China’s Claim to South China Sea No Longer Challenged

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders link arms during the opening ceremony of the 30th ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines April 29, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Crisanto/Pool

Before US interference, there were disputes among various claimants but friendly relations were maintained. For example both China and the Philippines fished and patrolled Scarborough Shoal but no conflicts occurred.

When US began its interference, Philippine thought it had a big brother behind it so that it sent its navy to round up Chinese fishermen operating in the Shoal and thus began the standoff there. However, being militarily much weaker and having got no US military support, the Philippines had to retreat and was not allowed by China to fish or patrol the shoal.

With US support, the Philippines filed arbitration and got a favorable arbitration award, but China simply disregarded it and sent air force to conduct combat patrol there to deal with any action intended in denying its rights and interests based on the arbitration award. The US sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to scare China but China responded with the decision to fight a war to protect its interests. China has built seven artificial islands with three airports there. With further support from its land-based air force and missiles, it has geographical advantages to defeat the US there. The US could not but withdraw.

Without US support, who in Southeast Asia dare to challenge China. The US has lost its hegemony in the South China Sea due to its lack of both military and economic strength there.

Reuters shows its disappointment at that fact in its report today titled “ASEAN gives Beijing a pass on South China Sea dispute, cites ‘improving cooperation’”

It will have much more to be disappointed in the future as the US keeps on declining while China keeps on rising.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters report, full text of which is reblogged below:

ASEAN gives Beijing a pass on South China Sea dispute, cites ‘improving cooperation’

By Manuel Mogato | MANILA Sun Apr 30, 2017 | 3:26am EDT

Southeast Asian countries took a softer stance on South China Sea disputes during a weekend summit, according to a statement issued on Sunday, which went easy on China by avoiding tacit references to its building and arming of its manmade islands.

A chairman’s statement of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was released about 12 hours after the summit ended, and dropped references to “land reclamation and militarization” included in the text issued at last year’s meeting, and in an earlier, unpublished version seen by Reuters on Saturday.

The outcome follows what two ASEAN diplomats on Saturday said were efforts by Chinese foreign ministry and embassy officials to pressure ASEAN chair the Philippines to keep Beijing’s contentious activities in the strategic waterway off ASEAN’s official agenda.

It also indicates four ASEAN members who the diplomats said had wanted a firmer position had agreed to the statement’s more conciliatory tone.

China is not a member of the 10-member bloc and did not attend the summit but is extremely sensitive about the content of its statements. It has often been accused of trying to influence the drafts to muzzle what it sees as dissent and challenges to its sweeping sovereignty claim.

China’s embassy in Manila could not be reached and its foreign ministry did not respond to request for comment on Saturday.

The statement also noted “the improving cooperation between ASEAN and China”, and did not include references to “tensions” or “escalation of activities” seen in earlier drafts and in last year’s text. It noted, without elaborating, some leaders’ concerns about “recent developments” in the strategic, resource-rich waterway

A Philippine diplomat said it was an open secret that China tries to lean on ASEAN members to protect its interests, but that was not the reason for the unusual delay in issuing the statement.

“There are one or two member countries which lobbied for some changes in some text in the statement, but not related to the South China Sea,” the source said.

Beijing has reacted angrily to individual members expressing their concern about its rapid reclamation of reefs in the Spratlys and its installation of missile systems on them.

Another ASEAN diplomat said the statement was a genuine representation of the atmosphere of the Manila meetings.

“We respected the Philippines’ views and cooperated,” the diplomat said. “It clearly reflected how the issue was discussed.”


The softened statement comes as the current ASEAN chairman, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, seeks to bury the hatchet with China after years of wrangling over its maritime assertiveness. After lobbying from Duterte, China agreed to let Filipinos back to the rich fishing ground of the Scarborough Shoal following a four-year blockade.

The no-nonsense leader set the tone for the meeting on Thursday when he said it was pointless discussing China’s maritime activities, because no one dared to pressure Beijing anyway.

As a sign of Duterte’s friendship with Beijing, three Chinese navy vessels on Sunday made a rare visit to the Philippines. Duterte will inspect a guided-missile destroyer in his hometown of Davao on Monday.

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Duterte’s foreign policy strategy is a stunning reversal of that of the previous administration, which had close ties with the United States and was seen by China as a nuisance.

That Philippines government in 2013 challenged Beijing by lodging a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013.

Two weeks into Duterte’s presidency last year, the Hague court ruled in favor of the Philippines, angering China. But Duterte has made it clear he would not press Beijing to comply anytime soon, and is more interested in doing business than sparring.

The final chairman’s statement issued made no mention to the arbitration case. However, it did include in a section separate to the South China Sea chapter the need to show “full respect for legal and diplomatic processes” in resolving disputes.

Underlining Beijing’s sensitivity about the arbitration award, the two diplomatic sources on Saturday said Chinese embassy officials had lobbied behind the scenes for that sentence to be dropped, and considered it a veiled reference to the ruling.

One diplomat indicated that ongoing moves between China and ASEAN to draft a framework for negotiating a maritime code of conduct may have been a factor in agreeing the softened statement.

All sides want to complete the framework this year, although there is some scepticism that China’s would agree to a set of rules that could impact its geostrategic interests.

(Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Lincoln Feast)


12 Comments on “China’s Claim to South China Sea No Longer Challenged”

  1. johnleecan says:

    Personally, Duterte doesn’t believed the islands on the nine dash line belong to the Philippines. He knew these are Chinese territories but since Philippine laws state that these islands belonged to the Philippines, he has to state it is theirs. If not, he will be labelled a traitor and most probably impeached.

    This almost universal Filipino kleptomaniac disease is evident everywhere, the rich, the middle class and the poor alike. Those who are victims of being stolen will also steal from others, so a never ending cycle. And those in government not only steal as much as 70% of taxes but also steal from business people and everyday common people.


  2. […] “China’s Claim to South China Sea No Longer Challenged” […]


  3. Joseph says:

    Actually, China only claimed but did not patrol much its claimed area on SCS before 2012 Obama’s pivot to Asia. Some countries laid claim to SCS but never actually contested it openly, apart from Vietnam’s rogue operations against China in 1974 and 1988. The SCS was much calmer then. China never insisted total control of SCS before 2012, and American navy ship could prowl freely on the SCS. But when Chinese fishermen were barred from, ironically, FONOP on SCS, China has excuses to exert total control on the SCS, thanks to the American. American’s effort to humiliate China and its navy has actually bring about the greatest rise of Chinese navy. History will record this as one of America’s greatest flops.


    • Steve says:

      One of the major reasons for the SCS dispute by the littoral states was after the discovery of hydrocarbons. Prior to 1990s, there was calm over the SCS horizon. I believe the US would like a share in developing the natural resources, but requires a scapegoat since US has no share nor investment rights in the SCS. The silly goat would be Philippines. Since President Duterte came to power, the US hopes of stirring up the SCS conflict has faded. No more war games in the SCS, except for waters off Japan and Guam.


  4. Fre Okin says:

    Meanwhile comrades Japan, France, UK, US think they have a bigger say in Asian affairs in the South China Sea than ASEAN countries. These thick skinned invaders, ex colonial powers should be told they are not welcome to disturb the peace between China and her ASEAN neighbors. South China Sea is not their playground.

    Japan desperately dragging US, UK, France into SCS dispute to take attention away from Diaoyu Senkaku. ASEAN should continue not to criticize China to frustrate Japan’s sneaky scheme to deceive them and the world.

    “The French Navy amphibious assault ship Mistral (L9013) arrived April 29 at the U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo naval base in Nagasaki Prefecture ahead of a joint exercise and powerful show of force aimed at frightening China. She will conduct this show of force with the U.S. Navy; the Royal Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in waters off Guam.”

    Read more:


    • Joseph says:

      The American needs Japan, French and UK only for show of force against China? They cannot do it themselves? No wonder the haven’t invaded North Korea. Well, it’s a long way from French and UK. Hope they bring money to pay the bill. European and Japanese credits have not much value in ASEAN these days


      • Fre Okin says:

        Remember adm Harris, commander of Pacific Fleet is Jepunese, born in Yokosuka, Japan. Seriously wonder if he is serving Japan more than US interest. He is the one who is instigating more US presence in the SCS.

        Game Of Go, Pivot to SCS to serve Abe’s Diaoyu/Senkaku interest. ASEAN, esp Duterte is smart not to be used by Japan. SCS should never be Japan’s playground. Keep the game in ECS in the dispute between China and Japan. Remember the sneaky attempts by Japan and US to Use PH and VN by giving them free patrol boats in their attempt to ignite a fire there!

        One is a lonely number. US do FONOP in SCS but it don’t carry as much weight as one done with a gang of countries which US failed to assemble. So now the next best thing they do is to bark off somewhere near Guam ‘as a show of force’. They can continue their silly antics nobody cares as long as they are outside the SCS.


    • Steve says:

      These are the genocidal quadruplets stuck from head to toenails at birth. These Scoundrels have lost the support of Philippines, the only venue left are the waters off Guam to avoid or reduce minimal surveillance.


    • Yungji says:

      Agreed, the U.S. is feeling more than a little anxious these days. The French, British and Japanese sense these and are trying to give their Neocon white “buddy” some encouragement. They, like the Americans know that the days of Americans projecting a public perception (and deception) of a invincible and invulnerable armed forces in the Far East is coming apart at the seams and fading fast. No one quite believes that to be the case nowadays.

      The “show of force” by the French, British and Japanese do not amount to much. Nothing that a saturated missile attack from Chinese and Russians’ land based mobile telos, stealth warships, stealth warplanes, stealth drones and submarines cannot take care off. And such missiles have a range beyond the French, British, Japanese and American’s radar detection reach. So, if I were these incorrigible ex colonial despots, I would be shaking in my boots each time I venture into such “enemy” territories that is swarming with radars and unseen war machines heavily armed with missiles, torpedos, lasers, and bombs targeted at them.

      And knowing that they regard themselves as “superior” beings yet ironically brainwashed idiots at the same time, believing their Far Eastern “enemies” are “demons”, their soldiers, sailors and pilots – young and old alike – fear one thing the most – the terrifying prospects of being killed and/or missing or imprisoned and left behind in a faraway horrible foreign land and seas of sinister “slant eyed” Easterners. This is the strongest reason why the West hesitate to have a war in the East. But of course, no harm in swaggering around like a peacock or a alpha dog to show off your “enemies” especially in “marking” your “whiteman’s territory” in the East as an insult.

      Unfortunately, the imperial days of American and European dominance is over now. Take that one step further blaring your “flight of the valkyries” music from your loud speakers while attacking defenceless peasants in paddy-fields in your Huey helicopters the way bl**dy arrogant Americans did in the Vietnam war, and you will find yourselves blown out of the sky before you can say “Jack Robinson”. Don’t try to be too imperial you Western G7 powers. We Asians don’t like that arrogant Hollywood scene and we haven’t forgotten the racist arrogance displayed there.


  5. Anonymous says:

    If true – China is reverting back to it’s rightful throne as SEA LORD of the South China Sea.
    During the historical era, when China was the Lord of the SCS voyages, none of the littoral states were aware of the existence of Paracels, Spratlys and Huangyan Islands. There was no other expeditionary force in naval construction capabilities that could venture as far as the Arabian continent. Those littoral states had small fishing boats, which was basically the ‘coastguard’ of the nation. It would have being impossible for those fishing boats to travel 100km and back with a full load of fish. Only China had the capability in expeditionary boat construction to reach as far as the Arabian continent.


  6. Simon says:

    ASEAN cannot give what is not theirs in the first place namely the South China Sea. With a declining American hegmony ASEAN is merely albeit slowly reverting back to post WW2 agreements that the SCS including the Paracels and Spratley islands were surrendered by Japan to its rightful owner China.