Tag Archives: BRP Sierra Madre

More blockades by China to follow, say experts

MANILA, Philippines—Security experts believe China is pushing the region to the “brink of miscalculations” in the South China Sea with its expansive land reclamation in disputed territories as the Philippines anticipates more blockades by the Chinese in the West Philippine Sea once their facilities become fully operational next year. “The bases are being constructed very fast, done rapidly, that it’s estimated that they would be operational by next year,” military historian Jose Antonio Custodio told the Inquirer in a recent interview. Custodio said the airfields and naval facilities built by China on reclaimed land on the reefs and atolls along the so-called nine-dash line would allow them to execute more blockades against other claimants in the South China Sea. Custodio said the Philippine military would have a more difficult time resupplying the Marine platoon posted at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal), which China also claims. Chinese coast guard vessels drive away Philippine ships dispatched on resupply missions. Last year, the Marines on the grounded ship BRP Sierra Madre, the Philippines’ symbol of ownership of the shoal, stayed at the garrison for nearly five months because the foreign vessels blocked the Philippine ships that attempted to resupply and rotate the troops. Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/117954/more-blockades-by-china-to-follow-say-experts/#ixzz3QNPkBkKT

China is pushing South China Sea situation to the brink of miscalculation

Security experts believe China is pushing the region to the “brink of miscalculations” in the South China Sea with its expansive land reclamation in disputed territories as the Philippines anticipates more blockades by the Chinese in the West Philippine Sea once their facilities become fully operational next year. “The bases are being constructed very fast, done rapidly, that it’s estimated that they would be operational by next year,” military historian Jose Antonio Custodio told the Inquirer in a recent interview. Custodio said the airfields and naval facilities built by China on reclaimed land on the reefs and atolls along the so-called nine-dash line would allow them to execute more blockades against other claimants in the South China Sea. Custodio said the Philippine military would have a more difficult time resupplying the Marine platoon posted at Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal), which China also claims. Chinese coast guard vessels drive away Philippine ships dispatched on resupply missions. Last year, the Marines on the grounded ship BRP Sierra Madre, the Philippines’ symbol of ownership of the shoal, stayed at the garrison for nearly five months because the foreign vessels blocked the Philippine ships that attempted to resupply and rotate the troops.   Read more: http://chinadailymail.com/2015/01/25/china-is-pushing-south-china-sea-situation-to-the-brink-of-miscalculation/

Why Is China Building Islands in the South China Sea?

The BBC has published a multimedia report on the scramble for control over the South China Sea, with a particular focus on the clash between China and the Philippines. In the BBC report, entitled “China’s Island Factory,” reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes describes his journey on a Filipino fishing boat to visit “new islands” created by Chinese land reclamation in the South China Sea. He then visits two Philippines outposts in the Spratlys (Pagasa Island and the Sierre Madre, a Philippine Navy vessel grounded on Second Thomas Shoal) that Manila uses to legitimize its claims. The Philippine government has been doing its best to call attention to China’s land reclamation projects in the South China Sea, part of Manila’s attempt to win over international opinion. The Philippines calls such actions provocative, a unilateral attempt to change the status quo. Back in May, the Department of Foreign Affairs protested the land reclamation in a statement and released before-and-after photos of the construction. At the recent ASEAN Regional Forum, Manila proposed a freeze on provocative moves in the South China Sea, including land reclamation projects. Beijing dismissed the proposal before the ARF even convened.   Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2014/09/why-is-china-building-islands-in-the-south-china-sea/

China’s Island Factory

New islands are being made in the disputed South China Sea by the might of the Chinese state. But a group of marooned Filipinos on a rusting wreck is trying to stand in the way. The boat pitches up and down and rolls from side to side in the heavy swell. The noise of the big diesel motor, just below the floor, is hammering at my head. My nose is filled with the smell of dried fish and diesel fumes, my T-shirt glued to my chest with sweat. Proper sleep is impossible. For more than 40 hours it has been like this. Our wooden fishing boat has tossed its way across the South China Sea. Most of the time we barely exceed walking pace. “Who would be a fisherman?” I wonder out loud. I stare out at the endless rolling waves. On the horizon the sky is dark and threatening. Then my eye is caught by something sticking up above the waves. It looks like an oil or gas-drilling platform. What on earth is it doing here? Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/special/2014/newsspec_8701/index.html?OCID=twitterasia

Don’t Blame US Pivot for South China Sea Row

China is once again accusing the U.S. pivot of causing the recent tensions in the South China Sea. In the wake of the U.S. and China squaring off over the South China Sea at the ASEAN Regional Forum, Xinhua published a blistering critique of U.S. policy towards the waters. “By stoking the flames,” Xinhua opined, “Washington is further emboldening countries like the Philippines and Vietnam to take a hardline stance against China, raising suspicion over the real intention of the United States and mak[ing] an amicable solution more difficult to reach.” The editorial continued: “It can hardly be accepted as a coincidence that the previously calm South China Sea has lost its tranquility since the United States embarked on its pivot to Asia strategy.” This is not uncommon; China regularly accuses the U.S. pivot of stoking tensions in the South China Sea. In particular, Beijing claims that the U.S. pivot has emboldened allies and partners like the Philippines and Vietnam to take a hardline stance against China, which has perpetuated the various disputes in the South China Sea. This is patently false. To begin with, even if the U.S. pivot did embolden U.S. allies and partners (and I don’t believe this is the case), it is still China that is acting in an offensive manner in the disputed waters. For example, China took the offensive in placing an oil rig in disputed waters with Vietnam, and trying to block the same resupplies the Philippines has been bringing to the Second Thomas Shoal for decades. Similarly, it is China that has stepped up patrols of disputed areas of the South China Sea, such as the Scarborough Shoal, and it is also Beijing that is building various fixtures on disputed islands it administers. Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2014/08/dont-blame-us-pivot-for-south-china-sea-row/

5 Chinese vessels deployed near shoal

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, Philippines – China has deployed five vessels – a survey ship, a frigate and three surveillance vessels – close to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. A Philippine Air Force (PAF) Nomad plane saw the Chinese deployment while delivering provisions to the Marine troops on the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal. The STAR joined yesterday’s airdrop operations and saw several Chinese ships in the area. The Chinese vessels include two surveillance ships with Bow No. 3111 and 3102; XiangYonghong 10, a survey ship; a Jianghu-V Class frigate, and one unmarked white ship from their forward naval station at Panganiban Reef.   Read more: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/05/04/1319161/5-chinese-vessels-deployed-near-shoal

5 Chinese vessels deployed near shoal

UERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, Philippines – China has deployed five vessels – a survey ship, a frigate and three surveillance vessels – close to Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. A Philippine Air Force (PAF) Nomad plane saw the Chinese deployment while delivering provisions to the Marine troops on the BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin Shoal. The STAR joined yesterday’s airdrop operations and saw several Chinese ships in the area. The Chinese vessels include two surveillance ships with Bow No. 3111 and 3102; XiangYonghong 10, a survey ship; a Jianghu-V Class frigate, and one unmarked white ship from their forward naval station at Panganiban Reef.   Read more: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/05/04/1319161/5-chinese-vessels-deployed-near-shoal

US helped PH Navy in Ayungin mission

MANILA, Philippines – The US assisted the Philippine Navy in the tense mission to rotate troops trapped for 5 months in the disputed Ayungin Shoal following China’s “blockade,” Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Cuisia Jr. said Friday, April 11. (READ: China harasses ship before pleading day and Ayungin trip ‘betrays’ PH intent) “I don’t specifically know the details and they will not discuss that. When you tell them, then China will know what to look for the next time around,” Cuisia told reporters in Manila. “We know that they [US] assisted the Philippine Navy in being able to evade the Chinese ships…. I think it was the strategy that was discussed,” Cuisia added. Read more: http://www.rappler.com/nation/55262-ph-ayungin-mission-us-assistance

Ayungin dilemma

The Ayungin Shoal recently came into focus in the Philippine public mind when Chinese coast guard ships prevented a Philippine civilian government boat from provisioning the marine outpost aboard the derelict BRP Sierra Madre. The latter was intentionally grounded by the Philippines in 1999, four years after the Chinese troops seized the nearby Mischief Reef and started building a permanent outpost. It is now a flashpoint in the current political tussle between the People’s Republic of China and the Philippines. The Ayungin Shoal is a small submerged formation that forms part of the Spratly Island group, and about 200 kilometers west of Palawan. The Philippines considers it as part of its continental shelf and within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as defined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). China, however, claims that it is within its “territorial waters” as indicated in its so-called “Nine-Dash Line” map submitted to the UN in 2009. It has since added a 10th dash east of Taiwan, close to the Japanese island of Yonaguni. Judge Gao Zhiguo, China’s appointee to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, said that the dashed line has three meanings: first, ‘it represents the title to the island groups that it encloses’; second, ‘it preserves Chinese historic rights in fishing, navigation, and such other marine activities as oil and gas development in the waters and on the continental shelf surrounded by the line’; and third, it may serve as a basis for ‘potential maritime delimitation lines’. This seems to hint at two things. First, that China is holding on to its claim of territoriality insofar as island groups are concerned, particularly the Paracels (Xisha Qundao) and Spratlys (Nansha Qundao) and, based on “historic rights,” insofar as waters and continental shelf within the line. Second, it is willing to negotiate maritime delimitation lines. The latter, I suspect, is the one it is willing to open to bilateral negotiations, hence the dash lines.   Read more: https://ph.news.yahoo.com/blogs/parallaxis/ayungin-dilemma-084927723.html

Philippines tests rule of law

On March 30, the Philippines submitted a memorial detailing its arguments and evidence against China’s nine-dash line and other aspects of Beijing’s South China Sea claims to an arbitration tribunal at The Hague. The 10-volume, nearly 4,000-page document marks a bold step by Manila, and one that Beijing seems to have believed never would actually happen. The Philippines chose the right course. Now the international community must weigh in and convince China of that fact. China has refused to take part in the case since it was first brought by the Philippines in January 2013. It has also exerted considerable pressure on Manila to abandon the arbitration proceedings. As the deadline for the memorial approached and pressure failed to alter the Philippine position, Beijing switched to the carrot. It reportedly offered Manila incentives to drop the case, including trade benefits and a mutual withdrawal of ships from Scarborough Shoal, which China occupied in April 2012. But the Philippines did not budge. An incident near a reef in the Spratly Islands on March 29 helps explain why.   Read more: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/SEA-01-110414.html