Posts Tagged ‘Permanent Court of Arbitration’

Can The Philippines Ever Have Its Own Foreign Policy Again?

April 20, 2018

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 / 05:36 AM April 20, 2018

To hear Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano talk about Philippine-Chinese relations is to hear the whiny sound of surrender and subservience. In Cayetano’s view, the landmark arbitral tribunal ruling in 2016 that gave the Philippines a sweeping legal victory over China over disputed parts of the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea is not a sign of strength but, rather, a source of weakness.

After all, what does the following statement, from the former senator with a reputation for articulate rhetoric, really mean, but that smoother relations with China are a higher priority than defending Philippine sovereign rights? “As of now, if we compare the Aquino administration strategy and the Duterte strategy, we simply are making do with a bad situation but we have stopped the bleeding.” Only someone who sees the strain in bilateral relations because of the filing and the winning of the case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration as more important than the actual legal victory itself would think that the Philippines was in “a bad situation” post-July 12, 2016.

The exact opposite is true: Our side in the dispute with China was never stronger than on the day the arbitral tribunal issued an award that was an almost complete vindication of Philippine claims. Only someone who thinks that pleasing China meets a greater public interest than enforcing the legal victory so painstakingly won at The Hague would say that, today, “we have stopped the bleeding.” There is a term for this, and it is appeasement.

The foreign secretary makes the situation worse, undermines even further the Philippine position regarding its own rights to the West Philippine Sea and its jurisdiction over parts of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, by adopting the Chinese perspective hook, line, and sinker. “Yes, we want to fight for what is ours but we don’t want a war. And no one in our region wants a war because no one will win.” This is the Chinese view, that the only alternative to settling the disputes is through a war. This is simply not true; it is also, essentially, un-Filipino. Which makes us ask: Whose interests does the Honorable Alan Peter Cayetano, secretary of foreign affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, really represent?

There is an alternative to war, and that is the process which the Philippines helped set up: a regime of international law governing maritime and territorial disputes. That is the process  which the Philippines won, despite China’s bullying and its demonization of the international law system. That is the process which allows smaller countries an almost equal footing with the great powers. And that is the process which, unaccountably, this administration’s lawyers shortchange, subvert, sell out.

Consider these words of wisdom from Cayetano: “China has not asked us, and I can tell you this very honestly whether closed door or in open, they have never asked us to give up our claims. They have simply asked us to put some order in how we will discuss these claims and where we should discuss these claims.” He speaks, not as a public servant of the Filipino people, but the servant of the Chinese government.

Assume for the sake of argument that what Cayetano said is in fact the case; why should we follow China’s proposed order in discussing our rights? Indeed, why should our foreign secretary mindlessly repeat the Chinese line that our claims are still in dispute—when the arbitral tribunal has already and convincingly ruled in our favor? (Let Beijing say these are mere claims; Manila should assert them as vindicated rights.) Even more to the point: Why privilege what China wants (“China has not asked us …”)? The real question is: What does the Philippines ask, when it meets with China?

If it’s only money, through expensive loans or dubious investments, then we really should all worry that Beijing has landed military cargo aircraft on Mischief or Panganiban Reef. We are trading our sovereign rights, inch by inch, for the proverbial filthy lucre.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/112597/whose-foreign-secretary#ixzz5DCvSYJXS
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South China Sea: China Deploys Military Aircraft to Philippine-Claimed Mischief Reef — “This fits a steady pattern of escalation.”

April 20, 2018
Experts: No break of precedent in Chinese deployment of planes in Mischief Reef

Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – April 20, 2018 – 5:23pm

MANILA, Philippines — Beijing’s deployment of transport military planes on Mischief Reef on the Spratly Islands show a steady pattern of escalation, according to maritime analysts.

Despite the Philippines mulling to file a protest over China’s reported landing of military claims on the Manila-claimed reef, this development would not have a great impact on the overall situation in the South China Sea, according to RAND Senior Policy Analyst Lyle Morris.

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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines
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Landing a transport military plane on Mischief Reef would not cross a new threshold of militarization in the Spratly Islands but fighter jets would, Morris said on Twitter.

China had already deployed a military transport aircraft on Fiery Cross Reef, another Manila-claimed feature in the Spratlys, in April 2016. Beijing had also deployed a number of planes on Woody Island in the Paracels.

“Because of the dual-use nature of military transport aircraft, the move does not cross an unambiguous threshold of offensive militarization of Chinese-occupied features in the Spratlys the same way that fighter jets would, for example,” Morris told Philstar.com

Mischief Reef, however, would be more significant for the Philippines as it is a low tide elevation within the country’s exclusive economic zone and on its continental shelf.

The Philippines has exclusive rights of use to Mischief Reef, where China had also reportedly installed military jamming equipment.

“Therefore I would expect the Philippines government to protest this move as being unnecessarily destabilizing and a breach of Philippines sovereignty,” Morris said.

The latest developments in the Spratly Islands, however, extends the geographical envelope of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, according to Euhan Graham, director of the Lowy Institute International Security Program.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see the first PLAAF combat jet deployment occur to the Spratlys later this year. China can always find an excuse to dress up as a “provocation” if it needs one,” Graham told Philstar.com

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Chinese bomber over Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines

The landing of Chinese transport aircraft might simply be delivering equipment and personnel to support ground-based military from the artificial island, the Lowy Institute director said.

Graham warned that China may consider another American freedom of operation and navigation operation or even the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the US as a “provocation.”

“Ultimately, the PLA has a plan to use the Spratlys for their custom-built purpose – to extend the envelope of China’s air and seapower throughout the South China Sea. The only debatable issue there is sooner, or later,” Graham said.

Greogory Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), said that China’s deployment of military planes on its outposts did not come as a surprise.

“This fits a steady pattern of escalation,” Poling told Philstar.com, adding that this individual deployment should not necessarily be a cause for alarm.

Echoing the analysis of Morris, Poling said that the real alarm should be when the first fighter jets land in the Spratlys “and all evidence is that they will sooner or later.”

The latest developments should be a cause for skepticism of China’s intentions.

“Combined with the recent deployment of jammers to the islands, and its ongoing construction of military facilities, this does not paint the picture of a party willing to forego military force and pursue negotiations in good faith,” Poling said.

Earlier this week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano claimed that the Philippine government is on top of the situation, assuring the public that the agency is taking all diplomatic actions needed to protect the country’s claims.

“In fact, we know much more than what is published in the newspapers or released by US think tanks because we see the bigger picture,” Cayetano said in a press briefing.

RELATED: Cayetano: Government has more info on South China Sea than in media reports

FIERY CROSS REEF, MISCHIEF REEF, SOUTH CHINA SEA, SPRATLY ISLANDS, WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/04/20/1807790/experts-no-break-precedent-chinese-deployment-planes-mischief-reef#tduuY1Q2X8TRFmP5.99

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China has seven military bases near te Philippines
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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.

China to hold ‘monthly’ combat drills in South China Sea — They Don’t Legally “Own” It, But Are Determined to Defend It

March 28, 2018
 / 05:16 PM March 28, 2018

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The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning steaming forward the South China Sea. —AFP

China’s military will hold combat exercises in the South China Sea every month “unlike in previous years,” a military analyst told China’s state-run Global Times.

The English-language Chinese newspaper under the People’s Daily announced early this week that it has started its combat exercises in West Pacific and the South China Sea.

At the same time, the Chinese newspaper also announced that the monthly drills are aimed to test the navy’s combat readiness.

“The 2018 drills will be routine and will be held every month, unlike in previous years,” military expert

Song Zhongping was quoted as saying in a Global Times article last Sunday.“The South China Sea and East China Sea will be primary battlegrounds. The PLA [People’s Liberation Army] is committed to be battle-ready through simulated combat training,” Song added.

Wang Xiaopeng, a maritime border expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also told Global Times that “the drills do not target any specific country but they are focusing on enhancing China’s capability to safeguard the country’s sovereignty.”

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that China held large-scale naval exercises off Hainan Island in the South China Sea this week.

Satellite images from Planet Labs, which were obtained by the international news agency, showed at least 40 ships and submarines flanking China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning, to which analysts described as “unusually large display of the Chinese military’s growing naval might.”

The report of the drills comes after the US-guided missile destroyer USS Mustin sailed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in the Spratly archipelago. It is an island controlled by China but the international court ruled in The Hague ruled in 2016 that it belongs to the Philippines.

China referred to the US operation as a serious “military provocation.” /jpv

China aircraft carrier leads ‘show of force’ exercise in South China Sea

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/165349/china-hold-monthly-combat-drills-south-china-sea-china-south-china-sea-news-navy#ixzz5B36prSsp
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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines

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6 Things You Should Know About China’s One Belt One Road Plan

March 24, 2018

China has a plan for your future and it’s called One Belt One Road.

China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project – consisting of the Silk Road Economic Belt, a land route to Europe, and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, a sea route cutting from the Philippines to the Mediterranean – is a sprawling bureaucratic monstrosity the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) asserts will create a better-connected, wealthier global economy. The Belt and Road Initiative, as it is sometimes also called, requires China to invest heavily in infrastructure and development across three continents to facilitate trade for China.

The consistent injection of all this terminology – the belt, the road, the “ancient” allusions – into trade discussions involving China have left many in America with questions. Where the road ends, what the world looks like once China is done building its infrastructure, and what checks remain on Chinese hegemony of OBOR succeeds are all valid questions that China has yet to definitively answer.

From what China has revealed of its plan, however, One Belt One Road could significantly alter the geopolitical and economic landscapes of Asia, Europe, and Africa, in at least the following X ways.

One Belt One Road Is Mercantilism on a Global Scale

One Belt One Road is China’s plan to dominate world trade by building and controlling a network of roads, pipelines, railways, ports, and power plants to deliver raw materials to China and finished goods to the rest of the world. It’s a super-highway for Chinese economic dominance.

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The long-term goal of OBOR is pretty straightforward. China wants to be the world’s dominant manufacturer in the 21st Century. It wants everything you buy in a store or online to be made, in part or in whole, in China, with Chinese labor, and for the profit of Chinese businesses. It understands that, in order to accomplish this goal, it is not enough for China to merely underprice businesses in Europe and the U.S. It must control not only the means of production but the means of delivery: the roads, ports, railways, and pipelines.

Control over the means of delivery has been a long-term Chinese goal. China already controls the majority of ports around the Panama Canal, the key to shipping between the Pacific Rim and Atlantic facing Europe. OBOR would create another route to Europe’s consumers, through central Asia.

The ultimate goal is to allow China to control the terms of global trade, rending aging Western-dominated institutions and practices dispensible. It is nothing short of reshaping the global economic order around the priorities of China’s leaders.

It’s a Bailout for China’s Economy

Economic growth has been slowing within China for years, putting more and more pressure on China’s government-controlled financial sector to fund projects that are increasingly uneconomical. The country is producing far more steel, cement, and machinery than it can possibly use. So China has built cities in which no one lives, office towers in which no one works, and roads that literally go nowhere in an effort to keep its population employed.

The massive infrastructure projects of OBOR are an extension of this. They provide the short-term demand for China’s production, staving off what many thought would be an inevitable economic reckoning and collapse.

Turning Everyone Chinese

Here’s a propaganda video produced by the Chinese government to promote “understanding” of OBOR. Notice that at the start of the video, the cute kids are all Chinese. As it progresses, the kids morph into south Asians, middle easterners and finally into blond Europeans. If you really want to understand what China is up to with OBOR, this video is the clearest indication.

It Could Significantly Hurt India

As the China Daily map shows, India is in a pivotal geographic location for the Silk Road Economic Belt – any major development to get to either Africa (through the Indian Ocean) or central Asia requires India’s input. The potential of a robust Chinese presence on the China-India border or in Pakistan, and a similar such presence in the Indian Ocean, has alarmed the Indian government, China’s main economic rival on the continent.

China’s construction of roads near the border already caused a major diplomatic dispute this summer. The Chinese attempted to extend a road construction into neighboring Bhutan against that government’s wishes, triggering Bhutan to call for India to intervene. India sent troops into the disputed territory, which China claims as its own, and forcedChina to withdraw its road construction project.

Outside of Bhutan, China is seeking to build the new Silk Road straight through Kashmir, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. China is a close ally of Pakistan, which the Indian government often accuses of harboring jihadist terrorism. The Kashmir project is called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and its completion could give Pakistan (and, of course, China) full control of the territory. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has denied that CPEC involves any “territorial disputes” despite its location, while Chinese officials have accused India of seeing China as an “imaginary enemy.”

India and its allies in the United States have rejected this claim. Speaking following a trip to India, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told reporters that China must understand that, “in a globalized world, there are many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating ‘one belt, one road.’”

He added that the project “goes through disputed territory … [and] that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate.”

India has protested less about the maritime trade routes China is establishing, as Beijing has yet to violate India’s waters. Yet analysts note that “China now has India surrounded, wrapped up by land and sea via its Belt and Road initiative (BRI),” and the Indian government appears to be acting with this in mind, abstaining from participating in major OBOR summits and instead growing closer to Washington.

Much of the ‘Maritime Silk Road’ Is Illegal

Xinhua, a Chinese state news outlet, describes the Maritime Silk Road as heading “from China’s coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean in one route, and from China’s coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific in the other.” What Xinhua leaves out of this statement is that China claims almost the entire South China Sea for itself – a claim the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague deems illegal.

China claims waters in the South China Sea within the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Taiwan, and the waters off of Natuna Island, Indonesia. This includes the Spratly and Paracel Islands, which belong to Vietnam and the Philippines, where China has spent the past three years constructing artificial islands and arming them to the teeth with military assets like fighter jets, advanced surveillance systems, and surface-to-air missiles.

China openly asserts that the Paracel Islands, known in China as the Xisha Islands, are part of OBOR.

“The Xisha Islands will soon be offered to more cruise passengers following the popularity of the Coconut Princess cruise liner’s new 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road route to the archipelago,” the Chinese government announced in 2015. “The cruise has been rerouted and, since Feb 7, re-branded as a Maritime Silk Road excursion, because more cruise companies are hopping aboard the concept of creating modern tours along the ancient sea routes.”

In 2016, the Hague court issued a verdict in Philippines v. China against the defendant, stating that all its construction in the disputed territories violates international law, as well as its actions against foreign vessels in international waters. Chinese officials announced they would ignore the Hague ruling and continue construction in the area. They have also increased the number of Chinese ships active in Philippine and other foreign waters, intended to intimidate fishermen attempting to use their domestic waters.

OBOR Is China’s Manifest Destiny

As The Diplomat has noted, the territory covered by OBOR “includes more than two thirds of world population and more than one third of global economic output, and could involve Chinese investments that total up to $4 trillion.” This includes the aforementioned South China Sea waters that no one outside of the Beijing elite argues rightfully belong under Chinese control. It includes territories like Nepal, Afghanistan, and central Asian states that at one point or another in history were closely tied to some part of China.

OBOR is designed to reconstruct an alleged “ancient” Chinese empire through infrastructure, trade, and culture. Chinese officials are quick to use the word “ancient” to describe both their claims in the South China Sea and the precedent for OBOR.

“For thousands of years, the Silk Road Spirit … has been passed from generation to generation, promoted the progress of human civilization, and contributed greatly to the prosperity and development of the countries along the Silk Road,” the state outlet Xinhua argued in 2015, introducing the specifics of the project. Of the South China Sea, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said last year that “the islands in the South China Sea have been China’s territory since ancient times, and China has the right to safeguard its territorial sovereignty.”

Xi Jinping himself has said that the entire South China Sea was “left to us by our ancestors.”

On land, China has not made such sweeping claims. But its OBOR plans make clear it hopes to make the communities it touches more Chinese. The Chinese government announced in 2015 its plans to build at least 50 Chinese “cultural centers” across the “ancient Silk Road” meant to expand Chinese cultural influence. The targets of these centers will be as close as Nepal and as far as Turkey.

China will also be opening schools across the region. “More than 10 countries involved have expressed an interest in China running schools or education programs on their territory,” the government claimed in announcing OBOR last year. Countries in the Middle East and South Asia reportedly expressed interest in these schools.

If they are anything like the schools in China, they will indoctrinate children in communist thought, the greatness of Xi Jinping, and the illegal claims China makes in the waters surrounding it.

Chinese Hackers Hit U.S. Firms Linked to South China Sea Dispute

March 17, 2018

 

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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines

Bloomberg

By David Tweed

 Updated on 
  • Victims are in maritime industries with South China Sea ties
  • Hackers ‘most likely’ operating on behalf of a government

Chinese hackers have launched a wave of attacks on mainly U.S. engineering and defense companies linked to the disputed South China Sea, the cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc. said.

The suspected Chinese cyber-espionage group dubbed TEMP.Periscope appeared to be seeking information that would benefit the Chinese government, said FireEye, a U.S.-based provider network protection systems. The hackers have focused on U.S. maritime entities that were either linked to — or have clients operating in — the South China Sea, said Fred Plan, senior analyst at FireEye in Los Angeles.

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“They are going after data that can be used strategically, so it is line with state espionage,” said Plan, whose firm has tracked the group since 2013. “A private entity probably wouldn’t benefit from the sort of data that is being stolen.”

The TEMP.Periscope hackers were seeking information in areas like radar range or how precisely a system in development could detect activity at sea, Plan said. The surge in attacks picked up pace last month and was ongoing.

Increased Attacks

While FireEye traced the group’s attacks to China, the firm hasn’t confirmed any link to Chinese government entities or facilities. FireEye declined to name any targets. Although most were based in the U.S., organizations in Europe and at least one in Hong Kong were also affected, the firm said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang told a briefing Friday in Beijing that China opposed all kinds of cyber attacks. “We will continue to implement the important consensus on cybersecurity reached in 2015,” he said.

Plan said suspected Chinese cyber-attacks on U.S. targets has picked up in recent months, after both sides agreed not to attack civilian entities. The 2015 deal to tamp down economic espionage was hammered out between then-U.S. President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping.

The U.S. indicted five Chinese military officials in 2014 on charges that they stole trade secrets from companies including Westinghouse Electric Co. and United States Steel Corp. after hacks were detected by Mandiant, a unit of FireEye. China denies the charges and argues the country is a victim rather than an instigator of cybersecurity attacks.

Strategic Data

Data sought in the latest incidents could be used, for instance, to determine how closely a vessel could sail to a geographical feature, Plan said. “It is definitely the case that they can use this information for strategic decision-making,” he said.

The U.S. Navy sometimes conducts so-called freedom of navigation operations to challenge Chinese claims to more than 80 percent of the South China Sea — one of the world’s busiest trading routes. China has reclaimed some 3,200 acres (1,290 hectares) of land in the waters and built ports, runways and other military infrastructure on seven artificial features it has created.

China has been involved in other attacks related to the South China Sea. In 2015, during a week-long hearing on a territorial dispute in the water, Chinese malware attacked the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, taking it offline.

The latest attacks were carried out using a variety of techniques including “spear-phishing,” in which emails with links and attachments containing malware are used to open back doors into computer networks. In some examples, the emails were made to look as if they originated from a “big international maritime company,” Plan said.

FireEye said in a separate report that government offices, media and academic institutions have been attacked, along with engineering and defense companies. Plan declined to comment when asked whether the U.S. Navy was among the targets.

“Given the type of organizations that have been targeted — the organizations and government offices — it is most likely the case that TEMP.Periscope is operating on behalf of a government office,” Plan said.

— With assistance by Dandan Li, Peter Martin, and Andy Sharp

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China has long had its eye on James Shoal and may move toward the island unless Malaysia or Indonesia protest…

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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.

How Oil Drives The South China Sea Conflict

March 15, 2018

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South China Sea

 

While it’s no secret that China has been intensifying its building frenzy, including military installations on islands, reefs and inlets in the heavily disputed South China Sea, it is also becoming increasingly clear that Beijing is not afraid to draw a line in the sand over these mostly dubious claims.

Late last week, while downplaying his country’s geopolitical ambitions, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi still couldn’t resist plugging the party line.

“Beijing’s resolve to protect the peace and the stability of the South China Sea cannot be shaken,” Wang said, adding that the problems in the region are due to “foreign forces” which “have sent fully armed warships and fighters to the South China Sea to flaunt their military might.”

His reference to so-called foreign forces include increased freedom of navigation voyages by the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea, which is for all intent and purposes, an U.N.-mandated international waterway.

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Lately, Australia and even the U.K. have started to challenge Beijing’s claims in the troubled water way. China, which has over-lapping territorial claims in the South China Sea with the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei, claims nearly 90 percent of the sea in what is commonly referred to as its nine-dash line.

 

Figure 1: China’s Nine Dash Line in South China Sea, Source: US Central Intelligence AgencyRelated: UK Gas Crisis: Out Of The Frying Pan Into The Fire

Taking a step back from the constant rhetoric and even at times sabre rattling over the matter, it’s fair to ask why would the world’s newest super power and second largest economy be willing to jeopardize its reputation and standing with not only its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region, but also its image before an increasingly alarmed and watching international community? The answer, as is often the case in geopolitical power plays, is oil, and likely, plenty of it.

How much oil?

One older Chinese estimate places potential oil resources in the South China Sea as high as 213 billion barrels, though many Western analysts have repeatedly claimed that this estimate seems extremely high. A conservative 1993/1994 US Geological Survey (USGS) report estimated the sum total of discovered reserves and undiscovered resources in the offshore basins of the South China Sea at 28 billion barrels – yet, this estimate, for its part, seems particularly low.

Moreover, the 1993/1994 USGS estimate states that natural gas is actually more abundant in the area than oil. According to the USGS, about 60 percent-70 percent of the area’s hydrocarbon resources are gas while the sum total of discovered reserves and undiscovered resources in the offshore basins of the South China Sea is estimated at 266 trillion cubic feet (tcf).

State-owned oil major China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), responsible for most of China’s offshore oil and gas production, claims that the area holds around 125 billion barrels of oil and 500 tcf of gas in undiscovered areas, although the figures have not been confirmed by independent studies.

Perhaps that’s why CNOOC spent over a billion dollars to build its Hai Yang Shi You 981 (HYSY 981) deep sea drilling rig. When it was launched in 2014, Chinese authorities claimed that the rig was actually considered Chinese “sovereign territory.”

