Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

Military base-building destroys coral reefs in the South China Sea

March 28, 2017

 

26 March 2017 / Analysis by Greg Asner
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Greg Asner, a global ecologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, writes about his recent field survey in the Spratly Islands.
Sea turtle in a coral garden in the Spratly Islands. Photo by Greg Asner.

As I reached the surface, I could hardly believe my eyes. The black shadow of the vessel turned, revealing its distinct cigar-shaped profile. Seeing a submarine at sea with a scuba tank on your back is like pricking yourself on a needle lost in a very big haystack. But the South China Sea is not your average haystack, and nothing seems to be lost out in its vast expanse.

The South China Sea stretches from the coast of mainland China to the shores of Borneo, Vietnam, and Philippines. The southern part is a huge blue water world dotted with remote atolls and islands known as the Spratly Islands, named after whaler Richard Spratly who ‘discovered’ them in 1843. The Spratlys have many other names in the languages of nations that encircle the South China Sea, an expression of the long-standing strain between multiple claimants of the region. Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam each claim a portion of the Spratly archipelago, and China claims all of it.

Fig 1. The Spratly Islands are located in the southern portion of the South China Sea.
Figure 1: The Spratly Islands are located in the southern portion of the South China Sea.

The region has also become a hotbed for modern naval activity, owing to critical commercial shipping through its waters, and the oil that underlies its seabed. The U.S. routinely navigates the South China Sea as a demonstration of its naval power, said to ensure right-of-passage, and which China openly views as a threat. And as a result, military base and outpost building continues at a feverish and ecologically destructive pace. Whole coral reef atolls have been dredged to form hard land for military complexes and aircraft runways.

As a global ecologist and conservation scientist, I have long been interested in the Spratlys as a biodiversity hotspot. With its purported 600 coral and 6000 fish species, I had wondered what this ecoregion looks like underwater, and more recently, what the frenzied building of military bases might mean for its sea life. I wondered too if coral reefs of the Spratlys had been impacted by recent hot water events that cause coral bleaching, like that which has devastated the Great Barrier Reef.

There isn’t nearly enough scientific literature on the ecology of the Spratlys, but it has been shown that the atolls are important sources of coral larvae for that part of the South China Sea. Each atoll is a habitat for connected layers of lifeforms ranging from corals and invertebrates to huge schools of hammerhead sharks and bottlenose dolphins. Each layer relies on the presence and health of the next layer, and the coral reefs form a critical core for the regional ecosystem as a whole

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In March 2016, Camilo Mora and colleagues published a report on military base building across the Spratlys. In the same month, I was working on the northern tip of Borneo, east of the Spratlys, and I decided to expand our mapping efforts into the archipelago. I wanted to better understand what is being lost with each military base conversion of a Spratly atoll. By May 2016, I got a chance to visit one of the atolls in the southeast corner of the archipelago.

Known as Swallow Reef, or Pulau Layang Layang by the Malaysian government that administers it, the atoll is an amoeba-shaped ring of reef that drops off more than 3000 meters into deep ocean (Fig 2). In one corner of the atoll lies a small Royal Malaysian navy outpost, manned with a few patrol vessels. Alongside the outpost is a place where diehard divers can spend time exploring some of the most unique and endangered coral reef ecosystems on Earth. Moving down in the water column at Swallow Reef is like slicing through a psychedelic layer cake that would impress Willy Wonka lovers. The outer reef is replete with millions and millions of colorful specks of life, hard and soft corals, schools of jacks, batfish, barracuda, and more, each contributing to an ecosystem patrolled by giant mantas and sharks. Picture what you think a perfect coral reef ecosystem might look like, well before the global degradation of reefs that started with the industrial revolution, and that will put you at Swallow Reef.

Swallow Reef atoll is administered by the Malaysian government, and houses a small navy base and diving facility (top image). A view of the atoll from the runway on Swallow Reef, as a tropical storm approaches in 2016 (bottom image)
Figure 2: Swallow Reef atoll is administered by the Malaysian government, and houses a small navy base and diving facility. Courtesy of Planet (top image). A view of the atoll from the runway on Swallow Reef, as a tropical storm approaches in 2016 (bottom image)

My initial visit to Swallow Reef yielded thousands of photographs and video. It also sparked the idea to combine rapid underwater surveys with a new class of satellite imaging that might give us a fast-track way to assess coral reefs on more atolls than we could possibly visit in the water. To do this, I turned to my colleagues at Planet.com, formerly known as Planet Labs. They operate the world’s largest constellation of small orbiting satellites that can image Earth on a daily basis at about 3 to 5 meter spatial resolution. As one of Planet’s science Ambassadors, I collaborate with the company to apply their satellite data to new environmental challenges, so the Spratlys were a perfect fit.

Planet’s constellation of ‘Dove’ satellites can give us a daily viewing of the South China Sea, which is critical since the region is naturally very cloudy. By selecting cloud-free images that were available shortly before and after my initial visit to Swallow Reef, my collaborators Robin Martin from Carnegie, Joe Mascaro from Planet, and I were able to align the satellite images with our near-realtime understanding of reef composition and condition. Martin and I returned to Swallow Reef in July to complete an intensive series of additional underwater surveys, which when combined with the Planet Dove data in the field, helped us to determine that we can easily map the extent of coral reef. We were also able to map some of the deeper reefs. Our overall mapping accuracy ultimately exceeded 90 percent.

From the Swallow Reef pilot study, we extended the mapping approach to all of the atolls currently occupied by China, Malaysia, Philippines, and Vietnam – the four countries most present throughout the region. We compared the proportion of coral reef on occupied atolls to unoccupied ones, and found up to 70 percent reduction in coral reef cover on those with military bases (Asner et al. 2017). In other words, military base and outpost building has destroyed huge expanses of coral reef, which means that millions of its colorful lifeforms have been wiped off the planet.

Figure 3. Proportion of shallow coral reef cover on unoccupied versus occupied atolls in the Spratly Islands, South China Sea, organized by current occupying nation.
Figure 3. Proportion of shallow coral reef cover on unoccupied versus occupied atolls in the Spratly Islands, South China Sea, organized by current occupying nation.

Shockingly, the vast majority of this loss has taken place in just the past three years. Yet promising is the fact that there are still a hundred or so reefs with relatively little human impact, so conservation and management ought to have a chance to make a difference before it is too late. Also promising is the fact that recent coral bleaching events do not seem to have had as large an impact in the South China Sea as we have seen on the Great Barrier Reef. I experienced very little bleaching during our survey dives at Swallow Reef. As Professor John McManus, University of Miami, has long emphasized based on his work in the region, a promising pathway forward to protecting the remaining coral reefs of the South China Sea rests in the development of an international peace park agreement between nations. Based on our recent experience with Planet Dove satellites and diving, time is of the essence to get a park-style accord accomplished.

School of barracuda on a Spratly Island atoll. Photo by Greg Asner.
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https://news.mongabay.com/2017/03/military-base-building-destroys-coral-reefs-in-the-south-china-sea/

Notes and References

For more photos of reef inhabitants of the South China Sea, go to http://divephoto.org

Asner, G., Martin, R. & Mascaro, J. Coral reef atoll assessment in the South China Sea using Planet Dove satellites. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation, 1-9, doi:10.1002/res2.42 (2017).

Mora, C., Caldwell, I. R., Birkeland, C. & McManus, J. W. Dredging in the Spratly Islands: Gaining Land but Losing Reefs. PLoS Biol 14, e1002422 (2016).

Related:

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 (Contains links to several previous articles on the South China Sea)

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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

China to work with Asean on sea code

March 28, 2017
Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua relayed the message to President Duterte during their meeting in Davao City last Monday, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said. Kamuning Bakery Cafe/Released

MANILA, Philippines – China is determined to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the crafting of a framework for the code of conduct for claimants in the South China Sea dispute.

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua relayed the message to President Duterte during their meeting in Davao City last Monday, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

“His excellency Zhao expressed China’s determination to work with ASEAN member states in finalizing the Code of Conduct Framework on the South China Sea middle of this year,” Abella said in a statement.

Zhao said China is looking forward to the first meeting on bilateral mechanism for the South China Sea row in May.

“Through this bilateral mechanism, mutual trust and maritime cooperation will be forged and misunderstandings will be avoided,” Abella said.

Hours before the meeting, United States Ambassador Sung Kim called on Duterte to convey his country’s readiness to assist the Philippines in terms of military equipment and training.

“The President said that Philippines-US relations at the bilateral level remain strong and there is readiness to discuss more matters of mutual interest with the US,” he said.

“His Excellency Sung Kim also assured (President Duterte) that the US understands the security concerns of the Philippines and that the US is ready to provide more military equipment, assistance and training,” he added.

Abella said Duterte and Kim agreed that their countries have mutual interests and shared values and that fruitful engagements and discussions are very important “in ensuring that both states are on the same page.”

Duterte and Zhao also discussed the handling of the South China Sea issue, defense cooperation and capacity building, infrastructure projects financing, anti-poverty and the campaign against illegal drugs.

Abella said Zhao assured Duterte that China is ready to implement a cooperation agreement signed by the two countries’ coast guards.

“He (Zhao) looks forward to the Philippine Coast Guard delegation’s visit to China to hammer out actions, activities and new engagements to ensure that South China Sea is a sea of cooperation,” Abella said.

“He is also looking forward to the resumption of bilateral defense cooperation and participation in the One Belt, One Road Summit in Beijing in May 2017,” he added.

Zhao said China is hopeful that the Philippines would soon use its donations for anti-poverty programs and anti-illegal drugs operations.

Duterte also met with Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign affairs and trade minister, and expressed readiness to strengthen bilateral ties between Manila and Budapest.

“The President said that the Philippines is very interested in further strengthening bilateral relations with Hungary in terms of trade and investment and commerce, opening up the Philippine countryside as potential new markets, security cooperation and people-to-people exchanges through scholarship programs,” Abella said.

Szijjárto informed Duterte that Hungary is set to reopen its embassy in the Philippines.

“There will also be constant dialogue and person-to-person exchanges through scholarship programs to Hungary. Citing these areas of cooperation, Szijjártó said he is excited about the upgrade in the Philippines-Hungary cooperation,” Abella said.

Szijjárto said Hungary shares a common vision with the Philippines in the fight against terrorism and illegal migration.

Panatag master plan

Despite an earlier denial of reports that it was building a monitoring station on Panatag Shoal, China actually has a master plan for the full development of the shoal which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, former Parañaque congressman Roilo Golez said yesterday.

Based on the master plan, Beijing is eyeing a 3,000-meter long runway and a harbor on the shoal.

“In our various strategic meetings – that latest was held in Japan – China, it turned out, already has a master plan (for Panatag Shoal),” Golez said in a forum at the Manila Hotel yesterday.  – With Jaime Laude, Paolo Romero

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/03/29/1685665/china-work-asean-sea-code

China Drifts Into a U.S. Vacuum in Asia — “They are really alarmed about Trump.”

March 28, 2017

Beijing builds its influence in Asia by default, not design, as Trump retreats

A staff member prepares for an annual gathering last week of Asia’s elite in Boao on the Chinese island of Hainan.

A staff member prepares for an annual gathering last week of Asia’s elite in Boao on the Chinese island of Hainan. PHOTO: ZUMA PRESS

BOAO, China—For more than half a century, Washington has set the economic agenda for the Asia-Pacific, where global wealth, technology and military power are concentrating.

Today, increasingly, Beijing does.

That’s not because its economic model is so widely admired; Deng Xiaoping’s “open door” to global trade and investment is creaking shut under current President Xi Jinping, a hard-line nationalist.

Nor does the country’s political system, brutally focused on self-preservation, have much appeal.

China isn’t even well liked. Domestic repression and trade mercantilism combine these days with a prickly assertiveness overseas. A recent opinion poll in South Korea, the latest target of Beijing’s economic bullying, shows the country has even less affection for its close neighbor than Japan, its historical archenemy.

Rather, China’s advance is being enabled by a factor that few countries in Asia could have foreseen, not even China itself: an American retreat.

With no obvious alternatives, Beijing is filling a vacuum that is rapidly expanding in the early days of the Trump presidency.

But while China dominates its region with the sheer size of its economy, it struggles to lead—or inspire.

Years in the making, the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership was the core of the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia, the product of compromises hammered out in capitals from Tokyo to Canberra, an ambitious—perhaps the last—U.S. effort to shape the destiny of a region that stands at the crossroads of every global trend from fashion to “fintech” and clean energy.

In repudiating that deal, President Donald Trump has empowered China.

The new U.S. administration, says Goh Chok Tong, the former Singapore prime minister, “has taken a step backward.”

At an annual gathering of Asian power brokers on China’s tropical Hainan Island last week, Mr. Goh, one of the region’s most respected elder statesmen, posed an anxious question: “Who will step into the shoes of the U.S. to make sure that we have free trade?”

It is hard for Chinese politicians to sound credible when they proclaim the virtues of globalization—the free flow of ideas, technologies and cultures across borders—from the battlements of the “Great Firewall,” the most extensive barrier in all of cyberspace.

Instead of a U.S.-inspired free-trade deal focused on the digital economy, intellectual property, the environment and labor standards—what Hillary Clinton called the “gold standard,” before turning against it as presidential candidate—China is pushing a lower-grade alternative.

Yet, despite the shortcomings of this incremental effort, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Asian economies are aligning around it because there’s no better deal on the table.

Neighbors are skeptical that China can build consensus across the region. “Leadership takes humility, humor and flexibility,” says Thomas Lembong, the chairman of the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board, a government agency that seeks to attract foreign investors to the country.

In Mr. Lembong’s view, Asia is headed into a more anarchic future dominated by leaders with strong mandates like India’s Narendra Modi or Japan’s Shinzo Abe. It will be a case of “everybody negotiating with everybody else,” he says. “Some will take the reform route; others will do the reverse and turn protectionist and regressive.”

For now, the main danger is that Mr. Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership will morph into Mr. Trump’s Trans-Pacific trade war.

Mr. Trump has threatened to impose 45% import tariffs on Chinese imports. If he triggers such an action, the effects will ricochet around the entire Asia-Pacific manufacturing supply chain.

A common view in Asia is that the success that the U.S. did so much to encourage is now feeding a backlash.

Having adopted Washington’s economic prescriptions for growth—lower tariff barriers, expansion of market forces and investment in infrastructure —the region has become a lightning rod for the populist resentments of an America still grappling with the effects of the 2008 financial crisis.

The White House chief strategist Steve Bannon laments that “the globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia.”

“The issue now is about Americans looking to not get f—ed over,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.

On the one hand, this kind of rhetoric scares the Chinese leadership. “There is deep anxiety,” says Fred Hu, chairman of Primavera Capital Group, a China-based global investment firm, who has advised the Chinese government on financial reform. “They are really alarmed about Trump.”

The angst is shared in a region that feels unmoored as it steadily drifts into Beijing’s orbit, as much by default as by design.

Write to Andrew Browne at andrew.browne@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-drifts-into-a-u-s-vacuum-in-asia-1490695181?tesla=y&mod=e2fb

Related:

China Steps In Where U.S. is Absent in Asia

March 28, 2017

Beijing builds its influence in Asia by default, not design, as Trump retreats

 

China is building its influence in Asia more by default than design, making the region’s power brokers nervous as the U.S. retreats.

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Updated March 28, 2017 6:06 a.m. ET

BOAO, China — For more than half a century, Washington has set the economic agenda for the Asia-Pacific, where global wealth, technology and military power are concentrating.

Today, increasingly, Beijing does.

That’s not because its economic model…

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-drifts-into-a-u-s-vacuum-in-asia-1490695181

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China Touts Its Own Trade Pact as U.S.-Backed One Withers
https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-touts-its-own-trade-pact-as-u-s-backed-one-withers-1479811275

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From Sputnik

Is China Filling the Economic Vacuum in the Pacific?

© REUTERS/ David Gray

“The bilateral relationship between China and the United States is the single most important one for the prosperity and security and stability of the world, and the fact that we have very strong relationships, but different relationships — different in context and in terms of history — with both the United States and China, that is a great strength.”

Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Picture: AAP

Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

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Premier Li agreed, saying China-Australia co-operation was not targeted “at any third party” and would benefit other countries and regions

“It is China’s consistent position that all countries, big or small, are equal members of the world, and there needs to be mutual respect and co-operation on an equal footing,” Premier Li said.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is visiting Australia and New Zealand this week, while US relations with Australia cool over the migrant deal negotiated by the former US administration. Will China fill the vacuum in the region? Radio Sputnik’s Brian Becker invited China expert Keith Bennett to discuss the issue.

China Expected to Import $8 Trillion Worth of Goods in 2016-2020

US President Donald Trump’s relations with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had a rough start. During their first phone talk, an apparently emotional exchange, Trump declined to fulfill the deal negotiated by the administration of former President Barack Obama in which the US pledged to take more than 1,000 immigrants from Australian detention centers.

“The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal,” Trump tweeted after the phone call to Turnbull, which he reportedly ended abruptly

In general, it becomes more and more likely that the US is disconnecting itself from active foreign policy and concentrating on its internal affairs. This allows for other nations to seek new opportunities for trade that had been unavailable for them. One might think the time is ripe for China to approach the Pacific with propositions of trade.

However, China already is significantly involved in trade with New Zealand and Australia, according to China expert Keith Bennett.

“China has very good relations with the two countries, at least on the economic level,” Bennet told Becker. “Politically, it’s more complicated, but this is not an unprecedented visit.”

According to various data from open sources, China’s share in New Zealand trade seems to be already twice as big as that of the US. The same goes for Australia, whose exports to China are several times larger than those to the US.

This creates a complicated situation in which Australia is a close military ally of the US, but its economic interests naturally go along with China and other Pacific nations, says Bennett.

“There is a dichotomy between the economic factor and a political and military security factor,” he says.

According to Bennett, the United States relies heavily on political and military force to prevent Australia’s drift towards China, even using political means to organize a “soft coup” to get rid of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The Obama administration also increased its military presence in Australia for the very same purpose: to send a signal to Australia not to get too friendly with China, Benett explains.

