By: Krissy Aguilar – Reporter / @KAguilarINQ
INQUIRER.net / 05:50 PM September 18, 2020
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Friday expressed gratitude to the United Kingdom, France, and Germany for rejecting China’s South China Sea claims before the United Nations.
“Nagpapasalamat po kami sa mga bansang ito dahil hindi naman po mabubura iyong panalo natin sa arbitral tribunal na iyan na nagsasabi na wala pong legal na basehan iyong kini-claim ng China,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online briefing.
(We are thankful for these countries because our victory in the arbitral tribunal that says China’s claim has no legal basis won’t be expunged.)
Despite this, Roque opposed anew calls to bring the sea row to the UN General Assembly saying the 2016 arbitral win is already “the victory” and “itself the act of being assertive.”
“Alam kasi ninyo hindi naiintidihan ng marami na iyong desisyon itself is the victory, iyong pagkakaroon ng desisyon itself is the act of being assertive dahil kung hindi naman natin pinursue iyong desisyon na iyan, iyong kasong iyan hindi magkakaroon ng desisyon,” Roque said.
“Black propaganda po iyan na mayroon pa tayong ibang dapat gawin, iyong sinasabi nila na dapat gawin sa UN General Assembly, puwede po iyan pero let’s be realistic. Hindi po natin mase-sway ang 197 member ng UN kung ang kalaban po natin ay Tsina dahil alam naman natin limited ang ating kakayahan,” he added.
(It’s black propaganda to say that we have to do other things, what they say that we should bring it to the UN General Assembly, that’s possible but let’s be realistic. We cannot sway 197 members of the UN if we are up against China because we know we have limited ability.)
China has consistently refused to acknowledge the 2016 ruling of the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague UN has that invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line claim, which encompasses even the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. (This reblogger’s note: UN has announced that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is not a UN agency to deny the said court is UN-backed. If it was a UN-backed court, the Philippines might apply to the UN Security Council for imposition of the court’s arbitration decision.)
China’s reclamation activities and militarization in the heavily contested area have also raised concerns about the peace and stability in the strategic waterway.
Source: globalnation.inquirer.net “PH thanks UK, France, Germany for rejecting China’s claim over South China Sea”
Note: This is globalnation.inquirer.net’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
CNN says in its report “Philippines formally ends Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with US” yesterday, “The Philippines has finally sent the United States a notice to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement, marking the start of the 180-day period from when the two-decade military pact will be effectively scrapped. Malacañang on Tuesday confirmed that the document has been signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Tedoro ‘Teddy Boy’ Locsin, Jr. and sent to the US government.”
That worries Philippine Senate Minority leader Franklin Drilon as according to him, scrapping VFA will make ineffective the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the two countries (EDCA), which allows the US military to use and control five bases in the Philippines. He says, “If the VFA and EDCA are no longer effective, then the MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries), as mentioned by Sec. Locsin, would be inutile and would serve no purpose,”
However, the MDT has already proved by facts as serving no purpose as proved by US inaction during the Scarborough standoff between the Philippines and China. The US did not defend Philippines’ claimed rights to Scarborough Shoal. As a result, the shoal has entirely been taken over by China and Philippine fishermen who fished on the shoal and in the area around the shoal, were forbidden to fish there.
The US told the Philippines to file an arbitration at The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague and helped it to get a favorable ruling. The US sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to accept the ruling but China challenged it with war. The US failed to fight a war to defend the rights the Philippines claims. Since the US has failed to defend the Philippines, the MDT has already been inutile and been proved serving no purpose.
Media are used to blame China’s influence for the Philippines distancing from its long-term ally the US. The truth is facts have made the Philippines see that its alliance with the US serves no purpose.
It is only possible for the US to defend the Philippines when China attack the Philippines but China simply will not do so. It has no intention to take back the islands and reefs it claims but are occupied by the Philippines. On the contrary, it wants win-win cooperation to exploit the natural resources in disputed areas.
Before Scarborough standoff, China and the Philippines both fished there but the Philippines tried to forbade Chinese fishing but had its own fishing banned by China there. The US did nothing to help the Philippines.
When he Philippines accepted China’s win-win suggestion, China allowed the Philippines to fish there.
The same with the exploitation of energy resources in disputed areas. China does not allow the Philippines to exploit the resources alone but is willing to conduct win-win cooperation with the Philippines in exploiting the resources.
If the Philippines is not willing, China can wait as it is rich and has no urgent need to exploit the resources. The Philippines, however, is poor and wants urgently to exploit the resources. As a result, it is trying hard now to find an acceptable way to cooperate with China to exploit the resources there.
The above proves that the US has in effect lost its only ally the Philippines in the South China Sea.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on CNN’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://cnnphilippines.com/news/2020/2/11/Philippines-ends-VFA-United-States.html.
ABS-CBN News says in its report “Xi rejects Philippines’ arbitral win in South China Sea” yesterday”, “Chinese President Xi Jinping rejected the Philippines’ legal victory against China on the South China Sea after President Rodrigo Duterte raised the arbitral ruling during their bilateral meeting in Beijing Thursday.”
However, the report quotes Philippine Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo as saying in a statement “Both President Duterte and President Xi agreed that while their variant positions will have to remain, their differences however need not derail nor diminish the amity between the two countries.” Moreover, it is still possible for the two countries to jointly explore and exploit the energy resources in the disputed waters according to the statement.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on ABS-CBN News’ report, full text of which can be viewed at https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/08/30/19/xi-rejects-philippines-arbitral-win-in-south-china-sea.
Buildup of Mutual Trust between China and Russia
As there has been a long history of enmity between the two giant neighbors, it takes time to build mutual trust for the two to become allies in confronting the US. Russia welcomed China’s veto but still lacked trust in China. It wanted China’s large market for its oil, gas and other natural resources and needed Chinese consumer goods and investment, but refused to provide China with preferential treatment in selling natural resources to China. As a result, there were lots of difficulties for the two in concluding their huge natural gas deal.
Due to lack of trust in China, Russia refrained from joining China in criticizing Japan for Japan’s war crimes in World War II or clearly supporting China’s stances in East and South China Seas.
Fortunately for China, carried away by their success in removing Russian influence in the Middle East, the West began to take over Ukraine that Russia regarded as a vital area for its survival. Russia and the West had contended for the area for a long time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Both had made great efforts to influence the presidential election in Ukraine. Ukraine people were thus split into the pro-EU and pro-Russia camps. There was roughly balance of strength between the two camps so that there was sometimes a pro-Russian and sometimes a pro-EU Ukrainian president. Before the recent civil war in Ukraine, Russia had succeeded in having a pro-Russia president elected in Ukraine. China supported the pro-Russia president with lots of aids when he visited China while Ukraine agreed to sell advanced weapons and weapon technology to China.
To further contain Russia, the EU wanted Ukraine to join EU, which may lead to Ukraine joining NATO in confronting Russia. The pro-Russia president opposed that. With EU support, the pro-EU camp launched a street revolution and overthrew the pro-Russia president. To have a NATO member as its neighbor is utterly unacceptable to Russia. It sent troops to annex Crimea and set up pro-Russia militia to fight for independence in Ukraine’s two major industrial states.
The US took the lead to interfere by imposing sanctions on Russia while China helped Russia counter the sanctions. The West led by the US has thus pushed Russia entirely into China’s arms.
South China Sea
In Asia, the US has intensified its pivot to Asia to contain China. It exploited China’s disputes with its neighbors in the South China Sea to pit China’s neighbors against China. It helped the Philippines obtain an arbitration ruling that entirely denies China’s historical rights and interests in the South China Sea and sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to comply with the ruling. China simply rejects the ruling while Russia firmly supports China’s stance. The US has thus pushed China further into Russia’s arms. Now, there has been de facto alliance between China and Russia.
Obama’s diplomatic blunders have caused the US to have two powerful enemies. Perhaps, Obama looked down on Russia and believed that he can deal with China easily even if China had Russia as its ally to help it. However, some US military experts do not think so. They believe that Russia-China alliance is US military’s nightmare. Their worries will be described in the next post.
Article by Chan Kai Yee
Judging by US military’s keen interest in the South China Sea one may think that the South China Sea lay just off America’s East Coast and that what China does in the disputed waters is a threat to US lifelines. In reality, China’s moves only affect the interests of rival claimants such as the Philippines and Vietnam. US core interests in the world are not affected at all.
The sea lanes through the South China Sea are indeed very important as $3.4 trillion in goods passes them each year, but blockade of the sea lanes by China is out of the question. China has now the largest world trade volume. If it blocks the sea lanes in the South China Sea, its trade lifelines through the oceans will be cut by powerful US navy that dominates the oceans. Therefore, the concerns about the sea lanes are but exaggeration by US military, politicians and media. No one really worries about the sea lanes.
Why then does the US pay such keen attention to South China Sea that is located far away from the US and does not affect US core interests?
US encirclement of China has been broken but China remains a potential major challenger to US world leadership. At the time when Xi Jinping took over the reign from Hu Jintao, the US was aware that only China not Russia has the potential to be rival to or even replace the US as world number one; therefore, the US continue to make great efforts to contain China in spite of its failure to encircle China.
US pivot to Asia to Contain China in South China Sea
By that time China had grown relatively rich and was developing its navy quite quickly. The Philippines has occupied some islands and shoals claimed by China but in spite of China’s much stronger navy than the Philippines, China has no intention to take back those islands and shoals by force. Therefore, though China claimed sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal, it allowed the Philippines who had rival claim to the shoal, to patrol and fish in the rich fishing area around Scarborough Shoal.
Encouraged by US pivot to Asia, the Philippines, however, began to contend with China for the islands, reefs and sea areas in the South China Sea. It sent its navy to round up Chinese fishing boats and fishermen in order to deprive China of the right to fish there. China sent its navy and coast guard ships to protect its fishermen and fishing boats and drive away Philippine boats and fishermen. The Scarborough standoff had thus begun.
In my opinion, even though China has sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal, the two countries shall maintain the previous status quo. China shall allow Filipino fishermen to fish there as like Chinese fishermen, quite a few Filipino fishermen had been fishing there for generations; therefore, before the standoff, China did not drive away Filipino fishermen from the sea area.
Luckily for China, Filipino navy’s attempt to drive away Chinese fishermen provided China with the excuse to drive away Filipino fishermen. China is thus very lucky to gain complete control of Scarborough Shoal peacefully.
Luckily again, Filipino coast guards fired at Taiwanese fishermen and killed one of them. As China regards Taiwan as a part of China, the incident gave China additional excuse to drive away Filipino fishermen when China thinks fit.
China was not so lucky with Ren’ai Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal). If the Philippines had sent building materials to stabilize it shipwreck there, China would have had the excuse to drive Filipino troops away from the shoal, but the Philippines did not give China such a chance to remove the shipwreck that the Philippines placed there as its outpost.
There has been allegation that China has become more assertive in the South China Sea, but the above-mentioned Chinese actions have proved that it does not want to give such an impression. The Philippines started the Scarborough standoff by refusing Chinese fishermen access to the shoal so that China responded by refusing Philippine fishermen access to the shoal. When Philippine new president Duterte has corrected his predecessors’ mistakes and made efforts to restore friendship with China, China allows Philippine fishermen to resume fishing there. China just wants to preserve the status quo. If that is assertive, it has been assertive for a long time. There has been no change in China’s assertive attitude.
The US encouraged the Philippines to start the standoff but did not send its navy to help the Philippines. On the contrary, it told the Philippines to retreat and file an application for arbitration at the International Court of Arbitration at the Hague. The shoal was but a small issue. The arbitration was a big issue. If the court controlled by the West gave an arbitration award that entirely deny China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea, the US will have the excuse to send its navy to drive China entirely away from the South China Sea.
That was America’s wishful thinking. Chinese leaders had the wisdom to know what the US wanted and thus be very clear that the US had fallen into Thucydides Trap.
China’s Efforts to Avoid Thucydides Trap
In the annual U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue in 2013, in order to please the US, China promised to make the following major concessions:
China committed to move to a market-determined exchange rate for its yuan currency;
It pledged to better protect against trade secret misappropriation through strengthened enforcement;
It promised to liberate its financial sector:
1. Foreign banks and securities firms would be allowed to directly trade government bond futures and sell them to foreign and domestic institutional investors; and
2. China would also welcome participation by foreign firms in corporate bond underwriting and had pledged to facilitate further evaluations of interested underwriters for participation in this market; and
It had for the first time pledged to ensure that enterprises of all forms of ownership had equal access to inputs, such as energy, land, and water, and to develop a market-based mechanism for determining the prices of those inputs.
China has fulfilled some of the promises but not all of them as China has to conduct its major economic reforms in order to be able to fulfill them in their entirety, but Xi Jinping’s economic reforms have encountered serious resistance from vested interests. That is why Xi further concentrated his power in the coming 19th Party Congress in 2017.
If Xi has succeeded in enhancing his centralism, he will be in much better position to make the economic concessions that US President Trump has been pressuring China to yield. With those concessions, China will be able to please the US that it has no intention to contend with the US for economic dominance in spite of the prospects of surpassing the US in economy.
However, that will be too late as the arbitration award may come out well before Xi would be able to conduct the reform. Moreover, even if China does have conducted the reform to please the US, the US, being in Thucydides Trap, may not be satisfied as that would not contain China enough to stop China’s rise.
How can China remove the threat of US attack? Can it give up its rights and interests in the South China Sea? Certainly not as it will be a repetition of China’s humiliation by foreign bully. What shall China do?
Article by Chan Kai Yee
The US instigated the Philippines to file an arbitration case at Hague and enabled the Philippines to obtain an arbitration award to entirely deny China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea. It sent two aircraft carrier battle groups to force China to accept the arbitration but China was not scared. It responded with the resolution to fight a war to defend its rights and interests.
The US had to give up as it does not want a war with China for others’ rights and interests.
Entirely disappointed, Philippine President Duterte sought recovery of friendship with China at the expense of the US.
To contain China with the South China Sea disputes, US hope lies on Vietnam as China has forced it to stop drilling for oil and gas in the disputed waters and thus upset it.
However, Vietnamese media’s good response to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s article on Vietnamese Communist Party’s mouthpiece quashed US hope in pitting Vietnam against China.
Seeing that no countries in Southeast China support US stance on enforcing Hague arbitration, US President Trump was wise to quickly change its stance. According to Reuters’ report “Trump offers to mediate on South China Sea” yesterday, the US has now thrown Hague arbitration award to the rubbish bin and offered its mediation or arbitration to resolve South China Sea disputes specifically the disputes between Vietnam and China when Trump met with his Vietnamese counterpart.
Trump’s offer was soon indirectly rejected by Chinese and Vietnamese communist party general secretaries Xi Jinping and Nguyen Phu Trong according to Reuters’ another report “Vietnam, China avoid quarrel over South China Sea during visit” the same day. Since quarrel is to be avoided, there certainly will be no quarrel to be resolved by mediation or arbitration.
There will in fact be no quarrel on disputes in the South China Sea when US President Trump does not interfere just like the time when Trump’s predecessor had not started his interference.
Obama interfered in order to contain China. Does Trump not want to contain China?
I will give an answer in my next post “Non-Moron’s Advice to Moron: Replacing Asia-Pacific with Indo-Pacific”.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ reports, full text of which can respectively be viewed at http://www.reuters.com/article/us-trump-asia-vietnam/trump-offers-to-mediate-on-south-china-sea-idUSKBN1DC04H and http://www.reuters.com/article/us-vietnam-china/vietnam-china-avoid-quarrel-over-south-china-sea-during-visit-idUSKBN1DC0P7.
In SCMP’s article “Willingness to explore resource sharing points to cooperative future for China, the Philippines”, the writer Richard Heydarian, a Manila-based academic and author, says “peaceful dialogue over resource sharing in disputed areas could in itself contribute to improving diplomatic relations among competing neighbours.”
However, he points out the seemingly insurmountable obstacles including Philippine constitution and popular nationalism so that former Philippine President Gloria Arroyo failed in her attempt for such sharing.
Mr. Heydarian fails to see that situation is different now. Before Philippines’ failure to get its ally’s help in countering China in the Scarborough standoff and imposing Hague arbitration award, the Philippines still has the illusion that with the help from China’s rival and its long-term ally the US, it can be benefited from the resources in the disputed waters fully alone.
Now, without Chinese consent, it cannot even exploit the fish resources in the disputed waters claimed by it. It simply cannot exploit the energy resources without cooperation with China, but China has the technology, equipment, funds and military strength to exploit the resources alone without any sharing with other claimants. What if China extracts all the resources alone? No one can help the Philippines to prevent that. Neither the US, ASEAN or the permanent court of arbitration at the Hague can.
Therefore, the Philippines has no alternative but share the resources with China or it will get nothing.
Its current president Duterte is wise to see that, but his people perhaps do not realize that and would rather give China the opportunity to enjoy the resources entirely alone.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2108202/willingness-explore-resource-sharing-points-cooperative.
China stresses that its biggest navy drill now is a routine one but the timing on the eve of the arbitration ruling by the International Court of Arbitration at The Hague tells us otherwise. Moreover, according to Chinese official military forum mil.huanqiu.com’s report today, the drill is of unusual large scale and it is quite unusual for Chinese Navy Commander Admiral Wu Shengli to direct the drill personally and quite a few high-ranking officers to take part in the drill.
However, as lots of US warships are at the South China Sea and may interfere in the dispute between China and the Philippines after the arbitration ruling comes out possibly in favor of the Philippines, China has to concentrate its navy and make it combat ready at this critical moment. That is why the drill is a live-ammunition one, i.e. the entire troops taking part in the drill is armed to teeth.
The drill shows China’s unflinching stance in safeguarding its sovereignty even to fight a war. Is that bluffing? I do not know. However, since Chinese President Xi Jinping has told Chinese people to cherish the Chinese dream to make China strong enough to prevent the repetition of its sad past of being bullied by foreign powers, it is only natural that China has to fight a war to safeguard its sovereignty now no matter how great the cost.
China’s entire South Sea Fleet and parts of East and North Sea Fleets take part in the drill. In fact, in this drill, China has concentrated as much troops as possible. including naval air force, submarines, surface warships and coast defense force. Why shall the scale be so big? It is quite obvious that it is a drill for a large-scale real battle.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on mil.huanqiu.com’s report “Navy commander directs large scale drill at the South China Sea”
The following is my translation of the full text of the report:
On July 8, the navy organized a life-ammunition confrontation drill in the area near the Hainan Island and Xisha (Paracel) Islands. The troops taking part in the drill are divided into red and blue troops to conduct “back-to-back” attack and defense drill in the designated sea area. Leaders of Military Commision’s joint staff department, training management department and the South Theater and all the standing committee members of the Party committee of the navy take part in the drill and give direction on the spot.
The troops participating in the drill are divided into red and blue troops to conduct “back-to-back” attack and defense drill in the designated sea area. They mainly come from the South Sea Fleet but also contain parts of the North and East Sea Fleets consisting of various kinds of combat platforms including air force, submarines, surface warships and coast defense troops.
In its article titled “PLA warships carry out biggest live-fire drills yet in South China Sea”, SCMP says that China’s all three naval fleets are carrying out their “largest live-fire drill yet in the South China Sea, ahead of a ruling by an international tribunal on a dispute with the Philippines over claims to the strategic waters.”
In spite of such timing, the article says “(PLA) Daily insisted the exercises were ‘routine’ and unrelated to the ruling”.
At the same time, lots of US warships were carrying out their “routine” patrol near China’s artificial islands but dare not go into the area of 12 nautical miles that China claims as its territorial water.
That is enough for the US as it shows its muscle to maintain its primacy in the South China Sea and has no intention to fight for the Philippines to enforce the international tribunal’s ruling if the ruling is in favor of its ally the Philippines.
China has openly announced that it will ignore the ruling, which cannot be enforced if the US does not help the Philippines do so.
With no support from the US and scared by China’s show of muscle, the Philippines has to give way. SCMP says in its article, “The Philippines said on Friday it was willing to share natural resources with Beijing in the contested seas even if it wins the legal challenge. Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration hoped to quickly begin direct talks with China after the verdict. He said the negotiations could cover jointly exploiting natural gas reserves and fishing grounds within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.”
Negotiations for jointly exploiting natural resources are precisely what China wants before and in spite of the arbitration. It means the Philippines will get nothing from the arbitration ruling.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1987620/pla-warships-carry-out-biggest-live-fire-drills-yet
The United States should do nothing to harm China’s sovereignty and security in the South China Sea, China’s foreign minister told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, ahead of a key court ruling on China’s claims in the disputed waterway.
Speaking by telephone on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Kerry the United States should stick to its promises not to take sides in the dispute, China’s foreign ministry said.
China hopes the United States “speaks and acts cautiously, and take no actions that harm China’s sovereignty and security interests”, the statement paraphrased Wang as saying.
Tensions and rhetoric have been rising ahead of a July 12 ruling by an arbitration court hearing the dispute between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea in the Dutch city of The Hague.
China is conducting military exercises around the Paracel Islands in the north of the region this week, while U.S. Navy officials said on Thursday that U.S. destroyers had been patrolling around Chinese-held reefs and islands in the contested Spratly Islands to the south.
While not close enough to be within 12 nautical miles – a so-called freedom of navigation operation that would require high level approval – the destroyers operated within 14 to 20 nautical miles of the Chinese-occupied features, the Navy Times reported.
The USS Ronald Reagan and its escort ships have also been patrolling the South China Sea since last week.
“All of these patrols are conducted in accordance with international law and all are consistent with routine Pacific Fleet presence throughout the Western Pacific,” Pacific Fleet spokesman Lieutenant Clint Ramsden told Reuters.
PEACEFUL RESOLUTION SOUGHT
China frequently blames the United States for stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, where its territorial claims overlap in parts with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Speaking in Beijing following a meeting with Wang on Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that while he could not comment on the Philippines legal case, he called for a peaceful resolution of differences.
“I did stress to minister Wang, as I have with all other countries involved, the need to resolve their differences in a peaceful manner and to avoid any escalation or misunderstandings that could put security and development in the region at risk.”
Wang repeated China’s position that it also wanted a peaceful resolution, but that it would not accept forced arbitration.
“This approach will not help bring about a peaceful resolution of disputes. On the contrary, it would only escalate the disputes and tension and should be resisted by all countries and people who uphold justice.”
China has accused the United States of militarizing the waterway with freedom of navigation patrols, while Washington has expressed concern about China’s building of military facilities on islands it controls in the South China Sea.
U.S. officials say the U.S. response should China stick to its vow to ignore the ruling could include stepped up freedom-of-navigation patrols close to Chinese claimed islands in what is one of the world’s business trade routes.
In the call initiated by Kerry, Wang also said relations between China and the United States were generally on a sound track and that the two sides should further focus on cooperation while managing their differences.
The U.S. State Department confirmed that Kerry had spoken to Wang, without providing details.
U.S. officials say they fear China may respond to the ruling by declaring an air defense identification zone in the South China Sea, as it did in the East China Sea in 2013, or by stepping up its building and fortification of artificial islands.
(Additional reporting by Greg Torode in Hong Kong; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lincoln Feast)
Source: Reuters “Beijing warns U.S. on sovereignty ahead of South China Sea ruling”