China publishes maps without the Paracel and Spratly Islands

The map “Huangchao zhi sheng di yu quan tu” published by China in 1905 clearly shows that China’s territory ends at Hainan Island. The Paracel and Spratly Islands belong to Vietnam.

How China is eyeing and encroaching Indonesia's exclusive economic zone

China's ambition to "monopolize control" of the South China Sea is not only having command over the waters adjacent to Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia... in the South China Sea but also controlling waters thousands of kilometers away from China such as those close to Indonesia’s Natuna Islands. Although Indonesia has been vigilant, reacting fiercely and striving to protect its territorial sovereignty, it seems that their measures are not strong enough to stop China's ambition.

US’s role in China’s invasion of Paracel Islands of Vietnam 45 years ago

Forty five years ago, in Jan 1974, China attacked and occupied the Paracel Islands of Vietnam. The incident took place when Vietnam was still being divided with southern Vietnam under the administration of the Republic of Vietnam headed by Nguyen Van Thieu, a close ally of the United States. The Paracel Islands was under the effective control of Nguyen Van Thieu administration. The question is why the Republic of Vietnam, a close ally of the US fought the Paracel battle alone and lost it to China’s hands. It is necessary to revisit history to learn the lesson about friends and allies.

The modern creation of China's 'historic rights' claim in the South China Sea

There are several layers of disputes in the South China Sea: disputes over the ownership of islands, disputes over rights in the waters between the islands, disputes over the regional balance of power and disputes about the future of global governance. What makes them difficult to resolve is that many details of the rival claims remain obscure.

Unreasonable fabrications in a Chinese article about the Fiery Cross Reef

Information in a Chinese article on the Fiery Cross Reef are completely fabricated. According to international law and practices, the Fiery Cross Reef is a rock, not an island. China does not have sovereignty over the Fiery Cross Reef. Its purpose of militarizing the Fiery Cross Reef is very clear, whereas the purpose of international public service is only fabricated.

Could the Paracels Islands be "lost" to China?

45 years ago, from January 17 to January 19, 1974, China dispatched its naval forces joined by militia on warships and armed vessels to attack islands located on the western side of the Paracel Archipelago of Vietnam, including Robert, Money, Duncan and Drummond islands. With its force superior to that of Vietnam and taking advantage of regional context when the United States had abandoned the government of the Republic of Vietnam, China occupied the above islands and the entire Paracels.

Paracel Islands belongs to Vietnam forever

The Paracel Islands is located in the South China Sea, spreading from 15o45' to 17o15' North latitude and 111o00' to 113o00' East longitude, about 222 km long from West to East and 160 km long from North to South. It is about 350km from East of Da Nang province of Vietnam. The Paracel Islands has more than 30 islands, coral reefs and reefs distributed over a maritime area of around 30,000 square kilometers with a total land area of approximately 10km2. It is divided into two island groups: The Eastern island group includes 12 islands, of which Woody Island (Phu Lam) and Lincoln Island (Linh Con) are the largest ones (each island is about 1.5 square kilometers). The western island cluster consists of many islands arranged in shape of an arc, including Paracel Island (Hoang Sa), Robert Island (Huu Nhat), Money Island (Quang Anh), Ducan Island (Quang Hoa), Drummond Island (Duy Mong), Vuladdore Reef (Chim Yen), Triton Island (Tri Ton)... According to the available ancient records of Vietnam, such as "Toan tap Thien Nam tư chi lo do thu" (Route Maps from the Capital to the Four Directions) by Do Ba or Cong Dao, "Phu Bien Tap Luc" (Miscellaneous Records on the Pacification at the Frontier) by Le Quy Don..., since at least 17th century, Vietnamese feudal states were the first nation to discover, occupy and continually and peacefully own the Paracel Islands. Since 1884, on behalf of its protectorate, the French colonialist continued to exercise sovereignty, manage and conduct exploitation in Paracel Islands. Until the end of the 19th century, no countries, including China, protested by any mean to Vietnam's sovereignty over Paracel Islands.

An abnormal content in Lu Kang’s remarks about Chinese fishery law enforcement activity in the South

Lu Kang’s remarks about Chinese fishery enforcement activity in the South China Sea is abnormal because the location where Chinese agencies carried out their duties is under sovereignty of Vietnam instead of China’s. It is Chinese coast guard ships that infringe illegally Vietnam’s waters.

What Duterte's Government gains from its plan on energy cooperation in the South China Sea

After Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to the Philippines, the media in the region and the Philippines report of an agreement between China and the Philippines on joint oil and gas development in the contested waters claimed by both parties in the South China Sea. On November 23, 2018, three days after the MOU was signed, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin said there was no agreement between the Philippines and China on oil and gas joint exploration in the disputed areas and the MOU signed on November 20 during President Xi's visit only meant a search for prospects for oil and gas cooperation between the two countries. Almost a week after the opposition called for an investigation into the agreement, the Philippine President’s office on November 26, 2018, leaked out the text of the MOU on maritime energy cooperation between China and the Philippines signed by the two on November 20, 2018 during. Although the waters for cooperation was not specified in the text, a look into the MOU, its negotiation process of the past two years and the Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin's statement suggested that the two sides were working towards agreement on oil joint exploration cooperation in the Philippine waters which are part of China’s claim of the "nine-dashed line". So it can be said that President Duterte’s administration has left the door open for joint oil and gas exploration with China in its waters. So what has President Duterte’s government gained by this MOU?

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the Bilateral Meeting with Chinese Government Officials Signing of Business LOIs and Dinner Hosted by President Xi Jinping 01-1

Nguồn: Internet

The mass media suggests that President Duterte’s government has certain economic and diplomatic gains in this.

