CHINA TELLS PH OFF ON REEF RECLAMATION-- IT'S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

It’s none of your business. That was China’s response to the Philippines’ report of the discovery of further Chinese land reclamation on reefs in the West Philippine Sea.
In a press conference in Beijing on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei insisted that China had “indisputable sovereignty” over the Spratly Islands, including parts of the archipelago within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) known to Filipinos as West Philippine Sea. “China exercises indisputable sovereignty on the Nansha (Spratly) Islands and the adjacent waters,” Hong said, according to a post on the foreign ministry website. “Any action taken by China on any island falls within China’s sovereignty and has nothing to do with the Philippines,” he said.But Malacañang has turned down suggestions of a Vietnam-like response to China’s activities on Gavin Reefs (Gaven Reefs) and Malvar Reef (Eldad Reef). Vietnam has sent dozens of civilian ships to stop the operation of a deepwater oil drilling rig that China moved near Hanoi-claimed Paracel Islands in the East Sea on May 1. READ MORE...

ALSO: Photos confirm China reclamation; experts hit reef degradation in Spratly

‘EARTHMOVING ACTIVITIES’ A backhoe attached to a Chinese vessel is apparently scooping up some filling materials in a reclamation project while at the same time harvesting endangered species, giant clams. China has reclaimed land in one of the contested reefs in the Spratly Islands, and this time, the defense department is not the only one expressing concern, but Filipino scientists as well. They have expressed alarm over China’s activities on the contested reefs in Spratly Islands, citing environmental degradation that could adversely affect the country’s population, with “diseases, scarcity of resources and conflict.” The military has taken photographs of China’s ongoing reclamation activity on Malvar Reef in February, with the pictures showing a backhoe attached to a Chinese vessel that, scientists said, was presumably used to gather filling materials and harvest giant clams. On Thursday, President Benigno Aquino III said Chinese ships had been monitored moving around other reefs in the West Philippine Sea, possibly to reclaim land in Gavin Reef (Gaven Reef) and Calderon Reef (Cuarteron Reef).
Defense spokesperson Peter Galvez confirmed that China had reclaimed land on Malvar Reef (Eldad Reef), which lies northeast of Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef), where China had previously reclaimed land. “It’s called ‘earthmoving activities’ and there’s quite a lot going on in the [West Philippine Sea] that we are monitoring,” Galvez told the Inquirer on the phone. The defense spokesperson said China’s reclamation activities were especially worrisome not only because of the ongoing territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea, but also because of its impact on the environment.READ MORE...

ALSO: China claims ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over reclamation on Mabini reef

China defended its move to do reclamation and construction activities in Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef) that is part of the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea.
“Whatever construction China carries out in the Chigua Reef (Mabini Reef) is completely within China’s sovereignty,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press conference Thursday. “China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands) including Chigua Reef and the contiguous waters,” Hua added. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) released a series of photographs from 2012 to 2014 showing the progression of development China has made on the reef. The first photo in 2012 showed a wide expanse of water with a small outpost on the reef. READ MORE...

ALSO: PH won’t drive Chinese ships away from Spratlys

Malacañang ruled out Saturday the deployment of Navy vessels to drive away Chinese ships purportedly reclaiming land in at least two disputed reefs in the Spratly Islands, as Vietnam had done weeks ago. Abigail Valte, one of President Benigno Aquino III’s official spokespersons, dismissed suggestions of a military response to the reported dredging up of land from the sea at Gavin and Calderon Reefs by Chinese ships, saying the government would stick to the diplomatic approach. “We will not respond to any provocative action,” the spokeswoman said over state-run dzRB radio. Riled by the installation of an oil rig in disputed waters within its exclusive economic zone in early May, Vietnam sent ships to the area that ended up being rammed by a larger fleet of Chinese ships. Recently, a Chinese ship sank a Vietnamese fishing boat in the area. Apart from the fact that Philippine ships were no match to China’s naval assets, Valte said the government has adopted the diplomatic tack to peacefully resolve disputes. “We always exhaust the diplomatic channels, as well as other legal means that can help us address this particular issue,” she said. Aquino last Thursday expressed concern over the movement of Chinese ships around the two reefs in disputed waters possibly to reclaim land. These ships, he said, were similar to the ships that reclaimed land on Mabini Reef with a view to building an airstrip, a move protested by the Philippines.READ MORE...

 


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China tells PH off on reef reclamation, says ‘it’s none of your business’


MANILA, JUNE 9, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Tarra Quismundo
 


Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei PHOTO FROM CHINA-EMBASSY.ORG

It’s none of your business.

That was China’s response to the Philippines’ report of the discovery of further Chinese land reclamation on reefs in the West Philippine Sea.

In a press conference in Beijing on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei insisted that China had “indisputable sovereignty” over the Spratly Islands, including parts of the archipelago within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) known to Filipinos as West Philippine Sea.

“China exercises indisputable sovereignty on the Nansha (Spratly) Islands and the adjacent waters,” Hong said, according to a post on the foreign ministry website.

“Any action taken by China on any island falls within China’s sovereignty and has nothing to do with the Philippines,” he said.

But Malacañang has turned down suggestions of a Vietnam-like response to China’s activities on Gavin Reefs (Gaven Reefs) and Malvar Reef (Eldad Reef).

Vietnam has sent dozens of civilian ships to stop the operation of a deepwater oil drilling rig that China moved near Hanoi-claimed Paracel Islands in the East Sea on May 1.

The East Sea is part of the South China Sea within Vietnam’s 370-km Exclusive Economic Zone where Vietnamese and Chinese ships are now locked in a weekslong standoff over the oil rig.

Vietnam has reported rammings of its ships and accused China of sinking one of its fishing boats on May 26.
Hong said Chinese ships were defending China’s territory.

New activities

Philippine officials earlier this week expressed concern over new Chinese movements in territories within the Philippines’ EEZ, including suspected land reclamation at Gavin Reefs and Calderon Reef (Cuarteron Reef) and, most recently, confirmed sightings of reclamation on Malvar Reef.

Malvar Reef is located northeast of Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef), where China has been discovered to have been reclaiming land that the Philippine government fears could be used to build an airstrip or an offshore military base.

President Aquino spoke to reporters on Thursday about Chinese ships moving toward Gavin Reefs, possibly to reclaim land.

Mr. Aquino gave no details, but Gavin Reefs, two reefs in the Tizard Bank of the Spratly Islands that is also claimed by Vietnam, are already under Chinese control. Internet information describes them as having a supply platform and a reef fortress. The supply platform is described as having antiaircraft guns, search radars and radio communications equipment.

The Gavin Reefs are also known as Burgos Reefs.

Taking diplomatic tack

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Saturday that the Philippines would take no action like Vietnam’s in response to China’s movements at Gavin Reefs and Malvar Reef.

“We will not respond to any provocative action,” Valte said.

Apart from the fact that the Philippines has no ships that can match China’s large armed naval vessels, Valte said the government had taken a diplomatic tack to resolve the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China peacefully.

The Philippines has filed a petition in the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to nullify China’s claim to 90 percent of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea. The tribunal has ordered China to respond to the Philippine petition by Dec. 15.

Photographs taken by the military showing Chinese ships engaged in reclamation off Malvar Reef were published by the Inquirer on Saturday.

Not confirmed

But Valte said the military had not confirmed actual land reclamation at Gavin Reefs and Malvar Reef.

“What has reached the President is [information] that some ships have been sighted [and they] are capable of transporting reclamation materials. But the President has not mentioned if indeed reclamation has started,” Valte said.

She said any damage to corals would be considered in the action to be taken by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The DFA filed a diplomatic protest against China in April for its actions on Mabini Reef.

China readily rejected the protest, saying Mabini Reef was part of its territory.

Considering new protest

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines would file a fresh protest if the Chinese activities on Gavin and Calderon reefs proved to be land reclamation.

The DFA said it would issue a statement this week after consultations with the Department of National Defense.
The foreign office has yet to issue a statement on China’s land reclamation on Malvar Reef.

In an interview last week, Del Rosario slammed China’s “expansion agenda” in the South China Sea and expressed doubts about Beijing’s commitment to conclude with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) a legally binding code of conduct among claimants to territory in the South China Sea.

Such a code would prevent the competing territorial claims from erupting into armed conflict.

Case in UN

The Philippines is relying on a favorable ruling from the UN arbitral tribunal to resolve its territorial dispute with China.
China has refused to participate in the process, repeatedly reiterating its sovereignty over the South China Sea.

But the tribunal is proceeding with the process and is likely to make a ruling based solely on the Philippine complaint.
Vietnam has said it is considering following the Philippine lead and is looking to consult Manila on bringing legal action against China. With a report from TJ Burgonio

Photos confirm China reclamation; experts hit reef degradation in Spratly By Nikko Dizon Philippine Daily Inquirer 1:59 am | Saturday, June 7th, 2014
 


‘EARTHMOVING ACTIVITIES’ A backhoe attached to a Chinese vessel is apparently scooping up some filling materials in a reclamation project while at the same time harvesting endangered species, giant clams. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES

China has reclaimed land in one of the contested reefs in the Spratly Islands, and this time, the defense department is not the only one expressing concern, but Filipino scientists as well.

They have expressed alarm over China’s activities on the contested reefs in Spratly Islands, citing environmental degradation that could adversely affect the country’s population, with “diseases, scarcity of resources and conflict.”

The military has taken photographs of China’s ongoing reclamation activity on Malvar Reef in February, with the pictures showing a backhoe attached to a Chinese vessel that, scientists said, was presumably used to gather filling materials and harvest giant clams.

On Thursday, President Benigno Aquino III said Chinese ships had been monitored moving around other reefs in the West Philippine Sea, possibly to reclaim land in Gavin Reef (Gaven Reef) and Calderon Reef (Cuarteron Reef).

Defense spokesperson Peter Galvez confirmed that China had reclaimed land on Malvar Reef (Eldad Reef), which lies northeast of Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef), where China had previously reclaimed land.

“It’s called ‘earthmoving activities’ and there’s quite a lot going on in the [West Philippine Sea] that we are monitoring,” Galvez told the Inquirer on the phone.

The defense spokesperson said China’s reclamation activities were especially worrisome not only because of the ongoing territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea, but also because of its impact on the environment.

“The environment is an integral component of a state,” so environmental issues are considered security issues, according to professor Charithie Joaquin of the National Defense College of the Philippines.

“A state must be able to protect its territory and ensure that its citizens enjoy the benefits of the natural resources within its territory,” Joaquin told the Inquirer in an e-mail.

Environmental degradation could adversely affect the population, with “diseases, scarcity of resources and conflict,” she added.

“A sickly population impedes economic growth and drains much-needed resources. Scarce resources, such as water or strategic minerals, could also lead to conflict or exacerbate existing tensions,” Joaquin said, adding that “the consequences of nonsustainable use of natural resources could be irreversible, impacting not just the current generation but generations to come.”

“Because of interconnected ecosystems, the impact oftentimes transcends borders,” she added.

Scientists at the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) are just as alarmed at China’s relentless harvesting of giant clams, considered endangered species, and corals in the West Philippine Sea.

Fish feed on reefs

One of the country’s foremost experts in marine life conservation, professor emeritus Edgardo Gomez of UP MSI, noted that one-fifth of the fish that Filipinos consume come from the West Philippine Sea, and move around or feed on reefs.

Without the reefs, depleted fish productivity is a possibility, he added.

“If you destroy everything, there won’t be any source of food [for the fish],” Gomez explained.

Based on the February 2014 photograph of Malvar Reef, MSI deputy director for research professor Perry Aliño said the backhoe apparently served a dual purpose: to get filling materials for the reclamation and to harvest giant clams.

“[China was] not only collecting the shells but the substrate as well,” he said. A substrate is the base where an organism lives.

Land reclamation effectively destroys the reef and its surroundings, which would have a long-term impact on the environment, said Aliño, who coauthored one of the most definitive books on Kalayaan Islands, a result of an in-depth research conducted by UP MSI.

Reefs play an important role in maintaining biodiversity in the West Philippine Sea, the scientist said, adding that dredging in the reefs would eventually destroy and weaken their framework.

Natural breakwaters

The destruction of the reefs near Pagasa Island in Palawan province could bring bigger waves to the only island in the Kalayaan Island Group, where a small community lives, because reefs serve as ripraps or natural breakwaters that could reduce the force of incoming waves, Gomez said.

The Philippine military has monitored Chinese poachers using dinghies to routinely harvest giant clams (Tridacna gigas), an endangered species of clams, as well as corals and other clam species.

Some 30 to 45 dinghies trawl for giant clams and corals in areas in the West Philippine Sea, like Ayungin Shoal, Pagasa Island, Tizard Bank and reefs, Union Banks and reefs and Hasa-Hasa Shoal, and store their catch in the vessels’ huge cargo hold.

The clams, used for food or decorative purposes, are reportedly sold in the black market in Hainan province in China, with clam shells fetching from $13 (P567) to $750 (P33,000).

Aliño explained that clams grow on top of each other, such that when they are harvested by dredging, even the fossilized clams are collected.

“They are getting depleted, which would make them more valuable,” he said. “The clams need to be restocked. [But] if they are restocked clams, then they are more valuable because there is already an investment in terms of putting them back.”

Restocking program

The UP MSI has a restocking program for cultured clams for the past 30 years, a brainchild of Gomez who hand-carried the microscopic specimens of giant clams from Solomon Islands that the UP MSI laboratory used for their first cultured giant clams.

The cultured clams are then distributed to different parts of the country, although not a substantial number has been sent to Kalayaan Island Group.

Clams cultured at UP MSI Bolinao Marine Laboratory in Pangasinan province have been brought to Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc in Zambales—and most likely already harvested by the Chinese.

Gomez said it was about time that the government had a “game plan” that would not only protect the territory but also conserve natural resources.

Gomez said it was time for the government to “support blue water oceanography that will help our scientists do research on our [Exclusive Economic Zone] and show the [Philippine] flag.”

“If we have research vessels going out to [Kalayaan Island Group], Scarborough Shoal, the east coast of the Philippines … we are [at least] showing our presence,” he added.

China claims ‘indisputable sovereignty’ over reclamation on Mabini reef By Matikas Santos INQUIRER.net 9:57 am | Friday, May 16th, 2014
 


The DFA released photos Thursday of the Mabini Reef showing China’s reclamation activities on the disputed area. DFA

MANILA, Philippines – China defended its move to do reclamation and construction activities in Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef) that is part of the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea.

“Whatever construction China carries out in the Chigua Reef (Mabini Reef) is completely within China’s sovereignty,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press conference Thursday.

“China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands) including Chigua Reef and the contiguous waters,” Hua added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) released a series of photographs from 2012 to 2014 showing the progression of development China has made on the reef.

The first photo in 2012 showed a wide expanse of water with a small outpost on the reef.

The second photo taken in 2013 showed a concrete structure already built on the reef with what appears to be a helicopter landing pad.

Two photos taken in February and March 2014 show a large portion of the reef already reclaimed with sand making it look like a sand bar.

DFA spokesman Charles Jose said in a briefing after the release of the photos that China was likely constructing an airstrip that will be used for military purposes.

China rejected the protest filed by the Philippines regarding the reclamation citing its nine-dash line claim that covers nearly the entire South China Sea including portions of the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

PH won’t drive Chinese ships away from Spratlys By TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:10 pm | Saturday, June 7th, 2014
 


FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang ruled out Saturday the deployment of Navy vessels to drive away Chinese ships purportedly reclaiming land in at least two disputed reefs in the Spratly Islands, as Vietnam had done weeks ago.

Abigail Valte, one of President Benigno Aquino III’s official spokespersons, dismissed suggestions of a military response to the reported dredging up of land from the sea at Gavin and Calderon Reefs by Chinese ships, saying the government would stick to the diplomatic approach.

“We will not respond to any provocative action,” the spokeswoman said over state-run dzRB radio.

Riled by the installation of an oil rig in disputed waters within its exclusive economic zone in early May, Vietnam sent ships to the area that ended up being rammed by a larger fleet of Chinese ships. Recently, a Chinese ship sank a Vietnamese fishing boat in the area.

Apart from the fact that Philippine ships were no match to China’s naval assets, Valte said the government has adopted the diplomatic tack to peacefully resolve disputes.

“We always exhaust the diplomatic channels, as well as other legal means that can help us address this particular issue,” she said.

Aquino last Thursday expressed concern over the movement of Chinese ships around the two reefs in disputed waters possibly to reclaim land.

These ships, he said, were similar to the ships that reclaimed land on Mabini Reef with a view to building an airstrip, a move protested by the Philippines.

The Philippines filed on March 30 a memorandum, called a “memorial,” in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, asking it to rule on Beijing’s claim to most of the South China Sea.

The tribunal has asked Beijing to respond to the memorandum, but Beijing has balked at this.
Valte said that the military has not confirmed actual reclamation on the reefs.

“What has reached the President is that some ships have been sighted that are capable of transporting reclamation materials, but the President has not mentioned if indeed reclamation has started. So, you know, those are two completely different things,” she said.

She said that any damage to corals would be considered in the action to be taken by the Department of Foreign Affairs on the matter.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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