The Philippines on Friday said it “strongly objects” to China’s deployment of a new patrol vessel in the South China Sea, where the two countries have a seething maritime territorial dispute. Such patrols will not boost China’s claim to the disputed territory where the two countries have had a standoff since April, said Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez in a statement. “The Philippines strongly objects to the Chinese patrol of Philippine maritime domain in the West Philippine Sea,” the statement said, using the local name for the South China Sea. It called on China to respect the country’s “territorial sovereignty and EEZ,” referring to the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. China’s official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday an ocean-going patrol vessel equipped with a helipad would be deployed to the South China Sea, the first of its kind in the area. In late November, China said it had granted its border patrol police the right to board and turn away foreign ships entering the disputed waters, raising fears of a confrontation. Both the Philippines and China have overlapping claims over parts of the South China Sea, a major shipping route that is also believed to hold vast mineral resources. Tensions between China and the Philippines have risen in the area since April after ships from both countries had a standoff over a rock outcropping known as the Scarborough Shoal. While the Philippines has withdrawn its ships, it says China reneged on an agreement to pull out its own vessels. China claims the shoal as well as nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighboring countries. The Philippines says the shoal is well within its EEZ. — Agence France-Presse
By Ritchie A. Horario @ http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/nation/38239-china-build-up-in-west-philippine-sea-illegal-dfa “IT’S a violation of the international law.” This was how the Department of Foreign Affairs or the DFA described the recent move by the Chinese government to continuously develop an expansive area of the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). China has expanded its claim over the disputed territory through the establishment of a new city called “Sansha” under its southern Hainan province. But Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez explained that the establishment of Sansha City was China’s “way of reinforcing their nine-dash line claim” over West Philippine Sea. He said that such move is considered “excessive and a violation of international law” and will not gain validity for China. The tensions in the West Philippine Sea flared up once again when China announced that it will invest at least $1.6 billion for the construction of a harbor, an airport and other facilities in the disputed territory. Apart from China and the Philippines, other countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have standing claims over some areas in the West Philippine Sea. Hernandez further said that China’s move is “giving a lot of concerns among nation states not only in the region but as far as the international community is concerned.” In April this year, China and the Philippines engaged in a standoff when the Philippine navy intercepted some Chinese vessels sailing into Panatag Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal), which is being claimed by the latter.
China’s plan to develop and fortify an expansive area of the resource-rich but disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) lacks merit under international law, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday. Beijing has established a new city called Sansha under its southern Hainan province to politically administer its claimed territories in the disputed waters kin the Philippines. In a move that could stoke tensions anew, China this week said it will invest at least $1.6 billion for the construction of a harbor, an airport, and other facilities in the areas, where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims. “This is giving a lot of concerns among nation states not only in the region but as far as the international community is concerned,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters. China’s recent move to bring all its claimed territories under the ambit of a recently-established “Sansha City” was “a way of reinforcing their nine-dash line claim which is considered excessive and a violation of international law,” Hernandez said. “This action will not gain validity for China,” he said. China’s so-called nine-dash line is a U-shaped map that covers nearly 90 percent of the waters believed to be rich in oil and natural gas. Many have feared the conflicts could be Asia’s next flashpoint. In their latest spat, Asian neighbors Beijing and Manila engaged in a standoff in April this year when Chinese vessels sailed into a shoal called Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), which Philippine officials say is an integral part of its territory. Vietnam likewise protested what it calls increasing Chinese aggression in the resource-rich waters after Beijing tendered bids for several gas and oil exploration areas within Hanoi’s waters. China has frowned on bringing the territorial disputes to any international forum such as the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei are members along with non-claimants like Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Beijing prefers to negotiate with each of the other smaller rival claimants, giving them an advantage because of its sheer size and dominant military force. —KG, GMA News
The government has not yet made a move to redeploy patrol vessels to the disputed Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal even as three Chinese ships remain in the vicinity, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario. “We had pulled out our ships because of bad weather. There were significant storms there in the last couple of months. The president decided at that time to pull out those ships. We have not made a move to restore the patrol of that area,” Del Rosario said Monday in an interview on GMA News TV’s “News To Go.”. Del Rosario recalled that China agreed to pull out its ships from the shoal last June, only to redeploy them two days later. “Ultimately they are now down to three ships in the vicinity of the shoal, but we continue to ask them to pull out their ships completely to be able to respect the sovereign rights of the Philippines in that area,” he said. He also said the government continues to await a response from the Chinese government regarding the reported “new law” that will allow Chinese authorities to interdict any foreign vessel that enter waters claimed by China, which includes parts of the West Philippine Sea. “We have officially requested China both in Beijing and Manila to immediately clarify this reported law…we are until now awaiting the response to our request,” Del Rosario said. Del Rosario reiterated what the Department of Foreign Affairs had said in an earlier statement that the reported new law will affect not only the Philippines but other countries as well. “We want to be able to validate whether the reports of Xinhua and China Daily are accurate. Because if it is accurate, then we are saying that this new law plans to interdict foreign ships. Not only our ships…all foreign ships are subject to interdiction,” Del Rosario said. — Amanda Lago/KBK, GMA News
Chinese authorities’ reported plan to board and search ships that “illegally” enter the South China Sea, which includes the West Philippine Sea, is a “direct threat” to all countries, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Saturday. “If media reports are accurate, this planned action by China is illegal and will validate… pronouncements by the Philippines that China’s claim of indisputable sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea is not only an excessive claim but a threat to all countries,” the DFA said in a statement. Quoting from the official China Daily, Reuters earlier reported that a new rule, which will come into effect on Jan. 1, will allow police in the southern Chinese province of Hainan to board and seize control of foreign ships that “illegally enter” Chinese waters and order them to change course or stop sailing. “If media reports are accurate, then China’s planned action will be a gross violation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC), international law, particularly UNCLOS, and a direct threat to the entire international community as it violates not only the maritime domain of coastal states established under UNCLOS, but also impedes the fundamental freedom of navigation and lawful commerce,” DFA said. Apart from Philippines and China, other countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia claim various parts of the South China Sea as part of their territories. Earlier, ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan noted that China’s plan will escalate tension in the region. “My reaction is (this is) certainly an escalation of the tension that has already been building. And it is a very serious turn of events,” he said. On December 12, South China Sea claimants – excluding China – will hold a meeting in Manila discussing “viable options to move the issue forward” and find a “peaceful resolution” to the unresolved territorial row in the disputed seas. Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia are set to attend the meeting, which will be hosted by the Philippines. Manila and Beijing’s standoff began in April after Chinese vessels were caught poaching in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. Before Filipino authorities can make arrests, Chinese ships blocked their path. — Rouchelle R. Dinglasan /LBG, GMA News