In terms of economics, China agreed to fund $ 232.5 million for the construction of the Kaliwa Dam project. China’s Gezhouba Group has committed $ 2 billion to set up an industrial park at Clark City. So far, it is one of China's largest investment in the country. China and the Philippines have also signed an agreement to build a 581km railway from Los Banos to Matnog and an agreement on infrastructure development in Davao, the home city of President Duterte. In addition, as President Duterte said, Xi Jinping also promised to strengthen trade and investment, and actively participate in the "Build, Build, Build", a grand infrastructure program worth of $180 billion initiated by President Duterte.

In terms of diplomacy, the relations between the two countries after the visit seems to become warmer, at least through flowery words about friendship by the two heads of state. As said by Mr. Xi, "Our two countries will always be good neighbors, good friends and good partners who will enjoy shared development and prosperity". China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an emailed statement, also confirmed that "China attaches great importance to working closely with the Philippines and will actively support President Duterte’s “Build” plan.

However, these modest economic outcomes certainly do not meet President Duterte’s expectations. Only 4 out of the 38 projects promised by Chinese to invest in the Philippines in 2016 are re-committed during Presient Xi’s visit. China's pledged funds for the above projects accounts for only about 10% of the amount that China has committed to the Philippines when President Duterte visited China two years ago. Also, China's financial commitments during this visit are unlikely to be realized, just like two years ago. President Duterte’s government urged China to realize its committed investment of $ 24 billion in the Philippines. However, most of the deals just remain on paper. According to Secretary of Socio-Economic Planning Ernesto Pernia, only a loan of $ 73 million for an irrigation project and a $ 75 million grant to build two bridges in Manila have been disbursed so far.

20160917 ASP001

Nguồn: Internet

On relations with China, President Duterte prides himself for helping build a friendly relationship with China, turning China from a hostile country into a big reliable friend of the Philippines. That statement is probably true only to Duterte, not to the country and people of the Philippines. Duterte views Beijing as a trusted friend and Beijing also considers him a trusted friend. However, China probably is not a good neighbor, good friend and good partner of the Philippines as Xi said. China continues to threaten Philippine’s maritime sovereignty, reaffirming its sovereignty and jurisdiction over the waters of the Philippines located in the "nine-dashed line". People can ask whether a country which always wants to violate the Philippine’s sovereignty and marine resources could be “good friend, good neighbor, good partner” of the Philippines?

In addition to the above little gains, President Duterte and the Philippines also loose bigger. For President Duterte, it was a loss of faith of the Filipino people in his determination to protect maritime sovereignty. According to a survey just before President Xi's visit to the Philippines, 84% of Filipinos were not happy that the Manila government has taken no action in the South China Sea, resisting to criticize China’s attempts to increase military presence in the South China Sea as well as to request China to adhere to the PCA ruling. Filipinos believed Duterte had offered China too much in terms of politics in exchange for loans and investment of billions of dollars are now just promises. The people’s confidence in President Duterte will be further lowered after he signed with China an MOU of energy cooperation in the South China Sea.

It is also a great loss for the President himself: declining voters’ trust. If it officially signed an oil exploration agreement with China in the Philippine’s waters which are within the China’s "nine-dashed line", Duterte and his administration could hardly win the support of Philippine voters in the mid-term parliamentary elections be held in 2019 and in the president election to be held in 2020. These are the concerns that Duterte must consider in the next 12 months.

The opposition in the Philippines also strongly criticized President Duterte's administration for agreeing oil and gas cooperation with China in the South China Sea. The Finacial Times quoted Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s statement that any agreement with China on oil and gas cooperation in the Philippines’ waters would undermine the sovereignty rights of the Philippines and violate its constitution.

Before the MOU was signed, Fernando Hicap, National Chairman of the fishermen’s union told the New York Times that the Philippines may sign an agreement to realize plan for cooperation during Mr Xi’s visit, which was “like a complete surrender to China’s claim of the sovereignty and control over the resource-rich waters” of the Philippines.

For the country and people of the Philippines, the biggest loss is that, by signing the MOU, President Duterte’s administration has in principle indirectly acknowledged Philippine’s waters in the "nide-dashed line" were disputed waters, thus putting China equal to the Philippines in the Philippine’s waters, though according to international law and the PCA ruling, the Philippines has indisputable sovereignty and ownership rights to the resources in its waters. The second loss is the signing of the MOU has somehow nullified the PCA ruling, an important legal basis for the Philippines to deal with Chinain settling disputes in the South China Sea.

The self-disabling of the PCA ruling and detachment from international law will undermine the maritime sovereignty of the Philippines. In the long run, the pressure over the Philippines on sovereignty will not decrease but rather increase because the MOU will reinforce China's sovereignty claim in the South China Sea in general and the Philippine’s waters in particular. What President Duterte’s administration is doing obviously runs against the desire of most of Filipinos and the interests of the Philippines.

In brief, by signing the MOU on oil and gas cooperation in the South China Sea, the gains for the Philippines are limited while the losses are much greater. For the country and the people of the Philippines, an agreement on joint exploration or exploitation of oil and gas with China within the Philippine’s waters and China’s claim of "nine-dashed line" will have very serious impacts on the Philippine’s sovereignty. First of all, the Philippine’s waters will officially be transformed into disputed waters and in the long run will no longer belong to Filipinos. Therefore, the people of the Philippines will definitely not allow President Duterte’s administration to sign such a disastrous deal.

Page 10 of 142