Given all that, it would be hard to imagine a sharp move by Australia toward China, but there are signs it could happen under the Trump administration. The United States under Trump seems to be stepping back from its role of global director of trade and finances — at least for capitalist countries — a role the US has taken since 1945 Bretton Woods agreement. Bennet said this shift by the US could create a situation in the Pacific in which close trade ties of those nations with China could finally result in corresponding political closeness.

“What we are entering is a very unstable period of convulsion and realignment,” Bennet noted. “So it’s hard to make predictions, but I think… that economic changes will come first and political changes will have to catch up.”

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201703251051966155-china-new-zealand-australia-trade/

See also:

http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/chinese-premier-meets-with-malcolm-turnbull-downplays-south-china-sea-tensions/news-story/bb41415200c089f62847e2c9b2ab0c9f

South China Sea Update: Philippines and China To Solidify Bilateral Deal in May 2017 — Scarborough Shoal? Depends on who you ask. — ASEAN deal soon…

March 27, 2017

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEIJING — Mar 27, 2017, 4:05 AM ET

A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.

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CHINA’S SCARBOROUGH PLANS STILL UNCLEAR — China may or may not be planning to build an environmental monitoring station on the disputed Scarborough Shoal, depending on who you ask.

While the top official in the administrative region covering the island says preparatory work for the station is a priority, the foreign ministry says there is no such plan.

The Philippines, which also claims the shoal, has sought a clarification from Beijing.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said last week that reports about the facility on Scarborough had been checked and were untrue.

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China’s Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

However, the official Hainan Daily newspaper had earlier quoted Xiao Jie, the top official in Sansha City, as saying that preparatory work on the station was among the government’s top priorities for 2017. Calls to the region’s government seeking clarification have rung unanswered.

Such a move would likely renew concerns among Beijing’s neighbors over its assertive territorial claims in the strategically crucial South China Sea.

Beijing seized tiny, uninhabited Scarborough in 2012 after a tense standoff with Philippine vessels.

China’s construction and land reclamation work in the South China Sea have drawn strong criticism from the U.S. and others, who accuse Beijing of further militarizing the region and altering geography to bolster its claims. China says the seven man-made islands in the disputed Spratly group, complete with their airstrips and military installations, are mainly for civilian purposes.

Prior to the announcement, South China Sea tensions had eased somewhat after Beijing erupted in fury last year following an international arbitration tribunal ruling on a case filed by the Philippines. The verdict invalidated China’s sweeping territorial claims and determined that China had violated the rights of Filipinos to fish at Scarborough Shoal.

China has since allowed Filipino fishermen to return to the shoal following an improvement in ties between the countries, but it does not recognize the tribunal’s ruling as valid.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have long contested ownership of the South China Sea, which straddles one of the world’s busiest sea lanes and is believed to sit atop vast deposits of oil and gas.

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CHINA’S PREMIER REASSURES ON FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION, OVERFLIGHT — On a visit to Australia, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang offered reassurances on the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

Li, China’s second ranked official, said China would work with Australia to ensure freedom of navigation in distributed regions.

China will “never seek hegemony and dominance,” Li said, adding China needed a stable world environment to grow its economy.

Li was welcomed to Parliament House by a 19-gun salute and distant protest chants of anti-China demonstrators who were kept well away from the Chinese leader.

While Australia does not take an active participant in the South China Sea disputes, it is a close security partner of the United States, while also relying on China as its biggest export market. During Li’s visit, he and Turnbull oversaw the signing of agreements that will expand their 2-year-old free trade pact. China also agreed to expand its market for Australian beef exporters.

Turnbull rejected arguments that Australia must choose between the U.S. and China, despite growing tensions between the economic superpowers.

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PHL, China to discuss South China Sea bilateral mechanism in May

Published March 27, 2017 10:54pm
The Philippines and China are expected to discuss the bilateral mechanism on the South China Sea issue this coming May, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a Monday statement.
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Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, in his courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City, had said that China had been looking forward to discussing the matter with the Philippines.
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 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (left) shakes hands with China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, last August. Photo: EPA
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“He conveyed that China looked forward to the convening, in May 2017, of the first meeting of the bilateral mechanism set up to properly handle the SCS issue,” explained Abella. “Through this bilateral mechanism, mutual trust and maritime cooperation will be forged and misunderstandings will be avoided.”
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Zhao had also said that China was determined to work with ASEAN member states in finalizing the Code of Conduct Framework on the South China Sea mid-2017.
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The Chinese ambassador also mentioned the successful meeting between Philippine and Chinese Coast Guard committees, and China’s readiness to implement the agreed memorandum of understanding signed during Duterte’s Beijing visit last October.
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“He (Zhao) looks forward to the Philippine Coast Guard delegation’s visit to China to hammer out actions, activities and new engagements to ensure that SCS is a sea of cooperation,” Abella added.
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Additionally, the Chinese ambassador looked forward to the resumption of bilateral defense cooperation between the two nations.
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Aside from the South China Sea, Zhao and Duterte also discussed infrastructure projects and anti-poverty programs.
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“H.E. Zhao hoped that the infrastructure projects in the pipeline will soon be launched, implemented, and completed within the term of PRRD,” said Abella. “H.E. Zhao reported that China hopes for PH to soon utilize donations for anti-poverty programs and anti-illegal drugs operations.” — DVM, GMA News
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Related (Incliding East China Sea):
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Opinion: Philippine Lawyers say murder, extrajudicial killings, rape, extortion, illegal arrests should be investigated, prosecuted — Police should not be “death squads”

March 27, 2017

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Why does it feel as if he is waging a war against the people?

The Philippine Inquirer

President Duterte is wrong to promise immunity to law enforcers who abuse or exceed their authority, like those involved in “tokhang.”

There are standards and regulations that should be followed in police operations; these are codified to protect the citizens against the awesome powers of the state.  When law enforcers violate the law, when they commit crimes, they should be punished as everybody else. When law enforcers become criminals, they themselves are threats to public security.

Even the President, with his solemn oath to faithfully execute the laws of the land, is beholden by the same set of laws and ethics.

Image result for Philippine National Police, photos

Philippine Star photo

Allegations of murder, extrajudicial killings, rape, extortion, illegal arrests and other rights abuses and violations by the police must be seriously, fairly and timely investigated and prosecuted.

Mr. Duterte must not embolden erring and corrupt law enforcers into committing crimes, whether in his name or in the name of the state. It is morally reprehensible to condone organized brutality and criminality, and use the uniform as a shield against accountability. It is obstruction of justice and, in a sense, complicity, cultivating a mercenary tradition.

Mr. Duterte said he will wage a war against the illegal drugs trade. But measured by the number of dead and the magnitude of its toll, why does it feel as if he is waging a war against the people?

JULIAN F. OLIVA, adviser, MARIA KRISTINA C. CONTI, secretary general, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-NCR

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/102756/war-vs-people#ixzz4cWrcsPVv
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Philippines: Duterte Government Says Human Rights Watch is At Fault — Doesn’t Understand Mass Murder of Filipino Drug People

March 27, 2017

Philippines accuses HRW of cultural insensitivity over stinging drug war criticism

Agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) escort alleged drug suspects in a continuing raid at an informal settlers’ community inside the sprawling compound of a public cemetery Thursday, March 16, 2017 in suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. The drug raid came at a time that a Philippine lawmaker has filed an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte for the thousands of deaths in his anti-drug crackdown and for alleged corruption. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
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MANILA, Philipines — Malacañang Monday denied the claim of a Human Rights Watch (HRW) official that President Rodrigo Duterte has “contempt for lives” as it accused the group of “deep insensitivity to others’ cultures.”
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HRW deputy director for Asia Phelim Kine claimed in an online post on Sunday that Duterte has finally acknowledged that his campaign against drugs is “in fact a war on the poor”
Kine said Duterte employed a “grotesque logic” and that his crackdown on illegal drugs showed his “contempt for lives.” Majority of the 7,000 people who died because of the drug war were urban slum dwellers, he added.
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“Duterte’s admission ends the perverse fiction that he and his government have sought to perpetuate over the past nine months that the victims of the drug war – many of whose bodies are found on street corners wrapped in packing tape, riddled with bullets or perforated with stab wounds – have been ‘drug lords,’” the HRW official said in a Twitter post.
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Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella denied Kine’s statements and asked the HRW not to meddle with the Philippines’ internal affairs.
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Since Mr. Duterte took office last June and declared a “war” on drugs, the police and unknown assassins have killed more than 3,600 people, the police say, mostly in the slums of Philippine cities. Some put the toll at more than 7,000.

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A man suspected of dealing drugs shot dead after a “buy and bust” operation in Quezon City in September. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

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“Nothing can be farther from the truth than the HRW accusation that President Duterte has ‘contempt for lives.’  In fact, eight out of ten Filipinos living in Metro Manila now feel safer and more secure under his administration,” Abella said, referring to a Pulse Asia survey conducted last December.
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“HRW and similar other organizations should, therefore, be more circumspect about meddling in the country’s domestic affairs. Their lack of appreciation of the context and local reality show a deep insensitivity to other cultures,” he added.
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Abella also denied that the anti-drug war is targeting the poor.
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“The war on drugs is not targeted at any particular segment of society.  However, the most prevalent drug in the Philippines is shabu, dubbed as poor man’s cocaine,” Duterte’s spokesman said.
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“The supply, largely from outside the Philippines, is in great demand from users and distributors both coming from poor families.  Poverty, however, does not justify the use and selling of shabu,” he added.
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Abella said Duterte would continue to clean up the streets of drug users, pushers and dealers “regardless of their socioeconomic status in life.”
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HRW, a watchdog based in New York, previously said that the Philippines is in the midst of a “human rights calamity” because of drug-related killings. The group also accused the police of carrying out the extrajudicial killings of drug suspects and planting evidence in crime scenes.
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Duterte has denied endorsing summary executions but encouraged policemen to shoot drug suspects if they feel that their lives are in danger. The president also vowed to continue clamping down on illegal drugs until the last drug pusher is out of the streets.
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READ: Duterte brings back police into war on drugs

Alleged drug personalities are being shot to death in Metro Manila and other parts of the Philippines in a program condemned by Amnesty International and other groups.. STAR/Joven Cagande
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 (Includes commentary by former President of Columbia Gaviria)

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China’s Plan For Asia and Onward To Iran — Involves Domination on Land and Sea — “Without firing a shot. That’s Sun Tzu.”

March 26, 2017

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China’s “One Belt, One Road” master plan for Asian land and sea trade starts and ends with China itself.

Vietnamese in Hanoi are already starting to chit chat about what to do when Vietnam becomes a Chinese province.

Vietnamese with money and other assets are already heading to Canada, Australia, Europe and the U.S.

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President Duterte in the Philippines seems to have some kind of secret accord with China. There must be a big chunk of gold or currency hidden for Duterte somewhere.

Our sources in Asia tell us everyone with resources is taking an angle to make what they can from the notoriously corrupt Chinese in case there is a bloodless takeover by China.

The Chinese are already fortifying the South China Sea, intimidating Singapore, and moving in with Malaysia.  Maybe Mr. Najab can have his 1MDB debt “fixed” by Chinese backers….

Pakistan is already prepared to stand with China as the Indian Ocean Super Power.

Iran has helped China and Russia immensely in Syria, Yemen, North Korea and elsewhere. Mr. Obama’s nuclear deal took worries about Iran as a dangerous nuclear power out of the headlines as they hone their ground and sea forces and perfect the Republican Guards. They are still a dangerous nuclear power. Just more discrete — or below the radar in the nuclear research arena.

Isreal seems to have fewer and fewer friends.

Yet Donald Trump pledged to stand behind Israel.

But he also pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare — so let’s wait and see what he is really able to accomplish….

From the Peace and Freedom Strategy Team, March 26, 2017

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Related:

 (Chinese Naval Base)

Geo News screen grab
Geo News screen grab

What is China’s Plan For Asia? —

March 26, 2017

Moved to:

https://johnib.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/chinas-plan-for-asia-and-onward-to-iran-involves-domination-on-land-and-sea-without-firing-a-shot-thats-sun-tzu/

 

South China Sea: One of the World’s Biggest Fisheries Is on the Verge of Collapse

March 26, 2017

South China Sea’s most important resource – its fish – is disappearing

Major disputes in the South China Sea are putting critical habitat—and the food supply of millions—at risk.

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Dock workers use cranes to off-load frozen tuna from a Chinese-owned cargo vessel at the General Santos Fish Port, in the Philippines. Tuna stocks in the South China Sea have plummeted in recent years because of overfishing. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

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By Rachael Bale
National Geographic
PUBLISHED AUGUST 29, 2016

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PUERTO PRINCESA, PHILIPPINES — Years ago Christopher Tubo caught a 660-pound blue marlin in the South China Sea. The fishing was good there, he says. Tuna fishermen would come home from a trip with dozens of the high-value fish as well as a good haul of other species.

“Here there’s none of that,” he says, looking toward the Sulu Sea, the Philippine sea where he’s been fishing for the past four years. His two boats, traditional Filipino outriggers called bancas, float in the shallow water nearby, new coats of white paint drying in the sun.

Tubo is sitting on a wooden bench in front of his home, which perches on stilts above the bay. One of his four kids wraps an arm around his leg. Worn T-shirts and shorts flutter on clotheslines behind them.


A worker carries a line-caught yellowfin tuna at the General Santos Fish Port, which is known as the “tuna capital of the Philippines.” The South China Sea, through which tuna migrate, produces more fish than almost anywhere else, but it has been severely overfished and is nearing collapse. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
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Glancing over at his wife, Leah, and the other children, he says, “It’s just chance, whether or not we can feed our families now.”

Tubo lives in Puerto Princesa, a city of 255,000 on Palawan, a long finger of an island that faces the Sulu Sea and the Philippine archipelago to the east and the contested South China Sea to the west. He’s one of the nearly 320,000 fishermen in the Philippines who have traditionally made their livelihoods from the South China Sea—and one of a growing number who are now fishing in other waters because of increasing Chinese interference. Beginning around 2012, China adopted a more assertive posture in the sea’s long-running territorial dispute, building military installations on contested islands and increasingly using its coast guard to intimidate fishermen from other countries.

It was after a Chinese coast guard vessel attacked a friend’s fishing boat with water cannons that Christopher Tubo stopped fishing the South China Sea.

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Filipino fishermen aboard the Ninay haul in sardines and scad in national waters near the South China Sea. The territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea have increased competition for dwindling fish stocks of all species.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
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“One minute you’ll see an airplane, the next thing there’s a naval boat,” he says, describing how the Chinese attempt to keep fishermen from other countries out of the disputed area. “If we kept going over there, maybe we won’t be able to go home to our families.”

“As they see it, it’s theirs now, and Filipinos are forbidden,” says Henry Tesorio, an elected councilor for a fishing village in Puerto Princesa.

Vietnamese fishermen could say the same thing. Some 200 Vietnamese from the island of Ly Son, 15 miles (24 kilometers) off the mainland, reported being attacked by Chinese boats in 2015, according to local Vietnamese government officials.


The lights on the Melissa attract fish toward the boat and up to the surface. A storm later forced the boat to return to Quezon, a fishing village on the island of Palawan, in the Philippines. Fishermen from the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, and elsewhere all fish the South China Sea.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

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Tubo’s decision not to fish in the South China Sea speaks to the rising tensions in the region, which are causing fierce competition for natural resources. Encompassing 1.4 million square miles (3.7 million square kilometers), the South China Sea is of critical economic, military, and environmental importance: $5.3 trillion in international trade plies its waters annually; in terms of biodiversity, it is thought of as the marine equivalent of the Amazon rain forest; and its fish provide food and jobs for millions in the 10 countries and territories that surround it.

Of those, seven—China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia—have competing claims to the sea’s waters and resources. So it’s understandable why all eyes have been focused on the political and military wrangling. If war broke out over these claims, it would pit two superpowers, China and the United States—a longtime Philippine ally and guarantor of freedom of navigation in the Pacific Ocean—against each other.

South China Sea map. Credit Center for Strategic and International Studies

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But another less publicized, also potentially disastrous, threat looms in the South China Sea: overfishing. This is one of the world’s most important fisheries, employing more than 3.7 million people and bringing in billions of dollars every year. But after decades of free-for-all fishing, dwindling stocks now threaten both the food security and economic growth of the rapidly developing nations that draw on them.

China argues that it has a right to almost the entire South China Sea because it says it has historically exercised jurisdiction in that area, which China delineates on maps with a U-shaped “nine-dash” line (see map). Every other disputant in the South China Sea, including the Philippines, bases its maritime claims on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an international agreement that defines maritime zones.

Opposing Beijing’s expansionist claims, in 2013 the Philippines brought a case against China before an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration—a forum for settling international disputes—in The Hague, Netherlands. China refused to participate. On July 12, the tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines on almost all its claims, declaring that China forfeited the possibility of any historically based rights when it ratified the UN convention in 1996. China has vowed to ignore the ruling.

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Crew members take shelter from a storm aboard the Ninay. Filipino fishermen have reported increasing interference from Chinese coast guard vessels in the South China Sea. China claims most of the South China Sea for itself.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
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Competition for fish has exacerbated the dispute, and the dispute has intensified competition among fishermen, further depleting fish. Some parts of the South China Sea have less than a tenth of the stocks they had five decades ago. And high-value fish such as tuna and grouper are becoming scarcer.

“What we’re looking at is potentially one of the world’s worst fisheries collapses ever,” says John McManus, a marine biologist at the Rosenstiel School at the University of Miami who studies the region’s reefs.

.“We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of species that will collapse, and they’ll collapse relatively quickly, one after another.”

MONICA SERRANO, NG STAFF
SOURCES: COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS; U.S. ENERGY INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION;
OCEANASIA 2015, REPORTED AND ESTIMATED UNREPORTED CATCHES; RANDALL AND LIM, 2000; CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES

Fishermen on the Front Lines

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As coastal waters are depleted, fishermen have been forced to venture farther offshore and into disputed waters to make a living. China has seized this as an opportunity to bolster its claims by aggressively supporting its fishermen. Beijing has consolidated the coast guard, militarized fishing fleets, and begun offering subsidies for bigger and better boats, water, and fuel. There’s even a special subsidy specifically for fishermen to fish in the contested Spratly Islands, more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) to the south.

“The only reason that smaller [Chinese] fishermen go out to the Spratlys is because they’re paid to do so,” says Gregory Poling, the director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the Center for Strategic Studies. This extra pressure has sped up the depletion of fish stocks, he says.

The Chinese have also been building artificial islands atop reefs in the Spratlys to support military installations there. “Possession is nine-tenths of the law,” says Zachary Abuza, an expert on Southeast Asian politics and maritime security at the National War College, in Washington, D.C. “China is trying to enforce its sovereignty through the construction of these islands and by denying other countries access to natural resources.”

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A couple sits outside a home built over the water in Quezon, where most people have family members who work as fishermen. Overfishing has put the livelihoods of many Filipinos at risk.
Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

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Eugenio Bito-onon, Jr.—until recently the mayor of the Kalayaan municipality, which includes islands in the Spratlys—is an outspoken advocate for the Philippines’ claims. Bito-onon and I met in the island’s cramped satellite office in Puerto Princesa, where he had a gigantic map of the South China Sea marked up with his own handwritten labels and colored dots showing which countries claim which features.

He pulls up Google Earth on his laptop and finds Thitu, an island in the Spratlys known locally as Pag-asa, where about 200 Filipinos, including a small number of troops, live part-time, their presence demonstrating the Philippines’ claim to the island. Rice, clothing, soap, and other necessities must be brought in by boat or airlift, and two government-owned generators are the only source of electricity. Bito-onon points out just how close Chinese-claimed Subi Reef is to Thitu. So close, he says, that on a clear day residents can see it on the horizon.

Even closer, though, are Chinese fishing boats, which he says have fished the reefs empty. “For the past three years, [the Chinese] never leave,” Bito-onon says from behind his laptop, now displaying satellite imagery of reefs around Thitu. “Chinese fishing boats come and go, replacing each other,” he says, but there are never not boats within sight of the island.

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A Filipino fisherman wades from boat to shore with part of the crew’s catch. Fishermen who go to the South China Sea report that their catches have gotten smaller in recent years. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

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The Navotas Fish Port in Manila is the largest in the Philippines. The markets at the port trade in seafood from freshwater farms, national waters, and international waters, including the South China Sea. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
Gilbert Elefane, the Filipino captain of a tuna boat based in the municipality of Quezon, on Palawan, says he now sees up to a hundred boats, many Chinese, on a single two-week fishing trip in the South China Sea. Just a few years ago, he says he’d have seen no more than 30.

Beijing has provided military training and sophisticated GPS and communications technology to its fishermen so they can call in the coast guard if they have a run-in with a foreign law enforcement vessel or alert the coast guard of the presence of fishermen from other countries.

In the face of China’s island building, Vietnam has done some small-scale land reclamation of its own in an attempt to bolster its capacity in the Spratlys. Its efforts, however, have been less destructive than China’s.

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A dock worker uses a mallet to dislodge frozen tuna aboard a Chinese cargo vessel docked at the city of General Santos in the Philippines. The cargo vessel spends up to two months at sea with a fleet of a dozen tuna boats working to fill its freezer. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

As long as the conflict in the South China Sea continues, it will be nearly impossible to regulate fishing.

When one country tries to protect its fishing grounds, tensions flare. In March, for instance, Indonesian maritime law enforcement officials arrested eight Chinese on charges of illegal fishing. The fishermen were less than three miles (five kilometers) from Indonesia’s Natuna Islands. The Natunas themselves are not in dispute, but the waters north of them, which are particularly rich in gas, have become a new flashpoint. Under international law they’re Indonesian, but they partially overlap with China’s nine-dash line claims, so China says it has a right to fish there.

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A pregnant woman wades in the dirty water near the Navotas Fish Port. The Philippines’ economy relies heavily on fishing and the seafood trade, as do most of the countries around the South China Sea. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

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When Indonesia’s vessel began towing the Chinese boat back to port, an armed Chinese coast guard ship appeared and began ramming the Chinese boat to break it free. The Indonesians were forced to let the boat go and retreat.

“It’s unclear whose laws you’re enforcing when you have seven overlapping sets of fisheries laws,” Poling says. “States have a vested interest in purposely violating fishing laws of other states.”

That’s because abiding by another country’s fishing law is tantamount to accepting that that country has jurisdiction over that region, which no country has been willing to do.

In 2012, a Philippine navy warship attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, about 138 miles (220 kilometers) from the Philippine coast, on suspicion of illegal fishing and poaching rare corals, giant clams, and sharks. A Chinese coast guard ship interfered to prevent the arrests, forcing a standoff. After 10 weeks both sides agreed to withdraw, but once the Philippines left, China remained, effectively seizing control of the shoal.

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A fisherman at the General Santos Fish Port carries a yellowfin tuna caught in the South China Sea. Fishermen say the fish they catch now are smaller than before.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

 

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Workers at the Navotas Fish Port unload and sort fish from commercial boats that have returned from the South China Sea, where overfishing has exacerbated the land and sea disputes in the region.
Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

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As Filipino fishermen have seen their catches—and the fish themselves—getting smaller, they’ve increasingly been resorting to dangerous, illegal fishing methods. Blast fishing, which Filipinos call “bong bong” fishing, involves setting off homemade bombs underwater to kill dozens of fish at one time. Cyanide fishing, which involves squirting fish in the face with poison to stun them, is used to catch live reef fish to supply high-end live seafood restaurants in Hong Kong and other large Asian cities. Both practices kill coral and other fish, collateral damage that’s pushing the sea ever closer to an overfishing crisis.

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Dock workers at the Navotas Fish Port sort through mussels. If the South China Sea fishery were to collapse, it would threaten the food supply of millions. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
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China’s island building and giant clam poaching have caused most of them documented reef destruction in the South China Sea, an area totaling 62 square miles (163 square kilometers). Island building grinds up corals for use as foundation material, smothers reefs that become the base of islands, and creates sediment plumes that suffocate nearby reefs. Dredging to deepen ports also causes serious damage. And poaching of giant clams entails grinding up corals to loosen the shells from the reef.

“It’s quite possible we’re seeing a serious decline in about half of the reefs,” John McManus, the marine biologist, says. “That’s what I expect will happen, if it hasn’t happened already. It’s just total destruction.”

When a reef is destroyed, the ecosystem unravels. Reef fish lose their habitat, and pelagic fish such as tuna lose an important source of food. Furthermore, reefs in the South China Sea are connected. Fish larvae from one reef ride the current across the sea to repopulate another reef. If a reef disappears, so does that source of larvae, increasing the chance that local extirpations of fish species will be permanent.

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Dock workers and fishermen buy food from a street vendor at the Navotas Fish Port, in Manila. Some 320,000 Filipinos fish the South China Sea, and many more work on the docks, as fish packers, and as seafood traders, among other jobs.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

McManus says that many of the damaged reefs will be able to recover in a decade or two—if the island building and destructive giant clam poaching stop. He champions the idea of a “peace park,” a kind of marine protected area where all countries would put a freeze on their claims and halt all activities, like island building, that bolster those claims.

Experts also say cooperative regional management could go a long way toward making the South China Sea fishery sustainable. It would require dramatic cutbacks in the number of fishing boats and restrictions on fishing methods such as the use of huge fishing vessels that use powerful lights at night to attract tuna. All this would in turn mean helping fishermen find other ways to earn a living.

Under a sustainable management plan, tuna and mackerel could recover 17-fold by 2045, Rashid Sumaila and William Cheung at the University of British Columbia predicted in a 2015 report. Reef fish would recover up to 15 percent, and the catch and value of reef fish would also increase. Sharks and groupers, which are also high-value fish, would make a comeback too.

But Poling, of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, questions whether such a plan will happen in time. “What that requires is setting aside the disputes,” he says. “It’s possible—it’s just not likely. In order to have a successful joint management system, the first step is to agree on what area you’re talking about.” With China clinging to its nine-dash line while other countries base their claims on international law, agreement just won’t be possible, he says.

As it now stands, the South China Sea’s most important resource—its fish—is disappearing, and countries are either passively standing by or actively encouraging their fishermen to take more.

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Children fish at dusk in the fishing community of Quezon in the Philippines. Fishermen here ply their trade in national waters and the South China Sea. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
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Aurora Almendral contributed to this report.

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Coming Tuesday: China’s giant clam poaching is decimating reefs in the South China Sea.

Follow Rachael Bale on Twitter.

This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas to ngwildlife@ngs.org.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/08/wildlife-south-china-sea-overfishing-threatens-collapse/

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We at Peace and Freedom have catalogued much of the history of recent events and issues around the South China Sea for the past five years. Use these keywords to see more:

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 — From March 25, 2017 with links to other related articles

National Geographic:

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A China Coast Guard ship (top) and a Philippine supply boat engage in a stand off as the Philippine boat attempts to reach the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote South China Sea a reef claimed by both countries, on March 29, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jay Directo )

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A Vietnamese fisherman repairs his vessel after it was rammed by a Chinese patrol ship that it protecting the waters around a disputed oil rig in the South China Sea, May 18, 2014. (PhoBolsaTV.com)

A Vietnamese fisherman repairs his vessel after it was rammed by a Chinese patrol ship that it protecting the waters around a disputed oil rig in the South China Sea, May 18, 2014. (PhoBolsaTV.com)

Chủ tàu Trần Văn Quang và chiếc mỏ neo bị tàu lạ đâm lút vào mũi tàu. Ảnh: Đức Nguyễn.

Vietnamese fishing boat Captain Tran Van Quang

Chủ tàu Trần Văn Quang và chiếc mỏ neo bị tàu lạ đâm lút vào mũi tàu. Ảnh: Đức Nguyễn.

 

Outrage: Vietnamese and Filipino protesters outside the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city to protest the recent moves by China to construct an oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea

Outrage: Vietnamese and Filipino protesters outside the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, the Philippines, to protest the recent moves by China to construct an oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea

 

 (This    article has links to several  others related to environmental issues in the South China Sea).

A green sea turtle is seen off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

A green sea turtle.(Reuters)

 (Includes Obama creates largest ocean reserve, takes heat for new federal decrees)

 (Has links to many related conservation and environmental articles)

 (Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports)

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Filipino activists and Vietnamese nationals display placards and chant anti-China slogans as they march outside the Chinese Consulate in Manila’s Makati financial district on May 16, 2014. Several hundred Filipino and Vietnamese protesters united in a march in the Philippine capital on Friday, May 16, 2014, demanding that China stop oil drilling in disputed South China Sea waters. — PHOTO: REUTERS

 

 (August 25, 2016)

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China’s Tian Jing Hao – Cutter suction dredger — Used to destroy South China Sea coral reefs to provide dredge material for new man made- islands — an environmental disaster

 (Contains links to several related articles)

August 17, 2015
ANOTHER set of a dredge floater assembly with Chinese markings found in the Zambales sea is pulled to the shore of the capital town of Iba on Sunday. The first set of dredge floaters was found by local fishermen off Cabangan, Zambales province, in July. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

ANOTHER set of a dredge floater assembly with Chinese markings found in the Zambales sea is pulled to the shore of the capital town of Iba on Sunday. The first set of dredge floaters was found by local fishermen off Cabangan, Zambales province, in July. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

 

 

An elderly Vietnamese protester holds a placard during an anti-China protest in front of the Chinese consulate in the financial district of Manila on May 16, 2014. Several hundred Filipino and Vietnamese protesters united in a march in the Philippine capital on May 16, demanding that China stop oil drilling in disputed South China Sea waters. Many Vietnamese remain uneasy with China in the South china sea till this day.  AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

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The End of an era?  Fishermen work to unload a net full of anchovies during a fishing expedition in the Pacific Ocean. Photo AP