Philippines says it and China reaffirm strong relations


By Reuters Staff OCTOBER 10, 202011:15 PMUPDATED 10 HOURS AGO

MANILA (Reuters) – The foreign ministers of Philippines and China reaffirmed their countries’ strong relations on Saturday, Manila’s foreign ministry said, amid bilateral tensions over the South China Sea.

China, which has for years been locked in maritime disputes with other coastal states in the South China Sea, has in recent months held exercises in disputed parts of the strategic waterway, at a time when other claimants are battling coronavirus outbreaks.

“Both sides reaffirmed the continuing vitality of relations despite the constraints imposed by COVID-19,” the Philippines’ foreign ministry said in a statement following talks in Yunnan between Teodoro Locsin and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

Locsin and Wang engaged in a “candid and in-depth exchange on regional security concerns”, the ministry said. The statement did not mention any discussion about the South China Sea, believed to be rich in energy reserves and marine resources.

The ministers “pledged to forge ahead with sustained policy dialogues, as well as economic and infrastructure cooperation projects,” it said.

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; editing by John Stonestreet

Source: Reuters “Philippines says it and China reaffirm strong relations”

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


South China Sea: Manila and Beijing agreed to shelve dispute, ambassador says – despite Duterte’s vow to uphold ruling


  • Presidents Xi and Duterte had already reached a ‘consensus’ to ‘put aside’ their competing maritime claims, said Chinese envoy to Manila Huang Xilian

  • His comments came just days after Duterte vowed to uphold a 2016 arbitration ruling, and led one retired judge to say the president had been ‘taken for a ride’

Raissa Robles

Published: 8:36pm, 28 Sep, 2020

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pictured with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last April. Photo: AP

China and the Philippines have agreed to shelve their dispute over the South China Sea, according to the Chinese ambassador to Manila – who spoke mere days after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte won praise from critics for vowing before the United Nations General Assembly to uphold a 2016 arbitration award that had invalidated many of Beijing’s controversial maritime claims.

Source: Excerpts from SCMP’s report “South China Sea: Manila and Beijing agreed to shelve dispute, ambassador says – despite Duterte’s vow to uphold ruling”, full tex of which can be found at https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3103394/south-china-sea-manila-and-beijing-agreed-shelve-dispute

Note: These are excerpts of SCMP’s ’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


PH thanks UK, France, Germany for rejecting China’s claim over South China Sea


By: Krissy Aguilar – Reporter / @KAguilarINQ

INQUIRER.net / 05:50 PM September 18, 2020

Map showing the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), including the Spratlys Islands and Scarborough Shoal. AFP FILE

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.


South China Sea: after all its posturing, the US is struggling to build a coalition against China


August 18, 2020 9.19pm AEST

Authors

Pak K Lee

Senior Lecturer in Chinese Politics and International Relations, University of Kent

Anisa Heritage

Research Fellow, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent

Disclosure statement

Anisa Heritage is affiliated with the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The opinions expressed are the author’s own and are solely drawn from open-source published research and data.

Pak K Lee does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

As tensions continue to mount in the waters surrounding the contested islands of the South China Sea, a US navy aircraft carrier conducted exercises in the region on August 17. This came after the Trump administration hardened the US’s longstanding neutral position on China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea.

In May 1995, following China’s occupation of Mischief Reef in the South China Sea – which is also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan – the US announced that it would take “no position on the legal merits of the competing claims to sovereignty over the various islands, reefs, atolls and cays in the South China Sea”.

But the US has not remained neutral on how the multiple disputes in the region should be managed or resolved – something we’ve written about in a recent book.

In July 2020, US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, took things one step further when he stated that most of China’s claims to offshore resources in the South China Sea were unlawful. Four years after a ruling by the South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal, which found China’s claims had no basis in international law, the US has now endorsed that ruling.

Pompeo’s statement was followed a few days later by a speech from the US secretary of defense, Mark Esper, in which he accused China of “brazen disregard of international commitments”. He said China had bullied nations around the Pacific, and that its aggressive tactics in the South China Sea obstructed other countries’ rights to fishing and natural resources.

Two shoals and a reef

Pompeo’s announcement deviated from 25 years of US neutrality over three key issues. First, the US now argues that Mischief Reef and the Second Thomas Shoal, located 130 nautical miles and 105 nautical miles west of the Philippine Palawan Island respectively, are not Chinese but Philippine territories.

Island reef in South China Sea developed by China.

A 2018 photo of Mischief Reef after it was reclaimed and redeveloped by China. Tony Peters/Flickr, CC BY

Second, the announcement amounted to a declaration that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has no lawful territorial or maritime claim to James Shoal. Although the Chinese government claims James Shoal as its southernmost territory, it is an entirely submerged feature, 50 nautical miles from Malaysia and 1,000 nautical miles from China’s coast. Under international law, underwater features cannot be claimed by any state. So the US declared that James Shoal “is not and never was PRC territory”.

And third, Pompeo asserted that China had not put forward a “lawful, coherent maritime claim” and a legal basis for the “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea which it uses for the basis of its territorial claims. Under international law, sovereignty extends 12 nautical miles into the seas surrounding a land feature that can sustain human habitation. This means the US also does not accept China’s claims to a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone in the region, far beyond 12 nautical miles surrounding any of the islands, atolls, reefs or rocks.

Still, except for the two shoals and Mischief reef, when it comes to the ownership of the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan, the US has stuck to its longstanding position of neutrality and not taken a position.

Why now?

As the Trump administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic worsens and Trump’s re-election chances appear to be diminishing, his administration’s backlash against China has accelerated. Some reports suggest hawkish senior officials in the Trump administration, concerned about potential defeat in the November presidential election, are trying to introduce irreversible changes in China-US relations.

The strengthening of the US position on the South China Sea signals an effort to build a coalition of allies and partners to counter and – in Esper’s words “openly compete” with – China. In more substantial terms, the US may be considering deeper defence support to regional states such as the Philippines and Malaysia, which has effectively managed James Shoal, to confront Chinese encroachment there.

To date, only Australia has agreed to pursue “increased and regularised maritime cooperation” with the US in the South China Sea. Despite American pressure on Canberra to participate in operations guaranteeing international freedom of navigation surrounding disputed features such as reefs or islands, Canberra has so far resisted a specific commitment to conduct operations within 12 nautical miles of the features. While Australia rejects China’s illegal maritime claims, it doesn’t want to inflame further tensions over the sensitive sovereignty issue of disputed islands and their surrounding waters.

South-east Asian reticence

In contrast to Australia, south-east Asian states such as the Philippines are more reticent about working with the US to rein in China’s expansionism.

The inherent contradictions between the Trump administration’s America First strategy and the current calls for a coalition against China remain a sticking point. Trump has never attended an East Asia Summit, and his administration’s denigration of regional alliances has reduced American capacity to create a coalition of like-minded partners to support its position in the South China Sea.

Rhetorical posturing against China will not inspire regional allies to rally to America’s side while it trumpets its America First policy. A better US strategy would be to rebuild relations with democratic allies, such as Australia, Japan, South Korea and even Indonesia. But the Trump administration’s attempts to permanently harden US policy towards China, without prior consultation with the rest of the world, will make it harder to build much needed collective resilience against China’s activities in the South China Sea.

Source: The Conversation “South China Sea: after all its posturing, the US is struggling to build a coalition against China”

Note: This is The Conversation’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Tensions due to China’s Fishing Ban under Control unless US Interferes


SCMP says in its report “Beijing’s South China Sea fishing ban threatens to raise tensions with rival claimants”, “Fishing groups in Vietnam and the Philippines have urged their governments to take firm measures to resist ban, which is intended to preserve fish stocks”.

Vietnamese government has said something but not the Philippines.

In fact even during the Scarborough standoff, the Philippines has to observe the ban, though China disallowed it to fish in the area around the reef.

Fishing conflicts between China and Vietnam have been common. A Vietnamese fishing boat was sunk by Chinese coast guard ship even recently.

Such tension for resources are normal and will not be a big issue unless the US interferes with its navy.

In the past, Japan planned to use its navy to drive Chinese fishing boats away from the area around the disputed Diaoyu Islands, China showed that it was to respond with war. The then US Vice President Joe Biden had to visit China to prevent the naval war as the US would not support Japan’s move. Biden said that the US would not fight for a few rocks. After that, China sent fishing fleet larger than the past to the area and Japan did not drive Chinese fleet away.

China banned Philippine fishing in the area around Scarborough Reef after Scarborough standoff, but the US did not interfere though the Philippines is its ally. The ban was not lifted until the Philippines had improved its relations with China.

There may be tension or even war if the US interferes as China vows to defend its core interests in the South China Sea.

The ball is on US side.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which may be viewed at https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3083304/delayed-south-china-sea-talks-expose-chinas-complex.


The US Losing Philippines Its Only Ally in South China Sea


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.


China Pursues Win-win Cooperation, Not Zero Sum Ball Game in South China Sea


China’s rejection of 2016 tribunal ruling is not something new. Xi’s repeated statement that China is strong now so that no one will be able to force China to swallow the bitter fruit of losing its national rights and interests.

Philippine President Duterte knows that well. He knows that his country has no choice other than win-win cooperation with China. Therefore, though he was forced to mention the ruling, he had to accept Xi’s view that China will not accept the ruling but the ruling shall not affect the win-win cooperation between the two countries.

China seeks win-win cooperation with other countries in spite of the maritime territorial disputes. Therefore, it is not conducting a zero sum ball game with the Philippines. There is therefore no ball at all in Beijing’s court as described in SCMP’s article “Ball is in Beijing’s court’ on South China Sea after Rodrigo Duterte puts focus on international law”.

If Duterte had chosen and lost a zero sum ball game like his predicessor Aquino did, China would not have allowed Philippine fishermen to resume fishing at the Scarborough Shoal.

The article says, “The establishment of the joint steering committee on oil and gas cooperation, and an accompanying working group, also signalled some progress after the memorandum of understanding signed in November for joint resources development. But observers cautioned that domestic concerns, as well as institutional and legal issues, remained hurdles for its implementation.”

The oil and gas cooperation is the win-win cooperation China seeks. However, if the Philippines rejects such cooperation, China is well able to forbid Philippine exploration and exploitation of oil and gas there and explore and exploit the energy there alone.

China’s previous ban of Philippine exploitation of fish resources at Scarborough Shoal has made that very clear.

Ball at Beijing’s court”? What ball? No ball game at all. Win-win cooperation is the only way out.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3025228/ball-beijings-court-south-china-sea-after-rodrigo-duterte-puts.


Xi Rejects Duterts’s Arbitration Claim but Willing to Maintain Amity with Him


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.


US Media Ignores Beijing Treating Vietnam in South China Sea Same as Philippines


In its article “South China Sea: Beijing Shouldn’t Treat Vietnam Like The Philippines” Forbes seems to forget that China disallows Vietnam’s drilling for energy resources in the South China Sea without cooperation with China just as it has been doing to the Philippines.

China has successfully stopped Vietnam’s drilling there while making arrangement for cooperation with the Philippines in surveying and exploiting energy in disputed area.

The difference lies in Vietnam and the Philippines. China is also willing to cooperate with Vietnam in that respect. Only Vietnam is not willing to at present. However, it cannot do so alone without China’s consent.

Beijing shouldn’t treat Vietnam like the Philippines? Beijing treats the two countries precisely the same on exploitation of energy resources.

It is also the same with regard to fishing. Like the Philippines, Vietnam and China both fish in the disputed areas. Only the Philippines tried to ban Chinese fishing but caused China’s response of banning Philippine fishing there. The ban was lifted when Duterte sought friendship with China. The US though an ally of the Philippines did not help the Philippines when Chinese navy banned Philippine fishing there. That was why Duterte switched to seek friendship with China.

Vietnam and China both fish in the disputed areas. When a Vietnamese fishing boat did something not allowed by China, it was sunk by a Chinese one. Vietnam simply could do nothing while the US simply ignored that.

China is treating Vietnam just the same as it does the Philippines. Why? China has declared that its rights and interests in the South China Sea are China’s core interests. It will fight a war to defend its interests.

Will US Navy join Vietnam when there is a military conflict between Vietnam and China due the dispute? It doesn’t seem that the US will fight a war with China for Philippines’ let alone Vietnam’s interests there. The US is not Vietnam’s ally! That is why there is peace there.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Forbes’ article, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2019/07/13/south-china-sea-beijing-shouldnt-treat-vietnam-like-the-philippines/#26eed89b5ff4.


Beijing tour ‘raging success’


By Mario J. Mallari –
April 29, 2019 12:05 AM

The short three-day swing of President Rodrigo Duterte to Beijing was hailed as one of his most successful foreign visits after clinching a commitment for peace from President Xi Jinping and $12 billion pledge of new investments.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. described the visit as a “raging success.”
“Actually the Belt and Road Forum (visit) is a raging success,” declared Locsin in a social media post.

Locsin was among the Cabinet members who joined President Duterte during the four-day visit to China.

Apart from attending the Second Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation, Mr. Duterte had bilateral meetings with Xi and Premier Li Keqiang.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo noted Duterte’s trip paved the way for the signing of 19 business agreements on investments such as in energy, infrastructure including tourism-related facilities and for the speeding up of internet connectivity, improving agriculture productivity and providing Filipinos with skills training.

“As Mr. Duterte noted, the People’s Republic of China is the largest trading partner and a major source of foreign investments of the Philippines,” Panelo said.

Panelo disclosed the President also met with top Chinese leaders where he affirmed the country’s commitment to friendship and understanding with China.

Area of restraint
“He expressed the country’s readiness to pursue more high-quality and good-impact projects,” Panelo said.

Duterte’s bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping yielded a 1 billion renminbi (over P7 billion) grant to the Philippines,” he added.

Duterte reiterated to Xi his resolve to endeavor to make the West Philippine Sea (WPS) a sea of peace, stability and prosperity.

“He expounded the need for both countries to exercise restraint and caution to avoid actions that could complicate situations,” Panelo said.

Meanwhile, Panelo pointed out that President Duterte also advocated the protection and welfare of migrant workers during the High-Level Meeting Session 1 of the forum.

Duterte pitched for the development assistance based on reciprocal benefits, Panelo added.

Inclusive prosperity
In his last day in China, Panelo said. Duterte attended the Leaders’ Roundtable Sessions in the Yanqi Lake International Conference Center where he emphasized the value of the nations, especially in Asia, working together with a shared goal of inclusive and sustainable growth and prosperity.

“He welcomed economic investments that will help our country improve its economic productivity in the area of agriculture as well as in our country’s massive infrastructure development program while ensuring that it will be clean and green,” Panelo said.

Panelo, meanwhile, assured Filipinos that Duterte is chartering an “independent foreign policy to a new height of diplomatic relations with other nations.”

He said this independent policy will be solely based on national security and interest, national development and the aspiration to attain economic progress and a comfortable life.

Corruption-free
During the bilateral meeting between Duterte and Xi, the Philippines also bagged a 1-billion renminbi grant from China.

The investment agreements were worth $12.165 billion and could generate 21,000 fresh jobs for Filipinos.

Duterte vowed to prospective foreign investors an enabling environment in the Philippines to help their businesses and investments prosper, highlighting his administration’s anti-corruption campaign.”

Locsin said the Philippines and China also agreed to ensure that the implementation of projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are free from corruption.

“Another agreement is a clean Belt and Road Initiative between China and Philippines anti-corruption bodies to prevent and punish corruption in BRI projects,” Locsin said in a separate post.

Sole option
Peaceful negotiations remain the sole option for the country in addressing the WPS issue with China, according to former Senate President and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino senatorial bet Juan Ponce-Enrile.

Enrile cited Republic Act (RA) 9522 or the Philippines Archipelagic Baselines Law as basis in pursuing the country’s claims over the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and the Scarborough Shoal in the WPS.

“The KIG or the regime of islands there are under our baseline law. We should negotiate that with China,” Enrile told the Daily Tribune.

“The only capability we have is through negotiations, we must use patience in negotiating with China,” he added.

Enrile, one of the authors of RA 9522, said the Philippine baselines law was provided under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.

Commitment to laws
“The baseline law not only enabled us to defend, protect and preserve our own national territory but also to signify the Philippines’ strong commitment to adhere to the tenets of the international law of the seas,” Enrile said.

The former Senate President reiterated that close cooperation and enhanced bilateral relations with China is the right path.

Earlier, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the Philippines will focus on the positive sides of the relationship with China rather than the differences, like the dispute in the WPS.

He, however, stressed the Duterte administration is not remiss in its constitutional duty of protecting the country’s sovereignty and territory.

Source: Tribune “Beijing tour ‘raging success’”

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