MANILA, Philippines — A former national security adviser predicted that China’s increasing aggression in the South China Sea will spur the creation of a coalition of countries, including the United States, to thwart the Asian giant’s military dominance in the vital sea lanes. “In view of its aggressive stance, China has triggered (the formation of) a coalition against itself … It is an over aggressiveness that is backfiring,” Roilo Golez, who is also a former congressman, said in a talk before leaders of the Greenhills Christian Fellowship in Pasig City. “If there is a bully, he may get his way for a while, but then after a while, people will coalesce and gang up against the bully. And who is the first bully in the area?” the graduate of the US Naval Academy said. He pointed out that the US, Japan, Australia, India and Vietnam have already moved to beef up their forces in the contentious sea lanes. “It is an emerging coalition. You can see sea exercises between India and the US … Japan is considering patrolling the South China Sea, and Australia said it is going to modernize its Navy,” he said. “It looks like the world is now ganging up on China.” At the same time, he said, the world is also keeping close watch on the Philippines’ case China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which accuses China of violating the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea by laying claim to almost the whole South China Sea. The international tribunal is expected to hand down its decision this year although China has refused to recognize and participate in the proceedings. “If we win this case, this would invalidate China’s nine-dash line claims,” Golez said. Recently, China raised hackles by deploying an air defense missile system to Woody Island, part of the Paracel chain which it disputes with Taiwan and Vietnam. http://www.interaksyon.com/article/124322/aggression-in-south-china-sea-will-see-new-anti-china-coalition—golez
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Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) – February 21, 2018 – 12:00am MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte wants Filipino soldiers to conduct training in China as he continues to seek warmer ties with Beijing despite the longstanding dispute in the South China Sea. Duterte said there is a need for “balance” in terms of the training destination of soldiers because most of them prefer to pursue their studies in the United States, perceived as a rival of China. “Most of the Filipino soldiers… would immediately choose America. They have forged such bond,” the President said during the 20th anniversary of the Chinese-Filipino Business Club in Manila last Monday. “My suggestion is the next batch should go directly to China… so there would be balance. I’m sure there is an academy there to train good professional Chinese soldiers. Maybe China can accommodate them also and let them… not really to fight the Americans but terrorism,” he added. But Duterte clarified that the Philippines would not cut its ties with its traditional ally the US, which he has accused of interfering with the Philippines’ internal issues. “Let us be very clear on this, we are in good terms with America. Special terms, military alliance – that’s why we cannot enter into another military alliance with any country because there’s only one,” he said, referring to the Mutual Defense Treaty between Manila and Washington. “Philippines now is veering towards China. But we maintain good relations. We have this (Philippines-US) pact defense deal, we will honor it, I don’t know when. But if we go to war, everything wilts,” the President added. Read more at
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 17) — Maritime law expert Jay Batongbacal said the Philippines and China must have a formal agreement before conducting a joint exploration in the disputed South China Sea. This came after Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on Friday that the two countries, which are contending over parts of the South China Sea, are “aggressively” pursuing the exploration to find oil and gas reserves. Read: PH aggressively pursuing joint oil and gas exploration with China “The word ‘aggressively’ definitely was not new, but I think that only means they’re in a hurry,” Batongbacal told CNN Philippines “News Night” on Friday. “But one thing is certain,” he added. “In order for this to even happen, there should first be a formal agreement or treaty between the two countries.”
Generally speaking, a sovereign nation dislikes it when a foreign power establishes new military bases within striking range of its capital. But when it comes to China doing just that to the Philippines in the South China Sea, Rodrigo Duterte, it seems, doesn’t mind at all. The Philippines president, speaking to a crowd of Chinese-Filipino businessmen yesterday (Feb. 19), admitted that China is building military facilities on contested islands near the Philippines. But, he argued, Beijing’s intention was to counter US power in the region, not to inflict harm on his nation. “It’s really intended for those who China thinks will destroy them and that is America,” he said. “We are not part of it… Ignore the missiles there. They are not for us.”
