Posts Tagged ‘West Philippine Sea’

South China Sea: Why the contested waterway is so strategically important.

August 11, 2017

The South China Sea has long been a source of territorial disputes between several Asian countries. DW takes a look at who owns what, and why the contested waterway is so strategically important.

Südchinesisches Meer Spratly-Inseln (Reuters/E. de Castro)

Who is claiming territory?

China, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims to the South China Sea – one of the most important trade routes in the world.

Powerhouse China has the biggest claim by far. It has demarcated an extensive area of the sea with a so-called “nine-dash line” that first appeared on Chinese maps in the late 1940s. The Paracel and Spratly Island chains, as well as dozens of rocky outcrops and reefs, fall within this area. These bits of land are highly contested, mainly because they are believed to be surrounded by large oil and gas deposits.

The Spratly Islands, for example, are claimed in full by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and in part by Malaysia and the Philippines. The Paracel chain is claimed by Vietnam, China and Taiwan.

Graphic showing Chinese claims and disputed islands in the South China Sea

These competing claimants argue that China’s self-crafted line is unlawful because it appears to extend far beyond the limits set by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which gives states an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) up to 200 nautical miles from their coastline. Although other nations can pass through, states have sole rights over all natural resources in their EEZ. They only have full sovereignty in territorial waters 12 nautical miles from their coastline.

Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan have carried out significant construction on the islands they claim. In recent years, China has also sought to bolster its territorial control by building on the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos. Satellite images from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) show that Beijing has taken significant steps to militarize the islands, equipping them with runways, ports, radar facilities, anti-aircraft guns and weapons systems.

US destroyer in the South China Sea

The United States has challenged China’s territorial claims by sailing close to disputed islands

Why is the sea important?

An escalation in the conflict over territory in the South China Sea could have global consequences, given that more than $5 trillion (4.25 trillion euros) in traded goods and a third of all maritime traffic worldwide passes through its waters each year.

The sea covers about 3,500,000 square kilometers (1,400,000 square miles) and is a main route connecting Pacific and Indian Ocean ports.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, about 80 percent of China’s oil imports pass through the South China Sea via the Malacca Strait. Roughly two thirds of South Korea’s energy supplies, as well as nearly 60 percent of energy supplies for Japan and Taiwan follow the same route.

The waters are also lucrative fishing grounds, providing the main source of animal protein for densely populated Southeast Asia. And its floor is also believed to contain massive, mostly untapped reserves of oil and natural gas.

Graphic showing oil and gas in the South China Sea

The role of China and the US

If China secures more territorial control in the region, it could potentially disrupt shipments to other countries, as well as secure huge oil and gas reserves, thus easing its reliance on the narrow Strait of Malacca for its energy needs.

It could also potentially deny access to foreign military forces, such as the United States. The US has maintained that the South China Sea is international water, and that sovereignty in the area should be determined by the UNCLOS.

Washington has been critical of China’s island constructions, and from time to time sends military ships and planes near disputed areas as part of so-called “freedom of navigation” operations. These actions are seen as attempts to reassure allies in the region, such as the Philippines, and to ensure access to key shipping and air routes remain open.China's Liaoning aircraft carrier (imago/Xinhua)

http://www.dw.com/en/south-china-sea-what-you-need-to-know/a-40054470

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 (Is the Philippines just a pawn for China now?)

The ONLY TRULY JOYFUL FACES at the ASEAN conference were provided by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.  (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

 

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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 chose to ignore international law.

Philippines: No reports of island building in disputed sea prior to ASEAN meeting

August 11, 2017
ASEAN Foreign Ministers and their dialogue partners attend the 24th ASEAN Regional Forum in Manila, Philippines on Monday August 7, 2017. The U.S., Australian and Japanese foreign ministers called Monday for a halt to land reclamation and military actions in the South China Sea and compliance with an arbitration ruling that invalidated China’s vast claims to the disputed waters. Mark Cristino/Pool Photo via AP

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines on Friday stressed that it has not received reports of China’s recent land reclamation activities in the South China Sea prior to the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Manila.

The statement came after a Washington-based think tank released satellite imagery that Beijing has not stopped reclaiming features in the contested waters.

“While there have been land reclamation activities that have taken place in the Paracels in the previous months based on the AMTI (Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative) report, the same report did not indicate that such activity was taking place just prior to the AMM,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.

The department assured the public that such reports will be carefully studied, verified and handled accordingly.

READ: Photos disprove China’s claim of halting land reclamation

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella also said that the reports should be verified for accuracy to preserve the trust and confidence among all disputants in the South China Sea, West Philippine Sea and the North Natuna Seas.

“The continuing reclamation and militarization of disputed territories in the waters, if the report from a Washington-based think tank are accurate, these can be taken up by the ASEAN in future discussions. We defer to ASEAN,” Abella said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano earlier revealed that he did not want to include “land reclamation” in the ASEAN joint communique because Beijing had stopped land-filling.

READ: Philippines admits wanting land reclamation, militarization out of ASEAN communique

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also claimed that China had stopped reclaiming in the South China Sea two years ago.

The AMTI report released earlier this week disproved Cayetano and Wang’s statements as it showed Beijing’s dredging and reclamation activities in the Paracel Islands.

In defense of Cayetano, the DFA said that his statement regarding China’s land reclamation activities must be taken “in its full context.”

“In describing the process of discussions during the AMM, the Secretary noted that each ASEAN Member State goes into the talks with both their own national perspectives and the larger regional interest in mind,” the DFA statement read.

The DFA stressed that the position of the Philippines is to always reflect the current situation in the disputed West Philippine Sea. The foreign policy of the country must always be considered, which is to not surrender a single inch of Philippine territory.

“As Chair of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, the Philippines’ primary goal was to ensure that the Joint Communique reflected the interests of the region and the ASEAN consensus,” the DFA said.

READ: ASEAN stresses self-restraint, non-militarization in South China Sea

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/08/11/1727926/philippines-no-reports-island-building-disputed-sea-prior-asean-meeting

Related:

 (Is the Philippines just a pawn for China now?)

The ONLY TRULY JOYFUL FACES at the ASEAN conference were provided by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.  (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

 

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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 chose to ignore international law.

Philippines and Vietnam Have Legal Claims in the South China Sea; China Does Not — Philippine Supreme Court Senior Justice Has a Way To Follow The Law

August 4, 2017
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War never is an option. Diplomacy can fortify the UN ruling on Manila’s row with Beijing. Supreme Court Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio enumerates some diplomatic initiatives, in a presentation to the Stratbase-Albert del Rosario Institute. Third of four parts:

There is no world policeman or sheriff to enforce the arbitral ruling. However, states that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea expressly bound themselves to comply in good faith with decisions of arbitral tribunals created under UNCLOS. China is reneging on this treaty obligation.

The option for the Philippines is not “talk or go to war with China.” This is a false option, and shows a dismal lack of understanding of international law and relations.

First, the Philippine Constitution prohibits war as instrument of national policy. Second, the UN Charter has outlawed war as a means of settling disputes between states. In resolving the SCS dispute, war is not and has never been an option. That is precisely why the Philippines filed the arbitration case against China.

If the Philippines starts a war against China, it would surely lose, and lose badly. If the Philippines is the aggressor, that will violate the Constitution and the UN Charter. The Philippines cannot invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty because the treaty is only for defense, not for aggression. President Duterte’s oft-repeated question – whether the US will support and join the Philippines if we go to war against China – is a misguided question because the US is not bound by the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty to support any act of aggression by the Philippines. If the US joins the Philippines in a war of aggression, the US will also be in breach of the UN Charter.

China itself does not want to start a war because war will give the US an excuse to intervene in the SCS dispute, since to defend itself the Philippines will certainly invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty. China’s strategy is to control the SCS without firing a shot. Those who raise the issue of war with China either do not understand the Three Warfares Strategy of China, or are scaring the Filipino people to submit to China’s designs in the SCS.

The real and practical option for the Philippines is to “talk with China while taking measures to fortify the arbitral ruling.” We should talk with China on the COC, on the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) for naval and coast guard vessels, on conservation of fish stocks, on preservation of maritime environment, and on how our fishermen can fish in Scarborough Shoal. There are many other things to talk with China on the SCS dispute even if China refuses to discuss the arbitral ruling.

As we talk with China, we can fortify the ruling in many ways:

(1) The Philippines can enter into a sea boundary agreement with Vietnam on our overlapping Extended Continental Shelves in the Spratlys, based on the ruling of the tribunal that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. Such an agreement implements part of the arbitral ruling by state practice.

(2) The Philippines can enter into a sea boundary agreement with Malaysia on our overlapping EEZ and ECS in the Spratlys, again based on the ruling that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. Such agreement also implements part of the ruling by state practice.

(3) The Philippines can file an ECS claim beyond our 200 NM EEZ in the West Philippine Sea off the coast of Luzon. If China does not oppose, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) will award the ECS to the Philippines, similar to our ECS claim in Benham Rise where there was no opposition. If China opposes our ECS claim, it will have a dilemma on what ground to invoke. If China invokes the nine-dashed lines again, the UNCLCS will reject the opposition because the UNCLCS is bound by the ruling of the arbitral tribunal which, like the UNCLCS, was created under UNCLOS. If China claims an overlapping ECS, then China will be admitting that the Philippines has a 200 NM EEZ from Luzon that negates the nine-dashed lines.

(4) The arbitral tribunal has ruled that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. The Philippines can initiate an agreement among all ASEAN disputant states – Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines – declaring that no geologic feature in the Spratlys generate an EEZ that could overlap with their respective EEZs. Even if only the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia will agree to this declaration, it will clearly remove any maritime delimitation dispute among them, leaving only the territorial disputes. This will isolate China as the only state claiming an EEZ from geologic features in the Spratlys.

(5) The Philippines can claim damages before an UNCLOS tribunal for the “severe, permanent harm” to the marine environment, as ruled by the arbitral tribunal, that China caused within Philippine EEZ in the Spratlys because of China’s dredging and its failure to stop Chinese fishermen from harvesting endangered species.

(6) In case China shows signs of reclaiming Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines can file a new case before an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal to stop the reclamation because any reclamation in Scarborough Shoal will destroy the traditional fishing ground common to fishermen from the Philippines, Vietnam and China as ruled by the tribunal.

The ruling involves only maritime, not territorial issues. Enforcing it does not mean forcibly evicting China from the islands and high-tide elevations it occupies in the SCS, as occupation of these geologic features is a territorial issue. There are still many commentators in media who fail to distinguish between territorial and maritime disputes, and thus wrongly conclude that enforcing the ruling means going to war with China on the territorial dispute. (More on Monday)

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http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/08/04/1724629/enforce-un-ruling-carpio-lists-ways

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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 chose to ignore international law.

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Philippines: Joint venture for oil with China will comply with Constitution — China: We must stand together vs South China Sea outsiders

July 27, 2017

Philippine Marines on the BRP Sierra Madre, a grounded Navy ship that serves as an outpost in the West Philippine Sea. AP/Bullit Marquez, file

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday assured the public that any joint venture that the country will enter into would be compliant with the Constitution and local laws.

This statement came days after President Rodrigo Duterte said that a joint exploration in the disputed West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea that Manila claims, may be possible between the Philippines and China.

“We will not give up an inch of our territory, and that any deal should have better terms favoring the Philippines,” Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

During his State of the Nation Address last Monday, Duterte said that the sea row is an issue that has to be tackled sooner or later.

The president said that the joint exploration activities between the two countries would be similar to a “joint venture.”

READ: Duterte: Joint gas exploration deal in disputed sea may be forged with China

“When they start to excavate the gas and all. I tell you, it’s going to be just like a joint venture. Para pareho,” Duterte said in a press conference after his SONA.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said that natural resources, such as oil in the West Philippine Sea, should be enjoyed by everyone.

“As very spiritual people, we believe natural resources are blessings from God that should be enjoyed by His people,” Cayetano told reporters.

In a separate press briefing, the Philippines’ top diplomat said that the country will not lose even a “single inch” of territory to China if it proceeds with a joint exploration deal.

On the other hand, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned “non-regional” forces he said are interfering in the South China Sea to stay away from the region.

During his official visit to Manila, Wang said that the improved relations between China, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations are the key towards stability in the region.

“If there are still some non-regional forces or forces in the region that don’t want to see stability in the South China Sea and they still want to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, we need to stand together and say no to them together,” Wang said.

RELATED: China: We must stand together vs South China Sea outsiders

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/07/27/1722039/palace-west-philippine-sea-joint-venture-will-comply-constitution

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China: We must stand together vs South China Sea outsiders

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in Manila for a two-day official visit. Philstar.com/Patricia Lourdes Viray

MANILA, Philippines — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday urged Association of Southeast Asian Nations members to unite against “non-regional forces” interfering in the South China Sea.

China’s top diplomat reiterated Beijing’s commitment to working with the Philippines and other ASEAN countries to maintain peace and stability in the disputed South China Sea.

Wang said that the improved relations between the Philippines and China are the key towards stability in the region.

“If there are still some non-regional forces or forces in the region that don’t want to see stability in the South China Sea and they still want to stir up trouble in the South China Sea, we need to stand together and say no to them together,” Wang told reporters during a press briefing in Manila.

He noted that a progress the framework on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea is taking place.

“This pact shows to the world that China and ASEAN countries have capabilties and wisdom to handle differences between us, maintain stability in the South China Sea,” Wang said.

The Chinese Foreign Minister also hailed the Duterte administration’s pursuit of an independent foreign policy.

The Philippines, a long-time ally of the United States, appears to have moved closer to China and Russia under the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“An independent Philippines will bring the country dignity and standing on the international stage. The Philippines that has strengthened relations on other countries will open up brighter prospect for its own development,” Wang said.

Wang vowed that China will become a “good neighbor” and a “good brother” to the Philippines.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Wang signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening cooperation between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The Chinese Foreign Minister is in the country for a two-day official visit upon the invitation of Cayetano.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/07/25/1721381/china-we-must-stand-together-vs-south-china-sea-outsiders

Philippines President Duterte Thanks China For Free Bridges they Promised

July 24, 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua as he arrives in China for a four-day state visit. Also in the photo is Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Presidential Photo/Released, file
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MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday again expressed his gratitude to China for committing to build two bridges in the Philippines for free.

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In his second State of the Nation Address, the president personally thanked Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, who was in the session hall of the House of Representatives, for Beijing’s help.
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“China has committed to build two bridges to span Pasig River free of charge so that you will be comfortable in crossing Pasig,” Duterte said.
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Duterte stressed that China was willing to assist the Philippines when he visited Beijing to ask for funding.
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The president also said that China may fund additional airports that will be built in the country.
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“We are building new airports. We might get some money from China,” the president said.
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The comments, which were made while the president was talking about traffic on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, the capital’s choked main thoroughfare, were actually a reiteration of remarks the president already made in March.
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Duterte stressed that the relationship between the Philippines and China has gotten better through a bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea.
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The two countries have been engaged in a maritime dispute over the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea.
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“We have cultivated better relations with China through bilateral dialogues and order mechanisms leading to easing of tensions between the two countries and improved negotiating environment in the West Philippine Sea.” Duterte said.
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In 2014, the Aquino administration filed an arbitration case before a United Nations-backed tribunal, becoming the first country to openly challenge China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea.
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On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration issued a landmark ruling invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters. The international tribunal ruled that Beijing violated its commitment under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea upon building artificial islands and installing military facilities within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
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The Duterte administration, however, opted to set aside the arbitration and entered into direct negotiations with China to settle the dispute.
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 http://www.philstar.com:8080/headlines/2017/07/24/1721123/duterte-thanks-china-promise-free-bridges-across-pasig

Philippines’ Greatest International Victory — Document to peacefully resolve disputes by international law — Lost by the wayside

July 15, 2017
 / 05:18 AM July 15, 2017

On July 12 a year ago, the Philippines won a stunning victory on the international front when the case it had brought against China was upheld by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The ruling invalidated China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea: The court said China has “no historical rights” on the area via its so-called “nine-dash line,” and recognized the Philippines’ sovereign rights to fish and explore for minerals in waters within its 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone.

“Having found that none of the features claimed by China was capable of generating an exclusive economic zone, the Tribunal found that it could—without delimiting a boundary—declare that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, because those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China,” declared the ruling.

Not only that. While the court said it would not “rule on any question of sovereignty over land territory and would not delimit any maritime boundary between the Parties” (China and the Philippines), it unequivocally declared that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone “by (a) interfering with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone.”

In much of the international community, the ruling was immediately hailed as a milestone document, a way forward to clarify and resolve, via international law, the bitter disputes that have arisen over ownership and fishing rights in the South China Sea (Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have competing claims to it alongside China and the Philippines). As late as last April, the issue was in the minds of the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States—when it issued a statement backing the ruling, saying it could be “a useful basis for further efforts to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea.” G7 added that it strongly opposed “any unilateral actions which increase tensions, such as the threat or use of force, large-scale land reclamation, building of outposts, as well as their use for military purposes and urge all parties to pursue demilitarization of disputed features and to comply with their obligations under international law.”

That reminder was deemed necessary, because China had not only rejected the tribunal’s ruling despite being a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, under which the arbitration case was heard; it also defied world opinion by upping the ante, constructing military facilities on three islands in the disputed region that have now allowed it to potentially deploy military forces and exercise an effective lockdown over the vital waters.

While other claimant countries have continued to protest Beijing’s muscle-flexing, the Philippines, the main beneficiary of the tribunal’s ruling, has instead chosen rapprochement with China by, first of all, “setting aside” the historic decision. That was how President Duterte worded his rebooted foreign policy, under which the Philippines would be silent for now on its legal claim, in exchange for billions of dollars in loans and financial commitments from its giant economic neighbor. The President sees it as a pragmatic arrangement: The Philippines is in no shape to fight China militarily, and so must assume a less provocative, more suppliant position.

Meanwhile, China’s encroachment and increasing control over the West Philippine Sea continues.

Only time will tell if the Duterte administration’s strategy over this invaluable piece of national patrimony is correct, or if in fact, as Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said, it “dropped the ball.”

Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/105588/ignored-victory#ixzz4msYNTgIk
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South China Sea: Philippines and China To Meet Again This Year — The Elephant in the Room? China’s Claim to Sea Ownership Is Not Valid

July 12, 2017
 / 07:25 AM July 12, 2017

Malacañang said on Tuesday that Manila and Beijing have agreed to discuss “mutually acceptable approaches” to deal with their overlapping claims in the South China Sea, as the Philippines marks the first anniversary of its legal victory over China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on Wednesday.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Philippines-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism would meet again in the second half of the year to find ways to enhance “trust and confidence” on issues related to the territorial dispute.

China claim invalid

On July 12 last year, the Hague tribunal ruled that China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea had no legal basis and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights to fish and explore resources in the West Philippine Sea—waters within Manila’s 372-kilometer exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

“The Philippines and China have reviewed their experience on the West Philippine Sea issue, exchanged views on the current issues of concern to either side, and they have agreed that they will further discuss mutually acceptable approaches to deal with them,” Abella said.

He said Filipino and Chinese officials could discuss the plight of Filipino fishermen who were still having a hard time going to their traditional fishing grounds after these were seized by the Chinese.

“The second meeting coming up within the bilateral … I’m sure items like that will be considered. However, it’s excellent that we are now in dialogue with the other country,” Abella said.

Improving relations

Since coming to power last year, President Duterte has tried to steer the Philippines closer to China, improving diplomatic, trade and tourism ties between the two countries.

In an Asean security forum in Makati last month, Assistant Foreign Secretary Hellen de la Vega said the Philippines had not abandoned the tribunal’s ruling.

“The arbitral award stays. (President Duterte) already said this. The Philippine government has not abandoned it. What he’s trying to say is he would raise it at an appropriate time. So, that appropriate time would have to be defined by him, being the chief architect of policy,” she said.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/913132/manila-beijing-to-discuss-west-ph-sea-dispute-later-this-year#ixzz4mbLuas2q
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The international arbitration court in the Hague said on July 12, 2016, that China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law — making the Vietnamese and Philippine claims on South China Sea islands valid and lawful.

Amid China’s South China Sea Construction, President Duterte has been a passive observer

June 30, 2017
Faced with China’s version of “build, build, build” in the South China Sea, President Rodrigo Duterte is keeping his “non-combative” stance in dealing with Beijing, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said yesterday. PPD/Robinson Niñal, File

MANILA, Philippines –  Faced with China’s version of “build, build, build” in the South China Sea, President Duterte is keeping his “non-combative” stance in dealing with Beijing, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said yesterday.

“We need to reiterate the fact that the President has said – his approach to the situation, to regional geopolitics has always been to come into a mutual understanding and dialogue in order to resolve cases like these,” Abella said during the “Mindanao Hour” program held in Davao City.

While the government would rather leave the matter to the Department of National Defense and Department of Foreign Affairs, Abella stressed that Duterte has made his position clear on the issue – to be “non-adversarial” and opt for “peaceful dialogue.”

“We need to just go back to the fact that the President at this stage has been non-combative and non-adversarial, but has approached regional geopolitics from the point of view of dialogue and mutual understanding and mutual support,” Abella said.

He was reacting to a report of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative – part of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies – that new missile shelters and radar and communication facilities were being built on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Panganiban (Mischief) and Zamora (Subi) reefs in the Spratlys.

The report said the ongoing installation of a very large antenna array on Panganiban should be of concern to the Philippines due to its proximity to an area claimed by Manila.

The facility would certainly boost Beijing’s ability to monitor the surroundings, the report said.

Duterte began cozying up to China right after assuming the presidency last year, purportedly as part of his pivot to China and “separation” from the US, which has been critical of his bloody war on drugs.

He also described his warming of relations with Beijing as a step toward an independent foreign policy.

On Wednesday, Duterte witnessed the turnover by Beijing of a military package worth about P500 million delivered by cargo aircraft at Clark Freeport.

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua also donated P5 million in assistance for families of soldiers killed or injured in the government’s fight against the Maute group in Marawi City. Beijing also donated P15 million to help in the rebuilding of the war-torn city.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/07/01/1715182/amid-chinas-build-build-build-rody-non-combative

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 (Includes links to several related articles)

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The international arbitration court in the Hague said on July 12, 2016, that China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law — making the Vietnamese and Philippine claims on South China Sea islands valid and lawful.

China builds military facilities in Spratlys — Ignoring international law

June 30, 2017
China has built new military facilities on islands in the South China Sea, a US think tank reported on Thursday, a move that could raise tensions with Washington, which has accused Beijing of militarizing the vital waterway. File

WASHINGTON – China has built new military facilities on islands in the South China Sea, a US think tank reported on Thursday, a move that could raise tensions with Washington, which has accused Beijing of militarizing the vital waterway.

The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), part of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, said new satellite images show missile shelters and radar and communications facilities being built on the Fiery Cross (Kagitingan), Mischief (Panganiban) and Subi (Zamora) reefs in the Spratly Islands.

The report said the building of a large antennae array on Mischief should be of concern to the Philippines. Last year, the United Nations-backed Permanent Arbitration Court had awarded the Philippines sovereign rights over Mischief off Palawan, which the Chinese began occupying in 1993.

The US has criticized China’s build-up of military facilities on the artificial islands and is concerned they could be used to restrict free movement through the South China Sea, an important trade route.

Last month, a US Navy warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef in a so-called freedom of navigation operation, the first such challenge to Beijing’s claim to most of the waterway since US President Donald Trump took office.

China has denied US charges that it is militarizing the sea, which also is claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

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Trump has sought China’s help in reining in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and tension between Washington and Beijing over military installations in the South China Sea could complicate those efforts.

China has built four new missile shelters on Fiery Cross Reef to go with the eight already on the artificial island, AMTI said. Mischief and Subi each have eight shelters, the think tank said in a previous report.

In February, Reuters reported that China had nearly finished building structures to house long-range surface-to-air missiles on the three islands.

On Mischief Reef, a very large antennae array being installed would presumably boost Beijing’s ability to monitor the surroundings, the think tank said.

A large dome recently was installed on Fiery Cross and another is under construction, indicating a sizeable communications or radar system, AMTI said. Two more domes are being built at Mischief Reef, it said.

A smaller dome has been installed near the missile shelters on Mischief, “indicating that it could be connected to radars for any missile systems that might be housed there,” AMTI said.

“Beijing can now deploy military assets, including combat aircraft and mobile missile launchers, to the Spratly Islands at any time,” it said.

‘Golden period’

In Manila, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano’s visit to Beijing is timely as relations between China and the Philippines have entered a “golden period of fast development.”

He said the two countries have signed 22 cooperative agreements in less than six months and China has become the Philippines’ biggest trading partner for the first time.

“The agenda is very clear, for the enhancement of relations between China and the Philippines,” Zhao said of Cayetano’s meeting with Chinese officials.

Cayetano, who left for a four-day official visit to China last Wednesday, has met Chinese leaders, including Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, according to Zhao.

“I think Secretary Cayetano is doing a very good job and the Chinese side attach great importance to his first official visit to China in his capacity as secretary of foreign affairs,” the ambassador said.

“He has very good conversations with his counterpart Wang Yi,” he said.

Zhao said the South China Sea issue would likely be tackled during Cayetano’s meeting with Chinese leaders.

“I think this will be one of the topics. You know China and the Philippines have already established bilateral channel between the two ministries of foreign affairs to talk about the South China Sea and related issues, and that China has already been open and we would hope that it would be friendly and candid exchange of views through that bilateral channel,” he pointed out.

In July last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China’s claim to almost the entire South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea.

Despite the legal victory, Duterte has chosen to put the ruling on the back burner, saying he would revisit it later in his term.

The arbitral tribunal’s decision came three years after the previous Aquino administration turned to the court for help to assert the country’s jurisdiction over land features in the West Philippine Sea coveted or already seized by China.

Beijing has vowed not to honor the ruling.  – Reuters

The world is seeing, today, a lesson in how China honors international agreements —  in Hong Kong:

Related:

 (Includes links to several related articles)

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The international arbitration court in the Hague said on July 12, 2016, that China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law — making the Vietnamese and Philippine claims on South China Sea islands valid and lawful.

China hails “golden period” in relations with Philippines — Is the South China Sea Now a Chinese Lake”? — “In the future, in keeping with the Philippines’ needs, we will continue to provide necessary assistance and help.”

June 30, 2017

Reuters

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) meets Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) secretary Alan Peter Cayetano during a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Fred Dufour/Pool
By Christian Shepherd | BEIJING

Relations between China and the Philippines have entered a “golden period of fast development”, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday, touting growth in trade and their efforts to settle disputes in the South China Sea.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has opted to court China for its business and investment and avoid the rows over maritime sovereignty that dogged his predecessors.

Duterte has faced criticism at home for being what some people see as too soft on China over the long-running territorial dispute, but he considers his approach to be pragmatic and says challenging China risks triggering war.

Wang, speaking to reporters after meeting Philippine Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano in Beijing, said the two countries had signed 22 cooperation agreements in less than six months and China had become the Philippines’ biggest trading partner for the first time.

“Our two countries have set up a bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea issue and also a mechanism for cooperation between the coast guards,” Wang said.

“If anyone wants to reverse the current progress it will harm the interests of the Philippine people and that is not what we would like to see,” he said.

Cayetano said peace and stability in the East and South China Seas, as well as the whole region, were a tangible outcome of recent improvement in relations with China.

He also praised Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative to link countries through infrastructure development as “a big idea in a world that is searching and wanting for big ideas”.

China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the waters, where China has been building up military facilities such as runways on islands it has been developing.

The previous Philippine government filed a case in 2013 with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on maritime boundaries.

Last year, the tribunal invalidated China’s claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, but Duterte has put the ruling on the back burner and said he would revisit it later in his term. China declined to recognize the ruling.

Separately, Chinese defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a regular monthly news briefing that China had provided a batch of “counter-terrorism materials” to the Philippines on Wednesday, though he gave no details.

Foreign Minister Wang said the Philippines was facing “severe challenges posed by terrorism”.

“Of course, China will not hesitate in extending a helping hand to our close neighbor, the Philippines,” he said. “In the future, in keeping with the Philippines’ needs, we will continue to provide necessary assistance and help.”

(Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Michael Martina; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel)

Related:

No automatic alt text available.

The international arbitration court in the Hague said on July 12, 2016, that China’s “nine dash line” was not recognized under international law — making the Vietnamese and Philippine claims on South China Sea islands valid and lawful.