Monthly Archives: February 2018

Compensation amount for breach of sea law as for Ukraine to be determined by Intl Tribunal, supposed to be significant


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Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin says that the amount of compensation from Russia for violations of Ukraine’s rights in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait will be considerable, but the amount of compensation will be determined by the International Tribunal. “We deliberately do not call the amount, because Russia continues to violate the rights of Ukraine. Therefore, Russia will pay for it – the amount will be determined by the Arbitration. The amount will be very significant … it won’t be neither millions, nor tens, nor hundreds of millions,” he said at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister of Albania, Ditmir Bushati, in Kyiv on Thursday. According to him, the amount will be significant, since it is about violations of the rights of Ukraine in the Black, Azov Seas and the Kerch Strait. “This covers everything, including the fact that we were deprived of the opportunity to mine on our shelf and use our shelf, use living resources, cultural heritage,” the diplomat explained.


The Australian Navy may be preparing for a direct venture into the South China Sea

WHEN Malcolm Turnbull met Donald Trump, China was a big talking point. It’s what our Prime Minister didn’t say that may provoke the superpower. THE Australian Navy may be preparing for a direct independent venture into the South China Sea. Australia has traditionally avoided direct participation in freedom-of-navigation exercises so as not to affect diplomatic relations with China, our largest trading partner. While meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Washington, United States President Donald Trump warned that China was “tough” and “getting stronger”, saying the US needed to step up its efforts against Beijing. When asked if the US would consider joint freedom-of-navigation exercises with Australia, Mr Trump said: “We would love to have Australia involved and I think Australia wants us to stay involved.” But Mr Turnbull gave a vague response when subsequently pressed on joint naval exercises with the US. In a move likely to prompt a hostile reaction from Beijing, Mr Turnbull refused to rule it out directly. “Australia, as you know, defends the right of freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the world but we do not want to speculate on operational matters,” he told reporters.


Analyst: ‘Careless dalliance’ with China could make Philippines a regional security threat

MANILA, Philippines — A lack of a coherent Philippine policy on China and its usual accommodation of Beijing’s interests may have contributed to the consolidation of Chinese military presence in the West Philippine Sea, an analyst said. According to Jose Antonio Custodio, a non-resident fellow of think tank Stratbase Albert Del Rosario Institute, a careless “dalliance” with China might make the Philippines a major security threat in the region. Custodio added that the news that President Rodrigo Duterte had invited China to conduct anti-piracy patrols in the Sulu and Celebes Sea could lead to a “furtherance” of its aggressive territorial ambitions. “The Philippines used to be seen by many countries in the region as a minor security threat, and this might only be due to the spillover of terrorist activities by separatist and terrorist elements in Mindanao. A careless dalliance with Beijing just might change that,” Custodio wrote in a commentary on The Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims to the South China Sea, a resource-rich sea lane believed to hold vast reserves of oil and natural gas. The area in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone is called the West Philippine Sea. China claims almost the entire area and in recent years have reclaimed features and transformed them into islands capable of hosting air and naval bases. Although a United Nations-backed tribunal has invalidated Beijing’s expansive claims, President Rodrigo Duterte has chosen to set the ruling aside and chose to pursue warmer and friendlier ties with his giant neighbor, in an effort to court Chinese money and investments into the country. Claudio said that Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia would deal with Chinese air and maritime assets without Manila’s interference and would be prevented from toughening their defenses and coordinating some form of action against China. Filipino diplomats have also become more difficult to work with in issues related to China, according to Custodio. “Attempts to discuss such issues with their Philippine counterparts are frequently met with delay or indifference. The current Philippine government, some claim, is either fearful of provoking Beijing leadership or is simply pro-Beijing,” he said. Read more at


Can China defend South China Sea island bases?

CHINA has established military bases on islands built up in the South China Sea, including the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, but can Beijing defend them in an armed conflict? The question was posed by defense and security analyst Robert Farley in his article that appeared Feb. 19 in The National Interest, an American bimonthly international affairs publication. He recalled that during World War II, Japan found that control of islands offered some strategic advantages, but not enough to force the United States to reduce each island individually. Moreover, over time the islands became a strategic liability, as Japan struggled to keep them supplied with food, fuel and equipment. The South China Sea islands are conveniently located for Beijing, but do they represent an asset to its military? Farley’s answer is “Yes,” but added that in an actual conflict their value would dwindle quickly. Excerpts from his article: “China has established numerous military installations in the South China Sea, primarily in the Spratly and Paracel Islands. In the Spratlys, China has built airfields at Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross, along with potential missile, radar and helicopter infrastructure at several smaller formations. In the Paracels, China has established a significant military installation at Woody Island, as well as radar and helicopter facilities in several other areas. “China continues construction across the region, meaning that it may expand its military presence in the future. (Philippines, take note. – fdp) “The larger bases – Subi, Mischief, Fiery Cross and Woody Island – have infrastructure for the management of military aircraft, including fighters and large patrol craft. These missiles, radars and aircraft extend the lethal reach of China’s military across the breadth of the SCS. “Several of the islands serve as bases for SAM systems – including the HQ-9, with a range of 125 miles, and perhaps eventually the Russian S-400 – and ground-launched cruise missiles, or GLCMs. These missiles serve to make the South China Sea lethal for US ships and aircraft that do not have stealth capabilities, or that do not enjoy a layered air-defense system. “The SAM installations, buoyed by networks of radars, can effectively limit the ability of enemy aircraft to enter their lethal zone without significant electronic-warfare assistance. The GLCMs can add another set of launchers to China’s A2/AD network, although not necessarily with any greater effectiveness than missiles launched from subs, ships or aircraft.” Read more at


China trying to enforce claim to South China Sea: Trump advisor

China is turning its newly-built islands in the South China Sea into bases so it can enforce its claim to own the entire international waterway, according to a senior Pentagon official. “It’s not about finding 12 nautical miles more” territory for China around the edges of the controversial islands, “it’s really about enforcing a very expansive sovereignty claim”, said the top official for US military policy in the Asia-Pacific, Randy Schriver. “Only the Chinese can decide whether they’re going to pursue that more aggressively,” Mr Schriver told Farfax Media in what is understood to be his first interview since taking his post last month. The peculiar parallel universe in the Trump administration US President Donald Trump said on the weekend in a press conference with Malcolm Turnbull that the US “would love to have Australia involved” in naval patrols reinforcing international access to the area, so-called freedom of navigation operations. “And I think Australia wants us to stay involved,” said Mr Trump. Speaking shortly afterwards, Mr Schriver confirmed that “as a general matter we do want Australia beside us and other countries,” naming Japan in particular.


The Extraterrestrial Impact of the South China Sea Dispute

History offers lessons for the coming legal and geopolitical debates in space. On January 20, 1788, Captain Arthur Philip sailed into Botany Bay at the helm of the British flagship Sirius and a convoy of transports to realize the United Kingdom’s new claim to Terra Australis. After a 252-day journey to the farthest known edges of the Earth, the freshly appointed colonial governor must have been shocked to see, only a few days later, the arrival of two French ships, La Boussole and L’Astrolabe, led by explorer Jean-Francois de la Perouse. In order to forestall French claims to the territory and recognizing the value of a recently explored harbor to the north, Philip quickly departed to establish a colonial seat at Port Jackson, also known as Sydney Harbor. In a lesser-known act of history, Philip also moved to secure Norfolk Island, resting in the South Pacific above New Zealand. During the earlier voyages of Captain James Cook, the island was identified as possessing the critical resources of pine wood and flax, commodities underpinning British naval power – the equivalent of oil and uranium in today’s strategic environment, according to author Robert Hughes. This race for territory and resources by world powers was not the first nor would it be the last. It was a message I relayed to the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) recently held in Adelaide, Australia. The IAC is the world’s most important gathering of the international space community, attended by leaders from national space agencies, academia, and the burgeoning industry of commercial space, represented by titans such as Elon Musk of Space X, who announced his lofty intention to send the first colonists to Mars by 2024. This year’s IAC also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty, the international agreement aimed at establishing principles governing the exploration and use of outer space. As such, the international forum provided a timely opportunity for me to address the development of space law. Even as technology can propel us beyond the boundaries of our earthly domain, we cannot escape our human nature and the attendant consequences. However, the international community can learn from and improve upon our history by anticipating the coming legal and geopolitical debates in outer space. We can do so by examining our experience in the South China Sea dispute. Accordingly, we must acknowledge five key principles applicable to shared domains beyond national boundaries like outer space.


“Global Britain” on the line in the South China Sea

Mearsheimer’s Big Question: Can China Rise Peacefully? During a trip to Australia this month, UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that HMS Sutherland, a British frigate currently deployed to Australia and the Western Pacific, would return from its tour via the South China Sea, “making it clear our navy has a right to do that”. Williamson is the third British minister to commit the country’s naval forces to Asian waters in as many years, following his predecessor Michael Fallon in 2016 and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in 2017. British patrols in the South China Sea are a good idea. They would tangibly illustrate the UK’s global footprint at a time when European questions have sucked much of the oxygen from Britain’s foreign policy debate, and when doubts are growing about Britain’s ability to sustain its influence in Asia. A British contribution to wider efforts to push back against China’s growing assertiveness would be welcomed across much of the region. But to be meaningful, patrols must go beyond one-off demonstrations of the flag. The UK would send a powerful message by following the more ambitious freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) conducted by the US. This would involve deliberately sailing within 12 nautical miles of Chinese-occupied features in the Spratly Islands, particularly those that have no legal entitlement to a territorial sea. Fallon and Johnson both shied away from backing such operations, preferring to frame freedom of navigation in safer, generic terms. Fallon, in fact, appeared to rule out plans for US-style operations near “disputed islands” in the South China Sea. Such a halfway-house approach succeeds merely in irritating Beijing, while suggesting a widening gulf between Britain’s rhetoric and actions as a global security actor. Freedom of navigation patrols, as the Lowy Institute’s interactive history of US patrols reveals, are not about power projection, presence, or deterrence. They serve a limited and specific purpose: to challenge maritime claims that are excessive under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Although the finer legal distinctions governing passage regimes under UNCLOS may be technical, they are important: to uphold the correct rules the spurious ones must be actively rebutted. Failure to do so allows China to argue that its excessive claims are accepted by major maritime nations, apart from the US. The US has made these challenges repeatedly over the past two years. Other states, including Japan and Australia, sail through the South China Sea but not in ways that obviously challenge Chinese or other claims. Indeed, Australia’s government has proceeded warily and demured on US requests for joint patrols. But instead of leaving it to the US alone and allowing the present freedoms of the seas to erode, it is high time that a broader range of states step into the fray. Of course, there is a risk that China would impede or confront the Royal Navy rather than the much larger US Navy, especially now that Williamson has regrettably announced HMS Sutherland’s deployment so far in advance. All the more reason, then, for the UK to seek safety in numbers.


From Africa to South America, China’s fishing fleet outstrips the competition

Ships from mainland China amassed around 17 million hours of fishing in 2016, mostly off the southern coast of their home country, but also as far away as Africa and South America. The next-biggest operation is Taiwan’s, with 2.2 million hours of fishing. The data, collected and analysed over five years by Global Fishing Watch, a non-profit group that tracks fishing operations, represent the most comprehensive look at where, and how often, the world’s fishing boats operate. A study of the data is published in the journal Science on Thursday. China pledges to cut size of its massive fishing fleet due to serious threat to nation’s fish stocks China “is the most important fishing nation”, David Kroodsma, Global Fishing Watch’s research and development director, the study’s lead author, said in an interview. “The extent of the Chinese fleet is even bigger than it seems.” China’s distant-water fishing fleet, estimated as the world’s largest by Greenpeace, with 2,500 vessels, has not always been welcome in far-off waters. Ships are not allowed to work without permission in the exclusive economic zones of other countries, which extend by United Nations convention to 200km (125 miles) from shore. Chinese trawlers were seized last year off Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau over illegal fishing. Argentina’s coastguard sank a Chinese trawler in 2016 that was fishing illegally within its territorial waters. China’s Ministry of Agriculture did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the activities of China’s fishing fleets.


SC Justice: Assign NAMRIA to name Benham Rise features

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 22) — If the Philippines’ central mapping agency names Benham Rise features, China’s names will have no bearing, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said Thursday. Carpio suggested designating the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) to approve proposed names for features in the country’s extended continental shelf, of which it has sovereign rights. He explained the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO recognize the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the area. The two international bodies reportedly approved China’s names for four undersea mountains and a hill in Benham Rise. Related: China names five undersea features in Benham Rise “It says [in the IHO and IOC guidelines]… if the national authority, the Philippines, has designated an agency to approve proposed names on the EEZ and extended continental shelf, that authority… prevails over the [IHO] and [IOC],” Carpio told CNN Philippines’ The Source. “The President should by executive order should designate NAMRIA… Then the Chinese will have to submit names to NAMRIA,” he added. Carpio said IHO and IOC approved the names because the Philippines did not assign an agency that could name its resources.


SC Justice counters Duterte: Militarization in South China Sea for PH, not U.S.

SC Justice counters Duterte: Militarization in South China Sea for PH, not U.S.   Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 22) — China’s continued militarization in disputed islands in the South China Sea is a national threat, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio warned on Thursday.   “Every military and security analyst I know here and abroad agree that those military structures are designed to enforce the nine-dash line as China’s national boundary,” Carpio said on CNN Philippines’ The Source. “In other words, [they’re] there to grab the (exclusive economic zone) of the Philippines.”   Carpio was responding to President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that China’s military bases were developed to counter the United States.   “It’s really intended against those who the Chinese think will destroy them, and that is America. Wala tayong kasali diyan [We’re not involved],” Duterte said.   Duterte then reiterated that the Philippines could not afford to go to war. Under his term, the country has had warmer relations with the eastern giant, with Philippine officials refusing to raise the arbitral tribunal ruling that favors Philippine claims over the islands.   Carpio said that the dispute between China and the U.S. was about freedom of navigation and overflight, and China’s presence on the disputed islands was for a different purpose.   He said the bases were “daggers pointed at our national security.”   “From those islands, fighter jets can reach Palawan in less than 20 minutes. Radar facilities in those islands can detect any aircraft that lands or takes off from Palawan,” said Carpio.   “They can easily send patrols to the Reed Bank to stop us from getting the gas,” he added.   The Associate Justice recalled an incident in 2011 when a seismic surveying ship from the Philippines was blocked access to Reed Bank, a feature within the Philippines’ EEZ.