Monthly Archives: July 2013

US Senate okays reso on South China Sea disputes

MANILA – The US Senate has unanimously approved Senate Resolution 167, which calls for a peaceful resolution of maritime and territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. Senate Resolution 167, filed on Monday by Senators Robert Menendez (Democrat, New Jersey), Marco Antonio Rubio (Republican, Florida), and Ben Cardin (Democrat, Maryland), also urges countries contesting ownership of parts of the West Philippine Sea and East China Sea to create and approve a code of conduct to avoid conflicts. “The territorial disputes at play in the Asia-Pacific region today are not about the past, but very much about the future of a region poised to serve as an epicenter for global economic development for the twenty first century,” Menendez said in a statement. “With a long history of engagement in the region, the United States has a vital interest in working with all nations in developing, institutionalizing, and sustaining a rules-based order for the area. That starts with putting in place effective mechanisms to manage maritime disputes that destabilize the region, and supporting and encouraging the peaceful resolution of disputes in the Asia-Pacific maritime domain.”   Read more:

Why does PH need to secure Ayungin, Scarborough?

The rusty BRP Sierra Madre has been an effective deterrence against further Chinese incursion into Philippine territorial claims. FILE PHOTO BY ABIGAIL KWOK (Editor’s note: Jose Antonio A. Custodio is a security and defense consultant and was a technical adviser for a US defense company working for the US Pacific Command. He also specializes in military history and has post-graduate studies in history from the University of the Philippines. He also teaches history and political science at several universities in Metro Manila.)   A little more than a hundred nautical miles from the island of Palawan, a standoff involving half a dozen Filipino soldiers aboard a rusting and grounded World War II- era LST and several Chinese maritime surveillance and PLA Navy vessels is taking place at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Reef). Though this maritime drama is small in nature, with only a tiny motley array of vessels and personnel on both sides deployed there, it does have a significant effect on the current security environment in the Asia Pacific Region. This current standoff followed an earlier one last April 2012 when the Chinese sought to physically challenge Philippine control of Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal). Initially the Philippine government sought to confront the Chinese vessels deployed at the shoal but subsequently withdrew on the assumption that China would abide by an agreement on mutual withdrawal forged behind closed doors. Unfortunately, China reneged on that agreement and instead of pulling out, refused to withdraw its own vessels even after the Philippines did.   Read more:–why-does-ph-need-to-secure-ayungin-scarborough

US assisting Phl in sea patrol – DFA

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed yesterday that unmanned US Navy surveillance planes conduct patrols to help monitor activities in Philippine waters, particularly in the South China Sea. DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said US drones fly over Philippine waters during joint military exercises with the United States. Hernandez said the joint exercises involve the use of P3C Orion aircraft and are aimed at upgrading the skills of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. “Every now and then, we have military exercises that involve US aircraft. One of the primary purposes is to upgrade the skills of the military in terms of maritime domain awareness as well as search and rescue,” Hernandez said.   Read more:

Chinese paper hits AFP move to Subic

MANILA, Philippines – China believes the Philippine plan to relocate major air force and navy bases to the former US naval base in Subic Bay in the West Philippine Sea is aimed at increasing pressure on it and bringing in more outside forces to the region. In a report in the state-owned newspaper China Daily, Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Philippines is building up and concentrating military forces near the South China Sea to target China. “If all related parties resort to military means as Manila has for a resolution, the region will surely become a powder keg,” Li said. Li sees the move as a violation of the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and increases the risk of conflict in the region, the report added. At the 46th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Meeting in Brunei, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the persistence of destabilizing actions in the West Philippine Sea continues to pose serious challenges for the whole region and is a violation of the DOC.   Read more:

U.S. surveillance planes conduct patrols in South China Sea

MANILA – A classified government document seen by Kyodo News on Friday confirmed that U.S. Navy surveillance planes conduct routine maritime patrol to monitor activities in the disputed South China Sea. “(There were) confirmed flights of U.S. P3C Orion aircraft over the South China Sea especially (in the contested Spratly Islands),” according to the document. Last year, Philippine President Benigno Aquino revealed that Manila was seeking U.S. deployment of P3C Orion spy planes over the disputed sea since the Philippines lacks the capability to monitor its territorial and maritime claims in the sea. “We can only do (the) best (with) what we have,” the document says. “The military is aware of its limitations as regards equipment, naval and air assets, facilities and funding to support our efforts” in the South China Sea. Read more:

Biden Says U.S. to Push China for South China Sea Code

Vice President Joe Biden said the U.S. is pushing China to negotiate quickly with Southeast Asian nations on a code of conduct for the South China Sea, an area that’s a “major, major, major highway of commerce.” China agreed during an Association of Southeast Asian Nations-hosted forum in Brunei late last month to meet with the 10-member group in September to develop rules to avoid conflict in the waters. Nguyen Tan Dung, prime minister of Asean member Vietnam, warned in May that miscalculations over territorial disputes could disrupt commerce, with two-thirds of all maritime trade moving through the area.   Read more:

Is the South China Sea, like Taiwan, a core national interest now for China?

Spanning from the Singapore and Malacca straits to the Strait of Taiwan, the South China Sea is one of the world’s most hotly disputed bodies of water. China lays claim to nearly the entire sea, overlapping with the maritime claims of Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines. With sovereign territory, natural resources, and national pride at stake, this dispute threatens to destabilize the region and even draw the United States into a conflict. Exercising sovereignty over the South China Sea would be a strategic boon for China given that more than half of the world’s merchant tonnage, a third of crude oil trade, and half of liquefied natural gas trade travel through the contested waters. And, with its waxing political, economic, and military weight, China seems to be taking a harder line on the issue.   Read more:

Philippines to move air force, navy camps for faster access to disputed South China Sea areas

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines plans to relocate major air force and navy camps to a former U.S. naval base northwest of Manila to gain faster access to waters being contested by China in the South China Sea, according to the country’s defense chief and a confidential government report. Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Sunday that as soon as relocation funds are available the government plans to transfer air force and naval forces and their fleets of aircraft and warships to Subic Bay, which has become a busy free port since the 1992 departure of the U.S. Navy.   Read more:

China transforms reef into naval station

MANILA, Philippines – The Chinese have transformed the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef in Palawan into a forward naval station with at least one ship docked in the area, a senior security official disclosed yesterday. The official, who asked not to be identified, pointed out that since China’s illegal occupation of Panganiban Reef in 1994, Beijing had slowly transformed the area into its forward naval facility in the West Philippine Sea.   Read more:

China’s new ’10-dash line map’ eats into Philippine territory

The Philippines has protested China’s recent publication of a new “10-dash line” map that places sprawling offshore territories it claims within Beijing’s “national boundaries,” officials said Friday. In a  confidential June 7, 2013 note verbale handed to the Chinese Embassy in Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it “protests the reference to those dash lines as China’s national boundaries.” The new Chinese map, which was first published last January by China’s state mapping authority Sinomap Press, features 10 dash lines instead of nine dash lines to mark a huge swath of the South China Sea in a tongue-shaped encirclement as Chinese territory.   Read more: