’s been accused of being too lenient on the issue. Cayetano said China had been told of the “red lines.”
Manila is pursuing a joint exploration agreement with Beijing for oil and natural gas reserves in their claimed territory in the South China Sea.
Cayetano said during the speech his department was repeatedly told to “file a protest” over Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea. “We are taking all diplomatic actions at the right time,” he said.
But he said it was unfair to single out China for its advanced militarization in the South China Sea. “If there is more than one country militarizing, and it’s not only the islands, if huge navies are sailing through the area, is that not militarization?” he said. “So we don’t even have a definition of militarization.”

US Navy steps up


Cayetano’s speech came as the United States Navy sailed two warships within 12 nautical miles of China’s artificial islands in the Paracels, as part of their regular freedom of navigation exercises in the contested waters.
It was the first time more than one US vessel had been used in the exercises, according to experts, part of a recent escalation in US opposition to China’s action in the region.
Beijing claims a huge swathe of territory across the South China Sea, known as the “nine-dash line,” from its southern Hainan province all the way down to the waters north of Malaysia.
To reinforce its claims to the territory, the Chinese government has built a series of artificial islands in the Paracel and Spratly Island chains, complete with radar facilities and airstrips.
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The Philippines says it “owns” Mischief Reef, but there is not one known Filipinos living there. China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines. China says its activity bears “not the slightest resemblance to the so-called ‘militarization’ that the US side has been irresponsibly accusing us of.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has repeatedly stated the territory in the South China Sea falls under Beijing’s jurisdiction, to do with as it pleases.
But Beijing’s position overlaps competing territorial claims from the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, among others. An international tribunal ruled in 2016, in a case brought by the Philippines, that most of Beijing’s stated claims in the South China Sea were illegal under international maritime law.
To register its objection to Beijing’s growing militarization of its artificial islands, the United States military on May 23 disinvited China from biannual RIMPAC naval exercises.
“China’s behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise,” a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement at the time.



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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.




As Rosneft’s Vietnam unit drills in disputed area of South China Sea, Beijing issues warning

May 17, 2018

Only the the Chinese government can carry out oil and gas exploration or exploitation activities in waters under Chinese jurisdiction (which is just about all the South China Sea) the Chinese say….

Rosneft Vietnam BV, a unit of Russian state oil firm Rosneft, is concerned that its recent drilling in an area of the South China Sea that is claimed by China could upset Beijing, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Wednesday.

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A view shows JDC Hakuryu-5 deep water drilling platform in the South China Sea off the coast of Vung Tau, Vietnam April 29, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

Rosneft said on Tuesday its Vietnamese unit had started drilling at the LD-3P well, part of the Lan Do “Red Orchid” offshore gas field in Block 06.1, 370 kms (230 miles) southeast of Vietnam. The block is “within the area outlined by China’s nine-dash line,” according to energy consultancy and research firm Wood Mackenzie.

When asked about the Reuters report of the drilling, China’s foreign ministry spokesman said that no country, organisation, company or individual can, without the permission of the Chinese government, carry out oil and gas exploration or exploitation activities in waters under Chinese jurisdiction.

“We urge relevant parties to earnestly respect China’s sovereign and jurisdictional rights and not do anything that could impact bilateral relations or this region’s peace and stability,” the spokesman, Lu Kang, told a regular news briefing on Thursday.

China’s U-shaped “nine-dash line” marks a vast expanse of the South China Sea that it claims, including large swathes of Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Maps of the area indicate the block is around 85 kms (53 miles) inside the contested area.

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Russia’s oil company Rosneft is pictured at the Rosneft Vietnam office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam April 26, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

A series of dashes, the line is not continuous making China’s claims often ambiguous. In recent years, though, China has increasingly patrolled and enforced the area, claiming historic rights to the resources and features within it.

In March, Vietnam halted an oil drilling project in the nearby “Red Emperor” block following pressure from China, sources told Reuters.

That block is licensed to Spanish energy firm Repsol, which has asked Vietnam to pay compensation over the issue.

The Vietnamese foreign ministry did not respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

Rosneft had no consultations with the Kremlin on drilling in the South China Sea, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

“As far as we know, the company has already made a statement that it works exactly in line with the obtained licenses,” Peskov told a regular conference call with reporters.

Fearing repercussions and pressure from China, Rosneft Vietnam had wanted to begin drilling with as little attention as possible, despite the statement by its parent company on Tuesday, the sources said.

On Thursday, its parent company said its drilling in the block was within Vietnam’s territorial waters, and in accordance with Vietnamese legislation.


Both Rosneft and Russia’s Gazprom have significant development projects in Vietnamese waters that fall within the area claimed by China, said Ian Storey, a regional security expert at Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

“Although Russian diplomats have privately expressed concerns to their U.S. counterparts that China may one day put pressure on Moscow to terminate those projects, so far Beijing has refrained from doing so because of the ever-closer strategic partnership between the two countries,” said Storey.

“It would be a serious blow to the burgeoning Sino-Russian entente if Beijing asked Moscow to end its energy projects in Vietnam.”

China has become Russia’s top destination for exports, largely because Russia is the largest supplier of oil and gas to China, mainly through pipelines.

The drilling in the “Red Orchid” gas field within the block will be undertaken using the “Hakuryu-5” equipment made by Japanese company Japan Drilling Co., Ltd, Rosneft said in that statement.

The Hakuryu-5 arrived in the disputed area on May 6, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon ship tracking data and was still recorded as being inside the block late on Wednesday.

The drilling is significant for Vietnam, which has been struggling to maintain its crude oil and gas output amid already declining production from its key fields and the continuing pressure from China in the disputed waters.

Vietnam already gets about 30 percent of its gas needs from block 06.1 because of oil and gas operations established there as long as 15 years ago.

It lies just south of blocks 05.3 and 05.2, where in 2007 British Petroleum suspended work following a threat of “economic consequences” from China, according to a September, 2007 U.S. State Department cable leaked by WikiLeaks.

In April, Vietnam’s state oil firm PetroVietnam said that maritime tensions with China will hurt its offshore exploration and production activities this year.

Hanoi and Beijing have long been embroiled in disputes over the maritime boundary, which is a politically sensitive issue in Vietnam.

Police in the central province of Khanh Hoa have launched an investigation into a group of Chinese tourists who were pictured in a local airport wearing T-shirts printed with a map showing the “nine-dash line”, state media reported on Wednesday.

Airport authorities asked the tourists, who arrived at Cam Ranh Airport on Sunday, to take off their T-shirts after going through customs, the Van Hoa (Culture) newspaper reported.

To view a graphic on Drilling in contested waters, click:

Additional reporting by Khanh Vu in HANOI, Greg Torode in HONG KONG, Christian Shepherd in BEIJING and Andrey Ostroukh in MOSCOW; Editing by Martin Howell


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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: China’s missiles technically directed at everyone

May 8, 2018

China has installed surface to air missiles and anti-ship missiles on islands it occupies but doesn’t legally own in the South China Sea

This March 11, 2017 satellite image shows China’s hardened shelters with retractable roofs for mobile missile launchers on Mischief Reef, which is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

AMTI/CSIS via DigitalGlobe, File


China’s missiles technically directed at everyone — Hilbay
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( – May 8, 2018 – 12:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — Contrary to the government’s assurances that Beijing’s weapons on the Spratly Islands are not directed to the Philippines, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay stressed that the missiles are technically directed at everyone.

Hilbay, in a television interview, said that it was false to say that the missile system of China was not directed at the Philippines, the closest country where the weapons are installed.

“It’s technically directed at everyone within the range of that missile system and we’re nearest to the range of that missile system and so it is, in fact, directed at us,” Hilbay told ANC’s Early Edition on Tuesday.

RELATED: ‘To verify’ or ‘can’t verify?’ Malacañang shifts rhetoric on Chinese missiles

The former solicitor general also warned that China has a “history of dishonesty” over its actions in the South China Sea.

China’s militarization activities in the area are well within the Philippines’ backyard as Mischief Reef, one of Beijing’s “big three” islands, is within Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“When China started reclaiming or took over those areas and the started building an island, they said that this was for civilian purposes, non-military, this was for weather purposes, for the protection of the fishermen. Now you realize that they have militarized the area,” Hilbay said.

He added that China has no right to reclaim and militarize Mischief Reef as it is part of the country’s EEZ, as ruled upon by the United Nations-backed tribunal in the Philippines versus China arbitration.

Considering the matter as a geopolitical issue is also a wrong characterization of the problem as it places the Philippines in an area of weakness.

“Our area of strength is legal precisely because we have won the case and so even before we go to the geopolitical aspects of the problem we should always keep in mind that there is a legal advantage that we have here,” Hilbay said.

Hilbay pointed out that the Senate and the House of Representatives should continue its investigations into the matter.

The government ought to inform the public on what is going on given the extent of China’s militarization and its potential effect to the country and the Filipino people.

“The government is not doing anything. If at all it’s stepping back, stepped back over and over again and we now know for a fact that the policy of total friendliness is not work to our advantage,” Hilbay said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang had admitted that the government does not have the technology to verify China’s installation of missile systems in the Spratly Islands.

“Well I had a talk with the security — National Security Adviser (Germogenes Esperon) and he told me that there’s a technology that we need that we still don’t have to be able to verify it for ourselves,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Beijing, on the other hand, already confirmed this and insisted that the deployments were not directed at anyone.

“The relevant deployment targets no one. Anyone with no invasive intention will find no reason to worry about this,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.





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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.



Philippines: Robredo urges diplomatic protest over Chinese missiles

May 6, 2018


Vice President Leni Robredo criticized the reports that China has installed missile systems in the West Philippine Sea. Office of the Vice President/Released, file

Robredo urges diplomatic protest over Chinese missiles

Rosette Adel ( – May 6, 2018 – 6:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday called on the administration to protest against China’s installation of missiles on reclaimed reefs in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Robredo said she is alarmed by the reports that missiles were deployed in three reefs claimed by Manila: Fiery Cross Reef (Kagitingan), Mischief Reef (Panganiban) and Subi Reef (Zamora).

She said the increased militarization is in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of The Sea. She added that it contributes to regional instability, compromise our security, and further curtail our sovereignty.

“We urge the administration to take immediate and appropriate actions, including the filing of a diplomatic protest, to protect, what is rightfully owned by the Filipino people, in line with the ruling of the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal,” Robredo said.

“It is in the interest of all parties concerned to find a long term solution to the on-going impasse. It is critical for our government to work with our neighbors and friends who have a stake in the region to craft a just and peaceful agreement – taking into account international laws and respect for each nation’s sovereignty,” she added.

READ: Philippines to exhaust diplomatic options on SCS

Robredo said that the South China Sea — part of which Manila claims and calls the West Philippine Sea —  is a major passageway for international shipping.

She said the heightened tensions in the area “will be to the detriment of all the parties concerned.”

“This area should continue to serve as an open waterway for all countries, in accordance to international laws,” the vice president said.

On Saturday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government also found the deployment of missiles on the manmade islands in WPS “worrisome.” He added that the government would resort to diplomacy or diplomatic protest if the Department of Foreign Affairs deemed it.

“If it is verified, of course, we view it with much concern because any form of militarization of the West Philippine Sea is worrisome, given that it is one of the busiest sea lanes of the world,” Roque  said at a press briefing in Davao City.

Roque added that there is no need at this time for the government to summon Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua to shed light on the issue.

He said the Philippines will “resort to diplomacy, resort to diplomatic protest if the (Department of Foreign Affairs) deems it fit.”

‘China has no right for reclamation’

Meanwhile, in a radio interview, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, one of the members of the legal team who argued the Philippines’ arbitration case before a United Nations-backed tribunal in The Hague, said China has no right to install missiles in the West Philippine Sea.

He added that China is lying because they said when they first started building shelters, they said it was for peaceful, non-military purposes.

“China has no right in that area, because Mischief Reef is ours. They have no right to reclaim that area,” Hilbay was quoted as saying in Filipino in an interview with dzBB.

On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague, Netherlands issued a landmark ruling invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters.

China has ignored the ruling and the Philippines has opted to focus on trade and investments from China instead of pressing its arbitral victory.




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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.



Philippines ‘aggressively’ pursuing joint exploration in South China Sea — China is there and building but has no leagal rights in the South China Sea

February 16, 2018


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. AP, File photo

AP, File photo
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( – February 16, 2018 – 3:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government is consulting international experts in its bid to pursue joint exploration with China in disputed areas in the South China Sea, the Philippines’ top diplomat said Friday.

The possibility of joint exploration was among the agenda in the recently concluded second meeting of the bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea in Manila.

Pursuing joint exploration in disputed areas would entail talks with other claimant countries, DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a press conference.


“I can tell you that we’re pursuing it aggressively because we need it,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano revealed that the Philippine government is currently discussing joint exploration first to ensure that it is in accordance with the 1987 Constitution and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

RELATED: ‘Joint venture with China on South China Sea violates Charter’ l China seen to push states to withdraw South China Sea claims

The DFA secretary said that the Philippines cannot explore undisputed areas alone due to financial concerns.

“Unless we can do it by ourselves without starting a war or worse without a massacre, it will be prudent to do it in partnership without violating our sovereignty,” he said.

International legal experts who have handled contracts on legal framework of disputed areas and who have dealt with sovereign rights will be consulted regarding a possible joint exploration with China.

The Chinese government, on the other hand, will be forming their own technical working group while consulting with the DFA, the Department of National Defense and the security cluster.

“We will find a legal framework if it is possible under the Constitution that will allow joint exploration. Once there’s results, we will report it to the Filipino public,” Cayetano said.

“If they find deposits commercially viable to help development, then we will have to file a framework,” he added.

Cayetano noted that the Philippines and China are only discussing joint exploration first and not joint development.

“We’re discussing exploration muna cause what’s the use of a debate whether or not allowed sa Constitution ang joint development kung hindi natin alam ano ang nandyan na pwedeng i-harvest without damaging the environment,” he said.

Experts had warned that a joint development in the South China Sea between the Philippines and China does not guarantee better relations and that the failure of such may spark another conflict.

RELATED: ‘South China Sea claimants will suffer if harsh to China’

“The feasibility of joint development is directly correlated with the state of relations between the parties,” UP Law professor Jay Batongbacal said in a forum last year.

In July 2016, the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China’s historic nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

The Philippines, however, pushed aside the landmark ruling as President Rodrigo Duterte is pursuing “friendly” relations with China.




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Chinese military bases near the Philippines

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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 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.

India ready to help boost Asean maritime security

February 4, 2018
A peaceful, very prosperous maritime neighborhood is very important to India
 / 07:44 PM February 04, 2018
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A peaceful, very prosperous maritime neighborhood is very important to India, 40 percent of whose commerce relies on unimpeded passage through international waters in the Indo-Pacific region including the South China Sea, according to East External Affairs Minister Preeti Saran. (Image from Google Maps)

DELHI, India — The Indian government has expressed readiness to help strengthen maritime security in Southeast Asia, particularly in ensuring that peace will prevail in disputed areas of the South China Sea.

But Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), a think tank based in New Delhi, said that any assistance that the Indian government would extend to members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) would depend on the comfort level of every country, apparently referring to each one’s ties with China.

A peaceful, very prosperous maritime neighborhood is very important to India, 40 percent of whose commerce relies on unimpeded passage through international waters in the Indo-Pacific region including the South China Sea, according to East External Affairs Minister Preeti Saran.

“We remain very committed to Asean’s centrality in the regional architecture,” Saran said. “We supported Asean for freedom of navigation in the important stages of communication. We remain committed to a rules-based system, respect for international law and that there should be no threat or use of force by any entity in these waters which are the global commons.”

“If there are disputes or territorial disputes of some the Asean countries with some other neighbors, we believe that all disputes should be resolved peacefully in keeping with international laws, notably the UNCLOS,” she added.

Preeti Saran

India’sEast External Affairs Minister Preeti Saran (Photo from her Facebook page)

UNCLOS – the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea – defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.

‘Issues-free relationship’ with Asean

“We have a very strong defense cooperation with some of the Asean countries,” Saran said. “But what is the beauty about our relations with Asean and each of the Asean countries is that it is without any problems. It is an issues-free relationship. There are no irritants in our relationship. In fact there is a greater desire on the part of each of the Asean countries and Asean as a regional grouping to do more business with India.”

She was referring to the recent India-Asean commemorative summit last Jan. 26, which coincided with India’s Republic Day. It was attended by all Asean heads of state, including Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Saran said that the partnership between India and Asean encompasses political, security, defense, maritime, economic and cultural cooperation.

With India being one of the fastest growing world economies, growing at 7.5 percent this year and expected to grow by 8 percent in 2019, the country provides an opportunity for Asean countries to access goods and services.

“As far as India is concerned, we feel that the Asean region is our natural partner,” Saran said. “There is a lot of dynamism in the Asean region itself. Individually each of your countries are doing exceedingly well economically and we feel there are complementarities in our economies.”

“The Asean way of doing business is of consensus,” she added. “We are aware that Asean is deeply committed to peace and prosperity in the region and we feel that India is a natural partner for Asean in this desire for attaining peace and prosperity in our region which is why we remain very hopeful that our relations will only improve and issues-free that we see elements positive in our economic growth that there is a greater desire [among] Asean countries for India to be more active and actively participating, not just in economic activities but also in security cooperation.”

Common challenges

She said that India and Asean face common challenges of terrorism, piracy, maritime terrorism, extremism, and natural disasters which “come straight out of over exploitation of maritime resources, of our natural resources.”

India has developed standard operating procedures on providing humanitarian assistance in responding to natural disasters as well as disaster risk reduction management, looking at natural calamities as a cause of concern and an important area of cooperation with the Asean-member states along with the development of the so-called blue economy.

The blue economy involves the fisheries and aqua-culture sectors as well as the use of maritime resources, including oil and gas.

It was, she assured, without spoiling the environment, “because India remains very strongly committed to sustainable development.”

“We feel that  if we have to grow, to provide decent standards of living to our people, our 1.2 billion people, we cannot do so at the risk of damaging our environment,” she said. “Our growth is not at the expense of somebody else’s exploitation.”

“We are very mindful and remain very sensitive to concerns relating to sovereignty and territorial integrity,” she added.

Among areas in maritime cooperation that India hopes to explore with Asean is disaster risk reduction and management, joint patrols and exercises, and other maritime capacity-building activities.

She said India and the Asean countries, individually and collectively, could make arrangements on intelligence sharing to combat piracy at sea, terrorism, and sea-based human smuggling as well as narcotics trafficking.

Security cooperation important for India and Asean

For its part, the Vivekananda International Foundation said that it would be vital for India and Asean to explore areas of security cooperation, particularly where the “lack of order in the South China Sea” is concerned.

“Our security, prosperity, development, everything depends upon the order of the sea,” VIF senior fellow Anil Wadhwa said. “It is very important that India and Asean should begin to look at security cooperation.”

“It is not a new idea. It is an idea that has been incrementally gaining ground but we also notice that there has been hesitation on the part of some Asean countries, because of obvious reasons, to take this cooperation farther,” he added.

He assured that India would ready to have a serious security cooperation – particularly through maritime joint exercises – with Asean, individually and collectively, but any arrangement would have to be within the level of comfort of the Asean-member states.

But Wadhwa stressed that any arrangement should not be viewed as moves to oppose any country.

VIF senior fellow and research coordinator Vinod Anand observed a wavering Philippine stance on its claim to territories in the South China Sea despite securing a favorable ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

In the July 2016 ruling, the court found that the Philippines had exclusive sovereign rights over certain areas in the West Philippine Sea and that China had no historic rights to resources within the areas falling within its nine-dash line map, which has been invalidated.

Without invoking the arbitral ruling, the Philippines has since pushed for the drafting of a code of conduct in the South China Sea involving China and all other claimant-countries.

Nevertheless, Anand pointed out: “India supports freedom of navigation or flight and unimpeded commerce and international law, the UNCLOS. Any dispute should be resolved through peaceful means without threat or force… The Indian position is quite clear.”

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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 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 is again exploiting the Philippines

January 18, 2018


By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star)

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MANILA, Philippines — China is again exploiting the goodwill of the Philippine government to conduct studies in Philippine seas to discover more areas rich in minerals and gas, a lawmaker warned yesterday.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate cautioned the public that with the Duterte administration’s friendly approach to the Chinese, Beijing is using the same modus operandi it employed during the Arroyo administration.

Zarate reminded the public about the Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) of Beijing in 2005, wherein Philippine    official position in the disputed West Philippine Sea “jeopardized our claims in the Recto Reed Bank” near the waters off Palawan.

He warned that the JMSU during the Arroyo administration “is bound to happen again in the case of Benham Rise.”

Benham Rise is part of the Philippines’ continental shelf awarded by the United Nations in 2012, which provides Manila the exclusive sovereign rights over it. The area is believed to be rich in minerals and gas.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should rethink its decision to allow Chinese oceanographers to conduct studies in Philippine waters because it is one of the methods they used before under the JMSU that China entered with the Arroyo administration,” Zarate said.



South China Sea and Beyond: Chinese research ship ‘Kexue’ to conduct research in Philippine waters

January 18, 2018


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China research ship Ke Xue


By Ian Nicolas Cigaral ( – January 18, 2018 – 2:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — China will deploy its most sophisticated research ship to study Philippine waters, including the potentially resource-rich Benham Rise (Philippine Rise).

Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo party-list) earlier slammed the Department of Foreign Affairs for allowing the Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (IO-CAS) to conduct research in waters off Eastern Luzon, where Benham Rise is located, and off Eastern Mindanao.

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The Chinese marine exploration will take place on January 24 to February 25 this year.

READ: Alejano: DFA approved Chinese think tank request to study Philippine waters

In a press conference in Beijing last Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang confirmed that Chinese research vessel “Kexue” will survey Philippine eastern waters, adding that such a cooperation would further strengthen the two countries’ bilateral relations.

“China commends this decision made by the Philippine side on agreeing to China’s scientific activities and offering facilitation,” Lu said.

“We welcome Philippine scientific research institutions’ participation and would like to work with them to advance maritime practical cooperation in marine research and other fields so as to create a favorable environment for the sound, steady and sustainable development of bilateral ties,” he added.

The $87.5-million Kexue was handed over to IO-CAS in 2012, newspaper China Daily reported. In September 5 last year, Kexue reportedly finished a month-long scientific exploration of the western Pacific Ocean.

Weighing 4,711 tons, China Daily described Kexue as a “moving laboratory on the sea” capable of global voyages and all-day observations.

Kexue can also conduct water body detection, atmospheric exploration, deep-sea environment exploration and remote sensing information verification.

In 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf approved the Philippines’ undisputed claim to the Benham Rise.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier signed an Executive Order officially renaming Benham Rise to “Philippine Rise” to assert the country’s sovereignty there following reports that Chinese research vessels were spotted surveying the area in 2016.

The Philippine Navy now regularly patrols the continental shelf.

According to Alejano, the Chinese researchers will be joined by the University of the Philippines – Marine Science Institute “as a requirement.”

Alejano also revealed that a similar plea was lodged by French-based non-profit organization Tara Expeditions Foundation, but it was declined by the DFA.

The lawmaker said Tara Expeditions was a better choice if Manila was seeking additional resources and manpower to study eastern waters, noting that France, unlike China, has no territorial conflict with the Philippines.

For his part, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said the law gives equal chance to foreign countries to study Philippine waters as long as there are Filipinos on board.

Foreign marine researchers must also share their findings and data with their Filipino counterparts, Cayetano added.

READ: Cayetano: ‘Same rules for all countries’ seeking to study Philippine waters






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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.

Judge Carpio: Philippines dumb to grant China request to do research in Benham Rise

January 16, 2018

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Monday said it would be “dumb” if the Philippine government would allow the request of China to explore the resource-rich Philippine Rise.

“China has squatted on the West Philippine Sea and refuses to leave despite the ruling of the UNCLOS tribunal. Now, China requests to be allowed to survey the Philippine Sea on the east side of the Philippines. The Philippines would be dumb to grant China’s request,” Carpio said in a 24 Oras report by Raffy Tima.

Magdalo partylist Representative Gary Alejano last week said that he had recieved information that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had granted the request of a Chinese entity to do research in waters off eastern Luzon.

The Philippine Rise, formerly known as the Benham Rise, is located east of Luzon and is part of the Philippines’ continental shelf.

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In 2012, the United Nations gave the country exclusive sovereign rights over the rise, believed to be rich in minerals and gas.

Chinese vessels were spotted surveying the said area in 2017, prompting the Philippine government to send Beijing a note verbale, seeking clarification as regards the presence of its ships in the resource-rich area.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Carpio should respect the executive branch once a decision was already made.

“Sana respetuhin natin ‘yung separation of powers kapag meron ng kasong nakahain sa kanya,” Roque said.

DFA secretary Alan Peter Cayetano had said “Philippine law says research can be done as along as there is a Filipino on board.”

“So there’s nothing suspicious about approval or disapproval of scientific research whether they’re Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Mongolians, Singaporeans. If they comply we will approve, if they do not comply we will not approve,” Cayetano said.

It is the DFA which usually grants applications to conduct research in the area, with coordination from technical agencies depending on the type of research. —Anna Felicia Bajo/NB, GMA News





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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.

Suspicious Chinese activity in Philippine Rise — Duterte administration’s apparently inexhaustible capacity to bend over backward to accommodate Beijing — What do Filipinos get?

January 16, 2018
 / 05:11 AM January 16, 2018

Had Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano not raised the issue, the public would not have known that the Department of Foreign Affairs has allowed China — specifically, a research vessel operated by that country’s Institute of Oceanology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences — to conduct purportedly scientific marine research in Philippine Rise.

Formerly called Benham Rise, the area is a 13-million-hectare underwater plateau in the Philippine Sea, 250 kilometers east of the province of Isabela, that the United Nations officially recognized as part of the Philippine continental shelf in 2012, along with the sovereign rights to explore and exploit resources in it.

Philippine Rise is far from and well outside the waters in the South China Sea almost all of which are claimed by China through its so-called “nine-dash line,” a supposedly historical basis of ownership that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejected as without basis in July 2016. That same ruling also declared that Beijing’s actions in the region had violated the Philippines’ sovereign right to fish and explore for resources within its own 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.

The same sovereign right by the Philippines exists in Philippine Rise, an area that is incontrovertibly Philippine territory, with no scintilla of ownership dispute and recognized by international law as such.

So what is a Chinese vessel doing in those waters? And why did the DFA grant it permission to conduct research there, considering the testy relations the country has had with China over its island-grabbing in the South China Sea — including islands that have long been part of Philippine territory?

As Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio keenly pointed out: “If a bully has squatted on your front yard and requests to look at your backyard, would you grant the request of the bully?”

More strangely, why was all this kept under wraps by Foreign Secretary Alan Cayetano — hidden from public discussion and scrutiny until Alejano’s revelations forced some sort of justification out of him?

Cayetano has defended the Chinese vessel’s incursion into Philippine Rise by saying the law allowed foreign research in Philippine territory so long as a Filipino scientist is aboard the research vessel and the findings of the study are shared internationally.

Carpio said no such local law exists, but Article 246 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) — of which both China and the Philippines are signatories — does call on “coastal states” like the Philippines to, “in normal circumstances, grant their consent for marine scientific research projects by other countries.”

Only the most blinkered observer would deny that Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea and its disrespect for the arbitral court’s ruling have long nullified that condition of “normal circumstances.”

So any hint of interest on its part for—let alone active entry into—another part of the Philippine territory would naturally raise red flags in any reasonable Filipino’s mind. But apparently not in Cayetano’s, or Malacañang’s.

Given his office’s justification for this suspicious Chinese activity in Philippine Rise, Cayetano must be asked: Who, then, is the Filipino scientist aboard the Chinese vessel, whose presence in the ship supposedly was a reason for the permission given? What are the findings of the research vessel so far? Where have these findings been published, who benefits from them, and for what specific ends was the maritime research undertaken?

Unless Malacañang becomes forthcoming and transparent about the tradeoffs it is forging with China for promised loans and assistance, questions like these will continue to point at an inconvenient notion: this administration’s apparently inexhaustible capacity to bend over backward to accommodate Beijing.

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