Posts Tagged ‘nine-dash line’

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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Changing the narrative of Philippines-China ties

December 17, 2017

Manila Business Mirror

The relationship between the Philippines and the Asian Dragon, China, has taken a much different turn under the administration of President Duterte, in contrast to the diplomatic path his Palace predecessor had followed.

Jose Santiago Santa Romana, Philippine ambassador to China, emphasized that the Duterte administration has changed the narrative as far as the relations between Beijing and Manila are concerned.

Before June 2016, under former President Benigno S. Aquino III, Santa Romana said the prevailing narrative was both adversarial and confrontational. But not today.

“Right now, we are pursuing a nonconfrontational and nonadversarial approach based largely on an independent foreign policy. I think this is one of the reasons in the breakthrough in Philippine-China relations,” Santa Romana said in his keynote speech during the 30th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Association of Chinese Studies (PACS) at the Ortigas Center in Pasig City.

Santa Romana revealed that the Chinese media once had this perception that the Philippines wasn’t acting independently on its foreign-policy initiatives and interest, but moving according to the intent of another world superpower. The belief of the Chinese media, he said, was that the Philippine foreign policy was anchored on containment of Chinese influence, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

Pursuing an independent foreign policy is not a new road map for the Philippines. The move to form an independent foreign policy gained ground under the initiative of progressive Filipinos, led by the great nationalist Claro M. Recto in the 1950s.

“Recto’s nationalist, anti-imperialist campaign was launched during a most difficult period in Philippine history, a time when Cold War psychosis gripped the country, or at least its ruling elements,” Prof. Renato Constantino explained in his essay “Unity for Survival.”

The China pivot

When Duterte started to hurl invectives against former US President Barack Obama one after the other, Beijing was convinced that the Philippines under the present administration has taken a new perspective on China, and is not acting now based on the dictates of another power—obviously referring to Washington.

“The new perception was that the Philippines is no longer a part of a coalition against China, but [one that is] willing to be friendly with China,” Santa Romana, a former student leader from the De La Salle University during the turbulent First Quarter Storm in the late 1960s to the early 1970s, said.

He added the ties between the two countries were enhanced when Duterte visited China for the first time in October 2016. He again visited Beijing in May to attend the Belt and Road Initiative Summit. The two-day BRI event highlighted Chinese Premiere Xi Jinping’s major foreign-policy project that aims to revive the ancient Silk Road trading route through the building of infrastructure across Asia, Europe and Africa. Skeptics believe this is Beijing’s bid to boost its clout, both in trade and geopolitics. China, for its part, has been insisting that its objectives under the Silk Road initiative are for the benefit of the world.

By pivoting to China, Manila was given some goodwill, such as the recovery of the fishing access to the Scarborough Shoal. Furthermore, the Philippines was given access to several official development assistance funding for several local infrastructure projects.

Santa Romana said every administration has its own version of realpolitik, that every administration will take a different approach to issues, such as the territorial dispute with China. During the Aquino administration, the government opted for the legal and confrontational approach.

In 2016 the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands, ruled  that the Philippines has the exclusive sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea (in the South China Sea), and that China’s “nine-dash line” is invalid.

However, China did not accept the ruling, and insisted it is still serious in solving the territorial problems with its neighbors.

‘Right approach’

Santa Romana said the approach in settling territorial disputes should be multidisciplinary. But this does not mean the country has to give up on international law, “but rather combine it with other approaches.”

“You have to combine law and diplomacy. The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy-Tufts University knows the importance of merging these two disciplines in settling disputes,” Santa Romana added.

As far as the Chinese are concerned, the bilateral approach is the best way to settle disputes. Through this, the border issues between China and Vietnam and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) were resolved. “Successful negotiations with China were based on bilateral approach with dialogues,” Santa Romana said.

The collapse of the USSR, he noted, was a big factor in Vietnam’s shift in its China policy. It took China two decades of negotiation to finally resolve issues and demarcate the lines of their borders.

Santa Romana recalled that there was a standstill before, as Chairman Mao Ze Dong and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev took a hard-line stance against each other. The winds of change came when Mao died and Mikhail Gorbachev took over the leadership in Moscow.

“Right now, it is through the bilateral approach that they will discuss the disputes,” he said. “Our experiences so far have shown discussions are better rather than an adversarial approach.”

Santa Romana added the key component is not to put the dispute on top of the negotiating table and not see it as an obstacle in pushing for a stable relationship.

The government right now has managed to ease up the tension. Nevertheless, Santa Romana admitted, this process is not a one-shot deal. “It will take one more administration to solve the underlying issues.”

Image Credits: Ruletkka | Dreamstime




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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.

Analyst: Philippines, China should abandon ‘secret diplomacy’

October 27, 2017
Foreign Ministers, from left, South Korea’s Kang Kyung-wha, Japan’s Taro Kono, Philippines’ Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, China’s Wang Yi and Singapore’s Vivian Balakrishnan walk after a family photo before the 18th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers Meeting, part of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF) meeting in Manila, Philippines, Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. Mohd Rasfan/Pool Photo via AP

MANILA, Philippines — Manila and Beijing must be transparent in their dealings if they want to shelve sovereignty disputes and in favor of joint development, a policy analyst said.

Jeffrey Ordaniel, a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that the Philippines and China should learn from the  Joint Seismic Marine Undertaking (JMSU) between the Philippines, China and Vietnam in 2005.

The JMSU was supposed to be a test case for joint exploration of disputed waters, particularly the South China Sea, but it failed.

Ordaniel noted that the JMSU resulted into corruption scandals as it was directly connected to the $904.38-million NBN-ZTE broadband deal.

Manila’s “secretive diplomacy” at the time meant that there was insufficient public scrutiny prior to the signing of the JMSU, Ordaniel said.

“Secret diplomacy could result in unpleasant surprises, and legal challenges in the Philippines,” Ordaniel said in his article published by the CSIS on its website.

The policy analyst stressed that Manila and Beijing should avoid a repeat of the JMSU fiasco.

“When Cayetano told the press that he should not talk publicly about the matter and that joint exploration initiatives could be part of other cooperation agreements with China, it sounded like JMSU all over again,” he said.

Beijing, on the other hand, should refrain from linking development deal to joint exploration as the South China Sea dispute should be separate from overall China-Philippines relations.

The Philippines could turn to other overseas development assistance such as Japan if China will continue to link its deals to development loans and investment pledges, Ordaniel said.

“Finally, joint development in the South China Sea should begin in areas that are outside disputed EEZs but are within the nine-dash lines,” Ordaniel said.

Pursuing joint exploration outside disputed exclusive economic zones would not violate each other’s domestic laws and the UN Convention on the law of the sea, according to the analyst.

“For instance, there is a sizable maritime space in the Spratlys that is outside the EEZ of any littoral state in the South China Sea, per the July 2016 ruling, and which was covered by the JMSU,” he said.

Last month, state-owned Philippine National Oil Company and China National Offshore Oil Corporation signed a deal intending to follow their 2006 agreement on hydrocarbon exploration in the South China Sea.

The deal, however, does not cover Beijing’s so-called nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters.

RELATED: ‘Duterte wants joint exploration with China’



China says it will not militarize the South China Sea — But satellite images show the real truth

October 18, 2017
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Construction is shown on Mischief Reef in this June 19, 2017 satellite image released by CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies to Reuters. (CSIS/AMTI DigitalGlobe/Handout/Reuters)

BEIJING — China maintained it will not militarize the South China Sea despite persistent reports it has been constructing military structures in the disputed territory.

Yao Wen, deputy director general for policy planning of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Asian department, gave this assurance on Monday in an interview with Asian journalists covering the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress.

“China will never seek militarization of South China Sea,” Yao replied when asked if China could make a categorical statement that it would not use its military to assert claims in the disputed sea lanes.

He did admit that structures have been constructed on reclaimed reefs and islands “within China’s sovereignty.”

“Yes indeed, we have some construction works. There are some projects that are actually public structures, especially the lighthouse and hospitals … we believe the neighboring countries will benefit from in the future,” he said.

Yao reiterated China’s call to countries not directly involved in the territorial dispute to leave the resolution to the claimant countries, which include the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

He said stationing military vessels and aircraft near the disputed territory “is highly dangerous” as it could lead to misjudgment.

“We are worried about the so-called free navigation activities of non-relevant countries that come as far as near five to six nautical miles of the reefs where our staff are stationed,” Yao said, apparently referring to such operations by the United States and its allies in the region.

Yao said territorial disputes, particularly those surrounding China’s nine-dash line and historical rights claims, should be resolved peacefully through dialogues and negotiations among the affected countries.

China-Philippines relations hit a snag after The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines’ 2013 arbitration case to contest China’s nine-dash line claims.

But President Rodrigo Duterte, who has chosen to seek closer relations with China, has set aside the verdict.

“The disputes in the south China are always there but the important thing is how to manage those disputes and china and the Philippines have done groundbreaking work in this respect. The basic position of China is to resolve the differences for common development,” Yao 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.


Indonesia, Long on Sidelines, Starts to Confront China’s Territorial Claims

September 11, 2017

JAKARTA, Indonesia — When Indonesia recently — and quite publicly — renamed the northernmost waters of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea despite China’s claims to the area, Beijing quickly dismissed the move as “meaningless.”

It is proving to be anything but.

Indonesia’s increasingly aggressive posture in the region — including a military buildup in its nearby Natuna Islands and the planned deployment of naval warships — comes as other nations are being more accommodating to China’s broad territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The two countries had three maritime skirmishes in 2016 involving warning shots, including one in which Indonesian warships seized a Chinese fishing boat and its crew.

Indonesia is challenging China, one of its biggest investors and trading partners, as it seeks to assert control over a waterway that has abundant resources, particularly oil and natural gas reserves and fish stocks.

The pushback from Indonesia takes direct aim at Beijing’s claims within the so-called “nine-dash line,” which on Chinese maps delineates the vast area that China claims in the South China Sea. It also adds a new player to the volatile situation, in which the United States Navy has been challenging China’s claims with naval maneuvers through waters claimed by Beijing.


The coastline at Ranai, the administrative center of the Natuna islands. Credit Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Indonesia “is already a party to the disputes — and the sooner it acknowledges this reality the better,” said Ian J. Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, where he researches South China Sea issues.

The dispute largely centers on the Natuna Sea, a resource-rich waterway north of Indonesia that also lies close to Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.

Before naming part of the contested waterway the North Natuna Sea “to make it sound more Indonesian,” Mr. Storey said, Indonesia last year began beefing up its military presence in the Natunas. That included expanding its naval port on the main island to handle bigger ships and lengthening the runway at its air force base there to accommodate larger aircraft.

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People take pictures of a burning ship as the government destroyed foreign boats that had been caught illegally fishing in Indonesia waters, at Morela village in Ambon island, April 2017. Indonesia destroyed 81 mostly foreign boats on the weekend that had been caught illegally fishing in its waters, taking to more than 300 the number sunk since President Joko Widodo launched a battle against the poaching of fish in 2014. Antara Foto/Izaac Mulyawan — Reuters photo

For decades, Indonesia’s official policy has been that it is not a party to any territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, unlike its regional neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Last year, however, Indonesia and China had the three maritime skirmishes within Indonesia’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone off its Natuna Islands, which lie northwest of Borneo.

After the third skirmish, in June 2016, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement in which it claimed for the first time that its controversial nine-dash line included “traditional fishing grounds” within Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone.

The administration of the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, whose top administrative priorities since taking office in October 2014 include transforming his country into a maritime power, has ordered the authorities to blow up hundreds of foreign fishing vessels seized while illegally fishing in Indonesian waters.

Mr. Joko, during a visit to Japan in 2015, said in a newspaper interview that China’s nine-dash line had no basis in international law. (See map below) . He also chaired a cabinet meeting on a warship off the Natunas just days after last year’s third naval skirmish — a move analysts viewed as a show of resolve to Beijing.

On July 14, Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries held a conspicuously high-profile news conference to release its first national territorial map since 2005, including the unveiling of the newly named North Natuna Sea. The new map also included new maritime boundaries with Singapore and the Philippines, with which Indonesia had concluded agreements in 2015.

Arif Havas Oegroseno, a deputy minister at Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs, told journalists that the new Indonesian map offered “clarity on natural resources exploration areas.”

That same day, Indonesia’s Armed Forces and Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources signed a memorandum for warships to provide security for the highly profitable fishing grounds and offshore oil and gas production and exploration activities within the country’s exclusive economic zone near the Natunas.

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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.