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gameface_one
07-18-2012, 10:29 PM
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China risks isolation if it occupies Spratlys

by Jojo Malig, ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 07/18/2012 7:53 PM | Updated as of 07/18/2012 9:56 PM



View Spratly Islands in a larger map

First of a 2-part report

MANILA, Philippines - China risks being a pariah in the global community if it attacks other countries claiming parts of the disputed Spratly Islands, an analyst warned on Wednesday.

Greg Poling, research associate of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies' Southeast Asia Program, said* Beijing's military ambitions in the region are held back by its economic, diplomatic, and political interests overseas.

"From the Chinese perspective, Beijing knows that it could easily occupy every disputed feature in the South China Sea, but it cannot do so without causing wide and probably irrevocable damage to its interests abroad," Poling told ABS-CBNNews.com.

"China would be rightfully seen as the aggressor in such a situation, as well as in violation of its own multilateral and bilateral treaty obligations," he said. "Any hopes of China being seen as a responsible member of the international community or a benign rising power would go out the window."

"As long as aggression was limited to the Spratlys themselves, outside powers would be unlikely to intervene militarily, but China would find itself isolated and almost necessarily in the midst of a new Cold War as the United States and its partners both in the Asia Pacific and Europe would fear future Chinese aggression," Poling added.

He said that although there is little chance of a full-scale shooting war between China and the Philippines or Vietnam, "small-scale skirmishes are not out of the question."

Johnson Reef clash

Vietnam and China have engaged in such armed naval skirmishes in the past years, including a deadly battle in waters near Johnson Reef and Fiery Cross Reef in 1988.

More than 70 Vietnamese troops were killed while 2 of their ships were sunk and another was heavily damaged in the skirmish.

It resulted in China gaining control of the nearby Johnson South Reef, which the Philippines calls Mabini Reef.

Dr. Richard Cronin, senior associate and director of the Henry Stimson Center's Southeast Asia Program, told the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission that the deadly outcome of the naval battle was the reason why the Philippine Navy decided to avoid a confrontation with the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy when the latter occupied Mischief Reef in 1994.

Poling said the Philippines and Vietnam are avoiding taking the People's Liberation Army head-on into open conflict over incidents in the Spratlys and the Paracels. "The United States, as a treaty ally of the Philippines, also has a stake in pushing all sides to avoid a shooting war," he said.

He said other countries should not also immediately jump to conclusions regarding China’s naval intentions in the region.

"Clearly, maneuvering warships and the like through the South China Sea intentionally sends a message to the other claimants. And naval maneuvers by China have increased in recent years. That said, there is nothing in international law to forbid China from operating warships within 60 nautical miles of anyone’s coast (as long as they are farther than 12 nautical miles, which is the limit of territorial waters)," he said.

Scarborough standoff

Poling cited the Scarborough Shoal standoff, which he believes was caused by the Philippines sending a military, instead of a Coast Guard patrol vessel to the area.

"China has been careful to avoid militarizing the disputes by using its civil, not naval, ships in confrontations like Scarborough. It was the Philippines that chose to send its naval flagship to perform the purely civilian job of interdicting illegal fishermen at Scarborough," he said.

"Beijing still chose to respond with its civilian agencies. If there is a message in that, it is that China does not need to use its naval forces to throw its weight around in the region," he told ABS-CBNNews.com.

He said what the Philippines "cannot afford is another Scarborough Shoal" (standoff).

"If that incident proved anything, it is that the Philippines is in no position to confront China’s civilian maritime forces, much less its naval forces (which we should keep in mind played no part at Scarborough)," Poling said.

"The Philippines should, and is, seeking to upgrade its maritime awareness capabilities and its civilian and naval assets in the long run. But in the short-term, it will have to rely on bilateral diplomacy to manage incidents with China, and seek some sort of united front with most, if not all, of its ASEAN counterparts to counter China’s intimidation tactics," he added.

More Chinese fishermen in Spratlys

Poling said the Philippines should expect that increased activity of Chinese fishing vessels in the disputed waters will continue to remain a source of tension.

"As fishing grounds near China become depleted, fishermen from Hainan and throughout southern China are traveling farther afield," he said.

"This is only being promoted by Beijing, which is rumored to be paying fishermen on Hainan to fish in the Spratlys, where it would be unprofitable to operate if not for government payouts," he added.

"This is growing even more dangerous as China’s various civilian maritime agencies seem determined to protect their fishermen’s access to all part of the South China Sea with whatever means are necessary. All this means we can expect fishing confrontations, which were already regular occurrences, to become even more frequent and more public," Poling said.

"Clearly the Philippines will not stop patrolling the waters it considers its own. The result is probably going to be frequent diplomatic spats between the two sides," he said. "This has been the status quo in the Paracels for decades, with China arresting Vietnamese fishermen with regularity, Vietnam protesting, and a diplomatic solution being found."

In part 2: How the Philippines, ASEAN can beat China in its own game

Joescoundrel
07-27-2012, 08:54 AM
By Ted Laguatan

INQUIRER.net

11:49 pm | Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, now charged with plunder, election malfeasance and other high crimes – opened the door for the fox to enter the chicken coop when she entered into a controversial secret agreement allowing Chinese research vessels to extensively explore Philippine waters for oil and natural gas.

Having confirmed that the territorial waters of the Philippines hold vast deposits of energy resources, China’s officials, like those in the Japanese and German governments in World War II – have decided on a similar reckless immoral condemnable course of action: They seek to invade the territories of smaller helpless countries and take over their resources.

The small armies of the Philippines and surrounding smaller countries are boy scouts compared to China’s formidable 2.3 million strong army with its considerable arsenal of war ships, jet planes, conventional and nuclear weapons. Given this disparity, China flaunts its military muscles and in true bully fashion shows little respect for the territorial and property rights of its smaller neighbors.

In World War II, the bad guys in the Japanese and German governments caused enormous pain and suffering to millions of people including their own – with their bullying territory grabbing ways leading America and its allies to eventually declare war on the two villain countries. China is now risking a similar situation with its invading actions in the Philippines.

Adding insult to injury, China’s officials have invented a convenient fiction to justify their continuous escalating intrusion into Philippine territory.

They claim that everything under or above the waters of the entire South China Sea also known as West Philippine Sea – belongs to them – that supposedly a 2000 year old Han Dynasty map indicates that all these territories were once part of the Chinese empire and that therefore, it is theirs.

