Philippine military chief visits island in disputed waters


Reuters June 9, 2021 3:44 PM HKT

The head of the Philippine armed forces visited a coral-fringed island his country occupies in the South China Sea this week, a move that could stoke already heightened tensions between Manila and Beijing in disputed waters claimed by both countries.

During Monday’s visit, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Cirilito Sobejana commended the soldiers for the role they played in protecting the island’s residents and “guarding the country’s territories” in the strategic waterway.

The visit comes after recent diplomatic protests made by the Philippines over what it says is the illegal presence of hundreds of “Chinese maritime militia” vessels inside its exclusive economic zone and near its occupied islands.

Chinese diplomats have said the boats were just sheltering from rough seas and no militia were aboard.

Sobejana’s trip to Thitu, known to Filipinos as Pagasa, happened on Monday, but information was only made public by the AFP on Wednesday.

Thitu is the biggest of the nine reefs, shoals and islands the Philippines occupies in the Spratly archipelago, and is home to a small number of military personnel and civilians.

“(The troops) are in very high spirit, their level of moral is high especially after our visit,” Sobejana told reporters on Tuesday evening, adding he also wanted to inspect the island to oversee plans to convert it into a logistics hub to make it easier for naval assets conducting patrols to refuel.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Philippines, Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea, a conduit for goods in excess of $3 trillion every year.

The foreign ministers of Southeast Asia and China agreed during a meeting on Monday to exercise restraint in the South China Sea and avoid actions that could escalate tensions.

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


The Philippines has dramatically boosted South China Sea patrols, data shows


PUBLISHED FRI, MAY 28 20212:18 AM EDT

Abigail Ng

KEY POINTS

  • The Philippines has drastically stepped up its patrols in the South China Sea recently, and has come into closer contact with the China Coast Guard, according to ship tracking data.
  • From March 1 to May 25, 13 law enforcement or military vessels from the Philippines visited waters around the contested Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal at least 57 times, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said.
  • “This was a substantial increase over the previous 10 months … when 3 vessels were tracked making 7 total visits to contested features,” the report said.

The Philippines has drastically stepped up its patrols in the South China Sea recently, and came into closer contact with the China Coast Guard, according to ship tracking data.

Between March 1 to May 25, 13 law enforcement or military vessels from the Philippines visited waters around the contested Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal at least 57 times, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) said in note this week.

“This was a substantial increase over the previous 10 months … when 3 vessels were tracked making 7 total visits to contested features,” the report said. It pointed out that this boost in patrols is “beyond anything seen in recent years” from the Philippines.

The South China Sea has been a regional flashpoint in Asia, involving territorial disputes between some countries and China. The Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam are among the countries that lay claim to parts of the waterway, but China sees much of the area — including Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal — as part of its territory. Chinese vessels, by contrast, operate as sentries, staying at targeted features for weeks at a time and usually leaving only once a replacement has arrived to continue the watch. –Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

The AMTI, which is part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, pointed out that the location of patrols by the Philippines has also changed.

Before March, vessels from the Philippines “almost exclusively” traveled to and from the country’s largest outpost in the Spratlys, Thitu Island.

“But recent patrols have included Second Thomas Shoal, which is occupied by the Philippines but patrolled daily by China, Whitsun Reef, where the recent militia swarm was detected, unoccupied Sabina Shoal near Second Thomas, and Scarborough Shoal, where China has maintained a permanent presence since 2012,” AMTI said.

The report reviewed tracking data from commercial provider Marine Traffic, and images from satellite firms Maxar and Planet Labs.

Outsized and outgunned’

AMTI outlined an incident in May, when Chinese Coast Guard vessels tailed or chased coast guard vessels from the Philippines which are “almost always outsized and outgunned.”

On May 19, the Philippines sent four ships into contested territorial seas, but were met by two Chinese ships. At least one Philippine ship was “pursued” by the Chinese, it said.

One of the China Coast Guard vessels began trailing the Philippine vessel named MCS 3005, as it sailed around one side of Scarborough.

The other Chinese vessel closely pursued a separate Philippine ship, the Habagat, on the other side before “peeling off toward” a third and larger another Philippine vessel name Gabriela Silang, AMTI said.

The Philippines appears determined to assert itself, but the country’s patrols “pale in comparison” to the intensity of China’s “near-permanent coastguard and militia presence,” according to the report.

Manila’s ships embark on “staggered tours” and spend one to two days at contested features.

“Chinese vessels, by contrast, operate as sentries, staying at targeted features for weeks at a time and usually leaving only once a replacement has arrived to continue the watch,” said AMTI.

“Whether the Philippines will continue its current pace of patrols, and how China might react, is unclear,” the report said. “But while Manila’s combination of more public protest and greater presence seems to have had some success in dispersing Chinese vessels at Whitsun Reef and Sabina Shoal, it hasn’t impacted the overall number of Chinese vessels operating in disputed waters.”

Manila is “drawing greater attention, and international condemnation, to China’s activities, particularly on the militia front,” AMTI said.

Source: CNBC “The Philippines has dramatically boosted South China Sea patrols, data shows”

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


Philippines and China hold ‘friendly and candid’ talks on South China Sea


Reuters

May 22, 2021 4:13 PM HKT

The Philippines and China held “friendly and candid” talks on the South China Sea, the Philippines’ foreign ministry said on Saturday, days after the minister ordered Chinese vessels out of the disputed waterway in an expletive-laced tweet.

The presence of hundreds Chinese vessels inside the Philippines 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has been the latest source of tensions between the two countries in the South China Sea, through which $3 trillion worth of goods pass every year.

The Philippines said the encroaching vessels were manned by militia, while Beijing said they were fishing boats sheltering from bad weather.

“The two sides had friendly and candid exchanges on the general situation and specific issues of concern in the South China Sea,” under a bilateral consultation mechanism convened in 2016 to ease tensions in the strategic waterway, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.

“There was mutual recognition of the importance of dialogue in easing tensions and understanding each country’s position and intentions in the area,” the DFA said.

Earlier this month, Philippines Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin likened China to “an ugly oaf” for its behaviour in the waterway.

“China, my friend, how politely can I put it? Let me see… O…GET THE FUCK OUT,” Locsin tweeted on his personal account.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who prefers to not provoke Beijing and wants to tap it for loans and investment, barred his ministers from talking about the South China Sea situation in public after the outburst.

Also discussed during Friday’s dialogue was the row over the June 2019 sinking of a Philippine fishing boat by a Chinese fishing vessel that abandoned the Filipino fishermen in the South China Sea. The Philippine justice ministry will seek compensation for the victims, the DFA said.

Despite recent tensions, ties between the Philippines and China have improved under Duterte, who described the 2016 arbitration ruling on the South China Sea that went in Philippines’ favour as just a “piece of paper” he could throw in the trash.

But the Philippines reiterated its call on Beijing to respect international law, including the arbitral ruling during the talks, the DFA said.

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


Duterte’s Wise Dealing with South China Sea Dilemma


It’s really very difficult to be the president of a poor and weak country with a proud people, especially a country in the middle of the contest between two great powers China and the US.

Philippine people want Philippine President Duterte to be strong in enforcing the Hague arbitration ruling to safeguard Philippine rights and interests in the disputed waters in the South China Sea, but without US military help, Duterte is unable to enforce the ruling. Duterte is very clear the US will not fight a costly war with China for the Philippines. Therefore, he is in a dilemma what to do.

When former US President Obama began his pivot to Asian to contain China’s rise, Duterte’s predecessor Aquino wrongly believed that the US might perform its treaty obligations to protect the Philippines in its territorial disputes with China. At that time, China maintained a low profile in the world that caused Aquino to commit the blunder to start the Scarborough standoff to drive China away from the Scarborough Shoal. China responded with strong defense of its core interests there.

The US, however, failed to help Aquino counter China. As a result, the Philippines instead of China was driven away from the shoal. China banned Philippine fishing in and around the shoal.

To comfort the Philippines, the US told the Philippines to file an arbitration at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. It used its influence to help the Philippines obtain a favorable ruling and promised to help the Philippines enforce the ruling.

The Philippines did have obtained a favorable ruling the denied all China’s rights and interests in the South China Sea. As promised, the US sent two aircraft battle groups to force China to accept the ruling. China responded by challenging the US to war. The US certainly is not willing to fight a costly war for Philippine interests. As a result, Philippine fishermen were banned to fish there.

It was only when Duterte wanted to be friendly with China that China began to allow the Philippines to fish there.

