Philippines verifying photos of China military aircraft on reef

Reuters Staff April 18, 2018

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines may lodge a protest with China against the reported presence of two military aircraft on a Chinese-built island in the South China Sea, the top Philippine diplomat said, amid concern that China is militarizing the waterway.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer published pictures on Wednesday that it said showed two military transport aircraft on the tarmac of Mischief Reef, which the Philippines claims.

The reef is the closest of the artificial islands that China has developed to the Philippines, and within its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

The newspaper said the photos were taken in January this year. Reuters could not verify the authenticity or date of the pictures.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters the defense and military establishments had been asked to confirm the presence of the aircraft, after which the Philippines could ask China to explain it.

“Filing a protest is one of the diplomatic actions being considered, pending a confirmation from the defense department,” Cayetano said, adding the Philippines has proposed claimants reverse defense enhancements in the Spratly islands.

“Many claimants are putting embankments, radar, and other defensive mechanisms, the challenge now is how to stop it and roll it back,” he added.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a strategic waterway where about $3 trillion worth of sea-borne goods pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims in the sea.

The Inquirer showed what it said were surveillance photos obtained from an unnamed source, showing what appeared to be two Xian Y-7 transport planes.

The military declined to comment and China’s embassy in Manila did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

China’s Defence Ministry also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cayetano said claimants were talking to each other as well as “non-regional players” to resolve disputes and avoid a regional arms race.

China and Southeast Asian countries started negotiations in Vietnam last month on a code of conduct in the South China Sea, starting with “less sensitive and less controversial” issues, he said.

Cayetano said they had identified common issues before discussing contentious provisions, such as whether the code would be legally binding and include sanctions against offenders.

He said there was no time frame for conclusion and adoption of the code.

The drafting of the code has been met with widespread scepticism, with some experts convinced China’s uncharacteristic support for it is aimed at placating Southeast Asian states while buying time to completes its military installations in the sea.

Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel

Source: Reuters “Philippines verifying photos of China military aircraft on reef”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China says to have ‘prudent’ oil exploration with Philippines

REFILE – CORRECTING HEADLINE Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, left, passes on a hand-written letter from President Rodrigo Duterte to Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minster and State Counselor Wang Yi, right, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China March 21, 2018. Parker Song/Pool via REUTERS

Reuters Staff March 21, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will prudently advance cooperation with the Philippines on joint oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea, China’s top diplomat State Councillor Wang Yi said on Wednesday after meeting his Philippine counterpart.

Any potential deals between Manila and Beijing on energy exploration in the disputed waterway should be agreed with a company and not the Chinese government, a senior Philippine official said earlier this month.

China claims most of the South China Sea, a key trade route and home to areas that are believed to hold large quantities of oil and natural gas. Along with China, parts of the South China Sea are subject to competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The two countries in February agreed to set up a special panel to work out how they can jointly explore offshore oil and gas in areas both sides claim, without needing to address the touchy issue of sovereignty.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing after meeting Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Wang said the South China Sea will be turned into a source of friendship and cooperation.

“We will enhance maritime dialogue and pursue equal footed and friendly consultation and in a prudent and steady way advance cooperation on offshore oil and gas exploration,” Wang said, without giving details.

However, pursuing a joint project would be extremely complex and sensitive, as sharing oil and gas reserves could be seen as endorsing the other countries’ claims.

“The Philippines and China are finding a common legal framework to conduct joint exploration and surveys. And with our discussions today I’m confident that we will find a suitable legal framework for our differences,” Cayetano said.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has said China has proposed joint exploration that was “like co-ownership” and better than the two fighting over it.

The Philippines suspended exploration in the Reed Bank in 2014 to pursue a legal challenge to China’s territorial claims.

Included in a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague was a clarification of Manila’s sovereign right to access offshore oil and gas fields, including the Reed Bank, within its 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Philippines, China’s CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK) and state-owned PetroVietnam jointly surveyed the Reed Bank from 2003 to 2008.

The Philippines’ ties with China have warmed under Duterte, who has put aside territorial disputes in exchange for trade opportunities and pledged financing for infrastructure projects.

Cayetano said Duterte would visit China next month to attend an economic forum on the southern island province of Hainan and meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard, editing by David Evans

Source: Reuters “China says to have ‘prudent’ oil exploration with Philippines”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

Duterte Wise to See China’s Militarization of Islands Directed at US

In its report “Philippines’ Duterte plays down China military facilities in disputed sea” yesterday, Reuters quotes Philippine President Duterte as saying that China’s construction of military bases on its artificial islands aims at defense against the US rather than confronting its neighboring states.

That is obvious. The construction has been costing China billions of dollars. China’s military has already been much stronger than its neighbors. Shall China have incurred such huge costs to deal with them?

