Posts Tagged ‘West Philippine Sea’

South China Sea: Philippine President Duterte Wants China Out

June 19, 2018
President Duterte wants China out of the Philippine-claimed areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)
President Duterte walks with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano during the 120th anniversary of the Departmernt of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City yesterday.

Krizjohn Rosales
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) – June 19, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte wants China out of the Philippine-claimed areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), but yesterday reiterated he would not declare war over the maritime row as Beijing is not a pushover that can be scared easily.

Duterte, who has been accused of not doing enough to assert the Philippines’ maritime rights, said he was not ready to sacrifice the lives of soldiers and policemen for a war he could not win.

He also claimed that his administration has protested the actions of China in the West Philippine Sea but did not elaborate.“With regard to South China Sea, what do you want? What kind of pugnacious attitude would I have to adopt to convince the Chinese to get out? If I threaten them or file a thousand protests, which we did, we just did not publish them. We protested actually,” the President said during the 120th anniversary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Pasay City.

He added that China has adopted an intransigent attitude.

“But if you talk to them, they will listen,” he said. “I cannot hit China. China is no pushover. You cannot scare him, and even the United States has shown a little bit of apprehension… There’s always a parity now of arms and that. You know that if you go against China, Russia will join the fray,” the President said.

The scenario, he said, would only mean the explosion of all nuclear bombs and “it’s going to be goodbye for everybody.”

For him, striking a deal with China has benefits, hinting of a possible joint exploration between the two countries.

“We have a deal. I can import the arms, the guided missiles, I can fight better. Because there is a new art of war now, it is not in the open field… China is not my ace. But certainly I can have the arms. Something good will happen, I’m sure, and that will be when we start to dig or anybody else, start to dig the minerals there,” the President added.

He also downplayed reports that members of Chinese Coast Guard forcibly seized the catch of Filipino fishermen in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, saying it was a “barter” and not an outright seizure of fish.

Last week, Filipino fishermen confirmed that Chinese Coast Guard forcibly took their prime catch from Panatag Shoal, a traditional fishing ground off Zambales that is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The fishermen said the Chinese Coast Guard personnel gave them noodles, cigarettes and bottled water in exchange for the fish but these were not enough to feed their families.

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua has assured the Philippines that the Chinese government would probe the incident and would punish “rotten apples” who are guilty of harassing the Filipino fishermen.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told diplomats and officials who have doubts and are having a hard time following Duterte’s foreign policy that “it’s not too late” to have a change of heart.

He praised the work of diplomats, officials and personnel of the DFA, saying it is an agency that never sleeps because of the tasks relating to foreign policies and the protection of rights and welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).  – Pia Lee-Brago

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/06/19/1825891/duterte-wants-china-out-west-philippine-sea-no-war

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Philippines: Senate panels to probe Duterte’s China policy (Follow the money)

June 16, 2018

Is the Philippine government covering up the Duterte government’s subservience to China and neglect in defending the West Philippine Sea. How much has this cost the Philippines — and who is taking Chinese money?

“We will soon conduct a public hearing and I will work with my colleagues, including the committee on national defense and security, in determining how best to support current initiatives to diffuse the tension, while at the same time protecting our sovereignty and territorial rights,” Sen. Loren Legarda said in a statement.

File
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) – June 16, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Two Senate committees will jointly hold a public hearing to determine how effective the country’s foreign policy is in the face of alarming developments in the West Philippine Sea, particularly China’s military buildup and its harassment of Filipino fishermen.

No date has been set for the hearing to be led by the Senate committees on foreign relations and on national defense and security.

Foreign committee chair Sen. Loren Legarda welcomed the resolutions calling for the hearings, saying the Senate, “as an independent body, should assert our role in helping shape the government’s foreign policy.”

Sen. Gregorio Honasan chairs the national defense and security committee.

“We will soon conduct a public hearing and I will work with my colleagues, including the committee on national defense and security, in determining how best to support current initiatives to diffuse the tension, while at the same time protecting our sovereignty and territorial rights,” Legarda said in a statement.

“I maintain the view that diplomacy plays a key role in finding long-term and durable solutions to the West Philippine Sea issue,” she said.

Honasan said while the government is exhausting all diplomatic options to resolve its dispute with China, it should also consider taking part in joint military exercises with the US and other allies to show its solidarity with other nations against militarization and other provocative acts in the region.

He stressed joint military exercises were not meant to provoke hostilities but simply to show China the international community does not tolerate “abuse.”

He cited reports of China’s “aggressive” and “inflammatory” deployment of nuclear-capable bombers, fighter jets and missile systems to some islands in the Paracels and Spratlys, some of which are claimed by the Philippines.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros earlier called for a “foreign policy audit” in the light of China’s continued militarization of the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon dared foreign affairs chief Alan Peter Cayetano to disclose to the public the 100 or so protests that the latter claimed to have filed against China.

In Bacolod City, Vice President Leni Robredo has appealed to the nation, especially its leaders, to take a tougher stand against China’s provocations.

