Envoy to South China Sea claimants: Cool it

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Australia’s Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell on Thursday expressed his government’s concern about China’s reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), and urged claimant countries to clarify their maritime entitlements in the region.

In a news conference, Tweddell said China’s reclamation activities and unilateral actions by claimants in the West Philippine Sea could raise tensions.

“We strongly oppose the use of intimidation, aggression or coercion to advance any country’s claims or the unilateral [disregard of]the status quo [in]the South China Sea. We urge all claimants to exercise restraint, to take steps to ease tensions and refrain from any provocative actions that could raise tensions [there],” he said.

Even though Australia is not a part of the disputed area and has no claims in the region, the envoy added that they have “quite a legitimate interest in the maintenance of peace and stability in respect for international law, unimpeded trade and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.”


Tweddell, however, clarified that Australia does not take sides in the competing maritime claims in the region.

Australia’s legitimate interests, he said, are based on its need to ensure freedom of trade and commerce in the region. About 60 percent of its trade go through the West Philippine Sea while 40 percent of its incoming trade sail through contested waters there.

The envoy called on countries in the region to clarify and pursue territorial claims and accompanying maritime rights in accordance with international maritime laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

Like Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Tweddell also welcomed Washington’s rebalance in the region, including increased presence in the contested waters because of its concern about China’s massive reclamation projects.

“I think we join other friends in the region, including the Philippines [in welcoming]a constructive US presence in the region… It is hardly news to us,” he said.

But Australia maintains that East Asia and the Asia Pacific have been the focus of their diplomatic efforts and interest.

“This is our backyard,” Tweddell said.

Australia has been helping the Philippines in maritime training and exercises, which, he added, are a big part of the relationship between the Philippines and Australia.

But Tweddell said such partnership does not necessarily exist to be used against a particular country or an individual threat.

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2 Comments

  1. We need the Philippine people to be more vocal and pro-active in this territorial encroachment and island grabbing by the greedy and expansionist China. I do not hear much form the corrupt Binay what his stand is on this issue. The Chinese are hoping for him to win the next election, this pro-communist greedy bastard!

  2. sonny dela cruz on

    The Australian envoy should condemn the Communist China’s action in the Philippine west reclamation because it is inside the Philippine 200 miles jurisdiction. The world should join in condemning the Communist China”s action because international trade will be hampered once this China start controlling the international sea lane that they said their own, disregarding the International maritime law. This reclamation should be stop and drive this Communist China out of this Philippine sovereignty. The United States interest is more at stake because their military armada will be stop, search and maybe the soldiers will be charge for trespassing once they passed China sea. The Communist China will be more vulnerable in the Asian Pacific area because they will be installing Missiles sites to reach countries in the region including Australia in a shorter time. The flow of oil delivery in the western hemisphere will be stop too and this will result in a more unstable economic fallout throughout the world. The United States may be hit with economic depression more than any countries and to what they had experience in the nineteen thirties. The Communist Chinese has shown their arrogance by making deaf by the call of the countries who are concerned in the reclamation in the Philippine sea to follow the International laws of the sea. They also wants to control the air space above China sea, they have shown their modern jets patrolling the area by flying in between Taiwan and the Philippines. Now, China had made a military pact with the Russian and even wants to do military exercises with them in the near future. What does this mean to the world, is China repeating the history of the last World War II? Another war in the Pacific? You make your own conclusion if China should be ignored and let them do what they are doing.