Monthly Archives: June 2015

Beijing has raised the stakes in the South China Sea

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has completed some of its land reclamation on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, raising the stakes in Beijing’s territorial dispute with its Asian neighbors. China stepped up its creation of artificial islands last year, alarming several countries in Asia and drawing criticism from Washington. The United States, which has called for a halt in China’s island building, said earlier this month that it was concerned about Beijing’s plans for more construction work, including for military defense. China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing that the land reclamation projects on some islands and reefs in the South China Sea had been completed “in recent days”. China had been working on land reclamation projects on seven reefs among the tiny islets at the center of the maritime territorial dispute involving the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. Read more:

Japan Not Welcome In South China Sea, But US Forces Can Patrol Region, China Says

Japanese sea patrols in the South China Sea are unacceptable, but U.S. patrols there will be tolerated, a prominent Chinese general declared, according to a new NBC news report. The ongoing military dispute between China and Japan that will change the strategic make-up of the region centers on territorial claims over a group of islands that could have huge economic potential. While Japan was not claiming ownership of the Spratly or the Parcel Islands, also referred to by China as the Nansha and Xinsha islands, respectively, Tokyo is concerned about the Chinese Navy’s increased presence in the region and its growing influence as maritime force. Beijing hopes to exert greater control of the South China Sea by building fake islands that already accommodate military outposts and heavy weapons, according to the Pentagon. “As for the Japanese military presence, it is very difficult for the Chinese people and the Chinese government to accept it,” said Major General Zhu Chenghu, a professor of strategic studies at China’s National Defense University, according to the NBC report. “The United States used to have military bases in Southeast Asia, like in the Philippines and even in Vietnam, and they have military cooperation with Singapore, so American military presence in the South China Sea is acceptable to China.”   Read more:

Should PH seek provisional measures from U.N. vs China?

The Philippine government’s protests through media now sounds like a broken record. The United Nations International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea will start the hearing of the Philippine suit against China’s nine dash line map which encroached on territories of the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam on July 6. But even a favorable decision by the U.N Arbitral Tribunal, which is expected next year, won’t bind China which has refused to participate in the legal process. What is left for the Philippines to do then? Two weeks ago, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, who has taken almost singlehandedly the job of educating Filipinos and the world on the South China Sea dispute, suggested that the Philippines should ask the U.N. for a “provisional measure” to stop China’s reclamation and construction activities in the disputed seas. The UN Convention of the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS provides that if a dispute has been duly submitted to a tribunal of competent jurisdiction, the tribunal may prescribe any provisional measures which it considers appropriate under the circumstances to preserve the respective rights of the parties to the dispute or to prevent serious harm to the environment, pending the final decision.   Read more:

Joint exercise in South China Sea reflects Japan’s ‘strong concern’ about Beijing

PALAWAN ISLAND, Philippines–Tokyo’s growing partner in the field of security appeared impressed by the equipment of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force. “We have radar, but they (MSDF) have advanced radar for search and rescue,” said Niccaben Ogoc, 37, a second petty officer of the Philippine Navy, during the countries’ first joint exercise using the MSDF’s P-3C patrol aircraft. The joint exercise was held on June 23 and 24 in the South China Sea using an airport on Palawan Island in the western Philippines. The location of the exercise indicated that Japan also wanted the P-3Cs to impress, or at least send a message to, another country. “(The exercise) shows Japan’s strong concern about China,” a Japanese government official said. China is currently building manmade islands in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in an apparent bid to strengthen its sovereignty claims over the isles, which are also claimed by the Philippines and other countries.   Read more:

Australia ‘deplores’ unilateral action in South China Sea: Tony Abbott

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has delivered a blunt warning to China that Australia “deplores” any unilateral action that would alter the status quo in the South China Sea, a clear reference to China’s ambitious reclamation and island-building projects that are designed to position its military hardware in the disputed Spratly Islands chain. Mr Abbott and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, speaking in Singapore, announced plans for deeper trade links through a review of the current free trade agreement, closer work on foreign policy and stronger education ties. An annual leaders’ meeting between the two nations will be introduced and a stronger defence relationship will see more Singaporean armed forces training in Australia. Tony Abbott and his Singaporean counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, inspect an honour guard during a welcome ceremony on Mr Abbott’s two-day visit to Singapore. Photo: Reuters The pair also said Australia and Singapore were working closely together and exchanging intelligence and other information about the threat posed by Islamic State. In recent weeks, Australia has joined the United States and other nations in hardening their language about the South China Sea. Concerns about China and the South China Sea has led the Abbott government to tighten relations with most major countries in the region including the US, Japan, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and now Singapore.   Read more:

China angered by Philippine documentary on South China Sea

(Updated 6:03 p.m.) BEIJING – China on Monday accused the Philippines of spreading misinformation and “creating the illusion of the victim” in their dispute over the South China Sea after Manila aired a three-part documentary defending its position. The first part of the documentary series titled “Karapatan sa Dagat,” or maritime rights, was released as the Philippines observed Independence Day on June 12. “The Philippines is attempting to mislead and deceive, gain sympathy by cheating and create the illusion of the ‘victim,’” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement on the ministry’s website. He accused the Philippines of aiming to incite the people of the two countries. Tit-for-tat rhetorical exchanges between the Philippines and China over the South China Sea dispute have escalated in recent months. Last week, a Defense Ministry spokesman accused the Philippines of trying to draw other countries into the dispute to stir up regional tensions after Japan joined a military drill with the Philippines. Read more:

Why is China hesitating to go to ICJ over South China Sea claims, asks Koh Tsu Koon

EIJING: Asean representatives have urged China to speed up negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea to move another step forward and settle territorial disputes. “From the perspective of Asean as small countries, we are concerned of the South China Sea disputes and geo-politics (in the region), on how it could affect us,” said Malaysia’s Wawasan Open University (WOU) Pro-Chancellor Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon. He said if the disputes could not be solved through negotiations, it could be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). “If China is so confident about its historical and legal basis of the claims in the disputed water, why does it hesitate to go to the International Court of Justice?,” he asked. Koh was speaking at a forum themed, ‘The Southeast Asian Conflicts and Security Cooperation’ here Sunday. Yesterday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China was a large sea-faring nation one thousand years ago and hence, for sure, China was the first country to discover, use and administer the Spratly Islands, known as Nansha Islands in Chinese. Koh said all Asean countries had accepted ICJ as a common platform to resolve problems. Distinguished Fellow of Singapore Nanyang Technological University, Barry Desker pointed out that despite Singapore, Indonesia and Cambodia not being involved in the South China Sea dispute, the nations nevertheless, had the same view on that.   Read more:

China-made globes have nine-dash line

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino students may find themselves studying geography using globes depicting Beijing’s nine-dash line as stores selling school supplies in Divisoria, Manila continue to import products made in China. Aside from the nine-dash line, which the Philippines is questioning before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) amid maritime territorial disputes, the Kalayaan Island Group in Palawan and Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal off Zambales are also marked in Chinese names in the globes. Wholesalers in Divisoria said the globes were new imports from China. “The old versions are gone. All the globes are now like this,” one of them said. When asked why globes with the nine-dash line are being sold, a store owner, unfamiliar with the issue, told The STAR: “Ano ba ‘yon (nine-dash line)?” Even Taiwan as well as waters claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei are included as part of China in the globes being sold per piece or wholesale, with prices ranging from P18 to P500, depending on size. The biggest, which measures 32 centimeters, is 400 percent cheaper compared to a Taiwan-made globe worth P2,500 and 900 percent cheaper than that made in the US worth P5,000.   Read more:

US to China: Prove your claim

WASHINGTON – If China can prove indisputably it owns the islets, shoals and reefs that are at the heart of a dispute with the Philippines and other neighbors, the US will support it 100 percent, Deputy US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. Blinken said the US made it clear during a US-China strategic and economic dialogue in Washington last week that it did not have a position on any of the merits of conflicting claims in the South China Sea, “but how the claims are pursued makes a big difference.” “The Chinese say that their claims are clear and undisputed – they’re not even claims, they’re just facts. And we’ve said, ‘great, if you demonstrate that, we’ll back you 100 percent.’ But you can’t expect other countries to engage in some kind of diplomatic process that goes nowhere where you create what are, in effect, facts on the sea,” he said in a speech on Friday at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank.   Read more:

S. Korea holds significant stakes in South China Sea issue: Burns

South Korea has significant stakes in ensuring freedom of navigation and global commons around the world, including disputed waters in the South China Sea, a former top American diplomat said. Former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who is now president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, also said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency that Seoul and Washington share a vision for “the rule of the road” that should guide behavior in the South China Sea. Seoul’s interests in making sure that freedom of “navigation and global commons are protected and secure and predictable has only gotten more and more significant,” Burns said during the interview at his office in Washington. “I’ve always thought the South Korean government has been quite clear about its interest in seeing that kind of arrangement, whether it’s in the South China sea, or someplace else,” he said. The U.S. has been strongly critical of China’s forceful assertion of its territorial claims in the South China Sea as Beijing has been building artificial islands in the disputed waters, also claimed by countries like the Philippines and Vietnam, in an effort to bolster its claims.   Read more: