G7 hits large-scale reclamation at sea (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 10, 2015 - 12:00am
In this March 2014 photo, G7 nations agreed to hold their own summit instead of attending a planned G8 meeting in Russia. AP [The member states of the G7 are the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Italy, Japan and Germany]
KRUEN, Germany – The leaders of the Group of Seven nations issued a communiqué on Monday voicing opposition to island-building and other coercive activities in the West Philippine Sea, South China Sea and East China Sea.
“We strongly oppose the use of intimidation, coercion or force, as well as any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo, such as large-scale land reclamation,” the G7 leaders said, without naming countries.
They said they were concerned about tensions in the region and called for countries to abide by international law.
“We underline the importance of peaceful dispute settlement as well as free and unimpeded lawful use of the world’s oceans,” they said.
The bloc also endorsed the Declaration on Maritime Security issued by G7 Foreign Ministers in Lübeck, Germany.
The G7 comprises the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
China claims most of the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea, while the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have overlapping claims.
China has been criticized for extensive reclamation work and moves to turn submerged rocks into man-made structures. The United States has also criticized China’s reclamation, saying the artificial islands were potential military bases with airstrips and platforms for artillery pieces.
Chinese construction projects are ongoing in Panganiban (Mischief), Zamora (Subi), Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Kennan (Chigua), Mabini (Johnson South), Burgos (Gaven) and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reefs, all within Philippine territory.
That has been our line from the very beginning,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin (photo) said in a text message, referring to the G7 statement.
In a recent interview in Madrid, Senior Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio expressed optimism on the outcome of the international arbitration case filed by Manila to contest China’s maritime claims.
Carpio said the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in The Hague is expected to decide on the jurisdictional issue in August or September after hearing the case in oral arguments set next month.
Should the court acquire jurisdiction and decide to proceed with the case, another hearing would be held in November and a final decision on the merits of the case may be ready early next year, he said.
In an interview last month in Madrid where he delivered lectures on the issue, Carpio also said he was confident of European Union support for Manila’s seeking arbitration to resolve the maritime row. The SC released a transcript of Carpio’s interview by Mario Esteban of the Elcano Institute.
“The European Union has said that they want this dispute to be resolved in accordance with the international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). Once there is a ruling we expect the EU to also support the ruling because this is a ruling of an international tribunal in which EU is a member,” he said.
The magistrate said other countries should follow the example of the EU.
He said he expects the PCA to reject China’s nine-dash line.
“If the tribunal will allow the nine-dash line to stand then the law of the sea (UNCLOS) will not apply in South China Sea. If it can’t apply in South China Sea, it cannot apply in other seas/oceans because other naval powers will demand the same right as China,” he stressed.
“We cannot create an exemption because naval powers will demand also an exemption. Why is China alone being given an entire sea? India will claim the Indian Ocean,” he argued.
In the same interview, Carpio warned of possible repercussions to global economy if the territorial dispute is not settled.
“If the dispute flares up, world economy will be in danger because more than one half of the seaborne trade of the world passes through the South China Sea. And this dispute – if it flares up – will affect the entire world,” he explained.
Carpio has been publicly discussing the West Philippine Sea issue in a number of his speeches since 2013.
The magistrate argued that China’s claim to a “historical right” to the waters enclosed within the nine-dash line in the South China Sea is utterly without basis under international law.
He explained that UNCLOS has extinguished all historical rights of other states within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the adjacent coastal state.
This, he said, explains why the 200-nautical mile zone is called “exclusive,” as no state other than the adjacent coastal state can exploit its resources.
China claims that Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, which it calls Huangyan Island, is the Nanhai island that 13th century Chinese astronomer-engineer-mathematician Guo Shoujing allegedly visited in 1279 on orders of first Yuan Dynasty emperor Kublai Khan, to conduct a survey of the “Four Seas” to update the Sung Dynasty calendar system.
The supposed visit in 1279 was the only “historical” link China was claiming to justify its seizure of Panatag.
But it was exactly the same link that China was invoking to justify its claim over the Paracels groups of islands and contest Vietnam’s own claim, Carpio said in a speech during the 19th National Convention and Seminar of the Philippine Women Judges Association last March.
He also said that in a Jan. 30, 1980 document entitled “China’s Sovereignty Over Xisha and Zhongsa Islands Is Indisputable” and published in Beijing Review, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially declared that the Nanhai island that Guo visited in 1279 was in Xisha or what is internationally called the Paracels, a group of islands more than 380 nautical miles from Panatag Shoal.
Carpio said it is puzzling how Guo could have gone ashore to “visit” Panatag Shoal when “it was just a rock, with no vegetation, and did not even have enough space to accommodate an expedition party.”
The SC justice also argued that a state could only claim “historical rights” over waters that are part of its internal waters or territorial sea.
The SC justice also said China failed to satisfy any of the conditions to claim historical rights under the general principles and rules of international law: formal announcement to the international community, continuous exercise of sovereignty over the waters it claims as its own internal waters or territorial sea, and recognition and tolerance from other states.
He added that China’s nine-dash line claim was “never effectively enforced.”
Carpio wrote the SC decision that unanimously affirmed the constitutionality of the Philippine Archipelagic Baselines law of 2009.
The Baselines Law was passed to beat the deadline set by the UNCLOS for the country to determine its baseline and its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. – Edu Punay, Alexis Romero
Principled use of power SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 10, 2015 - 12:00am
By Ana Marie Pamintuan
Officials of some nations that are major trading partners of the Chinese have expressed concern over reclamation activities in disputed waters, but without identifying China. The officials also say other countries are doing the same, although to a lesser extent.
It’s just a cop-out to avoid antagonizing Beijing. These officials may want to look at a map – one recognized by the international community – to see that those other countries (the Philippines included) are claiming territory within their 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) stipulated for coastal nations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
China’s massive reclamation, on the other hand, is focused on shoals at least 600 nautical miles from its southernmost tip.
What’s the basis for its territorial claim? Several countries face the South China Sea.
What if the Philippines also began building artificial islands 600 miles away from the northwestern tip of Batanes, close to the Chinese mainland?
China’s disputes with Japan and Vietnam are slightly different; they do have overlapping 200-mile EEZs. Japan is invoking historical events to back its claim over the Senkaku Islands, and the claim is supported by the United States.
But what’s the basis for China’s creation of artificial islands 600 miles from its shores, and its occupation of Panganiban or Mischief Reef 155 miles off Palawan? Or Panatag or Scarborough Shoal 149 miles off Zambales?
China is a signatory to UNCLOS, but Beijing seems to think its economic power allows it to disregard its international commitments.
That massive artificial island now rapidly taking shape on Fiery Cross Reef, nearly 1,900 miles from China’s southern shores, has an airstrip and a possible docking area for submarines. It can serve as a military launching pad, with all Southeast Asian countries within striking distance of conventional missiles.
CHINA SPRATLY ISLANDS--from Google
Filipinos old enough to remember the events leading up to Japan’s invasion of the Philippines are seeing similarities in China’s territorial grabbing. It’s a scary scenario – but looking less impossible as China ramps up its aggressive activities in disputed waters.
China needs minerals and fuel for its industries, and those minerals and fuel can be cheaper when extracted from one’s (claimed) territory. Oil and natural gas extraction may soon start in the reclaimed areas – and commercial activities in disputed territory would have to be protected by armed force.
Chinese officials insist that their reclamation activities are not for military purposes. But they’re not supposed to be in the reefs they’re reclaiming in the first place. And they also gave similar assurances that the world had nothing to fear in China’s “peaceful rise.”
* * *
Certain countries are realizing the consequences of acquiescence to China’s expansionism. Last year, China staged two naval exercises around James Shoal, within Malaysia’s EEZ.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that Kuala Lumpur would protest the intrusion of a Chinese Coast Guard ship that dropped anchor at Luconia Shoals, about 93 miles north of Malaysian Borneo and some 1,242 miles from the Chinese mainland.
In international relations, as in many other endeavors, the Golden Rule should apply. Respect is earned, not enforced.
What if Malaysia (and the Philippines, for that matter) anchored Coast Guard vessels 93 miles from Chinese shores to enforce territorial claims in the South China Sea?
Under Xi Jinping, Beijing is eroding all the international goodwill built up by past president Hu Jintao. Some analysts believe Xi is stoking nationalism over China’s maritime claim to divert public attention from its economic slowdown. Last year China’s economy grew by 7.4 percent – the lowest in 24 years. Its GDP further slowed down in the first quarter of 2015, to just 7 percent.
From two decades of double-digit growth (with an all-time dizzying high of 14.20 percent in the fourth quarter of 1992) to just 7 percent is a drastic drop, with serious consequences in a nation still with millions mired in poverty.
Chinese officials used to say that the superpower concept is passé and they preferred to project soft power. Their continuing actions belie this position.
Power – whether political or geopolitical – grows and endures only through its principled use, based on values that benefit humanity. Land-grabbing (or land creation) does not fit this bill.
* * *
People are scoffing at the call of some Filipino-Americans living in the US to boycott Chinese products as a form of protest against the reclamation.
The people scoff not necessarily at the sentiment of protest, but over the idea that such a boycott can work in a world where many products are either made wholly in China or bear Chinese-made components.
If the call gains traction, however, it could have some impact over time and affect business sentiment. China has enough competitors for its products.
In digital gadgets and household electronics, people can buy Japanese, Korean, European and of course US brands (although several of their manufacturing plants are in China).
The same goes for motor vehicles and industrial machinery. Food products similar to those made in China such as sauces, flavorings and noodles can be sourced at similar prices from Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Even as the world’s factory, China is losing its monopoly, with analysts predicting that it will eventually be displaced by emerging Southeast Asian economies Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Several Japanese companies, partly because of their territorial row with China, are moving out of that country and relocating to Southeast Asia.
In apparel stores in Washington and Los Angeles last week, I noticed many items made in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam and even the Philippines. So yes, to a certain extent, it’s possible to avoid buying Chinese goods.
For three decades now, China has opened its arms to the world, and the world has embraced it back. That goodwill is now being dissipated.
The tension China is stirring up right in its own backyard is threatening the regional stability that has nourished its rise to prosperity.
CHINA'S POINT OF VIEW FROM CHINA.ORG
Commentary: Manila's shortsightedness on South China Sea disputes will backfire 0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, June 3, 2015 Adjust font size:
After likening China to Nazi Germany in an interview with The New York Times more than a year ago, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III played the same old trick again, this time in Tokyo.
Aquino made the comments Wednesday in an address to business leaders during his visit to Japan.
As Aquino described himself as "an amateur student of history," he really is ignorant of history.
China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and adjacent waters. And China has always been pursuing peaceful development and developing friendly ties with all other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.
China's claim of the South China Sea islands is about protecting its sovereignty, which cannot be compared to Nazi Germany's expansion prior to World War II.
Moreover, Aquino is also an amateur politician as he never hesitates to sacrifice national interests and the Sino-Philippine relations to gain military support from the United States and Japan.
In September 2011, Aquino made his first state visit to China since taking office in June 2010, which was his first foreign destination outside the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN).
He and Chinese leaders agreed to handle disputes in bilateral relations through consultation and to boost bilateral ties.
In November 2014, on the sidelines of the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders' Meeting in Beijing, Aquino told Chinese President Xi Jinping that the Philippines was willing to solve relevant problems with China and wanted to improve bilateral ties.
But in the meantime, the Philippines never stops provocative acts in the South China Sea -- from illegally occupying China-owned islands to detaining Chinese fishing vessels, from increasing servicemen to purchasing military equipment.
The Philippines broke its promise with China and violated its commitment in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
Yes, solving territorial disputes has never been easy. China and ASEAN countries have identified a "dual-track" approach on the South China Sea, which calls for disputes to be resolved through negotiations and consultation between concerned parties and for China and ASEAN member states to work together to maintain peace and stability.
Furthermore, neither the United States nor Japan is a concerned party to the South China Sea issue. It is advisable that both of them keep away from the disputes.
Some experts say the United States, which seeks rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific, needs to rely on the Philippines on the South China Sea issue while Japan wants to distract China from dealing with their East China Sea disputes through supporting the Philippines.
However, a wise U.S. administration will not let the South China Sea issue damage its relations with China -- one of the most important bilateral ties in the world. Both Manila and Tokyo should understand that they will be dismissed by Washington as cannon fodder when the issue affects U.S.-China relations.
In all, Manila's shortsightedness on the South China Sea disputes will backfire. What's more, its inappropriate handling of the issue will be harmful to regional security and stability. End