CHINA is reportedly trying to assert its control over the South China Sea by offering oil deals in exchange for disregard for international law.
This was revealed after Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he has been offered a controlling stake in a joint energy deal by Chinese President Xi Jinping in exchange for ignoring an international arbitration in Manila’s favour on the South China Sea A 2016 international tribunal that took place in the Hague ruled that China had no right to claim historic ownership of much of the South China Sea.
China had been operating under a ‘nine dash line’ control of the region, a rough outline of the waters that China felt belonged to them.
On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled China had no legal basis for their “nine-dash line” of ownership.
They added that the country had violated sovereign Filipino rights under the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The case started in 2013 when the Philippines filed the complaint to the Court of Arbitration in the Hague seeking law to grant them the right to exploit nearby islands and reefs.
Beijing refused to contribute to the tribunal and boycotted the ruling, with President Xi Jinping furious to be losing his grip on the hotly contested seas.
He said at the time: “China will never accept any claim or action based on those awards.”
With the courts standing firm, Xi has now taken a different and even more controversial approach.
Quoting Xi, Duterte is reported to have said: “Set aside the arbitral ruling. Set aside your claim.
“‘Then allow everybody connected with the Chinese companies. They want to explore and if there is something, they said, we would be gracious enough to give you 60 percent, they will only get 40 percent’. That is the promise of Xi Jinping.”
The Chinese government has history with the Philippines over the region. In 1994, China had a similar confrontation by asserting its ownership of Mischief Reef, which was inside the claimed EEZ of the Philippines.
This occurred just six years after arguably the most violent confrontation over the South China Sea – the Johnson South Reef skirmish.
Chinese troops killed 64 Vietnamese soldiers over the reef with both countries offering different accounts of events.
Vietnam’s account claimed that China sent four ships and three frigates into the area and provoked Vietnamese troops in a deliberate attempt to goad them into opening fire.
China claimed that they detected Vietnamese troops landing on three reefs, one of which was the Johnson South Reef.