U.S. forces are undeterred by China’s military buildup on man-made islands in the South China Sea and will continue patrolling the strategic, disputed waters wherever “international law allows us,” said a Navy officer aboard a mammoth U.S. aircraft carrier brimming with F-18 fighter jets. Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins told The Associated Press on board the USS Carl Vinson that the Navy has carried out routine patrols at sea and in the air in the region for 70 years to promote security and guarantee the unimpeded flow of trade that’s crucial for Asian and U.S. economies. “International law allows us to operate here, allows us to fly here, allows us to train here, allows us to sail here, and that’s what we’re doing and we’re going to continue to do that,” Hawkins said Saturday on the flight deck of the 95,000-ton warship, which anchored at Manila Bay while on a visit to the Philippines. When President Donald Trump came to power, Southeast Asian officials were uncertain how deep the U.S. would get involved in the overlapping territorial claims involving China and its Southeast Asian neighbors. Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, was a vocal critic of China’s increasingly aggressive actions, including the construction of seven man-made islands equipped with troops, hangers, radar and missile stations and three long runways. China claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety and has challenged the U.S. naval supremacy in the western Pacific. “We’re committed,” Hawkins told reporters. “We’re here.” The Trump administration has outlined a new security strategy that emphasized countering China’s rise and reinforcing the U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific region, where Beijing and Washington have accused each other of stoking a dangerous military buildup and fought for wider influence. Washington stakes no claims in the disputes but has declared that their peaceful resolution and the maintenance of freedom of navigation are in its national interest. U.S. officials have said American warships will continue sailing close to Chinese-occupied features without prior notice, placing Washington in a continuing collision course with China’s interests. In January, China accused the U.S. of trespassing when the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Hopper sailed near the Chinese-guarded Scarborough Shoal, which Beijing wrestled from the Philippines in 2012, despite its proximity to the main northern island of Luzon. After voicing a strong protest, China said it would take “necessary measures” to protect its sovereignty. The nuclear-powered Carl Vinson patrolled the sea prior to its Manila visit but did not conduct a freedom of navigation operation, Hawkins said. “That’s not to say that we won’t or we can’t, but we have not, up to this point,” he said. There are reports that the Carl Vinson will also make a port call in Danang in Vietnam — another critical rival of China’s ambitions in the South China Sea — as the first American aircraft carrier since the Vietnam War ended in 1975, but Hawkins declined to provide details of future trips. China has also opposed the Philippine military’s deployment of a Japanese-donated Beechcraft King Air patrol plane in late January to Scarborough, a Philippine official said on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authority to discuss the issue publicly. Chinese officials have relayed their objection to their Philippine counterparts, the official said. China and Japan have their own territorial rifts in the East China Sea.
MANILA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte sought on Monday to allay fears about China’s construction of military bases on manmade islands in the South China Sea, saying these were built to defend against America rather than confront neighboring states. Duterte also blamed past governments for not building up the country’s defenses in the Spratly archipelago at a time when Beijing was only starting to build its artificial islands and turning them into military bases. “We did nothing,” the firebrand leader said in a speech to Chinese-Filipino businessmen. On China’s construction, he added: “It’s not intended for us. The contending ideological powers of the world or the geopolitics has greatly changed. It’s really intended against those who the Chinese think would destroy them and that is America.” China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a strategic waterway where $3 trillion worth of goods passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have overlapping claims. Duterte: China’s manmade islands in disputed sea not for PH but intended vs the US
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday suggested in jest that China make the Philippines a province as he defended China’s construction of military structures on the contested Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef in the South China Sea. In a speech during the 20th anniversary celebration of the Chinese Filipino Business Club, the President said the government is exerting more serious efforts to resolve the territorial issues in the South China Sea. In front of the Chinese businessmen, Duterte said the China could just make the Philippines a province, like Fujian. He admitted that China is building military bases in the West Philippine Sea but said it would be silly for anyone to think China will use such military assets against the Philippines. “It’s not intended for us. The contending ideological powers of the world or the geopolitics have greatly changed. It’s really intended against those who the Chinese think would destroy them and that is America,” he said. Duterte also brushed aside the move of China to name undersea features in Philippine Rise. “If they say there is a lot of oil there, fine…Remember, that is ours. The whole of the China Sea, you have already claimed it…but this Philippine Rise is ours,” said Duterte. He said any future scientific research conducted by foreign entities in the Philippine Rise will have to be cleared by the military first. The Navy, meanwhile, has deployed a ship and two attack craft in the waters fronting the West Philippine Sea to ensure the country’s territorial integrity. Lt. Sahirul Taib, public affairs officer of the Navy’s fleet based in Sangley Point in Cavite City, said that among the ships sent to Palawan waters were the BRP Nestor Reinoso and two newly-acquired multi-purpose attack craft (MPAC).
