Monthly Archives: April 2014

EU Firms Help Power China’s Military Rise

BEIJING — As China boosts its military spending, rattling neighbors over territorial disputes at sea, an AFP investigation shows that European countries have approved billions in transfers of weapons and military-ready technology to the Asian giant. China’s air force relies on French-designed helicopters, while submarines and frigates involved in Beijing’s physical assertion of its claim to vast swathes of the South China Sea are powered by German and French engines — part of a separate trade in “dual use” technology to Beijing’s armed forces. Chinese President Xi Jinping announced stepped-up production of the Airbus EC175 helicopter in China during his visit to France in March — a deal analysts said could result in technology transfers to the military. “European exports are very important for the Chinese military,” said Andrei Chang, editor of the Hong Kong-based Kanwa Asian Defense Review. “Without European technology, the Chinese navy would not be able to move.”   Read more:

China urged: Listen to your neighbors

MANILA, Philippines – By listening to its neighbors, China can realize that they are not adversaries but “willing partners” in its quest for regional development and stability, visiting US President Barack Obama said yesterday. Asked to comment on China’s growing aggressiveness in staking its claims in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, Obama said the emerging super power should show good faith and commitment to resolve its territorial disputes with its neighbors peacefully. “If China, I think, listens to its neighbors and recognizes that there is another approach to resolve these disputes, what China will find is this – they’ve got ready and willing partners throughout the Asia Pacific region that want to work with them on trade and commerce and selling goods and buying goods,” Obama said in a joint press briefing at Malacañang with President Aquino shortly after his arrival yesterday for a two-day state visit. The Philippines is the final leg of his four-nation Asian tour. “And it’s inevitable that China is going to be a dominant power in this region just by pure size. Nobody, I think, denies that,” he said. Read more:

Obama’s Asia visit shows US sees China as ‘opponent’: state media

BEIJING – A major Chinese newspaper hit out at Barack Obama on Tuesday after the US president said Washington was not seeking to counter Beijing’s influence in the Asia-Pacific. The state-run China Daily wrote in an editorial that Obama’s week-long visit to Asia, which concludes Tuesday, made it “increasingly obvious that Washington is taking Beijing as an opponent.” China’s claims to various islands, reefs and atolls in the South and East China Seas have been a constant theme of Obama’s tour of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. The trip has seen a US-Japan joint statement and a new US-Philippines defence agreement, and the paper wrote that while “from Tokyo to Manila, Obama has tried to pick his words so as not to antagonise Beijing”, his journey was “essentially about Washington’s and its allies’ unease about a rising China”. At a joint news conference with Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Monday, Obama said that while Washington did not take a position on the sovereignty of disputed territories, such issues must be addressed peacefully, not with “intimidation or coercion”. He also said that Washington has “a constructive relationship with China” and has no desire to contain or counter Beijing.   Read more:

China’s funded partylist & communist armed rebels in the Philippines – No to US power

Communist leftist funded by china’s government in the Philippines shout for panic for the comeback of US power and access to the old US Airbase in Clark. “The US game plan is clear. Washington will scare its puppet government in Manila about the possible outbreak of war between China and the Philippines and other Spratlys claimant-countries,” militant leftist leader Salvador France said. In a statement, he criticized Aquino for “playing the role of mascot under the US game plan.” he claimed. “The best way to resolve the Spratlys issue is to first get the US government out of the picture, engage in diplomatic discourse with China and other claimants and junk Washington’s best buy offer of its excess war gears,” France said. Another major leftist, Renato Reyes Jr, criticized the Aquino government’s purchase of second-hand US armaments, claiming the deal was tied to quid pro quo considerations, including maintenance of the controversial US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). The VFA allows US troops to hold military exercises on Philippine soil.   Read more:

Miriam: PH-US deal unfair surprise on Senate

MANILA, Philippines – “I feel as if I have been slapped, or ordered to melt into the wallpaper.” Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago took strong exception to the signing of a military deal between the Philippines and the United States without Senate approval. Just hours after the ceremony, the chairperson of the Senate foreign affairs committee criticized the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) even before copies are released to lawmakers and the public. “This is an unfair surprise on the Philippine Senate which, under the Constitution, shares the treaty-making power with the President. All the while, the Committee on Foreign Relations, of which I am chair, expected that any such Agreement would be signed by the two Presidents,” Santiago said in a question-and-answer primer her office released on Monday, April 28. A constitutional law expert, Santiago reiterated her stand that the deal constituted a treaty, not a mere executive agreement, and requires Senate approval. (READ: Miriam: PH-US military deal needs Senate OK) She said the signing of the deal was a sign of bad faith and “guile.” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg signed the agreement hours before the arrival of US President Barack Obama in Manila. “There was no hint that the Agreement has been downgraded, for signature not by the two Presidents, but only by the defense secretary and the American ambassador in Manila. This contretemps does not indicate good faith on the part of the two Presidents,” Santiago said. “The use of guile in diplomacy should be limited to state-to-state situations, and should not include a situation involving only two branches of the same government.” Santiago echoed the concern of former senators who voted to close down US bases in 1991: that the deal lacked transparency, and that the Senate should not have been kept in the dark.   Read more:

China didn’t know where the Spratlys were

In 1933, the French flexed their colonial muscles and annexed nine of the Spratly Islands. When the news spread, the fledgling and troubled Chinese republic faced a basic problem: It didn’t know where the Spratlys were. A year earlier, the French had staked their claim to the Paracel Islands as part of their colony in Vietnam. The second French claim to part of the Spratlys befuddled the Chinese. As the scholar Francois-Xavier Bonnet of Irasec, the Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia, noted: “These two claims of the French government confused the minds … not only of the Chinese public and the media, but also the official authorities like the military and the politicians in Guangdong Province and Beijing. In fact, the Chinese believed that the Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands or Xisha were exactly the same group, but that the French had just changed the name as a trick to confuse the Chinese government. To ascertain the position of the Spratly Islands, the Chinese Consul in Manila, Mr. Kwong, went, on July 26, 1933, to the US Coast and Geodetic Survey and discovered, with surprise, that the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands were different and far apart.” Read more: Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Three questions for Obama / What Chinese scholars say

Nations’ ties reshape through time. Each side’s expectation needs periodic reassuring. Leaders thus must restate exactly where they stand. Visiting Barack Obama reportedly will bring up today corruption and human rights issues. Noynoy Aquino is to table the strain Beijing is causing in the West Philippine (South China) Sea. Of concern to Filipinos is the clash of Beijing’s nine-dash claim with the UN Convention on Law of the Sea and freedom of navigation. So Obama needs to be asked: • Do you support coastal states’ right to a 200-mile exclusive economic zone and so, as a responsible nation and ally, condemn China’s invasion of Scarborough Shoal and Mischief Reef, which are within 200 miles of the Philippines but 700 miles from China’s nearest province? • What action do you think would make China heed freedom of navigation in the high seas, given that its response to diplomatic calls was unilaterally to impose an ADIZ (air defense identification zone) on all aircraft passing above the East China Sea? • For you, would China’s making good its threat forcibly to evict a duly commissioned Philippine Navy vessel from James Shoal constitute an act of war to activate the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty?   Read more:

Why Aquino calls disputed areas ‘rocks,’ not islands

MANILA – President Benigno Aquino summarized the Philippines’ case against China when he called some of the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea as mere “rocks” and not islands. Aquino, during his press briefing at the Palace on Monday with his US counterpart, Barack Obama, described the disputed areas as a “few rocks that are not even inhabitable.” The Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) 4,000 page “memorial” filed before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is all about the Philippines’ desire for the disputed areas to be officially classified by the international panel as rocks, rather than islands, according to Keith Johnson of Foreign Policy magazine. “On such arcane definitions can hang the fate of nations — or in this case, the extension of economic rights of states to the seas and seabed off their coasts,” he said. “Simply put, islands are land, which entitle their owners to enjoy exclusive economic rights for 200 nautical miles in all directions, including rights to fishing and energy extraction. Rocks aren’t, and don’t,” Johnson said.   Read more:

Philippines-China ties: What went wrong?

“IS this how the Philippines should deal with its powerhouse neighbor?” Former President Fidel V. Ramos raised this question in 2011 following conflicting reports on the dates of President Benigno S. Aquino’s state visit to China. But back then, relations between the Philippines and China were still in good shape. Hu Jintao was then the Chinese president. China was in fact the first to invite Aquino to a state visit soon after his inauguration in June 2010. “It means they were eager to enhance relations with the Philippines,” says former UN Security Council President Lauro Baja Jr. “We should have taken advantage of that.” But in less than four years, relations quickly went from “good” to “seriously damaged.” What went wrong? Aquino had barely warmed his seat when his administration faced its first major challenge: the Manila hostage crisis in August 2010 resulted in the death of 9 people, 8 of them Chinese from Hong Kong. In March 2011, 3 Filipino drug mules were executed in China despite appeals made by Aquino for a commutation of their sentence. Yet these incidents did little damage, if at all, to relations of the two countries. “The case of drug mules, the hostage-taking incident, these are police enforcement situations with almost no foreign policy content,” says Baja.   Read more:

New PHL, US defense cooperation to help modernize AFP — Goldberg

As the Filipino and American governments formally signed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) Monday, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said that the forging of this latest initiative will greatly aid in the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). “It (EDCA) will also support the shared goal of promoting the long term modernization of the AFP and will help the AFP maintain and develop additional security, maritime domain awareness and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities,” Goldberg stated. The Philippines and US governments signed the EDCA Monday, around 10 a.m. at the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Commissioned Officers Club in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. And while the US is prepared to help the Philippines, the ambassador stressed that the US government will not use the EDCA to reopen American bases in the country. – See more at: