Posts Tagged ‘Permanent Court of Arbitration’

Australia Foreign Policy White Paper hits China’s activities in South China Sea — SCS is a “major fault line” in regional order.

December 6, 2017
In this April 21, 2017, file photo, Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130. CSIS AMTI via DigitalGlobe, File

MANILA, Philippines — Expressing concern over the scale of China’s activities in the disputed South China Sea, Australia urged all claimants to clarify the full nature of their claims in accordance with international law.

In its 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper released a few weeks ago, Australia stressed its position that the UN-backed tribunal’s ruling on the Philippines’ arbitration case against China is “final and binding on both parties.”

Clarifying that they are not taking sides in the competing claims, Australia considers the South China Sea as a “major fault line” in the regional order.

“Like other non-claimant states, however, we have a substantial interest in the stability of this crucial international waterway, and in the norms and laws that govern it,” the Foreign Policy White Paper read.

Australia noted that they have urged all claimants to refrain from actions that would increase tension in the region. They have also called for a halt on Beijing’s land reclamation and construction activities.

Resolving dispute should be based on international law, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Australia said in its foreign policy paper.

“Australia opposes the use of disputed features and artificial structures in the South China Sea for military purposes,” the white paper read.

The Australian government vowed to ensure international law, particularly UNCLOS, will be respected and implemented to protect freedom of navigation in the region.

Meanwhile, China criticized Australia for its “irresponsible comments” on the South China Sea.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian stressed that Australia is not in a position to make comments on the contested waters as they are not a claimant country.

“It has been proven by facts that interference from countries outside the region can only complicate the South China Sea issue and will be of no help to regional peace and stability,” Wu said in a press briefing.

Earlier this year, Beijing also slammed US Secretary Rex Tillerson for his comment that China is using its economic powers to buy its way out of problems.

“China is a significant economic and trading power, and we desire a productive relationship, but we cannot allow China to use its economic power to buy its way out of other problems, whether it’s militarizing islands in the South China Sea or failure to put appropriate pressure on North Korea,” Tillerson said in Sydney last June.

Beijing had been insisting that the situation in the South China Sea has “cooled down” following direct consultations and dialogues with claimant states.

RELATED: China assures Philippines: No military force in South China Sea

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/12/06/1765852/australia-hits-chinas-activities-south-china-sea-foreign-policy-paper

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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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South China Sea: Filipino fishermen hope for Chinese benevolence

November 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wasted opportunity at ASEAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filipino fishermen say Chinese behavior has improved

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

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

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

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

Read more:

Opinion: No solution in sight to SCS dispute

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

‘Can’t go to war’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Taiwan as the Gibraltar of Asia

November 26, 2017
By Jerome Keating

It is not uncommon for nations to take on names that are symbolic or metaphorical images of the country in the minds of their citizens and the world. The US, for example, has at different periods in its history been referred to as a “shining city on a hill” or a “melting pot” of cultures.

China, of course, is well known for being the “Middle Kingdom,” Japan is called the “Land of the Rising Sun” and Ireland is the “Emerald Isle.”

Taiwan is no exception. Early on it got the moniker Ilha Formosa (“beautiful island”) from the Portuguese. This name later morphed into Formosa, a name that stuck and has been used in its history. US General Douglas MacArthur in 1950 called Taiwan an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” to portray its strategic military importance. More recently former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) suggested that Taiwan could be the “Switzerland of Asia,” a nation of neutrality and strength, open to all, but with no territorial ambitions.

However, times change, and Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific last month witnessed two major events. The Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress ended with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) promising a “new era” of progress for Chinese. That was followed by the APEC summit in Vietnam to discuss how all could benefit from free trade.

In line with the above, US President Donald Trump made his first visit to Asia. Whether or not it can be simply dubbed a “festival of flattery” remains to be seen; at present it appears to have been a visit that came and went with hoopla, but little seeming resolution.

Trump has continued to stress his protectionist role for the US and did nothing to change the US’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Many are expecting that China might once again use these events to begin ratcheting up pressure in the South China Sea.

However, in response to the US withdrawal, a separate result of the APEC meetings has presented Taiwan with new opportunities and the chance for a new image, role and even a new name.

What is this new image and name? It is the Gibraltar of Asia, a name that manages to combine the surprisingly diverse ideas of an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” and the Switzerland of Asia.