“Why do we have to seek permission from China for Filipino fishermen to engage in fishing activities in an area that belongs to the Philippines? Why are they saying the Philippines’ request should be granted out of ‘goodwill’ when it has already been ruled by the international arbitration tribunal that the area belongs to the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone?” Robredo said in remarks during an event at the Diocese of Bacolod on Thursday.

“We’re not waging war. Protesting doesn’t mean going to war; it’s just fighting for our rights,” she said in Filipino. “How can other nations help us when we cannot fight for what is ours?”

Secret backers

In Zambales, members of a militant group of fishermen have accused the military’s Northern Luzon Command of using their supposed dialogue to talk them out of opposing or condemning Chinese bullying in the West Philippine Sea.

The Pambansang  Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said its members felt the supposed dialogue last Thursday was “a way to pacify the anger and intimidate the fisherfolk from standing against Chinese harassment.”

In an earlier statement, Nolcom commander Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Salamat said the “forum aims to promote safety of life at sea, raise awareness among our countrymen and promote sovereignty over our maritime areas in Northern Luzon.”

But based on how the meeting unfolded, Pamalakaya said Nolcom “seemed to have been commissioned by China to smoothly facilitate their (Chinese) intervention in the country.” The fishermen’s group did not give details, however, to back its claim.

“Nolcom’s job is to guard our sovereignty against any foreign aggressor as mandated by the Constitution, not to create fear and coerce Filipino fishers,” Pamalakaya said.

“Like Malacañang, the Armed Forces of the Philippines seemed to have been commissioned by China to smoothly facilitate their intervention in the country,” said Pamalakaya chairman Fernando Hicap.

It also accused presidential spokesman Harry Roque of using fishermen “to justify and cover up the Duterte government’s subservience to China and neglect in defending the West Philippine Sea” when he arranged for a group of fishermen to be presented to the media at Malacañang.

“What Roque did in presenting Zambales fishers harassed by Chinese coast guards was nothing but to whitewash the incident. He wanted to make it appear that Filipino fishers prefer the present situation wherein they are able to fish in the area unlike before,” Pamalakaya said.

“But the West Philippine Sea is indisputably ours in every aspect and we don’t have to ask for the consent of anyone in order to fish there,” it added.

“Roque obviously wanted to cover up the incompetence of the Duterte government to resolve the sea row and justify its servitude to China which aggressively grabs our marine territory,” Hicap said. Critics said the Palace briefing with fishermen appeared staged or designed to downplay an incident last May where the Chinese seized a significant portion of the catch of Filipino fishermen at the Panatag Shoal.

Navy Commodore Nichols Driz, commander of the Naval Forces North Luzon (NFNL), said not all fishermen were complaining about being forced by the Chinese to part with their catch.

He said closer interaction among the fishermen and other concerned government agencies like the Philippine Navy, Coast Guard, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and local government units (LGUs) would help in crafting ways to better address the concerns of local fishermen.

Rolly Bernal,  a leader of a fishing group, said he hopes better relations with China would give them unrestricted access to Panatag Shoal.

Other problems fishermen had to deal with, he said, are illegal fishing practices like dynamite fishing, poaching and destruction of corals.

Roseller Latagen, 50, said Chinese coast guards would take as much as P3,000 worth of their fish catch in exchange for two small bottles of water.

Latagen said they are only allowed to fish near Panatag Shoal for two to three months in a year while Chinese fishermen, who even destroy corals, are allowed to fish all year round. As a result, they are forced to just fish near the coast where their catch is just enough to feed their family.

The same concern was raised by 72-year-old Angelico Pilon, who could only hope the government would step in to help them regain access to Panatag Shoal.

Floro Delegencia, another fisherman from Masinloc, narrated an incident where a group of Chinese boarded their vessel to get some fish in exchange for bottles of beer and cigarettes. – With Ding Cervantes, Bebot Sison Jr., Gilbert Bayoran

FOREIGN POLICYGREGORIO HONASANLOREN LEGARDASOUTH CHINA SEAWEST PHILIPPINE SEA

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/06/16/1825108/senate-panels-probe-dutertes-china-policy#I5GhqkCDQS4OxYLJ.99

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Philippines: Are Filipino Fishermen Welcome In The South China Sea? — Anybody brave enough to ask China the rules?

May 30, 2018
Cayetano hails fishermen’s access to South China Sea (West Philippine Sea); Alejano questions continued harassment
Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – May 30, 2018 – 12:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano have conflicting takes on the state of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

While the country’s top diplomat said that Filipino fishermen can now sail freely, the Magdalo lawmaker revealed that the fishermen still experience harassment from the Chinese.

Cayetano, in a briefing at the House of Representatives, said that it is a gain for the Philippines under the Duterte administration that local fishermen are allowed to fish in the disputed seas.

“There is still slight harassment but in the past it was total harassment. Before, our ships cannot enter but now they can access the maritime environmental protection area,” Cayetano told the House panel.

While Cayetano sees “slight harassment” as an improvement, it remains a point of contention for Alejano.

Alejano agreed that Filipino fishermen now have access to Scarborough Shoal but their activities are limited.

“In fact, when they fish there, their catch are being inspected and the best fish are being taken away from them there. If you are a fisherman, your time is wasted, your effort is wasted,” Alejano said.

The Magdalo lawmaker also questioned the “red line” that the Philippines imposed on China not to encroach on Scarborough Shoal.

“I don’t believe that we have control over there because they (China) are now controlling Scarborough Shoal so how can you say that we have control?” Alejano said.

Earlier this week, Cayetano said that the Philippines has identified actions that would be considered unacceptable in the South China Sea amid the maritime dispute between the two countries.

Aside from the Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines also warned China against attempting to remove the Philippine Navy ship anchored near Ayungin Shoal.

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Chinese bomber over Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines

According to Cayetano, President Rodrigo Duterte would be willing to wage a war against Beijing if they break these conditions.

“That’s what the president said. If anyone gets the natural resources in the West Philippine Sea-South China Sea, he will go to war. He said: ‘Bahala na.’ He will go to war. So those were our red lines,” Cayetano said last Monday.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO, GARY ALEJANO, SCARBOROUGH SHOAL, SOUTH CHINA SEA

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/05/30/1820041/cayetano-hails-fishermens-access-west-philippine-sea-alejano-questions-continued-harassment#WKcXQs2pWieXK3b2.99

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China has seven military bases near te Philippines
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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.

China’s aggression does not diminish sovereign rights of the Philippines

May 26, 2018
 / 05:14 AM May 25, 2018

China keeps on occupying more territories that it claims as its own despite protests from other claimant countries. It continues building manmade islands and turns them into missile bases, even as it causes massive destruction on the environment.

Jamming devices in Fiery Cross Reef on Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea have also been detected; military planes were spotted on Mischief Reef. This is part of China’s strategy to project its supremacy and advance its economic agenda and military designs.

Image result for Fiery Cross Reef, photos, china, base

China wants to take control of the Spratlys and obviously is interested in the Philippine Rise because of their vast economic resources and strategic location. It desires to secure all methane hydrate for its own and make the West Philippine Sea an asylum for its nuclear-armed submarine. China’s government has already declared that the military installations it has built on the islands will be limited to required resistance necessities

The Kagitingan Reef now occupied by China is also claimed by the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. China’s display of power signals its aggressive designs which the international community has condemned from the day the sea dispute erupted.

Nevertheless, such aggression does not diminish our sovereign rights which the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague categorically acknowledged in July 2016.

The question is, are we allowing China to exploit our natural resources? Are we permitting it to militarize our territories? Our country should be extra concerned with this because such act poses a serious threat to our country as well as to other claimant nations. This particular issue should awaken the spirit of patriotism in every Filipino and unite the nation in asserting our sovereign right to our exclusive economic zone.

The hard part is that we cannot call for war or for a more hard line reaction. China is a global superpower with nuclear warheads and a missile arsenal that could hit the Philippines from the mainland. But if China wants to be respected as a global power, it should abide by the UN-backed arbitral court ruling that invalidated its expansive maritime claims.

We hope China would not threaten peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea nor disrupt other countries in the exercise of their sovereign rights.

ANN R. AQUINO

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/113429/chinas-aggression-not-diminish-phs-sovereign-rights#ixzz5Gd1ccCB3
Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

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

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China Has Harsh Words for U.S. After China Kicked Out of U.S. Military Exercise

May 24, 2018

The Pentagon’s withdrawal of the invitation was ‘an initial response’ to what it called China’s continued militarisation of the South China Sea

South China Morning Post
Thursday, 24 May, 2018, 6:15am

China’s top diplomat denounced a rebuke by the US military while in Washington, the latest test of a bilateral relationship already damaged by recriminations on the economic front.

The US military said it had disinvited China from a multinational military exercise to be held this summer in the Pacific as “an initial response” to what it called “China’s continued militarisation of the South China Sea”.

News of the withdrawn invitation, which broke shortly before China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, prompted Wang to accuse the US of having a “negative mindset”.

Image result for wang Yi photos
During the Obama administration, China repeadedly promised not to militarize the South China Sea. Then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with China’s Wang Yi.

“China’s continued militarisation of disputed features in the South China Sea only serves to raise tensions and destabilise the region,” Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, a spokesman at the US Defence Department, said in a statement explaining the withdrawal of China’s invitation to the 2018 Rim of the Pacific naval drills.

“China’s behaviour is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the Rim of the Pacific exercises.”

The US’s move comes just days after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force disclosed that its highly advanced H-6K strategic bomber landed for the first time on an island reef in the South China Sea, which the US Defence Department immediately denounced.

The inclusion of China in the Pacific naval drills was “designed to help with misunderstandings and to build upon cooperation, which was supposed to help deal with the most contentious issues”, said Oriana Skylar Mastro, assistant professor of security studies at Georgetown University and the Jeane Kirkpatrick Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

“The logic behind these military exchanges has weakened,” Mastro said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

“The US position was that through engagement, China would come to understand that they were better off when the US is in charge,” she said. “I thought that was naive from the very beginning, but now I think many areas of the US government are coming to that conclusion.”

In its statement, the Pentagon said the US had “strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands (Nansha in Mandarin) region of the South China Sea”.

“China’s landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island (Yongxing in Mandarin) has also raised tensions,” the statement said.

Image result for H-6K bombers, photos

Speaking in a joint press conference with Pompeo, Wang said: “We find the Pentagon’s decision today of dis-invitation a very non-constructive move. It is also a decision that’s taken lightly. It’s unhelpful to the mutual understanding between China and the US.”

Pompeo said in the briefing that he had raised the US “concern” about China’s activities in the South China Sea with Wang, and that he would leave decisions about international military exercises up to the Defence Department.

Hong Kong-based military observer Song Zhongping said that China’s landing of the H-6K bomber on Woody Island was aimed at strengthening China’s military presence in the region after US B-52 bombers flew there during a so-called routine training mission in April, flights described by Beijing as a “provocative move”.

The US has called on China to remove the military systems immediately and reverse course on the militarisation of disputed South China Sea features, the Pentagon said.

China is “using techniques and tools below the threshold of armed conflict as a way to coerce the behaviour of other countries and ultimately be able to establish its claims [in the South China Sea], whether or not they are consistent with international law”, Evan Medeiros, the managing director of Asia at the Eurasia Group, said this week in a panel discussion organised by the National Committee on US-China Relations.

“That has generated a lot of reaction on the part of America and East Asia and it’s intensified the security dilemma,” said Medeiros, who served as special assistant to former president Barack Obama and as an Obama-era senior director for Asian affairs at the White House’s National Security Council (NSC).

“While I’ve often thought the US-China security relationship was best characterised as a low-intensity security dilemma, I think it’s inevitable that it’s moving into a period of high-intensity security dilemma and that’s only going to increase in the next five to 10 years,” he said.

The PLA Navy had been invited in May 2017 to take part in this year’s Rim of the Pacific exercises. The world’s largest international naval exercise, it is held biennially in the summer months of even-numbered years in the waters around the Hawaiian islands and southern California.

Twenty-six nations originally were to participate in the drill, which usually lasts a couple of weeks. China has taken part twice. In 2016, its navy dispatched five ships and 1,200 personnel to the exercises.

Earlier this month, the White House had said it was prepared to take measures against the militarisation of the South China Sea, after Beijing reportedly installed new missiles on outposts in the Spratlys, which are also claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines.

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In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. The China Daily newspaper reported Saturday, May 19, 2018 that People’s Liberation Army Air Force conducted takeoff and landing training with the H-6K bomber in the South China Sea.

Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP, File

“We’re well aware of China’s militarisation of the South China Sea,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the time. “We’ve raised concerns directly with the Chinese about this, and there will be near-term and long-term consequences.”

US network CNBC had reported that the Chinese military had installed anti-ship and air-to-air defences on the islands, citing sources close to US intelligence.

China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying would neither confirm nor deny the deployment.

“China’s peaceful construction in the Spratly archipelago, including the deployment of necessary national defence facilities, is aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty and security,” she said. “Those who don’t intend to violate [this sovereignty] have no reason to worry.”

The US Navy itself frequently sends warships and aircraft carriers to patrol the area.

“China has to realise that they’ve benefited from the free navigation of the sea, and the US Navy has been the guarantor of that,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said. “We will continue to do our operations. ”

Washington and Beijing are already engaged in high-level dialogues to resolve disputes over a record trade deficit China has with the US, restrictions that foreign companies in the country face in terms of market access, and forced transfers of technology to Chinese companies.

A second round of negotiations between the two countries’ top economic advisers last week helped stave off an all-out, bilateral trade war.

Meanwhile, US lawmakers are pushing legislation that would tighten scrutiny over Chinese acquisitions of US companies, citing concerns that such activity is undermining America’s national security.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2147482/us-disinvites-china-pacific-rim-military-exercise

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

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Above: China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier

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The Philippines says it “owns” Mischief Reef, but there is not one known Filipinos living there. China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines
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US: We have strong evidence China deployed missiles, bombers in Spratlys near the Philippines

May 24, 2018

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

Above: Philippine Coast Guard on Patrol.

Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – May 24, 2018 – 11:07am

MANILA, Philippines — Citing strong evidence that Beijing has deployed weapons and jammers in the Spratly Islands, Washington called out Chinese President Xi Jinping for violating his promise not to militarize the South China Sea.

The Pentagon withdrew its invitation for China to participate in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RimPac), a multinational naval exercise that the US hosts every year.

“We have strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said in a statement.

China’s landing of bomber aircraft on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands has also raised tension, the Pentagon noted.

Logan pointed out that China’s behavior in the South China Sea was inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RimPac Exercise, which the US military considers the largest international maritime exercise.

The Pentagon said that the decision to disinvite China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy from the maritime exercise was an “initial response” to China’s militarization of the disputed waterway.

“China’s continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serve to raise tensions and destabilize the region,” Logan said.