However, Reuters has been trying hard to vilify China by describing China’s nine-dash line as aggression, the construction on the islands as aiming at restricting freedom of navigation in the area and the Court of International Arbitration at the Hague as a UN agency in spite of UN’s denial.

China built the islands to prevent attack by US submarines from the South China Sea when there were obvious danger of that but it refrained from militarizing them to avoid scaring its neighbors. However US Navy’s stupid freedom of navigation operations have provided China with the excuse to militarize them.

Duterte is wise enough to see that, but Philippine pro-US media want to spread false fear among Philippine people to please the US.

Duterte knows clearly that the Philippines cannot rely on the US in its disputes with China over the South China Sea so that it is entirely unable to confront China militarily.

What the Philippines has been fighting for is the rich fishery and energy resources in the South China Sea. China is entirely capable of taking the resources alone as proved by its ban of Philippine fishing at the Scarborough Shoal after the standoff there. The US simply refused to help the Philippines in the standoff as it will not fight for Philippines’ interests.

At the time of the Scarborough standoff, China has not built the artificial islands but the Philippines dared not to confront China militarily without US assistance. That clearly proves that the artificial islands are not necessary for China to deal with its neighbors.

Duterte is wise to become friendly with China so as to enable the Philippine to fish in the area around Scarborough Shoal and share the energy resources with China. Otherwise as China has the military strength and technology to extract the energy resources in the disputed waters alone and the Philippines will simply get nothing.

We shall regard China as generous to allow the Philippines to share the resources that China is wholly entitled to.

China has thus proved that it wants its relations with other countries to be mutually beneficial. That is why in spite of Western media’s vilification China is and will be more popular in the world.

The situation in the South China Sea now is:

China will be able to get the resources in the areas without disputes. In the areas with disputes, it will share with other claimants;

China has built and militarized its artificial islands sufficiently to make the South China Sea its lake; and

The US is unable to attack China with its navy and has to spend billions of dollars for development of new bombers to attack China.

US media such as the Reuters are unhappy with the situation, but they can do nothing except vilifying China. However, as China grows increasingly popular, they will become increasingly unpopular due to their unfounded vilification.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be found at

Philippines’ president made call on China’s sea research – spokesman

FILE PHOTO: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, wearing a military uniform, gestures as he attends the 67th founding anniversary of the First Scout Ranger regiment in San Miguel town, Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Reuters Staff January 15, 2018 / 8:34 PM / Updated 14 hours ago

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte personally made a decision to let China conduct scientific research off the Philippines’ Pacific coast, his spokesman said on Monday, despite concern among critics about threats to maritime sovereignty.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that as chief architect of foreign policy, Duterte allowed China to work with the University of the Philippines in Benham Rise, an area roughly the size of Greece and believed by some scientists to be rich in biodiversity and tuna.

The United Nations declared Benham Rise, off the Pacific coast, part of the continental shelf of the Philippines in 2012. Manila last year renamed it the “Philippine Rise”.

Though China does not lay claim to the area, the lingering presence of its vessels for several months in late 2016 triggered concern about its intentions.

The Philippines granting of the permission to China was not announced and was revealed a few days ago by a lawmaker who has been fiercely critical of Duterte’s close ties with Beijing.

The Philippines and China have a long history of maritime squabbles over sovereignty in the South China Sea, but there has been no disagreement about waters off Manila’s Pacific coast.

Roque said anyone opposed to the joint research project should go to Congress and raise the issue there.

“If this is not a wise move of the president, then a law could be enacted to prohibit it,” he said.

The Philippines would grant permission to any other country that might show interest in conducting maritime research at Benham Rise, he added.

Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel

Source: Reuters “Philippines’ president made call on China’s sea research – spokesman”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

The Conundrum of US Interference with South China Sea Disputes

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

Some Americans Are Deeply in Thucydides Trap and Want Trump in

On October 28, I had a post titled “China’s Wisdom Tested when the US Likely Falls into Thucydides Trap” on Daniel Kliman and Zack Cooper’s October-27 article “Washington Has a Bad Case of China ADHD” that reflects US security experts’ Thucydides Trap mentality. I expressed my hope that Chinese leaders will have the wisdom to avoid the trap.

Two days later on October 30, my post “US, India Join Force to Block China’s Belt and Road Initiative” describes US Secretary State Rex Tillerson in the trap as reflected in his speech at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) titled “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century” before his visit to India aimed at winning over India as US ally in containing China.

Yesterday, we have Daniel Blumenthal’s article “Trump Needs to Show That He Is Serious About America’s Rivalry With China” on Foreign Policy that further reflects US elite in Thucydides Trap.

Note: The title of the article is America’s rivalry with China instead of vice versa.


South China Sea

China claims the isles, reefs and area within its nine-dash line since long ago and had the line in its map since 1947. The US supported the claim by sending Chinese navy to take back from Japan the isles there with its navy after World War II.

Due to Thucydides Trap Clinton began to challenge China’s claim in 2013 in order to contain China and Obama then began his pivot to Asia as US priority to contain China.

Instigated by the US, the Philippines began Scarborough standoff and ended up in China disallowing Philippine fishermen fishing there.

Then US told the Philippines to file an arbitration and helped it get an arbitration award that entirely denies China’s rights and interests, but China refuses to accept it and US failed to force China to accept it with its two aircraft carrier battle groups.

China decided to fight a war to defend its rights and interests, but the US did not want to fight as it had no rights or interests to defend. It certainly will not fight for others’ rights and interests.

The US ended up in losing its long-term ally the Philippines and its influence in ASEAN and the South China Sea, a total failure in its rivalry with China there.



Since Japanese government bought the Diaoyus (known as Senkaku in Japan), China has sent coast guard ships and aircrafts to patrol and large fishing fleet to the area around the disputed islands. Japan wanted to send navy to drive Chinese vessels away, but that may end up in war so that it needs US help. It was an opportunity for Thucydides Trap to give rise to a war between the US and China.

China was determined to fight. In order to prevent US retaliation with nuclear weapons in case China has sunk a US aircraft carrier (note: China had hundreds of anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles able to sink a carrier with saturate attack), China showed its strategic nuclear submarines for three days in a row on CCTV primetime news to tell the US it had second-strike capabilities with not only mobile ICBMs hidden in tunnels but also nuclear submarines.

The US said that it did not want to fight for a few rocks so that it told Japan not to send its navy and China not to fire the first shot. The crisis ended as a result. Still China patrols and fishes in the disputed area so that the islands are now jointly administered by China and Japan.

At that time, perhaps Clinton had but Obama had not yet fallen into Thucydides Trap.

Now, Chinese navy has grown much stronger, fight a war in the East China Sea is out of the question especially because the sea there is too shallow for US submarines to operate.

When Obama began his pivot to Asia, Japan was very happy especially at Obama’s TPP that aimed at containing China.

Now, Trump has scrapped TPP. Japan has no choice but to court China in order to have a larger share in China’s huge market. Japan though a US ally and does want to contain China as it is scared by China’s rise, cannot give the US the help the US needs in containing China as Japan’s economic relations with China are too important for Japan especially as TPP has been scrapped.

North Korea
China has satisfied Trump’s demands in implementing his sanctions so that Trump cannot make things difficult for China though the writers of the article want him to do so.



US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson places hope in US relationship with India to contain China, but India has joined Russia- and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Indian leader Modi is obviously very wise to obtains from every possible corner including the US. Modi will certainly not give up its interests in other corners such as trade and economic cooperation with China, weapon supply from Russia for improvement of relations with the US.

In fact, what the US can provide India with is but weapons and weapon technology but it is very expensive. If China and Pakistan may improve their relations with India to resolve their long-term disputes and remove India’s long-term enmity, India will willingly become a member of Asia Union. There is real possibility for that as both India and Pakistan have joined Russia and China’s SCO.

What China shall do is to avoid rivalry with the US so that there is no excuse for Americans to fall into Thucydides Trap though US vested interests such as money-thirsty weapon makers want them to fall into.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Foreign Policy’s article, full text of which can be viewed at

Philippines, China, Malaysia’s Jointly Exploit South China Sea Energy

China’s deep sea oil rig. photo

China’s says in its report “Philippines promotes Philippine-China joint exploitation in the South China Sea: Draft Contract has been submitted to Philippine President” yesterday that Philippines’ ABS-CBN news website says in its report on September 28 that Philippine government is promoting a win-win scheme with other South China Sea claimants to jointly explore oil and gas in disputed waters.

In addition “Philippine Star” reported on the same day that Philippine side’s draft contract on joint exploration of the oil and gas resources in Palawan has been submitted to President Duterte for examination and approval. The exploration will be conducted by a joint venture between China, the Philippines and Malaysia in an area to the northwest of Palawan.

This blogger’s comment:
The disputes among China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei in the South China Sea are mainly over the oil and gas resourced there, the above-mentioned model of win-win cooperation among China, the Philippines and Malaysia will set an example for the peaceful solution of the disputes. As a result, countries outside the region will have no excuse to interfere with the disputes.

That is China’s victory as China has all along advocated putting aside the dispute to jointly exploit the resources. Philippine ex-president Aquino wanted to exploit the resources alone. Instigated by the US, he started and won an arbitration but got nothing as the US does not want to fight a war with China to impose the arbitration award.

Seeing that China is capable of exploiting all the resources while the Philippines can get nothing if it is so greedy as to get the resources alone, Aquino’s successor is wise to cooperate with China and other claimants to exploit the resources jointly.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on’s report, summary translation of which is provided here. Full text of the report in Chinese can be viewed at