Anyone with a modicum of intelligence recognizes the absurdity of this argument. It is doubtful that such a map exists but even if for the sake of argument, let’s assume that it does, did the people in these territories recognize the legitimacy of the Han Dynasty’s rule over their waters and land 2000 years ago?

And even if we assume that they did, China’s argument is about as ludicrous as the Italian government claiming that the whole of Europe and parts of Africa and Asia belong to them because these were once a part of the Roman Empire. The pygmy Aetas, who arrived and settled in the Philippines some 40,000 years ago from the Andaman Islands would then have a more legitimate claim if this first in time arguments are seriously considered.

Over time, governments rise and fall, new countries are formed and national boundaries shift. Of course, China’s officials are aware of these realities. And never mind that they are signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which declares that anything within two hundred miles from a country’s baseline belongs to that country and is part of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

And so what if the Philippines and other smaller nations files a complaint to the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) which has jurisdiction over disputes concerning the (UNCLOS). China’s officialdom indicates that it is not interested in involving ITLOS.

The hungry dragon’s thinking goes this way: ”We need a continuous supply of energy to sustain our fabulous economic growth. We import 70% of our energy supplies from Russia. The Philippines and other smaller countries have tremendous unexploited reserves of oil and naturals gas. Their pathetic armies are no match for ours. Let’s invent a reason on why it is justifiable for us to invade and take their resources – and then let’s just do it. Who can stop us.”

In line with their scheme, they insist on a bilateral resolution of the marine territorial dispute that they instigated – not involving ITLOS but only a one on one resolution as say, between China and the Philippines or China and Vietnam. Under such a negotiation environment, the Philippines, Vietnam or other small countries do not have the leverage to bargain.

With a mighty army, big guns, economic power and goon mentality, China’s officials will make an offer that the Philippines or another small country cannot possibly refuse.

The United States knows China’s game plan and the unequal bargaining power involved in a one on one bilateral negotiation arrangement. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Philippines maintain that a multilateral resolution involving other nations should be the proper way to resolve territorial disputes between China and smaller nations.

Playing mind games, and in line with their grand scheme to possess the Philippines’ energy resources, it is now China’s officials accusing Filipino fishermen of trespassing when they fish in their traditional fishing spots which are well within the Philippines’ 200 mile EEZ.

Escalating their presence in Philippine territory, China has engaged in defiant activities meant to test the Philippines’ resolve in defending against China’s intrusion and also to elicit a test reaction from its giant ally, the United States.

Fleets of Chinese fishing vessels escorted by gun boats now blatantly enter into Philippine waters taking rare turtles, lobsters, fishes and live corral. The Philippines cannot stop them because it has no matching gunboats of its own.

A few weeks ago, the Philippine government reported that “a small Philippine fishing boat was accidentally rammed by a Chinese transport vessel which according to a Philippine government report resulted in one fisherman dead and four missing.”

Understandably, avoiding a one sided military confrontation, the incident was downplayed by the Philippine government. The fact is that it is practically impossible for two boats to collide in the wide open sea, especially so because Chinese transport vessels are equipped with modern sonar navigational equipment which can easily detect nearby boats.

The Chinese boat also did not stop to help the fishermen which suggests that this incident was not accidental. The four missing Filipino fishermen were never found. That means not one dead fisherman but five.

Joescoundrel
07-27-2012, 08:54 AM
(Cont'd from above...)

China also has recently unilaterally established “Three Sands City” and announced that Panatag or Scarborough Shoals are part of this city’s territory which it will manage.

China appears to be arrogantly thumbing its nose at the United Nations and the world by ignoring international law and instead has simply decided to play by its own rules based on Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book philosophy of “Power comes from the barrel of the gun.”

China’s officials are leading the good Chinese people towards a very dangerous course of action. Other countries of the world are beginning to be aware of, concerned and angered by China’s war baiting and energy resource grabbing actions. In June 2011, The United States Senate passed a resolution condemning China’s use of force against smaller nations in the West Philippine Sea and affirmed the use of its military might against Chinese aggression.

Aside from the United States, the rest of the world including influential countries such as Russia, France, UK, Italy, Brazil, Japan, India, , Israel, the Middle East nations, etc. – will soon realize that it serves their interests and the interest of the world – to restrain China from its blatant abuse of power.

Her rapid rise to become the second largest economy in the world is the result of international corporations successfully outsourcing their manufacturing activities to China. By doing so, companies simplify their operations, avoid labor problems and lower overhead costs. They are then able to focus on marketing activities.

While this overall business model has resulted in tremendous profits for many companies, it has also resulted in massive layoffs in their home countries. The United States and other industrialized countries are now faced with hundreds of thousands of jobless people who are dependent on welfare payments for their survival. This situation cannot and should not be allowed to continue.

Well-meaning citizens of the world should rightly be happy about the new found prosperity of the Chinese people. For so long, they have wallowed in poverty.

However, China’s government must recognize that with great power and wealth comes the responsibility of dealing fairly and in a friendly manner with other nations – including smaller countries like the Philippines and Vietnam. If it is to gain the respect and friendship of other nations – China should not act like a neighborhood bully using goon tactics stealing property that belongs to others.

But militarist elements within China’s government are intent on rattling their sabers – amassing war ships, equipment and armaments with their new wealth. They are also calling to “punish the Philippines militarily” for daring to challenge China’s territorial claim on the whole South China Sea.

Resorting to a military might based policy meant to coerce and intimidate less powerful nations and forcing them to give up their valuable resources – which is the policy now being used by China on the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and other surrounding countries – is now building up so much global antipathy and anger against China. Justifiably so.

Shortsighted military minded Chinese leaders who think that oppressing smaller nations and stealing their resources – will not have serious long term consequences – should learn from the lessons of history. By continuing with this irresponsible reckless policy, China is surely channeling itself towards an inevitable deadly confrontation with a powerful grouping of nations including the United States and its powerful allies.

China’s government’s best move to serve the interest of its people is to behave like a civilized nation: Stop bullying smaller nations. Honor international laws. Respect territorial and property rights. Help poorer nations, promote world peace and help create a better world. If she does all these, then China will truly become a great nation – honored and respected by the citizens of the world.

Meanwhile, while she is still in a grab and take mode, in self-defense, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and other smaller bullied countries – must ask for help from the world’s community of nations.

In his State of the Nation, President Simeon Benigno Aquino in no uncertain terms – condemned China’s blatant intrusion in Philippine territory. He affirmed the resolve of Filipinos to fight for what is theirs. However, he gave no indication of what specific actions must be undertaken to stop the hungry dragon from devouring the Philippines’ marine and energy resources. He stated that it was a difficult problem and his government is looking for solutions.

Joescoundrel
07-27-2012, 08:55 AM
(Cont'd from above...)

What should smaller nations do against China’ bullying grab of its marine territories and energy resources?

Here’s my take on this:

1. The governments of these small countries must reach out towards one another and together file in the ITLOS complaints against China’s intrusion into its territories. China may refuse to submit itself to the ITLOS’ jurisdiction but that by itself is an admission to the world that it is engaged in wrongful intrusion and resource grabbing actions. World opinion will turn against China leading to serious sanctions from the global community.

2. These smaller countries should be aggressively involved in lobbying with the different countries of the world through its ambassadors and through state visits in condemning China’s actions and not be shy in asking for some financial or military equipment aid – to defend against China’s aggression.

3. Support the worldwide boycott China products campaign endorsed by environmentalists, peace advocates, food safety adherents, labor unions and other groups – which will put pressure on China to stop bullying and claiming other nation’s resources.

A boycott by the Philippines alone or by smaller countries will hardly dent China’s economic armor. But if the world is made aware of its immoral bullying ways and how massive outsourcing of corporate manufacturing operations has led to the starvation of families of millions of workers all over the world – well-meaning citizens of the world will support this important campaign.

They will look to buy locally made or equivalent products from other countries. The less the world buys from China, the less funds it has to build up and maintain its army. The less effective it can be in carrying out its aggressive militarist tendencies.

The world’s corporations must bear their heavy responsibility to humanity of looking out for our future and not be governed solely by the profit motive. More than any other factor, their outsourcing strategy is responsible for China’s rapid rise as an economic and military power. They must now play an important role in influencing the future of the world and humanity by removing their manufacturing operations in China and returning these to their home countries or relocating elsewhere.

China’s militaristic elements are a danger not only to the Philippines and other smaller countries but also to the whole world – and a danger to its own good people.

The citizens of the world love so many things Chinese including its great food, its marvelous art and its great philosophers like Lao Tzu, Confucius and others. They also love the Chinese people. It is China’s nationalistic military oriented officials who espouse policies based on conquering other nations by force and grabbing valuable resources – that ought to be condemned. These are the blood thirsty cold hearted types – Chinese or otherwise – who bring so much suffering to the world and to their own people.

(Note: The author is a human rights and immigration lawyer in the United States. He is the Spokesperson and Legal Counsel for the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG), an influential organization of Filipino Americans composed of doctors, lawyers, academicians, businesspersons and other professionals. USP4GG has recently launched the worldwide Boycott China Products Initiative in the United States which was received with enthusiasm in various sectors and has now gained much momentum. “Any global citizen who supports the boycott China products campaign is an automatic member. No dues or registration are required. This is a people’s campaign. Just stop buying products from China and tell people why this is necessary for the good of all.”

Sam Miguel
07-30-2012, 11:42 AM
Associated Press

11:15 am | Saturday, July 28th, 2012

WASHINGTON– China has raised the stakes in a potential regional flashpoint with its new city on a remote island in the contested West Philippine (South China Sea) and its plans for a military garrison there.

How might the United States respond?

Criticize Beijing too strongly and the Obama administration will strain its relationship with the emerging superpower. Let it pass and undermine two years of intense diplomacy that has promoted the US standing among Southeast Asian nations that are intimidated by China’s rise.

A key plank of the administration’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific since 2010 has been its declaration of a US national interest in peace and stability in the South China Sea, where China and five of its neighbors — most notably the Philippines and Vietnam — have competing territorial claims.

But tensions have only escalated. China’s raising of the flag this week at Sansha municipality, on tiny Yongxing island, 350 kilometers (220 miles) from its southernmost province of Hainan, came as claimants jockey for influence in the resource-rich region.

China will not be able to project much military power from such a small outpost — with a population of just 1,000 people and scarcely room for an airstrip — but it has symbolic importance. Beijing says the municipality will administer hundreds of thousands of square kilometers (miles) of water where it wants to strengthen its control over disputed — and potentially oil-rich — islands.

In Washington, lawmakers interested in Asia policy have been quick to respond. Republican Senator John McCain called the move provocative, and reinforced worries that China would attempt to impose its territorial claims through intimidation and coercion. Democrat Sen. Jim Webb said China’s attempt to assert control of disputed territories may be a violation of international law.

While the State Department was careful in its commentary, it also criticized China’s “unilateral moves.”

“I think there is a concern here, that they are beginning to take actions when we want to see all of these issues resolved at the table,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday.

President Barack Obama will not want to appear soft on China as he fights for re-election against Republican Mitt Romney who has accused the incumbent of being weak on Beijing and has vowed to get tough, in particular, on China’s trading practices.

However, the United States walks a fine line in its diplomacy on the South China Sea, always stressing it does not take a position on the competing sovereignty claims.

Defining it as a US national interest in 2010 helped galvanize Washington’s standing in the region, and revive its ties with treaty ally Manila and build a relationship with former enemy Hanoi. As part of its broader push or “pivot” toward Asia, the US elevated its engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and strongly supports the 10-nation bloc’s efforts to negotiate collectively with China on the issue and draft a code of conduct to help manage South China Sea disputes.

That’s annoyed China, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea and its island groups, and would prefer to negotiate with the other claimants individually. Beijing also views US intervention on the issue as encouraging Vietnam and the Philippines to be more confrontational in asserting their own claims.

When Chinese fishing boats were stopped by the Philippine vessels at the disputed Scarborough Shoal in April, inside what Manila regards as its exclusive economic zone, it deployed a navy ship supplied by the US the previous year. That prompted China to send more vessels of its own, escalating a standoff that rumbles on.

And the establishment of Sansha municipality in another portion of the South China Sea came after Vietnam passed a law in June stating its jurisdiction over the Paracel and Spratly Island chains and declaring that all foreign naval ships entering these areas must notify Vietnamese authorities.

The chance of such disputes spiraling into a major conflict still appears slim, but the stakes could rise in the years ahead as competition intensifies for the oil and gas resources in the South China Sea. China recently put out for tender exploration offshore blocks that overlap with areas already tendered by Vietnam, and Philippine drilling plans could also put it on collision course with China.

The US strategy for managing and eventually resolving these disputes largely hangs on the efforts of ASEAN. The bloc has made some progress in drafting a code of conduct, but there’s no sign of a lasting resolution of territorial disputes, and South China Sea is emerging as a divisive issue in a grouping that prizes its unity.

For the first time in its 45-year history, ASEAN failed to issue at communique at an annual meeting of its 10 foreign ministers this month, when host Cambodia, viewed as pro-Beijing, rejected a proposal by the Philippines and Vietnam to mention their separate territorial disputes with China in the statement.

In a damage-limitation exercise, ASEAN’s largest nation, Indonesia, brokered a compromise last week. But it’s one which will do little to assuage concerns of a rift within the grouping and a narrative that the Obama administration will be anxious to avoid: that the struggle over the South China Sea pits the strategic interests of the U.S. against China.

admin
08-05-2012, 06:18 PM
China summons US diplomat in West Philippine Sea row
Agence France-Presse
4:29 pm | Sunday, August 5th, 2012
4:29 pm | Sunday, August 5th, 2012
*196*74
In this July 21, 2012 file photo, Chinese people chat in front of an administration office building for the Xisha, Nansha, Zhongsha islands on Yongxing Island, the government seat of Sansha City off the south China’s Hainan province. Beijing on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, summoned an American diplomat to express its dissatisfaction over US criticism of China’s new military garrison in the South China Sea. AP PHOTO
BEIJING—China has summoned a senior US diplomat over American criticism of Beijing’s decision to set up a new military garrison in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), in an escalating row over the tense waters.
*
Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng called in the US embassy’s deputy chief of mission Robert Wang on Saturday, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
*
It came the same day Beijing publicly lashed out after the US said China had raised tensions in the region with the announcement late last month it had established a new city and garrison in the disputed Paracel islands.
*
Zhang told Wang that US State Department remarks on Friday “sent a seriously wrong message,” echoing the strong public criticisms.
*
“The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction of and firm opposition to it. We urge the US side to correct its mistaken ways, respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
*
Zhang urged Wang to convey Beijing’s message to the “highest level” of the US government, the statement said.
*
The new garrison has infuriated Vietnam and the Philippines, which accuse Beijing of stepping up harassment at sea.
*
China says it controls much of the West Philippine Sea, but the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan all claim portions.
*
State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement Friday the US was “concerned by the increase in tensions in the West Philippine Sea and are monitoring the situation closely.”
*
The new garrison and city run “counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences and risk further escalating tensions in the region,” he added.
*
Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang on Saturday accused the US of “selective blindness” as “certain countries” escalated disputes by opening oil and gas blocks, threatening Chinese fishermen, and illegally appropriating territory.
*
The Philippines recently offered oil and gas exploration contracts in a disputed area of the West Philippine Sea, and in April was locked in a tense stand-off with China over a shoal.

admin
08-05-2012, 06:19 PM
China summons US diplomat in West Philippine Sea row
Agence France-Presse
4:29 pm | Sunday, August 5th, 2012
4:29 pm | Sunday, August 5th, 2012
*196*74
In this July 21, 2012 file photo, Chinese people chat in front of an administration office building for the Xisha, Nansha, Zhongsha islands on Yongxing Island, the government seat of Sansha City off the south China’s Hainan province. Beijing on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012, summoned an American diplomat to express its dissatisfaction over US criticism of China’s new military garrison in the South China Sea. AP PHOTO
BEIJING—China has summoned a senior US diplomat over American criticism of Beijing’s decision to set up a new military garrison in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), in an escalating row over the tense waters.
*
Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng called in the US embassy’s deputy chief of mission Robert Wang on Saturday, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
*
It came the same day Beijing publicly lashed out after the US said China had raised tensions in the region with the announcement late last month it had established a new city and garrison in the disputed Paracel islands.
*
Zhang told Wang that US State Department remarks on Friday “sent a seriously wrong message,” echoing the strong public criticisms.
*
“The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction of and firm opposition to it. We urge the US side to correct its mistaken ways, respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
*
Zhang urged Wang to convey Beijing’s message to the “highest level” of the US government, the statement said.
*
The new garrison has infuriated Vietnam and the Philippines, which accuse Beijing of stepping up harassment at sea.
*
China says it controls much of the West Philippine Sea, but the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan all claim portions.
*
State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement Friday the US was “concerned by the increase in tensions in the West Philippine Sea and are monitoring the situation closely.”
*
The new garrison and city run “counter to collaborative diplomatic efforts to resolve differences and risk further escalating tensions in the region,” he added.
*
Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang on Saturday accused the US of “selective blindness” as “certain countries” escalated disputes by opening oil and gas blocks, threatening Chinese fishermen, and illegally appropriating territory.
*
The Philippines recently offered oil and gas exploration contracts in a disputed area of the West Philippine Sea, and in April was locked in a tense stand-off with China over a shoal.

Joescoundrel
10-24-2012, 12:00 PM
China’s increasing military spending unnerves neighbors

By Keith Richburg

Wednesday, October 24, 3:59 AM

The Washington Post

BEIJING — China’s military spending has been rapidly spiraling upward, and the growing amounts are unnerving Beijing’s Asian neighbors and policy planners in the Pentagon, who are openly wary about the country’s long-term intentions.

Getting a handle on Chinese military spending is difficult because much of it is opaque and off the books, such as the People’s Liberation Army’s spending on research and space exploration. But various international think tanks estimate that China’s military spending has risen from about $20 billion in 2002 to at least $120 billion last year.

The countries where Obama leads make up 56.4% of global population.

The United States still spends four times as much on its military. But by some accounts, China is on course to surpass the United States in total military spending by 2035.

The increased spending has allowed the PLA to embark on a sweeping modernization program that includes new long-range cruise missiles, a new fleet of J-10 and J-11 fighter jets, an experimental stealth J-20 plane, a refurbished Soviet-era aircraft carrier and a growing space program, which includes China’s own satellite navigation network. The PLA has also embarked on a long-term campaign to improve the inter-operability of its various ground, naval and air forces — long a weak point for the Chinese military.

Some critics, including China’s skeptical neighbors, are alarmed at the spending, which they say is being used to bolster China’s more assertive stance over long-disputed, uninhabited islands in the South China and East China seas. Longer term, some predict, China’s growing military might shift the balance with American-armed Taiwan, which Chinese leaders consider a renegade province to be reunited with the mainland.

The military growth has led the Obama administration to refocus America’s defense posture away from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and toward the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese buildup has also caused Japan and some Southeast Asian countries to seek reassurance from the United States that they won’t be abandoned, although Chinese diplomats have accused the United States of meddling in what are essentially regional disputes.

Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan of the China Military Science Society said outsiders need not be concerned. China’s military spending only reflects the newly booming economy, he said, and the country is simply playing catch up after years of neglect.

