Posts Tagged ‘South China Sea’

Philippines and the South China Sea: “We must not accept the position that China’s South China Sea build-up is a fait accompli that renders us helpless.”

April 26, 2017
Chinese structures and buildings on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratlys group of islands are seen 18 kilometers (11 miles) away from the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island off the disputed South China Sea Friday, April 21, 2017. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano and other officials flew to Thitu Island Friday to assert the country’s claim to the heartland of a disputed area where China is believed to have added missiles on man-made islands. The South China Sea issue is expected to be discussed in the 20th ASEAN Summit of Leaders next week. AP/Bullit Marquez
.

MANILA, Philippines — Former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who led the Philippines in filing an arbitration case against China, expressed disappointment over the reported draft of a communique that will be issued at the end of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Manila.

A draft of the “chairman’s statement” did not mention the arbitration decision issued by a United Nations-backed tribunal last year that invalidates China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, according to a report by the Associated Press.

“We shared the serious concerns expressed by some leaders over recent developments and escalation of activities in the area which may further raise tensions and erode trust and confidence in the region,” the draft statement said.

READ: ASEAN leaders likely to go soft on sea feud in Manila summit

Asked to comment on the draft statement’s treatment of the South China Sea developments, Del Rosario said that there is a minimum expectation of positive leadership to be attributed to President Rodrigo Duterte’s chairmanship of the 10-nation regional bloc.

“The draft of the Chairman’s Statement is deeply disappointing and, if not revisited, would manifest an absence of the desired leadership,” Del Rosario said in a statement released Wednesday.

Del Rosario has been urging the government to assert effective leadership as this year’s ASEAN chair by bringing up the arbitral tribunal ruling during the discussion of the maritime dispute.

In a forum earlier this week, Del Rosario said that the country must speak out and work with its Southeast Asian neighbors to stand in protest.

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

The former Secretary of Foreign Affairs added that the arbitral award should be an integral part of the Code of Conduct being finalized.

“Moreover, we must not accept the position that China’s South China Sea build-up is a fait accompli that renders us helpless,” Del Rosario said in a forum last Tuesday.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/26/1694140/del-rosario-laments-draft-asean-statement-sea-row

RELATED: ASEAN countries urged to 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

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:

 

NY Times editorial paints Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as ‘a man who must be stopped’

April 26, 2017
/ 04:47 PM April 26, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte-- April 4. 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

“This is a man who must be stopped.”

In yet another strongly worded piece on the spate of killings in the Philippines, the New York Times (NYT) editorial board on Wednesday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “stop” President Rodrigo Duterte and launch an initial investigation into summary executions amid his administration’s so-called war on drugs.

The editorial, titled “Let the World Condemn Duterte,” touched on the case of crime against humanity filed against Duterte and 11 other officials before the ICC by lawyer Jude Josue Sabio, counsel of confessed Davao Death Squad hitman Edgar Matobato.

READ: Duterte, 11 others accused of crimes against humanity before ICC

“The ICC should promptly open a preliminary investigation into the killings… After he was elected president last year, Mr. Duterte took the killing campaign nationwide, effectively declaring an open season for police and vigilantes on drug dealers and users,” the NYT editorial board said.

“There is already more than enough evidence for a preliminary investigation, which would send an unmistakable signal to Mr. Duterte that he may eventually have to answer for his crimes, and would encourage governments to take measures against him, such as imposing tariffs on Philippine goods,” it added.

But the editorial acknowledged that the ICC may be “reluctant” to prosecute Duterte because of his “enormous” popularity among Filipinos. Duterte has maintained majority satisfaction and trust ratings in the first quarter of 2017, according to recent surveys by Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations.

READ: Duterte keeps ‘very good’ satisfaction rating — SWS | Duterte still most trusted exec—Pulse

It also noted that the ICC was created to “prosecute cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes among member countries only when their national courts are unwilling or unable to do so.”

