Posts Tagged ‘sovereignty’

Philippines refuses to acknowledge China’s announcement of weather stations

November 8, 2018

Beijing’s announcement that it has started operating weather monitoring stations on the Spratly Islands may not be enough validation for the Philippine government.
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“We have to look whether it’s true or not and then we will make our move diplomatically,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on China’s establishment of weather stations in the West Philippine Sea.

Facebook screengrab/Presidential Communications

In a press briefing last November 1, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang confirmed that China has begun operating a maritime observation center, a meteoroligcal observatory and a national environmental and air quality monitoring stations on its artificial islands in the Spratly Islands.

Asked whether Beijing’s confirmation is not enough validation, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said they would have to “look whether it’s true or not.”

“It is in a wrong interest to validate any claim whether it’s for or against this government or for or against their own government,” Panelo said Thursday.

The Malacañang spokesman said it would be up to the Department of National Defense on how it will confirm the China’s establishment such facilities in the West Philippine Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said that it is coordinating with the Philippine Embassy in Beijing to verify the report.

“The Department will take the appropriate action should these reports be validated,” DFA spokesperson Elmer Cato said.

The report, initially published by South China Morning Post, was based on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s statement.

These facilities were installed on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefs, which are also being claimed by the Philippines.

“These projects are designed to observe the maritime, hydrological, meteorological conditions and air qualities and provide such services as maritime warning and forecast, tsunami alert, weather forecast, air quality forecast and disaster prevention and relief,” Lu said.

Earlier this week, Panelo said the government has yet to get confirmation as it is “merely a news report.”

Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, urged the Philippine government to protest China’s recent actions in the disputed waterway.

The maritime expert warned that the weather stations on the Spratly Islands are also part of China’s enhancement of military outposts in the region.

“The Philippines should protest this latest action of China as it definitely part of the larger effort to assert China’s claims to sovereignty/rights over the long run, and unilaterally impose its position on other littoral States,” Batongbacal said.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/11/08/1866919/philippines-refuses-acknowledge-chinas-announcement-weather-stations#F1Z4SkHCo5DARrlX.99

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Why the South China Sea Fuels U.S.-China Tensions

October 8, 2018

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For decades, the U.S. has guaranteed freedom of navigation in Asia’s waters, patrolling the seas with a view to maintaining the principle that no sovereign state shall suffer interference from another. China’s growing military prowess, combined with a dogged assertiveness over its territorial claims, is testing the old ways and providing a potential flashpoint for the two powers. That tension is felt most keenly in the South China Sea.

By David Tweed
Bloomberg

1. Where is the South China Sea?

Stretching from China in the north to Indonesia in the south, the waterway encompasses 1.4 million square miles (3.6 million square kilometers), making it bigger than the Mediterranean Sea. It borders countries including Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore to the west, and the Philippines and Brunei to the east. It’s a thriving fishing zone — yielding some 10 percent of the global catch — and holds promising oil and natural gas reserves. Even more noteworthy is the vast amount of trade that transits through its waters. In 2016, that amounted to some $3 trillion, including more than 30 percent of the global maritime crude oil trade. Its economic importance has come into sharper focus because of a brewing trade war between the U.S. and China.

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Chinese coast guard confronting Filipino fishermen near Scarborough Shoal

2. Why is it such a point of contention?

There are conflicting claims to the seas and rocks, reefs and islands therein. China claims more than 80 percent of the South China Sea and backs up its claim with a 1947 map that shows vague dashes — the so-called nine-dash line — looping down to a point about 1,119 miles (1,800 kilometers) south of its Hainan Island. Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan claim parts of the same maritime area. Beijing demands that other countries obtain its consent for military transits near features it occupies, including some it has created by reclaiming land and constructing artificial islands.

BLOOMBERG NEWS

3. Where has China built?

China has reclaimed some 3,200 acres (1,290 hectares) of land on seven reefs or rocks in the Spratly archipelago. On them it has constructed ports, lighthouses and runways, and installed missile batteries and other military equipment. Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015 that China had no intention to militarize the structures. Whenever the installation of a new piece of equipment is revealed, China’s Foreign Ministry says it’s for defense purposes.

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China has built seven military bases near the Philippines

4. What does the U.S. say?

The U.S. takes no position on the competing claims by Asian nations. But the U.S. Navy regularly carries out “freedom-of-navigation operations,” known as Fonops, by sending warships and aircraft near disputed waters to demonstrate the right to travel through what it considers international waters and airspace. Through early October, the U.S. had carried out eight publicized Fonops since Donald Trump became president in 2017 — compared with a total of four in eight years under Obama, according to Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

5. How has the international community responded?

An international arbitration panel in The Hague refuted China’s claims in 2016. It ruled there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within seas falling within the nine-dash line. It also found that, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, man-made islands — such as those built by China — don’t generate maritime entitlements or zones of sovereignty. The case was brought by the Philippines. China refused to take part in the arbitration, saying the panel had no jurisdiction. One former top Chinese diplomat dismissed the ruling as no more than “waste paper.”

6. Why are people worried?

With two great military forces regularly coming into close contact, there are fears that a miscalculation or mistake would risk provoking a more serious confrontation. In September, a Chinese warship nearly collided with the USS Decatur while trying to drive it from territory China claims as its own. There was a similar incident eight months earlier. CNN reported in October that the U.S. was planning a show of military force as a warning to China — with operations partly focused on the water body.

A Chinese Luyang-class destroyer (right) sailed within 41 metres of the USS Decatur in the South China Sea on Sunday. Photo: US Navy

7. What do the U.S. and China say about these incidents?

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, referring to the USS Decatur incident, said that despite such “reckless harassment,” the Navy would “continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand.” Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in June that Beijing would face “larger consequences” in the long term for militarizing the waters that could persuade it to change track. China has responded to Fonops by saying the U.S. is violating its sovereignty. After the USS Decatur confrontation, its Foreign Ministry urged Washington to “immediately correct its mistake and stop such provocative actions to avoid undermining China-U.S. relations and regional peace and stability.”

The Reference Shelf

— With assistance by Jason Koutsoukis

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-07/why-the-south-china-sea-fuels-u-s-china-tensions-quicktake

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The U.S. does not recognize China’s claims in the South China Sea. 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. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior. The U.S. views China’s base building in the South China Sea as unlawful and similar to Russia’s incursions into Georgia, Crimea and Ukraine.

Pence accuses China of ‘malign’ campaign to undermine U.S., Trump administration

October 5, 2018

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence intensified Washington’s pressure campaign against Beijing on Thursday by accusing China of “malign” efforts to undermine President Donald Trump ahead of next month’s congressional elections and reckless military actions in the South China Sea.

In what was billed as a major policy address, Pence sought to build on Trump’s speech at the United Nations last week in which he accused China of trying to interfere in the vote that will determine whether his Republican Party will keep control of Congress.

Neither Trump nor Pence provided hard evidence of meddling by China, which last week rejected the president’s allegation.

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the Hudson Institute, October 4, 2018.

Pence’s speech at Washington’s Hudson Institute marked a sharpened U.S. approach toward China going beyond the bitter trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. It highlighted disputes such as cyber attacks, Taiwan, freedom of the seas and human rights.

Pence said China was waging a sophisticated effort to sway the elections against the Republicans in retaliation for Trump’s trade policies. He vowed to continue to expose Beijing’s “malign influence and interference.”

Pence said Beijing, with an eye not only to the congressional elections but also to Trump’s 2020 re-election bid, had “mobilized covert actors, front groups, and propaganda outlets to shift Americans’ perception of Chinese policies” and was targeting its tariffs to hurt states where Trump has strong support.

“China wants a different American president,” Pence said.

He said that in June, Beijing laid out its strategy in a sensitive “Propaganda and Censorship Notice” which stated that China must “strike accurately and carefully, splitting apart different domestic groups” in the United States.

The allegations, however, have raised questions as to whether Trump and his aides are trying to deflect attention from an investigation of his campaign’s possible ties to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and also set up China for blame if Republicans do poorly in November’s vote.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement that Pence in his speech had made “unwarranted accusations … and slandered China by claiming that China meddles in U.S. internal affairs and elections.”

China is committed to working with the United States for “non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation,” she said.

CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS

Washington has long cited China as a major culprit in the hacking of U.S. government and corporate databases. But U.S. officials and independent analysts say they have not detected the kind of systematic manipulation of social media and email hacking Russia was accused of in 2016.

Even so, Pence said: “As a senior career member of our intelligence community recently told me, what the Russians are doing pales in comparison to what China is doing across this country.”

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Washington Post this week there was no indication of any foreign effort to disrupt election infrastructure, but added that “we know they (China) have the capability and the will.”

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Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

China expert Chris Johnson, a former CIA analyst now at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Pence’s speech appeared aimed in part at building a narrative that a vote for the Democrats would be vote for China.

“Another part of it is trying to distract attention from the real threat, which is Russia,” he said. “There’s nothing in that speech that rises to the level of 2016 Russian active measures.”

Trump has justified his trade policy by accusing China of stealing intellectual property and limiting access to its market. The two countries have imposed increasingly severe tariffs on each other.

Pence said Chinese security agencies had masterminded the “wholesale theft of American technology,” including military blueprints, and warned Washington would continue to take action.

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He urged Google (GOOGL.O) to end development of its “Dragonfly” app that would make it easier to track Internet searches and strengthen Chinese censorship.

Google declined comment, except to reiterate that its China search engine project was “exploratory” and not close to launch.

Bloomberg Businessweek cited 17 unidentified intelligence and company sources as saying that Chinese spies had placed computer chips in equipment used by about 30 firms, as well as multiple U.S. government agencies, which would give Beijing secret access to internal networks. Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Amazon (AMZN.O) denied the report.

Pence also said China had deployed anti-ship and anti-air missiles on artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, despite promises not to militarize them.

He accused Beijing of “reckless harassment” in an incident on Sunday in which a Chinese naval vessel nearly collided with a U.S. destroyer near the Spratly islands.

“We will not be intimidated,” Pence said of the operation, the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters.

China said a Chinese warship had been sent to warn the U.S. vessel to leave an area of irrefutable Chinese sovereignty.

Pence accused China of using its economic power to bully smaller countries and said it had threatened the stability of the Taiwan Strait by pressuring three Latin American countries to sever ties with Taipei and recognize Beijing.

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Fighter jet from Taiwan keeps watch on a Chinese bomber

Pence also denounced Beijing’s crackdown on minority Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

Last month, a U.N. rights panel said it had received credible reports that up to one million ethnic Uighurs may be held in extra-legal detention in Xinjiang, which China says faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists.

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Chinese soldiers and Uighur woman in Xinjiang (FILE photo)

U.S. officials have said they are considering targeted sanctions for human rights abuses.

Daniel Russel, Washington’s top diplomat for East Asia until last year, said there was a lot to dislike about China’s behavior. But he said the claim that China was working to defeat Trump at the ballot box “rings hollow” and the approach could be counterproductive.

“Even if you accept all of Pence’s complaints at face value, it’s hard to make the case that the administration’s Cold War-style vilification of China will be effective or beneficial to U.S. interests, since it’s clearly pushing Beijing to intransigence, not compromise.”

Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Christopher Bing, Paresh Dave and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bill Trott and Grant McCool

Reuters

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Australia concerned over China’s ‘aggressive tactics’ in South China Sea

October 3, 2018

Defence minister says any intimidation in region is ‘potentially dangerous’ after ‘unsafe’ encounter with US destroyer

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Chinese warship (right) has maneuvered to block the U.S. warship USS Decatur, on a routine freedom of navigation patrol, in the South China Sea, Sunday, September 30, 2018. U.S. Navy photo

Australia has expressed concerns about China’s “aggressive tactics” in the South China Sea after a Chinese navy destroyer sailed within yards of an American warship on the weekend.

Christopher Pyne, Australia’s defence minister, said the Morrison government would view any use of intimidation in the region as “destabilising and potentially dangerous”.

According to a US official, the USS Decatur guided-missile destroyer was conducting a “freedom of navigation operation” in the South China Sea on Sunday, when it passed within 12 nautical miles of Gaven and Johnson reefs in the contested Spratly Islands.

Beijing claims the entire Spratly island chain as part of its sweeping claims across much of the South China Sea, but the archipelago is contested.

China repeatedly asserts its right to build “defence” facilities in the region, which it views as key to pushing its defences beyond China’s coast and securing oil supply routes, but it has been accused of building “island fortresses” on the islands.

Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims in the region.

A US official has claimed the USS Decatur was conducting a freedom of navigation operation in the region on Sunday when a Chinese Luyang destroyer approached in “an unsafe and unprofessional manoeuvre in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea.”

The Chinese destroyer reportedly conducted a series of “increasingly aggressive” manoeuvres, warning the Decatur to depart the area.

It then approached “within 45 yards of Decatur’s bow”, forcing the Decatur to manoeuvre to prevent a collision, Cdr Nate Christensen, US Pacific Fleet spokesman, said on Monday.

Pyne said the Morrison government would view such tactics as “potentially dangerous”, and called the reports “concerning”.

“We would view any use of intimidation or aggressive tactics as destabilising and potentially dangerous,” he told Guardian Australia on Wednesday.

“Australia has consistently expressed concern over ongoing militarisation of the South China Sea and we continue to urge all claimants to refrain from unilateral actions that would increase tension in the region,” he said. His comments were first reported by the Australian.

China’s defence ministry said on Tuesday that a Chinese naval ship had been sent to warn the US vessel to leave, saying it was resolutely opposed to an operation that it called a threat to its sovereignty.

The foreign ministry in Beijing said in a separate statement it strongly urged the United States to stop such “provocative” actions.

US-Chinese relations have been strained since Donald Trump became president.

A trade war launched by Trump has infuriated Beijing, as did his authorisation of a $1.3bn arms sale to Taiwan, which China considers a rebel province. Washington last week enacted new tariffs against China covering another $200bn of its imports.

China has taken a series of retaliatory measures, including scrapping a US warship’s planned port visit to Hong Kong and cancelling a meeting between the head of the Chinese navy and his American counterpart.

On Monday, a US defence official said security talks due to take place later this month in Beijing between the defense secretary, Jim Mattis, and his Chinese counterpart had been cancelled.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/03/australia-concerned-over-chinas-aggressive-tactics-in-south-china-sea

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The U.S. does not recognize China’s claims in the South China Sea. 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. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior. The U.S. views China’s base building in the South China Sea as unlawful and similar to Russia’s incursions into Georgia, Crimea and Ukraine.

U.S. accuses Chinese warship of ‘unsafe’ manoeuvres after near collision with USS Decatur in South China Sea

October 2, 2018

China insists its actions were in accordance with law after PLA navy warned US vessel to leave disputed waters near Spratly Islands

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2018, 10:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 October, 2018, 1:22pm

A Chinese destroyer nearly collided with a US warship in the disputed South China Sea after making what the Americans described as an “unsafe and unprofessional” manoeuvre in an attempt to warn it to leave the area.

A statement by the Chinese defence ministry said on Tuesday that the USS Decatur had ventured into Chinese waters on Sunday, and its navy had to send a Luyang-class destroyer to warn it off.

“The Chinese vessel took quick action and made checks against the US vessel in accordance with the law, and warned it to leave the waters,” it said.

The statement said the sailing by USS Decatur was provocative and China would resolutely protect its territorial sovereignty.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said America’s actions would undermine regional stability.

“We call on the US to rectify its wrong behaviour and stop the provocations to avoid damaging China-US relations and regional peace and stability,” Hua said in a statement.

A Luyang class destroyer of the type involved in the incident. Photo: Handout

The American guided-missile destroyer passed through waters off the disputed Spratly Islands on Sunday, sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Gaven and Johnson reefs during a 10-hour patrol. Twelve nautical miles is the commonly accepted limit for territorial waters.

Beijing claims all the Spratly chain as its own but Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan have competing claims, while the US has been conducting “freedom of navigation” exercises in the waters.

In a statement released late on Monday, the US described the move by the Chinese destroyer as unsafe because it moved within 41 metres (45 yards) of the US warship.

US Pacific Fleet deputy spokesman Nate Christensen said the Chinese destroyer had “approached USS Decatur in an unsafe and unprofessional manoeuvre in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea”.

He added: “The PRC destroyer conducted a series of increasingly aggressive manoeuvres accompanied by warnings for Decatur to depart the area.”

After the Chinese ship came within 45 yards of Decatur’s bow it moved to prevent a collision.

The latest manoeuvre by the two militaries came amid escalating tensions in China-US relations.

On Monday it emerged that Beijing had called off security talks planned for October between US Secretary of Defence James Mattis and Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/2166565/chinese-destroyer-nearly-collided-uss-decatur-after-trying-drive

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The U.S. does not recognize China’s claims in the South China Sea. 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. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior. The U.S. views China’s base building in the South China Sea as unlawful and similar to Russia’s incursions into Georgia, Crimea and Ukraine.

Chinese warship nearly hits U.S. destroyer in South China Sea

October 2, 2018

China accused the United States of ignoring its sovereignty Tuesday after an American warship sailed near islands claimed by Beijing in the disputed South China Sea, further rattling relations between the countries after weeks of escalating military tensions.

A Chinese destroyer came within yards of the U.S. Navy ship Sunday, compelling it to switch direction in what American officials called an “unsafe and unprofessional” clash.

China’s Defense Ministry countered that the USS Decatur should never have traveled through those waters in its “freedom of navigation” mission, provoking Beijing to order a Luyang-class warship to force it away from the Spratly Islands.

“The Chinese vessel took quick action and made checks against the U.S. vessel in accordance with the law, and warned it to leave the waters,” spokesman Wu Qian said in a statement.

By Danielle Paquette

October 2 at 1:30 AM
The Washington Post

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USS Decatur

The presence of American ships near the Chinese-claimed archipelago off the coast of the Philippines, Malaysia and southern Vietnam is “seriously threatening China’s sovereignty and security” and “seriously undermining the relations between the two countries and the two militaries,” Wu added.

A statement Monday from the U.S. Pacific Fleet blasted the Chinese response as “aggressive.”

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The Chinese destroyer involved in the incident was said to be a Luyang type destroyer, similar to the one in this photo

“The PRC destroyer approached within 45 yards of Decatur’s bow, after which Decatur maneuvered to prevent a collision,” spokesman Charlie Brown said.

The Decatur had been conducting what the American military calls freedom of navigation operations, or missions to promote international lawfulness in oceanic territory claimed by multiple countries, including Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Washington has said it aims to reject what it considers excessive maritime claims by any country.

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China has built seven military bases near the Philippines — including on Gaven and Johnson reefs. USS Decatur was operating in International waters near Gaven and Johnson reefs

Decatur ventured Sunday morning by reefs and rocks that Beijing has tried to turn into artificial islands to expand its grip on the South China Sea, but U.S. officials have maintained that such land doesn’t count as real territory, said Lawrence Brennan, a law professor at Fordham University in New York.

American and Chinese warships have had close encounters in the past, he added, but Sunday’s encounter “appears to have been closer than any recent event.”

The maritime showdown came about a week after Chinese officials canceled military talks with the United States that were supposed to be held in Beijing in late September.

The government scrapped the defense-related conversations in response to American sanctions imposed last month on Chinese military personnel for purchasing Russian combat aircraft and missile supplies.

Then Beijing called off a security meeting with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis on Monday that had been scheduled for October, the New York Times reported.

The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The military strain between the world’s two largest economies worsens as they’re locked in an increasingly heated trade war.

Washington and Beijing hit each other with the largest round of tariffs yet last week, now covering roughly half their goods traded.

President Trump ordered new levies on $200 billion in Chinese imports, and Beijing responded with tariffs on $60 billion in American products, nearing the point of running out of U.S. goods to target.

Neither side has showed signs of giving up, and there are no more trade negotiations scheduled to end the commercial battle.

Trump warned in September that if Chinese President Xi Jinping refuses to budge, he will unleash tariffs on another $267 billion in Chinese imports, placing higher border taxes on basically everything the United States buys from China.

That order last year amounted to $505 billion.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/chinese-warship-nearly-hits-us-destroyer-in-south-china-sea/2018/10/02/877cc788-c5fb-11e8-9158-09630a6d8725_story.html?utm_term=.7fb20d1b377d

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The U.S. does not recognize China’s claims in the South China Sea. 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. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior. The U.S. views China’s base building in the South China Sea as unlawful and similar to Russia’s incursions into Georgia, Crimea and Ukraine.

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Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines Struggle To Understand China’s Views on Law, Sovereignty

September 29, 2018

Latest China Map Shows Vietnamese Province of Quang Ninh as Chinese Territory

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

VIETNAM UPSET AT CHINESE GLOBE

Vietnam’s government stated its concerns to Ukraine over plastic globes being sold in the country that showed the Vietnamese province of Quang Ninh as Chinese territory.

The state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper quoted the Ukrainian company that sold the globes as saying they were purchased from Chinese traders in Kharkov, Ukraine’s second-largest city. It said Vietnam’s embassy in Ukraine had sent letters to the Ukrainian foreign ministry and the company involved and that sales had been discontinued.

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The issue was reported in a briefing paper produced by a consultancy run by Carlyle Thayer, an expert on Southeast Asia and emeritus professor at Australia’s University of New South Wales.

Quang Ninh borders China and is home to the famed Ha Long Bay scenic area.

China’s military seized islands claimed by Vietnam in the Paracels group in a bloody 1974 battle and the two continue to feud over the chain and other South China Sea territories.

In May, Vietnamese anger was sparked by a group of Chinese tourists who arrived in the country wearing T-shirts featuring the so-called “nine-dash line” demarcating Beijing South China Sea claims, many of which overlap with Vietnam’s own.

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A Taiwan Coast Guard ship, left, and cargo ship take part in a search-and-rescue exercise off of Taiping island in the South China Sea as part of Taiwan’s efforts to cement its claim to a key island in the strategically vital waterway in 2016. Taiwan’s coast guard said annual live-fire exercises conducted at Taiping island in the Spratly island group were routine and didn’t endanger shipping. Neighboring countries were informed in advance of the exercises carried out on last week, the coast guard said. (Johnson Lai/AP)

Taiwan’s coast guard said annual live-fire exercises conducted at Taiping island in the Spratly island group were routine and didn’t endanger shipping.

Neighboring countries were informed in advance of the exercises carried out on last week, the coast guard said.

Taiping island, also known internationally as Itu Aba, is Taiwan’s sole possession in the highly contested Spratly chain. It is the largest naturally occurring islet in the group but has been dwarfed by China’s construction in the area of seven man-made islands atop coral reefs equipped with airstrips and other military infrastructure.

China, the Philippines and Vietnam also claim Taiping, and Vietnamese foreign ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Tra last week had said her country “resolutely opposed” the drill. Tra said the exercises violated Vietnam’s sovereignty and posed a threat to navigation and aviation security in the region, Vietnam’s official news agency reported.

Taiwan’s formal claim to virtually the entire South China Sea mirrors that of China’s, but it has limited its activities to Taiping and the Pratas group to the north.

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Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense shows an aerial view of Taiwan’s Taiping island, also known as Itu Aba, in the Spratly archipelago, roughly 1,000 miles south of Taiwan in 2016. Taiwan’s coast guard said annual live-fire exercises conducted at Taiping island in the Spratly island group were routine and didn’t endanger shipping. Neighboring countries were informed in advance of the exercises carried out on last week, the coast guard said. (Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense via AP)

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PHILIPPINES CONCERNED ABOUT DEPLOYMENTS

The Philippines says it is concerned about possible Chinese nuclear deployments in the South China Sea following the issuing of a Pentagon report warning Beijing could use nuclear energy to provide power to man-made islands.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said last week that Manila was “concerned about the entry of any and all nuclear weapons into the Philippine territory because our constitution provides that we are a nuclear-free zone.”

Roque also cited an Association of Southeast Asian Nations treaty designating the entire region a nuclear-free zone.

“We are concerned about the possibility that any foreign power, be it American, Russian, Chinese may bring nuclear warheads into our territory and into ASEAN,” Roque said.

In its 2018 annual report to Congress on military and security developments involving China, the Pentagon said China’s plans to use floating nuclear power plants to power its islands “may add a nuclear element to the territorial dispute.

“In 2017, China indicated development plans may be underway to power islands and reefs in the typhoon-prone South China Sea with floating nuclear power stations; development reportedly is to begin prior to 2020.”

The report said nothing about the possibility of China deploying nuclear weapons in the South China Sea.

MALAYSIA CANCELS CHINESE PROJECTS

Malaysia has suspended a multibillion-dollar raft of construction projects financed by Chinese loans, possibly stymieing Beijing’s drive to strengthen its hold over Southeast Asia’s economy.

China has sought to downplay the move announced by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on the final day of a visit to Beijing on Aug. 20, but it is still seen as a blow to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature “Belt and Road” initiative.

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Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad

Mahathir said he was seeking support from China’s leaders over Malaysia’s situation as it deals with a mass of debt and other economic problems created under previous administrations.

Mahathir is a vocal critic of large-scale investment in his country backed by loans from Beijing and has tested Malaysia’s ties with China by suspending Chinese-financed infrastructure projects. The suspended projects comprise a Chinese-backed $20 billion East Coast Rail Link and two energy pipelines worth $2.3 billion.

Malaysia has claims to territory in the South China Sea that overlap with those of China, but under Mahathir’s predecessors, took a low-key approach to asserting those in deference to strongly positive ties with Beijing.

Mahathir is seen as possibly taking a firmer approach.

Associated Press writer Tran Van Minh contributed to this report from Hanoi, Vietnam

https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2018/08/27/neighbors-square-off-with-beijing-in-south-china-sea/

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior. The U.S. views China’s base building in the South China Sea as unlawful and similar to Russia’s incursions into Georgia, Crimea and Ukraine.

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China Again Pushing The Philippines To Move Ahead With Joint Oil Exploration in the South China Sea

September 28, 2018

Despite the lack of agreement between the Philippines and China on joint explorations in the South China Sea until now, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said both parties are keen on pursuing the proposed project.

The Chinese envoy said discussions on the possible joint exploration in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea, are still ongoing.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua speaks at the celebration of the 69th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in Makati City.

Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray
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“We haven’t come to a conclusion yet but both sides are serious in the possibility of joint exploration,” Zhao said at the sidelines of the celebration of the 69th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

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FILE photo: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and China’s Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua

Zhao added that both Manila and Beijing have prioritized to maintain peace and stability in the region. The two countries have launched a bilateral consultation mechanism to resolve the South China Sea dispute, foregoing the July 2016 ruling of a United Nations-backed tribunal that invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim over the contested waterway.

“In the meantime, it would be our common interest to explore the possibility of joint exploration, which will be neutrally acceptable,” Zhao added.

“The critics…have been repeating time and again that we are in danger of losing oil and gas. That’s why we want joint exploration and development so that we won’t lose it because somehow, in technology and in financial capability, China, Malaysia and Vietnam have advantage over us,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in July in support of the push for joint exploration despite a sea dispute with China.

Cayetano: No deadline on joint exploration deal

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier admitted that the Philippines and China agreed not to set a deadline on the possible joint exploration.

The Philippines has proposed a 60-40 sharing deal with China on the proposed joint exploration. Critics have warned that the Philippines would at the “losing end” of the deal if this would push through.

“The joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea is not a simple issue as what the Duterte administration has been suggesting. Just because the Philippines will presumably take a larger share given the 60-40 scheme being proposed, does not guarantee that we are going to be on the winning end,” Magdalo Partylist earlier said.

Last month, the Philippines’ top diplomat visited Beijing and met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss economic matters.

“I was also there and had a bilateral meeting also with my counterpart State Councilor Wang Yi and we agreed not to put any deadline but to work on an ‘as soon as possible’ attitude in coming up with a legal framework,” Cayetano said in a press conference last month.

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 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the UN Security Council on September 27, 2018. PHOTO: CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS

Wang was supposed to go on an official visit to the Philippines from September 16 to 18, where he was expected to discuss the possible joint exploration in the South China Sea with Cayetano.

The Chinese foreign minister’s supposed visit to the country was rescheduled due to the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong (international name Mangkhut), which affected both the Philippines and China.

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China has built seven military bases near the Philippines — Knife at the throat?

Xi Jinping visit to the Philippines

Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy is still working with the Philippine government on the forthcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the country, according to Zhao.

Cayetano earlier said the Chinese president may visit Manila by yearend, which would be his first visit to the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in June 2016.

“The plan is that he will come to the Philippines for a state visit but the specific dates and month have not been finalized yet so we’re in close coordination with the Filipino side to prepare for the most likely state visit,” Zhao said.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/09/28/1855512/philippines-china-serious-joint-exploration-chinese-envoy#RWW3irbu1tvHFLsk.99

Related:

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law. Vietnam has been unable to develop its own undersea oil due to China’s aggressive behavior. The U.S. views China’s base building in the South China Sea as unlawful and similar to Russia’s incursions into Georgia, Crimea and Ukraine.

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John Bolton On the International Criminal Court

September 11, 2018

John Bolton gave his first public address Monday since becoming national security adviser, and surprisingly, the topic was not Iran, North Korea, Syria, China, or any other national security hot spot, but the International Criminal Court.

The ICC is certainly not a new obsession for Bolton, who, in the speech hosted by the Federalist Society on Monday in Washington, called his role spearheading the George W. Bush administration’s opposition to the court “one of my proudest achievements” and described the court as a “freewheeling global organization claiming jurisdiction over individuals without their consent.” The impetus for the current U.S. offensive against the ICC is that its judges are currently considering whether to authorize the prosecutor to investigate alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan, including by the U.S. military and the CIA. The potential scenario of Americans being prosecuted by an international court for crimes committed abroad is exactly the scenario Bolton and other opponents warned about in the court’s early days.

By  
Slate

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U.S. national security adviser John Bolton speaks at a Federalist Society luncheon on Monday in Washington.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Palestinian Authority has also been pushing the court to accelerate a long-running inquiry into alleged Israeli crimes in the Palestinian territories, one factor behind the decision announced Monday to order the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington. (The United States and Israel are not members of the court, but Afghanistan and, more controversially, the Palestinian Authority are, giving the ICC jurisdiction over crimes committed there.)

For background, the U.S. has long had a fraught relationship with the ICC. When delegates originally gathered in Rome in the late 1990s to negotiate the formation of the court, many of them wanted it to have universal jurisdiction to prosecute crimes against humanity across the globe, but the U.S. pushed back, wanting to protect U.S. citizens and troops. The court that was eventually established has jurisdiction over crimes committed only in its member states (or those referred to it by the U.N. Security Council). This is what makes it so difficult today for the court to try abuses in places like Syria and Myanmar, which are not members.

Bill Clinton eventually signed the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, in 2000, but it was never ratified by the U.S. Senate, and President Bush “deactivated” the signature in 2002. That year, Congress passed the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act, prohibiting cooperation with the court. Opponents dubbed it “The Hague Invasion Act” for a clause authorizing the use of force to secure the release of U.S. citizens detained for prosecution by the court.

Although not a member of the court, the United States has at times cooperated with it. To Bolton’s vocal dismay, the Bush administration eventually softened its stance on the ICC, choosing to abstain rather than veto a referral of allegations of war crimes in Darfur, Sudan, to the court. The Obama administration expanded the level of cooperation, offering rewards for suspects wanted by the court and voting to refer the situation in Libya under Muammar Qaddafi to the court. Judging by Monday’s remarks, that level of cooperation is not going to continue under Trump.

The actual policy measures Bolton announced in the speech sound more severe than they are. He vowed that if the court comes after U.S. or Israeli citizens, “We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and, we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.”

However, these are more or less the measures already laid out with the 2002 ASPA law. As David Bosco, a professor at Indiana University and the author of Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics, told me, “It sounded dramatic, but it’s actually not much of a change. I thought it was interesting that he talked only about working within the bounds of existing legislation and didn’t seem to be calling on Congress to take up any additional legislation. I think what he did here was to try to take existing restrictions and frame them as dramatically as possible.”

Most of the speech was a familiar litany of Bolton’s objections to the court, again framed for maximum drama. He ominously warned the audience:

[The ICC] claims “automatic jurisdiction,” meaning that it can prosecute individuals even if their own governments have not recognized, signed, or ratified the treaty. Thus, American soldiers, politicians, civil servants, private citizens, and even all of you sitting in the room today, are purportedly subject to the court’s prosecution should a party to the Rome Statute or the Chief Prosecutor suspect you of committing a crime within a state or territory that has joined the treaty.

This is technically true. If you, a U.S. citizen, go to another country and become accused of a crime against humanity, and that country’s government decides that, rather than prosecute you itself, it will refer your case to the ICC, then yes, you could find yourself on the docket at the Hague facing judges elected by an international body rather than the U.S. government. Then again, I never got to vote for anyone in the Canadian government, but if I went and robbed a gas station in Calgary, the local authorities could prosecute me without anyone kicking up much of a fuss about national sovereignty.

One way to avoid having U.S. citizens be prosecuted by the court would be for the U.S. not to commit war crimes in other countries, or to investigate and prosecute those who do. The ICC is supposed to be the court of last resort that prosecutes the planet’s most serious crimes only when governments are unable or unwilling to. Bolton argued today that the Afghanistan investigation disproves this notion since “we know that the U.S. judicial system is more vigorous, more fair, and more effective than the ICC.” In other words, it’s simply inconceivable that the U.S. would fail to hold anyone accountable for war crimes, an argument contradicted by a number of cases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bolton may frame his argument as a defense of sovereignty, but it often comes across as a Nixonian case for impunity: If the United States did it, it’s not a war crime.

Bolton argued that the ICC is a weak and ineffective institution that is “hardly a deterrent to dictators and despots determined to commit horrific atrocities.” He has a point. Despite his indictment for crimes in Darfur including genocide, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir remains at largeand able to travel the world. Thanks to the fact that Syria and Iraq are not ICC members—coupled with inaction by the U.N. Security Council—ISIS and Bashar al-Assad are shielded from prosecution for their horrific crimes against humanity. As Bolton noted, “Since its 2002 inception, the court has spent over $1.5 billion while attaining only eight convictions.”

Read the rest:

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/09/john-bolton-international-criminal-court-speech.html

No one can ‘obliterate’ Taiwan’s existence, president says on departure for U.S.

August 12, 2018

Vowing that “no one can obliterate Taiwan’s existence”, President Tsai Ing-wen left on Sunday for the United States and two of its remaining diplomatic allies, amid pressure from China to try to stamp out references to the island internationally.

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FILE PHOTO: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen

China, which claims self-ruled and democratic Taiwan as its own, has stepped up a campaign against the island as it tries to assert Chinese sovereignty. Beijing has ordered foreign companies to label Taiwan as part of China on their websites and is excluding Taiwan from as many international forums as it can.

Also, China has also been whittling down the number of countries that recognize Taiwan – now just 18 – with Burkina Faso and the Dominican Republic switching relations to Beijing this year.

Speaking before her flight to Los Angeles, where she will spend one night prior to visiting Belize and Paraguay, Tsai struck a defiant tone.

“In going abroad, the whole world can see Taiwan; they can see our country as well as our support for democracy and freedom,” Tsai said. “We only need to be firm so that no one can obliterate Taiwan’s existence.”

China, which believes Tsai wants to push for Taiwan’s formal independence, has already complained to Washington about her U.S. stopovers, which include Houston on her way back.

The trip starts one day after Taiwan’s state-run refiner CPC Corp announced a deal valued at $25 billion to purchase liquefied natural gas from the United States over the next 25 years.

The deal was aimed at boosting trade relations with the United States by reducing its trade surplus and was also a sign of goodwill ahead of Tsai’s visit, a person familiar with the government’s thinking told Reuters.

Tsai, who says she wants to maintain the status quo with China, will also be looking to reaffirm Washington-Taipei ties and to shore up support ahead of local elections in Taiwan in November amid the escalating pressure from China.

During her U.S. stops, Tsai intends to meet Ed Royce, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, according to two people with knowledge of the plans.

She will also meet with business representatives to discuss how Taiwan could drum up investment and procurement with the U.S., they said.

Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is the island’s strongest ally and sole foreign arms supplier.

Tsai’s U.S. stopovers come as China and the United States are engaged in a trade war, adding to Beijing’s irritation with Washington.

Reporting by Jess Macy Yu; Additional reporting by Yimou Lee; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Richard Borsuk

Reuters

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