Taiwan is a mid-sized nation with a vibrant economy; and in a region where many nations still lean toward one-party state control, Taiwan has earned a positive reputation for its strong democratic system.

In terms of economic capability, with a high GDP ranking in the upper 80th percentile of nations in the world, Taiwan makes a good trading partner. This along with its location makes Taiwan an excellent potential participant in the newly developing Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership that is replacing the TPP.

Taiwan’s neutrality, like that of Switzerland, gives it importance; the same applies to the sense of its role as the Gibraltar of Asia. It is important that a bastion of entry and control should be one that maintains democracy and neutrality.

Analogies and comparisons of course do have limits, but examine Gibraltar’s role in history. As the gateway from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, Gibraltar has been under British rule since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713. It played a vital role in protecting trade (British and otherwise) flowing there; this was even more important after the Suez Canal was opened in 1869. During World War II, Gibraltar became the bastion that prevented the Axis powers from making the Mediterranean their mare nostrum.

By location and by strength of purpose, Taiwan fills a similar role for free trade in Asia. Taiwan sits at the crossroads of the East and South China seas. Not only is Taiwan the entry portal and gate of passage for all ships and trade passing between these two seas, but also to the Pacific Ocean.

Taiwan has its own vested interest here as well. It is a nation that depends on trade, and it controls the Pratas (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) and Spratly (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) islands in the South China Sea. Freedom of navigation is important to this nation, while at the same time it has no reason to impinge on the freedom of other nations.

It is no wonder that Taiwan is a coveted geography for any nation that has hegemonic goals in Asia. Nonetheless, protecting the interests of all nations as well as its own is a role Taiwan can fill.

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Chinese H-6 type bomber

Taiwan knows the dangers of a one-party state; its democracy has been hard-won for anyone who knows its half-century history since World War II and how Taiwan threw off the yoke of the one-party state of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).

This democracy and self-rule is what the UN Charter is all about. This is also one of those unspoken secrets that other nations in the region need to face and admit; they have a stake in Taiwan’s democracy.

Instead of being a flash point, a free and democratic Taiwan should be seen as a stabilizing factor in the region. Other nations in the region need to see Taiwan as more than a resource for trade, but also a key player in maintaining balance and stability.

These are the things that should inspire Taiwan’s citizens: They can see their nation as a Switzerland; it has no hegemonic territorial wishes for the region; and more importantly, it plays a vital stabilizing role.

There is no doubt that the citizens of Taiwan can take pride in this newfound role and image. However, the time has come for other nations to step up and openly acknowledge that a free, democratic Taiwan is of long-term value to the region. It is their rock of security; it is their Gibraltar.

Jerome Keating is a writer based in Taipei.

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2017/11/21/2003682630

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

South China Sea: Philippine Judge and Frequent Duterte Critic Likes Progress in Talking To China

November 19, 2017
By:  – Reporter / @MRamosINQ
 / November 18, 2017

Antonio Carpio

The Philippine government’s decision to negotiate with China on its own will not end the protracted territorial claims involving other nations in the South China Sea, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Friday.

Nonetheless, Carpio said President Duterte’s policy shift to engage Beijing in bilateral talks was a “logical step” and a “positive development” in implementing the ruling of the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague last year.

Besides China and the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia are also insisting ownership over parts of the sea, said to be rich in energy reserves and marine resources.

“Clearly, the South China Sea dispute involves both bilateral and multilateral disputes,” Carpio said in an emailed statement to the Inquirer.

“A bilateral negotiation between China and the Philippines can take up only the bilateral disputes between (both countries) … and not the multilateral disputes involving … other states,” he pointed out.

Carpio, who has been championing the country’s claim to the West Philippine Sea—the part of the South China Sea within the country’s 327-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ)—noted that even nonmembers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) were interested in finding a final solution to the decadeslong sea row.

“The South China Sea dispute also affects nonclaimant states, both within (the) Asean (region) and outside (of it) … These nonclaimant states, which include the US, Japan and Australia, are worried how China’s expansive claim will affect freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, for both commercial and military vessels and aircraft,” he said.

The magistrate noted that Beijing’s disputed nine-dash line asserted ownership of 85.7 percent of the strategic waterway where about $5 trillion in global trade transits every year.

The landmark decision of the international tribunal invalidated China’s nine-dash line and its argument that it had sovereign and historic rights over the disputed sea.

It also upheld the Philippines’ exclusive rights over its EEZ, including Scarborough Shoal, also called Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc.

According to Carpio, the territorial row involving the Philippines and China is “intimately related to all the multilateral disputes and all the other bilateral disputes” as Beijing’s territorial claims are based on its nine-dash-line policy.

“A bilateral negotiation between China and the Philippines on the enforcement of the arbitral award will be a logical step as the award is binding only between China and the Philippines,” the magistrate said.

“However, this will not resolve the territorial dispute between China and the Philippines. Neither will it resolve the multilateral disputes involving China, the Philippines and other states,” he said.

Carpio, however, said that “any bilateral negotiation between China and the Philippines on the enforcement of the arbitral award is a positive development.”

On Thursday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Mr. Duterte had “articulated preference for bilateral talks rather than multilateral talks in resolving the dispute” when he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in Vietnam last week.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/945938/philippine-news-updates-supreme-court-senior-associate-justice-antonio-carpio-philippines-china-diplomacy#ixzz4yrxsXzXF
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South China Sea: China Takes Control — “The sheer numbers [of Chinese] are starting to push the Filipinos, the Vietnamese, and the Malaysians out”

November 18, 2017

China is starting to dictate terms in one of the world’s strategic waterways, and the United States is largely missing in action.

A Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaonin, takes part in military drills in the South China Sea on Jan. 2. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

A Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaonin, takes part in military drills in the South China Sea on Jan. 2. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

In his 12-day trip to Asia, U.S. President Donald Trump largely focused on North Korea and trade, all but avoiding the simmering disputes in the South China Sea and steering clear of sharp criticism of Beijing’s increasingly aggressive activities there.

With the Trump administration focused elsewhere for now, China is quietly pressing ahead with its agenda in one of the world’s most strategic waterways, building more military facilities on man-made islands to buttress its expansionist claims and dramatically expanding its presence at sea at the expense of its smaller neighbors.

Beijing’s under-the-radar advances in the South China Sea could be bad news for countries in the region, for U.S. hopes to maintain influence in the Western Pacific, and for the rules-based international order that for decades has promoted peace and prosperity in Asia.

At the Chinese Communist Party congress last month, President Xi Jinping cited island building in the South China Sea as one of his top achievements so far, and touted the “successful prosecution of maritime rights.” Those rights appear at odds with international law: Xi is now assuring nervous neighbors that China will offer “safe passage” through the seas to other countries in the region.

“The South China Sea has fallen victim to a combination of Trump’s narrow focus on North Korea and the administration’s chaotic and snail-paced policymaking process,” said Ely Ratner of the Council on Foreign Relations, who served as an advisor to former Vice President Joe Biden.

China’s recent advances in the South China Sea aren’t as eye-popping as the overnight creation of artificial atolls in recent years, a massive engineering project dubbed the “great wall of sand” by a top U.S. admiral. That’s one reason the disputes got pushed to the back burner on Trump’s big trip.

“Because there’s no sense of immediate or medium-term crisis (in the South China Sea), they didn’t make it a big priority on the trip,” said Evan Medeiros of the Eurasia Group, who oversaw Asia strategy in the Obama White House.

But experts say the quiet moves — including expanding military bases, constructing radar and sensor installations, hardened shelters for missiles, and vast logistical warehouses for fuel, water, and ammunition — are threatening to turn China’s potential stranglehold on the region into reality.

Much of the activity has centered on three reefs converted into artificial islands through large-scale dredging: Fiery Cross, Mischief Reef, and Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands, about 650 miles from Hainan Island in southern China. Satellite imagery in June revealed a large dome had been erected on Fiery Cross with another under construction, suggesting a substantial communications or radar system, experts say. At Mischief Reef, workers were installing two more domes.

With runways, hangars for fighter jets, and communications hardware in place on the artificial islands, China can deploy military aircraft and missiles whenever it wants, solidifying its grip over the area and flouting international maritime law. The three newly built bases in the Spratlys, combined with another on Woody Island, will enable Chinese warplanes to fly over nearly the entire South China Sea, according to Pentagon officials and defense analysts. That could be the precursor to an “air defense identification zone” similar to the one that China slapped onto the East China Sea in 201

And the new bases have given China much greater reach at sea. Beijing has deployed more naval ships, Coast Guard vessels, and a flotilla of fishing boats that act as a maritime militia virtually around the clock. The ships can now dock nearby to refuel and resupply, rather than sail home, extending their time on station and their ability to project Chinese power through the area. That is changing the balance of power as fishing ships and coast guard vessels from other claimant countries like Vietnam and the Philippines are elbowed away from disputed features.

This summer, for example, Vietnam hoped to drill for natural gas off its own coast. But China reportedly summoned the Vietnamese ambassador and threatened military action if Hanoi went forward with development in its own exclusive economic zone. Sensing little backing from Washington, Vietnam quietly backed down and stopped drilling.

“The sheer numbers are starting to push the Filipinos, the Vietnamese, and the Malaysians out,” said Gregory Poling of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

More than nine months into the Trump administration, contrasts with U.S. policy under Barack Obama toward the South China Sea are apparent — as they are with the initial saber-rattling tone of Trump administration officials. The Obama administration put a focus on diplomacy and consistently sought to uphold international law regarding the disputed waterway, though it often shied away from sailing U.S. Navy ships through the waters to send a tough signal to Beijing.

The Trump administration has taken almost the opposite approach: Navy cruises to assert the right of navigation have become commonplace, but there is little sign yet of a concerted U.S. policy to diplomatically push back against Chinese encroachment or offer encouragement to U.S. allies and partners threatened by Beijing’s advances, former officials, experts and foreign diplomats said.

“By having no South China Sea policy, Trump ensures that all the initiative lies with Beijing,” said Mira Rapp-Hooper, a senior fellow at Yale’s Paul Tsai China Center.

Former U.S. officials and congressional aides said the Trump administration appears to be pulling its punches on the South China Sea, as well as trade issues, in hopes of securing Beijing’s cooperation to cut off North Korea’s access to fuel and cash to fund its nuclear weapons program. So far, China has stopped short of drastic action to squeeze the regime in Pyongyang — and Chinese officials just contradicted Trump’s claims that the two countries have found more common ground.

At the end of his Asia trip, Trump did offer to “mediate” between Vietnam and China, but that spooked officials in Hanoi who fear they could be a pawn in a bigger U.S.-China game centered on North Korea.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment on its approach to the South China Sea.

However, some former Obama officials are cautiously optimistic that the Trump administration, hamstrung so far by short staffing at key positions, especially regarding Asia policy, is starting to craft a more coherent policy toward the region, including a sharper focus on China’s activities in the South China Sea. Joint communiques in Japan and Vietnam stressed continued U.S. support for the rule of law and an end to coercion in maritime disputes, for example.

Ratner, the former Biden advisor, said he expects the Trump administration to chart a more proactive course as it settles into office.

“They appear to finally be getting their policy feet under them and I’m expecting more focus on South China Sea in the months ahead,” he said. “So it’s premature to declare it’ll remain a low priority going forward.”

 http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/11/16/with-trump-focused-on-north-korea-beijing-sails-ahead-in-south-china-sea/

Dan De Luce is Foreign Policy’s chief national security correspondent. @dandeluc

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China’s playbook still working…

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Peace and Freedom Note: The South China Sea already had a “legally binding” decision that China did not like — so China ignored the legally binding finding….

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

South China Sea: China Agrees To Start “Code of Conduct” Talks (Again) — A Project That Began in 2002

November 17, 2017

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Editorial

 / 05:36 AM November 17, 2017

The consensus reached by the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China to finally begin negotiations on a Code of Conduct of parties in the South China Sea is a positive outcome from a week of summit pageantry, but it is hardly the breakthrough that China and its apologists, witting or unwitting, say it is.

In the first place, this code was promised 15 years ago; the last paragraph of the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, signed on Nov. 4, 2002, held that “The Parties concerned reaffirm that the adoption of a code of conduct in the South China Sea would further promote peace and stability in the region and agree to work, on the basis of consensus, toward the eventual attainment of this objective.” The reason negotiations on the Code never took off was China’s strategy of delay. It had signed the DOC in the waning months of Jiang Zemin’s presidency, and despite the official Chinese policy of a “peaceful rise,” the presidency of Hu Jintao never accorded the Code priority. Under the much more authoritarian Xi Jinping, the “peaceful rise” policy has been shelved, in favor of an even more assertive, expansive nationalism.

Secondly, the negotiations will finally take place under circumstances redefined by China to be much more favorable to its interests. As the case that the Philippines filed against China at the arbitral tribunal was progressing, Beijing ramped up its land-reclamation and facility-building in the Spratlys; it successfully dissuaded Manila from using the landmark and sweeping legal victory of July 12, 2016, at the Permanent Court of Arbitration as leverage, and Vietnam from deploying more oil and gas rigs in disputed waters; it has—according to President Duterte himself—raised the possibility of war, contrary to the spirit of every single one of the agreements it has entered into with Asean; it has even enabled the initiative to write a so-called Framework on the Code of Conduct, another agreement touted to be a significant achievement but in reality is yet more proof of Chinese strategic delay.

Thirdly, the start of negotiations on the Code of Conduct early next year is exactly that: merely the start. How long the process will last, what form the document will take, and (the most important question) whether the Code will be legally binding, will all be largely determined by Beijing. Its strategy has paid off; delays have weakened the hand of the Asean as a bloc and of its claimant countries, even including Indonesia. To be sure, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang hit most of the right notes at the Asean-China summit last Monday. “We hope the talks on the code of conduct will bolster mutual understanding and trust. We will strive under the agreement to reach a consensus on achieving early implementation of the code of conduct,” he said (according to a transcript provided by the Chinese foreign ministry).

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China H-6 bomber Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines

Lastly, we must bear in mind the lessons of recent history. When they don’t meet its interests, China has learned to ignore the fine print of the agreements it enters into. The DOC itself, often used by China as proof of its commitment to regional diplomacy, has been repeatedly dishonored. Paragraph 5 of the Declaration begins: “The Parties undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner.” This vital principle of self-restraint has not stopped China from converting seven rocks or reefs it occupies in the Spratlys into islands, capable of sustaining not only civilian life but even military operations.

The Philippines and its partners in Asean must enter into the negotiations on the Code of Conduct with these lessons in mind, and with calibrated optimism. The breakthrough lies at the end, not at the start.

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/108791/delayed-start-no-breakthrough#ixzz4yiQ6EWPf
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Peace and Freedom Note: The South China Sea already had a “legally binding” decision that China did not like — so China ignored the legally binding finding….

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

South China Sea: Philippine President calls For a Legally Binding Agreement

November 16, 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte presides over the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Leaders’ Meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center on November 14, 2017. Rey Baniquet/Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte will push for a legally binding Code of Conduct on the South China Sea, Malacañang said yesterday as leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) welcomed the adoption of a framework that would pave the way for negotiations on a “substantive and effective” COC with China.

ASEAN and China have agreed to start talks on the COC. Encouraged by the “positive momentum,” the chairman’s statement of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila said the leaders of the regional bloc look forward to the start of negotiations at the 20th ASEAN-China Summit and the subsequent convening of the 23rd ASEAN-China Joint Working Group Meeting on the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in Vietnam in early 2018.

The framework that was agreed upon in August seeks to advance the DOC, which has mostly been ignored by claimant states, particularly China, which has built seven manmade islands in disputed waters, three of which are equipped with runways, surface-to-air missiles and radars.

The chairman’s statement was released as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang concluded his visit to Manila after the ASEAN events and official visit in the country.

In the statement, the leaders took note of the improving relations between ASEAN and China, reaffirming their commitment to the full and effective implementation of the DOC in its entirety and the importance of undertaking confidence building and preventive measures to enhance, among others, trust and confidence among parties.

The leaders also welcomed the successful testing of the hotline between the ministries of foreign affairs of China and the 10 ASEAN countries or MFA-to-MFA Hotline to Manage Maritime Emergencies in the South China Sea and “looked forward to the operationalization of the Joint Statement on the Observance of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) in the South China Sea.”

“In our view, these are practical measures that could reduce tensions and the risks of accidents, misunderstandings and miscalculation,” the statement said.

ASEAN reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, maritime safety and security, rules-based order and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

“In this regard, we further reaffirmed the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, emphasized the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states, including those mentioned in the DOC that could further complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the South China Sea,” the leaders said.

The leaders stressed the need to adhere to the peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

They welcomed positive developments in maritime cooperation among ASEAN member-states, including through continued constructive dialogues on issues of common interest and concern, marine scientific research, maritime domain awareness and marine environment and protection.

During the meetings in Manila this week, leaders of the ASEAN, European Union and the United States committed to ensure maritime security, the rights of freedom of navigation and overflight, non-militarization in the South China Sea and other lawful uses of the sea.

Binding COC

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque gave assurance that Duterte and other ASEAN leaders want to work on a legally binding COC.

Roque said Duterte tried to negotiate with all the ASEAN member-nations to work for a code that would govern the behavior of countries at sea.

“I think the consultations on the (COC) was rather substantial because the different countries contemplated a (COC) that would in fact be legally binding,” Roque said.

“Otherwise, if it’s merely aspirational, then it will not promote the kind of peace and stability that they are hoping for. But anyway, we are only about to commence the process of negotiating a (COC). So we will see,” he added.

Roque said it was clear from Duterte’s statement that he wants the COC to be agreed upon by all parties to ensure peace and stability in the region.

“I think this was clear from the language also of the framework agreement that they previously entered into… which signaled the commencement of the talks for the (COC),” Roque said.

“I think that was a priority of the President because unless it becomes legally binding, we would not achieve the kind of predictability that all the countries want in order to achieve peace and stability in the region,” he said.

Asked what was substantially achieved during the ASEAN summit, Roque said it became clear that there was a consensus among all claimant countries and among Southeast Asian countries to ease the tension over the South China Sea.

“I think the fact that parties have now adopted the calm positions has led to stability in the region and has led to a tremendous reduction in tension as far as claimant countries are concerned,” Roque said.

Roque said Duterte is also open to bilateral talks as far as resolving the conflict is concerned and has said “time and again that he does not see any utility in talking to third parties who are not parties to the conflict.”

Roque said he does not think that the United Nations arbitral ruling favoring the Philippines’ maritime claims would “figure” in the drafting of the COC.

“As I said, the arbitral ruling is binding on China and the Philippines only,” he said.

“Well, even from my limited engagement in treaty drafting, I don’t see how it can figure actually. Considering that the (COC) is going to be applicable to all claimant countries and to all countries in Southeast Asia including China,” he said.

Bilateral solution: No use of threat or force

While negotiations for a code will commence, Roque said Duterte would also continue dealing with China bilaterally with regard to the South China Sea issue.

“And yes, I can confirm the report that the President has articulated preference for bilateral talks rather than multilateral talks in resolving the dispute. However, China… also stated that they have very good bilateral relations with all the claimant countries,” he said.

Following Premier Li Keqiang’s official visit in Manila last Wednesday, Manila and Beijing agreed not to resort to the threat or use of force in the South China Sea.

Instead, the two sides said the dealings should be based on friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned.

As this developed, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the Philippine Coast Guard will continue to take the lead role in conducting patrols in the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine (Benham) Rise.

Esperon was one of the officials who met with PCG officer-in-charge Commodore Joel Garcia yesterday morning, during the visit of Kentaro Sonoura, special advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security of Japan, at the PCG headquarters.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, on the other hand, would take charge of developing and conserving the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources.

‘Fantastic team’

All ASEAN delegates had left the country as of noon yesterday, the ASEAN Security Task Force (ASTF) said.

ASTF commander Director Napoleon Taas said the Chinese leader was the last delegate to the ASEAN Summit to leave the country.
“…we have successfully secured the country’s hosting of the 31st Summit and the 50th anniversary of ASEAN,” Taas said in a statement.

Taas and Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy said the government led by Duterte received all praises for the successful hosting of the ASEAN events, including security arrangements.

“US President Trump described his experience as fantastic. The Singaporean (Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong) calls it a tough act to follow. (Duterte) refers to all of us as his ‘Fantastic Team,’” Taas noted.
Taas, however, said credit should be given to the thousands of personnel who contributed their best to ensure the success of the events.
“To the greatest security team that I had the privilege to lead, this is indeed a proud day for the nation. A day made possible by the nameless, selfless and dedicated men and women of the ASTF 2017,” Taas said.
Cuy said the country’s hosting of the 31st ASEAN Summit was a success, without even a single untoward incident recorded.

Cuy said a total of 60,000 troops were deployed and mobilized to provide security and safety to the world leaders, delegates and the general public during the summit.  
Cuy said the preparations for the summit were not a walk in the park but the Multi-Agency Coordination Committee was able to deliver what was expected through hard work with the numerous drills, simulation exercises, critiquing activities and rehearsals.

–  With Evelyn Macairan, Cecille Suerte Felipe

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/17/1759728/duterte-calls-legally-binding-code-scs

Peace and Freedom Note: The South China Sea already had a “legally binding” decision that China did not like — so China ignored the legally binding finding….

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

South China Sea: ASEAN Goes Soft on China

November 16, 2017
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang talks during the 20th ASEAN China Summit in Manila, Philippines, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. Linus Escandor/Pool Photo via AP

MANILA, Philippines — The ASEAN, under Philippine chairmanship, declined to mention China’s expansive island-building activities in the South China Sea in its chairman statement.

In its chairman statement released after the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila, the ASEAN merely mentioned “non-militarization” and “self-restraint” among claimant states.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, gestures to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as they prepare for their bilateral meeting following a welcome ceremony at Malacanang Palace grounds in Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Li is on an official visit to the country. AP/Bullit Marquez

“In this regard, we further reaffirmed the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, emphasized the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states,” the statement read.

This echoed the joint communique issued during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Manila last August, where the ministers said they “took note of the concerns expressed by some ministers on the land reclamations and activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region.”

READ: ASEAN stresses self-restraint, non-militarization in South China Sea

The 10-member regional bloc welcomed its improving relations with China following the adoption of the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea last August.

The ASEAN is looking forward to the start of the negotiations on the COC, which was announced at the ASEAN-China Summit in Manila.

The chairman statement stressed the need to adhere to a peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with principles of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The statement, however, did not mention the arbitral ruling of a United Nations-backed tribunal based in the Hague, Netherlands.

RELATED: With no reference to arbitral ruling, ASEAN to pursue sea code

In July 2016, the international tribunal issued a landmark award in favor of the Philippines, invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea. The tribunal also ruled that Beijing violated its commitment under the UNCLOS by constructing artificial islands in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The regional bloc, meanwhile, reaffirmed its commitment to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

“We reaffirmed our commitment to the full and effective implementation of the DOC in its entirety, and the importance of undertaking confidence building and preventive measures to enhance, among others, trust and confidence amongst parties,” the statement read.

The ASEAN-China joint working group meeting on the implementation of the DOC is set to convene in Viet Nam early next year.

In a separate chairman statement of the 20th ASEAN-China Summit, the concerned parties “welcomed the positive developments in the South China Sea.”

The ASEAN and China reiterated their commitment to the implementation of the DOC. Implementation will include confidence-building measures and practical maritime cooperation.

FULL TEXT: Chairman’s statement for the 31st ASEAN Summit

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/11/16/1759490/asean-goes-soft-china-sea-code-talks-start

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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.

Duterte to Ask: What Are China’s Intentions in South China Sea? — Is Duterte too late?

November 9, 2017

By Steve Miller

FILE - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech at the official resident of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Oct. 30, 2017.

FILE – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech at the official resident of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Oct. 30, 2017.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he is planning to ask Beijing, during this week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), what its intentions are in the South China Sea and if Southeast Asian countries will be allowed to freely navigate the disputed, strategic sea.During his almost 18 months in office, Duterte has adopted a largely nonconfrontational approach toward Beijing and its competing claims in the South China Sea.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella explained in October 2016 that confrontation didn’t serve the interests of the Philippines, which was why Duterte was “committed to a process of engagement and negotiation” that would ensure that Manila’s rights are respected and protected.

South China Sea Territorial Claims

South China Sea Territorial Claims

Signal to US, China

Scott Harold, Rand Corp. associate director for the Center for Asia Pacific Policy, said Duterte’s plan to raise the issue now may be because the Philippine leader trying to play hard to get with Washington, while at the same time signaling China that not everything it does is OK.

“If he wants to extract resources or commitments … or appear to his base to be sufficiently patriotic, nationalistic, or what have you … he needs to stand up for the Philippines’ claim,” Harold said.

While Duterte has been content to downplay a July 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) award in favor of the Philippines, Harold notes Duterte must also convince his supporters that he’s doing enough to merit their trust.

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Readers might read “When China Rules the World” by Martin Jacques

Evan Rees, an Asia-Pacific analyst with the Texas-based think tank Stratfor, said Duterte’s approach may have another explanation.

“This softer approach to China isn’t because he’s trying to pursue a softer approach permanently with China, because he’s a Philippine nationalist … and he’s trying to shore up the Philippines position,” Rees said. “The Philippines is in a vulnerable spot, where it’s a maritime nation that needs to shore up its claims in the South China Sea. But it also has all sorts of internal problems to deal with.”

Now that the government has declared victory over Islamic State group-aligned militants who laid siege to the city of Marawi and the peace process is moving forward, Rees said Duterte now possesses the opportunity to push forward the Philippines’ maritime interests.

Damaged buildings in war-torn Marawi City, southern Philippines, Oct. 24, 2017, after the Philippines announced on Monday the end of five months of military operations in a southern city held by pro-Islamic State rebels.

Damaged buildings in war-torn Marawi City, southern Philippines, Oct. 24, 2017, after the Philippines announced on Monday the end of five months of military operations in a southern city held by pro-Islamic State rebels.

Is Duterte too late?

China, however, claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $3 trillion in goods passes each year. Beijing also has repeatedly said the Permanent Court of Arbitration had the jurisdiction to hear Manila’s challenge and rejected the award.

With numerous artificial islands developed by China in disputed waters, is it too late to raise the question of China’s intentions?

No, “because there are still things that the Philippines want,” Rees said, such as economic development concessions and engaging in joint drilling projects.

Rees said that by taking a slightly harder stance now, the Philippines can secure those things later as China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) develop a code of conduct for the South China Sea.

The Rand Corp.’s Harold said preventing China from more building in the disputed waterways is likely beyond the capacity of any of the countries in Southeast Asia.

It’s not fair to say, “look, he has failed to stop China … since that was not something that was within his or anyone else’s capacity,” he added.

https://www.voanews.com/a/duterte-china-south-china-sea/4107588.html

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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.

Philippine President Duterte says he hopes China will not build on Scarborough Shoal

November 8, 2017

By Carmela Fonbuena

Published 7:48 PM, November 07, 2017
Updated 8:55 PM, November 07, 2017

‘I wish he will honor it because it will change the entire geography. If war starts, I don’t know what will be the next geographical division of Asia,’ says President Rodrigo Duterte

TRUST IN CHINA. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte speaks during the 58th Philippine Army Change of Command Ceremony at Fort Andres Bonifacio in Taguig City on October 5, 2017. Presidential file photo

TRUST IN CHINA. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte speaks during the 58th Philippine Army Change of Command Ceremony at Fort Andres Bonifacio in Taguig City on October 5, 2017. Presidential file photo

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte said he hopes China will “honor” its commitment to not build on Scarborough Shoal, the rocky sandbar off Zambales province that China occupied in 2012.

The statement comes after a command conference where Duterte was briefed on the situation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), part of his preparation for his trip to Vietnam where he will meet with world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping for the Asia Pacific Economic Summit.

 Image result for Scarborough Shoal
Scarborough Shoal is one of the richest fishing ground remaining in Philippine waters after the Chinese takeover. A Chinese takeover here would make in next to impossible to challenge China in the South China Sea. According to military experts, “IF China takes Scarbourough, that slams shut the door on any military operations against China for a long time.”

It was a reiteration of a statement he made in Davao last October when he said he is holding on to China’s promise it wouldn’t build anything on Scarborough Shoal.

Duterte claimed China gave his government the assurance it “will not be building something in Scarborough Shoal.”

Image result for Scarborough Shoal

“I wish he (President Xi Jinping) will honor it because it will change the entire geography. If war starts, I don’t know what will be the next geographical division of Asia,” Duterte said.

Renewed concerns are raised as China launched a massive dredger ship that can build artificial islands similar to what it had already built in the South China Sea.

International security observers fear that the “island-maker” could be deployed to construct facilities on Scarborough Shoal, which is widely believed to be a red line for the US.

Image result for magic island maker, dredger, China, photos

China unveils ‘magic island maker’ ship – The Straits Times

Duterte spoke about his administration’s friendship with China during the 67th anniversary of the Philippine Marines, the unit in the frontlines protecting Philippine territory in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Laro ito ng geopolitics (It’s a game of geopolitics),” Duterte told the Marines.

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A Chinese H-6 bomber circles Scarborough Shoal

Duterte hinted at another trip to China. “You will have to trust me. Pupunta ako doon (I’m going there) and I will assert something and I will try one day, we’ll put a stake on what we think is ours,” said Duterte.

In the same speech, Duterte said the Philippines remains the “best friend” of the US as the thanked the country’s ally for its assistance in fighting local armed groups in Marawi City. – Rappler.com

https://www.rappler.com/nation/187644-duterte-china-scarborough

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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.