Monthly Archives: November 2012

China: Mga barkong dadaan sa pinag-aagawang karagatan, huhulihin pagsapit ng 2013

Huhulihin ng China simula sa 2013 ang mga barkong dadaan sa pinagtatalunang mga bahagi ng karagatan sa West Philippine Sea, ayon sa isang ulat ng Chinese state media. Ito’y matapos magpalabas ang China ng isang mapa na nakatatak sa bagong passport nito na nagpapakitang sa kanila ang buong karagatan ng West Philippine Sea. Umalma si Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban, commander ng Armed Froces of the Philippines Western Command: “That’s a violation of (the rules) over international passage.” Sinabi ito ni Sabban bilang reaksyon sa isang ulat ng China Daily na nagsasabing, “revised regulations allow Chinese authorities to board and search all ships that will enter its territorial waters.” Ayon sa China Daily, ang naturang “rule” ay ipatutupad sa January 1, 2013. Pinahihintulutan umano ng nasabing “batas” ang mga pulis sa Hainan (isang island province ng China) na hulihin ang mga dayuhang mga barko na papasok sa teritoryo ng China na walang pahintulot. “Activities such as entering the island province’s waters without permission, damaging coastal defense facilities, and engaging in publicity that threatens national security are illegal,” dagdag pa ng ulat. Pinagtatalunan ng Pilipinas, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei at Vietnam, ang ilang mga bahagi ng Spratly Islands na binubuo ng kumpul-kumpol na mga maliliit na mga isla na pinaniniwalaang mayaman sa langis at mga mineral. Ang Spratlys ay napapaloob sa West Philippine Sea. Kontrol sa Pantag Shoal Samantala, kino-control na ng China ang Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, at hanggang sa ngayon ay ayaw pa rin lisanan ng mga barko nito ang pinagtatalunang lugar, na nasa karagatan ng probinsya ng Zambales sa Luzon. Tinatawag din itong Bajo de Masinloc, dahil malapit lamang ito sa bayan ng Masinloc, at ang karagatang ito ay tradisyunal nang pangisdaan ng mga taga-Zambales. Nagsimula ang hidwaan sa Panatag nang mamataan noong Abril ng mga awtoridad sa Pilipinas ang ilang mga bangkang pangisda ng mga Tsino na pumasok sa shoal at nanghuli ng mga “endangered marine species.” Nang tangkaing hulihin ang mga dayuhang mangingisda, biglang hinarangan ng Chinese Marine surveilance boats ang mga barko ng Pilipinas, na nagresulta sa isang “standoff.” Batay sa isang kasunduan, kusang umatras ang mga barko ng Pilipinas mula sa shoal. Ngunit, sa halip na alisin ang kanilang mga barko bilang pagtalima, binarikadahan ng China ang Panatag at hindi na pinapapasok ang mga awtoridad ng Pilipinas sa lugar. Mga islang inangkin ng Pilipinas Siyam na mga isla sa pinagtatalunang mga lugar sa West Philippine Sea ang ngayo’y tinitirhan ng mga sundalong Filipino, kasama na dito ang Pag-asa Island na may layong 200 nautical miles mula sa Puerto Princesa City in Palawan. Sa isla nakatayo ang sesntro ng pamahalaan ng bayan ng Kalayaan. Ang AFP Western Command, sa pamumuno ni Sabban, ang nagpoprotekta sa interes ng bansa sa pinagtatalunang mga isla. — LBG, GMA News

US nababahala sa kontrobersyal na bagong passport ng China

Nais ng Estados Unidos na ipaalam sa China ang pagkabahala nito sa kotrobersyal na bagong mapa na nakatatak sa bagong passport ng China kung saan ipinakitang pagmamay-ari nito ang kabuuan ng West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). Naaalarma umano ang mga bansa sa Southeast Asia sa hakbang ng China, ayon sa State US Department noong Martes. “We do have concerns about this map which is causing tension and anxiety between and among the states in the South China Sea,” pahayag ni State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland sa isang news briefing, ayon sa ulat ng Reuters. “We do intend to raise this with the Chinese in terms of it not being helpful to the environment we all seek to resolve these issues,” dagdag pa ni Nuland. Kinondena ang Pilipinas at ng Vietnam kamakailan ang naturang mapa na nakatatak sa bagong “microchip-equipped passports,” at sinabing nnilabag ng China ang kanilang soberenya dahil inangkin ng nito ang lahat ng pinagtatalunang mga isla. Matatandaang nagpalabas din ang India, na may hidwaan sa China ukol sa mga hangganan sa dalawang rehiyon sa Himalayas, ng visa kung saan nakatatak ang mapa batay sa bersyon ng India sa mga hangganan ng kanyang teritoryo. Samantala, patuloy naman umanong tatanggapin ng US ang bagong passport ng China dahil sapat umano ang legal na batayan sa pagiging travel document nito. Ngunit isinusulong ng US na dapat magkasundo ang China at mga kapit-bansa nito sa isang code of conduct para maibsan ang bangayan sa teritoryo. “That’s a different matter than whether it’s politically smart or helpful to be taking steps that antagonize countries that we want to see a negotiation happen with,” ayon kay Nuland. — LBG, GMA News

The U.S. military pivot to Asia: when bases are not bases ·

By John O’Callaghan and Manuel Mogato SUBIC BAY, Philippines @ (Reuters) – From his office window, Roberto Garcia watches workers repair the USS Emory S. Land, a submarine support vessel that is part of a U.S. military buildup as Washington turns its attention to fast-growing Asia and a newly assertive China. The Philippines,  Australia  and other parts of the region have seen a resurgence of U.S. warships, planes and personnel since President Barack Obama announced a “pivot” in foreign, economic and security policy towards Asia late last year. Washington insists the shift is not about containing China or a permanent return to military bases of the past. But it is sometimes tough to tell the difference at Subic Bay, a deepwater port near vital sea lanes and border disputes in the South China Sea that have raised tensions between China and Southeast Asian nations. “Every month we have ships coming. A few weeks ago, we had the submarines, we’ve had the aircraft carriers,” said Garcia, chairman of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, which oversees an economic zone built on the former U.S. base. “They cannot find this kind of facility anywhere else in Asia.” The territorial tensions and the U.S. shift towards the region will be high on the agenda when Obama visits Southeast Asia in coming days. The Pentagon says the United States has “no intention of re-establishing bases in the Philippines. ” But activity in Subic, a breezy coastal city about 80 km (50 miles) north of Manila that has the feel of a tidy American suburb with shopping  malls, fast-food outlets and well-lit streets, resembles a buildup. As of October, 70 U.S. Navy ships had passed through Subic, more than the 55 in 2011 and the 51 in 2010. The Pentagon says more than 100 U.S. planes stop over each month at Clark, another former U.S. base located between Manila and Subic. “It’s like leasing a car as opposed to buying it – all the advantages of ownership with a reduced risk,” said James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. “If you look at Subic, the U.S. will be leveraging Philippine bases and assets, privately owned assets, and all at a fraction of the monetary and political price of taking back ownership of the base. It gives the U.S. the same strategic reach that basing would have done but without all the hassle.” U.S. forces were evicted from Subic and Clark, the last and largest of their bases in the Philippines, in 1992. They revived close ties from 2000 with war games, frequent visits and by helping against communist and Muslim insurgents. Emphasising Subic’s renewed role, South Korea’s Hanjin Heavy Industries, which has invested $2 billion in the port’s shipyards, signed an agreement this spring with AMSEC, a unit of Pentagon contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries, to set up a maintenance and logistics hub to serve U.S. warships. As a Pacific power, the United States has an interest in freedom of navigation, stability, respect for international law and unimpeded, lawful commerce across sea lanes, said Major Catherine Wilkinson, a Pentagon spokeswoman. “Our military presence in the region helps to maintain peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific, ” she told Reuters. CHINA IS NOT CONVINCED Obama’s trip for the East Asia summit in Cambodia, along with visits to Thailand and  Myanmar, comes just two weeks after his re-election. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta – together and separately – are visiting Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia this week. “There is a very clear determination to underscore that this is a significant feature of American foreign policy,” a senior State Department official said on Clinton’s plane. “We want to work with China. We recognize that the Asia-Pacific region is big enough for the both of us.” Wary of Washington’s intentions, China is building up its own military and pushing its sovereignty claims in the region. China, in the midst of a once-a-decade leadership change, views the U.S. pivot as emboldening Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and others in territorial disputes. “Unsurprisingly, the hawks in the Chinese military have the full attention of the leadership and have received a funding boost,” Lanxin Xiang, a history and politics professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, wrote in the latest issue of Survival: Global Politics and Strategy. By 2020, the Pentagon expects to have 60 percent of its naval assets in Asia, up from about 50 percent now. Analysts say they have no details yet of troop numbers but there will be some realignment from bases in Japan and from the war in Afghanistan. As part of the shift, the U.S. military is now rotating the first of up to 2,500 Marines through northern Australia for training and will have up to four Littoral Combat Ships calling in and out of Singapore from next year. “There is no basing. Let’s underline that,” Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr said this month. “The Americans don’t seek it and we wouldn’t agree to it.” The United States already has strategic joint operations in Australia, built and funded by Washington, that include signals intelligence and satellite communications facilities. U.S. ships and planes visit Australian bases on the western and northern coasts to resupply. The Pentagon also has its eye on Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay, an important deepwater port for French, Japanese, American and Soviet forces during the last century. In June, Panetta became the first U.S. defense secretary to visit Cam Ranh since the end of the Vietnam War and said access for U.S. ships was “a key component” of relations with Hanoi. Despite being at odds with China over the South China Sea, Vietnam shows little sign of going further than the maintenance and cargo operations it now allows U.S. ships at the facility. “Vietnam does not cooperate with foreign countries to use Cam Ranh port for military purposes,” Luong Thanh Nghi, the foreign ministry spokesman, told Reuters. BALANCE OF POWER Hardy said there was no real need for the United States to have conventional forces in Europe now, so it made sense to look to the Asia-Pacific region as a major area of operations, along with the Middle East. “The U.S. is rebalancing for very clear reasons – the 21st century is going to be the Asian century – […]