© Copyright, 2015 (PHNO)
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PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

CHINESE VENT IRE OVER U.S. WARSHIP IN SHANGHAI: INDONESIA URGES RESTRAINT ON DISPUTED SPRATLYS
[Chinese media denounced the US action on Wednesday, while netizens filled the Internet with angry diatribes, demanding a far stronger reaction from Beijing. The South China Sea has become the stage for a burgeoning tussle between the world’s two largest economic and military powers as they struggle for regional dominance. In the latest act, the United States sent its guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen to within 21 kilometers (12 nautical miles) of artificial islands China has built in the heavily disputed Spratly archipelago in the middle of the South China Sea.]


OCTOBER 29 -US WARSHIP IN SHANGHAI American guided missile destroyer USS Lassen, which sailed past artificial islands built by China in the disputed Spratly archipelago, arrives in Shanghai for a scheduled port visit in this file photo taken on April 8, 2008. AP
Indonesia’s president on Tuesday called for all parties in the South China Sea to exercise restraint and for China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to start discussions on the substance of a code of conduct to manage tensions in the heavily disputed waters. Indonesian President Joko Widodo was speaking in Washington, hours after a US Navy warship sailed past artificial islands built by China in the Spratly archipelago in a direct challenge to Chinese sovereignty claims, drawing an angry protest from Beijing. Widodo, who met US President Barack Obama on Monday, did not directly refer to the US action. He said Indonesia supported freedom of navigation but also underlined his nation’s neutrality.
Indonesia has islands that may fall within China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, but Jakarta doesn’t count itself as one of the claimants to the disputed islands and reefs. “Indonesia is not a party to the dispute but we have a legitimate interest in peace and stability there. We call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from taking actions that could undermine trust and confidence and put at risk the peace and stability of the region,” Widodo told the Brookings Institution think tank. He said Indonesia, the largest nation in Southeast Asia, was ready to play “an active role” in resolving the dispute. Code of conduct  Asean and China have made little headway in the past decade on negotiating a binding code of conduct in the South China Sea, which is a major conduit of world trade.
China claims virtually all of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea, while Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan claim either parts or all of it. READ MORE...

ALSO: We’ll do it again, says US on ‘sail-past’


OCTOBER 29 -FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr. of U.S. Navy Commander, U.S. Pacific Command walks past a photograph showing an island that China is building on the Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea, as the prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington. As expectations grow that the U.S. Navy will directly challenge Beijing’s South China Sea claims, China is engaging in some serious image-building for its own military by hosting two international security forums beginning Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File
  WASHINGTON – The United States has downplayed the significance of sending a Navy warship within 12 miles of artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea, and has promised to do it again.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said it was a routine freedom of navigation operation in international waters and “shouldn’t be construed as a threat by anybody.” “There’s no reason that US Navy operations in international waters, in accordance with international law, should have any negative effect on our relationship with any country around the world,” Kirby said. He said setting this aside the US-China relationship is vitally important and one that Washington wants to see grow and prosper. “The US-China relationship is vitally important and one that we want to see continue to improve and to grow for the benefit of both our countries, not to mention the region,” Kirby told reporters in Washington. “So again, without speaking to specific operations, it’s the Secretary’s desire that our relationship with China will continue to deepen,” he said referring to Defense Secretary Ash Carter. READ MORE...

ALSO: China loses round 1 in international court


OCTOBER 31 -Photo from the Permanent Court of Arbitration shows Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario addressing the tribunal in The Hague last July. Behind him is the counsel team for the Philippines and the empty seats for China’s representatives.
In a legal setback for Beijing, an arbitration court in the Netherlands ruled on Thursday that it has jurisdiction to hear maritime claims the Philippines has filed against China over disputed areas in the South China Sea. Manila filed the case in 2013 to seek a ruling on its right to exploit the South China Sea waters in its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as allowed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected Beijing’s claim that the disputes were about territorial sovereignty and said additional hearings would be held to decide the merits of the Philippines’ arguments. China has boycotted the proceedings and rejects the court’s authority in the case. Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, dismissing claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. It has even built artificial islands – complete with military facilities – over coral reefs and shoals in areas within the EEZ of the Philippines, to assert its claim. The tribunal found it had authority to hear seven of Manila’s submissions under UNCLOS and China’s decision not to participate did “not deprive the tribunal of jurisdiction.” No date has been set for the next hearings. The Philippine government welcomed the decision. Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said the ruling represented a “significant step forward in the Philippines’ quest for a peaceful, impartial resolution of the disputes between the parties and the clarification of their rights under UNCLOS.” “The elimination of preliminary objections to the exercise of the Tribunal’s jurisdiction opens the way for the presentation of the merits of the Philippines’ substantive claims,” Hilbay added. Good for relations In Arteche, Samar, President Aquino said he expects China to respect the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and acknowledge the possibility that it could even redound to the benefit of both countries. Aquino was in Samar yesterday to check on the progress of post-Yolanda road projects. “When nothing is vague anymore, when what should be followed is clear, isn’t that going to be a way to improve relations with each other because it will no longer be ‘this is my opinion, that is your opinion?” Aquino said. “Once the correct opinion is clear, relations should improve between each other and other countries with disputes over the sea of many names,” the President said. Though it was just an initial victory, the President said he was really happy with the decision because an unfavorable ruling would have removed arbitration as an option for pressing territorial claims. “Isn’t it that what was discussed was: Did we abuse the process by unilaterally filing (a case) without China? They answered that in their decision that we did not abuse the process,” Aquino said, referring to the official press release issued by the PCA. Being both signatories to the UNCLOS, the Philippines and China should follow the ruling that would pave the way for the PCA to decide on the merits of Manila’s case, Aquino said. He added the rule of law has always been an equalizer between a big and a small country as stated by Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio. The President said the PCA announced it might decide on the Philippine case by next year and he thanked the court for allowing rule of law to prevail by acting swiftly despite the sensitive nature of the case. Aquino said he would bring up the latest development before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations during its summit and meetings with dialogue partners in Malaysia in November. He added he would remind ASEAN of the need for a legally binding code of conduct on South China Sea. READ MORE...

ALSO CHINA: UN Tribunal ruling ‘null, void, nonbinding’


0CT0BER 30 -China Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei Arbitral Tribunal UNCLOS Philippines China South China Sea
FILE – In this May 20, 2014 file photo, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei speaks during a daily briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Beijing, China. China said Thursday, May 21, 2015 it is entitled to keep watch over airspace and seas surrounding artificial islands it created in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, following a reported exchange in which its navy warned off a U.S. surveillance plane. Speaking at a regular daily briefing, Hong reiterated Beijing’s insistence on its indisputable sovereignty over the islands it has created by piling sand on top of atolls and reefs. AP FILE PHOTO
China will not give up the disputed South China Sea and will not follow any decision of the international Arbitral Tribunal, which it accused of violating China’s rights.“The award rendered on 29 October 2015 by the Arbitral Tribunal established at the request of the Republic of the Philippines on jurisdiction and admissibility of the South China Sea arbitration is null and void, and has no binding effect on China,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Friday.“With regard to the issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China will not accept any solution imposed on it or any unilateral resort to a third-party dispute settlement,” it said. China accused the Philippines of being “obstinate” in seeking arbitration before the United Nations and that it was “a political provocation under the cloak of law.”  “It is in essence not an effort to settle disputes but an attempt to negate China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea,” it said. “China and the Philippines have chosen, long time ago, to settle their disputes in the South China Sea through negotiations and consultations. The breach of this consensus by the Philippines damages the basis of mutual trust between states,” the ministry added. READ: China: We are the victims in dispute; won’t heed UN decision China further accused the Tribunal and the Philippines of abusing the arbitration mechanism and procedures and violating China’s rights. READ MORE...

ALSO China warns US: Sea encounters could lead to war
[A U.S. official told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday that the US Navy would send more warships to sail close to the controversial islets. AFP]


OCTOBER 31 -PEACE, MAN A Philippine Marine soldier flashes the peace sign to a Chinese Coast Guard ship after it tried to block a resupply vessel from restocking the BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal on March 29. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
BEIJING—China’s Navy chief had warned his US counterpart encounters between their forces could spiral into conflict, state media reported on Friday, two days after a US destroyer sailed close to Beijing’s artificial islands in the South China Sea.The comments by Adm. Wu Shengli, who commands the Chinese Navy, were made in a video call with US Adm. John Richardson that lasted about an hour, Beijing’s official Xinhua news agency said.They came after the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen sailed within 21 kilometers (12 nautical miles) of Zamora Reef (international name: Subi Reef), a Philippine-claimed reef in the Spratly archipelago that China has taken over and developed into an artificial island. Chinese authorities monitored and warned away the vessel, but did not otherwise intervene, although Beijing later summoned the US ambassador and denounced what it called a threat to its sovereignty.“If the US continues to carry out these kinds of dangerous, provocative acts, there could be a serious situation between frontline forces from both sides on the sea and in the air, or even a minor incident that could spark conflict,” Xinhua paraphrased Wu as saying.“I hope the US cherishes the hard-won, good situation between the Chinese and US Navies, and avoids similar incidents from happening again,” Wu added.Beijing insists it has sovereign rights to nearly all of the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which about a third of all the world’s traded oil passes. READ MORE...

ALSO: Key points of the Arbitral Tribunal’s decision in PH vs China case
[Final decision: The Tribunal said that it will set further hearings to discuss merits and the jurisdiction of remaining issues and that it expects to be able to make a final decision in 2016.]


OCTOBER 30 -Hearing on Jurisdiction and Admissibility in session, July 2015, Peace Palace, The Hague. Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Albert F. Del Rosario (center) addressing the Arbitral Tribunal. China’s table (right) is empty as they have declined to participate in the proceedings. PHOTO FROM THE PERMANENT COURT OF ARBITRATION
The international Arbitral Tribunal on Thursday decided on several issues in the maritime dispute case between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), majority of which involved rejecting China’s arguments. The Tribunal’s decisions were unanimous, shutting down several of China’s statements against the arbitration case. In a 10-page summary, The Tribunal said that the case “was properly constituted” and that “the Philippines’ act of initiating this arbitration did not constitute an abuse of process.”China has repeatedly asserted its position that it will not participate in the proceedings because the Tribunal has no jurisdiction over China’s “territorial sovereignty over several maritime features in the South China Sea.”China also said that the Philippines abused the Arbitration mechanism under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) because it unilaterally initiated the proceedings without first exhausting diplomatic channels.But the Tribunal rejected China’s arguments saying that “China’s non-appearance in these proceedings does not deprive the Tribunal of jurisdiction,” and “the Tribunal held that the Philippines had sought to negotiate with China and … international law does not require a State to continue negotiations when it concludes that the possibility of a negotiated solution has been exhausted.” Philippine delegation to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague for South China Sea. Jurisdiction over 15 submissions Since the case began back in January 2013, the Philippines had presented its position on 15 items relating to the hotly contested and resource-rich waters west of the Philippines. The Tribunal decided it was the proper body to decide on seven of the Philippines’ submissions, while seven others were reserved for further consideration because those issues “do not possess an exclusively preliminary character.” The Philippines was directed to “clarify the content and narrow the scope” of its 15th submission which states that “China shall desist from further unlawful claims and activities.” READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Restraint urged on Spratlys; CHINESE VENT IRE ON SOCIAL MEDIA 


US WARSHIP IN SHANGHAI American guided missile destroyer USS Lassen, which sailed past artificial islands built by China in the disputed Spratly archipelago, arrives in Shanghai for a scheduled port visit in this file photo taken on April 8, 2008. AP

WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 2, 2015 (INQUIRER) October 29th, 2015 —Indonesia’s president on Tuesday called for all parties in the South China Sea to exercise restraint and for China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to start discussions on the substance of a code of conduct to manage tensions in the heavily disputed waters.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo was speaking in Washington, hours after a US Navy warship sailed past artificial islands built by China in the Spratly archipelago in a direct challenge to Chinese sovereignty claims, drawing an angry protest from Beijing.

Widodo, who met US President Barack Obama on Monday, did not directly refer to the US action. He said Indonesia supported freedom of navigation but also underlined his nation’s neutrality.

Indonesia has islands that may fall within China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, but Jakarta doesn’t count itself as one of the claimants to the disputed islands and reefs.

“Indonesia is not a party to the dispute but we have a legitimate interest in peace and stability there. We call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from taking actions that could undermine trust and confidence and put at risk the peace and stability of the region,” Widodo told the Brookings Institution think tank.

He said Indonesia, the largest nation in Southeast Asia, was ready to play “an active role” in resolving the dispute.

Code of conduct

Asean and China have made little headway in the past decade on negotiating a binding code of conduct in the South China Sea, which is a major conduit of world trade.

China claims virtually all of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea, while Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan claim either parts or all of it.

READ MORE...

Since 2013, China has accelerated the creation of new outposts by piling sand atop reefs and atolls then adding buildings, ports and airstrips big enough to handle bombers and fighter jets.

Tuesday’s sail-by was Washington’s most significant effort to demonstrate that China’s man-made islands cannot be considered sovereign territory with the right to surrounding territorial waters.

Washington vowed more frequent freedom of navigation patrols were coming.

Chinese furious

Chinese media denounced the US action on Wednesday, while netizens filled the Internet with angry diatribes, demanding a far stronger reaction from Beijing.

The South China Sea has become the stage for a burgeoning tussle between the world’s two largest economic and military powers as they struggle for regional dominance.

In the latest act, the United States sent its guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen to within 21 kilometers (12 nautical miles) of artificial islands China has built in the heavily disputed Spratly archipelago in the middle of the South China Sea.

China has built artificial islands on seven reefs in the Spratlys and constructed lighthouses on two of them, both claimed by the Philippines: Calderon Reef (international name: Cuarteron Reef) and Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef).

The USS Lassen sailed close to Zamora Reef (Subi Reef) in the West Philippine Sea, part of the South China Sea within Manila’s 370-km exclusive economic zone (EEZ) recognized under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea but which Beijing insists is part of its territory.

A US defense official said the Lassen also went within the 21-km territorial limits of Philippine-claimed Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef), which China seized in the mid-1990s and developed into a military outpost.

In response to that Chinese action, the Philippines grounded a rusting hospital ship, the BRP Sierra Madre, on Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal), 189 km west of Palawan province, in 1999 to mark Philippine territory in the Spratlys.

A small garrison of Philippine Marines mans the decrepit ship, which is restocked every three months using civilian vessels.

‘We will do it again’



The US Navy will send more warships, a US official said late Tuesday, telling Agence France-Presse (AFP): “We will do it again.
 We sail in international waters at a time and place of our choosing.”

In the run-up to Tuesday’s operation, Beijing repeatedly warned that it would take firm action against any country that violated its territorial sovereignty.

But when the long-awaited patrol finally arrived, Beijing only tracked and warned away the vessel, without intervening physically.

Falling back on a tried-and-tested formula, Beijing summoned the US ambassador to protest, denounced Washington’s actions, and made vague threats that it would “resolutely respond.”

Commentary in Chinese state media was relatively restrained, calling for China to keep a cool head in the face of American provocations.

Even the Global Times, known for its nationalistic rhetoric, issued a call for restraint, emphasizing the need for China to show moral superiority in the face of what it described as Washington’s bullying.

“The Pentagon is obviously provoking China,” the newspaper said in an editorial on Wednesday. “If we feel disgraced and utter some furious words, it will only make the US achieve its goal of irritating us.”

Angry netizens

But Chinese netizens demanded a stronger response from the authorities, who portray China as a major global power and who have at their command the world’s largest military, an increasing point of pride.

Beijing has been ramping up defense spending for years as it works to transform its once corrupt and dysfunctional military into a well-oiled machine with an increasingly powerful naval force capable of operating far into the Pacific.

The Americans “are at our doorstep. Denouncing them again is useless,” one commentator said, reflecting the general mood of thousands of responses on social media site Sina Weibo.

A September military parade in Beijing celebrating the 70th anniversary of the World War II defeat of Japan featured a procession of military hardware, including missiles thought to be capable of targeting American warships.

Such displays have heightened popular Chinese expectations, and social media were filled with demands for decisive action.

“Can China only flap its lips?” one comment asked, before offering a more decisive reaction: “Destroy the American warships that came.”

A Chinese guided-missile destroyer and a naval patrol ship shadowed and gave warnings to the Lassen “according to law,” said China’s defense ministry.

‘Coercive action’

The US patrol was a “coercive action that seeks to militarize the South China Sea region” and an “abuse” of freedom of navigation under international law, the ministry said.

China’s Navy said the “air arm” was also involved, but gave no details.

The US official said the Lassen was followed at a safe distance by a Chinese ship and no incidents were reported during the 115-km passage.

“I would expect that this becomes a regular operation in the South China Sea,” the official said. “This type of operation shouldn’t be seen as provocative.”

The official said the USS Lassen had been followed for weeks by Chinese vessels before the patrol.

Two other US officials said there was bridge-to-bridge radio communication with the Chinese as the Lassen approached Zamora Reef. One of the officials said the Chinese did not shadow the US warship as closely when it came within 21 km of islands claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam.

The official People’s Liberation Army Daily said in a front-page commentary on Wednesday that the United States needed to learn the lessons of the chaos in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, which it said proved how a US show of force never brought stability.

“Cast iron facts show that time and again the United States recklessly uses force and starts wars, stirring things up where once there was stability, causing the bitterest of harm to those countries directly involved,” it said.

Envoy summoned


US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter

US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, testifying before the Senate armed services committee on Tuesday, initially said only that the US Navy had conducted operations in the South China Sea. But under questioning from lawmakers, he said the USS Lassen had passed within 21 km of an artificial island built by China.

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui summoned US Ambassador Max Baucus, telling him that the patrol was “extremely irresponsible,” the foreign ministry said.


Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui

It said earlier the USS Lassen “illegally” entered waters near islands and reefs in the Spratlys.

China was “extremely dissatisfied and resolutely opposed” the US actions, the ministry said.

The US state department declined to confirm the Tuesday meeting, or comment on any remarks made on the issue.

International law permits military vessels the right of “innocent passage” in transiting other countries’ seas without notification.

The United States says it doesn’t take a position on sovereignty over the South China Sea but insists on freedom of navigation and overflight.

About 30 percent of global trade passes through the South China Sea every year. The waterway has rich fishing grounds and a potential wealth of undersea mineral deposits.

China says it respects the right of navigation but has never specified the exact legal status of its maritime claims.

The Philippines has challenged China’s claims in the West Philippine Sea, taking the dispute to a United Nations arbitral court in The Hague for resolution.

China, however, has refused to take part in the proceedings, insisting on bilateral negotiations to settle the dispute. Reports from AP, AFP


PHILSTAR

We’ll do it again, says US on ‘sail-past’ By Jose Katigbak STAR Washington bureau (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 29, 2015 - 12:00am 0 5 googleplus0 0


FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr. of U.S. Navy Commander, U.S. Pacific Command walks past a photograph showing an island that China is building on the Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea, as the prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington. As expectations grow that the U.S. Navy will directly challenge Beijing’s South China Sea claims, China is engaging in some serious image-building for its own military by hosting two international security forums beginning Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File

WASHINGTON – The United States has downplayed the significance of sending a Navy warship within 12 miles of artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea, and has promised to do it again.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said it was a routine freedom of navigation operation in international waters and “shouldn’t be construed as a threat by anybody.”

“There’s no reason that US Navy operations in international waters, in accordance with international law, should have any negative effect on our relationship with any country around the world,” Kirby said.

He said setting this aside the US-China relationship is vitally important and one that Washington wants to see grow and prosper.

“The US-China relationship is vitally important and one that we want to see continue to improve and to grow for the benefit of both our countries, not to mention the region,” Kirby told reporters in Washington.

“So again, without speaking to specific operations, it’s the Secretary’s desire that our relationship with China will continue to deepen,” he said referring to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

READ MORE...

Carter, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, initially would only say the US Navy had conducted operations in the South China Sea.

But under questioning from lawmakers, he said the USS Lassen had passed within 12 miles of a Chinese artificial island.

It was the first time a US warship passed close to a Chinese-claimed artificial island since 2012.

The sail-past infuriated China which summoned the American ambassador to protest the operation, which it saw as direct challenge to Chinese sovereignty claims.

Sen. John McCain praised the decision to send a warship on a patrol in the South China Sea, saying it was a step that should have been taken long ago. “This decision is long overdue,” he said.

The move was quickly blasted by Chinese officials who saw it as a violation of Chinese territorial waters.

“The Chinese side strongly urges the American side to take China’s solemn representations seriously, put right mistakes, refrain from any dangerous or provocative actions detrimental to China’s sovereignty and security interests, and honor its commitment of not taking sides on disputes over territorial sovereignty so as to avoid any further damage to China-US relations and regional peace and stability,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, according to a statement posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website.

China’s Foreign Ministry said on its website yesterday that Executive Vice Minister Zhang Yesui told Max Bacaus that the US had acted in defiance of repeated Chinese objections and had threatened China’s sovereignty and security.

While offering no details, Zhang said Tuesday’s “provocative” maneuver also placed personnel and infrastructure on the island in jeopardy.

China was “extremely dissatisfied and resolutely opposed” the US actions, the ministry said. The US State Department declined to confirm the Tuesday meeting, or comment on any remarks made on the issue.

China says authorities monitored and warned the destroyer USS Lassen as it entered what China claims as a 12-mile or 21-kilometer territorial limit around Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands archipelago, a group of reefs, islets, and atolls where the Philippines has competing claims.

The sail-past fits a US policy of pushing back against China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. US ally the Philippines welcomed the move as a way of helping maintain “a balance of power.”

Since 2013, China has accelerated the creation of new outposts by piling sand atop reefs and atolls then adding buildings, ports and airstrips big enough to handle bombers and fighter jets — activities seen as attempting to change the territorial status by altering the geography.

Navy officials had said the sail-past was necessary to assert the US position that China’s man-made islands cannot be considered sovereign territory with the right to surrounding territorial waters.

International law permits military vessels the right of “innocent passage” in transiting other country’s seas without notification, although China’s Foreign Ministry labeled the ship’s actions as illegal.

The US says it doesn’t take a position on sovereignty over the South China Sea but insists on freedom of navigation and overflight. About 30 percent of global trade passes through the South China Sea, which also has rich fishing grounds and a potential wealth of undersea mineral deposits.

China says it respects the right of navigation but has never specified the exact legal status of its maritime claims. China says virtually all of the South China Sea belongs to it, while the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam claim either parts or all of it.

Beijing’s response closely mirrored its actions in May when a navy dispatcher warned off a US Navy P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft as it flew over Fiery Cross Reef, where China has conducted extensive reclamation work.

A US Defense Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the Lassen’s movements, said the patrol was completed without incident. Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban declined to comment.

The Obama administration has long said it will exercise a right to freedom of navigation in any international waters.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said China adhered to international law regarding freedom of navigation and flight, but “resolutely opposes the damaging of China’s sovereignty and security interests in the name of free navigation and flight.”

“China will firmly deal with provocations from other countries,” the statement said. - With AP


PHILSTAR

China loses round 1 in international court (The Philippine Star) | Updated October 31, 2015 - 12:00am 1 6 googleplus0 0


Photo from the Permanent Court of Arbitration shows Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario addressing the tribunal in The Hague last July. Behind him is the counsel team for the Philippines and the empty seats for China’s representatives.

MANILA, Philippines - In a legal setback for Beijing, an arbitration court in the Netherlands ruled on Thursday that it has jurisdiction to hear maritime claims the Philippines has filed against China over disputed areas in the South China Sea.

Manila filed the case in 2013 to seek a ruling on its right to exploit the South China Sea waters in its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as allowed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected Beijing’s claim that the disputes were about territorial sovereignty and said additional hearings would be held to decide the merits of the Philippines’ arguments.

China has boycotted the proceedings and rejects the court’s authority in the case. Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, dismissing claims to parts of it from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

It has even built artificial islands – complete with military facilities – over coral reefs and shoals in areas within the EEZ of the Philippines, to assert its claim.

The tribunal found it had authority to hear seven of Manila’s submissions under UNCLOS and China’s decision not to participate did “not deprive the tribunal of jurisdiction.” No date has been set for the next hearings.

The Philippine government welcomed the decision.

Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said the ruling represented a “significant step forward in the Philippines’ quest for a peaceful, impartial resolution of the disputes between the parties and the clarification of their rights under UNCLOS.”

“The elimination of preliminary objections to the exercise of the Tribunal’s jurisdiction opens the way for the presentation of the merits of the Philippines’ substantive claims,” Hilbay added.