“Actually, our rapid spending increase in recent years is more like compensation for the past,” Luo said. “Second, the huge increase in our budget is because China faces a lot of threats, traditional and nontraditional. We have a lot of land occupied by other countries. We’re also one of the countries in the world with the most neighbors.”

Luo also said that while other sectors are enjoying the fruits of reform, the armed forces should not be neglected.

“It’s important that a person not only grow his bones, but also his muscles,” Luo said. “The military is the muscles.”

Joescoundrel
10-24-2012, 12:05 PM
Presidential debate: Middle East pays little attention, while Chinese listen closely

By Michael Birnbaum and Keith B. Richburg

Published: October 23 | Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 3:30 AM

The Washington Post

BERLIN – The presidential candidates talked about the U.S. as the world’s last superpower in their final debate, but on Tuesday the reaction in the Middle East suggested a different role for America: something of an afterthought.

President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney argued about Iran’s nuclear program, their support for Israel and the American relationship with Egypt and Libya. But many citizens in those countries remained far more focused on the hefty issues that they will still be confronting no matter who occupies the White House in January.

In Egypt, attention Tuesday was on a court decision regarding the fate of its legislature, which was dissolved over the summer. Libyan leaders continued to squabble over the basics of their government even as a military assault on a rebellious town stretched into its second week. In Iran and Israel, there was little talk of a debate that spoke only glancingly of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and deemphasized differences between Obama and Romney on stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Overall, analysts said, though Obama and Romney may disagree on their approach to arming rebels in Syria, or dealing with political Islamists – differences that were not discussed at their Monday night debate – America’s basic policy goals are not likely to change any time soon.

“Many Arabs have given up hope on the U.S. fundamentally changing its foreign policy in the region,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center. “The U.S. is seen as less important to the region’s fortunes.”

In Egypt in particular – where Romney listed “a Muslim Brotherhood president,” Egypt’s first democratically-elected leader Mohammed Morsi, as among the factors in “a pretty dramatic reversal in the kind of hopes we had for that region,” discussion of the debate was minimal. Instead, attention on Tuesday focused on more practical issues – such as whether or not the country has a working legislature. A Cairo court kicked the decision up to the country’s top judges, who will decide within 45 days.

And in both Israel and Iran, there was also little focus on the election. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Tuesday to keep building homes in an area of Jerusalem that once belonged to the West Bank, another setback in international efforts to bring Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiating table. Iran’s state-run Fars News Agency focused meanwhile on new U.S. voter ID laws that may make it more difficult to vote.

In the debate, there was not a word on other major foreign policy topics confronting the United States – climate change and the euro crisis among them.

But there was discussion near the end about the U.S. relationship with China. Obama called China “both an adversary but also a potential partner.” Romney promised that “on day one, I will label them a currency manipulator.”

Most Chinese Internet users seemed unconcerned about the candidates’ tough talk. Instead, they viewed the debate process with admiration, as a kind of democratic theater. They commented mostly on the candidates’ intelligence, their skills at presenting their arguments, and who made the most jokes.

Joescoundrel
10-24-2012, 12:07 PM
China’s other transition: Military to be led by new generation

By Keith B. Richburg

Wednesday, October 24, 6:17 AM

The Washington Post

BEIJING — Along with China’s transition to new political rulers next month, sweeping change is also coming to the leadership of the People’s Liberation Army with the elevation of a new generation of commanders in the world’s largest military.

At a time when a rising China is increasingly pressing territorial claims against its neighbors, the Central Military Commission, which effectively runs the PLA, is expected to undergo dramatic turnover. As many as seven of its 10 military members, including two vice chairmen, are retiring, and many other top military positions are also slated to change hands.

After years of modernization, the armed forces have become an increasingly powerful player driving China’s engagement with the world. Some outspoken generals have publicly pushed for a tougher diplomatic line against China’s Asian neighbors and the United States, trying to usurp what was once exclusively the role of the Foreign Ministry.

But the military commission’s secretive promotion process appears to have been disrupted by the sacking this year of former Communist Party provincial chief Bo Xilai, who sought to cultivate personal loyalties within the armed forces. At least two generals who were once heavily favored to join the commission — Liu Yuan, political commissar of the Academy of Military Science, and Zhang Haiyang, political commissar of the Second Artillery Corps — are now considered likely to be bypassed because of their close links to Bo.

In the wake of the Bo scandal, other commanders rushed last spring to make unusual professions of loyalty to the party and its secretary general, Hu Jintao, who is also China’s president.

The military transition has also become uncertain after public hints in September that Hu might seek to stay on as chairman of the commission after relinquishing his other top posts. Such a move was seen here as a brazen attempt by Hu to extend his influence, and would undermine his designated successor, Vice President Xi Jinping, the current vice chairman of the commission, who would become chairman if Hu steps down. (When Hu first took over, former president Jiang Zemin retained the chairmanship of China’s military for two years into Hu’s presidency.)

Hu’s efforts prompted a rare backlash from the military. “When it’s time for a person to retire, he should retire,” said one retired major general, who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive issues in Chinese politics with a foreign reporter. “I don’t think someone should use this way to extend his term. Plus, the succession will be less independent. . . . Everyone needs his own team.”

Xi, the son of revolutionary hero Xi Zhongxun, has far deeper ties to the military than Hu and knows many of the younger crop of officers. From the mid-1970s until 1982, Xi donned a uniform as an active service member and worked as the secretary to Geng Biao, a onetime PLA commander, defense minister and secretary general of the Central Military Commission. Xi accompanied Geng on visits by official military delegations to Europe, and in 1980 to the United States. In eastern China, where Xi was a top provincial official, he also took the job heading the provincial defense commission, in charge of the local garrison, which was unusual for a party chief.

Joescoundrel
10-24-2012, 12:08 PM
(^ Continued)

The new commanders

Most of the younger commanders were born after the Communist Party took power in China in 1949. Like Xi and other incoming political leaders, some of the generals moving up are members of the “red nobility,” or children of revolutionary heroes. These “princelings” were born into privilege and experienced the hardship of Mao Zedong’s 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, but they mostly know China as a rising power and economic titan over the past 30 years.

And unlike the older generation, most of the younger commanders have no combat experience. China’s last major conflict was a brief 29-day border war with Vietnam in 1979.

Little is known about what most of these new military leaders think. Only a few speak or write openly, and most never give interviews. But their worldview will largely determine whether China’s growing military power raises alarm in the region and beyond, and whether a future confrontation with its neighbors, or the United States, is inevitable.

China does not make its total military spending public, but experts around the world have estimated that it has risen from about $20 billion in 2002 to at least $120 billion last year. That is still just a fraction of U.S. military spending, but some analysts expect China to surpass the United States in total military spending by 2035.

The political leanings of the military’s new leaders might also determine whether the army continues to be the main support pillar for the Communist Party. Since being called in to suppress a popular pro-democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the PLA has worked to bolster the People’s Armed Police as a separate entity with riot control and domestic security capabilities, so the regular army can largely stick to its more pressing job of modernizing and becoming a professional force, instead of being used again as a tool of internal control.

“The military and the armed police should have their separate roles,” Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan said in a rare interview. “The armed police should control internal affairs, and the military should focus on defense.”

Dennis Blasko, a former U.S. military intelligence officer and former military attache in Beijing, said that after 1989, “the PLA understands that they hurt their reputation with the people and don’t want to go through that again.”

Officially, Chinese commanders are all committed to the doctrine they call “peaceful development,” meaning a China focused on improving the welfare of its own people and uninterested in meddling in the affairs of its neighbors. Current and retired officers, Chinese journalists and analysts stressed in interviews that China’s military leaders are all Communist Party stalwarts who value continuity and consensus decision-making above all.

“In China, the Communist Party is the only ruling party. So the policies implemented by each generation will show a lot of continuity,” said Luo, a member of the China Society of Military Science.

But, Luo said, “the new leaders will have different experiences, different qualities and different personalities than the last generation of leaders, and that will definitely affect their working style.” Among other attributes, the commanders born in the 1950s are more educated — many have advanced degrees — and most spent time working in the Chinese countryside during the Cultural Revolution, which means they understand “the grass roots,” Luo said.

Joescoundrel
10-24-2012, 12:09 PM
(^ Continued)

Antagonism toward U.S.

Some outside analysts are concerned that the younger officers may be eager to prove their mettle.

"There’s real antagonism toward the U.S.,” said Dean Cheng, an analyst of China’s military with the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “The scary thing is, as you have this group of officers who think the U.S. is out to get them, they’ve also seen their military improve.”

Cheng added: “We are potentially looking at a military that is more self-confident, arguably more arrogant, and being pushed by a political leadership somewhat eager to show how much it has improved. . . . All you need is somebody doing something stupid.”

Others agreed that the real problem might come from something unintended, not calculated. For example, with more maritime forces operating in the South China and East China seas, Blasko said, “I am increasingly worried about something happening that leads to greater escalation.”

As important as the new commanders’ world outlook is their view on the need for reform of China’s hidebound Leninist political system. While much of their thinking remains a mystery, a few have given occasional hints of their beliefs.

Liu Yuan, a princeling son of Mao-era leader Liu Shaoqi, warned in a speech in January that corruption had become so deeply entrenched that it threatened the party and the military.

“I’d rather risk losing my position than refrain from fighting corruption to the end,” he told several hundred assembled officers. In a preface he wrote in 2010 to a book by a scholar friend, Liu accused past and current Chinese leaders of “betrayal” and urged China to embrace a form of “new democracy.”

Gen. Liu Yazhou, political commissar of the National Defense University and considered a princeling because of his famous father-in-law, Li Xiannian, raised eyebrows with a provocative 2010 essay in a Hong Kong magazine in which he seemed to advocate more democracy.

“If a system fails to let its citizens breathe freely and release their creativity to the maximum extent . . . it is certain to perish,” Liu wrote.

Those words might in another context be considered seditious. But Liu in the summer was promoted to full general — by Hu Jintao, who had been elevating his loyalists to the commission.

Sam Miguel
01-23-2013, 08:12 AM
Ban urges ‘amicable’ end to Philippines, China sea dispute

Agence France-Presse

3:24 am | Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

UNITED NATIONS—UN leader Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday called for an “amicable” settlement to a mounting West Philippine Sea territorial dispute between China and other Asian nations.

Asked about the Philippines decision to refer the case to a UN tribunal, Ban told reporters he has been following the dispute “carefully”.

“It is important for those countries in the region to resolve all these issues through dialogue in a peaceful and amicable way,” he said.

The United Nations is ready “to provide technical and professional assistance, but primarily all these issues should be resolved by the parties concerned,” the UN leader added, carefully avoiding backing any country involved.

China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan all have overlapping claims to the territory.

The Philippine government announced Tuesday that it would ask an arbitration panel under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea — a 1982 treaty signed by both countries — to rule on China’s claims.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said, “The Philippines has exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement of its maritime dispute with China.”

Over the past two years the Philippines and Vietnam have complained at China’s increasing assertiveness in enforcing its claims, particularly in areas believed rich in oil and natural gas reserves.

China has said the rival claims should be settled through negotiations.

Sam Miguel
01-23-2013, 08:14 AM
From Agence France Presse ___

PH challenges China in UN

Int’l tribunal asked: Declare China’s Spratlys claim illegal

12:01 am | Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

The Philippines has taken China to a United Nations arbitration tribunal to challenge Beijing’s claim to most of the South China Sea (which the Philippines refers to as the West Philippine Sea) and compel it to respect the Philippines’ right to its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and stop Chinese incursions into areas in the disputed waters claimed by the Philippines.

The Philippines initiated the compulsory proceedings against China as provided for under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), and asked the UN to declare the Chinese “nine-dash line” outlining its claim to most of the South China Sea, including waters and islands close to its neighbors, as invalid and illegal.

It demands that China “desist from unlawful activities that violate the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines under the 1982 Unclos.”

“The Philippines has taken the step of bringing China before the Arbitral Tribunal… in order to achieve a peaceful and durable solution to the dispute over the West Philippine Sea,” Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told a press briefing Tuesday.

“The Philippines has exhausted almost all political and diplomatic avenues for a peaceful negotiated settlement of its maritime dispute with China… we hope that the arbitral proceedings shall bring this dispute to a durable solution,” he said.

Del Rosario did not take questions. The Department of Foreign Affairs instead issued a question-and-answer statement to reporters.

Allies not involved

The DFA said the move was a decision of the Philippines alone. It said its major allies, the United States and Japan, had nothing to do with the legal action.

It said the action was “in defense of our national territory and maritime domain.”

In a “notification and statement of claim” filed before the UN, the Philippine government said the arbitration was not seeking to declare who owns which islands in the disputed waters.

“The Philippines does not seek in this arbitration a determination of which party enjoys sovereignty over the islands claimed by both of them. Nor does it request a delimitation of any maritime boundaries,” the government said.

In its submission, the Philippines asked the UN to compel China to respect the Philippines’ rights to exclusively explore and exploit resources within its EEZ and continental shelf as declared under Unclos, citing recent Chinese actions that constituted an excessive exercise of sovereignty over disputed territories.

It asked the UN to declare that the Philippines is entitled, as provided for by Unclos, to “12 nautical miles of territorial sea, 200 nautical miles of EEZ and established boundaries of its continental shelf from the baselines.”

The Philippines ratified the 1982 convention in 1984 and China in 1996, but the two countries have conflicting interpretations of its provisions, especially on the scope of exclusive economic zones.

“China’s nine-dash line claim encompasses practically the entire West Philippine Sea. We must challenge the unlawful claim of China… in order to protect our national territory and maritime domain,” the DFA said in a statement.

“We hope that the arbitral tribunal will issue an award in accordance with international law that will direct China to respect our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over our EEZ, continental shelf, contiguous zone and territorial sea over the West Philippine Sea, and to desist from undertaking unlawful acts that violate our rights,” it said.

Beijing envoy summoned

Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing was summoned at 1 p.m. to the DFA on Tuesday where she was handed a note verbale furnishing China with a copy of the Philippines’ “notification and statement of claim” before the UN.

In the document, the DFA told China that it had decided to seek arbitral proceedings “to clearly establish sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines over its maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea.”

The Chinese Embassy in Manila promptly restated Beijing’s claim to the contested waters and insisted on its position that claimants settle the dispute through negotiations.

In a statement, it said that Ma, on receiving the note verbale, had “reiterated the principled position of the Chinese side, and stressed that China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in South China Sea and its adjacent waters,” the embassy said in a statement.

“The Chinese side strongly holds the disputes on South China Sea should be settled by parties concerned through negotiations,” it said.

Increasing assertiveness

China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea overlap those of the Philippines as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Over the past two years, the Philippines and Vietnam have complained at China’s increasing assertiveness in enforcing those claims, particularly around areas believed to be rich in oil and natural gas reserves.

The Philippines earlier protested a string of incidents involving China in the West Philippine Sea, including sea patrols, oil exploration, military exercises and the establishment of a Chinese administrative unit to govern all of the disputed Spratly Islands.

It has filed at least 15 protests against China for incursions into the disputed waters, Del Rosario has said.

Through the compulsory arbitration, the Philippine government is asking the UN to declare that China had prevented the Philippines from exploiting resources within its EEZ and continental shelf. Instead, China has itself used these resources, violating international law, the government said.

The action also asks the world body to declare that China has violated the Philippines’ right to freely navigate the disputed waters.

The Philippines also hopes the UN will prompt China to “bring its domestic legislation into conformity with its obligations under Unclos.”

The Philippines has a standing protest against a maritime policing law of China’s Hainan province which has allowed its police to intercept, board and inspect foreign vessels sailing into the West Philippine Sea.

The legal action also asks the UN to compel China to stop preventing Philippine vessels from exploring and exploiting Scarborough Shoal—a formation much closer to the Philippines’ coast than to China’s shores that was the site of a standoff between the two countries last year—and Johnson Reef, which are both known to be rich in oil, mineral and marine resources.

It also asks the UN to declare that Mischief Reef and McKennan Reef within the disputed waters as submerged features of the Philippine continental shelf and thus should not be occupied by China.

Finally, it asks the UN to bar Chinese occupation and construction activities on submerged features within the West Philippine Sea.

From 3 to 4 years

The arbitration will be held at an overseas location to be agreed by the two parties.

According to Unclos provisions on arbitration, the adversarial parties would be entitled to nominate their representatives to the five-member arbitration panel, to be “drawn up and maintained” by the UN secretary general.

The Philippines has appointed Judge Rudiger Wolfrum, a German international law expert and justice at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, as a member of the panel.

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza will serve as the Philippines’ counsel in the proceedings. With a report from AFP

Joescoundrel
01-30-2013, 01:00 PM
Leader With Some Spine Takes on World Heavyweight

By William Pesek

Jan 29, 2013 6:00 AM GMT+0800

Say what you want about Benigno Aquino, but the Philippine president has some brass.

First he arrested predecessor Gloria Arroyo on corruption charges and ousted her Supreme Court chief justice. Then he took on the powerful Catholic Church, shepherding free-contraception laws that enraged the Vatican. Next he ran afoul of the local tycoons by backing higher taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. By tackling these issues along with economic reforms, Aquino’s country is on the way toward an investment-grade credit rating.

Now Aquino is taking on an immeasurably bigger target: China. The Philippines will challenge China’s maritime claims before a United Nations-endorsed tribunal. This isn’t going over well in China, and it’s sure to raise tensions as Asia vies for oil, gas and fisheries resources and a ruling on competing views of history in contested waters.

Much of it really is an argument over China’s controversial “nine-dash” map. First published in the late 1940s, the map extends China’s territorial claims as much as 800 miles from Hainan Island to the equatorial waters off the coast of Borneo. China says the map proves its “indisputable sovereignty” over more than 100 islands, atolls and reefs that form the Paracel and Spratly Islands. The rest of Asia disagrees.

Geopolitical Risk

This dispute represents something more for political scientists, such as Ian Bremmer. As leaders and investors alike try to navigate a world they no longer understand, they are turning to Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group in New York, and his ilk for perspective. And when Bremmer considers the biggest threats in the year ahead, East Asian brinkmanship is near the top of the list.

“At risk here is the decades-long pattern of East Asia as a zone where positive-sum commerce and economics trumps zero-sum geopolitical tension,” Bremmer says.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are right to worry about military conflict. The intensifying spat over a group of tiny islands that Japan calls Senkaku and China calls Diaoyu is the most dangerous flash point.

Strains rose last year after Japan effectively nationalized the islands. At first, it was just about fishing rights and coast guard vessels squaring off. From April to December, there was a disturbing trend: Tokyo’s Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets 160 times against Chinese aircraft approaching Japanese airspace. That’s the highest number of aerial contacts since Japan began releasing such data and is a significant proxy for escalating tensions.

Markets seem convinced that pragmatism will rule the day. China needs rapid growth to ensure the Communist Party’s grip on power, and Shinzo Abe, Japan’s new prime minister, aims to revive his nation’s moribund economy. The primacy of commerce, the conventional wisdom says, will prevail. This sunny view ignores how nationalism clouds Asia’s judgment.

China doesn’t deserve all the blame. Japan, too, has a disproportionate number of territorial quarrels --- with Russia, South Korea and Taiwan. Abe, a nationalist, wants to alter Japan’s pacifist constitution. But China’s assertiveness and fast-growing military apparatus, which now includes an aircraft carrier, is generating concern throughout the region as well as the U.S.

Asia has never been closer economically, yet it’s growing further apart diplomatically. It lacks a credible forum where disagreements can be aired, a void that strengthens China’s hand. China has been adept at using its economic leverage over tiny nations such as Cambodia and Laos to block multilateral talks or actions. This forces the U.S. into the uncomfortable position of balancing competing economic and security priorities with a fast-rising rival.

Something Bigger

By resorting to international law, Aquino is taking a positive step. The way to address and resolve the dispute is through diplomacy, not with navy ships or hot tempers that risk turning minor confrontations into something much bigger.

Yet this is only the beginning. Last year marked a turning point as an economically dominant China shifted from charm- offensive mode to political and military assertiveness. This is playing out against the backdrop of the ascension of Xi Jinping as China’s leader, and what that will bring in 2013 and beyond.

Confronted by a daunting list of domestic challenges, Xi will focus on consolidating domestic power. It is farfetched to think he would yield ground on diplomatic issues if it risks an internal backlash.

“If Beijing faces a foreign policy test, Xi will have a strong incentive to demonstrate his foreign-policy mettle and avoid being seen as capitulating to outside interests,” Bremmer says. “That dynamic suggests less chance of compromise from Asia’s emerging strategic powerhouse and heightened risk throughout the region.”

Tests could come from many places -- a new Japanese government anxious to flex its muscles; U.S. President Barack Obama’s pivot to Asia; provocations from North Korea that put the onus on China, Pyongyang’s crucial supporter; or nations like the Philippines taking diplomatic frustrations to the UN.

Aquino is the first Asian leader willing to call China’s bluff and risk economic retaliation. How he navigates this showdown will be instructive for others when their turn comes.

Sam Miguel
02-20-2013, 10:47 AM
China rejects UN arbitration on West Phl Sea

By Pia Lee-Brago

(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 20, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - China has rejected and returned yesterday the Notification and Statement of Claim of the Philippine government to initiate arbitral proceedings against its nine-dash-line claim in the West Philippine Sea, but the process will proceed despite Beijing’s latest action.

Sources said Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing was at the Department of Foreign Affairs yesterday to meet with officials of the DFA-Asia Pacific Affairs desk and inform them that China was returning the note and accompanying notice on arbitration.

Ma reportedly told the DFA that the Chinese government would not accept international proceedings over the dispute.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei also announced that Ma met with DFA officials and returned the note and accompanying notice.

According to Hong, Ma said China considered both the note and notice of arbitration as having “serious mistakes both in fact and law.”

China hopes that the Philippine side would uphold its commitment, not take any move that may complicate or expand the issue, and respond positively to suggestions of China regarding establishing of a consultation mechanism on maritime issues and reopen trust measures between the two countries.

Beijing also urged Manila to return to the right track, meaning bilateral negotiations to resolve the dispute.

In a statement, the DFA said China’s action “will not interfere with the process of arbitration initiated by the Philippines on January 22, 2013.”

“The arbitration will proceed under Annex VII of UNCLOS and the 5-member arbitration panel will be formed with or without China,” it said. under Annex VII of UNCLOS and the 5-member arbitration panel will be formed with or without China,” it said.

Ma reiterated China’s often stated position that it has indisputable sovereignty over the entire South China Sea encompassed by its nine-dash line claim.

“This excessive claim is the core issue of the Philippines’ arbitration case against China,” the DFA said. “The Philippines remains committed to arbitration which is a friendly, peaceful and durable form of dispute settlement that should be welcomed by all.”

The DFA summoned Ma last Jan. 22 and DFA Assistant Secretary for Asia-Pacific Affairs Teresa Lazaro handed her a note verbale.

The diplomatic note contained the Notification and Statement of Claim that challenges before the Arbitral Tribunal the validity of China’s nine-dash line claim and to desist from unlawful activities that violate the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Philippines under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Notification initiates the arbitral proceedings under Article 287 and Annex VII of UNCLOS.

The Chinese embassy maintained that disputes in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) should be settled through direct negotiations by the parties concerned.

Del Rosario said the initiation of arbitral proceedings against China on the nine-dash line is part of President Aquino’s policy for a peaceful and rules-based resolution of disputes in the West Philippine Sea in accordance with UNCLOS.

China’s nine-dash line claim virtually lays claim on the entire West Philippine Sea, which the Philippines believes must be challenged in order to protect its national territory and maritime domain.

The Philippines formally invited China last April to bring their claim before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) for a legal and lasting solution to the territorial dispute.

However, China rejected the Philippine invitation. In raising an argument to evade the ITLOS, China viewed the submission of maritime dispute to international arbitration as a “weird” thing in international affairs.

Sam Miguel
02-21-2013, 07:56 AM
PH to press UN case on disputed sea despite China rejection

By Tarra Quismundo

Philippine Daily Inquirer

5:38 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013

MANILA, Philippines—The arbitration proceedings that the Philippines has initiated before the United Nations (UN) against China to nullify the latter’s “excessive” claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) will not stop despite Beijing’s rejection of the legal action, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

However, the enforcement of any decision of the UN arbitral tribunal, three or four years down the road, will be “another question,” said DFA spokesman Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez.

“The arbitration will proceed under Annex VII of Unclos (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the five-member arbitration panel will be formed with or without China,” Hernandez said.

“Even if one party does not join or participate, the process will continue until a decision is made,” he said.

Article 9 of Unclos’ Annex VII, which stipulates the mechanics of arbitration, states that the “absence of a party or failure of a party to defend its case shall not constitute a bar to the proceedings.”

On Jan. 22, the Philippines went to the UN to challenge Beijing’s claim to most of the South China Sea (which the Philippines refers to as the West Philippine Sea) and compel it to respect the Philippines’ right to its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and stop Chinese incursions into areas in the disputed waters claimed by the Philippines.

The Philippines initiated the compulsory proceedings against China as provided for under the Unclos, and asked the UN to declare the Chinese “nine-dash line” outlining its claim to most of the South China Sea, including waters and islands close to its neighbors, as invalid and illegal.

Formalizing earlier Chinese statements rejecting the Philippines’ arbitration bid, Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing on Tuesday returned the Philippines’ Notification and Statement of Claim through a note verbale handed to the DFA.—With Michael Lim Ubac