Since then the rig has been used for various purposes, including a controversial deployment in mid-2014 off Vietnam’s coast in the country’s U.N. mandated Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).Related: China Now Produces More Oil Abroad Than At Home

The Vietnamese responded in turn, protesting and burning Chinese owned-factories in the country, eventually forcing Beijing to evacuate Chinese nationals and also forcing the early withdrawal of rig HYSY 981. The standoff was regarded by analysts as the most serious development in the territorial disputes between China and Vietnam since the Johnson South Reef Skirmish in 1988, which saw 64 Vietnamese soldiers killed.

According to a newer USGS study in 2010, there is a 95 percent chance that there is at least 750 million barrels of oil in the South China Sea Platform, a median chance of around 2,000 million barrels, and a low probability (5 percent) of over 5,000 million barrels. Geologists have recently stated that the South China Sea Platform is an area rich with source carbon and has the perfect geological conditions necessary for hydrocarbon development, particularly oil.

While Western geologists seem to only recently appreciate the area’s oil and gas potential, the Chinese have known it for years. Perhaps, that’s why they even refer to the South China Sea as a Second Persian Gulf and will undoubtedly continue to not only build there but defend it with rhetoric and if push comes to shove, by force.

By Tim Daiss for Oilprice.com

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/How-Oil-Drives-The-South-China-Sea-Conflict.html

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Above: Chinese military bases near the Philippines

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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines
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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.

Australia to stress international law in South China Sea dispute

March 13, 2018

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will on Tuesday hail the role of international law in settling regional conflicts, comments apparently aimed at bolstering Australian efforts to build a coalition against Chinese assertiveness.

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Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop talks during a news conference with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto (not pictured) in Budapest, Hungary, February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

 

SYDNEY: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will on Tuesday hail the role of international law in settling regional conflicts, comments apparently aimed at bolstering Australian efforts to build a coalition against Chinese assertiveness.

Bishop, in a speech ahead of a special meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Sydney, will not name China but will argue that international law will stabilise a region strained by rival claims in the South China Sea.

“The rules-based order is designed to regulate behaviour and rivalries of and between states, and ensure countries compete fairly and in a way that does not threaten others or destabilise their region or the world,” Bishop will say in Sydney, according to a leaked draft of the speech seen by the Australian Financial Review.

“It places limitations on the extent to which countries use their economic or military power to impose unfair agreements on less powerful nations.”

China claims most of the South China Sea, an important trade route which is believed to contain large quantities of oil and natural gas, and has been building artificial islands on reefs, some with ports and air strips.

Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, all of which are members of ASEAN, and Taiwan also have claims in the sea.

Australia, a staunch U.S. ally with no claim to the South China Sea, has long maintained its neutrality on the dispute to protect economic relationship with China.

But with Australia’s relations with China souring in recent months, Bishop’s comment underscore a new Australian tactic.

“Australia is trying to get ASEAN on side with the notion that China is a rule-breaker that everyone would be better served by abiding by,” said Nick Bisley, professor of international relations at Melbourne’s La Trobe University.

“If it can get ASEAN to use that language, it will strengthen Australia’s position considerably.”

ASEAN and China in August begun talks to develop a code of conduct for the South China Sea, though a deal is unlikely before 2019, Singapore’s Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in February.

The issue of the South China Sea is set to dominate the unofficial agenda of a special three-day meeting of ASEAN countries and Australia beginning on Friday.

Officially, the summit will focus on fostering closer economic ties among the 10 members ASEAN and Australia, and countering the threat of Islamist militants returning to the region from the Middle East.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to travel to Sydney where she will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is under pressure to publicly condemn the deaths and expulsion of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s Rakhine State over recent months.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Source: Reuters

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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines
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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.

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China needs to arm South China Sea islands — general

March 12, 2018
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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines
 / 07:16 AM March 12, 2018

BEIJING, China — China needs to build defensive structures on islands in the South China Sea to display its claim to sovereignty over virtually the entire crucial waterway, a leading Chinese general said Thursday.

However, the vice president of China’s Academy of Military Sciences, Lt. Gen. He Lei, declined to comment on aircraft deployments on artificial islands Chinese has built in the area, saying those were entirely China’s domestic affair.

Image result for Lt. Gen. He Lei, China, Photos

Lt. Gen. He Lei,

“I don’t think any country would want to make irresponsible comments about such matters,” He said in a rare meeting with Chinese and foreign journalists on the sidelines of the annual session of China’s ceremonial legislature, of which he is a member.

Earlier Thursday, Foreign Minister Wang Yi appeared to blame the U.S. and its allies for stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, which is claimed in all or in part by China and five other governments. He said China had been working with other claimants and its Southeast Asian neighbors on completing a code of conduct to prevent frictions in the waterway that has rich fishing grounds, vital sea routes and a potential wealth of undersea natural resources.

Image result for Wang Yi, photos, march 2018

Foreign Minister Wang Yi

“Some outside forces are not happy with the prevailing calm, and try to stir up trouble and muddle the waters. Their frequent show of force with fully armed aircraft and naval vessels is the most destabilizing factor in the region,” Wang said.

The U.S. doesn’t take a stance on the sovereignty claims but insists on freedom of navigation in the area and has sailed close to Chinese-held islands to challenge Beijing’s sovereignty claim.

In other remarks, He defended China’s 8.1 percent increase in its defense budget, which brings it to a record 1.1 trillion yuan ($173 billion), the world’s second largest.

While China is preparing to launch its second aircraft carrier, integrate stealth fighters into its air force and field an array of advanced missiles able to attack air and sea targets at vast distances, He said the military’s overall cost to the nation is relatively light.

China this year is spending 1.25 percent of its GDP and 5.2 percent of the total government budget on the armed forces, considerably lower than the U.S. and Russia, He said.

“So really, an increase of 8.1 percent is still pretty low,” He said.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/974450/news-china-south-china-sea-west-philippine-sea-artificial-islands-he-lei-wang-yi#ixzz59WO8jwL3
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

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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.

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Philippines Struggles To Cope With China’s “Duplicitous Ways” in South China Sea, Benham Rise

March 7, 2018

GOTCHA – Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) – March 7, 2018 – 12:00am

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China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines

The issues of the West and East Philippine Seas are joined, as far as China is concerned. As polls show, Filipinos distrust China because of its duplicitous ways. In Benham Rise east of Luzon, China conducted natural resource and military explorations without Manila’s consent. It rejected Manila’s reasonable condition of including Filipino scientists in its researches. After sneakily giving Chinese names to five undersea peaks it now wants to name 50 or so other features. It claims to a right to conduct marine scientific research (MSR) under international law.

In the West Philippine Sea, China has done worse. It grabbed the traditional Filipino fishing ground Scarborough Shoal 123 miles off Zambales, within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone but 700 miles from China’s nearest coast and beyond its own EEZ. It has concreted seven reefs and shoals in the Philippine EEZ into artificial island fortresses. It also claims reefs and rocks closer to the Philippines by imagining to be the first to name them.

Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio Carpio leads patriotic Filipinos in disputing Beijing’s illegal claims and activities. He helped in Manila’s victorious arbitration in The Hague against China’s maritime expansionism. He also debunked through ancient maps and documents Beijing’s farcical “historical rights” to the South China (West Philippine) Sea.

Here Carpio shares his thoughts on the joined east-west issues:

“(1) No Philippine law specifically regulates MSR in our extended continental shelf (beyond the 200-mile EEZ) like Benham Rise.

“(2) However, the Philippines having ratified UNCLOS, this international convention is part of the Philippine legal system. Under Article 246 of UNCLOS, the Philippines has an obligation to allow foreign states to conduct MSR in its continental shelf like Benham Rise ‘to increase scientific knowledge of the marine environment for the benefit of all mankind.’ Thus, the results of the MSR must be made known to the whole world.

“(3) MSR by foreign states in Benham Rise is purely for scientific research, and cannot be to explore the mineral resources for exploitation. Under UNCLOS, the Philippines has exclusive sovereign right to explore and exploit the mineral resources in its extended continental shelf like Benham Rise. Neither the President nor the Foreign Secretary can waive this exclusive sovereign right to a foreign state. To ensure that the foreign state conducting MSR in our extended continental shelf is not exploring for purposes of exploitation, Filipino marine scientists must be on board the foreign research vessels.

“(4) UNCLOS is a ‘package deal.’ A state that ratifies UNCLOS must accept its rights and obligations as one entire package. A ratifying state cannot cherry pick – accepting only certain provisions and rejecting others.

“(5) By refusing to accept the award of the UNCLOS arbitral tribunal pursuant to the dispute settlement provisions of UNCLOS, China is not accepting its obligation under UNCLOS. China should not be allowed to enjoy its rights under UNCLOS, like conducting MSR in Benham Rise, while it refuses to accept its obligation under the arbitral award. Otherwise, China is cherry picking and not taking UNCLOS as one package deal.

“(6) Article 246 of UNCLOS states, ‘Coastal States shall, in normal circumstances, grant their consent for marine scientific research projects by other States.’ The refusal of China to comply with the arbitral award of the UNCLOS tribunal is not a ‘normal circumstance,’ and thus the Philippines should refuse China’s request for MSR in Benham Rise.