Now, the US seems really hard in dealing with China. Some Philippine politicians and officials began to cherish Aquino’s unrealistic belief again especially when the US has sent its aircraft carrier battle groups to the South China Sea repeatedly. China has grown stronger in the nearly a decade after the said standoff. Moreover, it has built a few artificial islands with long airstrips on three of them in preparations for war to safeguard its rights and interests there.

After US Secretary of State Blinken promised to perform US treaty obligations to protect the Philippines in case of its military conflicts with China. China sent large fleets of fishing vessels to the disputed waters to challenge the Philippines with obvious intention to test the US whether it will perform its treaty obligations as Blinken promised.

Philippines Foreign Ministry protested Chinese vessels presence based on the arbitration ruling that the waters belong to the Philippines but Duterte remained silent. According to Reuters report “Philippines flags ‘incursions’ by nearly 300 Chinese militia boats” on May 13, 2021, Philippine President Duterte said the ruling was just a “piece of paper” that he could throw in the trash.

However, in Reuters report “Philippines’ Duterte says won’t withdraw ships from contested waters” the next day, Reuters says, “In his televised address, he (Duterte) said he ‘believes in the entirety’ of that ruling.”

What did he mean? has he reversed his position and wanted to enforce the ruling instead of throwing it in the trash? In fact Duterte is wise to say so.

In its entirety Duterte believes the ruling provides what his country wants but is not binding on China and cannot be enforced without a war joined by the US against China. Since the US does not want to fight for the Philippines’ interests in the South China Sea, the Philippines, as a much weaker country, is unable to fight to enforce the ruling. As the ruling in its entirely is unenforceable, it is but a piece of waste paper that Duterte can throw in the trash. That is Duterte’s wise belief.

The report quotes Duterte as saying, “I do not want a quarrel, I do not want trouble. I respect your position, and you respect mine. But we will not go to war”.

He is indeed wise not to confront China or try to draw in the US in a military conflict with China. Both the Philippines and the US will be embarrassed if the former fights China but the latter will not join it. The US will lose its credibility in failing to perform its treaty obligations while the Philippines may be humiliated with the loss of the war.

Chinese vessels are in the disputed waters to impose its summer fishing ban. Duterte respects China’s position so that he will not tell Philippine fishermen to fish there. He wants China to respect his position not to withdraw Philippine vessels from the disputed waters. Since China allows freedom of navigation there, it certainly will not drive Philippine vessels from the disputed waters.

By those words, Duterte pleases Philippine people with his seemingly strong attitude against China but avoids upset China with any actual deeds.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters reports, full text of which can respectively be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/philippines-flags-incursions-by-nearly-300-chinese-militia-boats-2021-05-12/ and https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/philippines-duterte-says-wont-withdraw-ships-contested-waters-2021-05-14/.


Arbitration Ruling, Piece of Waste Paper, Philippine President Duterte


Reuters says in its report “Philippines flags ‘incursions’ by nearly 300 Chinese militia boats” today (May 13, 2021)” that Philippine Foreign Ministry has repeatedly complained about large number of Chinese Ships in waters it regards as Philippine territorial waters based on the arbitration ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, a ruling China denies.

Now according to the report, Philippine President Duterte said the ruling was just a “piece of paper” that he could throw in the trash.

Due to Duterte’s pro-China policies, the Philippines has for years turned blind eyes to the presence of Chinese ships in the disputed waters claimed by both countries, but now its foreign ministry has begun to protest perhaps due to US Secretary of State Blinken’s promise to help the Philippines safeguard its interests in the disputed waters. If the Philippines is serious in imposing the ruling, there is bound to be military conflicts. Will the conflicts cause the US to perform its treaty obligations to join the philippines in a war with China? That will be the question.

It seems China is not scared by Blinken’s words. Previously, Chinese fishing boats did fish in the disputed waters but not on such large scale. This time there are 285 ships there. They certainly are not conducting fishing operations as China has imposed its summer fishing ban there from May to mid-September. That is obviously a challenge to see whether the US dare to interfere militarily with the disputes there.

It seems that Duterte knows well that the US will not honor Blinken’s promise to help the Philipines fight China; therefore, he regards the ruling that the US helped the Philippines to obtain but as a piece of waster paper.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/philippines-flags-incursions-by-nearly-300-chinese-militia-boats-2021-05-12/.


Will US Join Philippines in Fighting China


For many years the Philippines has refrained from violating China’s summer fishing ban in the South China Sea, especially after it was banned fishing in areas around the Scarborough Shoal at the Scarborough Standoff.

At that time, Philippine President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino II started the standoff, mistakenly believing that the US would have given him military support as the US was adopting its policy of pivot to Asia to contain China.

Now, US President Joe Biden has been so hostile to China that many Philippine politicians believe that it is time to induce the US into Philippines’ war with China to enable them to drive China away from the disputed waters.

However, China is not afraid of military conflicts with the Philippines. SCMP’s report “South China Sea: Philippines accuses China of ‘dangerous challenges’ near Scarborough Shoal” says, “In a statement on Tuesday night, Hermogenes Esperon, a national security adviser to President Rodrigo Duterte, said the China Coast Guard conducted ‘shadowing, blocking, dangerous manoeuvres and radio challenges’ to two Philippine Coast Guard vessels in the waters near the shoal late last month.

US Secretary of State Blinken has openly said US will protect the Philippines if China attacks the Philippines even its civilian. Therefore, the danger of war now will be in the South China Sea. The Philippines is now provoking China in order to have a military conflict to draw in the US. Esperon’s above statement proves that China is not scared by Blinken’s words. It is not afraid of a war with the US in the South China Sea as it has geographical advantages there.

Will the US help the Philippines fight China then?

I doubt the US is willing to incur the heavy costs of war without any economic gains. Moreover, it will not be a war out of US affection for the Philippines though the Philippines has been US subordinate ally for a long time. I believe the US still remembers well its humiliation in being driven out of its military bases in the Philippines three decades ago.

What about Blinken’s promise to perform US treaty obligations to help the Philippines counter China? Will the US be humiliated by its failure to honor its promise? The US needs only declare its long-standing position not to take side in other countries’ territorial disputes as it did during the Scarborough standoff. If the worst comes to the worst, Biden can just fire Blinken. That will be quite enough! It will be much cheaper than fighting a war with a world power.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3132333/south-china-sea-philippines-accuses-china-dangerous-challenges?utm_medium=email&utm_source=mailchimp&utm_campaign=enlz-scmp_international&utm_content=20210505&tpcc=enlz-scmp_international&MCUID=480db96a00&MCCampaignID=1c6145d274&MCAccountID=3775521f5f542047246d9c827&tc=7.


Philippines tells fishermen to ignore Beijing’s ban on fishing in South China Sea


Reuters

The Philippines has rejected an annual summer fishing ban imposed by China in the disputed South China Sea and encouraged its boats to keep fishing in the country’s territorial waters.

The fishing moratorium imposed by China since 1999 runs from May 1 to Aug. 16 and covers areas of the South China Sea as well as other waters off China.

“This fishing ban does not apply to our fishermen,” the Philippines’ South China Sea taskforce said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The taskforce opposed China’s imposition of the ban over the areas within the territory and jurisdiction of the Philippines, adding “our fisherfolk are encouraged to go out and fish in our waters in the WPS (West Philippine Sea)”

The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Manila, which refers to area as the West Philippine Sea, has for years been embroiled in a dispute over Beijing’s sweeping claims of sovereignty over the South China Sea.

An international tribunal in 2016 invalidated China’s claims, but China has rejected the ruling.

Tensions between the two countries have recently escalated after Manila accused China of territorial incursions by hundreds of its vessels in the resource-rich waterway.

The Philippines has filed diplomatic protests against China over what it calls the “illegal” presence of the Chinese vessels, which it says are manned by militia.

Chinese diplomats have said the boats were just sheltering from rough seas and no militia were aboard.

The Philippines’ South China Sea taskforce said it spotted seven “Chinese Maritime Militia” at the Sabina shoal in the disputed Spratly archipelago on April 27, which dispersed after being challenged by the Philippine coast guard.

Five returned two days later but left after the Philippine coast guard arrived, it said. Sabina shoal is around 130 nautical miles from the western Philippine island of Palawan.

“The Philippines is not deterred from defending our national interest, patrimony, and our dignity as a people with all that we have,” the task force said.

Source: Reuters “Philippines tells fishermen to ignore Beijing’s ban on fishing in South China Sea”

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


Russia-China Military Coordination Trouble for the US


I have described the Russia-China alliance as a serious threat to US hegemony in my previous posts such as “Russia-China Alliance –US Military’s Nightmare” on April 11, 2019, in which I pointed out: There is the opinion in vogue among US politicians and military officers that there has been no Russia-China alliance or Russia and China though allying with each other will each pursue its own interests when the other is in war with the US. The former is reflected in Leon Aron’s article “Are Russia and China Really Forming an Alliance?” published by Foreign Affairs on April 4 with the subtitle “The Evidence Is Less Than Impressive” while the latter was described by Robert Farley in his article “US Military’s Worst Nightmare: A War with Russia and China (at the Same Time)”

Now, however, Foreign Affairs article “China and Russia’s Dangerous Convergence: How to Counter an Emerging Partnership” on May 3, 2021 shows some American experts’ genuine concerns about China-Russia alliance.

The article says, “Within days of it (the meeting between Chinese and Russian foreign ministers soon after heated public exchange between senior U.S. and Chinese diplomates in Anchorage), Russia began amassing troops along Ukraine’s border—the largest number since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Simultaneously, China began conducting highly publicized amphibious assault exercises and air incursions into Taiwan’s so-called air defense identification zone at the highest frequency in nearly 25 years. These military moves have reignited concerns in Washington about the potential depth of Chinese-Russian coordination.

However, China’s military activities are but postures to scare Taiwan, but writers and US administration believe that such activities indicate China’s intention to take Taiwan by force. They lack the common military knowledge that there must be surprise in actual military actions. The activities made the US and Taiwan prepared for attack and thereby depriving such actions of surprise.

The article fails to mention that at the same time China sent lots of fishing vessels escorted by coast guard and naval ships in disputed waters in the South China Sea. That was in fact China’s coordination with Russia’s moves.

China’s moves in the South China Sea challeged US treaty obligations to protect the Philippines. In the Scarborouth stand off in 2012, the US Navy failed to help the Philippines counter China, but at that time the US did not openly said that it will protect Philippine interests in the South China Sea. Now it has said so. China’s moves test whether the US has the guts to fight a war with China in the South China Sea to help the Philippines safeguard its interests there.

Russia’s moves in Ukraine put the US in a dillema. If US military helps the Philippines in the South China Sea, Russia may attack Ukraine. The US is simply unable to fight two wars with two strong powers at the same time. However, if there is a military conflict between China and the Philippines and the US fails to fight to defend the Philippines, it will lose credibility.

US aircraft carrier battle group happened in the South China Sea. The question is whether the US has the guts to fight. China sent its aircraft carrier battle group to conduct military drill near Taiwan seeminly to threaten Taiwan but its real goal is to fight US aircraft battle group in the South China Sea if the US helps the Philippines in its military conflict with China. There will be surprise in the actions as the US is not prepared for such war in the South China Sea. The US may suffer greatly if it fights China there as China has geographica advantages there

Anyway, it is obvious, US President Joe Biden simply does not want to risk US troopers’ life for the Philippines. His Secretary of State’s words are but bluffing. However, the military coordination between Russia and China is obvious. It will cause trouble to the US whenever there is an opportunity to do so.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Foreign Affairs’ article, full text of which can be viewed at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2021-05-03/china-and-russias-dangerous-convergence?utm_medium=newsletters&utm_source=fatoday&utm_campaign=China%20and%20Russia’s%20Dangerous%20Convergence&utm_content=20210503&utm_term=FA%20Today%20-%20112017.


Philippine foreign secretary directs unusually aggressive tweet at Beijing over South China Sea


PUBLISHED MON, MAY 3 20213:50 AM EDT UPDATED MON, MAY 3 20214:23 AM EDT

Yen Nee Lee

KEY POINTS

  • Teodoro Locsin Jr., Philippine secretary of foreign affairs, slammed China in a Twitter post as the two countries engage in a war of words over the South China Sea.
  • Locsin asked China to “get the f— out” and accused Beijing of straining its “friendship” with the Philippines.
  • The Philippines and China have for years made overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea, a resource-rich waterway where trillions in dollars of global trade pass.

Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. slammed China with decidedly undiplomatic language on Twitter Monday, suggesting the Asian giant “get the f— out” as the two countries engage in a war of words over the South China Sea.

Locsin in the tweet accused China of straining its “friendship” with the Philippines. The foreign affairs secretary has been a vocal critic of China in the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who sought closer ties with Beijing after taking office in 2016.

China’s embassy in the Philippine capital of Manila did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

In response to criticism of his rhetoric made by other Twitter users, Locsin said the “usual suave diplomatic speak gets nothing done.”

The Philippines and China have for years contested overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea, a resource-rich waterway with a total area of about 1.4 million square miles where trillions in dollars of global trade pass. Beijing has in the past year appeared more assertive (This reblogger’s note: It seems the Scarborough standoff has been foregotten, when China was assertive to occupy the disputed shoal and ban Philippine fishing in the area around the shoal. Was that not assertive years ago in 2012? China has always been assertive to its rights and interests includng those in the South China Sea!) in the disputed waters.

Locsin’s Monday tweet followed a statement by the Philippine foreign affairs department, which protested the “illegal presence” of Chinese vessels in parts of the South China Sea that are internationally recognized as belonging to the Philippines.

The statement lashed out at “belligerent actions” by the Chinese coast guard against their Philippine counterparts in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc. It said the Chinese had engaged in “shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges” on April 24 to 25.

It also protested the “incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence of Chinese finishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones.”

China ‘enjoys sovereignty’

Beijing last week maintained that it “enjoys sovereignty” over Bajo de Masinloc — which it calls Huangyan Island — and its surrounding waters. It urged the Philippines not to escalate disputes.

Bajo de Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal, is a chain of reefs in the South China Sea that lies around 120 nautical miles from the nearest Philippine coast and 470 nautical miles from the nearest coast of China.

China claims most of the South China Sea, based on what it says are nine dashes that delineate Chinese territory in historic maps.

An international tribunal in 2016 dismissed the so-called nine-dash line as legally baseless — a ruling ignored by Beijing. (This reblogger’s note: The tribunal referred to in this report is the Court of International Arbitration at The Hague that immediately after the tribunal’s ruling UN denied US and other Western media’a allegation that it is a UN agency.)

Source: CNBC “Philippine foreign secretary directs unusually aggressive tweet at Beijing over South China Sea”

Note: This is CNBC’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’ views. Some of my views are expressed in this reblogger’s notes.


EU blames China for endangering peace in South China Sea


Yew Tian

April 25, 2021 2:26 PM HKT

The European Union called out China on Saturday for endangering peace in the South China Sea and urged all parties to abide by a 2016 tribunal ruling which rejected most of China’s claim to sovereignty in the sea, but which Beijing has rejected.

The EU last week released a new policy aimed at stepping up its influence in the Indo-Pacific region to counter China’s rising power.

The Philippines on Friday protested to China over its failure to withdraw what it called as “threatening” boats believed to be manned by maritime militia around the disputed Whitsun Reef, which Manila calls the Julian Felipe Reef.

“Tensions in the South China Sea, including the recent presence of large Chinese vessels at Whitsun Reef, endanger peace and stability in the region,” a EU spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday.

EU reiterated its strong opposition to “unilateral actions that could undermine regional stability and international rules-based order”.

It urged all parties to resolve disputes peacefully in accordance with international law, and highlighted a 2016 international arbitration that had ruled in favor of the Philippines while invalidating most of China’s claims in the South China Sea.

China rejected EU’s accusation that its ships at Whitsun Reef, which China calls Niu’E Jiao, had endangered peace and security.

The Chinese Mission to the EU in a statement on Saturday reiterated that the reef is part of China’s Nansha Islands, or Spratly Islands, and that it was “reasonable and lawful” for Chinese fishing boats to operate there and shelter from the wind.

The Chinese statement also insisted that China’s sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea were formed in the “long course of history and consistent with international law” and rejected the 2016 tribunal ruling as “null and void”.

“The South China Sea should not become a tool for certain countries to contain and suppress China, much less a wrestling ground for major-power rivalry,” the Chinese statement said.

China is increasingly worried that Europe and other countries are heeding U.S. President Joe Biden’s call for a “coordinated approach” towards China, which had so far materialised in the form of sanctions over its security crackdown in Hong Kong and treatment of Uyghur Muslims.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month said Washington “stands by its ally, the Philippines,” in the face of China’s massing maritime militia at Whitsun Reef.

Source: Reuters “EU blames China for endangering peace in South China Sea”

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