AS UN COURT RULING LOOMS

China holds war games

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BEIJING: Beijing has begun military drills in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), state media reported Saturday ahead of a ruling by an international arbitration court on a dispute with the Philippines over the    strategic waters.

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The navy Friday carried out “combat exercises” with “live missiles” between the Paracels and the southern Chinese island of Hainan, the PLA Daily, the military’s official newspaper, said on its website.

State television CCTV broadcast images of fighter aircraft and ships firing missiles, helicopters taking off and submarines surfacing.

“The drill focused on air control operations, sea battles and anti-submarine warfare”, said the PLA Daily, whose article was reposted on the defense ministry website.

The military maneuvers come as the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is set to make its final decision on Tuesday in the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China.

The PLA Daily however insisted they were “routine exercises” and unrelated to the court’s ruling.

China asserts sovereignty over almost all of the strategically vital waters in the face of rival claims from its Southeast Asian neighbors, most notably the Philippines and Vietnam.

To bolster its claims it has rapidly turned reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

Manila lodged its suit against Beijing in 2013, challenging China’s claims to much of the strategic waterway and saying it was in violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which both countries are signatories.

Beijing has boycotted the proceedings, saying the court has no jurisdiction over the issue and that it will ignore the ruling.

Maintaining relations

University of the Philippines political science professor Roland Simbulan described the war exercises as China’s means of expressing its resolution not to abide by the upcoming resolution of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands on the sea dispute between the Philippines and China.

Simbulan however maintained that the Philippines should not close its doors on bilateral negotiations with China.

“We have tried multilateral. If we win this case I think that will just be leverage for us,” he said.

“I think China is open to talk to us and also I think they do not want our territory to be used against them because through EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement], we are allowing US forces to actively use our territory against them and I think that is not a good thing because it could lead to war,” he added.

Former Philippine Ambassador Alberto Encomienda, meanwhile, noted that the Philippines and China should have a cordial relationship “for the simple reason that both sides cannot be without each other.”

In a rejoinder also on Saturday, Yasay reiterated that the government will wait for the July 12 ruling on the arbitration case and study its implications.

He explained that the bitter sea dispute could be resolved by negotiating with claimant countries and that any agreement could include sharing of the fruits of the sea.

Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have also overlapping claims in the strategic waters.

“What I said is we have to wait for the ruling and study and dissect its implications.

As the ruling will not address sovereignty and delimitation, it is possible that some time in the future, claimant countries might consider entering into arrangements such as joint exploration and utilization of resources in disputed areas that do not prejudice the parties’ claims and delimitation of boundaries in accordance with Unclos,” Yasay said.

Friendship

The military exercises were held days after Chinese Ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua vowed that China will not take any action in the disputed West Philippine Sea (WPS) that will undermine its friendship with the Philippines.

Yasay said the ambassador issued the statement during his recent courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte.

“We summarily spoke about the strengthening of our friendship. We have expressed the hope and commitment from both sides. Notwithstanding the arbitral tribunal or the case we have filed before it or the impending decision on July 12, our friendship will remain,” Yasay said in a recent forum in Makati City.

He also disclosed that Duterte and Zhao discussed the possibility of joint exploration and utilization of resources in the strategic waters.

The President, he said, is willing to negotiate with China on the matter.

In an earlier interview, the Chinese envoy said Beijing is hopeful that the bilateral negotiations with Manila will resume under the Duterte administration.

He said there should be no precondition to the talks as both countries are committed to friendship and cooperation.

“Let me emphasize this: We have been talking too much about the disputes in the last six years. Let’s focus on friendship and cooperation. That’s better,” said Zhao.
Non-negotiable

Talks of joint exploration of the WPS with China, however, did not sit well with a group advocating the enforcement of Philippine sovereignty over the disputed waters.

The group, Kalayaan Atin Ito [Freedom This Is Ours], on Saturday lashed out at Yasay for expressing willingness to share the resources of the disputed waters with Beijing.

In a Facebook post, the group recounted the bullying it suffered in the hands of the Chinese Navy when they sailed to and swam in the disputed territory in a bid to assert the Philippines’ sovereign rights over it.

“Mr. Yasay, you were not with us when we risked our lives and swam the waters of Scarborough Shoal and braved the propeller of the Chinese coast guard speed boats who chased and blocked us, just to show to China that Scarborough shoal belongs to the Philippines, and raised the Philippine flag there in June 12,” the group said.

With Michael Joe Delizo

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9 Comments

  1. The current war games conducted by China is only a display to support their statements “we have no feared in trouble in South China Sea” and “we are ready for confrontation in SCS” but the Chinese spokesman never say that they are determined to win any naval confrontation in the SCS…

  2. Ignacio Balbutin on

    The chinese are cowards. Matatapang lang ang mga iyan kung nakakalamang kaya kailangan ng Pinas ang presence ng US forces sa West Philippine sea to counter the bullying of the chinese. They are stealing our wealths right before our backyard, Kung nay nagnanakaw ba sa tahanan sasabihin mo ba ang magnanakaw, brod, hati na lang tayo niyan. Walang meari ng tahanan ng magsasabi ng ganyan. I urge the President to use the US forces now to regain our sovereignty and rights in the island which is ours. Set aside personal sentiment or any grudge against the US and think more of the future of the nation. There under the scarborough ang kinabukasan ng Pinas, its oozing with quadrillion barrels of oil and gas the reason why the chinese are there. The fuel of the future is gas so please Mr. President wag mo isuko ang right natin diyan, kayamanan iyan ng lahat na mga pilipino

  3. Joshua Schneider on

    China, Japan, US and the Philippines.

    We are blessed with natural resources, and cursed that we can not develop them because of corruption. Maybe it is time to realize that we need a outside source to actually do the work of making the Philippines one of the more wealthy countries in the Asian Basin. Given the choices above, my money is on China. They need what we have. The US will no longer protect us. Eight years under President Obama has reduced their navy to levels not seen since the 1920’s. See below for supporting documentation. They do not have the political will nor do they really care.

    Japan does care but it will take decades for them to change course and rebuild their Navy, and do we really want that?

    China, has become the de-facto leader in Asia. Its economy is second only to the US and I would imagine that will soon change. Our DU30 sees the writing on wall and correctly realizes that if he can make a good deal with China, the Philippines will benefit immensely.

    The problem is that once the natural gas and oil revenues start flowing to the Philippines is how to grow the country from the bottom up. How do we keep our caring politicians and progressive businessmen hands out of the biggest cookie jar this country has ever seen.

    https://www.history.navy.mil/research/histories/ship-histories/us-ship-force-levels.html
    http://www.index.heritage.org/military/2015/chapter/us-power/us-navy/

  4. With Indonesia population at 300m which is the same size as the US and India with a populaation of 1B, why are we insisting that tsai-nha is a market we can not live without? Why can’t the BSP start allowing convertibility of the Vietnam DOng with our pesos when that economy is a very big market for our local construction industry as well as a local telco? Are all the present cabinet members so myopic with their cloistered domestic view and never attuned to world affairs? We have one of the best geologists that they are even being hired by foreign countries and the government can not even start explration on the Benham Rise, the world’s biggest gas deposit? Instead of the media focusing only on the spate of killings which only reflect the dumbness and inanity of most media personalities, we should start focusing on the bigger issues that will raise awareness to attract capital and spurn investments and economic activities.

    When Japan can literally obliterate the whole tsai-nha eastern navy in four hours as claimed by a very top tsai-nhis official, the more can a US carrier group which is now in the vicinity. Albeit the show of force which is just a facade of their insecurity, it seems that the more recent pronouncements coming out from tsai-nhis mouths are conciliatory and face-saving. Their dream of a sudden attack after the APEC meeting seemes to have died a natural death as they miscalculated that a US military help can only be forthcoming after six months at which time they would have gone.

    But to provide us a marker which can be advantageous in the future, we can provide them an iota of face with such public humoring of “sharing” when we don’t even need their railways technology which is surely so outdated that even Singapore has to return their train deliveries more recently. Now, the ball is in the court of The Sonny who may have to allow ingenious ways to allow those heritage funds in the trillions to enter our financial system to fund not only a nation-wide high-speed train but for a truly state-of-the-art national defense system.

    • Ignacio Balbutin on

      lahat ng gawa ng mga chinese ay dangerous, tingnan mo ang mga escalator na made in china daming namamatay kasi bumibigay habang inapakan mo. Bka dami pang mamatay sa aksidente sa riles na made in China. Many other nations are willing to do what the Chinese can do so let us avail of them. Do a bidding about sa railway sa Mindanao, iyan ang dapat gawin hindi lang focus sa isang bansa na di mapagkatiwalaan

  5. What China is trying to say,we settled it now with our Army…….Can you fight…Do it now….Whoever win the war,own the Spartly Islands and west Philippine Sea….

  6. China needs to understand PH sovereignty and it’s obligation to abide to international law. If the decision is in favor of PH then China should vacate the islands within 200 miles EEZ. This is what PH can accept nothing less.