Good for relations


President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the 50th Founding Anniversary of Eastern Samar at the Arteche Municipal Gymnasium in Arteche, Eastern Samar on Friday (October 30). (Photo by Benhur Arcayan/ Malacañang Photo Bureau)

In Arteche, Samar, President Aquino said he expects China to respect the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and acknowledge the possibility that it could even redound to the benefit of both countries. Aquino was in Samar yesterday to check on the progress of post-Yolanda road projects.

“When nothing is vague anymore, when what should be followed is clear, isn’t that going to be a way to improve relations with each other because it will no longer be ‘this is my opinion, that is your opinion?” Aquino said.

“Once the correct opinion is clear, relations should improve between each other and other countries with disputes over the sea of many names,” the President said.

Though it was just an initial victory, the President said he was really happy with the decision because an unfavorable ruling would have removed arbitration as an option for pressing territorial claims.

“Isn’t it that what was discussed was: Did we abuse the process by unilaterally filing (a case) without China? They answered that in their decision that we did not abuse the process,” Aquino said, referring to the official press release issued by the PCA.

Being both signatories to the UNCLOS, the Philippines and China should follow the ruling that would pave the way for the PCA to decide on the merits of Manila’s case, Aquino said.

He added the rule of law has always been an equalizer between a big and a small country as stated by Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

The President said the PCA announced it might decide on the Philippine case by next year and he thanked the court for allowing rule of law to prevail by acting swiftly despite the sensitive nature of the case.

Aquino said he would bring up the latest development before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations during its summit and meetings with dialogue partners in Malaysia in November.

He added he would remind ASEAN of the need for a legally binding code of conduct on South China Sea.

READ MORE...

Focus on merits

At Malacañang, Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said the ruling will “pave the way for the furtherance of the proceedings to evaluate the merits of the position” of the country. He said the government “will await further advice” from the tribunal.

On reports that the naval forces of the US and China have agreed to maintain an open dialogue so as to reduce tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, Coloma said it has always been the Philippines’ position to push for freedom of navigation.

“Our basic position is to promote the freedom of navigation recognizing that the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea is one of the most important arteries for global commerce,” he said.

“We have always maintained that all disputes pertaining to maritime entitlements in body of water will have to be resolved peacefully in accordance with the rules such as those contained in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Coloma added.

In a text message to reporters, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the ruling would set into motion the country’s formal presentation of its case.

“Our people can be assured that those representing our country have been continuously preparing for this,” she said.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the decision of arbitral court is a positive step in the country’s efforts to preserve its sovereignty over disputed areas and land features in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Drilon said that the Philippines would now be able to “present before the Permanent Court of Arbitration the merits of our claims over areas of the West Philippine Sea disputed by China.”

“The ruling is a crucial positive step in our efforts to protect our sovereignty,” Drilon said.

“The Philippines remains committed to the peaceful settlement of conflicting claims in the West Philippine Sea in accordance with international law, in particular UNCLOS, with the firm hope that through international law, peace and justice will prevail,” he added.

The Department of National Defense (DND) also welcomed the ruling.

“It’s a very good development not only for the Philippines but also for countries that believe in UNCLOS,” DND spokesman Peter Galvez said in a press briefing yesterday.

“We will continue what we have been doing before. We will support our troops and monitor activities in the area,” he added.

Galvez stressed that the Philippines would continue to advocate rule of law, freedom of navigation and peaceful means of resolving maritime disputes.

China’s ignoring the ruling would only confirm fears of its neighbors that it’s a bully and a real threat to regional stability, former national security adviser and congressman Roilo Golez said.

“Should we win, and China ignores, they would be portrayed as international outlaws and I doubt whether they would be able to withstand and resist international censure,” Golez, a former naval officer, said.

In a position paper in December, China argued the dispute was not covered by UNCLOS because it was ultimately a matter of sovereignty, not exploitation rights.

UNCLOS does not rule on sovereignty but it does outline a system of territory and economic zones that can be claimed from features such as islands, rocks and reefs.

The court said it could hear arguments including one contending that several South China Sea reefs and shoals were not important enough to base territorial claims on.

On seven other submissions, including that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign right to exploit its own territorial waters, the court said it would reserve judgment about jurisdiction until it had decided the merits of the case.

The tribunal is composed of Thomas Mensah of Ghana as president, and Jean-Pierre Cot of France, Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, professor Alfred Soons of the Netherlands, and Rüdiger Wolfrum of Germany. - Pia Lee-Brago, Delon Porcalla, Marvin Sy, Edu Punay, Aurea Calica, Alexis Romero, Jaime Laude


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UN Tribunal ruling ‘null, void, nonbinding’—China SHARES: 5076 VIEW COMMENTS By: Matikas Santos @MSantosINQ INQUIRER.net 04:56 PM October 30th, 2015


China Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei Arbitral Tribunal UNCLOS Philippines China South China Sea
FILE – In this May 20, 2014 file photo, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei speaks during a daily briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Beijing, China. China said Thursday, May 21, 2015 it is entitled to keep watch over airspace and seas surrounding artificial islands it created in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, following a reported exchange in which its navy warned off a U.S. surveillance plane. Speaking at a regular daily briefing, Hong reiterated Beijing’s insistence on its indisputable sovereignty over the islands it has created by piling sand on top of atolls and reefs. AP FILE PHOTO

China will not give up the disputed South China Sea and will not follow any decision of the international Arbitral Tribunal, which it accused of violating China’s rights.

“The award rendered on 29 October 2015 by the Arbitral Tribunal established at the request of the Republic of the Philippines on jurisdiction and admissibility of the South China Sea arbitration is null and void, and has no binding effect on China,” the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Friday.
“With regard to the issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, China will not accept any solution imposed on it or any unilateral resort to a third-party dispute settlement,” it said.

China accused the Philippines of being “obstinate” in seeking arbitration before the United Nations and that it was “a political provocation under the cloak of law.”
“It is in essence not an effort to settle disputes but an attempt to negate China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea,” it said.
“China and the Philippines have chosen, long time ago, to settle their disputes in the South China Sea through negotiations and consultations. The breach of this consensus by the Philippines damages the basis of mutual trust between states,” the ministry added.
China further accused the Tribunal and the Philippines of abusing the arbitration mechanism and procedures and violating China’s rights.

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“The Philippines and the Arbitral Tribunal have abused relevant procedures and obstinately forced ahead with the arbitration, and as a result, have severely violated the legitimate rights that China enjoys as a State Party to the UNCLOS, completely deviated from the purposes and objectives of the UNCLOS, and eroded the integrity and authority of the UNCLOS,” the ministry said.

“As a State Party to the UNCLOS, China firmly opposes the acts of abusing the compulsory procedures for dispute settlement under the UNCLOS, and calls upon all parties concerned to work together to safeguard the integrity and authority of the UNCLOS,” it added.

China has repeatedly refused to participate in the proceedings insisting on bilateral talks while it undertakes massive land reclamation projects in several maritime features in the Spratlys turning them into artificial islands capable of hosting military equipment and structures.

“The Philippines’ attempt to negate China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea through arbitral proceeding will lead to nothing,” it said.


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Sea encounters could lead to war, China warns US SHARES: 560 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet 04:20 AM October 31st, 2015


PEACE, MAN A Philippine Marine soldier flashes the peace sign to a Chinese Coast Guard ship after it tried to block a resupply vessel from restocking the BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal on March 29. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

BEIJING—China’s Navy chief had warned his US counterpart encounters between their forces could spiral into conflict, state media reported on Friday, two days after a US destroyer sailed close to Beijing’s artificial islands in the South China Sea.

The comments by Adm. Wu Shengli, who commands the Chinese Navy, were made in a video call with US Adm. John Richardson that lasted about an hour, Beijing’s official Xinhua news agency said.

They came after the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen sailed within 21 kilometers (12 nautical miles) of Zamora Reef (international name: Subi Reef), a Philippine-claimed reef in the Spratly archipelago that China has taken over and developed into an artificial island.

Chinese authorities monitored and warned away the vessel, but did not otherwise intervene, although Beijing later summoned the US ambassador and denounced what it called a threat to its sovereignty.

“If the US continues to carry out these kinds of dangerous, provocative acts, there could be a serious situation between frontline forces from both sides on the sea and in the air, or even a minor incident that could spark conflict,” Xinhua paraphrased Wu as saying.

“I hope the US cherishes the hard-won, good situation between the Chinese and US Navies, and avoids similar incidents from happening again,” Wu added.

Beijing insists it has sovereign rights to nearly all of the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which about a third of all the world’s traded oil passes.

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The disputed waters also claimed in part or in whole by Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei have also become the stage for a tussle for regional dominance between Beijing and Washington, the world’s two largest economic and military powers.

Tensions have mounted since China transformed reefs in the area into small islands capable of supporting military facilities, a move the United States says threatens freedom of navigation.

Washington has repeatedly said it does not recognize Chinese claims to territorial waters around the artificial islands.

China suffered a setback on Thursday in its broad territorial claims in the South China Sea when a UN arbitral court in The Hague said it had jurisdiction to hear a case brought by the Philippines over those claims.

A Pentagon spokesperson said the US and Chinese commanders discussed “freedom of navigation operations, the relationship between the two Navies including pending port visits, senior leader engagement and the importance of maintaining an ongoing dialogue” on the call.

A US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Chinese had expressed no desire to cancel scheduled visits by Chinese ships to a Florida port next week, and that Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of the US Pacific Command, would still visit China.

“We look forward to continue this dialogue,” the official said.

Harris is due in China on Monday for a three-day trip, including meetings with senior Chinese military leaders, the US Pacific Command said, adding that “candidly addressing and managing disagreements” was among the objectives.

A US official told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday that the US Navy would send more warships to sail close to the controversial islets. AFP


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Key points of the Arbitral Tribunal’s decision in PH vs China case SHARES: 544 VIEW COMMENTS By: Matikas Santos @MSantosINQ INQUIRER.net 04:09 PM October 30th, 2015


Hearing on Jurisdiction and Admissibility in session, July 2015, Peace Palace, The Hague. Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Albert F. Del Rosario (center) addressing the Arbitral Tribunal. China’s table (right) is empty as they have declined to participate in the proceedings. PHOTO FROM THE PERMANENT COURT OF ARBITRATION

The international Arbitral Tribunal on Thursday decided on several issues in the maritime dispute case between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), majority of which involved rejecting China’s arguments.

The Tribunal’s decisions were unanimous, shutting down several of China’s statements against the arbitration case.

In a 10-page summary, The Tribunal said that the case “was properly constituted” and that “the Philippines’ act of initiating this arbitration did not constitute an abuse of process.”

China has repeatedly asserted its position that it will not participate in the proceedings because the Tribunal has no jurisdiction over China’s “territorial sovereignty over several maritime features in the South China Sea.”

China also said that the Philippines abused the Arbitration mechanism under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) because it unilaterally initiated the proceedings without first exhausting diplomatic channels.

But the Tribunal rejected China’s arguments saying that “China’s non-appearance in these proceedings does not deprive the Tribunal of jurisdiction,” and “the Tribunal held that the Philippines had sought to negotiate with China and … international law does not require a State to continue negotiations when it concludes that the possibility of a negotiated solution has been exhausted.”

Jurisdiction over 15 submissions

Since the case began back in January 2013, the Philippines had presented its position on 15 items relating to the hotly contested and resource-rich waters west of the Philippines.
The Tribunal decided it was the proper body to decide on seven of the Philippines’ submissions, while seven others were reserved for further consideration because those issues “do not possess an exclusively preliminary character.”
The Philippines was directed to “clarify the content and narrow the scope” of its 15th submission which states that “China shall desist from further unlawful claims and activities.”

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The following are the seven points of the Philippines which will move forward to the merits phase:

(1) Scarborough Shoal generates no entitlement to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf;

(2) Mischief Reef, Second Thomas Shoal and Subi Reef are low-tide elevations that do not generate entitlement to a territorial sea, exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, and are not features that are capable of appropriation by occupation or otherwise;

(3) Gaven Reef and McKennan Reef (including Hughes Reef) are low-tide elevations that do not generate entitlement to a territorial sea, exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, but their low-water line may be used to determine the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea of Namyit and Sin Cowe, respectively, is measured;

(4) Johnson Reef, Cuarteron Reef and Fiery Cross Reef generate no entitlement to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf;

(5) China has unlawfully prevented Philippine fishermen from pursuing their livelihoods by interfering with traditional fishing activities at Scarborough Shoal;

(6) China has violated its obligations under the Convention to protect and preserve the marine environment at Scarborough Shoal and Second Thomas Shoal;

(7) China has breached its obligations under the Convention by operating its law enforcement vessels in a dangerous manner causing serious risk of collision to Philippine vessels navigating in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal;

The Convention

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) a state needs to have land before they can claim rights to the sea.

“You need to have land before you can have rights to the sea. It’s as simple as that.You cannot just have rights to the sea without owning land,” former Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza said in a forum at the University of the Philippines (UP) Law Center in 2014, citing the basic principle of UNCLOS.

China asserts it has “indisputable sovereignty” and “historic rights” to nearly the entire South China Sea using its “nine-dash line” claim that overlaps with the UNCLOS-mandated 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

In recent months, China has conducted massive land reclamation activities turning submerged reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military equipment and structures.

Further hearings

The Tribunal has not issued a decision on its jurisdiction on the following seven points of the Philippines saying that they will schedule further hearings “to present oral arguments and answer questions on the merits of the Philippines’ claims and any remaining issues deferred from the jurisdictional phase.”

(1) China’s maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, like those of the Philippines, may not extend beyond those permitted by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS” or the “Convention”);

(2) China’s claims to sovereign rights and jurisdiction, and to “historic rights,” with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the so-called “nine-dash line” are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under UNCLOS;

(3) Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal are part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines;

(4) China has unlawfully interfered with the enjoyment and exercise of the sovereign rights of the Philippines with respect to the living and non-living resources of its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf;

(5) China has unlawfully failed to prevent its nationals and vessels from exploiting the living resources in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines;

(6) China’s occupation and construction activities on Mischief Reef
(a) violate the provisions of the Convention concerning artificial islands, installations and structures;
(b) violate China’s duties to protect and preserve the marine environment under the Convention; and
(c) constitute unlawful acts of attempted appropriation in violation of the Convention;

(7) Since the commencement of this arbitration in January 2013, China has unlawfully aggravated and extended the dispute by, among other things:
(a) interfering with the Philippines’ rights of navigation in the waters at, and adjacent to, Second Thomas Shoal;
(b) preventing the rotation and resupply of Philippine personnel stationed at Second Thomas Shoal; and
(c) endangering the health and well-being of Philippine personnel stationed at Second Thomas Shoal;

Final decision
The Tribunal said that it will set further hearings to discuss merits and the jurisdiction of remaining issues and that it expects to be able to make a final decision in 2016.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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