Tag Archives: EEZ

Fisheries pact to avert sea disputes

THE Philippines and Taiwan have signed a fisheries agreement that is envisioned to prevent a repeat of the 2013 Balintang Channel incident where a Taiwanese fisherman was fatally shot by a Philippine Coast Guard patrol. Taiwan, China and the Philippines have overlapping claims to the channel, which is both within the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) range prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The incident triggered a diplomatic row between Manila and Taipei. The agreement was signed in Taipei by Gary Song-huann Lin of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office and Antonio Basilio of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office. In a statement, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the agreement was signed on November 5. “The pact is expected to effectively reduce fisheries disputes in the two countries’ overlapping exclusive economic zones and protect the rights and interests of Taiwan fishermen operating legally,” the statement read. After the signing, both sides immediately convened the first Technical Working Group meeting that reached a consensus on two mechanisms–a one-hour advance notification to the other party and release of detained vessels and crew within three days. Read more: http://www.manilatimes.net/fisheries-pact-to-avert-sea-disputes/230179/

Your rules or mine?

COMMUTERS BETWEEN MARIN COUNTY and San Francisco in northern California are getting used to a new spectacle during rush hour. Vast, ungainly container ships, bearing China’s flag and name, plough along under the glorious Golden Gate Bridge. They are bringing goods into the Port of Oakland—and taking back America’s trade deficit. Any pleasure yachts zipping around the bay give them a wide berth. This is China as a Pacific power, a commercial rather than a naval one. According to statistics gathered by Michael McDevitt, a retired rear-admiral at America’s Centre for Naval Analyses, it is now the world’s largest shipbuilder; has the third-largest merchant marine, and by far the largest number of vessels flying its own flag; and boasts a 695,000-strong fishing fleet. It accounts for about a quarter of the world’s container trade. And almost all the steel boxes shipped on the world’s oceans are made in China, too. Special report Much of the security of that trade across the Pacific is the gift of America. China “free-rides” on the protection provided by the United States Pacific Fleet, based in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, so it benefits from America’s enforcement of the rules of sea-based activity. But in the western Pacific China has behaved provocatively towards some staunch American allies, testing the bounds of international maritime law. That implicit challenge comes up often in speeches by American officials. Whether civilian or military, they use an oddly terrestrial metaphor when discussing America’s leadership in the world’s biggest ocean. It is all about enforcing “the rules of the road”, they say. One set of those rules are those on trade, which, as discussed in the previous article, America hopes to modernise via the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Another is about maritime security, particularly in the sea lanes through disputed territorial waters in what China calls its “near seas”. America argues that to safeguard those vital routes of commerce, any territorial quarrels should be settled according to international law, not by force and intimidation. Otherwise, says Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for Asia-Pacific, it is a dangerous world where “might makes right.”   Read more: http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21631792-trade-depends-order-sea-keeping-it-far-straightforward-your-rules-or

Joining Forces in South China Sea Defense Procurement

In mid-2014, the People’s Republic of China deployed an oil rig, protected by Chinese coast guard vessels, into waters claimed by Vietnam. Prior to this, the Chinese tried to prevent the resupply of Philippine Marines based on the Second Thomas Shoal in March 2014. Hence, buoyed by an economy that fuels its regional military preponderance, Beijing appears determined to realize its ambition of annexing the South China Sea and its territories. However, despite Vietnamese and Filipino naval inferiority vis-à-vis China, they need not resign themselves to the slow erosion of their sovereignty, eventual relinquishment of their Exclusive Economic Zones, and their claim to South China Sea territories. Indeed, Vietnam has recently acquired Russian Kilo-class submarines and ordered Dutch Sigma-class corvettes, while the Philippines has taken delivery of two former U.S. Coast Guard high-endurance cutters, in attempts to shore up their maritime projection capabilities. However, more needs to and can be done to balance the ever increasing Chinese deployment of coast guard vessels to the South China Sea.   Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2014/10/joining-forces-in-south-china-sea-defense-procurement/

Freedom of Navigation and China: What Should Europe Do?

Europe should take note of the challenge that China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi set the United States at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting earlier this month. In remarks to the press, Wang challenged Washington’s advocacy of high seas freedoms by arguing that the “current situation of the South China Sea is generally stable, and the freedom of navigation there has never seen any problems.” The increasingly circuitous nature of this debate suggests that support for the U.S. by third parties such as Europe will be necessary to break the logjam and reinforce a principle that Europe also relies on for its prosperity and security. What was not apparent in Wang’s remarks is that the dispute between the U.S. and China is not about commercial ships, but military ones. According to Beijing’s interpretation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), military activities within a country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – which extends 200 nautical miles seaward from a state’s coastline – are banned. Washington argues that this is a distorted understanding of the law, and is supported in this view by the majority of states worldwide. Only about two dozen countries openly agree with China’s interpretation. Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2014/08/freedom-of-navigation-and-china-what-should-europe-do/

Freedom of Navigation and China: What Should Europe Do?

Europe should take note of the challenge that China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi set the United States at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting earlier this month. In remarks to the press, Wang challenged Washington’s advocacy of high seas freedoms by arguing that the “current situation of the South China Sea is generally stable, and the freedom of navigation there has never seen any problems.” The increasingly circuitous nature of this debate suggests that support for the U.S. by third parties such as Europe will be necessary to break the logjam and reinforce a principle that Europe also relies on for its prosperity and security. What was not apparent in Wang’s remarks is that the dispute between the U.S. and China is not about commercial ships, but military ones. According to Beijing’s interpretation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), military activities within a country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – which extends 200 nautical miles seaward from a state’s coastline – are banned. Washington argues that this is a distorted understanding of the law, and is supported in this view by the majority of states worldwide. Only about two dozen countries openly agree with China’s interpretation. Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2014/08/freedom-of-navigation-and-china-what-should-europe-do/

Imbalance in Regional Cooperation

On May 2nd, 2014 the Chinese National Offshore Oil Cooperation’s oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 (HS981) began drilling in disputed waters just off the coast of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The drilling was met with outrage by both the Vietnamese government and its people who claim that the People’s Republic of China is drilling in waters belonging to Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). China responds stating the waters as belonging to them, and thus debate, protests and attacks ensued. The dispute regarding the division of the South China Sea has been a long one and can be understood in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Seas (UNCLOS). According to UNCLOS the claim of maritime zones is made by using the coastal baselines by which a zone is measured. A coastal state can claim an EEZ by measuring 200 nautical miles from the baseline of its mainland coasts. Furthermore within the EEZ, as per the UNCLOS, the claimant coastal states have,‘Sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents, and winds.’   Read more at: http://www.nation.lk/edition/lens/item/30940-imbalance-in-regional-cooperation.html#sthash.h9sKeSDo.dpuf

China ordered to submit counter-argument in sea dispute by Dec. 15 Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/105670/china-ordered-to-submit-counter-argument-in-sea-dispute-by-dec-15#ixzz33oE9C04E Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

MANILA, Philippines–China has been ordered by the international Arbitral Tribunal handling the maritime dispute case filed by the Philippines to file its counter-memorial, or counter-argument, by Dec. 15, despite its position that it will not participate in the arbitration. “In Procedural Order No. 2, the Arbitral Tribunal fixes December 15, 2014 as the date for China to submit its Counter-Memorial responding to the Philippines’ Memorial,” the International Tribunal said in a statement posted on the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) June 3. “The Arbitral Tribunal will determine the further course of the proceedings, including the need for, and scheduling of any other written submissions and hearings, at an appropriate later stage, after seeking the views of the Parties,” it said. The PCA in The Hague, Netherlands, acts as the registry for the arbitration case that the Philippines filed before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos) on Jan. 22 last year. The case stems from China’s claim of “indisputable sovereignty” in the entire South China Sea including parts of the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Philippines filed its memorial, or written arguments, to the tribunal last March 30 following the first Procedural Order dated Aug. 27, 2013. Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/105670/china-ordered-to-submit-counter-argument-in-sea-dispute-by-dec-15#ixzz33oECv6ix Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Japan, Lawfare and the East China Sea

In an article published by The Diplomat on May 29, Jerome Cohen makes an impassioned and well-reasoned argument for states in East Asia to utilize independent, third-party arbitration mechanisms wherever possible to challenge China’s maximalist claims. This was very much the theme of a question I asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his opening keynote address at this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue. Essentially, I asked the question as I wanted to challenge his strong theme of international law in his speech by highlighting Tokyo’s seeming reticence to take the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands dispute to international arbitration. His answer was effectively to support the statement made by former foreign minister Koichiro Gemba in November 2012, that Japan is subject to compulsory arbitration under UNCLOS, but it is up to China to bring the case to court because Japan doesn’t consider there to be a dispute. Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2014/06/japan-lawfare-and-the-east-china-sea/

EDITORIAL – Territorial greed

It must be good to wake up one day, look at the vast expanse of ocean around your land, and decide that all the waters as far as the eye can see are yours. That’s what Beijing is doing in the sea to its south that needs an official change of name because the country thinks if it’s named after China it must be owned by the Chinese. A perfunctory look at any map prepared by international authorities and not by the Chinese will show that Beijing’s claim over nearly the entire South China Sea is preposterous and smacks of territorial greed. If Beijing could include the resource-rich Sulu Sea, where its fishermen poach any marine creatures they can lay their hands on including endangered species, within its so-called Nine-Dash Line it would do so. China’s southern neighbors, which are left only enough space to lay claim to beach resort areas if the Chinese claim is valid, initially shrugged off the Nine-Dash Line. This was until Beijing decided it was time to use its new economic prosperity to flex its military muscles while at the same time claiming the world has nothing to fear with its “peaceful rise.” In 1993, the Chinese pounced on Mischief or Panganiban Reef off Palawan, setting up huts that Beijing described as shelters for its fishermen. The “shelters” have since been transformed into concrete military barracks – the best example of creeping Chinese invasion of atolls and islands way beyond its 200-mile exclusive economic zone. If the Philippines or any other Southeast Asian country built such structures anywhere within the same distance from Chinese shores, it could spark a shooting war – but the Philippines considers territorial greed irresponsible behavior in the international community.   Read more: http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2014/03/21/1303389/editorial-territorial-greed

PROTECTING THE NATION’S MARINE WEALTH IN THE WEST PHILIPPINE SEA

Philippine Women’s Judges Association 6 March 2014 Justice Antonio T. Carpio Play the PowerPoint presentation here. This morning, with your kind indulgence, allow me to speak on a matter that I hope would be the advocacy of every Filipino – the protection of the marine wealth of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea. Our 1987 Constitution mandates: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its xxx exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.” This is the mandate of the Constitution that we have all solemnly sworn to uphold. To fulfill the State’s obligation to protect the nation’s marine wealth in its exclusive economic zone, the Philippines has filed an arbitration case against China in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). At stake in the arbitration before an UNCLOS Annex VII tribunal is whether the Philippines will keep or lose 80% of its exclusive economic zone and 100% of its extended continental shelf in the West Philippines Sea. UNCLOS, ratified by 165 states comprising 85% of the entire membership of the United Nations, is the primary international law governing the use of the oceans and seas of our planet. Specifically, UNCLOS governs the use of the following maritime zones: (a) internal waters or archipelagic waters, the landward waters adjacent to the territorial sea; (b) territorial sea, an area of 12 NM from the baselines along the coast; (c) exclusive economic zone (EEZ), an area of 200 NM from the baselines; (d) extended continental shelf (ECS), an additional area of 150 NM from the outer limits of the EEZ; and (e) the AREA, which is the common heritage of mankind, the maritime zone beyond the ECS. The AREA belongs to all states, whether coastal or land-locked. UNCLOS governs maritime disputes on overlapping maritime zones like overlapping territorial seas, EEZs and ECSs. UNCLOS does not govern territorial disputes, which are sovereignty or ownership issues over land territory like islands or rocks above water at high tide. Rocks that are below water, or submerged, at high tide are not considered land and thus disputes over such rocks are governed by UNCLOS. UNCLOS provides for a compulsory dispute settlement mechanism over maritime disputes among its member states, including disputes involving the interpretation or application of the provisions of UNCLOS. A state may opt out of certain specified disputes, one of which is maritime boundary delimitation arising from overlapping territorial seas, EEZs or ECSs. A state cannot opt out of any dispute except those expressly specified under UNCLOS. China, the Philippines and all the other disputant states in the South China Sea are parties to UNCLOS, and are thus bound by the UNCLOS compulsory dispute settlement mechanism. Maritime disputes are governed primarily by UNCLOS, while territorial disputes are governed by the general rules and principles of international law. Maritime disputes are subject to compulsory arbitration because under UNCLOS a party state has given its advance consent to compulsory arbitration, unless a state has opted out of compulsory arbitration involving certain specified disputes. In contrast, territorial disputes can be subject to arbitration only with the consent of each disputant state to every arbitration, unless such consent has been given in advance in a treaty. There is no such treaty between the Philippines and China involving compulsory arbitration of territorial disputes. The Philippines’ arbitration case against China is solely a maritime dispute and does not involve any territorial dispute. The Philippines is asking the tribunal if China’s 9-dashed lines can negate the Philippines’ EEZ as guaranteed under UNCLOS. The Philippines is also asking the tribunal if certain rocks above water at high tide, like Scarborough Shoal, generate a 200 NM EEZ or only a 12 NM territorial sea. The Philippines is further asking the tribunal if China can appropriate low-tide elevations (LTEs), like Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, within the Philippines’ EEZ. These disputes involve the interpretation or application of the provisions of UNCLOS. The Philippines is not asking the tribunal to delimit by nautical measurements overlapping EEZs between China and the Philippines. The Philippines is also not asking the tribunal what country has sovereignty over an island, or rock above water at high tide, in the West Philippine Sea. Under UNCLOS, every coastal state is entitled to a 200 NM EEZ, subject to boundary delimitation in case of overlapping EEZs with other coastal states. The EEZ is the area extending to 200 NM measured from the baselines of a coastal state. Under UNCLOS, EEZs must be drawn from baselines of the coast of a continental land or island capable of human habitation of its own. This basic requirement stems from the international law principle that the “land dominates the sea” – or to put it another way, areas in the seas and oceans can be claimed and measured only from land. A coastal state has full sovereignty over its 12 NM territorial sea. Beyond the territorial sea, the coastal state has only specific “sovereign rights” up to 200 NM from its baselines. These “sovereign rights” are to the exclusion of all other states. The term “sovereign rights” refers to specific rights that do not amount to full “sovereignty.” A coastal state’s “sovereign rights” to its EEZ beyond the territorial sea refer principally to the exclusive right to exploit the living and non-living resources in the area, without other sovereign rights like the right to deny freedom of navigation and over-flight, which a coastal state can deny in its territorial sea. China claims almost 90% of the South China Sea under its so-called 9-dashed line map, which overlaps 80% of the Philippines’ EEZ in the West Philippine Sea. If China’s claim is upheld, the Philippines will lose 80% of its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea, including the Reed Bank and even Malampaya. The Philippines will also lose all its ECS in the West Philippine Sea. The maritime dispute between the Philippines and China boils down to whether there are overlapping EEZs between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea. Are the waters enclosed by China’s 9-dashed lines part of the EEZ of China such that China’s EEZ overlaps with the EEZ of the Philippines? China also claims that the islands in the Spratlys like Itu Aba generate their own EEZs which overlap with […]