Posts Tagged ‘nine-dash line’

Drilling ship leaves Vietnam oil block after China row

August 14, 2017

Reuters

HANOI (Reuters) – The drilling ship at the center of a row between Vietnam and China over oil prospecting in disputed waters in the South China Sea has arrived in waters off the Malaysian port of Labuan, shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon showed on Monday.

Drilling by the Deepsea Metro I ship was suspended in Vietnam’s Block 136/3 last month after pressure from China, which says the concession operated by Spain’s Repsol overlaps the vast majority of the waterway that it claims as its own.

The ship, used by Norway’s Odfjell Drilling Ltd., was reported to be in Labuan at 9.17 a.m. (0117 GMT), according to shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon. It was last recorded at the drilling site on July 30.

Odfjell Drilling did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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Deepsea Metro I

The row over the drilling inflamed tensions between Vietnam and China, whose claims in the South China Sea are disputed by five Southeast Asian countries.

Repsol said last month that drilling had been suspended after the company spent $27 million on the well. Co-owners of the block are Vietnam’s state oil firm and Mubadala Development Co of the United Arab Emirates.

The block lies inside the U-shaped “nine-dash line” that marks the area that China claims in the sea.

China had urged a halt to the exploration work and a diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the situation said that the decision to suspend drilling was taken after a Vietnamese delegation visited Beijing.

Vietnam has never confirmed that drilling started or that it was suspended, but last month defended its right to explore in the area.

Vietnam has emerged as the most vocal opponent of Chinese claims in the South China Sea, where more than $3 trillion in cargo passes every year, and China was also angered by Vietnam’s stand at a regional meeting last week.

Vietnam held out for language that noted concern about island-building and criticized militarization in South China Sea in the communique from foreign ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Reporting by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Richard Pullin

South China Sea: U.S. vows to challenge excessive sea claims

August 14, 2017
Saying it is not about any particular country or about making a political statement, the United States has stressed that it will invoke freedom of navigation and challenge excessive maritime claims anywhere in the globe. AP/Gregory Bull, File

MANILA, Philippines –  Saying it is not about any particular country or about making a political statement, the United States has stressed that it will invoke freedom of navigation and challenge excessive maritime claims anywhere in the globe.

In a recent press briefing in Washington, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said US forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region, including the South China Sea, on a daily basis under a comprehensive freedom of navigation program (FONOP).

She explained that the operations, conducted in accordance with international law, are meant to demonstrate that the US will continue to fly, sail and operate “wherever international law allows.”

“It’s true in the South China Sea; it’s true in other places around the world as well,” Nauert said.

A US Navy destroyer carried out a “freedom of navigation operation” on Thursday, coming within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea.

The USS John S. McCain traveled close to Mischief or Panganiban Reef in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals.

Slamming the FONOP, the Chinese armed forces immediately sent naval ships to identify and verify the US warship and warned it to leave.

The United Nations-backed Permanent Arbitration Court in The Hague had awarded the Philippines “sovereign rights” over Panganiban Reef off Palawan, based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The court ruling last year also invalidated China’s entire “nine-dash-line” claims over nearly all of the South China Sea. Beijing has ignored the ruling despite having ratified UNCLOS.

“We have a comprehensive freedom of navigation operations program, under which the US forces challenge excessive maritime claims around the globe to demonstrate our commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms and uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law. All nations —that is guaranteed to the United States and to other nations, as well,” Nauert added.

The FONOP, she said, is not about any one country and is not about making a political statement.

Last year, the US conducted these challenging excessive maritime claims in 22 different coastal states, including claims of allies and partners.

“The United States does these operations – the freedom of navigation operations – all around the world, many times of year,” Nauert said. “But this is nothing new. We’ve done it before; we’ll continue to do that.”

The US acknowledged on Thursday that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was under “tremendous” pressure on the South China Sea issues during the meetings in Manila last week but the regional bloc still “held on to its principles,” defeating attempts to drop “militarization,” “self-restraint” and “land reclamation” from the joint communiqué at the end of the milestone gathering.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/08/14/1728684/us-vows-challenge-excessive-sea-claims

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The ONLY TRULY JOYFUL FACES at the ASEAN conference were provided by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.  (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

 

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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 chose to ignore international law.

South China Sea, N. Korea, Muslim Militants Top ASEAN Meetings

August 4, 2017

MANILA, Philippines — Alarm over North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile tests, a germinal step to temper South China Sea disputes and unease over a disastrous siege by pro-Islamic State group militants will grab the spotlight in an annual gathering of Southeast Asia’s top diplomats with their Asian and Western counterparts.

The 27 nations deploying their foreign ministers for three days of summitry and handshake photo-ops in Manila starting Saturday include the main protagonists in long-tormenting conflicts led by the United States, Russia, China, Japan and South and North Korea.

The Philippines plays host as this year’s chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. It’s an unwieldy 10-nation collective of democracies, monarchies and authoritarian regimes founded half a century ago in the Cold-War era, which prides itself for being a bulwark of diplomacy in a region scarred by a history of wars and interminable conflicts.

A look at the main issues expected to dominate the meetings:

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SOUTH CHINA SEA

Chinese and ASEAN foreign ministers will endorse a two-page framework of a long-sought code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea when they meet on Saturday. The Philippines calls the development a major diplomatic progress in efforts to ease a potential flashpoint.

Critics say the agreed outline of key principles is lopsidedly in China’s favor and suspect that Beijing may have consented to it to divert protests as it tries to complete land reclamations and fortify its man-made islands with a missile defense system.

While the framework carries hope for a diplomatic approach to the disputes, it noticeably failed to mention China’s construction of new islands and an arbitration ruling last year that invalidated the historic basis of Beijing’s claim to virtually the entire sea, a strategic waterway for commerce and defense. China has dismissed the arbitration ruling, which was put forward by the Philippines, as a sham.

Backed by its treaty ally the United States, the Philippines was the most vocal critic of China’s assertive actions in the contested region until President Rodrigo Duterte rose to power last year. He swiftly moved to rekindle ties with Beijing in the hope of boosting trade and securing infrastructure funding while indefinitely sidelining efforts to secure Chinese compliance with the ruling.

Beijing’s cozier ties with Manila under Duterte have calmed tensions and prompted China to allow Filipinos back to a disputed shoal, but arbitration proponents worry that Duterte was squandering an opportunity to harness the rule of law to restrain aggressive acts in the disputed region.

A draft of a joint communique to be issued by the ASEAN ministers welcomes the conclusion of talks on the framework, but drops any mention of regional concerns over land reclamations and militarist moves in the South China Sea, which ASEAN members had agreed to include in their previous statements.

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NORTH KOREA

Following North Korea’s two recent and successful ICBM tests, the U.S. and its allies quickly signaled their intention to impose additional sanctions against Pyongyang through a U.N. resolution. Along with South Korea and Japan, the U.S. is also expected to lead a barrage of condemnations against Pyongyang at the ASEAN Regional Forum, an annual security conference to be held in Manila on Monday. North Korea has confirmed that its top diplomat, Ri Yong Ho, will attend, raising the specter of a verbal showdown in the 27-nation forum, which also includes Pyongyang’s ally, China.

Ahead of the meeting, a senior State Department official told reporters in Washington that the U.S. was moving to have North Korea suspended from the ARF for going against its conflict-prevention objectives. It’s part of America’s broader effort to isolate Pyongyang diplomatically and force it to end missile tests and abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Removing North Korea from the grouping, however, will be tough. There is no exclusion procedure and the ARF decides by consensus, so any U.S. move against Pyongyang can be defeated by any country, including China.

“I think what we would expect to see this year at the meeting would be a general chorus of condemnation of North Korea’s provocative behavior and pretty serious diplomatic isolation directed at the North Korean foreign minister,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton.

In Manila, the ARF ministers will express their grave concern over the North’s ICBM testing, along with previous missile launches and two nuclear tests in 2016. They will repeat calls for Pyongyang to immediately comply with its obligations under U.N. resolutions and ask that it exercise self-restraint “in the interest of maintaining peace, security and stability in the region and the world,” according to a draft statement to be issued by the Philippines, as ARF chairman.

The North would respond by claiming “during the meeting that its nuclear weapons program is an act of self-defense against a hostile policy towards it,” the draft statement said.

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MARAWI SIEGE

The ASEAN meetings are held under heavy security in Manila as thousands of Philippine troops press a major offensive to finally quell a siege by Islamic State group-linked militants that has dragged on for more than two months in southern Marawi and turned large swaths of the lakeside city into a smoldering battlefield. The fighting has left nearly 700 combatants, including more than 520 gunmen, and civilians dead and displaced the entire population of the mosque-studded city.

The Marawi crisis has triggered concerns that the Islamic State group may be gaining a foothold in Southeast Asia through allied local militants, as it faces major setbacks in Syria and Iraq.

At the ARF, the ministers were to strongly condemn “recent acts of terrorism” without mentioning Marawi by name and reiterate their commitment to counterterrorism strategies, according to the draft ARF communique. Those steps include promoting moderation and effectively harnessing “social media to counter the spread of terrorists’ narratives online.”

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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 chose to ignore international law.

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Asean goes soft on China

August 2, 2017
In a draft statement, ASEAN foreign ministers said they tasked the ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Consultation (ACSOC) mechanism to begin discussions on a substantive and effective COC on the basis of the framework as soon as possible. File

MANILA, Philippines –  The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is seen to take a softer stand on China’s aggressive moves in disputed waters and to highlight instead the conclusion of negotiations on a framework of the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (COC).

The latest talks on the COC were held on May 18 in Guiyang, China.

In a draft statement, ASEAN foreign ministers said they tasked the ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Consultation (ACSOC) mechanism to begin discussions on a substantive and effective COC on the basis of the framework as soon as possible.

ASEAN and China are set to endorse a framework for a COC that will regulate the future behavior of the parties concerned during the meeting in Manila this week. The framework will be endorsed for eventual crafting of a COC.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the framework, completed ahead of the mid-2017 goal set by the leaders of ASEAN and China, contains elements which the parties have agreed to.

But the draft does not call for a legally binding COC, as some ASEAN countries had wanted.

Pending conclusion of a substantive COC, the ministers reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation and overflight in and above the South China Sea.

“In this regard, we underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the DOC (Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea) in its entirety,” the draft communiqué said.

“Taking note of concerns expressed by some ministers over recent developments in the area, we reaffirmed the importance of enhancing mutual trust and confidence, exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities, pursuing mutually agreed practical maritime areas of cooperation, and avoiding unilateral actions in disputed features that may further complicate the situation in keeping with the principle of peaceful resolution of disputes without resorting to the threat or use of force,” the draft statement said.

The draft communiqué did not mention the July 12, 2016 arbitral ruling in favor of the Philippines.

‘Philippines should seek enforcement of arbitral award’

But Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said the Philippines should seek enforcement of the arbitration ruling against China on disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea.

Carpio said this after warning that a joint venture with China on the disputed islands would violate the Constitution.

Carpio said the Duterte administration should instead push for its territorial rights stemming from the government’s victory before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

He raised suggestions as the country is set to host next week the ASEAN foreign ministers for the framework of the COC for claimants in the maritime row.

Among the options for the government, according to Carpio, is to initiate an agreement among all ASEAN members with territorial claims in the South China Sea like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia to declare that no geologic feature in the Spratly Islands generates an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that could overlap among countries as ruled by the PCA.

He also suggested that the Philippines enter into sea boundary agreements with Vietnam and Malaysia on overlapping EEZ on the extended continental shelf claim in the Spratlys.

Carpio explained such agreements would implement part of the arbitral ruling that no geologic feature in the Spratly Islands generates an EEZ.

“Even if only the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia will agree to this declaration, it will clearly remove any maritime delimitation dispute among them leaving, only the territorial disputes,” the magistrate said in an interview.

He explained that such declarations would also isolate China as the only state claiming an EEZ from geologic features in the Spratly islands.

The SC justice said another option would be to file before the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf an extended continental shelf (ECS) claim beyond the country’s 200-nautical mile EEZ in the West Philippine Sea off the coast of Luzon.

Carpio believes that the UN body would likely award the ECS claim to the Philippines since China would not participate in the process and oppose it. This would be similar to the Philippines’ ECS claim in Benham Rise, which was unopposed.

“If China opposes our ECS claim, China would have a dilemma on what ground to invoke,” he stressed, adding that China cannot invoke its nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea as the CLCS is bound by the PCA ruling under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Carpio reiterated that the Philippines can file a new case before the UNCLOS tribunal if China starts reclamation activities in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal as this would destroy the traditional fishing ground of Filipino, Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen.

Carpio earlier criticized the policy of the Duterte administration on the territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea for “setting aside” the PCA award won by the legal team, of which he was part.

He said the policy is “without discernible direction coherence of vision” and “relies more on improvisation than on long-term strategy.”

But the SC justice clarified the blame does not fall on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), because it is Duterte who is the chief architect of the country’s foreign policy.

DFA spokesman Robespierre Bolivar earlier said the PCA ruling might not be mentioned in the framework to be approved by the ASEAN foreign ministers.

The official said the framework would be “generic” and would only outline the nature of the code of conduct for parties in the dispute.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/08/03/1724206/asean-goes-soft-china

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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 chose to ignore international law.

 

Vietnam Critical of China’s Cinema on Disputed South China Sea Island — International law is on Vietnam’s side — Violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty

August 1, 2017

HANOI — Vietnam on Tuesday condemned China’s construction and operation of a movie theater on the Paracel islands, as tension between the neighbors rises over energy claims in the disputed South China Sea waterway.

The cinema on Woody Island in the Paracels, which are also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, is equipped with the most advanced projection equipment, China’s state news agency Xinhua has said.

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“That action by China has infringed Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa Archipelago, violated international law and cannot alter Vietnam’s sovereignty over this archipelago,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said, using the Vietnamese name for the islands.

“Vietnam opposes it and demands that China not repeat similar actions.”

Telephone calls to the Chinese embassy in Vietnam to seek comment went unanswered. Officials of China’s foreign ministry were not immediately available for comment.

Tension between the neighbors revived in mid-June when oil drilling began in Vietnam’s Block 136/3, which is licensed to Vietnam’s state oil firm, Spain’s Repsol and Mubadala Development Co [MUDEV.UL] of the United Arab Emirates.

The block lies inside the U-shaped “nine-dash line” that marks the vast area China claims in the sea and overlaps what it says are its own oil concessions.

China has urged Vietnam to stop the drilling while Vietnam has said countries should respect its right to drill in its waters.

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Vietnamese fishermen

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

China took full control of the Paracels in 1974 after a naval showdown with Vietnam.

Woody Island is the seat of what China calls Sansha city, its administrative center for the South China Sea.

Though China calls it a city, Sansha’s permanent population is no more than a few thousand, and many of the disputed islets and reefs in the sea are uninhabited.

(Reporting by My Pham; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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

 (Contains links to several earlier related stories)

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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 chose to ignore international law.

South China Sea: Philippines Arbitration Victory Invalidated China’s Nine-Dash Line Claim in International Law — “Not intended to undermine China’s prestige and honor in the regional and international community. But rather, it protects the truth.”

July 19, 2017
By:  – Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
 / 07:33 AM July 17, 2017

A former Vietnamese government official and expert on the South China Sea issue has called on all the claimant countries in the territorial and maritime dispute to treat the arbitral ruling won by the Philippines last year as a “valuable precedent” in following the rule of law in the contested sea.

“[Claimant countries] should continue to implement a more robust, practical and specific legal battlefront. To do this, it is necessary to thoroughly study and publicize the ruling’s content as a valuable precedent, a lesson in following the rule of law,” Dr. Tran Cong Truc, former chief of Vietnam’s national border committee, said in an e-mail interview.

Image result for Dr. Tran Cong Truc, photos

Dr. Tran Cong Truc

In a landmark ruling on July 12, 2016, the United Nations arbitral tribunal said China had no historical rights over the disputed parts of the South China Sea and invalidated its nine-dash line claim over the sea.

The Philippines, using a mechanism provided for under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), lodged the case against China following the 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff.

The ruling, which came down overwhelmingly favorable to the Philippines, was immediately dismissed as “a farce” by China, which did not participate in the case.

Tran said the ruling was not merely intended to define the winner between the Philippines and China.

“It is not intended to undermine China’s prestige and honor in the regional and international community. But rather, it protects the truth, the right to maintain and promote the effectiveness of Unclos,” Tran said./rg

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/158832/south-china-sea-expert-treat-ruling-valuable-precedent#ixzz4nID5DSEy
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 (Contains links to several more related articles)

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

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Philippines’ Greatest International Victory — Document to peacefully resolve disputes by international law — Lost by the wayside

July 15, 2017
 / 05:18 AM July 15, 2017

On July 12 a year ago, the Philippines won a stunning victory on the international front when the case it had brought against China was upheld by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The ruling invalidated China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea: The court said China has “no historical rights” on the area via its so-called “nine-dash line,” and recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights to fish and explore for minerals in waters within its 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.

“Having found that none of the features claimed by China was capable of generating an exclusive economic zone, the Tribunal found that it could—without delimiting a boundary—declare that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, because those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China,” declared the ruling.

Not only that. While the court said it would not “rule on any question of sovereignty over land territory and would not delimit any maritime boundary between the Parties” (China and the Philippines), it unequivocally declared that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone “by (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone.”

In much of the international community, the ruling was immediately hailed as a milestone document, a way forward to clarify and resolve, via international law, the bitter disputes that have arisen over ownership and fishing rights in the South China Sea (Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have competing claims to it alongside China and the Philippines). As late as last April, the issue was in the minds of the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States—when it issued a statement backing the ruling, saying it could be “a useful basis for further efforts to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea.” G7 added that it strongly opposed “any unilateral actions which increase tensions, such as the threat or use of force, large-scale land reclamation, building of outposts, as well as their use for military purposes and urge all parties to pursue demilitarization of disputed features and to comply with their obligations under international law.”

That reminder was deemed necessary, because China had not only rejected the tribunal’s ruling despite being a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, under which the arbitration case was heard; it also defied world opinion by upping the ante, constructing military facilities on three islands in the disputed region that have now allowed it to potentially deploy military forces and exercise an effective lockdown over the vital waters.

While other claimant countries have continued to protest Beijing’s muscle-flexing, the Philippines, the main beneficiary of the tribunal’s ruling, has instead chosen rapprochement with China by, first of all, “setting aside” the historic decision. That was how President Duterte worded his rebooted foreign policy, under which the Philippines would be silent for now on its legal claim, in exchange for billions of dollars in loans and financial commitments from its giant economic neighbor. The President sees it as a pragmatic arrangement: The Philippines is in no shape to fight China militarily, and so must assume a less provocative, more suppliant position.

Meanwhile, China’s encroachment and increasing control over the West Philippine Sea continues.

Only time will tell if the Duterte administration’s strategy over this invaluable piece of national patrimony is correct, or if in fact, as Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said, it “dropped the ball.”

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/105588/ignored-victory#ixzz4msYNTgIk
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Beijing now calls the shots in the South China Sea, and the US and Asean must accept this for lasting peace — The question is, does international law matter?

July 9, 2017

Mark J. Valencia says China’s perceptual domination of the sea lanes is complete and, military grandstanding aside, the US and others in the region will need to focus on realistic goals, rather than desirable ones

By Mark J. Valencia
The South China Morning Post

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PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 July, 2017, 12:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 July, 2017, 7:03pm
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The contest for the perceptual domination of the South China Sea, for the Asean claimants and thereby Southeast Asia, is over. China has won. There is little its regional opponents can do now. How did this come about and what are the options for dealing with it?

By guile, patience and perseverance, China has inexorably occupied and “militarised” seven supposedly strategic features in the South China Sea. In the process, it has successfully defied an international arbitration decision invalidating its infamous nine-dash line claim, as well as its actions against the Philippines and its sovereignty claim, and occupation of four low-tide elevations.

More significantly, it has done so in the face of US challenges and even shows of force in the form of “freedom of navigation operations” (Fonops), as well as protests from other claimants, like Vietnam and the Philippines. The latter was the first to recognise the futility of opposing China there and the benefits of “working with it”. It is likely that ­others – like Brunei and Malaysia – will follow suit. Even Vietnam, ­increasingly the lone and lonely ­opponent, may be coming round.

Watch: China dismisses South China Sea ruling

The irony is that the contest has been, and still is, primarily perceptual in nature. No commercial shipping has been affected, despite the constant US concern with “freedom of navigation”, nor is it likely to be in peacetime, given China’s heavy ­dependence on ship-borne trade.

In a real war, China’s military installations would be highly vulnerable to attack and destruction

Indeed, China is just as, or even more, concerned that the US might try to block its shipping traffic in the event of hostilities. Most importantly, a point often lost in the diplomatic hand-wringing is that, in a real shooting war, China’s military installations would be highly vulnerable to attack and destruction; they give China little, if any, strategic advantage in a clash with the US.

The real value for China of its ­actions and installations is they have shown that the claimants, ­including US military ally the Philippines, are essentially alone in their contest with China. To be sure, given Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s pivot away from the US and President Donald Trump’s ­inconsistent and confusing policy towards China , the South China Sea and the region have serendipitously enhanced China’s perceptual position. Trump’s abandonment of the US economic initiative with Asia, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and his “let’s make a deal” approach to foreign policy have left Southeast Asian nations questioning the US will and staying power in the region. The resultant hedging, waffling and even tilting of Southeast Asian countries towards China has only served to illustrate the shallowness and fragility of American security ties in the region.

Watch: Duterte pledges to avoid South China Sea issue in Beijing

So what are the options for the United States in the near term?

One possibility, advocated by US hardliners, is for it to physically confront China over its actions and claims in the South China Sea. This could include forcing China’s forces off the features it occupies or even blockading them. Another suggestion is for the US to gain military access to the other claimants’ bases there and thus compete in a mini arms race with China.

But this is highly unlikely. The current US strategy to prevent China’s build-up there – if there was or is one – has not worked so far. Moreover, as prominent Australian analyst Hugh White observes, Washington has shown little appetite for engaging in a confrontation with China in its own backyard, where it might take heavy losses and not win quickly or outright. The US also reckons that support for its “friends and allies” or for nebulous concepts, like the international order or the freedom of navigation, are not sufficient reasons to do so.

The US has no history of, or predilection for, sharing power with anyone

More importantly, it perceives that its “friends and allies” do not want to see a US-China confrontation, at least one that will involve or negatively affect them, and it is difficult to imagine one that would not.

Worst of all, this would be a bad idea because, as White suggests, China believes the US does not have the will and wherewithal to meaningfully confront it and would thus press on. If the US was not bluffing, as China would think, the result could well be war.

Another option, also unlikely, is for the US and China to proactively agree to a modus operandi that ­accommodates Chinese concerns and shares management of the ­regions’ security situation. But the US has no history of, or predilection for, sharing power with anyone – and this is likely to ­continue in the Trump era.

Trump’s honeymoon with China seems to be ending

A third, more likely, option is a leaking status quo. In this scenario, China continues to enhance its military capacity in the South China Sea and to interfere with other claimants’ activities there. The US continues to object and, in the words of its defence secretary, James Mattis, to “sail, fly and operate wherever international law ­applies”. This includes continued Fonops and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) probes in China’s near-shore waters. China continues to vehemently object to and even challenge the more provocative operations. This could produce a tit-for-tat dynamic in which China enhances its military presence in the sea with each probe or Fonop, which China has repeatedly warned would be the result of such provocation.

Indeed, after the recent Fonop in which the USS Dewey indirectly challenged China’s sovereignty over a low-tide elevation, the defence ministry in Beijing warned that the US actions would “only motivate the Chinese military to enhance its capacity”.

 The USS Dewey (left), a guided-missile destroyer, during operations in the South China Sea on May 19. The warship sailed near a reef claimed by Beijing on May 25, in the first such operation by the Trump administration in the disputed waterway. Photo: AFP/US Navy

Trump’s honeymoon with China seems to be ending. China has not delivered to Trump’s satisfaction on North Korea, his administration has agreed a new arms sale to Taiwan, despite Beijing’s vehement objections, and is making noises about punishing China for unfair trade. Relations overall are likely to become more contentious.

What China considers provocative Fonops and ISR probes are ever more likely with aggressive Pacific Command chief Harry ­Harris apparently calling the tactical shots. The July 2 operation near ­Triton Island in the Paracels is probably a harbinger of more to come, including in the Spratlys, even though the two disputed island groups present different situations.

Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!

More US-China military incidents are likely, but hopefully none will cross the threshold to open ­conflict – although they will likely come increasingly closer to it.

In any of these scenarios, the Southeast Asian claimants – and the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, are increasingly sidelined. As China rises in power, the Western-built and US-led international ­order, particularly the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, continues to haemorrhage, and there is really little that Asean or the US can do about it.

Asean’s centrality in security ­affairs for the region becomes an ever more unobtainable goal in the face of big power rivalries.

The point is that the sooner the other claimants, Asean as a whole and the US face reality and embrace the art of the possible, rather than the desirable, the more likely it is that they can find and accept a ­modus operandi that will maintain peace in the South China Sea.

Mark J. Valencia is an adjunct senior scholar at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, Haikou, China

 http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2101696/beijing-now-calls-shots-south-china-sea-and-us-and-asean
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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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Due to years of ineffective foreign policy, the U.S. has not reached a crisis with North Korea. At the same time, by leaving China to violate international law in the South China Sea over and over and over, China has just decided to ignore international law. China has what it wants; and the U.S. still has not resolved the North Korea problem even it has “lost” the South China Sea.
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 (The Philippines should know that China has a nasty habit of not honoring agreements)

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A Chinese expert in China, Chinese culture, the Communist Party and how China administers law told Peace and Freedom, “Today’s Chinese government cares nothing for international law, legal agreements, treaties and the like. China always finds ways to wriggle out of deals to get what it wants while denying other parties in any agreement and their claims.” The Vietnamese have learned this the hard way. Strangely, most Americans think the Chinese treat international law the way the U.S. does.

John E. Carey

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In Tense South China Sea, Vietnam Renews India Oil Deal

July 8, 2017

Tensions with China were being contained, however, and had not yet reached crisis proportions, they said.

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In Tense South China Sea, Vietnam Renews India Oil Deal

Vietnam granted ONGC Videsh a two-year extension to explore oil block in the South China Sea

HANOI/NEW DELHI:

–Vietnam granted ONGC Videsh a two-year extension to explore oil block 128
–Vietnam wants us because of China’s interventions in the sea: Official
–India provides naval patrol, satellite cover to monitor Vietnam’s waters

Vietnam has extended an Indian oil concession in the South China Sea and begun drilling in another area it disputes with China in moves that could heighten tensions over who owns what in the vital maritime region.

The moves come at a delicate time in Beijing’s relations with Vietnam, which claims parts of the sea, and India, which recently sent warships to monitor the Malacca Straits, through which most of China’s energy supplies and trade passes.

Vietnam granted Indian oil firm ONGC Videsh a two-year extension to explore oil block 128 in a letter that arrived earlier this week, the state-run company’s managing director Narendra K. Verma told Reuters.

Part of that block is in the U-shaped ‘nine-dash line’ which marks the vast area that China claims in the sea, a route for more than $5 trillion in trade each year in which the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also have claims.

A senior official of ONGC Videsh, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said interest in the block was strategic rather than commercial, given that oil development there was seen as high-risk with only moderate potential.

“Vietnam also wants us to be there because of China’s interventions in the South China Sea,” the official said.

Vietnam’s state-run PetroVietnam declined to comment on the concession, which was first granted to India in 2006 but had been due to expire in mid-June.

Conflicting territorial claims over the sea stretch back many decades but have intensified in recent years as China and its rivals have reinforced their positions on the rocks and reefs they hold.

Far to the south of block 128, drilling has begun in a block owned jointly by Vietnam’s state oil firm, Spain’s Repsol and Mubadala Development Co of the United Arab Emirates.

Deepsea Metro I, operated by Odfjell Drilling Ltd., has been drilling in the region since the middle of last month on behalf of Spain’s Repsol SA, which also has rights to neighbouring block 07/03, Odfjell said.

Odfjell declined to comment on the specific location of its vessel, but shipping data from Thomson Reuters Eikon showed it was in oil block 136/3, which also overlaps China’s claims. Odfjell’s Eirik Knudsen, Vice President for Corporate Finance and Investor Relations, referred further queries to Repsol, which declined to comment. PetroVietnam made no comment.

COMPETING MARITIME CLAIMS

When asked about the activity, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China opposes anyone “carrying out unilateral, illegal oil and gas activities in waters China has jurisdiction over”.

“We hope the relevant country can act on the basis of maintaining regional peace and stability and not do anything to complicate the situation,” he told a briefing in Beijing.

Chinese General Fan Changlong cut short a visit to Vietnam and a friendship meeting at the China-Vietnam border was cancelled around the time the drilling began.

The centuries-old mistrust between China and Vietnam is nowhere more evident than in their competing maritime claims, despite their shared communist ideology and growing trade.

Asked about the most recent drilling, Vietnamese officials said their Chinese counterparts have started raising concerns about cooperation with both Repsol and ExxonMobil Corp. of the United States, which is developing the $10 billion “Blue Whale” gas concession off central Vietnam.

They said Chinese officials also expressed concern at Vietnam’s evolving security relationships with the United States and Japan, both of which have offered moral support for its South China Sea claims and help for Vietnam’s coastguard.

Tensions with China were being contained, however, and had not yet reached crisis proportions, they said.

“We know they are unhappy again, but we are resisting the pressure – it is a traditional part of our relations with Beijing,” one official said privately. “Other parts of the relationship remain strong.”

Underlining the relationship between India and Vietnam, Vietnamese deputy prime minister Pham Binh Minh told a forum in New Delhi this week that India was welcome to play a bigger role in Southeast Asia – and specifically the South China Sea.

Hanoi’s growing defence and commercial ties with India are part of its strategy of seeking many partnerships with big powers while avoiding formal military alliances.

The pace has picked up since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration took office in 2014 and sought to push back against China’s expanding presence in South Asia by raising its diplomatic and military engagement in Southeast Asia.

India is providing naval patrol boats, satellite cover to monitor Vietnam’s waters and training for its submarines and fighter pilots – more military support than it is giving to any other Southeast Asian country.

On the agenda are transfers of naval vessels and missiles under a $500 million defence credit line announced last year.

Next week, the navies of India, the United States and Japan will hold their largest joint exercises in the Bay of Bengal.

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/in-tense-south-china-sea-vietnam-renews-india-oil-deal-1721591

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Peace and Freedom Note: The international arbitration court in the Hague ruled that China had no Sovereignty over the islands it built itself in international waters –– illegally.

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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.

Related:

 (Contains links to several more related articles)

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 (The Philippines should know that China has a nasty habit of not honoring agreements)

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 (Has links to several related articles)

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China’s coast guard monitors and regulates fishing in the South China Sea — which is not allowed under international law. When Philippine President Duterte told China’s President Xi the Philippines would drill for oil in the South China Sea — Xi threatened war….

(Contains links to previous related articles)

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Deepsea Metro I — Vietnam drilling for oil in the South China Sea in defiance of China

Commentary: Japan’s contributions to Philippine maritime security — Keeping the sea-lanes of communication open — Respecting international law — Even after China’s threat of war

July 8, 2017
Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratlys group of islands are shown from the Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane of the Philippine Air Force during the visit to the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials off the disputed South China Sea in western Philippines Friday, April 21, 2017. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed at the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. Francis Malasig/Pool Photo via AP

The depth and breadth of Japanese support to the Philippines cannot be overstated.

In the aftermath of the Scarborough Shoal showdown in 2012, Japan readily provided patrol ships as well as diplomatic support. It has also assisted the Philippines in beefing up its Navy and Coast Guard.

Last year, Foreign Minister Kishida met President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao a month after the Arbitral Tribunal released its ruling on the Philippines’ case. They fleshed out mechanisms in strengthening bilateral cooperation towards a peaceful resolution of the South China Sea conflict in line with the stipulations of the tribunal award.

Kishida advised Duterte that Japan is willing to provide more patrol boats to the Coast Guard and lease training aircraft to the Philippine Navy for maritime reconnaissance.

In celebration of the first anniversary of the arbitral tribunal’s award, the Stratbase ADR Institute is holding a forum on July 12, 2017, entitled “The Framework Code of Conduct, One Year After Arbitration.”

The by-invitation forum will feature insights from Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Justice Antonio Carpio, Dr. Jay Batongbacal, former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez, Dr. Ginnie Bacay-Watson and Mr. Koichi Ai, in addition to myself and Ambassador Albert Del Rosario.

Japan’s contributions to Philippine maritime security in support of arbitral tribunal decision

Japanese Prime Minister Abe met for the first time with Duterte during the ASEAN summit held in Laos. He laid bare Japan’s intent to further boost the search-and-rescue and fisheries protection capabilities of the Coast Guard through the provision of two 90-meter patrol vessels and 10 multi-role vessels.

Abe also promised to beef up the Philippine Navy’s capabilities for reconnaissance missions, disaster relief operations and transporting supplies by lending five TC-90 training aircraft to the navy. When Abe made a state visit in January, he reiterated Japan’s support for the Philippines’ capacity-building initiatives on maritime security. Hence, on 28 March 2017, Japan formally transferred the first reconnaissance planes to the PN.

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Japan TC-90 aircraft

These efforts are part of Japan’s strategic objective of solidifying the security partnership between the Philippines and Japan—both maritime and liberal democratic nations with shared common interest in the preservation of freedom of navigation and respect for the rule of law—amid growing regional uncertainty brought about by increasing Chinese assertiveness and worsening Philippine-US relations.

The arbitral tribunal ruling revisited

To recall, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) categorically ruled that upon ratification of the United Nations’ Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), China’s historic rights to the marine resources in the South China Sea were extinguished. Also, the court affirmed that there is no historical evidence proving that China had fully exercised exclusive control over the waters and their resources surrounding the land features in the South China Sea. Furthermore, the tribunal asserted that the Chinese vessels’ presence in the high seas constitute an exercise of freedom of navigation and fishing rather than historic right. Overall, the PCA ruled in favor of the Philippines’ 14 out of 15 claims against China.

The three-month long stand-off between a lone Philippine Coast Guard vessel and Chinese civilian ships off Scarborough Shoal in 2012 was the single incident that brought Manila and Beijing very close to the brink of a shooting war.

Outgunned and outnumbered, the Philippines pulled out its lone vessel in mid-June 2012. This eventually gave the Chinese Maritime Surveillance (CMS) personnel the free hand to construct a chain barrier across the mouth of the shoal in order to block the Filipino fishermen access to it.

In addition, the CMS personnel escorted the Chinese fishing boats that operate deep into the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone to prevent them from getting arrested by Philippine authorities. This chain of events paved way to China establishing de facto control over the shoal.

Seeing the futility of thwarting China’s actions militarily, the Philippines resorted to legal means to resolve the brewing tension. The Aquino government filed a statement of claim against China in the PCA at The Hague.

Expectedly, China refused to participate in the proceedings, arguing that the only acceptable manner of resolving disputes on territorial and maritime rights is through bilateral talks with countries that are directly concerned.

Interestingly, Japan sent representatives as observers throughout the two-year proceedings. Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Tokyo has been consistent in expressing its unequivocal support to the Philippines’ determination to resolve the issue on the basis of international law. This is reflective of Japan’s determination to uphold peaceful resolution of disputes through UNCLOS and prevent any other country from altering the status quo in the South China Sea by force.

Japan’s new approach to defense, foreign policy

The participation of Japan in the Philippines-China dispute should be understood in the context of Japan’s evolving domestic and external security environment and Abe’s adoption of a proactive approach in international affairs. Within Tokyo, Abe and his cohorts of political elite acknowledged that Japan’s minimalist security policy—with its strong emphasis on economics and limited involvement in external security affairs—was becoming passé in the face of China’s expedient military modernization and North Korea’s improving ballistic and nuclear missile capabilities.

Hence, when Abe returned to power in December 2012, he urged Japan to assume a more proactive role in upholding the liberal international order with an emphasis on the security and governance of the maritime domain. Accordingly, on Dec. 17, 2013, the Abe administration officially adopted a new national strategy that would concretize Abe’s aspirations and seal Japan’s role as the defender of the post-Second World II liberal order in East Asia.

In line with this, Japan enacted “multilayered security cooperation” with its treaty ally, the US, as well as other security partners in the region such as South Korea and Australia which share the common interest of keeping the sea-lanes of communication open. Today, such shared interests underpin Japan’s cooperation with the Philippines.

Renato Cruz De Castro, Ph.D. is a trustee and program convenor for foreign policy and regional security at the Stratbase Albert Del Rosario Institute (ADRi) and a professor at the De La Salle University.

 http://www.philstar.com/news-feature/2017/07/08/1717338/commentary-japans-contributions-philippine-maritime-security
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Peace and Freedom Note: The international arbitration court in the Hague ruled that China had no Sovereignty over the islands it built itself in international waters –– illegally.

No automatic alt text available.

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.

Related:

 (Contains links to several more related articles)

Image may contain: ocean, sky, water and outdoor

.

 (The Philippines should know that China has a nasty habit of not honoring agreements)

.
.
.

 (Has links to several related articles)

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature

China’s coast guard monitors and regulates fishing in the South China Sea — which is not allowed under international law. When Philippine President Duterte told China’s President Xi the Philippines would drill for oil in the South China Sea — Xi threatened war….

(Contains links to previous related articles)

Image may contain: ocean, sky, water and outdoor

Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor and water

Deepsea Metro I — Vietnam drilling for oil in the South China Sea in defiance of China