Tag Archives: Panatag Shoal

China’s mischief: Expansion, reclamation

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines—China has deployed a dredging ship at the disputed Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) and is doing “substantial” reclamation in the partially submerged area, signaling Beijing may be preparing to expand its facilities there, according to the military command that is directly in charge of securing the country’s maritime interests in the West Philippine Sea. China has been earnestly conducting dredging activities at Panganiban Reef—a Philippine-claimed area in the Spratly group of islands, which Beijing occupied in the mid-1990s —similar to earlier reported land reclamation work in other areas of the Spratlys, said Rear Admiral Alexander Lopez, chief of the Western Command (Wescom) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. “We don’t know what they plan to do in Mischief. It is already a garrison to begin with and far from being just a fisherman’s shelter, which was what (China) claimed when they first occupied it,” Lopez said.   Aerial photos Lopez did not say when China started the dredging work or give any details on the extent of reclamation at Panganiban Reef, saying only the work had been “substantial.” He said the Navy has taken aerial photographs of the reclamation activities at Panganiban Reef but that his command was not authorized to release those photos. But Lopez said the physical change in Panganiban Reef since the dredging “has been substantial.” He said Panganiban Reef has been functioning as a base for Chinese frigates that have been patrolling the area. Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/118415/chinas-mischief-expansion-reclamation/#ixzz3R7Nk5GkF

Kerry: US will defend allies in Asia-Pacific

MANILA, Philippines – The United States wants stronger ties with China but is committed to defending allies in the region, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday. Kerry said he and US President Barack Obama would be working for the interests of their allies in the South China Sea when they meet leaders of the Asia Pacific region at two summits in Beijing and Myanmar this month. Speaking before the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington last Tuesday, Kerry said one of their priorities in at the Asia Pacific meetings is to strengthen “the institutions and reinforce the norms that contribute to a rules-based, stable region.” “These are our goals for the rebalance and the objectives that we are working to pursue. We are working together with our allies and partners across Asia,” Kerry said. “These are the goals that the President will discuss with other leaders next week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Beijing and also at the East Asia Summit that follows in Burma.” The Philippines has continued to move for a settlement of the maritime dispute over reefs and other islands within its exclusive economic zone with China through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), including its provisions on dispute settlement, particularly arbitration.   Read more: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/11/06/1388613/kerry-us-will-defend-allies-asia-pacific

Artificial Islands in the South China Sea

The turbulent South China Sea (SCS) has emerged as a regional flashpoint, with sovereignty disputes over rocks and islands driving increasing tensions. Recently, a new twist to the saga has emerged, in the form of new artificial islands being created by China in an effort to bolster its sovereign claims. While the other claimants in the region – Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia – are all in control of natural islands, China is the first to control the artificial variety. At the same time, Beijing is also trying to enlarge the existing islands that it already has under its control. These news islands and enlargements are essentially new, and have the potential to intensify the disputes and the associated level of acrimony. One of the most noticeable changes that have occurred has been in the Spratly Islands. Until the beginning of 2014, the Chinese presence in these islands consisted of a handful of outposts that comprised a collection of concrete block-type houses perched atop coral atolls. Now, China is expanding most of these islands, rocks, and submerged reefs through landfill with sand dug from nearby reefs, which is being dumped to create new structures. After the landfill is completed, the existing minimal infrastructure is considerably upgraded. In some cases, the newer islands are being created from submerged reefs and shoals. Presently, activity is underway on five different reefs. One of the primary areas of land reclamation and focus has been the Johnson South Reef. Historically this was the site of the deadly skirmish that was fought between China and Vietnam in 1988, leading to the loss of more than 70 Vietnamese lives, along with the sinking of two Vietnamese boats. Afterwards, China took possession of six features in the Spratly Islands. Fortunately, despite the considerable aggression in Chinese posturing in more recent years, there has as yet been no replay of those bloody events. Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2014/09/artificial-islands-in-the-south-china-sea/

China reclaiming land in 5 reefs?

MANILA, Philippines – China is carrying out land reclamation operations in not just one but a total of five areas in the disputed Spratly Islands well within the Philippine maritime zone. A confidential Malacañang report detailed the land reclamation activities of China in five areas, namely Johnson South (Mabini) Reef, Cuarteron (Calderon) Reef, Hughes (Kennan) Reef, Gaven (Burgos) Reef and Eldad (Malvar) Reef. The report noted China has focused its land reclamation operations in areas farther from the Philippine mainland. No such activities were monitored at three other areas, namely Fiery Cross (Kagitingan) Reef, Subi (Zamora) Reef and Mischief (Panganiban) Reef, where China had built military garrisons and communications facilities. But the report does not rule out the possibility of China doing land reclamation activities in these three areas once the work is done in the first five reefs. The assessment by both local and international observers is that the expansion of China’s existing garrisons in these areas is part of Beijing’s ongoing efforts to impose its supremacy over the area.   Read more: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2014/06/13/1334238/china-reclaiming-land-5-reefs

Philippines-China ties: What went wrong?

“IS this how the Philippines should deal with its powerhouse neighbor?” Former President Fidel V. Ramos raised this question in 2011 following conflicting reports on the dates of President Benigno S. Aquino’s state visit to China. But back then, relations between the Philippines and China were still in good shape. Hu Jintao was then the Chinese president. China was in fact the first to invite Aquino to a state visit soon after his inauguration in June 2010. “It means they were eager to enhance relations with the Philippines,” says former UN Security Council President Lauro Baja Jr. “We should have taken advantage of that.” But in less than four years, relations quickly went from “good” to “seriously damaged.” What went wrong? Aquino had barely warmed his seat when his administration faced its first major challenge: the Manila hostage crisis in August 2010 resulted in the death of 9 people, 8 of them Chinese from Hong Kong. In March 2011, 3 Filipino drug mules were executed in China despite appeals made by Aquino for a commutation of their sentence. Yet these incidents did little damage, if at all, to relations of the two countries. “The case of drug mules, the hostage-taking incident, these are police enforcement situations with almost no foreign policy content,” says Baja.   Read more: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/focus/04/28/14/philippines-china-ties-what-went-wrong

Govt ‘will never accept’ China’s 9-dash line

Malacañang declared on Wednesday that it would ‘never respect China’s nine-dash claim’ in the South China Sea and that no one – especially not Beijing – can prevent Filipino fishermen from plying the country’s waters. “[We will never respect it because] it’s a derogation of international laws. Nine-dash line is something we cannot accept,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda. Lacierda said China’s encompassing claim was precisely why Manila filed an arbitration case on the issue before the UN International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas. “The nine-dash line is not consistent with international laws. It is not consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas,” he stressed. He added that Filipino fishermen cannot be barred from fishing within Philippine waters. “We believe in the principle that what is ours is ours, and so we will continue to push that,” Lacierda said. The country has already filed a protest against China after Beijing Coast Guard personnel blocked two Philippine ships from entering Ayungin Shoal, a month after it protested China’s similar provocative action in Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal. Read more: http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/03/13/govt-will-never-accept-china-s-9-dash-line/

Chinese drive away Pinoy fishers from shoal

Chinese ships used water cannons to drive Filipino fishermen from the Panatag Shoal, a disputed territory, the military reported on Monday, even as the commander of the US Navy Pacific Fleet arrived in Manila to discuss with government officials, among others, the country’s territorial dispute with China as well as the “implications” of the US’ military rebalance to Asia policy. Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista said the Panatag incident which happened last Jan. 27 is now being investigated by the military. More bullying. Military chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista tells foreign news correspondents how Chinese vessels fired water cannons at Filipino fishermen last January as US Ambassador Philip Goldberg listens during a news forum in Makati City on Monday. AFP PHOTO Bautista said that Chinese coast guard and fishing vessels remain in the Panatag areas as well as in Ayungin Reef in Kalayaan Group of Islands in Palawan, which the Philippine Navy is purposely steering clear of to minimize the risk of a clash. But Bautista said government troops will come to the aid of fishermen if “military force” is used against them. Read more: http://manilastandardtoday.com/2014/02/25/chinese-drive-away-pinoy-fishers-from-shoal-/

China should take more territory from Phl – Chinese general

That’s the so-called cabbage strategy that China is employing to stake its maritime territorial claims, and a ranking Chinese military officer says his country should take more disputed territory from the Philippines, The New York Times Magazine has reported. Quoting Maj. Gen. Zhang Zhaozhong of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the Sunday magazine cover article said China began taking measures “to seal and control” areas around Panatag or Scarborough Shoal, which the Chinese call the Huangyan Islands, following a standoff with the Philippines last year. The magazine article, quoting Zhang, reported that the cabbage strategy involved “surrounding a contested area with so many boats – fishermen, fishing administration ships, marine surveillance ships, navy warships.” The island “is thus wrapped layer by layer like a cabbage,” Zhang reportedly said in a television interview given in May. Read more: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/11/02/1252087/china-should-take-more-territory-phl-chinese-general

AFP: Up to 5 Chinese ships circling Panatag, Ayungin

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces chief Gen Emmanuel Bautista said 2 to 5 Chinese ships are circling the Ayungin (Second Thomas Shoal) and Panatag (Scarborough) shoals at any given time and some have gone as close as 2 nautical miles or about 4 kilometers to Ayungin. These are combinations of Chinese Maritime Surveillance (CMS) ships, fisheries law enforcement vessels, and fishing ships. Bautista said CMS ships and China PLA navy vessels sometimes escort the fishing vessels. Read more: http://www.rappler.com/nation/37520-chinese-ships-panatag-ayungin

China’s reservations

China has made three reservations to the compulsory and binding dispute settlement procedure of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Of these, only two appear to be relevant to the Philippine arbitral submission against China involving the West Philippine Sea. The first, a reservation on maritime delimitation, does not appear to be relevant because none of the prayers of the Philippines calls for delimitation. Instead, the Philippines asked the Tribunal to declare that China’s nine-dash lines do not have any legal basis under the UNCLOS.  The Philippines also sought for a declaration that certain low-tide elevations—geographical features that are only visible during low tide, where China has built permanent structures—cannot be the subject of title and hence, should be declared as part of the Philippine continental shelf. The Philippines also asked that the waters outside of the 12-nautical-mile territorial sea of the Panatag shoal be declared as part of the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone since these waters are within 200 nautical miles of the Philippines. Read more: http://mst.ph/2013/08/08/chinas-reservations/