China Exploited Philippine Error to Expand Area of Its Patrol

Mischief Reef

Mischief Reef

In my post “China’s Wise Ways in Dealing with South China Sea Disputes” on July 30, 2014, I quote China’s classic Sun Tzu’s The Art of War to explain China’s wise strategy in dealing with South China Sea Issue:

Therefore, a person well skilled in warfare puts himself in an invincible position and does not miss any of enemy’s error that may enable him to defeat his enemy.

I pointed out in the post: “We see that China has adopted the strategy of exploiting and disallowing other claimants to exploit the resources in the areas claimed by it. By so doing, China gets all the benefit from the areas while other claimants cannot get any. China is thus benefited as the full owner of the waters and islands in the areas without fighting wars to get back the islands claimed by it but occupied by other claimants.

“In this manner China has put itself in an invincible position.

When its enemy has committed an error, it does not miss the opportunity to defeat its enemy, for example the Scarborough Shoal standoff.

The Shoal is claimed by both China and the Philippines. Before Scarborough standoff, the two countries both patrolled the islands and their fishermen both fished there. The Philippines committed the mistake of sending a warship to capture Chinese fishermen so as to forbid them from fishing there and thus began the standoff there. China exploited the opportunity to send much stronger warships and coast guard ships to drive away the Philippines. As a result, the Shoal is now administered solely by China.”

Now, the Philippines has committed another mistake to enable China to have the excuse to expand the area of its patrol.

Philippine major television network’s website says in its report “Chinese patrols expanded near Palawan shoal” on August 12, “Despite the arrest of 11 Chinese fishermen for engaging in illegal turtle trade at Half Moon Shoal last May, Beijing is not backing down from its encompassing claim in the West Philippine Sea.”

From those words we saw that the Philippines was not aware that its arrest and severe punishment of Chinese fishermen in the disputed waters had given China a golden opportunity to exploit. It thought that China would soften China’s hardline attitude and beg it to treat Chinese fishermen leniently; therefore, China would not be so aggressive in the disputes with the Philippines.

On the contrary, the punishment made China believe that it failed to protect the fishermen because it failed to extend its patrol to the area where the fishermen were arrested. Now it has to extend its petrol to protect its fishermen so that its fishermen will no longer be arrested by the Philippines.

The presence of Chinese patrol ships now constitutes a threat to Philippine fishermen. They are not sure whether they will be arrested by Chinese coast guard for entering the sea areas claimed by China. At present, all the China’s more than 50,000 fishing boats have been provided with services of China’s Beidou navigation system to know instantly their location and can send signal to coast guards through the system for emergency help.

Philippine government is entirely unable to provide its fishermen with such protection due to lack of ships, boats, equipment and funds. Poor Philippine fishermen!

The following is the full text of’s description of Philippine fishermen’s predicament:

Chinese patrols expanded near Palawan shoal

By Jaime Laude, The Philippine Star
Posted at 08/12/2014 5:01 AM | Updated as of 08/12/2014 5:01 AM

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines – Despite the arrest of 11 Chinese fishermen for engaging in illegal turtle trade at Half Moon Shoal last May, Beijing is not backing down from its encompassing claim in the West Philippine Sea.

China has expanded its maritime patrols toward the shoal to protect its fishing boats in contested waters.

Local fishermen from islets near Palawan noticed this development at the shoal, which the Philippines calls Hasa-Hasa, and in other rich fishing grounds in the region.

“Every time we went fishing at the shoal there was always a Chinese coast guard ship lurking around protecting their fishing vessels while hauling sea turtles being sold by their local contacts,” complained fishing boat skipper Hiya Saddalani of Barangay Bangkalaan, Balabac town.

A Chinese missile-firing frigate ran aground in the shoal in June 2012. The warship was immediately removed by Beijing while claiming it has sovereign rights over the shoal and its nearby waters to justify the presence of their warship in the area.

Saddalani also said that Chinese coast guard ships seen near the Hasa-Hasa Shoal are all coming from Mischief Reef.

Mischief Reef is within Philippine territory but it has been under the de facto control of the Chinese since 1994 when they initially occupied the place as a fisherman’s shelter. The reef has been developed into a naval facility and is now serving as a forward naval station of China’s Southern Fleet.

If not at Hasa-Hasa Shoal, the Chinese vessels are seen guarding Ayungin Shoal where a contingent of Philippine Marines are stationed and taking shelter at the Philippine Navy’s grounded ship BRP Sierra Madre, Saddalani said.

Known as the Bangkalaan boys, Saddalani’s group and fishermen’s groups from Iloilo, Antique, Batangas, Zambales and General Santos City have been defying the Chinese ships’ imposing presence at Hasa-Hasa Shoal and in other rich fishing grounds in the West Philippine Sea.

Fisherman Absari Hardon recounted that while his group was sailing back home last month after days at sea, a Chinese coast guard ship tailed their fishing boat coming from Lawak, another islet in disputed territory being occupied by Filipino troops.

But Hardon said local fishermen are not afraid of the intensified presence of Chinese patrol ships in most of the fishing grounds in West Philippine Sea because they know that they are fishing within Philippine territory.

What is disturbing, he said, is the apparent lack of support from the Philippine government to protect its fishermen from the continuing bullying of China.

“We just hope that Philippine authorities can protect us the way Chinese ships escort Chinese fishing boats. We want some support from our government,” Hardon added.

He also said that the Chinese fishermen are not really engaged in fishing at Hasa-Hasa Shoal but in buying sea turtles and other endangered sea species from their local contacts. Engaging in the sea turtle trade is more profitable than fishing because the Chinese traders are buying them at higher prices.

Source: Chan Kai Yee “China’s Wise Ways in Dealing with South China Sea Disputes”

Source: “Chinese patrols expanded near Palawan shoal”

Related posts:

  • Philippines Gives Hefty Jail Terms to 12 Chinese Fishermen dated August 6, 2014
  • Satellite and seafood: China keeps fishing fleet connected  in disputed waters dated July 29, 2014
  • Philippines jails Chinese fishermen for infringing wildlife law dated May 11, 2014
  • South China Sea Disputes: US Pivot to Asia Has Zero Effect dated February 19, 2014
  • South China Sea Dispute: Lucky China; Unlucky the Philippines dated June 21, 2013

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