“Those conditions might be met if the Philippines House of Representatives, dominated by Mr. Duterte’s allies, quashes, as expected, an impeachment motion filed by an opposition lawyer,” the editorial read.

“And if the findings of Mr. Sabio, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and politicians, or the confessions of the former death squad members, are not enough evidence, there are Mr. Duterte’s savage words. “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he told reporters in one of his most outrageous statements (and misstating the figure for the Holocaust, which is six million). This is a man who must be stopped,” it added.

READ: What ‘filing’ a ‘complaint’ in ICC means

Duterte is facing an impeachment complaint filed by the Magdalo party-list group over his bloody war on drugs and his alleged mishandling of the South China Sea dispute.

In October last year, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the Court would be “following developments in the Philippines in the weeks to come and record any instance of incitement or resort to violence with a view to assessing whether a preliminary examination into the situation of the Philippines needs to be opened.”

“My Office is aware of worrying reported extra-judicial killings of alleged drug dealers and users in the Philippines…I am deeply concerned about these alleged killings and the fact that public statements of high officials of the Republic of the Philippines seem to condone such killings and further seem to encourage State forces and civilians alike to continue targeting these individuals with lethal force,” Bensouda then said.

“Let me be clear: any person in the Philippines who incites or engages in acts of mass violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing, in any other manner, to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution before the Court,” she added.

The latest NYT editorial follows the release of other pieces critical of Duterte in previous months, including a news feature titled “Becoming Duterte: The Making of a Philippine Strongman,” another editorial titled “Accountability for Duterte,” and a video documentary titled “When a President Says ‘I’ll Kill You.’” The publication also won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Photography for its photo essay on the war on drugs “They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals.”

Malacañang earlier accused the NYT of being part of a “well-funded demolition job” against President Duterte. IDL

RELATED STORIES

Amnesty Int’l urges Asean leaders to condemn killings in PH

Drug war on NY Times: ‘We no longer have fear in killing people’

New York Times lensman bags Pulitzer for PH drug war coverage

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/155379/ny-times-editorial-paints-duterte-man-must-stopped#ixzz4fMIVzNgj
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

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

A Filipino lawyer formally asked the International Criminal Court on Monday to charge President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity over the extrajudicial killings of thousands of people in the Philippines over the past three decades. The I.C.C. should promptly open a preliminary investigation into the killings.

The lawyer, Jude Josue Sabio, filed the complaint in his own name, but he also represents two men who have publicly said they were paid members of the death squad that Mr. Duterte set up in Davao City when he was the mayor to hunt down drug dealers. After he was elected president last year, Mr. Duterte took the killing campaign nationwide, effectively declaring an open season for police and vigilantes on drug dealers and users. In all, Mr. Sabio said in the 77-page filing, more than 9,400 people have been killed, most of them poor young men, but also bystanders, children and political opponents.

Mr. Sabio is not the first to accuse Mr. Duterte of mass killings — so have Human Rights Watch, in 2009; Amnesty International, this January; and some brave Filipino politicians. The I.C.C. chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, declared last October that the court was “closely following” developments in the Philippines.

There are reasons why the I.C.C. might be reluctant to go after Mr. Duterte. He is enormously popular with many Filipinos, for whom narcotics are a major scourge.

The court, moreover, was created to prosecute cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes among member countries only when their national courts are unwilling or unable to do so. Those conditions might be met if the Philippines House of Representatives, dominated by Mr. Duterte’s allies, quashes, as expected, an impeachment motion filed by an opposition lawyer. But there is already more than enough evidence for a preliminary investigation, which would send an unmistakable signal to Mr. Duterte that he may eventually have to answer for his crimes, and would encourage governments to take measures against him, such as imposing tariffs on Philippine goods.

And if the findings of Mr. Sabio, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and politicians, or the confessions of the former death squad members, are not enough evidence, there are Mr. Duterte’s savage words. “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he told reporters in one of his most outrageous statements (and misstating the figure for the Holocaust, which is six million).

This is a man who must be stopped.

ASEAN statement to go easy on Beijing over South China Sea dispute — Sovereignty, international law pushed aside

April 26, 2017

Reuters

By Manuel Mogato | MANILA

Southeast Asian nations would adopt a softer than usual tone about South China Sea disputes at a leaders’ summit on Saturday in Manila, and exclude references to militarization or island-building, according to a draft of the chairman’s statement.

Although some Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders will express “serious concern” over the “escalation of activities” in the disputed sea, ASEAN will drop references, or even allusions, to China’s construction of artificial islands and the military hardware it has placed on them, according excerpts of the draft seen by Reuters.

The statement would be a watered-down version of that issued last year and comes amid a charm offensive by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who takes the rotating ASEAN chair this year, to court China for its business and avoid rows over sovereignty in the South China Sea.

ADVERTISING

However, a diplomat from the ASEAN secretariat told Reuters, that officials were still working on the draft of the statement and “it may still change” before it is issued at the end of the summit on Saturday.

China claims almost entire South China Sea where about $5 trillion worth of sea-borne goods pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims on the strategic waterway.

ASEAN references to the South China Sea issue typically do not name China, which has been expanding its seven manmade islands in the Spratlys, including with hangers, runways, radars and surface-to-air missiles.

Last year’s ASEAN statement in Laos emphasized the importance of “non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities, including land reclamation”.

According to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, China will soon be capable of deploying fighter jets on three of its reefs. China insists its activities are for defense purposes and are taking place in what it considers its sovereign waters.

The Philippines irked China two months ago when its then foreign minister, Perfecto Yasay, said he and ASEAN counterparts had noticed “very unsettlingly” that weapons systems had been installed, and considered that “a militarization of the region”.

The foreign minister of the former administration, Alberto del Rosario, on Tuesday said the Philippines’ hosting of ASEAN summit was an opportunity for Duterte to raise China’s militarization.

“We should utilize our leadership to be able to uphold the rule of law,” he said. “The leadership of the Philippines will lose a lot of influence if we pass up that opportunity.”

A former government official involved in foreign policy likened the Philippines to Cambodia, which has been accused of taking China’s side and serving as a de facto veto against consensus ASEAN decisions that would otherwise be unfavorable to Beijing.

“Everyone is now watching the Philippines, we expect China to send its message to Southeast Asian countries through Duterte,” the official said, requesting anonymity.

“We are now acting like China’s lackey.”

(Editing by Martin Petty and Michael Perry)

Related:

.

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:

South China Sea, the Philippines and China: Philippine Government Did Not Trigger Sea Dispute; Aquino administration insisted upon adherence to international law

April 25, 2017
FILE – In this Friday, April 21, 2017, file photo, an airstrip, structures and buildings on China’s man-made Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane of the Philippine Air Force. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano flew to the island of Pag-asa in the South China Sea on Friday, drawing a protest from China, which also claims the remote territory. AP/Bullit Marquez, File

MANILA, Philippines — The arbitration case that the Philippines filed before an international tribunal might have affected China’s actions in the South China Sea but did it did not trigger the island-building.

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

The camp of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has claimed that the arbitration case filed by the Aquino administration pushed Beijing to build artificial islands in the contested waters.

Estelito Mendoza, a Marcos-era solicitor general and Arroyo’s lawyer, even claimed that it was relatively quiet and peaceful in the South China Sea during the Arroyo administration.

READ: Fact check: No tension in South China Sea during Arroyo administration?

Several experts have agreed that China had been planning the militarization of the South China Sea even before the Philippines filed an arbitration case before a United Nations-backed tribunal in 2013.

De La Salle University Professor Renato De Castro said that China’s actions in the South China Sea were not directed against the Philippines or the Aquino administration in particular.

