Posts Tagged ‘Scarborough’

China exploits the Philippines’ soft-pedalling in South China Sea

August 30, 2017

By Richard Heydarian

Duterte’s conciliatory stance on Beijing’s territorial claims is backfiring

An aerial view of China occupied Subi Reef at Spratly Islands in disputed South China Sea. © Reuters

Just days after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ended a series of ministerial meetings in Manila in early August the Philippines faced a fresh and daunting challenge in the South China Sea.

In what one prominent Filipino official described as an “invasion,” a flotilla of Chinese civilian and military vessels gathered within a few nautical miles of the Philippine-occupied Thitu Island, a prized land feature in the area. There are growing concerns that China will gobble up other contested land features in the Spratly chain of islands and tighten the noose around other claimant states as a prelude to full domination of the South China Sea.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, water and outdoor

The “invasion” was a shocking development for Manila, which has used its one-year term as the rotating chair of ASEAN to shield Beijing against criticism of its maritime assertiveness in the South China Sea. The Philippines has also recently proposed resource-sharing agreements in contested areas to break the impasse among claimant states.

In exchange, Manila was hoping to reach a mutually acceptable modus vivendi with Beijing, leading to expanded trade and investment ties. China’s latest action, however, has exposed Beijing’s naked opportunism as it exploits the strategic acquiescence of some other ASEAN countries and waning U.S. influence in the region.

Image result for Nikkei asian review, logo

Beijing’s assertiveness also casts doubt on the conciliatory policy pursued by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte toward China, and boosts hawks who are urging a tougher stance. Duterte and his Foreign Secretary (and former vice-presidential running mate) Alan Cayetano have sought to play down the issue, but the Philippine defense establishment and media are outraged.

At the recent ASEAN meetings, Philippine officials exercised the country’s prerogative as the group’s chair to tone down any criticism of China’s massive reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

Cayetano claimed that Beijing had not engaged in any reclamation activities in recent months, while indirectly criticizing other claimant states such as Vietnam for engaging in similar activities. But satellite imagery released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, a monitoring program set up by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, has revealed China’s relentless expansion and upgrading of disputed land features such as the Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly Islands of the South China Sea.

The Philippine foreign secretary admitted that he wanted to avoid issues that China consider sensitive in ASEAN’s post-summit joint statement, so as to facilitate dialogue. He also expressed skepticism over the wisdom of pursuing a “legally-binding” Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, a key demand of rival ASEAN claimant states such as Vietnam, suggesting that a more symbolic document would be sufficient.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Defense Department is grappling with policy paralysis under President Donald Trump and a series of naval collisions that have diminished the aura of U.S. invincibility and forced the resignation of Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin, head of the U.S. 7th Fleet, the U.S. Navy’s largest overseas force.

To China’s delight, the Duterte administration has also dangled the option of resource-sharing with China in contested waters, particularly the energy-rich Reed Bank. This way, Manila hopes to avoid conflict and develop new energy resources to feed its booming economy. In effect, the Philippines is legitimizing China’s excessive claims, which extend well into the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

But Beijing’s blatant display of force risks undermining its newfound rapprochement with the Philippines, where the defense establishment and public are already highly critical of China.

Image may contain: sky

China H-6 bomber Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines. File photo from Xinhua

Suspicious movements

Intelligence reports on suspicious movements of Chinese vessels near Thitu Island were leaked by Philippine defense officials to Gary Alejano, a prominent opposition lawmaker. The information was corroborated by satellite imagery released by CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative.

Alejano, a decorated former soldier with strong ties to the military, reported that Chinese frigates and coast guard vessels sailed close to Thitu Island from Aug. 11 to 15. He also suggested that China is intent on occupying Sandy Cay, a low-tide elevation within Thitu’s territorial waters.

Rocky Thitu Island, which is the second largest naturally-formed feature in the area, has been under effective Philippine occupation for more than 40 years. It has a mayor, a civilian community, an airstrip that dates to the 1970s and a regular contingent of Philippine marines and other military personnel.

In April, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and military chief of staff Eduardo Ano made a high-profile visit to Thitu to demonstrate Manila’s resolve to protect its territory. They promised to upgrade local facilities, including the airstrip, and improve basic services and accommodation for civilians living on the island. These plans are now in jeopardy due to the growing presence of Chinese vessels in the area.

There are also growing fears of encirclement and additional reclamation activities by China in the Spratly Islands, which are contested by China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. Beijing already occupies nearby Subi Reef, which it has transformed it into a fully-fledged island with a large airstrip and advanced military facilities. A Chinese flag was reportedly planted on a sandbar next to the Philippine-controlled Kota Island. Such actions suggest that Beijing is intent on encircling and squeezing out other claimant states from the area.

Alejano has cautioned the Duterte administration against “denial or silence and inaction” in response to Chinese actions. Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, a prominent hawk on the South China Sea issue, described the episode as an “invasion of Philippine territory,” and has urged Duterte and Cayetano to stand up to China. He suggested invoking a mutual defense treaty with the U.S. in the event of clashes with Chinese vessels.

Both Duterte and his foreign secretary have sought to play down the Thitu issue by claiming that China was engaged in routine maritime activities in the area. In a dramatic break with protocol, however, the Philippine military has openly encouraged the government to take a tougher stance. the foreign ministry to raise the issue in the China-Philippines Bilateral Consultative Mechanism, a negotiating forum established by the two countries, which met for the first time in May. It serves as the primary platform for dialogue on sensitive bilateral issues.

However, unless China significantly eases its assertiveness in the South China Sea, the Duterte administration is expected to come under growing domestic pressure to revise its policy toward Beijing. While Duterte is still popular, he cannot afford to continue to ignore public sentiment as well as the concerns of top military officers.

China’s aggressive actions underline the perils of Manila’s overly conciliatory policy, which is based on the naive notion that acquiescence will tame Beijing’s territorial appetite. The latest episode in the South China Sea highlights the necessity for ASEAN countries and the U.S. to actively resist Chinese maritime ambitions. Otherwise, Beijing will continue to push its luck at the expense of regional security and the interests of smaller claimant states.

Richard Heydarian is a Manila-based academic and columnist. He is the author of “Asia’s New Battlefield: US, China and the Struggle for the Western Pacific,” and of the forthcoming” Rise of Duterte.”

https://asia.nikkei.com/Viewpoints/Richard-Heydarian/China-exploits-the-Philippines-soft-pedalling-in-South-China-Sea

Related:

Image may contain: ocean, water and outdoor

Deepsea Metro I

No automatic alt text available.

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.

Advertisements

Asean goes soft on China

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Philippines should seek enforcement of arbitral award’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related:

Doklam deadlock: India and China will constantly challenge each other, get used to it

 (July 8, 2017)

No automatic alt text available.

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

 

China’s Threat Of War Against Philippines Is Baseless Scare Tactic — Deception, coercion, intimidation, lies and threats are to be expected. As they say in Vietnam, “This is just China.”

May 22, 2017

I cover international politics, security and political risk.

On Friday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said President Xi Jinping threatened war if Duterte started developing Philippine oil and gas resources in the South China Sea. The Philippines has every right to do so, per the award of an international arbitral tribunal in the Hague last year. After describing Xi’s threat, Duterte told his Philippine military audience, “What more could I say?” I sympathize. The Philippines is a much smaller country militarily, economically, and in diplomatic power, than is China. As Duterte points out, war with China would be a “massacre and it will destroy everything,” starting in Palawan, a long Philippine island bordering the South China Sea.

But let’s consider a few options that show this threat of war for what it is: a baseless scare tactic. First, Duterte could hang tough and seek a stronger stance on the issue by the U.S., which is a Philippine ally per the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. In his defense, Duterte and his predecessor Benigno Aquino may already have sought such help from the U.S. and gotten turned down or dissuaded. That would be a stain on U.S. honor. But redoubling his efforts, for example reaching out to Trump and bringing the threat before the United Nations General Assembly, is constitutionally required according to Philippine Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

To whomever one ascribes blame, the U.S.-Philippine alliance failed to defend the Philippine EEZ when China occupied Mischief Reef in 1995, and Scarborough Shoal in 2012. That is a fact. Every day that China continues its occupation, the alliance fails anew.

The U.S. and Philippines together, could easily have defended these locations. The Philippines tried briefly at the Scarborough standoff of 2012, but U.S. ships did not join, and then the U.S. and China brokered a deal in which the Philippines backed off, and China stayed. Why didn’t the U.S. and Philippines return in force when they realized they had been tricked? Given that we all stayed home, we cannot say that China’s willingness to fight has been tested at Scarborough.

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

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 to deliver food and supplies to Philippine Marines in Philippine waters, on March 29, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jay Directo ) Intimidation?

When I spoke to several Chinese foreign ministry officials a couple years ago, they said they would not fight back if the U.S. and Philippines removed them from Scarborough by force. It was a startling admission, one gotten when I surprised them with the question. But I bet it is true, even today. If China attacked Philippine military forces, or the island of Palawan, the U.S. would come to the aid of the Philippines militarily, and China knows this. That would be militarily and economically damaging, if not catastrophic, to both countries. Therefore a Chinese war against the Philippines is unlikely to happen as long as the alliance with the U.S. is healthy. President Duterte could make this clear to the public in both nations by visiting the White House, and inviting Trump to Malacañang Palace, rather than amplify China’s scare tactics.

More likely than war would be Chinese attempts to interdict Philippine commercial vessels trying to drill for oil, and offering to sell Philippine oil rights. China did this to Vietnam in 2012. When Vietnam tried to tow sonar in its EEZ, looking for oil and gas, a Chinese boat ran over the cables and cut them. Also in 2012, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) tried to auction blocks for oil exploration that were within Vietnam’s EEZ. The Philippines could protect its oil exploration and drilling with its own Coast Guard, perhaps accompanied by U.S., European and Japanese Coast Guard.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/anderscorr/2017/05/20/chinas-threat-of-war-against-philippines-is-baseless-scare-tactic/#3f5a045539f9

Peace and Freedom comment: For China, the effort continues to be a success as long as no shots are fired. Deception, coercion, lies and threats are to be expected. As they say in Vietnam, “This is just China.” The Philippines better wise up. 

Image may contain: 1 person

Related:

 (From 2014)

A Filipino protester holds placards with slogans during a rally outside the Chinese consulate at the financial district of Makati, south of Manila, Philippines on Tuesday, April 22, 2014. The group is demanding an end to China’s alleged incursions in the South China Sea and to press the Chinese government to respect the arbitral process under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

 (China says you can trust us…)

Trust (xìn)

No automatic alt text available.

China is preparing for the reclamation and construction on Scarborough Shoal

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

No automatic alt text available.

No automatic alt text available.
For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.

 

South China Sea: ASEAN Urged To Insist Upon International Law in Code of Conduct With China — Be careful of the Goldilocks approach in the South China Sea

April 26, 2017
The Vietnamese-claimed Southwest Cay island in the Spratly island group is seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane during the visit to the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials in disputed South China Sea, western Philippines, Friday, April 21, 2017. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. Francis Malasig, Pool Photo via AP

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines, along with other claimant countries of the South China Sea, should sign the Code of Conduct framework first and pressure China later on, a foreign policy analyst said.

De La Salle University professor Richard Heydarian said that Association of Southeast Nation (ASEAN) countries need a constrainment strategy in resolving the maritime dispute.

“We cannot contain China, they are too powerful… At least what we can do is like-minded countries in the ASEAN can coordinate approach,” Heydarian said in a South China Sea forum hosted by Stratbase ADR Institute on Tuesday.

The analyst added that Brunei is interested in joining discussions with Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam regarding the contested waters.

The way forward is for the ASEAN to implement institutional changes such as adopting a qualified majority or an “ASEAN minus X” formula in sensitive issues where it is impossible to get unanimity on decisions, he said.

Heydarian said it would be in the hands of President Rodrigo Duterte what kind of approach he is going to adopt as chairman of the 10-member regional bloc.

“The reality is that as the chairman of the ASEAN we have two major privileges. One major privilege is the second phase of power which is to set the agenda… The second thing is that during President Duterte’s chairman statement, especially later in November, he can say whatever he wants,” he said.

The Philippines as ASEAN chair might not exactly dictate the outcome of the final statement but the country can decide on issues that will be discussed on the agenda.

It would be beneficial for the country if Duterte uses this opportunity in the right way, the foreign policy analyst said.

“The reality is that as far as the Duterte administration is concerned there is this very robust debate. One school of thought is that the president is an unhinged demagogue who is a mayor who has no idea about how to deal about foreign policy. There is the other school of thought that portrays him as a strategic genius whose understanding in the South China Sea is so sophisticated that even us experts will never understand,” Heydarian said.

 Philippine Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo

Heydarian said that Duterte is somewhere in the middle based on the events in the past few months within the administration.

“There’s a very robust debate on how to come up with what I call Goldilocks approach in the South China Sea – how to combine the right amount of engagement with China with the right amount of deterrence,” Heydarian said.

While Duterte is seeking to improve economic and investment relations with China, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is leading efforts to fortify the country’s position on the ground.

Last week, Lorenzana visited Pag-asa Island, the largest feature in the Spratly Group, to assert the country’s claim to the disputed area. The Duterte administration has allotted P1.6 billion to develop facilities on Pag-asa Island.

“You have this burgeoning strategy but I think it’s very important that the Philippines uses this chairmanship of ASEAN this year to make sure that you have a more sophisticated and robust regional approach to measure that China will know that they will be cause to its increasing strategic footprint on the ground,” the analyst said.

RELATED: Del Rosario urges gov’t: Don’t wait for ‘better time’ to assert arbitral award

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/26/1694107/asean-countries-urged-draft-sea-code-pressure-china

Related:

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. China says it is happy to control fishing in the South China Sea. Credit: Renato Etac

.

 (Philippine Star)

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

 

 (National Geographic on the South China Sea)

l

No automatic alt text available.

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.

Despite all this:

 

South China Sea: Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Suggests ASEAN Member States Make Hague International Court Ruling Part of Code of Conduct

April 25, 2017
The Philippines’ former top diplomat said the position that China’s SCS build-up is a fait accompli should be rejected. File

MANILA, Philippines –  Former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario yesterday urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to make the South China Sea (SCS) ruling an “integral” part of the Code of Conduct framework and the eventual finished document.

The Philippines’ former top diplomat said the position that China’s SCS build-up is a fait accompli should be rejected.

While most states strive for a peaceful, rules-based regional order in Southeast Asia, Del Rosario said China’s unilateralism has put this common vision at grave risk.

He urged ASEAN to be united in countering this challenge to its regional centrality and solidarity, noting that promoting the rule of law and strengthening multilateralism in support of the law must be key parts of ASEAN’s response.

“ASEAN and the international community as a whole should utilize the principles in the arbitral ruling to move diplomatic engagement forward,” Del Rosario said during the forum titled “The South China Sea: The Philippines, ASEAN, and their International Partners.”

The Philippines, under the Duterte administration, has decided to set aside the ruling in settling the maritime dispute with China.

“On shelving the ruling, what would happen if we should pass the point of no return?” Del Rosario asked.

The Philippines took a risk when the Philippine government went to arbitration at The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013 with Del Rosario as foreign affairs secretary.

The ruling of the international arbitral tribunal not only vindicated the Philippines, but also upheld the rule of law over the waters and global commons of the SCS, making the ruling an integral part of the universal body of international law.

Manila made a strong contribution to the region, as the ruling benefited not only the claimants but also the whole world.

“My hope is that our ASEAN neighbors share the pride of what a member state like ours can accomplish, and see in the ruling an opportunity for all of the Southeast Asian region. Ultimately, advocating a rules-based regime is deeply embedded in who we are and what we must do,” Del Rosario said.

As this year’s chair of the ASEAN, the Philippines, he emphasized, has a unique and important opportunity to dwell on how it can work with its neighbors to ensure that a rules-based order succeeds.

Del Rosario also pointed out that the purpose of the cooperation should go beyond maintaining friendly ties, as the Philippines must also cooperate to ensure a neighborhood where countries follow the rules and uphold their commitments.

In 2002, ASEAN and China committed to a non-binding agreement over how claimants should all behave in the SCS. In the spirit of preventing and reducing tensions, the countries committed to self-restraint from activities that would complicate or escalate disputes.

“I am sorry to say that in the years that followed, one country did not exercise the necessary restraint expected of it,” Del Rosario said.

In 2017, as in 2012, he said that the greatest immediate source of regional uncertainty has been China’s unlawful efforts to expand its footprint throughout the SCS.

“Our region cannot promote the rule of law while ignoring the law as it stands,” Del Rosario said. “Moreover, we must not accept the position that China’s South China Sea build-up is a fait accompli that renders us helpless.”

It should be unthinkable for any diplomatic mechanism – whether bilateral or multilateral – to be used as a channel to reward unilateral activity or preserve unlawful gains, according to Del Rosario.

He urged the Philippines to speak out and work with its neighbors and friends to stand united in protest of island-building and militarization, Filipino fishermen being barred from entering Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, irreparable destruction of marine commons and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s challenged flyover in the SCS.

“We cannot wait for a ‘better time’ to come – we must create that time ourselves, lest that opportunity be lost forever,” Del Rosario said.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/26/1694039/asean-urged-make-scs-ruling-part-sea-code

Related:

.

 (Philippine Star)

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

 

 (National Geographic on the South China Sea)

l

No automatic alt text available.

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.

Despite all this:

China alarmed, angered by Philippine government, military visit to Pag-asa Island — “We are gravely concerned about and dissatisfied with this.” — South China Sea Being Run By China Upon Oral Agreement With Philippine President Duterte

April 22, 2017
Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (3L) gestures as he and military chief Eduardo Ano (R) inspect the runway of the airport during a visit to Thitu island in The Spratlys on April 21, 2017. Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana flew to a disputed South China Sea island on April 21, brushing off a challenge by the Chinese military while asserting Manila’s territorial claim to the strategic region. AFP/Ted Aljibe

BEIJING (Philippines News Agency) – China has lodged representations with the Philippine side following a visit by the Filipino defense and military officials in Pag-asa Island, according to the spokesman of the Chinese foreign ministry.

”Gravely concerned about and dissatisfied with this, China has lodged representations with the Philippine side,” Lu Kang said in a press statement posted on China’s Foreign Ministry Affairs website.

Image may contain: 1 person

 Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang. File photo. Peace and Freedom screengrab

Last Friday, Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Año, along with other military officials, visited Pag-asa Island, a Philippine-occupied territory that is part of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

Lu said the move of the Philippines defense and military officials has negated the important consensus reached between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

”This move runs counter to the important consensus reached between the two leadership, which is to properly deal with the South China Sea issue,” Lu said.

Lu said China is hoping that the Philippine government would continue to cherish a five-decade China-Philippines bilateral relations which rejuvenated under the leadership of Duterte.

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Scarborough Shoal has always been part of the Philippines, by international law. The Chinese say they are enforcing fishing rules in the South China Sea now. Renato Etac

”We hope that the Philippine side could faithfully follow the consensus reached between the two leadership, maintain general peace and stability in the South China Sea, and promote the sound and steady development of China-Philippine relations,” he said.

Since Duterte’s visit in China last year, Lu said China and the Philippines have been keeping good communication to properly manage and resolve the maritime disputes in the South China Sea.

”We hope that this momentum can continue,” the Chinese foreign ministry official said.

In media reports, Lorenza described the trip to Pag-asa Island as a “normal visit within our territory”.

”We believe and we know that this is our territory and I am just visiting to look at the conditions of our people here,” the top Filipino defense official said.

Image result for chinese coast guard ships, photos

Above: While Lorenzana visited Pag-asa Island he personally witnessed the presence from a distance of four to five Chinese Coast Guard ships

Pag-asa Island was occupied by the Philippines in the late 1960s and is categorized as a fifth-class municipality of Palawan province.

Lorenza has revealed a plan to set aside at least P1.6 billion to develop Pag-asa Island and a proposal by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to build a fish port in the area.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/22/1692807/china-alarmed-philippine-military-execs-visit-pag-asa-island

Related:

 (The problem of Islamic rebels in the Philippines — Real or Not?)
.
.

No automatic alt text available.

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.

Despite all this:

In this July 14, 2016, file photo, Marcopolo Tam, a member of a pro-China business group in Hong Kong, points to what is now known as the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on a Japanese World War II-era map purporting to support China’s claims to vast parts of the South China Sea, in Hong Kong. AP/Kin Cheung, File

Philippines: Chinese Coast Guard stationed in Scarborough to administer fishing activities (Chinese strategy is “Talk and Take”)

April 11, 2017

 0

FILE — In this Dec. 24, 2015, photo, provided by Filipino fisherman Renato Etac, a Chinese Coast Guard boat approaches Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Renato Etac

via AP

MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that the country’s Coast Guard vessels are stationed in waters near Scarborough Shoal to administer fishing activities.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that the Philippines and China made arrangements for fishing activities in the area.

Image may contain: 1 person

 Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry — more reliable than Malacañang

“Last year, based on the friendliness between China and the Philippines, China made proper arrangement for fishing activities by Philippine fishermen in the relevant part of waters near Huangyan Dao,” Hua said in a press briefing Monday.

Reuters earlier reported that a small Philippine fishing crew is being allowed to fish in the area by the Chinese Coast Guard.

Chinese Coast Guard vessels are also present in the area to preserve peace, tranquility and order, the spokesperson said.

Asked about the statement of President Rodrigo Duterte that he would not place weapons on Philippines-controlled islets in the South China Sea, Hua stressed that China’s position on the issue has been clear and consistent.

Image may contain: 7 people, people standing

President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua. Photo by EPA

“We are firm in upholding our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea,” Hua said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated that Beijing is committed to settling disputes peacefully through negotiation and consultations with countries directly involved, including the Philippines.

China is also committed to working with ASEAN countries to preserve peace and stability in the region, Hua said.

“China has maintained close and effective communication with the Philippines on relevant issues. We hope that the Philippines can work with us to continue to properly handle differences and create favorable atmosphere for the sound and steady growth of bilateral relations,” the spokesperson said.

Duterte earlier ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to occupy the country’s controlled islets and land features in the South China Sea.

The president, however, clarified that there are no new weapons being eyed for the islets as the Philippine military seeks to exercise greater control.

“We are just there to claim the island for us because that is really ours and I have ordered the AFP to build structures there to signify, atin ito,” Duterte said before departing for Saudi Arabia.

RELATED: AFP: Philippines to upgrade island facilities, not launch land grab

The president made the order for the military to occupy South China Sea following reports that China is nearly finished with its construction of military facilities on three islands in the Spratly Group.

http://www.france24.com/en/20170411-lebanon-army-order-evicts-3000-syria-refugees-camps

Related:

Image may contain: 3 people, outdoor

A Vietnamese fishing boat was reportedly ambushed and looted by a China Coast Guard vessel off Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago. Here the fisher make a reort to Vietnamese police, March 2016.

See article:

****************************************

  (November 24, 2015)

 (December 28, 2015)

 (Also called “Talk and Take”)

Chinese J-11 Fighters Deployed To Woody Island In South China Sea

China posted pictures of an armed J-11 Flanker fighter

.

 (Philippine Star)

Image may contain: ocean, outdoor, water and nature

 

Related:

.
.

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

No automatic alt text available.

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.

FILE – In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. The Philippines’ top diplomat says China remains opposed to a legally-binding code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea even as negotiations have progressed on other elements of such a code. Acting Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo said Tuesday, April 4, 2017, talks between China and Southeast Asian countries on the code’s framework have made headway but have not yet touched on whether the code will be legally-binding – as the Philippines and its neighbors want. Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP, File

South China Sea: Philippines has lost traditional fishing ground as Vietnamese move in with Chinese, Philippines envoy to China says — Everyone shares the common fishing ground — But fewer fish each year

April 4, 2017
South China Sea: Philippines has lost traditional fishing ground as Vietnamese move in with Chinese, Philippines envoy to China says — Everyone shares the common fishing ground — But fewer fish each year

Scarborough Shoal, Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal, is a traditional common fishing ground located 120 nautical miles from Zambales. Google Maps

MANILA, Philippines — The reported presence of Vietnamese fishing vessels at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal is actually good news, Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana said Tuesday.

The United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal based in the Hague had ruled that the shoal is a traditional fishing ground of the Philippines, China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

RELATED: How the Hague court ruled on the Philippines’s 15 arguments

In an interview with ANC’s Hot Copy on Headstart, Sta. Romana said that Vietnamese presence in the region brings back the essence of Panatag Shoal as a common fishing ground.

“Had we known this verdict back it 2012 that it’s a historical common fishing ground perhaps we should not have arrested the Chinese fishermen. It should have been a common fishing ground,” Sta. Romana said.

READ: Seen fishing on Panatag, Vietnam gains from Philippines’ arbitral win

In 2012, the Philippines was involved in a tense standoff with China over the shoal located 120 nautical miles from Zambales.

This picture taken on July 19, 2013 shows giant clams on display in Tanmen, in China's southern Hainan Province. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO / AFP PHOTO / STR

In demand: Giant clams for sale in China’s southern Hainan Province. Photo: AFP

The standoff began when a Philippine Navy surveillance plane sighted eight Chinese fishing vessels anchored in a lagoon at Panatag.

The Philippine Navy then deployed warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar to inspect the Chinese vessels, wherein they discovered large amounts of illegally collected coral, giant clams and live sharks.

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

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 )

Sta. Romana, however, said that the 2012 Panatag Shoal standoff led to the country’s loss of the traditional fishing ground.

“That is what led to our loss. We tried to enforce and say that it is ours… It is true that what is ours is ours if it’s accepted by the world but in that case, the Chinese also say the same thing,” the diplomat said.

There have been reports that China is building an environmental monitoring station on Panatag Shoal.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has denied the report, saying that such facility on Panatag Shoal had been checked and was found to be false.

“That does not exist at all,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “South China Sea is indisputable Chinese territory.”

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/04/1687605/vietnamese-presence-panatag-good-news-says-philippines-envoy-china

Related:

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

 

 (National Geographic on the South China Sea)

l

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and water

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

Image may contain: 1 person, outdoor and water

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

 

 

Duterte, China and the South China Sea — Bald-faced sellout of our country

April 3, 2017
OPINION / LATEST OPINION
.
Impeachable
.
Philippine Inquirer
01:02 AM April 03, 2017
Maritime hotspots in Asia, among which is the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, off Zambales. AMTI/CSIS, file

Although I am not entirely sure of what exactly the orders of President Duterte are in regard to Panatag Shoal, his remark that he could not stop China from building infrastructure on that Philippine territory sounds like he was not going to exert any effort to stop China at all. This is quite alarming. It is like a security guard hired to protect your property but who refuses to do his/her job when a criminal tries stealing some stuff from your garage or erect a structure on the property; or like the police who refuse to do anything to stop a crime in progress. In the case of the President, it is an impeachable offense, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

Protecting our territories is one of the duties the President swore to uphold. The problem is we have opted to subject President Duterte to a very low leadership bar and allow his alarming remarks to go under the radar. But we must dig deeper into the reason the President seems not to care and why he so readily gives up our sovereign rights to China.

Is it connected to the billions of dollars of Chinese pledges reportedly to come from the primarily China-bankrolled Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.  Shall we be surprised that those billions of dollars reportedly will be poured into the Philippines’ public private partnership program, which public officials use to fill their pockets, leaving the nation holding an empty bag?

It’s as plain as the nose on our face—yes, the blatant disregard of our territorial integrity by China and President Duterte, together with his cross-eyed attraction to those pledges.

If that’s not a bald-faced sellout of our country, I don’t know what is.

JOSE SANTAMARIA, j_e_santamaria@hotmail.com

Image may contain: ocean, outdoor, water and nature

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/102928/impeachable#ixzz4dBP8SYUb
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Related:

.
.

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

No automatic alt text available.

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