TO GO WITH Philippines-China-military-US-maritime-diplomacy,FOCUS by Cecil Morella This photo taken on June 7, 2014 shows the Philippine Navy frigate BRP Ramon Alacraz anchored at the mouth of the South China Sea in Ulugan Bay off Puerto Princesa on Palawan island. Ulugan Bay, with a coastline partly concealed by thick mangrove forests, is at the centre of the Philippine military’s efforts to shore up the defence of contested South China Sea islands and waters. AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images) TO GO WITH Philippines-China-military-US-maritime-diplomacy,FOCUS by Cecil Morella This photo taken on June 7, 2014 shows the Philippine Navy frigate BRP Ramon Alacraz anchored at the mouth of the South China Sea in Ulugan Bay off Puerto Princesa on Palawan island. Ulugan Bay, with a coastline partly concealed by thick mangrove forests, is at the centre of the Philippine military’s efforts to shore up the defence of contested South China Sea islands and waters. AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images) Rex Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil chief who just became the new U.S. secretary of state, might not be causing the same level of global disruption as his boss, President Donald Trump. But in his Senate confirmation hearing on Jan. 11, he sent shockwaves through the China-watching community, vowing: “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.” These remarks instantly gave rise to a global consensus that spanned hawks in China to doves in the West. An editorial in the Global Times, a prominent mouthpiece for Chinese nationalists, warned: “Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish.”
Washington: China is ‘coercing’ its neighbours to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to its advantage, the Pentagon has told Congress amid Beijing flexing its muscles in the East and South China Seas. As China continues its economic and military ascendance, asserting power through an all-of-nation long-term strategy, it will continue to pursue a military modernisation programme that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the US to achieve global preeminence in the future, the Pentagon said. “China is leveraging military modernisation, influence operations and predatory economics to coerce neighbouring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage,” it said in its annual defence budget for the fiscal 2019. China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims. China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the East China Sea too with Japan. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Both areas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources. They are also vital to global trade. The most far-reaching objective of America’s defence strategy is to set the military relationship between the US and China on a path of transparency and non-aggression, the Pentagon said. According to the Pentagon, the central challenge to the US prosperity and security is the reemergence of long term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. “It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model â€” gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions,” it said. The Pentagon said Russia seeks veto authority over nations on its periphery in terms of its governmental, economic and diplomatic decisions to shatter the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and to change European and Middle East security and economic structures to its favour. The use of emerging technologies to discredit and subvert democratic processes in Georgia, Crimea and eastern Ukraine is concern enough, but when coupled with its expanding and modernising nuclear arsenal the challenge is clear.
MANILA, Philippines — British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson’s confirmation that a UK warship will sail in the South China Sea sends provocative signals to China, a Chinese state-run tabloid said. Earlier this week, Williamson confirmed that British warship HMS Sutherland will sail through the South China Sea next month to assert freedom of navigation in the region. In an interview with The Australian newspaper, Williamson said that the Sutherland will sail through the contested waters to make it clear that their navy “has the right to do that.” “We absolutely support the US approach on this, we very much support what the US has been doing,” Williamson told The Australian. Sutherland will sail within 12 nautical miles of China’s artificial islands in the region like the what US ships do, according to the British Defense Secretary. “The US is looking for other countries to do more. This is a great opportunity for the UK and Australia to do more, to exercise leadership,” Williamson said. The Chinese Foreign Ministry noted that all countries are entitled to freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, however, appealed to “non-regional countries” to respect the efforts of regional countries in maintaining peace and stability in the region. Read more at
Under Singapore’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Beijing is rapidly deepening military-to-military relations with its smaller neighbours. During the Asean Defence Ministers Meetings Plus earlier this month, China and Southeast Asian countries agreed on a series of new initiatives to solidify their burgeoning ties. Later this year, the two sides are set to hold their first-ever joint naval drills, signalling warming ties as well as China’s emergence as the new pre-eminent force in the region. They also reiterated the importance of operating various confidence building measures such as the proposed code for unplanned encounters in both air and sea. This way, all sides hope to avoid accidental clashes and other forms of misunderstanding in maritime flashpoints such as the South China Sea China’s defence minister, Chang Wanquan, who represented the Chinese side during the meeting, reaffirmed his country’s “deep friendship” with Asean. He spent five days in Singapore where he also met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, for a series of meetings aimed at ensuring ties are on an even keel. China has built seven new military bases in South China Sea, US navy commander says China and Singapore have been at odds in recent years over the latter’s warming relations with the United States and Taiwan, which Beijing treats as a renegade Chinese province. Singapore has also strained relations with China by emphasising compliance with international law, including the Philippines’ landmark arbitration award at The Hague contesting China’s claims in the South China Sea. Yet, relations have swiftly recovered in recent months. Singapore holds a particularly important role in Beijing’s ties with its southern neighbours since the city state is currently both the rotational chairman of Asean as well as country coordinator for Asean-China relations. Singaporean defence minister, Ng Eng Hen, who co-chaired the defence ministers meeting with China, called his Chinese counterpart a very good and solid friend of Asean, emphasising how the Chinese defence chief has “done a lot personally to try to move our bilateral defence relationship between China and Asean forward”.