US-PHILIPPINES DEAL WON'T STOP CHINA IN DISPUTED SEA - ANALYST

The new defense cooperation agreement between the Philippines and the United States will not deter China from conducting activities in the West Philippine Sea, an international security analyst said. Rommel Banlaoi, chief of the Center for Intelligence and National Security Studies, said in a phone interview with Philstar.com on Tuesday that China may step up its activities in the disputed waters with Manila and Washington about to complete a deal allowing the rotational presence of American troops in Philippine soil. Banlaoi explained that while China will not send naval or military vessels in the maritime region claimed by the Philippines, it may find the need to boost its civilian presence in the area using coast guard ships. "China considers the deal provocative," Banlaoi said, adding that Manila's move to invite a third party power amid the tension can be seen as controversial. China has already said that the US does not and should not have a role in the sea row with the Philippines. READ MORE...

(ALSO) China: US has no role in sea dispute

China shrugged off the United States' expression of support for the Philippines' submission of a written pleading to a United Nations tribunal to resolve the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea. China Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Monday that the US plays no part in the disputes between Manila and Beijing. "The US is not a party concerned in the South China Sea disputes," Hong said in a press conference. US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf on Monday declared its support for the Philippines' right to seek legal means in lodging the arbitration case before the UN and demand relief from the dispute with China. "The United States reaffirms its support for the exercise of peaceful means to resolve maritime disputes without fear of any form of retaliation, including intimidation or coercion," Harf said in a statement. Hong, however, expressed confidence that the US will remain neutral on the issue despite its declarations. "It has on many occasions stated that it takes no position on issues concerning territorial sovereignty," Hong said. READ MORE...

(ALSO) 'US, UN, Asean will not protect Philippines in sea row' - Career Diplomat

PHOTO: HON. SENATOR LETICIA R. SHAHANI -She ran for the 1987 Congressional elections and won as Senator. While in the Senate she was the Chairman of various committees like committee on Foreign Affairs, committee on Education, Culture and Arts, committee on Agriculture and member of the Commission on Appointments. SLRS She ran for the 1987 Congressional elections and won as Senator. While in the Senate she was the Chairman of various committees like committee on Foreign Affairs, committee on Education, Culture and Arts, committee on Agriculture and member of the Commission on Appointments. The Philippines should not rely on neighboring countries and allies for protection against China's perceived encroachment on territories in the South China Sea, career diplomat Leticia Ramos-Shahani said. "Our difficulty now is we are alone among the Asean countries. No one has really come to the rescue. Even Vietnam, which has been quite vocal, is just too scared of China to say 'boo'," Shahani said in an interview on ANC aired Sunday night. China and Vietnam have opposing claims over the strategic waters. Shahani, a former senator and UN assistant secretary-general, explained that even if the Philippines co-founded Asean, China exerts influence over the 10-nation bloc as a primary trading partner. "We do not have to wait for Asean because now it is quite obvious that they're scared of China because of economic reasons," she said. Manila should also be reminded that Beijing is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, while Washington has maintained neutrality on the sea row, she said. "This is the time as good as any to know that we have to stand on our own. No one is going to protect us, not even the United States," she added. The US is a long-time ally which has vowed to protect the Philippines, its former colony, through a defense treaty. The Philippines, meanwhile, has detailed its position in a 10-volume memorandum submitted Sunday to the UN International Tribunal on the Law of Sea. It has urged other claimants to join the case, but none have so far publicly stepped forward. Shahani said, however, that besides pushing the arbitration case, Manila should "play the diplomatic game" and start looking at political options to address the decades-old dispute. She added that Manila should first forge a "more independent" foreign policy as prescribed in the 1982 Constitution.

ALSO: Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats

As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that’s warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China. Each of the four countries on Obama’s itinerary — Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines — has a dispute with Beijing over islands and waters in the South and East China Seas. Their leaders will be weighing Obama’s willingness to support them if those conflicts boil over. “What we can say after seeing what happened to Ukraine is that using force to change the status quo is not acceptable,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is in one of the fiercest disputes with China. Administration officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, have taken a tougher line on the territorial issues in recent weeks, sternly warning China against the use of military force and noting that the U.S. has treaty obligations to defend Japan in particular. But in an attempt to maintain good relations with China, the U.S. has not formally taken sides on the question of which countries should control which islands. Analysts say there are concerns that China could be emboldened by the relative ease with which Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine over U.S. objections, as well as the very real possibility that Moscow could take more land. Moreover, some in Asia question Obama’s ability to follow through on his security pledges in light of his decision last summer to pull back on plans for a military strike against Syria.READ MORE...


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US-Philippines deal won't stop China in disputed sea - analyst


In this March 29, 2014 photo, a Chinese Coast Guard vessel tries to block a Philippine Government vessel AM700 from approaching the Second Thomas Shoal (local name Ayungin Shoal) sent to resupply and replace fellow marines who were deployed for almost five months off South China Sea on the West Philippine Sea. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, APRIL 21, 2014
(PHILSTAR)
 By Camille Diola - The new defense cooperation agreement between the Philippines and the United States will not deter China from conducting activities in the West Philippine Sea, an international security analyst said.

Rommel Banlaoi, chief of the Center for Intelligence and National Security Studies, said in a phone interview with Philstar.com on Tuesday that China may step up its activities in the disputed waters with Manila and Washington about to complete a deal allowing the rotational presence of American troops in Philippine soil.

Banlaoi explained that while China will not send naval or military vessels in the maritime region claimed by the Philippines, it may find the need to boost its civilian presence in the area using coast guard ships.

"China considers the deal provocative," Banlaoi said, adding that Manila's move to invite a third party power amid the tension can be seen as controversial.

China has already said that the US does not and should not have a role in the sea row with the Philippines.

Banlaoi pointed out Beijing's staggering increase in defense budgets and its fast-growing naval capability as a sign that it has been preparing for the bilateral agreement between its Southeast Asian neighbor and the Western power.

The defense academic and consultant, however, does not think China will trigger an armed confrontation even as it has displayed an assertiveness in the region.

"China wants a stable economic environment," he said.

Banlaoi said that the Asian giant wants to position itself as a global power, and a military conflict will not help its reputation in the international community.

"Armed confrontation [for China] ... is too costly. It will avoid disrupting economic activities in the South China Sea," he added.

China claims about 80 percent of the strategic waterway, making it at odds with neighbors including Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

China: US has no role in sea dispute By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated April 1, 2014 - 9:55am 14 2350 googleplus0 0


Combined photos show US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf and China Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei.

MANILA, Philippines - China shrugged off the United States' expression of support for the Philippines' submission of a written pleading to a United Nations tribunal to resolve the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

China Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Monday that the US plays no part in the disputes between Manila and Beijing.

"The US is not a party concerned in the South China Sea disputes," Hong said in a press conference.

US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf on Monday declared its support for the Philippines' right to seek legal means in lodging the arbitration case before the UN and demand relief from the dispute with China.

"The United States reaffirms its support for the exercise of peaceful means to resolve maritime disputes without fear of any form of retaliation, including intimidation or coercion," Harf said in a statement.

Hong, however, expressed confidence that the US will remain neutral on the issue despite its declarations.

"It has on many occasions stated that it takes no position on issues concerning territorial sovereignty," Hong said.

Also read: China cites int'l law in opposing arbitration

He also urged the US to honor its commitment to uphold stability in the strategic waters instead of taking part in the diplomatic row.

The US is a long-time ally of the Philippines, its former colony, and has called Beijing's actions on the territorial dispute "provocative."

Just recently Chinese coast guard blocked Philippine supply ships from sailing to the Ayungin Shoal, where a group of Filipino military men are stationed.

Chinese coast guard also drove away Filipino fishermen from the Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, which has been a rich fishing ground for the natives of Zambales province.

'US, UN, Asean will not protect Philippines in sea row' By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated March 31, 2014 - 12:23pm 52 7783 googleplus0 0


A China Coast Guard vessel attempts to block a Philippine government vessel as the latter tries to enter the China Second Thomas Disputed Shoals, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, to rotate Philippine troops and resupply provisions Saturday, March 29, 2014. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines should not rely on neighboring countries and allies for protection against China's perceived encroachment on territories in the South China Sea, career diplomat Leticia Ramos-Shahani said.

"Our difficulty now is we are alone among the Asean countries. No one has really come to the rescue. Even Vietnam, which has been quite vocal, is just too scared of China to say 'boo'," Shahani said in an interview on ANC aired Sunday night. China and Vietnam have opposing claims over the strategic waters.

Shahani, a former senator and UN assistant secretary-general, explained that even if the Philippines co-founded Asean, China exerts influence over the 10-nation bloc as a primary trading partner.

"We do not have to wait for Asean because now it is quite obvious that they're scared of China because of economic reasons," she said.

Manila should also be reminded that Beijing is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, while Washington has maintained neutrality on the sea row, she said.

"This is the time as good as any to know that we have to stand on our own. No one is going to protect us, not even the United States," she added. The US is a long-time ally which has vowed to protect the Philippines, its former colony, through a defense treaty.

The Philippines, meanwhile, has detailed its position in a 10-volume memorandum submitted Sunday to the UN International Tribunal on the Law of Sea. It has urged other claimants to join the case, but none have so far publicly stepped forward.

Shahani said, however, that besides pushing the arbitration case, Manila should "play the diplomatic game" and start looking at political options to address the decades-old dispute.

She added that Manila should first forge a "more independent" foreign policy as prescribed in the 1982 Constitution.

The Philippines can also work on narrowing its distance with China and neighbors through "people to people" contact such as in terms of fisheries and women's participation.

"Eventually we will realize that we should live in peace as neighbors," she suggested.

The disputes have periodically erupted into dangerous confrontations, sparking tensions and straining ties.

In the latest incident, a government ship slipped past a Chinese coast guard blockade Saturday and brought food and fresh troops to a navy ship marooned on Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin . The ship is used as a base by Filipino troops to bolster the country's territorial claims in the area.

The mission was accomplished peacefully despite a radioed warning by the Chinese to the Filipinos to stop or "take full responsibility for the consequences of your action."

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said the Philippines last month amended its statement of claim to include Ayungin Shoal as subject of arbitration. He said that the shoal is within the Philippines' 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone, and that the country has sovereign rights and jurisdiction over it.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said last week that China will never accept nor participate in the international arbitration pushed by the Philippines. He called on the Philippines "to stop going any further down the wrong track so as to avoid further damage to bilateral relations."

US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf, meanwhile, backed the Philippines' action, saying "all countries should respect the right of any states party, including the Republic of the Philippines, to avail themselves of the dispute resolution mechanisms provided for under the Law of the Sea Convention." - with Associated Press

FROM THE INQUIRER

Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats Associated Press
8:02 am | Sunday, April 20th, 2014


This April 17, 2014 file photo shows President Barack Obama speaking in the briefing room of the White House in Washington. Japan and the Philippines – two of the four countries Obama will visit are locked in tense disputes with Beijing over islands in the South and East China Seas and will be seeking reassurances that the U.S. would back them if the conflicts boiled over. AP

WASHINGTON— As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that’s warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China.

Each of the four countries on Obama’s itinerary — Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines — has a dispute with Beijing over islands and waters in the South and East China Seas. Their leaders will be weighing Obama’s willingness to support them if those conflicts boil over.

“What we can say after seeing what happened to Ukraine is that using force to change the status quo is not acceptable,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is in one of the fiercest disputes with China.

Administration officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, have taken a tougher line on the territorial issues in recent weeks, sternly warning China against the use of military force and noting that the U.S. has treaty obligations to defend Japan in particular. But in an attempt to maintain good relations with China, the U.S. has not formally taken sides on the question of which countries should control which islands.

Analysts say there are concerns that China could be emboldened by the relative ease with which Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine over U.S. objections, as well as the very real possibility that Moscow could take more land. Moreover, some in Asia question Obama’s ability to follow through on his security pledges in light of his decision last summer to pull back on plans for a military strike against Syria.

“The heavyweights in the region got very scared by the Syrian decision,” said Douglas Paal, a longtime U.S. diplomat in Asia who now is vice president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “They’ve never seen anything like that. They’ve always counted on strong executives bringing the Congress along or going around the Congress to make sure that our security guarantees will be honored.”

Obama’s advisers say they see little evidence thus far that China has been encouraged by Russia’s incursions into Ukraine. Instead, they say Beijing appears to be viewing with concern the Kremlin’s attempts to sway pro-Russian populations in areas of Ukraine, given China’s own restive minority populations in border regions.

U.S. officials also have tried to keep China from supporting Russia’s moves in Ukraine by appealing to Beijing’s well-known and vehement opposition to outside intervention in other nations’ domestic affairs. Officials say they plan to emphasize that stance when they discuss Asia’s territorial disputes with regional leaders this week.

“We have been talking with them about the importance of a strong international front to uphold principles that they and we all hold dear, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, the need for peaceful resolution of disputes,” said Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser. “And we will continue to have that discussion throughout each of the stops on our trip.”

Obama’s eight-day Asia swing is a makeup for a visit he canceled last fall because of the U.S. government shutdown. Leaving Washington on Tuesday, he will stop briefly in Oso, Washington state, where mudslides killed dozens of people. He will arrive Wednesday in Japan.

Obama’s advisers say there are no plans to scrap the trip if the situation in Ukraine worsens. But the president may have to make decisions while traveling about imposing more penalties against Russia if a deal to ease the crisis collapses.

The U.S., Russia, Ukraine and the European Union signed an agreement Thursday. But already, the prospects of it holding appear slim, with pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine refusing to leave the government buildings they occupy in nearly a dozen cities.

Russia’s foreign ministry on Saturday said it would offer strong help to Ukraine, but that responsibility for reducing tensions rested with Ukrainians, not outsiders.

Compared with Russia’s actions in Ukraine, China has been relatively restrained in its territorial ambitions. But tensions spiked last fall when Beijing declared an air defense zone over a large part of the East China Sea, including the disputed islands controlled by Japan and a maritime rock claimed by both China and South Korea. China’s coast guard also has blocked Filipino ships in the South China Sea in recent weeks.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea. Nansha is the Chinese name for the Spratlys, a chain of resource-rich islands, islets and reefs claimed partly or wholly by China, the Philippines, Malaysia and other Southeast Asian nations.

Former Philippine national security adviser Roilo Golez said he expects Beijing to avoid Russian-style moves on any of the disputed territories, in large part because China is surrounded by American allies from the East China Sea to the Strait of Malacca and may have to deal with the U.S. military in the region if it undertakes a major act of aggression.

“It would be a folly on the part of China to do anything drastic, to do a Crimea,” Golez said.


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