“They already had it in mind that’s why the purpose, of course, of having control of those features in the South China Sea is to transform them into artificial islands that could be facilities wherein they could conduct reconnaissance,” De Castro said in a forum organized by the Stratbase ADR Institute on Tuesday.

De Castro added that China’s plan of installing surface-to-air missiles in the South China Sea might have been planned as early as the mid-1990s in the aftermath of the Taiwan Strait crisis, when China test-fired missiles in waters surrounding Taiwan.

The US responded by sending two carrier battle groups and an amphibious assault ship to the region.  The USS Nimitz and her escorts as well as the amphibious assault ship USS Belleau Wood sailed across the Taiwan Strait.

‘Philippines just a subset’ 

Foreign policy analyst Richard Heydarian agreed that the Chinese strategy in the South China Sea was not determined by Philippine actions.

“The Philippines is just a subset of a broad range of elements that have pushed China to be more assertive in that part of the world,” Heydarian said.

Heydarian said that claiming that the Aquino administration triggered China’s island-building in the disputed waters is “another form of historical revisionism.”

“It’s just that unfortunately it seems our allies in Washington were completely caught off guard. If you look at the statements by the American officials… they never thought that Chinese are capable of pulling off what many see as geoengineering on steroids,” Heydarian.

De Castro, however, said that the Americans were not caught off guard. They took China for granted as they only saw the Spratly Islands as targets for naval aviation of the US Seventh Fleet.

“They were aware but they basically underestimated the capabilities (of China),” De Castro said.

‘Arbitration case accelerated island-building’

Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said that the arbitration case accelerated China’s construction timetable in the disputed waters.

The Chinese saw the case as part of the US “pivot to Asia” strategy that may end their occupation in the islands.

“They thought that it would be the way by which the US, with the Philippines, would eject or evict the Chinese from the South China Sea,” Batongbacal said.

Defense Analyst Jose Custodio added that China spent the first decade of the 21st century in building up their capabilities in the South China Sea.

“It was a decade that we missed out on… That’s why when the Aquino administration came in, it was at the perfect event that the Chinese already had the capabilities to protect their fishermen and to assert their presence in the South China Sea,” Custodio said.

Custodio added that China has also been building up their maritime capabilities and their coast guard during the past decade.

“The past decade was an opportunity for the Philippines and now when the new administration took over, when the Aquino administration took over, it felt the full brunt of China’s capabilities that it had created in the previous decade,” Custodio said.

The international tribunal based in The Hague, Netherlands had ruled that China’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea does not have legal basis. It also ruled that Beijing violated its commitment under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea by building artificial islands in the disputed waters.

The Duterte administration said that they would raise the arbitration award with China when the “appropriate time” comes.

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

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/26/1693835/analysts-refute-claim-aquino-admin-triggered-sea-row

Peace and Freedom Comment: What the Philippines must ask itself now is: “Is this what we want in the South China Sea? Is the course of China in the South China Sea in the long range beneficial to the Philippine people? Or do the Philippine people decide to invoke international law?

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:

Is Philippines offering Beijing an olive branch over South China Sea?

April 25, 2017

Manila will push for code of conduct to govern disputed waters at upcoming Asean summit, Philippines foreign minister says

By Kristin Huang
South China Morning Post

Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 11:51am
 A Philippine boat fishes during sunset at the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea this month. Photo: Reuters

South China Sea: China’s Floating Nuclear Power Plant

April 25, 2017

by Debalina Ghoshal
April 24, 2017 at 4:00 am

In April 2016, reports began coming in that China has plans to build floating nuclear power plants in the South China Sea. A floating nuclear power plant consists of one or more nuclear reactors, located on a platform at sea. China apparently plans to “speed up the commercial development” of the South China Sea and views the nuclear power plants as part of that plan. [1]

Final assembly of the reactor is reported to start in coastal city of Huludao, in Liaoning province, and will be built by Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Co Ltd, a unit of China Shipbuilding Industry Corp (CSIC).[2]

China’s 2016 nuclear plan, a component of the China’s 13th five-year plan, is evidently to complete 58 nuclear reactors by 2020 and build another 100 gigawatt-sized reactors by 2030. These would make China the largest nuclear power producer in the world. China’s floating nuclear reactor initiative seems to be a component of this nuclear plan.

Reasons for such reactors

China’s stated reasons for venturing into such technologies include providing an inexpensive source of electricity and fresh water for both military and economic gains, as well as ensuring China’s strategic dominance in the South China Sea. Nuclear power plants could not only provide cheap electricity to defense facilities but also to desalination plants. Normally, the defense facilities such as airports and harbors depend on oil or coal for power generation. A nuclear power plant on the sea would ensure a continuous supply of water as coolant — a necessity for any reactor.

A 60 MWe reactor is said to be beneficial for supplying electricity, heat and desalination, and could be used on islands and on coastal areas or for offshore oil and gas exploration.

A scale-model of a Russian floating nuclear power plant. (Image source: Felix/Flickr)

A common theme in the narrative about floating nuclear power plants is that they would provide energy and freshwater to the disputed Spratly Islands and also to China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea, such as Woody Island. Beijing, however, is entangled in territorial disputes with Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam, to name a few in the region.

China is already building man-made islands in the South China Sea by shifting sediment from the sea floor to the reefs. It is also building ports, airstrips and radar facilities. In 2016, reports also stated that China has deployed HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles in the Woody Island, close to the Paracel Islands. in South China Sea. China has also deployed a HQ-9 and shorter ranged HQ-6 air defence system at the Paracel Islands.

At the Hainan base, China operates guided missile-destroyers: Yinchuan, Hefei, Kunming, and the Changsha. The DF-21D “carrier killer” anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) is also an added asset for China.

China has, as well, unilaterally established an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea and stated that it had the right to establish similar zones in the South China Sea.

As China flexes its muscles in the South China Sea, building a floating nuclear reactor is yet another step toward strengthening this regional dominance.

All these man-made islands have limited amounts of fresh water. A key part of aircraft maintenance to avoid corrosion when operating in a salt water environment is washing the planes down with fresh water or chemical solvents. While desalination is an option, nuclear energy might facilitate that. China already has experience in nuclear desalination, with China General Nuclear Power commissioning a sea-water desalination plant that uses waste heat to provide cooling water at the Hongyanhe project at Dalian, in Liaoning province.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that there are 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the seabed. Geopolitical and energy security analyst Jeremy Maxie writes:

“Most of the gas in the SCS is located in offshore deep-water fields (defined as 400-1,200 meters) that is more technologically challenging and costly to develop than shallow-water or onshore fields. In order to monetize any potential deep-water gas discoveries, subsea pipelines would need to be built to onshore processing facilities.”

This plan that may or may not be politically conceivable. Maritime nuclear floating reactors would apparently provide an advantage for offshore gas exploration.

The South China Sea is crucial for states vying to gain influence in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, as well as for maritime commerce. The South China Sea is also rich in hydrocarbons and fish in a region where the staple diet is fish.

In addition, with proven oil reserves, the South China Sea would yield 130 billion barrels of oil, according to Chinese estimates. Moreover, 80 percent of the China’s energy requirements pass through the Malacca Strait into the South China Sea; China is therefore largely dependent on the Malacca Strait and the South China Sea, a circumstance termed by then-Chinese President Hu Jintao as the “Malacca Dilemma.”

Building nuclear reactors in the South China Sea would enable Beijing to exert its assertiveness at every turn.

Hazards

Constructing such reactors in a region prone to typhoons is, as can be imagined, hazardous, resulting in accidents and meltdowns. Radioactive waste would spread to neighboring countries and cause catastrophic damage to sea-currents as well as maritime flora and fauna. Moreover, the capacity of maritime reactors to produce power is far less than for land-based reactors. China’s motive for building the nuclear reactors, however, is clear: to exert its dominance and influence throughout the area.

Debalina Ghoshal is a Research Fellow specializing in nuclear and missile issues at the Centre for Human Security Studies, Hyderabad, India.


[1] The China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) is to build the nuclear power plants in cooperation with China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). This reactor ACPR50S is a 60MWe reactor based on the 100MWe China National Nuclear Corporation’s ACPR100S MR.

[2] The Bohai Company convened to discuss possible location and relevant viability issues pertaining to the construction of the reactor with the Liaoning Provincial Economy and Informatization Commission, Huludao Municipal Economy and Informatization Commission, CSIC’s nuclear safety department’s safety inspection team and Wuhan Second Institute of Ship Design-Institute 719 under the CSIC.

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10253/china-floating-nuclear-reactor

Thai junta defends ‘cheap’ $393 mn Chinese sub purchase

April 25, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Defence spending typically surges under coup-installed regimes in Thailand, which has seen more than a dozen putsches in the past 80 years

BANGKOK (AFP) – 

The Thai junta on Tuesday defended $393 million earmarked for a Chinese submarine, batting back criticism of the secrecy of the deal, its high cost and the questionable utility of the warship.

The submarine sale is the latest defence deal between Beijing and Bangkok, who have grown ever closer since Thailand’s 2014 coup.

The Southeast Asian country has already scooped up several dozen Beijing-built tanks and plans to buy three submarines in total — a purchase that will amount to $1 billion.

The military-led cabinet approved the funds for the first submarine purchase last week — a decision that was not made public until Monday, triggering concern about a lack of transparency.

The deal has long fuelled controversy in Thailand, with critics saying the submarines are not needed in a country with shallow surrounding waters and no stake in the South China Sea disputes that have embroiled its neighbours.

The huge cost of the vessel has also raised eyebrows in a kingdom where ordinary people are feeling the pinch of a stuttering economy.

On Tuesday defence minister Prawit Wongsuwon insisted Tuesday the deal was “transparent” and a good bargain for the Thai navy.

“The reason we choose Chinese-built submarines is because they are the cheapest when compared to other countries’ offers,” he told reporters.

The submarines are needed to “protect our natural resources in the Andaman Sea,” he added, stressing that neighbouring countries “all have submarines.”

Prawit said the first submarine will be delivered within the next six years, with two more expected over the next decade.

Defence spending typically surges under coup-installed regimes in Thailand, which has seen more than a dozen putsches in the past 80 years.

The army, navy and air force tussle over the spoils of budget hikes, reflecting the balance of power among the military.

Beijing has stepped into profit off the army’s spending spree since its most recent coup, which strained ties between Bangkok and its longstanding ally Washington.

Thailand last operated submarines in its waters 50 years ago.

© 2017 AFP

Philippines Policy on Fisheries, Impending Fisheries Crisis Inadequate To Defend Filipino Jobs, Environment, Food Security and Philippine Economy

April 24, 2017
In this image taken from video run by China’s CCTV via AP Video, the aircraft carrier Liaoning is escorted by navy ships during a drill in the South China Sea. China confirmed that its aircraft carrier has for the first time conducted drills in the South China Sea with a formation of other warships and fighter jets, a move that could raise concerns among its neighbors. CCTV via AP Video

ASEAN’s leaders will gather in Manila next week for the 30th ASEAN Summit. While the leaders and diplomats forge stronger bonds of friendship, those of us watching can only hope that the summit and other scheduled meetings will help to move the region concretely forward.

At the top of everyone’s mind is the South China Sea: What does the Philippines want to achieve with ASEAN and with the dialogue partners this year? What’s slated for the framework for the code of conduct? Will this framework even proceed to a binding and enforceable code? How will we achieve our aims in line with our commitments in upholding international law?

The Philippines is no stranger to the difficulties in the South China Sea, and has even been at the forefront of these challenges. More pressingly, the challenge has evolved: Chinese vessels loiter in Benham Rise, construction on Scarborough Shoal is a looming possibility and reports are emerging that Chinese Coast Guard vessels fired shots at Filipino fishermen in the Spratlys. How long can Southeast Asian governments paper over these difficulties in the name of friendly ties?

Image may contain: cloud, sky and outdoor

Fishermen sort the catch in the South China Sea

At this stage, there are more questions than there are answers. For this reason, the Stratbase ADR Institute (ADRi) will host a forum on April 25 entitled “The South China Sea: the Philippines, ASEAN and their international partners.” In our view, the Philippines should not lose sight of its a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on Southeast Asia’s pressing political and security challenges.

Converging on the fisheries

One of the under-examined issues concerning the West Philippine Sea is fisheries management. Fish and fisheries remain crucial to food security, livelihoods and export revenue to over about 2 billion inhabitants of the region. However, the overlapping territorial and maritime sovereignty claims among the coastal states continue hinder efforts to establish sustainable mechanisms for fisheries management, as well as curb illegal and unsustainable fishing practices.

As the Philippines assumes chairmanship of ASEAN 2017, one of the goals is to translate its legal victory from the arbitral tribunal into workable policies that address the impending fisheries crisis not only on the national but also on the regional level. For an ADRi special study entitled “Converging on the Fisheries in the South China Sea,” Dr. Carmen Lagman of DLSU has analyzed the fisheries production-consumption patterns and transboundary management mechanisms, and proposed a path forward for the ASEAN coastal states to enhance fisheries management in the name of food security.

The value of the South China Sea to food and job security

Lagman explains the vitality of the South China Sea as a source of food and livelihoods. In 2015, a conservative estimate based on reported fisheries landings in the sea is about 12 percent of the total global catch. With the exception of Brunei Darussalam, all the other countries in the South China Sea are in the top 20 countries with the highest recorded fisheries catch in 2014.

The sea could potentially yield 11 to 17 million tons in trade fisheries catch and US$ 12 to 22 billion in annual fisheries landed value. This translates to over 3 million jobs associated with the fisheries. In fact, based on these values of the landed fisheries in 2012, total economic activity in the broader economy supported by fishing is estimated at US$ 66.7 billion.

Unsustainability of local fishing practices

However, the indispensable value of the sea is imperiled by unsustainable practices of small and large-scale industrial fisheries sector. Usually, commercial boats encroach into the so-called traditional fishing areas of small-scale fishermen, using trawls, ring nets and purse seins, which practically harvest all organisms within the site of operations. As a result, small-scale fishermen usually complain of losing income while environmentalists point out to the irreversible damage that such commercial fishing tools and methods bring to the environment.

Moreover, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provisions for defining an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) have tremendously influenced the structure of fisheries policies in national and international arenas. It had the profound effects of: raising the contribution of fisheries to the national gross domestic product or GDP; bringing about a redistribution of benefits from fishing from distant water fishing fleets to the coastal states; and attracting greater investments into the fisheries sector.

Though total fisheries catch appears to be steadily increasing, there have already been differences in the quality of fish. Large predatory fish such as tuna and grouper are found less. They are increasingly being replaced by smaller fish that feed on zooplankton. This phenomenon dubbed as “fishing down the food web” reflects a dangerous, continuing trend of overfishing. Notably, pelagic fish stocks in East Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and southern China have been subject to overfishing since the late 1980s. No wonder their fishermen venture into the West Philippine Sea where productivity has not dwindled.

A way forward for the Philippines and Southeast Asia

Having won the case in the arbitral tribunal, the Philippines may seize the opportunity to promote the country’s fisheries management policy, and synergize its conservation efforts with those of its neighbors. Lagman proposes the following: the establishment of transboundary marine parks or areas of joint protection which seeks to declare the remaining healthy, resource-rich areas and habitats as “no-take zones” such as the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal; inclusion of other international policy instruments, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Reykjavik Declaration (2001), FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (1995), and World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002); and Agenda 21 (1992) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), aimed at encouraging regional cooperation on fisheries management in the South China Sea in our diplomatic efforts; and development of regional-level policies targeted toward small-scale fisheries.

Conclusion

Fisheries and other marine areas could be a starting point for greater technical cooperation between the Philippines and its neighbors. In these times, all cooperative options should be studied and exhausted. In the process, we must take advantage of our scientific knowhow to look at the dispute management (even if not resolution) in a creative and fresh light.

We are looking for concrete ways to use our knowledge of the law and the environment to help bridge the political problems that keep the Philippines from fully and sustainably exploiting its resources. These options will be for naught, however, if the Philippines does not demonstrate its principled commitment to the rule of law and show its leadership in ASEAN this year. 

Dindo Manhit is the president of think tank Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute, a partner of Philstar.com.

http://www.philstar.com/news-feature/2017/04/21/1692488/commentary-challenges-ahead-south-china-sea

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

Japan to exceed bluefin tuna quota amid warnings of commercial extinction

Conservationists call on Japan to abide by fishing agreements after reports annual quota will be exceeded two months early

 .Buyers inspect frozen tuna at a wholesale fish market in Tokyo
Buyers inspect frozen tuna at a wholesale fish market in Tokyo. Photograph: Aflo/Barcroft Images

Conservation groups have called on Japan to abide by international agreements to curb catches of Pacific bluefin tuna after reports said the country was poised to exceed an annual quota two months early – adding to pressure on stocks that have already reached dangerously low levels.

Japan, by far the world’s biggest consumer of Pacific bluefin, has caused “great frustration” with its failure to abide by catch quotas intended to save the species from commercial extinction, said Amanda Nickson, the director of global tuna conservation at Pew Charitable Trusts.

“Just a few years of overfishing will leave Pacific bluefin tuna vulnerable to devastating population reductions,” Nickson said in Tokyo on Monday. “That will threaten not just the fish but also the fishermen who depend on them.”

Decades of overfishing have left the Pacific bluefin population at just 2.6% of its historical high, and campaigners say Japan must take the lead at a summit in South Korea this summer.

In 2015, Japan and other members of the Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission agreed to curtail catches of immature bluefin, halving the catch of fish under 30kg from the average caught between 2002 and 2004.

But Japanese media reported last week that the country would reach its catch limit for younger tuna for the year through to June two months early.

Some fisheries workers have ignored the restrictions, aware that they will not be punished and can fetch premium prices for Pacific bluefin in Japan, where it is regarded as an important part of the country’s culinary heritage.

Campaigners support the fisheries commission’s aim of rebuilding stocks to at least 20% of unfished levels by 2034 – a target Nickson said was “realistic and attainable”. She said further inaction could revive calls for a two-year commercial moratorium on catching Pacific bluefin.

“No country in the world cares more about the future of tuna than Japan,” she said. “Japan can take the lead, but it must start by committing itself to the 20% rebuilding plan.”

If that fails, she added, “then a full commercial moratorium could be the only feasible course of action”.

Aiko Yamauchi, the leader of the oceans and seafood group for WWF Japan, said it was time to penalise fishermen who violated catch quotas. “The quotas should be mandatory, not voluntary,” Yamauchi said. “That’s why the current agreement hasn’t worked.”

About 80% of the global bluefin catch is consumed in Japan, where it is served raw as sashimi and sushi. A piece of otoro – a fatty cut from the fish’s underbelly – can cost several thousand yen at high-end restaurants in Tokyo.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/24/japan-criticised-exceed-bluefin-tuna-fishing-quota

Related:

.

 (Philippine Star)

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

 

 (National Geographic on the South China Sea)

l