Monthly Archives: March 2017

China sends message of supremacy in South China Sea — expert

MANILA, Philippines — An internal journal of China’s armed naval wing is sending a message of dominance in South China Sea and two warnings on its possible future actions, an international security expert said. An article authored by South Sea Fleet officers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy boasted military supremacy in South China Sea despite repeated denials by Beijing that it would militarize the maritime region. On Monday, the CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative reported that construction of China’s naval, air, radar and defensive facilities on Subi (Zamora), Mischief (Panganiban) and Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reefs are near completion. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/03/29/1685744/china-sends-message-supremacy-south-china-sea-expert

China sends message of supremacy in South China Sea — expert

MANILA, Philippines — An internal journal of China’s armed naval wing is sending a message of dominance in South China Sea and two warnings on its possible future actions, an international security expert said. An article authored by South Sea Fleet officers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy boasted military supremacy in South China Sea despite repeated denials by Beijing that it would militarize the maritime region. On Monday, the CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative reported that construction of China’s naval, air, radar and defensive facilities on Subi (Zamora), Mischief (Panganiban) and Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reefs are near completion. http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/03/30/1685955/chinese-research-benham-still-mystery

China: Even if we’re putting missiles on South China Sea islands, we’re not militarizing them

China is not militarizing the South China Sea, Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday, although he acknowledged that defense equipment on islands in the disputed waterway had been placed there to maintain “freedom of navigation”. China has drawn international criticism for large-scale building in the South China Sea, although Li told reporters in Australia the development was for civilian purposes only. “China’s facilities, Chinese islands and reefs, are primarily for civilian purposes and, even if there is a certain amount of defense equipment or facilities, it is for maintaining the freedom of navigation,” Li said. China claims most of the resource-rich South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims on the strategic waterway. The United States estimates Beijing has added more than 3,200 acres (1,300 hectares) of land on seven features in the South China Sea over the past three years, building runways, ports, aircraft hangars and communications equipment. http://uk.businessinsider.com/china-even-if-were-putting-missiles-on-south-china-sea-islands-were-not-militarizing-them-2017-3

Philippines’ Duterte seeks alliance with China but defence officials warn of strategic threat

Since his ascent to power, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has overseen a remarkable shift in his country’s foreign policy, particularly towards China. The tough-talking Filipino leader, who is as notorious abroad as he is popular at home, has described China as a friendly and generous nation, a partner for national development and a potential military ally for the Philippines. During his high-profile state visit to China last year, when he snubbed both Washington and Tokyo in favour of Beijing, Duterte declared his “separation” from the United States, the Philippines’ sole treaty ally, and offered to realign his country with China’s “ideological flow”. Not short of hyperbole, he sought a “new world order” where the Philippines is in alliance with China and Russia “against the world”. Along the way, Duterte even claimed Chinese ancestry to impress his hosts, who rolled out the red carpet and lavished their guest with utmost respect and a generous package of economic aid. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2082090/philippines-duterte-seeks-alliance-china-defence

Beijing’s scariest tack yet in the South China Sea: projecting an aura of calm

This week Japan said it plans to send its most formidable warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea. Observers waiting for an angry reaction from China—which claims nearly all of that sea and was mighty testy about it last year—were likely disappointed. Here’s what Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying had to offer: “If it’s only a normal visit, going to several countries, and passing normally through the South China Sea, then we’ve got no objections, and we hope this kind of normal exchange between relevant countries can play a role promoting regional peace and stability.” Say what? The response sounded remarkably mellow given Beijing’s belligerent rhetoric before and after an international tribunal ruled last July against its vast claims to the sea, saying they had neither legal nor historical basis. But it wasn’t just that reaction out of China that sounded unusually measured. In various instances this year, on maritime matters that might have enraged Beijing in 2016—or provoked stern warnings of some sort—Chinese diplomats have given responses that seem disconcertingly lawyerly or diplomatic. Beijing’s scariest tack yet in the South China Sea: projecting an aura of calm

Malaysia speaks softly in the South China Sea

While the Philippines and Vietnam have been vocal in their maritime disputes with China, Malaysia has taken a more reticent tack to its claims Malaysian foreign minister Anifah Aman said in a spirited speech this week to parliament that Kuala Lumpur does not acknowledge Beijing’s “nine-dash line” expansive claim over territories in the South China Sea, including features claimed by his country. This, he said, is because it is not in accordance with international law. “Malaysia is also of the stand that there does not exist any overlapping claims or territorial disputes between Malaysia and China on the South China Sea,” Anifah said. “All geographical aspects or maritime features which are within Malaysia’s maritime jurisdiction belong to Malaysia.” Anifah added that Malaysia “cannot remain neutral” on the disputes, of which Malaysia claims possession to a dozen Spratly islands in the South China Sea, as well as other outcrops in the disputed territory. http://www.atimes.com/article/malaysia-speaks-softly-south-china-sea/

Carpio: Saying PH can’t stop China from building in Panatag pushes China more

MANILA – Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio took a dig Monday at President Rodrigo Duterte for saying he could not stop China from building on the disputed Scarborough Shoal also known as Panatag Shoal because it was too powerful. “The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, which are expressly tasked by the Constitution to defend the national territory. Under RA No. 9522, Scarborough Shoal is part of Philippine national territory… Any statement that the Philippines cannot stop China from building on Scarborough Shoal actually encourages China to build on Scarborough Shoal,” Carpio wrote in a statement. He listed the powers of the commander-in-chief, and alluded to Sunday’s pre-departure remarks by the President that even if China has announced it would soon build structures on Scarborough shoal – off the western side of Luzon – there was nothing he could do to stop Beijing. It was reported earlier that the mayor of China’s Sansha City said the Asian giant – which continues to defy a July 2016 ruling by a UN arbitral tribunal favoring Manila – would set up an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough Shoal. Sought for comment, Duterte told journalists before departing for Myanmar, “We cannot stop China from doing (these) things.” “What do you want me to do? Declare war against China? I can’t. We will lose all our military and policemen tomorrow and we (will be) a destroyed nation,” he added. Duterte said he would tell the Chinese: “Just keep it (the waters) open and do not interfere with our coast guard.” Carpio on Monday listed five things Duterte can do to “fulfill his constitutional duty” given that “the Philippines is no match to China militarily”. First – and the least Duterte can do according to Carpio – is to “file a strong formal protest against the Chinese building activity”. Carpio explained that the Vietnamese did this recently when China sent cruise tours to the disputed Paracel Islands. Second, Duterte can “send the Philippine Navy to patrol Scarborough Shoal”. Should the Chinese attack, Duterte can “invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty, which covers any armed attack on Philippine navy vessels operating in the South China Sea”. Third, Duterte can “ask the United States to declare that Scarborough Shoal is part of Philippine territory for purposes of the Phil-US Mutual Defense Treaty”. To back this up, Carpio’s source – The South China Sea Dispute: Philippine Sovereign Rights and Jurisdiction in the West Philippine Sea – from the 1960s to the 1980s, American and Philippine militaries used Scarborough Shoal “as an impact range for their warplanes and warships”. American and Philippine authorities then issued Notices to Mariners worldwide when they would hold “bombing runs or gunnery exercises”. http://interaksyon.com/article/137866/carpio-saying-ph-cant-stop-china-from-building-on-scarborough-shoal-encourages-china-more

Wenceslao: Wasted triumphs Sunda

CANDID THOUGHTS TRIUMPS at the international level are rare for a small country like the Philippines. But in 2012 and 2016, we did get two of those triumphs, historic ones if I may add. In 2012, The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) supported our contention that the 13-million-hectare underwater plateau called Benham Rise, which is located off Aurora province in Luzon (eastern side), is part of our country’s continental shelf. As such, the Philippines was granted the “sovereign right” to exploit the resources in the area. In 2016, the Philippines won its case before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal, which ruled that the Philippines has exclusive sovereign rites over a portion of the South China Sea referred to as the West Philippine Sea. This includes submerged reefs and islets, among them the Scarborough shoal that China seized in 2012. Those triumphs were not gifts from heaven but something we fought for. In the case of Benham Rise, we started proposing the area as a possible extended continental shelf (ECS) of the country as early as in 2001. We filed the formal claim in April 2009 before the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS). The ruling that was favorable to us was handed down in 2012. Our triumph in the UN Arbitral Tribunal is fairly recent and well-discussed considering the ruling’s implications. The case was filed in January 2013 after China seized Scarborough shoal, which is located near Zambales province in Luzon (west coast). The ruling came out in early July or a few days after Rodrigo Duterte succeeded Benigno Aquino III as Philippine president. Unfortunately, we seem to be losing a handle of those triumphs. Recently, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that a Chinese survey ship loitered on Benham Rise for three months last year. The concern was that the ship’s intention may not have only been for passage but to look into the area’s resources. The President, however, downplayed the incident, even saying in one press conference that the Chinese ship was given permission to go there. Stories about the Philippines and China jointly exploiting Benham Rise’s resources were soon floated. http://www.sunstar.com.ph/cebu/opinion/2017/03/19/wenceslao-wasted-triumphs-531884

China to build on disputed shoal in South China Sea

A team of navy personnel and three Philippine congressmen standing on a tiny rock in the Scarborough Shoal with a Filipino flag in protest at Chinese land grabbing AFP/Getty Images China is to begin construction work on tiny islands in the South China Sea which are claimed by several other countries in the region. Beijing seized the strategically important islands on the Scarborough Shoal in 2012. The US has warned China against carrying out land reclamation work in the area, which it has already carried out in other parts of the region. In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration unanimously ruled in favour of the Philippines and said there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or its petroleum reserves. Despite this Xiao Jie, the mayor of what Beijing calls Sansha City – an administrative base for the disputed South China Sea islands and reef it controls – said China was planning preparatory work this year to build environmental monitoring stations on a number of islands, including in the Scarborough Shoal area. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/south-china-sea-dispute-beijing-philippines-scarborough-shoal-nine-dash-line-manila-a7637216.html

China’s Most Important South China Sea Military Base

Near the picturesque city of Sanya, at the southernmost tip of Hainan Island, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy is methodically preparing itself for the next phase of power projection in the South China Sea. The site in question is the Yulin Naval Base, and it is shaping up to be the most strategically important military base in the South China Sea. In fact, it may already hold the title, depending largely on the current nuclear submarine traffic flowing in and out of Yulin’s underground facility. Theater and point defense assets have been deployed, degaussing and weapons-loading facilities appear operationally ready — as do the administrative buildings, munitions transportation systems, and geological fortifications — and much of the South Sea Fleet’s submarine force has already nestled itself deep into the resident mountain. With a healthy mix of surface vessels, anti-aircraft and anti-ship missile platforms, and both conventional attack and nuclear deterrent submarines, Yulin’s strategic value is steadily rising. And with it rises China’s coercive power in the South China Sea and its surrounding waterways. China’s Most Important South China Sea Military Base