Beijing has insisted that the construction of artificial islands were meant for non-military functions but the installment of weapons on the islands is for military use, the Pentagon said.

“We believe these recent deployments and the continued militarization of these features is a violation of the promise that President Xi made to the United States and the World not to militarize the Spratly Islands,” the Pentagon spokesman said.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, meanwhile, said that the decision was “unhelpful to mutual understanding” between the two countries and urged the US to change its “negative mindset.”

In a joint news conference with US State Secretary Mike Pompeo in Washington, Wang described the deployments as necessary defense of China’s sovereign territory. He compared China’s defense facilities to US military presence in Hawaii and Guam.

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During the Obama administration, China repeadedly promised not to militarize the South China Sea

Washington’s decision to disinvite Beijing from RimPac comes a week before the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier defense summit which will be held in Singapore.

Derek Grossman, senior defense analyst at Rand Corporation, said that disinviting China shortly before the defense summit was “pretty cold” and “embarrassing” for Beijing.

“[US Defense Secretary Jim] Mattis now has real momentum going into [Shangri-La Dialogue] as most participants agree with US position,” Grossman said in Twitter.

China had insisted that the deployment of an H-6K bomber on Woody Island, its largest base in the Paracels, were a normal training of Chinese military.

“The South China Sea Islands are China’s territory. The relevant military activities are the normal training of the Chinese military and there is no need for other parties to over-interpret that,” Chinese Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in a press briefing Monday.

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PENTAGON, SOUTH CHINA SEA, US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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In this undated file photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese H-6K bomber patrols the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. The China Daily newspaper reported Saturday, May 19, 2018 that People’s Liberation Army Air Force conducted takeoff and landing training with the H-6K bomber in the South China Sea.

Liu Rui/Xinhua via AP, File
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China Disinvited from Participating in 2018 RIMPAC Exercise

The People’s Republic of China Chinese Navy multi-role frigate Hengshui (572) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG 106) transit in formation during Rim of the Pacific 2016 on July 28, 2016. US Navy photo.

The U.S. military has disinvited China from participating in the upcoming Rim of the Pacific exercise in Hawaii, a Defense Department spokesman announced.

Citing actions in the South China Sea that run counter to international norms and a pursuit of free and open seas, Department of Defense spokesman Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan said the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) would not be participating in the exercise despite its participation in submarine safety and other non-warfighting components of the exercise in previous years.

“The United States is committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific. China’s continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serve to raise tensions and destabilize the region. As an initial response to China’s continued militarization of the South China Sea we have disinvited the PLA Navy from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise. China’s behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise,” Logan said.

“We have strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea. China’s landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island has also raised tensions,” he continued.
“We believe these recent deployments and the continued militarization of these features is a violation of the promise that President Xi made to the United States and the World not to militarize the Spratly Islands.”

U.S. 3rd Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Julie Holland told USNI News that China had been scheduled to be part of the Combined Task Force (CTF) 175, led by U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL-750) and joined by ships from several nations’ navies, as well as in CTF 171, led by U.S. naval expeditionary dive and salvage forces. PLAN would have brought four ships total, including its hospital ship Peace Ark, as well as a salvage diving team.

China participated in the 2016 exercise despite tensions at the time. Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in April 2016, “Our approach to security in the region, as I indicated there, has always been to try to include everyone, so that’s our basic approach. So even as we stand strong and improve all of our systems and stand strong with our allies – and develop new partnerships with countries like India and Vietnam that we don’t have decades of experience with, like the Philippines; they’re all coming to us, in part because they’re concerned about China – but we’re still taking the approach of, everybody ought to work together here. So if the Chinese want to participate, I think it’s the right place for us to be. Come on, and instead of standing apart from everybody and isolating yourself and excluding yourself, try to be part of the system of cooperative nations that have made, as I said, the Asian miracle possible.”

In 2012 China was invited to participate in the 2014 exercise – where the PLAN sent four invited ships and one uninvited spy ship – and soon afterwards the U.S. invited China to rejoin them again in 2016. Despite South China Sea tensions and other friction between the two countries, naval leaders have long spoke of the importance of rehearsing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief drills together, communicating at sea to avoid collisions, and practicing safe ship handling and rescue drills in case of an emergency.

Russia, however, was not allowed to participate in 2016 due to its annexation of Crimea and aggression in Eastern Ukraine. Still, the Russian Navy sent a destroyer to follow USS America (LHA-6) and a spy ship to monitor the exercise.

 

The following is the complete statement by Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan: 

“The United States is committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific. China’s continued militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea only serve to raise tensions and destabilize the region. As an initial response to China’s continued militarization of the South China Sea we have disinvited the PLA Navy from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise. China’s behavior is inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the RIMPAC exercise.”

“We have strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea. China’s landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island has also raised tensions.”

“While China has maintained that the construction of the islands is to ensure safety at sea, navigation assistance, search and rescue, fisheries protection, and other non-military functions the placement of these weapon systems is only for military use.”

“We have called on China to remove the military systems immediately and to reverse course on the militarization of disputed South China Sea features.”

“We believe these recent deployments and the continued militarization of these features is a violation of the promise that President Xi made to the United States and the World not to militarize the Spratly Islands.”

https://news.usni.org/2018/05/23/china-disinvited-participating-2018-rimpac-exercise

Does the Philippines have limited options on the South China Sea issue?

May 23, 2018
Does the Philippines have limited options on the South China Sea issue?
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Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – May 23, 2018 – 4:40pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte keeps on insisting that taking a stronger stance on against China’s militarization in the South China Sea would mean going to war.

Justifying his administration’s soft stance on the maritime dispute, Duterte said that he would have taken a stronger and more “violent” position on the matter but that would “probably be a great loss to the nation and probably end up losing a war.”

As opposed to the president’s pronouncements, the Philippines’ options are not limited to waging a war to resolve the dispute.

DIPLOMATIC PROTEST. Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario urge the Duterte administration to file a diplomatic protest against China's bombers in the South China Sea. File photos by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

DIPLOMATIC PROTEST. Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario urge the Duterte administration to file a diplomatic protest against China’s bombers in the South China Sea. File photos by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

READ: Duterte explains soft stance on West Philippine Sea dispute: We can’t win

The Philippines actually has legal, diplomatic and security policy options following the July 2016 ruling of a United Nations-backed tribunal on the South China Sea, according to an April 2017 report titled “South China Sea Lawfare: Post-Arbitration Policy Options and Future Prospects.”

Legal policy options

Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said that the use of armed force in settling the disputes is out of the question.

Following the issuance of the arbitral ruling, the Philippines has legal policy options related to the entrenchment of legal positions on entitlements, rights and delimitation, re-engagement with China on legal positions and engagement with other claimants and the ASEAN on the same basis.

“Therefore, its only policy framework for addressing and eventually resolving the South China Sea disputes must be based on the peaceful modes of dispute settlement enumerated in the Charter of the United Nations and Part XV of UNCLOS,” Batongbacal said in his article in the report.

Batongbacal also opened the possibility of China changing its position on the arbitral ruling under the circumstances of “a transactional exchange of legal rights for economic benefits or an accommodation coerced through unilateral actions.”

Re-engaging with China on the basis of legal positions would give the Philippines two tracks — re-engaging and improving bilateral ties and the possibility of another round of unilateral actions and escalating the sea row.

“These options present the best suitable means for the Philippines to protect and preserve its exclusive rights and interests in its EEZ and continental shelf, while at the same time, leaving the doors open to possible joint cooperation related to shared interests in the remaining disputed areas comprised of 12-nautical mile territorial sea enclaves around all the high-tide elevations in the Spratly Islands area,” Batongbacal said.

Engaging with other claimant states such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei would result to a clear and common position derived from the arbitral decision, despite China’s refusal to acknowledge the landmark ruling.

As such, the award could be a basis for a unified regional position on maritime rights and jurisdiction in the South China Sea among Southeast Asian countries, Batongbacal said.

“In summary, the Award has provided the Philippines with very strong legal leverage that can be used in its bilateral relations and discussions with China and in multilateral relations with other parties both within and beyond the region,” the maritime law expert said.

So far, the Philippines has started a bilateral consultation mechanism with China on the South China Sea while negotiations on a legally binding code of conduct are ongoing with the ASEAN.

RELATED: Expert: Malaysia, Vietnam also potential partners in sea exploration

Diplomatic policy options

The Duterte administration departed from the Aquino administration’s confrontational strategy when it opted to set aside the arbitral ruling and chose to directly engage with China instead.

Policy analyst Richard Heydarian suggested that the primary diplomatic option would be to engage with China rather than confront it.

“Instead of leading to further confrontation between the (Philippines) and (China), the conclusion of the arbitral proceedings has actually enhanced their resolve to bridge their differences through diplomacy, leading to a decline in tensions in the South China Sea,” Heydarian said in the “South China Sea Lawfare” report.

He suggested that a joint fisheries agreement in the Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing continues to control, would be a “game-changing” compromise.

Given that the Duterte administration prefers avoiding conflict, a mutually satisfactory agreement would move closer to the renormalization of ties between the two countries, according to Heydarian.

“Much of this has to do with the Duterte administration’s pragmatic foreign policy outlook and the realization that translating de jure victory into de facto gains requires careful and deliberate diplomacy,” he said.

US-based think tank Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), meanwhile, suggests that a mediation from ASEAN or a neutral party such as Singapore, would be possible in case of conflict in the area.

“Parties could also call for an emergency session of the UN Security Council to negotiate a cease-fire, although China’s permanent seat on the Council could limit the effectiveness of this option,” the think tank said.

RELATED: Vietnam asks China to withdraw missiles from South China Sea

Security policy options

Rommel Banlaoi, chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, said that the South China Sea dispute is not only a legal issue but also a security issue which requires security responses.

“Aware of the aforementioned security implications and the current security situation in the post-arbitration South China Sea, the Philippine government is now pursuing several key policy options, including rethinking its security alliance with the US, strengthening its strategic partnerships with Japan and Australia, promoting strategic cooperation with ASEAN members, and engaging China constructively in functional areas and on non-traditional security issues,” Banlaoi said.

While the arbitral award gave the Philippines legal victory, the ruling also had security implications such as the protection of Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal, securing the country’s gas and oil exploration projects in Reed Bank and ensuring the safety of Filipino troops in the Kalayaan Island Group.

Think tank CFR also suggested that military-to-military communication would reduce the escalation of conflict over the South China Sea.

“Communication mechanisms like military hotlines to manage maritime emergencies, similar to the ones set up by China and Japan, China and Vietnam, and China and ASEAN, could be established among all claimants,” the CFR said.

In case conflict involving the Philippines would arise, the United States would be obligated to consider military action under the Mutual Defense Treaty.

The think tank, however, noted that Washington’s defense commitment to Tokyo is stronger than its commitment to Manila.

“Under its treaty obligations, the United States would have to defend Japan in the case of an armed attack; the US-Philippine treaty holds both nations accountable for mutual support in the event of an ‘armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of the Parties,'” the CFR said.

The US has been openly calling out China’s expansive reclamation activities and has conducted freedom of navigation operations in the contested waterway to display its military might.

PHILIPPINE SOVEREIGNTY, SOUTH CHINA SEA, WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/05/23/1817927/does-philippines-have-limited-options-south-china-sea-issue#6skPGD1KlKKWZ3qA.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.

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Above: China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier

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The Philippines says it “owns” Mischief Reef, but there is not one known Filipinos living there. China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines
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Philippines: President Duterte “destabilizing himself,” with China remarks — “Duterte’s statement betrays his paranoia about the state of affairs in his own country.”

May 16, 2018
Duterte’s son Sebastian and special assistant Bong Go rode a jet ski through the waters of Casiguran Bay in Aurora in an attempt to assert the country’s claim over Philippine Rise. Casiguran Bay is only the jumpoff point to Philippine Rise but is still far away from the undersea region itself.
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Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – May 16, 2018 – 12:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — In response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks that China would not allow him to be ousted, Sen. Antonio Trillanes reminded the president that no one is trying to kick him out.

“No one is trying to kick him out; he is doing the destabilizing all by himself,” Trillanes said in a statement released Wednesday.

Trillanes also expressed disbelief over Duterte’s claims that China would protect the Philippines in case a conflict broke out in the region.

RELATED: Duterte: China has assured me it will not allow Philippines to be destroyed

Duterte made the statement on Tuesday during the sendoff ceremony for the Filipino scientists who would conduct a research in Benham or Philippine Rise.

“The assurances of [President] Xi Jinping were very encouraging. Eh, they are there. ‘We will not allow you to be taken out from your office, and we will not allow the Philippines to go to the dogs,'” Duterte said, quoting Xi.

The president also said that his Chinese counterpart assured him that Beijing would support Manila in case a conflict broke out in the region.

“China will never allow the Philippines to be destroyed. ‘We will be there if you need us,'” Duterte said.

Trillanes said that he does not believe Beijing would say this as “they know that they don’t have the power to stop any leadership change from happening.”

“But, more importantly, Duterte’s statement betrays his paranoia about the state of affairs in his own country,” the senator added.

Aside from sending off an all-Filipino team to Philippine Rise, Duterte also led the commemoration of the first anniversary of the renaming of the underwater plateau.

In his speech, Duterte also insisted that the Philippines has not given up its sovereignty rights over certain areas in the West Philippine Sea.

RELATED: Jet ski cruise through Philippine Rise moves closer to shore

Duterte’s son Sebastian and special assistant Bong Go rode a jet ski through the waters of Casiguran Bay in Aurora in an attempt to assert the country’s claim over Philippine Rise. Casiguran Bay is only the jumpoff point to Philippine Rise but is still far away from the undersea region itself.

Benham or Philippine Rise, located in the eastern seaboard, is also uncontested contrary to the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea, where Beijing has installed missile systems and military facilities.

ANTONIO TRILLANES IV, BENHAM RISE, PHILIPPINE RISE, PHILIPPINES-CHINA RELATIONS, RODRIGO DUTERTE, SOUTH CHINA SEA, WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/05/16/1815755/duterte-destabilizing-himself-trillanes-says-after-president-boasts-china-protection#cCB6OA53KRXbVyv5.99

Philippines: A creeping Chinese invasion?

May 14, 2018

China’s sneaky introduction of antiship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles and military planes in the artificial island that it built in a territory that is well within the 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone of the Philippines has rattled nerves among defense and military
officials of our country.

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This, despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s promise to President Duterte that China will not militarize the facility it constructed on the island that is part of the Panganiban Reef. Under the July 2016 ruling of the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rights over this area that we call the West Philippine Sea [South China Sea].

Consider, too, that China has given Chinese names to five undersea features in the Philippine Rise (Benham Rise), which is indisputably in Philippine territory. Could this be a prelude to a future claim on this area?

These developments heighten a growing xenophobia among Filipinos about the unabated influx of Chinese nationals. There is palpable wariness about a silent infiltration of the country by lawless and undesirable Chinese nationals. There are also disconcerting talks about thousands of Chinese troops furtively dispersed throughout the country, and the continuing mysterious entry of more Chinese, also suspected as military infiltrators. If true, are they here for some sinister reasons?

There are also intriguing speculations about large numbers of Chinese in Metro Manila who do not interact with the locals, live in places exclusive only to them, are provided with transport vehicles and eat in dining places operated by
fellow Chinese.

Only recently, an impudent Chinese chef named Wang Yongbin mauled Filipino waitress Rutchel Taer just because she dared eat a piece of chicharon. It turns out that Wang is an undocumented alien who has no passport or work permit and does not speak English or Filipino.

Have we now become a haven for illegal Chinese entrants? Witness the discovery in 2016 of 1,316 Chinese nationals working without permits in a gambling establishment set up by a Chinese casino operator in Clark, Pampanga. The case exploded into a shameful scandal when two immigration officials allegedly extorted P50 million from the
operator for the release of the detained aliens.

To stay covert, they have now fanned out to the provinces. Last January, authorities nabbed 153 Chinese and Taiwanese suspects in Ilocos Sur and Las Piñas. They were engaged in telecom fraud, preying on rich people in mainland China, posing as police officers, prosecutors and judges investigating the victims for some alleged crimes. To avoid charges, the victims were told to transfer huge amounts to certain bank accounts. In the same month, 81 more were arrested in Makati for violating immigration laws. Several turned out to be wanted in China.

Last month, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency arrested four Chinese operating a clandestine shabu lab in Batangas. Arrests were also made in Cavite.

In disputed maritime areas, in artificial islands and in many other places in our country, it looks like we will have to contend with this creeping Chinese invasion.

So don’t be shocked if one day, Xi Jinping jet-skis his way to the Pasig River to plant the
Chinese flag in Malacañang!

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/113154/creeping-chinese-invasion#ixzz5FSwRfvta
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South China Sea: China’s missiles technically directed at everyone

May 8, 2018

China has installed surface to air missiles and anti-ship missiles on islands it occupies but doesn’t legally own in the South China Sea

This March 11, 2017 satellite image shows China’s hardened shelters with retractable roofs for mobile missile launchers on Mischief Reef, which is well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

AMTI/CSIS via DigitalGlobe, File

 

China’s missiles technically directed at everyone — Hilbay
Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – May 8, 2018 – 12:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — Contrary to the government’s assurances that Beijing’s weapons on the Spratly Islands are not directed to the Philippines, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay stressed that the missiles are technically directed at everyone.

Hilbay, in a television interview, said that it was false to say that the missile system of China was not directed at the Philippines, the closest country where the weapons are installed.

“It’s technically directed at everyone within the range of that missile system and we’re nearest to the range of that missile system and so it is, in fact, directed at us,” Hilbay told ANC’s Early Edition on Tuesday.

RELATED: ‘To verify’ or ‘can’t verify?’ Malacañang shifts rhetoric on Chinese missiles

The former solicitor general also warned that China has a “history of dishonesty” over its actions in the South China Sea.

China’s militarization activities in the area are well within the Philippines’ backyard as Mischief Reef, one of Beijing’s “big three” islands, is within Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

“When China started reclaiming or took over those areas and the started building an island, they said that this was for civilian purposes, non-military, this was for weather purposes, for the protection of the fishermen. Now you realize that they have militarized the area,” Hilbay said.

He added that China has no right to reclaim and militarize Mischief Reef as it is part of the country’s EEZ, as ruled upon by the United Nations-backed tribunal in the Philippines versus China arbitration.

Considering the matter as a geopolitical issue is also a wrong characterization of the problem as it places the Philippines in an area of weakness.

“Our area of strength is legal precisely because we have won the case and so even before we go to the geopolitical aspects of the problem we should always keep in mind that there is a legal advantage that we have here,” Hilbay said.

Hilbay pointed out that the Senate and the House of Representatives should continue its investigations into the matter.

The government ought to inform the public on what is going on given the extent of China’s militarization and its potential effect to the country and the Filipino people.

“The government is not doing anything. If at all it’s stepping back, stepped back over and over again and we now know for a fact that the policy of total friendliness is not work to our advantage,” Hilbay said.

Meanwhile, Malacañang had admitted that the government does not have the technology to verify China’s installation of missile systems in the Spratly Islands.

“Well I had a talk with the security — National Security Adviser (Germogenes Esperon) and he told me that there’s a technology that we need that we still don’t have to be able to verify it for ourselves,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Beijing, on the other hand, already confirmed this and insisted that the deployments were not directed at anyone.

“The relevant deployment targets no one. Anyone with no invasive intention will find no reason to worry about this,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

FLORIN HILBAY, MISCHIEF REEF, SOUTH CHINA SEA, SPRATLY ISLANDS, WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/05/08/1813314/chinas-missiles-technically-directed-everyone-hilbay#bzWJFPRvik1vCc1G.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.

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