SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTE

Talks reach dead end

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MALICIOUS MISCHIEF This handout photo taken on March 17 by satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe and released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative department at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank shows a satellite image of vessels purportedly dredging sand at Mischief Reef in the disputed South China Sea. AFP PHOTO / CSIS ASIA MARITIME TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE / DIGITALGLOBE

MALICIOUS MISCHIEF This handout photo taken on March 17 by satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe and released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative department at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank shows a satellite image of vessels purportedly dredging sand at Mischief Reef in the disputed South China Sea. AFP PHOTO / CSIS ASIA MARITIME TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE / DIGITALGLOBE

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Wednesday revealed that Manila was forced to seek international arbitration over its territorial dispute in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), but efforts to bilaterally resolve the tension would always run “into a dead end.”

“We are for bilateral talks, but we ran into a dead end in terms of using that approach,” del Rosario said in a televised interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

He cited the case of Scarborough Shoal, which China isolated in 2012, where over 50 bilateral meetings with Beijing’s representatives were held and “did not work” because of China’s unwillingness to budge from its claim that it has “indisputable sovereignty” over the entire South China Sea.

ABS-CBN News Channel.


He cited the case of Scarborough Shoal, which China isolated in 2012, where over 50 bilateral meetings with Beijing’s representatives were held and “did not work” because of China’s unwillingness to budge from its claim that it has “indisputable sovereignty” over the entire South China Sea.

“In the case of Scarborough Shoal, we had over 50 bilateral engagements with them and that did not work because [and]in every bilateral meeting you have with China, unfortunately, they will say to you, ‘We have indisputable sovereignty over the entire South China Sea’ so that’s the preface,” del Rosario said.

“You are already put in a corner and there’s no movement that you can undertake to get out of that corner,” he added

The Scarborough standoff and succeeding aggressive acts of Chinese naval and Coast Guard vessels in the Philippine-occupied Ayungin shoal coupled with Beijing’s refusal to cooperate through formal diplomatic channel prompted the Philippine government to resort to third-party settlement, specifically through arbitration by the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos).

China refused to participate in the proceedings and questioned the jurisdiction of the Itlos in handling the issue. Beijing insisted that the Philippines as well as other countries with overlapping claims over territories in the South China Sea resolve the issues bilaterally.
Manila, however, continued to push for a diplomatic solution.

“We chose arbitration because we wanted to preserve our valuable friendship with China,” del Rosario said.

He added that they expect the Itlos to hand down its ruling on the arbitration case in early 2016.

The territorial dispute recently hogged international headlines after the release last week of aerial surveillance pictures showing China’s massive land reclamation works in areas that the Philippines claims are within its exclusive economic zone.

Del Rosario said Manila sees China’s action as its way of defining its 9-dash line claim which is being disputed before the Itlos.

He added that the DFA has protested all of China’s reclamation activities through diplomatic channels.

“We have appealed to them to stop what they’re doing,” the DFA chief said.

When asked by program host Karen Davila if the Philippines can “technically” do anything to stop what China is doing, del Rosario said, “We’re looking at our options now. I’m not prepared to discuss that.”

Earlier, the Armed Forces chief of staff, Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. discounted any military action on the issue, saying it is not wise to escalate the tension already prevailing in the disputed areas. He, however, said Filipino troops stationed in areas that remain under Philippine control should stand their ground.

Del Rosario revealed that the United States is sending air and naval equipment to the Philippines to help the military monitor incursions into the country’s territory.

He said the equipment would be manned by US personnel but he did not disclose what kind of military equipment the US is planning to send over.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last week said the US would deploy its “best weapons” in Asia to counter the threat posed by China specifically in the South and East China seas.

US President Barack Obama, speaking in a town hall meeting in Jamaica last week, also expressed concern over China’s provocative actions in the disputed areas, saying small countries like the Philippines and Vietnam should not be “elbowed aside.”

Del Rosario said he will go to Washington, D.C., in two weeks to meet his counterparts, including Secretary of State John Kerry as well as Carter, and further discuss the new phase of its strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.

“We have not talked about to what extent this would happen, but with those equipment you could surmise there will be US presence,” he noted.

“We are at this point seeking additional support from the US in terms of being able to take a stronger position in defending our position, which is to uphold the rule of law,” del Rosario said.

“We need to show that the Philippines with the US as treaty allies can manifest a position that can uphold the rule of law.”

China had repeatedly warned Washington to keep out of the sea disputes.

Carter, who was in Japan last week to seal new defense cooperation guidelines with Tokyo, said the US is taking “a strong stance against the militarization of these disputes.”

Interviewed by Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, Carter added that China’s land reclamations “seriously increase tensions and reduce the prospects for diplomatic solutions.” He then called on Beijing to “limit its activities and exercise restraint.”

Before leaving for Japan, Carter delivered a speech reaffirming the US commitment to the “pivot” or “rebalance” to the Indo-Pacific region.

“The ‘pivot’ is a comprehensive diplomatic, economic and military strategy targeting China and aimed at ensuring the continued dominance of American imperialism in the world’s fastest growing economic region,” an article quoting Carter’s speech and posted on the New World Socialist Website read.

In his speech, he also revealed the extensive build-up and restructuring of US military forces in the Asia-Pacific region that he said are geared to a war with China.

New military hardware is being developed, specifically tailored to the Pentagon’s AirSea Battle war plan, which envisages a massive air and missile assault on mainland China from US bases and naval assets in the western Pacific.

Carter said the US was working on “new weapons like a rail gun” using electromagnetic forces and “new space, electronic warfare and other advanced capabilities, including some surprising ones.”

“The Pentagon has already dispatched some of its most sophisticated weapons systems to Asia, including the latest Virginia class nuclear submarine and P-8 surveillance aircraft, as well as fighter aircraft and bombers.

“We will continue to push our most advanced weaponry to the Pacific, including, for example, our newest stealth destroyer, the Zumwalt,” Carter said.

The US is comprehensively redistributing its military forces throughout the region, including new basing arrangements with Australia, Singapore and the Philippines.

In North East Asia, the Pentagon is restructuring its bases in Japan, especially in Okinawa, and South Korea and transforming Guam into a “strategic hub” for the region.

“In Japan, [South] Korea and Guam,” Carter boasted, “we are in the middle of four of the largest military construction projects since the end of the Cold War.”

The US is “constantly refreshing our alliances” in the region. He emphasized that this involved “establishing brand new partnerships” and maintaining “an increased tempo of training and exercises.”

As he spoke, the annual US-South Korean war games were underway.

The US and the Philippines are also about to begin their annual Balikatan military exercises, which have doubled in size from last year and also include Australian military personnel.

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7 Comments

  1. That is what most of us are afraid of, the way the senate investigation is going as if Mr. Binay is untouchable, there is always the possibility of him winning the next election. It is high time that the government should act while there is still time. It should not wait for the people to take the matter in its own hand. Where is the ” Daang matuwid”this administration promised the country. Is it just a political propaganda? Maybe it is time to call our brothers in the mountain to initiate that justice for our country.

  2. during marcos time never our neighboring country including china bullying us. now it is over. Marahil sinadya ng mga nakaraang administration na pahinain ang ating armed forces at ngayon wala na tayong magawa kundi ang tumunganga at humingi ng tulong. nga nga… Inutil and Aquino administration since his mother corykong naging presidente. Palibhasa may dugong chinese sila kaya siguro pinabayaan nnila ang ating Defense na hindi palakasin, at marahil ang budget para sa defense ay nawala na rin….the
    biggest syndicate in the philippines are congress and the senate…including malacanang..

  3. eltee mulawin on

    >>> Our military personnel and spokesman should refrain from disclosing any military doing preparation, activities and/or planning or purchasing equipments. otherwise this all media releases will only serves as a information and agitations to Chinese.
    Military and government should exercise the response of “no comments” in the spratley disputes.

  4. Why is it that only DFA is the the only one dealing this problem on the West Philippine sea where is the DND/AFP and the PCG.Did President Aquino ordered a stand down and let the barbaric China steal our reefs and island,like he did to the Fallen 44.This treason and criminal.

  5. Pete Gabriel on

    What happens when Aquino leaves office and we have a new administration, is our position going to change then? If Binay wins and become president will he support this stance or will he sell the country out? With his track record as a corruptible politician, chances are he will sell us out to the Chinese. God help the Philippines!

    • I think Ferrer and Deles can take over and hand the Chinese anything they want before the new president comes in and stops all of the give-aways.

  6. Nancy Bulok Cake on

    What Binay wants with these islands would be to sell it to the Chinese ith an additional 30% commission. That will be Binay’s aproac to the Chinese.