Philippines challenging China in South China Sea

PhilMANILA – The Philippines is slowly but surely pushing back against China in the disputed South China Sea, a reflection of revived strategic relations with the United States and a rising need to secure new indigenous energy sources amid an impending economic crisis.  

Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials are now lobbying President Rodrigo Duterte to resume stalled energy exploration in the sea to shore up the nation’s sagging energy security and reassert sovereign claim to seabed energy resources contested by China.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is pushing for Chinese compensation for Filipino fishermen who nearly drowned during an incident last year in which a Chinese militia vessel sank their wooden boat, named F/B GimVer 1, in waters near the contested and energy-rich Reed Bank.

ASEAN takes position vs China’s vast historical sea claims

ASEANSoutheast Asian leaders said a 1982 U.N. oceans treaty should be the basis of sovereign rights and entitlements in the South China Sea, in one of their strongest remarks opposing China’s claim to virtually the entire disputed waters on historical grounds.

The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations took the position in a statement issued by Vietnam Saturday on behalf of the 10-nation bloc. ASEAN leaders held their annual summit by video on Friday, with the coronavirus pandemic and the long-raging territorial disputes high on the agenda.

“We reaffirmed that the 1982 UNCLOS is the basis for determining maritime entitlements, sovereign rights, jurisdiction and legitimate interests over maritime zones,” the ASEAN statement said.

China sparks off a cold war in the South China Sea

China sparks off a cold war in the South China SeaThe Caribbean and the Mexico Gulf together cover a sea area that is equivalent to that of the South China Sea through where around 40% of international goods are transported. In the seabed of the South China Sea are natural gases and oil. The United States (US) has significant national interests in the South China Sea. After finishing its militarization in the South China Sea, China shifts its focus to threatening activities and infiltration into the water of littoral states, and step by step, takes control over the sea route in this area.

The US has been battling against the Covid-19 pandemic, hence, the temporary pause in aircraft operations (including those of aircraft carriers). Meanwhile, China has been taking advantage of the crisis to undertake increasingly aggressive activities in the South China Sea for the last two months, namely ramming Vietnam’s fishing boats, establishing research centre on artificial features (of Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands); dispatching its Liaoning aircraft carrier fleet to the South China Sea for military manoeuvre; deploying geological survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 08 accompanied by China’s coast guard ships and maritime militia ships, which impeded Malaysian natural gases exploration; submitting a Note Verbale to the United Nations (UN) to slender and threaten Vietnam; announcing the establishment of two administrative units called “Xisha district” (Paracel Islands) and “Nansha district” (Spratly Islands); naming 80 features in the South China Sea, including low-tide elevations near the coast of littoral states in this sea area, and so forth.

Caution against Beijing’s manoeuvre to establish Air Defence Identification Zone in the South China

Caution against Beijings manoeuvre to establish Air Defence Identification Zone in the South ChinaOn May 31st 2020, the South China Morning Post published an article named “Beijing’s plans for South China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) cover Pratas, Paracel and Spratly Islands, PLA source says”.

Accordingly, China has been planning on the establishment of ADIZ in the South China Sea since 2010, when similar airspace in the East China Sea was also planned. However, China only created the East China Sea ADIZ in November 2013. This move, which was deemed to take revenge on Japan regarding the Senkaku issue, has been widely considered hasty.

Even though China has not yet embarked on the establishment of South China Sea ADIZ, there have been various articles mentioning two options for Beijing regarding this: firstly, China may merely form ADIZ in the Northern region of the South China Sea, covering the area of Paracel Islands and Pratas; secondly, the ADIZ may cover the entire South China Sea including the Spratly Islands. According to the analysis conducted in numerous articles, the first option seems to be more practical because if the ADIZ covered only a small area in adjacent water of Hainan and Paracel Islands, Vietnam would be China’s sole and direct target for provocation.

Pandemic-distracted world wakes to China's maritime incursions

Pandemic distracted world wakes to Chinas maritime incursionsTOKYO -- Three U.S. aircraft carriers -- the Theodore Roosevelt, the Ronald Reagan and the Nimitz -- have all been on patrol in the Asia-Pacific region as of this week, the first time a trio of carrier groups have made a joint appearance in these waters in several years.

The last time this occurred appears to be in 2017, when North Korea was ratcheting up its missile threat, according to the U.S. Naval Institute. This time the deployment comes when China has been unusually active in asserting its maritime territorial claims.

Wednesday was the 65th straight day that Chinese ships had been sighted in the contiguous zone off the Senkaku islands, Japanese governed territory that China disputes as its own, the Japan Coast Guard said Wednesday. The four Chinese government vessels seen that day marked the longest such streak since Tokyo made the isles state-owned property in 2012.

South China Sea: Beijing warns of 'countermeasures' after US Navy deploys three aircraft carriers

carriersThree US Navy aircraft carriers have been deployed in the Pacific Ocean for the first time in three years, in a show of force that's prompted a backlash from China.

The Trump administration deployed the USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Nimitz to the region, with each containing more than 60 aircraft.

The Chinese government, which has also increased its military presence in the region, responded swiftly, warning that "countermeasures" could be taken against the US.

While the US said its move was part of efforts to safeguard against the possibility of another coronavirus outbreak in the region, experts say it was also intended to send a symbolic message of strength to China.

Tensions Rises In China After US Deployed Three Aircraft Carriers In The South China Sea

USChina War Tensions Rises In China After US Deployed Three Aircraft Carriers In The South China SeaThe report in Global Times says that China is set to release its 2020 research report on US military presence in the Asia-Pacific amid heightened tensions and hostile activities near China. The possibility of a US-China war could considerably increase, which needs to be managed and restricted, the report says.

The report notes that since Donald Trump took office in 2017, it started “great-power competition,” akin to the Cold War. For the first time in a strategy document on national security and its Indo-Pacific strategy took shape by the end of 2018, which is clearly directed at preserving the US dominance globally.

According to the report, the US has 375,000 registered members of its Indo-Pacific Command, including 60% of its Navy ships, 55% of its Army and two-thirds of its Marine Corps. In addition, with 85,000 forward-deployed soldiers and a large amount of highly-advanced weaponry, the US military has persevered its sheer domination in the Asia-Pacific over the years.

How should Vietnam respond to China’s bullying in the South China Sea?

How should Vietnam respond to Chinas bullying in the South China SeaAt the Press Conference on April 21, 2020, in response to the recent diplomatic note on the South China Sea issue by the Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the UN, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang made an intimidating reference to “the use of force” in the South China Sea.

He stated that since the end of March this year, Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the UN had sent several diplomatic notes to the UN Secretary-General, “asserting its illegal claim over the South China Sea” and “attempting to negate China's sovereignty, rights and interests over these waters”.

It is noteworthy that in the aforementioned statement, Geng Shuang aggressively insisted that “China will take all measures necessary to resolutely safeguard our sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea.”

China’s major South China Sea drill: Threats to regional peace and stability

Chinas major South China Sea drill Threats to regional peace and stabilityKyodo News (Japan) on 11 May 2020 reported that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was planning to conduct a large-scale landing drill off Hainan Island in the South China Sea in August to simulate the possible seizure of the Taiwanese-held Pratas Island. According to the U.S Star and Stripes on 27 May, China will deploy two aircraft carriers (Shandong and Liaoning) for this exercise in the South China Sea.

Some sources also revealed that on the way to the exercise site, the aircraft carrier strike group will pass through the Pratas Islands on its way to the southeast of Taiwan in the Philippine Sea while other parts of the naval flotilla would be involved in landing exercises at a site near Hainan, about 600km southwest of the Pratas Islands.

South China Sea crisis: Beijing warns US military presence increases risk of war

South China Sea crisis 12The report focuses on the increased US military activities near the Communist nation including trespassing into the highly disputed South China Sea region by US warships. The report will be published on Tuesday.

According to the state-owned Global Times, the report by China’s National Institute for South China Sea Studies details US security policy, military presence and deployment.

It warns of a pending Cold War-esque conflict between China and the US.

The Global Times report US warships have repeatedly trespassed into Chinese territorial waters around the Xisha and Nansha islands, conducted operations in the South China Sea and crossed the Taiwan Straits.

Tensions between the US and China have been strained over recent weeks and both have shown their military might in the highly contested waters.

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