Monthly Archives: May 2016

China ‘Extremely Dissatisfied’ With G7’s South China Sea Statement

The United States recently removed a decades-long arms ban on Vietnam during President Barack Obama’s visit to Asia. China is extremely dissatisfied with a statement by Group of Seven (G7) leaders on the contentious South China Sea, where Beijing is locked in territorial disputes with several southeast Asian countries, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday. “This G7 summit organized by Japan’s hyping up of the South China Sea issue and exaggeration of tensions is not beneficial to stability in the South China Sea and does accord with the G7’s position as a platform for managing the economies of developed nations,” Hua said. “China is extremely dissatisfied with what Japan and the G7 have done.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that Japan welcomed China’s peaceful rise while repeating Tokyo’s opposition to acts that try to change the status quo by force.

Duterte to fight for country’s claim over West Philippine Sea

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 May) – Incoming President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he will continue the efforts of the outgoing President Benigno S. Aquino III’s administration in pushing for the country’s ownership over the West Philippine Sea. Duterte told reporters early Thursday that he had a long discussion with Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua when he came to see him last week. “We had a long discussion. Whether you like it or not, that (West Philippine Sea) is ours,” he said. Duterte, who is a lawyer, said that the West Philippine Sea, in which China also insisted an “indisputable sovereignty,” is well within the 200-kilometer exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines. “I will stick to our claim but we are allowing the proper courts to talk. It will be there as our land whether you want to believe it or not… the point is that it is ours. It is not a question of territory. It is a question that the place is well within the 200-kilometer exclusive economic zone of the country,” he said. Duterte said that any actions done by the Chinese government that “would obstruct or impede our movement within the 200-kilometer EEZ is a violation of our rights and the law of the seas.” He said he asked Jianhua for China to allow the Filipino fishermen to fish in the West Philippine Sea while the case is being heard at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in The Hague, Netherlands. In a forum here last year, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Charles C. Jose said that the Philippine government will rely on the support of the international community. Read more

Disputes: China’s low-bat support vs Philippine backers

IF the South China/West Philippine Sea row between China and the Philippines were to be adjudicated according to the quality of support that each side has marshaled in the dispute, the Philippines would surely win its case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, whose decision will be handed down within weeks. While our country has won the support of many nations and regional organizations in its determined stand against China’s claim to sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea, China has no comparable cheering squad rooting in the stands. The Philippines has lined up on its side the US, Japan, Australia, Britain and others, including respected global bodies like the European Union (EU) and G7. China can count on the support only of Russia, Mauritania, Venezuela and Gambia. To counter the clear Philippine advantage and growing international consensus on the maritime dispute, China has embarked on a major diplomatic effort to secure the support of nations for its position, using its money as a weapon. Because there is little support for its claims in Asia, and virtually none in Europe, China has lately been mining support in Africa, which is an ocean away from the disputed waters, reefs and islets. Disputes: China’s low-bat support vs Philippine backers

A Chinese ADIZ in the South China Sea: The Ultimate Bargaining Chip?

In times of lowered tensions or when it so wishes, Beijing could announce it is easing restrictions in its ADIZ, all in an effort to show it is pursuing a so-called “restrained” approach. Or it could offer to ease restrictions as part of a bilateral negotiation with Japan — say limiting its ADIZ to just military and not civilian aircraft. But as time passes, and as China’s military prowess increases, it can slowly (if it so chooses), enforce the zone with greater confidence — if accurate, a very smart strategy indeed. In fact, China loses nothing with declaring an ADIZ it may have difficulty enforcing and looks strong, while Japan, South Korea and the United States all scramble to react and look weak — as many perceived was as the case in late 2013. And this would all have repercussions in the South China Sea. Beijing could take this same approach, declaring an ADIZ in the months or years to come, using the same playbook as described above. Indeed, with China building islands in the South China Sea — with new airfields being a big part of this approach along with radar sites and anti-aircraft batteries — Beijing may already be on its way towards implementing such an approach.


The South China Sea is not at the top of Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen’s agenda, but for the sake of domestic stability, U.S.-Taiwan relations, and cross-strait relations, her newly-installed Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government must exercise caution in its handling of the Philippines’ arbitration against China. How Tsai handles the ruling will prove critical for Taipei, as a wrong step could be misconstrued as an indication of the government’s intent to pursue Taiwan’s independence, which has the potential to create a crisis in cross-strait relations and complicate relations with Washington. During the Ma Ying-jeou administration, the South China Sea was viewed as an opportunity to promote Taiwan’s voice and role as a peacemaker. This was most clearly seen in Ma’s South China Sea Peace Initiative, which he launched in May 2015. However, in the final year of Ma’s presidency, he garnered more criticism than praise from the United States because of visits by officials–including Ma himself–to Taiwan-occupied Itu Aba (Taiping Island) to uphold Taiwan’s sovereignty and the Ma administration’s rejection of the pending ruling from the tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the The Hague. How Taipei Should Handle the Tribunal Ruling on the South China Sea

Sparring over South China Sea is a dangerous game

China has been behaving aggressively in the South China Sea for some time now, in what can only be seen as the country’s efforts to assert sovereignty over disputed territories also claimed by some members of Asean. Needless to say, such behaviour is not healthy for the overall atmosphere of peace and stability in the region. The struggle to control the sea has become important because it has long been the route used by all sorts of nations, plus about US$5 trillion (Bt175 trillion) worth of annual trade passes through its waters. The dispute has forced one of the claimants, the Philippines, to turn to an international arbitration court to resolve the row. The court is expected to rule in a few weeks’ time on the case brought by Manila. It is hoped that China will accept the outcome of the court’s decision and work with the Philippines and other claimants on a mutually acceptable resolution. But no one is holding their breath on this, as China refuses to accept the court’s jurisdiction even though Beijing has ratified the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas. It is under this treaty that the case is being considered.

Japan offers two patrol ships to Sri Lanka with China in sight

Without mentioning China’s increasing activities in the Indian Ocean and the East and South China seas, Japan and Sri Lanka “reconfirmed the importance of maintaining the freedom of the high seas and maritime order based on the rule of law”, according to a statement issued after their meeting in Nagoya, central Japan. In a separate meeting with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Abe offered Japan’s cooperation in development of the country, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry. Japan is eager to strengthen ties with the two countries amid China’s growing influence in the region under the so-called “string of pearls” strategy, a network of Chinese investment in maritime facilities stretching from the South China Sea to the Arabian Sea as if to encircle India. New Delhi, similarly, has become concerned about Beijing’s increased presence in the Indian Ocean.

Palace: G7 declaration backs PH claim in sea dispute with China

Malacañang on Sunday said that the declaration of the Group of Seven (G7) leaders on the South China Sea supported the country’s claim in the disputed waters. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that the G7 Declaration stressed adherence to the rule of law in solving the territorial dispute—a key element of the country’s policy on the issue. “In expressing concern over the South China Sea issue, the Group of Seven or G7 Declaration affirmed the importance upholding the rule of law. Adherence to the rule of law as embodied in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has always been the linchpin of Philippine policy,” Coloma said in a radio dzRB interview. The Palace official said that the members of the international community, which include the G7, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec), have extolled outgoing President Benigno Aquino III for pursuing a “rules-based, peaceful and diplomatic” resolution of the country’s territorial dispute with China. “This advocacy has brought to light the critical importance of upholding freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight, and has been the basis for the Philippines’ decision to file a petition with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. This move of the Philippines has been welcomed and encouraged by many nations,” he added. Read more:

Digong: China must respect UN decision

DAVAO CITY—President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said China must abide by the ruling of the United Nations tribunal on the arbitration case lodged by the Philippines against Beijing’s nine-dash line claim over the entire South China Sea. While China has snubbed the UN proceeding, Duterte said it must respect the decision of the tribunal, which is expected to be handed out soon. “If there’s arbitration, I expect China to follow,” he said. Duterte said he will be working closely with China, in particular in building railways to ease commuters’ woes, but this does not mean his administration will abandon its maritime claims. “Just because you are building me a railway doesn’t mean I’m abandoning Scarborough Shoal,” he said. “I told you, that is ours, you have no right to be there in our EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone.] Whether you believe it or not, [that’s] fine by me, but that will be the predicate of any further discussions about those territories of ours,” Duterte added. Duterte also said he did not believe in President Benigno Aquino III’s flagship infrastructure vehicle, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, saying it was too slow. He said the country was confronted with a crisis in crime as well as in its infrastructure. “My crisis begins with Edsa,” he said, referring to Metro Manila’s main highway. “And the other crisis is that there are a lot of drugs and we are fighting them on so many fronts.” “My first big project is establishment of railway for Filipinos. If there are people who want to help, of course why not?” Duterte said. He acknowledged that the government did not have the funds to pursue a major rail project, but said he would work with trading partners—including China—to realize this goal. “It’s Manila-Nueva Vizcaya then Manila-Sorsogon, Manila to Batangas, and the whole Mindanao,” he said. In one of his controversial statements during the campaign, Duterte said that if China were to build a railway for the Philippines just like the ones they built in Africa, he’s willing to set aside disagreements over their territorial claims. “Build us a rail for Mindanao, build us a railway from Manila to Bicol, [and] I will be happy. Let us not fight. Build us a railway because no nation on earth ever progressed without a railway,” Duterte said in April.

Little blue men: the maritime militias pushing China’s claims

China is using large numbers of irregular maritime militias, dubbed “little blue men”, to assert and expand its control over an increasingly large area of disputed and reclaimed islands and reefs in the strategically important South China Sea, the Pentagon says. The militias, comprising hundreds of fishermen and motor boats mainly based on Hainan island, south of the mainland, have been involved in “buzzing” US navy ships and those of neighbouring countries with rival territorial claims. By using ostensibly civilian craft and personnel, China is avoiding direct military-to-military confrontations and gaining an element of deniability, said Abraham Denmark, deputy assistant US defence secretary for east Asia, presenting a report on military security involving China. Read more: