Monthly Archives: September 2015

Obama airs concern on sea row at UN

WASHINGTON – Three days after calling out China over its land reclamation and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea, US President Barack Obama voiced his concern yet again before the United Nations and urged a resolution of the problem “through international law, not the law of force.” The United States does not adjudicate claims, he said, but has an interest in upholding the basic principles of freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce and will defend these principles while encouraging China and other claimants to resolve their differences peacefully. In his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York, Obama spoke of the many challenges facing the world, including the Islamic State (IS) which emerged out of the chaos of Iraq and the Syrian civil war, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the South China Sea. “As President of the United States, I am mindful of the dangers that we face; they cross my desk every morning. I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary,” he said. Read more:

China ‘brazenly lying’ about activities in West PH Sea – Golez

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Brazen lies. This was how a former lawmaker described on Wednesday (September 30) Beijing’s pronouncements about disputed waters — based on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent speech at the White House. Roilo Golez, who also served as national security adviser during the Arroyo administration, said China was “brazenly lying” about its activities on contested outcrops in the West Philippine Sea. This developed after Xi, during his first state visit to the United States, told President Barack Obama that China was entitled to build structures on disputed atolls in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea but did not intend to militarize them. Read more:—Golez.html China, South China Sea Dispute, Philippines, USA, Spratlys, Artificial Islands, Reclamation, Regular Patrols, Military Conflict, Militarization, ADIZ, Air Defense Identification Zone

Guest Post: Setting the Boundaries in the South China Sea

Tensions between China and Vietnam over the South China Sea are rising and a miscalculation or miscommunication risks an outbreak of hostilities. Earlier this month, satellite imagery revealed that China is constructing its third airstrip in the disputed Spratly Islands, an archipelago of 750 reefs, cays, and islands claimed—in whole or in part—by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan. This news follows a tense summer, during which China deployed oil rigs in disputed waters and naval standoffs between China and Vietnam culminated in a ship ramming. Beijing’s construction establishes a permanent Chinese base in disputed waters, with airstrips that could be used to launch military missions against regional rivals. China has so far only used them to conduct surveillance missions, but this alone has increased tensions and resulted in political disagreements with the United States. As the intensity and frequency of disputes over territory in the South China Sea increase, the situation has the potential to escalate into militarized conflict. In a new Center for Preventive Action (CPA) Contingency Planning Memorandum, “A China-Vietnam Military Clash,” Joshua Kurlantzick, senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, explores the conditions that could escalate tensions between China and Vietnam, and identifies recommendations for how the United States and involved parties could prevent or mitigate such a crisis. Read more:

‘North to Alaska:’ US and Chinese Competing Visions of Maritime Fair Use

In August, China and Russia conducted a large bilateral naval exercise called Joint Sea 2015 II in the Sea of Japan. The exercise concerned some observers for what it implied about a solidifying geopolitical block aligned against the U.S. But its location provided the Chinese with another opportunity – to enter the Bering Sea and then transit unannounced through U.S. territorial waters in the Aleutian Island chain. Chinese operations in the Bering Sea are believed to be unprecedented, and there are numerous political statements that can be read into the transit, which coincided with President Obama’s historic visit to Alaska. But legally, the Chinese were well within their rights; in fact a right the United States has long defended both for itself and others. What makes the Chinese transit of the Aleutians provocative to some is an apparent hypocrisy. While the U.S. takes a maximalist and institution-based position on the maritime rights of all nations, China is comparatively selective; it enjoys its full maritime rights internationally while routinely attempting to deny similar rights to nations transiting or operating in and near its waters. In passing through the Aleutians, the Chinese were exercising a treaty right called innocent passage. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ships may transit the territorial waters of another nation so long as the transit is not “prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal state.” As such, military and government vessels exercising innocent passage are prohibited from engaging in threatening activities like weapons drills, surveillance, aircraft operations, etc. Fueling Sino-US tensions are disagreements about claims and limits under UNCLOS, and special areas like Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) that are not governed by treaty. Read more:

The Trillion-Dollar Question: Who Will Control the South China Sea?

Nor has the U.S. cultivated the kind of ties with China that would allow Washington to happily cede influence to Beijing in the way that Britain ultimately relinquished maritime influence to the United States (first in the Caribbean and later in the Mediterranean). Britain and the U.S. were of a like mind when it came to governing the maritime commons, something decision-makers in London could be fairly sure of. By contrast, Chinese intentions are the subject of heated debate in the contemporary United States. For better or worse, conciliating China over the South China Sea would look like appeasement at home and abroad—it would antagonize America’s allies, embolden China, and cause great embarrassment in domestic politics. The model that the United States seems to be being followed is Britain’s pivot to the Mediterranean in the 1890s and early 1900s, when Royal Navy squadrons were redeployed from the Caribbean and East Asia in order to counter the Franco-Russian rapprochement in European waters and later Germany’s growing naval might. This rebalance—essentially a move to prevent the balance of power in Europe from being upended—succeeded in extended British naval hegemony in European waters for several decades, and could be considered an early prototype of the Obama administration’s own “pivot” to Asia. Read more:

The impact of U.S., China meet on West Philippine Sea dispute

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) admits good relations between China and the U.S. are important for stability not only in the Asian region, but the entire world. DFA officials pointed out Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States could mean easing tensions in disputed areas in the South China Sea. They also added there is now a huge potential for diplomacy as China-U.S. ties improve – which will help in the Philippines’ territorial rows with China. Read more:

The impact of U.S., China meet on West Philippine Sea dispute

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) admits good relations between China and the U.S. are important for stability not only in the Asian region, but the entire world. DFA officials pointed out Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States could mean easing tensions in disputed areas in the South China Sea. They also added there is now a huge potential for diplomacy as China-U.S. ties improve – which will help in the Philippines’ territorial rows with China. Read more:

The Great Unraveling of U.S. Policy in the South China Sea

Beijing may be playing coy over whether it considers the South China Sea part of its sovereign territory, but the country’s actions indicate that its preferred outcome is Chinese sovereignty within the “nine-dash line.” Meanwhile, the Obama Administration’s vacillation over how to challenge Beijing’s assertiveness in the region undermines U.S. policy to shape China’s rise in positive directions. The resulting dispute between the Pentagon and the White House over enforcing freedom of navigation has led to a situation—as Assistant Secretary of Defense David Shear testified to Congress—where the U.S. Navy and Air Force have not challenged the territoriality of China’s artificial islands since 2012. Washington’s unwillingness to enforce the rules it espouses undermines a core tenet of U.S. policy toward China. If the United States will not enforce the policy it espouses, then the time is ripe to reconsider the assumptions and options for U.S. policy towards China. Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea forces the United States to go beyond consideration of American interests in the region towards actively defending those interests. Read more:

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has used an address to China’s National Defense University in Beijing to urge the North Asian giant to behave like a “big country” in the South China Sea, where its creation of islands to compete for maritime territory is causing tension with other regional powers and the United States. “All big countries are made bigger, in every sense of the word, by recognising their strengths and confidently sharing and defusing concerns of smaller countries,” he said in a speech that hailed the creation of a five-year engagement plan between the New Zealand Defence Force and the People’s Liberation Army as “the first agreed between China and a Western military, demonstrating the unique nature of our relationship.” New Zealand was also the first western nation to recognise China as a market economy and to sign a free-trade agreement with China, and safe, peaceful maritime routes were crucial to New Zealand, which sends 99% of its exports by sea, he said. Read more:

How to resolve China crisis? 2 ex-lawmakers push for back-channeling, suspension of Chinese mining

CANDELARIA, Zambales — How can the Philippines put political pressure on China and show opposition to Chinese aggression in West Philippine Sea? Former Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani has called for boycott of Chinese goods, while former Garbriela Partylist Representative Liza Maza has pushed for the suspension of operations of Chinese mining firms in the country. The two former legislators last week visited the towns of Subic, San Antonio, Candelaria, and Sta. Cruz in Zambales and conducted a fact-finding mission to look at how the Chinese incursion in the West Philippine Sea affects the fisherfolk. The former senator praised the fact-finding mission as it has by far been “the first effort by an NGO to look at the problem from the perspective of those directly affected by it.” “We have to be creative (in finding solutions to the problem) because there is so much at stake for us,” said Shahani, who was born in the coastal town of Lingayen in Pangasinan. Gabriela’s Maza said Shahani is advocating for people-to-people relations. “The women of the Philippines should reach out to the people of China,” Maza quoted Shahani. Read more: