Monthly Archives: October 2013

PH counsel for China sea dispute a ‘lawyer’s lawyer’

MANILA – The counsel who will represent the Philippines in its maritime arbitration case against China is a “lawyer’s lawyer.” At a forum in New York, Ambassador Libran Cabactulan said Paul Reichler has a reputation of being the preferred lawyer of sovereign states. Cabactulan is the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations. “Reichler is a top-ranked international lawyer with extensive experience representing sovereign countries before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, among others,” he said. Read more:

PNoy cannot ignore UNCLOS remedy

The complaint for arbitration against the People’s Republic of China filed with the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea is mainly to defend the Philippine’s sovereign rights over its continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, and to reserve the right to request for provisional measures should these become necessary. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which both the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China are states parties, determines the legal order of the oceans and seas and defines the maritime areas of coastal states. Under UNCLOS, coastal states are entitled to have the following maritime areas as defined therein: territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf.   Read more:

Proceedings on PH case vs China going much faster – report

MANILA, Philippines – The decision of the Arbitral Tribunal on the maritime dispute case between the Philippines and China may come “a lot faster”  because of China’s refusal to participate in the proceedings, the Philippines lead counsel said in an interview with a newspaper in the United States. “Arbitrations under the Law of the Sea Convention have normally taken between three and five years from beginning to end. However, in all those cases, there were two parties fighting it out,” lawyer Paul Reichler said in an exclusive interview with the Wall Street Journal last October 15. “The proceedings will go a lot faster in this case if China holds to its current position not to actively participate,” he said. Read more:

Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea

The Philippines’ SCS strategy, meanwhile, is motivated by a perceived Chinese westward push at its expense. Despite long administering the largest features in the Spratlys, Manila’s military capabilities are limited. The occupation of Mischief Reef came about two years after the removal of the U.S. bases, and marked the point at which the much talked-about “China threat” became a reality. Since then, Beijing has intensified its fortifications and naval presence in the area. As a militarily disadvantaged state, Manila’s fallback rested on its 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the U.S.. But warming Sino-U.S. relations, especially on the economic front, may put limits on what Manila can expect from its traditional ally. The fear that a Sino-U.S. understanding on the SCS, wherein Washington tacitly acquiesces to Beijing consolidating its position in the semi-enclosed sea, may also become an emerging consideration, making it imperative for the Philippines to diversify its security partners to give it more room for independent action. Nonetheless, the U.S. remains important to the Philippines for trade and security, despite the ups and downs in relations. Manila closed the U.S. bases in Subic and Clark in 1991 but allowed U.S. forces to come back in 1999 through the Visiting Forces Agreement, and has since been a major ally in the war against terrorism. Manila is a natural partner in Washington’s rebalancing strategy. The Philippines is also strengthening ties with Japan, which has its own disputes with China, in the East China Sea.  This power web can help the Philippines absorb retaliatory measures from China, and as such may have emboldened Manila to take a stand against Beijing. Read more:

China and The Art of (losing) War

HONG KONG — There’s no question that Sun Tzu’s “Art of War” is a brilliant strategy manual. Everyone from Oracle’s Larry Ellison to the New England Patriots’ Coach Belichick has cited the ancient general’s maxims. Even Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf was a Sun Tzu devotee. But when it comes to China’s foreign policy, Sun Tzu’s theories is leading China astray. That’s one of the intriguing arguments put forward by Edward Luttwak, a China expert and military strategist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in his new book, “The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy.” Luttwak argues that by bullying its neighbors and resorting too often to deception, China is suffering the shortcomings of ancient strategic ideas. These practices, he says, have generated resentment toward China. With a recent Pew Poll showing that only 5 percent of Japanese and 37 percent of Americans have a positive view of China — down 24 and 14 percentage points, respectively, from previous surveys — it’s clear that something is wrong with China’s diplomacy. In a conversation with GlobalPost, Luttwak explains why he thinks Chinese leaders would be wise to shed Sun Tzu’s theories if they want to build better relations with the outside world. (The interview has been edited and condensed by GlobalPost.)   Read more:

China has territorial rows in South China Sea, too

TOKYO: Cam Ranh Bay, in southern Vietnam on the South China Sea, is a good natural harbor. Its mouth is about one kilometer wide so the harbor is somewhat protected from waves. The bay was one of the key Soviet strongholds during the Cold War. The Vietnamese military has a base on the bay to engage in patrol and surveillance activities over islands, such as the Spratlys, over which Vietnam is in a territorial dispute with China. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan claim sovereignty over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, while Vietnam and Taiwan also claim sovereignty over the Paracel Islands. Read more at:

EU has ‘vital interest’ in open, secure West Philippine Sea, says official

BRUSSELS—The European Union has a “vital interest” in a secure and open maritime trade routes even as it expressed alarm at the escalating tension in the South China Sea. “As far as maritime security is concerned, I strongly believe that the EU has a vital interest in a securre, open and clean maritime environment that allows the free passage of commerce and people,” said Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders at the opening Tuesday of the EU-Asean forum on regional integration here.‎ Viewed in Asia as a “soft power”,  Reynders said EU needs to assume a global role as a “force of stability.”‎ Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Is this a rock or an island? The tiny differences that could define a region

Recent attempts by China to challenge territorial rights in the East China Sea are the latest chapters in an ongoing story of two heavily contested parts of the western Pacific Ocean. The East and South China Seas have become flashpoints for trouble between a host of neighbouring countries, and experts worry that the chances for peaceful solutions may be dwindling. The South China Sea, which washes up against the coastlines of Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and China, contains more than 250 small islands, atolls, shoals, reefs and sandbars. While the islands and rocks themselves have no intrinsic value, Dr Ian Storey, a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said sovereignty is contested for three main reasons. ‘First of all, the issue of ownership or sovereignty has become a lightning rod for nationalists who don’t want their governments to give up their claims in the South China Sea, and this is particularly true in Vietnam and China,’ he said.   Read more:

Philippines Takes China’s Sea Claims to Court

Paul Reichler, a Washington-based lawyer, has spent much of his career representing small countries against big ones: Nicaragua versus the U.S.; Georgia versus Russia; Mauritius versus the U.K., Bangladesh versus India. His first big victory made headlines in the 1980s when the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that U.S. support for Contra rebels trying to overthrow the left-wing Sandinista government of Nicaragua violated international law. That is one reason to pay attention to the case he launched this year at a United Nations arbitration body: the Philippines versus China.   Read more:

American Paralysis and Troubles in the South China Sea: A Primer on the Philippines-China Arbitration

In response to the government shutdown at home, President Obama decided last week to cancel his planned participation in a series of Asian and Pacific summits. Unsurprisingly, the decision has provoked considerable consternation abroad as the United States’ allies fret about American dependability, particularly in the shadow of a rising and increasingly assertive China. Perhaps the most alarmed of Washington’s friends is the Philippines, which views President Obama’s absence from the East Asia Summit (EAS) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings as a significant blow to the American commitment to re-balancing toward Asia (and, arguably, against China) that President Obama has previously pledged. President Obama’s cancellation is particularly important in light of the legal battle being waged by Manila against Chinese encroachments in the South China Sea. Given the importance of this ongoing arbitration, we felt that the occasion presented the perfect opportunity for a brief primer on developments in the region.   Read more: