CHINESE CALLS PH ARBITRATION INITIATIVE ON SEA ROW A 'POLITICAL FARCE'

In a rare attempt to justify its maritime claims, the Chinese government through its news outfit Xinhua called the Philippine-initiated arbitration over the West Philippine Sea a "political farce," insisting that the international tribunal has "no jurisdiction" over the dispute. The editorial published last week argues that China's rejection of the arbitration and the latest procedural order issued by the Hague-based ad hoc tribunal pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is "by no means [a] defiance." "On the contrary, it shows China's respect for international law," it said. While admitting that the theoretical nine-dash line a matter or history than law, the statement also denounces the Philippines' pursuit for a ruling that will reject China's claim as a violation of the international convention. "The line, declared by the Chinese government in as early as 1947 and clearly marked in historical documents, obviously concerns a matter of sovereignty and is not governed by UNCLOS," it said. It claims that Manila is only resorting to arbitration as a political move even while knowing it is not a legally meaningful act. The state news organization also called the third party arbiter "irrelevant" in the sea row. read more...

ALSO: China rejects arbitral court's order

China will not submit its counter-memorial to the Philippine-initiated case over the South China Sea disputes, rejecting the Hague-based arbitral tribunal's procedural order. In a press briefing Wednesday, China Foreign MInistry spokesperson Hong Lei said that Beijing maintains its opposition to the arbitration and will not participate in the proceedings in anyway. "We have noted relevant report. China does not accept nor participate in the arbitration case filed by the Philippines. This position remains unchanged," Hong said. The arbitral tribunal on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea issued an order Wednesday setting the deadline for China to submit its written arguments by December 15. "In Procedural Order No. 2, the Arbitral Tribunal fixes 15 December 2014 as the date for China to submit its Counter-Memorial responding to the Philippines’ Memorial," the five-member tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration said. READ MORE...

(ALSO) Court tells China: Respond to Phl case in sea row by Dec 15

A tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) has ordered China to submit its counter-argument in the case filed by the Philippines that seeks to resolve the South China Sea dispute. "In Procedural Order No. 2, the Arbitral Tribunal fixes 15 December 2014 as the date for China to submit its Counter-Memorial responding to the Philippines’ Memorial," the PCA said in its website. After seeking the views of both nations, the PCA said the tribunal will determine at a later stage the further course of the proceedings, including the need for, and scheduling of any other written submissions and hearings. The PCA is an intergovernmental organization established by the 1899 Hague Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. Based in The Hague, the Netherlands, the PCA facilitates arbitration, conciliation, fact-finding and other dispute resolution proceedings among various combinations of States, State entities, intergovernmental organizations and private parties. In 2013, The Philippines instituted arbitral proceedings against China under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea "with respect to the dispute with China over the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)." On March 30, the country submitted electronically to the arbitral tribunal a 4,000-page memorial or written argument against China's excessive territorial claims. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario had said that the memorial, consisting of 10 volumes, presents the Philippines' case on the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal and the merits of the country's claims. It also contains the documentary evidence and maps that support the Philippines' claims.

(ALSO) PNoy: Nations must cooperate, not impose on others

As the country remains locked in a territorial dispute with China, President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday called for unity among nations to solve global issues. Speaking at the 2014 Independence Day Vin D’Honneur attended by foreign diplomats, Aquino said that being a sovereign nation also means being part of the larger international community. "A solely inward-looking approach to governance is doomed to fail; any responsible country knows that it must also work alongside its brother nations to address the world’s problems," Aquino said in his toast. The President added that while nations are beset with their own internal problems, they should also consider the problems of the global community. "None of us can realize our goals in isolation. As such, a fine balance must be struck to avoid interfering in others’ affairs. This can be achieved by rendering genuine and meaningful assistance, rather than by imposing our own views and policies on others—this can be achieved through sincere cooperation," Aquino said. "Indeed: the world is united by more than just the interconnectivity afforded by technology; we are united by a commonality of purpose: how to overcome inequality, injustice, and conflict, and thus foster lasting progress, peace, and stability in an environment that truly upholds the rule of law," Aquino added. The President told the foreign diplomats that the Philippines and their respective nations should maximize cooperation and avenues for dialogue. READ MORE...

(ALSO) China: We respect nations' maritime rights, freedom

......Without mentioning the Philippines' arbitration case against China, Hua said the Asian giant respects the lawful rights of all countries to independently choose peaceful means to resolve disputes. China has said that it will not join the arbitration efforts initiated by the Philippines, saying it has "indisputable sovereignty" over virtually the entire South China Sea. Hua maintained China's position that bilateral talks should resolve territorial disputes. "The most effective and widely accepted approach for the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes is negotiation and consultation between countries directly concerned based on the respect for historical facts and international law. There are plenty of successful experience on that," Hua said. Hua's statements came after China's ambassador to Manila said the territorial disputes between China and the Philippines are just temporary. Malacañang said it welcomes China's "change of tone" and wished for further de-escalation of rhetoric. "We would certainly hope that the exchange between China and the Philippines when it comes to rhetoric would be diminished and rather emphasize the more positive aspects of (the relations), ensuring that we come up with a resolution to this unfortunate incident in the South China Sea," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said. THIS IS ARTICLE'S LAST PART, READ FIRST PART BELOW........

(ALSO) Philstar commentary: A kind of TRO needed for Phl-China disputes

TEMPORARY?: While Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua was telling an assembly of businessmen last Tuesday that the maritime disputes between his country and the Philippines are only temporary, China was busy grabbing and building on areas claimed by its neighbors. Zhao’s call for “the wisdom, the patience and the courage (of the two countries) to settle the disputes through negotiations and consultations” was not reassuring enough. It was as empty as Chinese buchi. Just days ago, President Noynoy Aquino (who also spoke, diplomatically, before the same Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry addressed by Zhao) reported that Chinese ships that may be used for reclamation were seen in the Gavin and Cuarteron Reefs. Weeks earlier, the President also accused China of violating an informal code of conduct in the South China Sea with its reclamation in the Mabini Reef near Palawan. The Chinese have been building a site that can harbor an airstrip and security-related facilities too close for comfort. * * * PEACEFUL?: Zhao said: “Compared with our thousand-year-old friendship and extensive cooperation, the difficulties we are facing on the South China Sea issue are temporary. It is our common responsibility to handle the South China Sea issue in a proper and peaceful manner.”  READ MORE...


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Chinese calls ph arbitration of sea row a 'political farce'


In this Monday, June 9, 2014 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese naval soldiers stand onChina's missile destroyer Haikou at a naval port in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province. AP

MANILA, JUNE 16, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Camille Diola - In a rare attempt to justify its maritime claims, the Chinese government through its news outfit Xinhua called the Philippine-initiated arbitration over the West Philippine Sea a "political farce," insisting that the international tribunal has "no jurisdiction" over the dispute.

The editorial published last week argues that China's rejection of the arbitration and the latest procedural order issued by the Hague-based ad hoc tribunal pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is "by no means [a] defiance."

"On the contrary, it shows China's respect for international law," it said.

While admitting that the theoretical nine-dash line a matter or history than law, the statement also denounces the Philippines' pursuit for a ruling that will reject China's claim as a violation of the international convention.

"The line, declared by the Chinese government in as early as 1947 and clearly marked in historical documents, obviously concerns a matter of sovereignty and is not governed by UNCLOS," it said.

It claims that Manila is only resorting to arbitration as a political move even while knowing it is not a legally meaningful act.

The state news organization also called the third party arbiter "irrelevant" in the sea row.

"The sole reason why the Philippines submitted the dispute to an irrelevant third party is that it wants to further complicate the situation and make its dispute more of an international issue," the editorial said.

Earlier this month, Beijing ignored the five-member tribunal's request for it to respond to Philippines' claim by December.

"Though a UNCLOS signatory, in 2006 China filed a formal declaration that invoked the opt-out clause of Article 298 of the convention," the outfit said.

"The Philippines obviously knew this when it referred the dispute to the arbitrator last year. Its claim is carefully framed to avoid the situations itemized in the opt-out clause," Xinhua also claimed.

The report also argued that China's sweeping claim is not under the authority of UNCLOS as it does not have the nature of a "boundary" line as recognized in its provisions.

"According to the rules of convention, entitled China to reject arbitration in disputes concerning boundaries, historic titles, or military activity," it added.

International lawyer Harry Roque has said in his blog, however, that the Philippine claim "crafted in a manner that will exclude all of China’s reservations."

Roque said there is no issue on whether China could be a party in the proceedings as it is a signatory to the UNCLOS.

This entails that China has also accepted the dispute settlement provision under the international convention, even as it has the right to snub the proceedings.

The Philippines is also seeking clarification from the tribunal that the disputed waters are part of its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

Roque admitted that while a ruling may not completely resolve conflicting claims to land territories, the Philippines will score points if the nine-dash line will be declared invalid by the court.

China rejects arbitral court's order By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated June 5, 2014 - 9:05am 9 1064 googleplus1 0


China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Beijing. Panoramio

MANILA, Philippines - China will not submit its counter-memorial to the Philippine-initiated case over the South China Sea disputes, rejecting the Hague-based arbitral tribunal's procedural order.

In a press briefing Wednesday, China Foreign MInistry spokesperson Hong Lei said that Beijing maintains its opposition to the arbitration and will not participate in the proceedings in anyway.

"We have noted relevant report. China does not accept nor participate in the arbitration case filed by the Philippines. This position remains unchanged," Hong said.

The arbitral tribunal on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea issued an order Wednesday setting the deadline for China to submit its written arguments by December 15.

"In Procedural Order No. 2, the Arbitral Tribunal fixes 15 December 2014 as the date for China to submit its Counter-Memorial responding to the Philippines’ Memorial," the five-member tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration said.

The Philippines has submitted a 10-volume memorial to the court on March 30, arguing for the inclusion of hotly contested Spratlys group of islands in the country's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone provided in the international sea convention.

The Philippines, meanwhile, urged China to cooperate in the proceedings as a "peaceful mechanism" to settle the longstanding sea row.

"We continue to urge China to reconsider its decision not to participate in the arbitration proceedings," Foreign Affairs Secretary Charles Jose said on Wednesday following the release of the procedural order.

"We wish to reiterate that arbitration is a peaceful, open and friendly resolution mechanism that offers a durable solution to the disputes in the South China Sea," he added.

The arbitral tribunal, however, will not consider China's failure to appear in hearings or submit its arguments a bar in the proceedings.

The Philippines as the only participating party will be required to answer specific issues and questions that the tribunal considers inadequately addressed in its memorial.

Court tells China: Respond to Phl case in sea row by Dec 15 By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated June 4, 2014 - 9:47am 21 3060 googleplus2 2


The Peace Palace in the Hague, the Netherlands is the seat of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which has the tribunal hearing the case filed by the Philippines against China's excessive territorial claims. Wikimedia Commons/Yeu Ninje/International Court of Justice

MANILA, Philippines — A tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) has ordered China to submit its counter-argument in the case filed by the Philippines that seeks to resolve the South China Sea dispute.

"In Procedural Order No. 2, the Arbitral Tribunal fixes 15 December 2014 as the date for China to submit its Counter-Memorial responding to the Philippines’ Memorial," the PCA said in its website.

After seeking the views of both nations, the PCA said the tribunal will determine at a later stage the further course of the proceedings, including the need for, and scheduling of any other written submissions and hearings.

The PCA is an intergovernmental organization established by the 1899 Hague Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes.

Based in The Hague, the Netherlands, the PCA facilitates arbitration, conciliation, fact-finding and other dispute resolution proceedings among various combinations of States, State entities, intergovernmental organizations and private parties.

In 2013, The Philippines instituted arbitral proceedings against China under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea "with respect to the dispute with China over the maritime jurisdiction of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)."

On March 30, the country submitted electronically to the arbitral tribunal a 4,000-page memorial or written argument against China's excessive territorial claims.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario had said that the memorial, consisting of 10 volumes, presents the Philippines' case on the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal and the merits of the country's claims.

It also contains the documentary evidence and maps that support the Philippines' claims.

The PCA said it received a Note Verbale from China on May 21, which reiterated the country's position that "it does not accept the arbitration initiated by the Philippines."

It also said that the Note Verbale "shall not be regarded as China’s acceptance of or participation in the proceedings."

On Tuesday, Malacañang said the Philippines' arbitration case against China is part of its efforts to draw the attention of the global community to the sea disputes.

"We want to engage the active attention and participation of other countries that are signatories to that treaty. That is our way of calling the attention of the world," Presidential Communication Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press briefing.

Coloma also welcomed recent remarks made by key allies such as the United States, Japan and Australia that supported the Philippines' "basic position" on the sea disputes.

"We are encouraged by the supportive statements of our allies and other countries on the importance of seeking peaceful settlement of disputes, which is precisely the course of action we have chosen to adopt," Coloma said.

PNoy: Nations must cooperate, not impose on others By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated June 12, 2014 - 3:01pm 1 185 googleplus0 0


Philippine President Benigno Aquino III holds documents as he talks on various issues, including the disputed reefs on the South China Sea, following his address to delegates at the ASEM (Asia Europe Meeting) Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, Thursday, June 5, 2014 in Manila, Philippines. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines - As the country remains locked in a territorial dispute with China, President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday called for unity among nations to solve global issues.

Speaking at the 2014 Independence Day Vin D’Honneur attended by foreign diplomats, Aquino said that being a sovereign nation also means being part of the larger international community.

"A solely inward-looking approach to governance is doomed to fail; any responsible country knows that it must also work alongside its brother nations to address the world’s problems," Aquino said in his toast.

The President added that while nations are beset with their own internal problems, they should also consider the problems of the global community.

"None of us can realize our goals in isolation. As such, a fine balance must be struck to avoid interfering in others’ affairs. This can be achieved by rendering genuine and meaningful assistance, rather than by imposing our own views and policies on others—this can be achieved through sincere cooperation," Aquino said.

"Indeed: the world is united by more than just the interconnectivity afforded by technology; we are united by a commonality of purpose: how to overcome inequality, injustice, and conflict, and thus foster lasting progress, peace, and stability in an environment that truly upholds the rule of law," Aquino added.

The President told the foreign diplomats that the Philippines and their respective nations should maximize cooperation and avenues for dialogue.

"Together, we have the best chance of eliminating our common problems. Divided, we may have no chance at all," he said.

Aquino made these statements amid the increasing tensions in the South China Sea. He recently accused China of violating an informal code of conduct in the disputed waters with the reported reclamation activities of the Asian giant on some of the contested territories.

The Philippines has urged China to be a responsible nation by upholding the rule of law and join the arbitration proceedings in an international tribunal.

But China, which has been imposing its "indisputable sovereignty" over the entire South China Sea, insists that it will not cooperate.

Some countries including the United States have expressed concern over China's perceived aggression and "destabilizing" actions, which some observers fear may put the country into isolation.

China: We respect nations' maritime rights, freedom By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated June 12, 2014 - 9:27am 2 1443 googleplus1 1


China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying. Image from http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/

MANILA, Philippines — Despite its perceived aggression and bullying in the West Philippine Sea, China said it respects countries' maritime rights and claimed that it advocates peaceful resolution of territorial disputes.

In a press conference, China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said the Chinese government upholds an independent foreign policy of peace and abides by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

"China attaches great importance to the development of marine cause, takes an active part in international maritime affairs and stands for the establishment and maintenance of a harmonious maritime order," Hua sad.

"A harmonious maritime order means that we should respect not only the sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction of all the littoral states, but also every country's right and freedom for the lawful and peaceful use of the sea," she added.

Hua, whose country has been sued by the Philippines over its activities in the South China Sea, said all countries must uphold UNCLOS and exercise their rights and interests in accordance with international law.

"China firmly safeguards and promotes the rule of international maritime law and the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes," Hua said.

Without mentioning the Philippines' arbitration case against China, Hua said the Asian giant respects the lawful rights of all countries to independently choose peaceful means to resolve disputes.

China has said that it will not join the arbitration efforts initiated by the Philippines, saying it has "indisputable sovereignty" over virtually the entire South China Sea. Hua maintained China's position that bilateral talks should resolve territorial disputes.

"The most effective and widely accepted approach for the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes is negotiation and consultation between countries directly concerned based on the respect for historical facts and international law. There are plenty of successful experience on that," Hua said.

Hua's statements came after China's ambassador to Manila said the territorial disputes between China and the Philippines are just temporary.

Malacañang said it welcomes China's "change of tone" and wished for further de-escalation of rhetoric.

"We would certainly hope that the exchange between China and the Philippines when it comes to rhetoric would be diminished and rather emphasize the more positive aspects of (the relations), ensuring that we come up with a resolution to this unfortunate incident in the South China Sea," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said

PHILSTAR COMMENTARY

A kind of TRO needed for Phl-China disputes POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual jr. (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 12, 2014 - 12:00am 3 11 googleplus0 0


By Federico D. Pascual jr.

TEMPORARY?: While Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua was telling an assembly of businessmen last Tuesday that the maritime disputes between his country and the Philippines are only temporary, China was busy grabbing and building on areas claimed by its neighbors.

Zhao’s call for “the wisdom, the patience and the courage (of the two countries) to settle the disputes through negotiations and consultations” was not reassuring enough. It was as empty as Chinese buchi.

Just days ago, President Noynoy Aquino (who also spoke, diplomatically, before the same Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry addressed by Zhao) reported that Chinese ships that may be used for reclamation were seen in the Gavin and Cuarteron Reefs.

Weeks earlier, the President also accused China of violating an informal code of conduct in the South China Sea with its reclamation in the Mabini Reef near Palawan. The Chinese have been building a site that can harbor an airstrip and security-related facilities too close for comfort.

* * *

PEACEFUL?: Zhao said: “Compared with our thousand-year-old friendship and extensive cooperation, the difficulties we are facing on the South China Sea issue are temporary. It is our common responsibility to handle the South China Sea issue in a proper and peaceful manner.”

The problem is that when the Chinese say temporary, in their sweeping view of history that could mean centuries. During the long wait, the Philippines would have been annexed by China and our grandchildren would be chattering in what might sound like Mandarin.

When the Chinese ambassador said proper and peaceful, was he referring to the firing of water cannons, the ramming of smaller ships and the bullying away of Filipinos from their traditional fishing grounds?

Filipinos need more than reassuring words. If only there could be a kind of enforceable TRO (temporary restraining order) while the two countries talk in earnest of a status quo ante or a return to the situation before the creeping Chinese occupation started.

* * *

DIRECT DIALOG?: We long to see the day when Filipinos are able to fish again at Panatag shoal off Zambales, when the island town of Kalayaan in the Spratlys ceases worrying of an alien takeover, and when Filipino and Chinese technicians drill together for gas and oil undisturbed by power politics.

To work out such an agreement resembling a diplomatic TRO of sorts, however, Manila may have to enter into direct bilateral talks with Beijing – contrary to the US formula of multilateral bargaining possibly through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

There is also the question of what to do with the United Nations arbitration initiated by the Philippines at The Hague. China can be expected to demand the dropping of arbitration if the Philippines wants direct negotiations.

* * *

PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE: Bilateral relations actually happen at various levels. While there is official government-to-government relation, there is the more convivial people-to-people contact, sometimes carried out informally by plain folk, tourists or businessmen.

Nations may wage war against each other, or their leaders escalate their personal hurt pride into battles, but it also usually happens that their respective populations more concerned with making a living have no inclination to engage in mutually destructive confrontation.

Businessmen, civic groups and non-governmental organizations can look deeper into this aspect of bilateral relations and help promote positive people-to-people relations.

State policies are sometimes mere amplified echoes of the perceived public pulse. If the public is belligerent toward other peoples, the pervading public opinion could evolve into official thinking and affect foreign relations.

* * *

PUBLIC OPINION: In this area, the Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, many of whose members are dual citizens, can contribute to promoting cordial relations and minimizing the irritants distorting official thinking.

It is possible that Beijing maintains a hardline in its territorial disputes with its neighbors because of perception that majority of the Chinese population, especially in the urban areas, want it to act that way.

And it could be that a great number of Chinese have been conditioned to support an aggressive expansionist campaign in the South China Sea because they think that this is the official line as reported and reinforced in the controlled media. It could be a self-feeding cycle of misimpressions.

Through their contacts on both sides, private business and civic groups can help mold a more tolerant attitude among the people and thereby influence official thinking. Everybody benefits from the resulting well-being generated by enlightenment and good faith.

* * *

WAITING ARMS: What looks like Chinese aggression, amplified in the media, is driving the Philippines into the waiting arms of the United States.

In 1991, the Philippines decided not to renew the American lease on base areas. But now with the threat of Chinese aggression there is a growing consensus to give Americans basing sites — if they still want them.

The US is trying hard not to look that eager to have the bases back as showing excessive interest could jack up the price.

Knowing that the Philippines needs badly a protective umbrella, the US wants to be allowed a so-called rotating enhanced military presence under its own terms.

* * *

PIVOT TO ASIA: While it still has to refine and polish its industrial mix and sprawl, China is fast emerging as Asia’s top economic power and threatening to rival the US as the military kingpin in the region.

Seeing the flexing and snorting of the Chinese dragon, the US has announced its intention to correct its minimal military presence in Asia and rebalance its armed forces by around 60 percent to the Pacific.

It will take much time and resources to pull off this great pivot. The US first has to fix its political accounts on the Atlantic side and resolve its domestic economic problems.

Chinese expansionist aggression, meantime, helps the US find willing hosts for its forces in need of bases.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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