Monthly Archives: February 2016

PH insists on ‘rule of law’ in S. China Sea

“DISREGARD the rule of law and you fall in conflict prevention,” the Philippine ambassador to the United Nations has said, stressing the importance of the arbitration case the country has brought to invalidate China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea. In remarks during a recent panel discussion on disarmament and collective security in Geneva, Ambassador and Permanent Representative Cecilia Rebong of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations and Other International Organizations stressed the importance of the rule of law in the conduct of diplomacy and international relations. Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/137053/ph-insists-on-rule-of-law-in-s-china-sea#ixzz41bW5obOL

US presses Xi on South China Sea non-militarization

The White House has pressed Chinese President Xi Jinping to expand his non-militarization pledge to cover the entire South China Sea, despite Beijing’s recent military activity in the area. http://news.yahoo.com/us-presses-xi-south-china-sea-non-militarization-030222709.html

Analyst: Harassment of fishermen may increase in South China Sea

A protester displays a placard during a rally near the Chinese Consulate in the financial district of Makati city, Philippines, to denounce the alleged deployment of surface-to-air-missiles by China on the disputed islands off South China Sea, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 in Manila, Philippines. The protesters are calling on China to halt its island-building on some of the disputed islands and its alleged increasing militarization. AP/Bullit Marquez MANILA, Philippines — More frequent harassment of fishermen may occur as Beijing increases its facilities in the disputed South China Sea, an analyst said. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) director Gregory Poling said that the most direct victims of China’s recent actions in the disputed sea will be the naval, coast guard and civilian fleets of other claimant countries. “Simple arithmetic suggests that this year will see more frequent harassment of and clashes with Filipino, Malaysian, and Vietnamese fishermen, oil and gas exploration vessels, and military ships and planes as China increases its capacity to patrol more of the South China Sea and interdict vessels operating in what Beijing considers its sovereign space,” Poling said in his article released by Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/02/26/1557046/analyst-harassment-fishermen-may-increase-south-china-sea

ASEAN says seriously concerned about rising South China Sea tensions

The artificial island at the southern end of Mischief Reef showing a newly-built seawall on its north side and a completed dock are shown in this Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative January 8, 2016 satellite image released to Reuters on January 15, 2016. REUTERS/CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative/Digital Globe/Handout via Reuters/Files The artificial island at the southern end of Mischief Reef showing a newly-built seawall on its north side and a completed dock are shown in this Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative January 8, 2016 satellite image… Southeast Asian nations expressed serious concern on Saturday about growing international tension over disputed waters in the South China Sea. China claims most of the sea but Southeast Asian countries Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam have rival claims. Friction has increased over China’s recent deployment of missiles and fighter jets to the disputed Paracel island chain. “Ministers remained seriously concerned over recent and ongoing developments,” the 10-members Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN) said in a statement after a regular meeting of the group’s foreign ministers in Laos. Land reclamation and escalating activity has increased tensions and could undermine peace, security and stability in the region, ASEAN said in the statement. The United States has criticized China’s building of artificial islands and facilities in the sea and has sailed warships close to disputed territory to assert the right to freedom of navigation. http://www.reuters.com/article/southchinasea-asean-idUSKCN0W00DN

Gov’t stresses need for rule of law, peaceful resolution of sea disputes

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Sunday stressed the need to respect whatever decision will be made by the United Nations (UN) tribunal on the Philippines’s complaint against China following an assessment by an American think tank that Manila would likely get a favorable ruling on the case. Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said respecting the ruling would ensure freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, where more than $5 trillion worth of international trade passes through every year. “At the recently concluded special ASEAN-US summit, President Aquino called upon all countries who believe in the rule of law and in peaceful dispute resolution to follow and abide by the decision of the UN arbitral tribunal on the PH petition,” Coloma said. “Such call, if heeded, will serve to promote the primacy of freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea and in all international sea lanes as this is essential to the continuous flourishing of global trade and commerce,” he added. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/02/28/1557754/govt-stresses-need-rule-law-peaceful-resolution-sea-disputes

DFA chief: China not above international law

Protesters flash thumbs-down signs as they shout slogans during a rally near the Chinese Consulate in the financial district of Makati city, Philippines, to denounce the alleged deployment of surface-to-air-missiles by China on the disputed islands off South China Sea, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. The protesters are calling on China to halt its island-building on some of the disputed islands and its alleged increasing militarization. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez MANILA, Philippines – China is not above the law and should heed calls by the international community that it respect whatever is decided by an arbitration court on Manila’s case against Beijing’s expansive claims in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario issued the statement yesterday in response to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s accusing the Philippines of “political provocation” in seeking arbitration for its territorial spat with Beijing. Wang made the accusation in a speech before a gathering in Washington organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). “As we presume to be responsible states, the Philippines, as well as the international community, are asking China to respect the forthcoming ruling of the arbitral tribunal and together advance an international rules-based regime,” Del Rosario said in a statement. “If China does not heed our collective call, does it mean that China considers itself above the law?” Wang said the decision by Philippine leaders to lodge a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague was “irresponsible to the Filipino people and the future of the Philippines.” China has refused to participate in the proceedings. A ruling is expected later this year, after the tribunal decided last October that it could hear the case. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/03/01/1558230/dfa-chief-china-not-above-international-law

‘China will change policy if India patrols South China Sea’

The USS Lassen guided missile destroyer that recently patrolled the South China Patrolling the South China Sea with the US will betray India’s hostility towards China, a powerful neighbour that can change its India policy and potentially create a lot of trouble for New Delhi, a top Chinese expert has warned. India should focus more on building “harmonious bilateral military relations” with China because of the long-standing border dispute, which it sees as the biggest security challenge, the expert said. “India needs to develop more friends instead of making more enemies,” Long Xingchun, director of the Centre for Indian Studies at China West Normal University, wrote in the state media. Long’s piece comes within days of a report that the US and India were discussing possible joint patrols in the South China Sea, where China and several countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have over-lapping claims on islands. “Conducting joint naval patrols with Washington in the South China Sea will do nothing but showing its hostility against Beijing and devastate their strategic mutual trust, which will also compel the Chinese government to adopt changes in its India policy,” Long wrote in the Global Times newspaper. “If New Delhi chooses to follow in the US footsteps, it means the country is taking part in US ‘pivot to Asia’ strategy and adopting a major strategic shift. This move will inevitably divide Asian nations into two camps, further giving rise to regional tensions,” he added. Long argued that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is not threatened. According to Long, “backing the freedom of navigation in the waterway” is only a pseudo-proposition. “Consequently, navies of non-claimant countries of the South China Sea merely signal that they take a side and provoke China by patrolling in the waters,” he wrote. On Thursday, Republican Senator John McCain said it was a “very good time” for the US and India to announce that they were “considering” jointly patrolling the South China Sea, a very busy maritime trade route. China’s reaction to the report on joint patrolling earlier this month was angry and quick. “Countries from outside the area must stop pushing forward the militarisation of the South China Sea, cease endangering the sovereignty and national security of littoral countries in the name of ‘freedom of navigation’ and harming the peace and stability of the region,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei. http://www.hindustantimes.com/world/china-will-change-policy-if-india-patrols-south-china-sea/story-Df5SkFrWucT4Zt1JhvsSPJ.html

China’s Defense Posturing Shields Its Economic Distress

China is facing an uphill battle on two fronts. At home, government prestige is waning as the economy falters with Chinese people sending their money abroad as the stock market stumbles amid a slowing economy and a deteriorating currency. And as the bad economic news continues to drip out of China so do the dispatches about its military maneuvers in the South China Sea, known as the East Sea in Hanoi and the West Philippine Sea in Manila, where world patience with Beijing over this issue is again wearing thin. It came to an embarrassing head earlier this month when surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) were discovered on a disputed, Chinese-occupied island in the Paracels as ASEAN leaders were sitting down for an unprecedented meeting with U.S. President Barak Obama in California. “The decision to install the SAMs also appears timed to coincide with a two-day summit of ASEAN leaders, widely seen as an effort by Washington to gather support for its ‘Asia pivot’ policy intended to curb China’s assertive posture in Southeast Asia,” said Gavin Greenwood, an analyst with Hong Kong-based Allan & Associates. http://thediplomat.com/2016/02/chinas-defense-posturing-shields-its-economic-distress/

Singapore will work to formulate Code of Conduct in South China Sea

Speaking to the media in an interview after the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ retreat, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan says ASEAN foreign ministers have reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability in the disputed waters. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-will-work-to/2554918.html

Diplomacy as well as military might needed in South China Sea

China’s aggressive behaviour has to be curbed, but not just by giving the giant a bloody nose, writes Brian Toohey. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Words should be as important as military force. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Words should be as important as military force. AP by Brian Toohey The main goal of the defence white paper from Malcolm Turnbull’s government is to support a military build-up by United States and its allies to restrain China’s provocative behaviour as a rising power in the South China Sea. The intention is laudable. But it is not always easy to prevent heightened military preparations on all sides from escalating into an arms race that ends badly. Which is why a bigger, indisputably difficult, international diplomatic effort is needed in parallel with the arms build-up to lower the risks of an unintended full-scale war that crashes the global economy and kill millions. Without this two-track approach, the overwhelming focus will remain on exerting more military pressure to modify China’s behaviour. The danger is that China will believe exaggerated claims about its military capacity to act with immunity. There are no guarantees, but an intense diplomatic effort could reinforce the US-led military message that China has more to gain by pursuing its professed commitment to Confucian notions of international harmony. Read more: http://www.afr.com/opinion/diplomacy-as-well-as-military-might-needed-in-south-china-sea-20160228-gn5mdn#ixzz41bSthi37