“(7) If a bully has squatted on your front yard, and requests to look at your backyard, would you grant the request of the bully? 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 (bugok) to grant China’s request.”

*      *      *

For 14 years Harry Roque headed the Center for International Law and taught at the University of the Philippines College of Law. That was before he became party-list congressman in 2016 and presidential spokesman in 2017. Here are some of his recent statements:

On China’s naming of undersea features in Benham Rise: “Don’t let’s magnify the issue … China gave so many names – siopao, siomai, ampao, pechay, hototay – but all those don’t mean it is laying claim.”

On President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposed “joint exploration” with China of West Philippine Sea resources: “It’s a practical solution for Filipinos to utilize natural resources without having to deal with the contentious conflicting claims to territories… The existing jurisprudence is we can enter into joint exploration and joint exploitation with foreign entities provided that it complies with the Constitution among others, it be pursuant to a written agreement signed by the President and submitted to Congress.”

On China’s “co-ownership” of those Philippine resources: “What the President meant was that’s exactly the kind of relationship we will have in a joint exploration and exploitation.”

*      *      *

Ten years ago when the Joint Marine Seismic Understanding was exposed, Roque called it “treasonous.” Malacañang had ordered the Philippine National Oil Co. to sign with China National Overseas Oil Corp. the secret joint exploration of the Palawan continental shelf and Recto (Reed) Bank within the Philippine EEZ and way beyond China’s.

Roque said:

“Clearly, an agreement to jointly survey for the existence of petroleum resources in the Spratlys would be a derogation of the country’s sovereign rights (because) the exploration here would cease to be exclusive.

“A Filipino GOCC could not redefine what is provided for by law.

“My position is that anyone who will give away Philippine territory is guilty of treason. Since the national territory is governed by the Constitution and by law, a President (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) who will surrender the exercise of sovereign rights is guilty of treason, an impeachable offense.”

*      *      *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/opinion/2018/03/07/1794213/repel-or-yield-carpio-vs-roque#ULfo3EEeUc292FJu.99

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We’ve heard 白痴國家 (Means “Idiot Nation”)

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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.

Paying back Chinese loans not a problem for Philippines, says Chinese expert

March 6, 2018

 

President Rodrigo Duterte described the partnership as similar to “co-ownership” of the waters within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

AP, File photo

Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – March 6, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Paying back its debts to China will not be a problem for the Philippine due to its “strong debt-paying ability,” a Chinese expert said.

The Philippines had sought the support of China in its $168-billion (P8.4 trillion) infrastructure plan which includes roads, bridges, airports and ports.

Beijing has provided about $7.34 billion in loans and grants to Manila for 10 large-scale infrastructure projects, according to the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

Zhuang Guotu, director of the China Southeast Asian Research Association, told Chinese newspaper Global Times that the Philippines needs the infrastructure plan to boost its economy and support its fast-growing population.

Beijing has provided very low interest rates on loans that it has provided to its Southeast Asian neighbors, Zhuang said.

“And the Philippines has strong debt-paying ability. Besides, the loans are usually accompanied by repayment agreements, which use certain natural resources as collateral,” Zhuang told Global Times.

He also noted that China is willing to provide loans, labor and expertise to help the Philippines.

“China’s infrastructure capability leads the world and as a result many countries and regions are willing to cooperate with China,” Zhuang said.

The Philippine government earlier announced that there are talks with the Chinese side for a possible joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

President Rodrigo Duterte even described this partnership as similar to “co-ownership” of the waters within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Zhuang said that the two countries are probably already discussing first-phase preparations over joint oil and gas exploration in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea.

“In fact, discussions about joint exploration started in the 1970s, but it didn’t come about for various reasons. This time, the negotiations came after the Philippines had long been troubled by energy shortages,” the expert said.

The possible joint exploration would make a “new phase” in resolving the South China Sea dispute, he added.

In July 2016, a United Nations-backed tribunal issued a landmark ruling invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea. The arbitral tribunal also concluded that Beijing violated its commitment under the Convention on the Law of the Sea when it constructed artificial islands in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

PHILIPPINES-CHINA TIES, SOUTH CHINA SEA AND WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/03/06/1794117/paying-back-chinese-loans-not-problem-philippines-says-expert#TujdMDUlHTBc1qdC.99

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We’ve heard 白痴國家 (Means “Idiot Nation”)

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China has long had its eye on James Shoal and may move toward the island unless Malaysia or Indonesia protest…

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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.