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Philippines, China, UNCLOS and the South China Seas

Recently, we hear a growing chorus how the China – Philippines dispute in the South China Seas ought to be settled by binding arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 1 We already have dealt with some of the political dimensions of this (see, e.g., our South China Seas tag), and I won’t rehash them here. But I do want to bring up a couple of points that seem lost in the current fray.

While UNCLOS does allow nations to claim Exclusive economic zones (EEZs) that extend 200 nautical miles out from a nation’s territorial sea, the UNCLOS is not the basis of the dispute between China and the Philippines.

One way to view the dispute is as a dispute over maritime boundary.  Since the South China Seas is populated with hundreds of islands and rocks, the question is how to disentangle the overlapping claims to the seas arising from the various claims to the islands. This would clearly be a dispute involving UNCLOS.

The problem with this analysis is that China and the Philippines do not even agree over which islands and/or rocks belong to whom.  The UNCLOS might be the appropriate forum to assess extent of various claims over the seas when there exists clearly delineated and accepted claims to land territories, but when it comes to disputes over actual claims over land (islands or rocks), there is little that the UNCLOS provides.

Another problem with appealing to the UNCLOS is that the the UNCLOS is really a red herring, as far as the South China Seas and China and the Philippines are concerned.

Under International Law, nations generally have the right to ratify treaties in parts by ratifying treaties with reservations – and with statements articulating its understanding of the terms of the treaty.  This is the case with UNCLOS. Neither China nor the Philippines ratified the UNCLOS in full.  In fact, few of nations that ratified the UNCLOS did so without some sorts of qualifying statements and reservations (see UNCLOS delcarations and statements upon ratification).

The Philippines ratified the UNCLOS under these terms:

Understanding made upon signature (10 December 1982) and confirmed upon ratification (8 May 1984) 8/ 9/

1. The signing of the Convention by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines shall not in any manner impair or prejudice the sovereign rights of the Republic of the Philippines under and arising from the Constitution of the Philippines.

2. Such signing shall not in any manner affect the sovereign rights of the Republic of the Philippines as successor of the United States of America, under and arising out of the Treaty of Paris between Spain and the United States of America of 10 December 1898, and the Treaty of Washington between the United States of America and Great Britain of 2 January 1930.

3. Such signing shall not diminish or in any manner affect the rights and obligations of the contracting parties under the Mutual Defence Treaty between the Philippines and the United States of America of 30 August 1951 and its related interpretative instruments; nor those under any other pertinent bilateral or multilateral treaty or agreement to which the Philippines is a party.

4. Such signing shall not in any manner impair or prejudice the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines over any territory over which it exercises sovereign authority, such as the Kalayaan Islands, and the waters appurtenant thereto.

5. The Convention shall not be construed as amending in any manner any pertinent laws and Presidential Decrees or Proclamation of the Republic of the Philippines; the Government of the Republic of the Philippines maintains and reserves the right and authority to make any amendments to such laws, decrees or proclamations pursuant to the provisions of the Philippines Constitution.

6. The provisions of the Convention on archipelagic passage through sea lanes do not nullify or impair the sovereignty of the Philippines as an archipelagic State over the sea lanes and do not deprive it of authority to enact legislation to protect its sovereignty, independence and security.

7. The concept of archipelagic waters is similar to the concept of internal waters under the Constitution of the Philippines, and removes straits connecting these waters with the economic zone or high sea from the rights of foreign vessels to transit passage for international navigation.

8. The agreement of the Republic of the Philippines to the submission for peaceful resolution, under any of the procedures provided in the Convention, of disputes under article 298 shall not be considered as a derogation of Philippines sovereignty.

In other words, Philippines subscribes to the UNCLOS with the understanding that it does not impair Philippine claim to sovereignty in the South China Sea.  Statement 8 is actually a full-blown reservation in the sense that even though Philippines submit to binding arbitrary process, it would do so only where it does not impinge on Philippines sovereignty.

China ratified the UNCLOS under these terms:

Upon ratification (7 June 1996)1/:

In accordance with the decision of the Standing Committee of the Eighth National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China at its nineteenth session, the President of the People’s Republic of China has hereby ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 and at the same time made the following statement:

1. In accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the People’s Republic of China shall enjoy sovereign rights and jurisdiction over an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles and the continental shelf.

2. The People’s Republic of China will effect, through consultations, the delimitation of the boundary of the maritime jurisdiction with the States with coasts opposite or adjacent to China respectively on the basis of international law and in accordance with the principle of equitability.

3. The People’s Republic of China reaffirms its sovereignty over all its archipelagos and islands as listed in article 2 of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the territorial sea and the contiguous zone, which was promulgated on 25 February 1992.

4. The People’s Republic of China reaffirms that the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea concerning innocent passage through the territorial sea shall not prejudice the right of a coastal State to request, in accordance with its laws and regulations, a foreign State to obtain advance approval from or give prior notification to the coastal State for the passage of its warships through the territorial sea of the coastal State.

Declaration made after ratification (25 August 2006)

Declaration under article 298:

The Government of the People’s Republic of China does not accept any of the procedures provided for in Section 2 of Part XV of the Convention with respect to all the categories of disputes referred to in paragraph 1 (a) (b) and (c) of Article 298 of the Convention.

Thus China ratifies the UNCLOS with the understanding that it does not impinge upon its sovereign claims to all the islands and regions of South China Seas.  Further China has, as provided explicitly under Article 298 of the UNCLOS, explicitly renounced its willingness to arbitration involving broad category of explicit cases.

Article 2 of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the territorial sea and the contiguous zone claims under Chinese sovereignty all territorial land and seas where:

The PRC’s territorial sea refers to the waters adjacent to its territorial land.

The PRC’s territorial land includes the mainland and its offshore islands, Taiwan and the various affiliated islands including Diaoyu Island, Penghu Islands, Dongsha Islands, Xisha Islands, Nansha (Spratly) Islands and other islands that belong to the People’s Republic of China.

Given the above, it is quite funny that the Philippines has referred its dispute with China to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.  Legally, the disputes do not come under the UNCLOS – from either the Philippines or Chinese side.  Philippines can’t make a long laundry list of statements that protect its stakes and yet want to have its cake too by trying to bind China in making similar laundry list of statements…

This is a political issue that deserves a diplomatic solution. China claims South China Seas based on history.  It’s ironic to see today Philippines “hosting” French archeologists to study sunken Chinese ships in its alleged territorial waters. 2 I hope the Philippine side will understand the depth of Chinese claims and come to the table with a more sincere spirit, instead of playing legal games and trying to distract from the real work that needs to be done.


Some notable comments.

  1. Interesting Article In Filipino Media on Chinese positions, brought to our attention by MatthewTan
  2. Interesting Chinese video on recent Filipino Map, brought to our attention by Ray

Notes:

  1. See, e.g., this article from CSIS; this article from GMA; or this article from Business World
  2. see, e.g., this interview (added later, brought to my attention by DeWang in this comment); this ft article; this yahoo piece; this French government announcement;
  1. zack
    April 17th, 2012 at 16:54 | #1

    the filipinos, especially under that (comment moderated) aquinos are cruising for a bruisin’
    seriously, after the debacle of the hong kong tourists back in 2010, the Aquino government has the fricking gall to escalate the diplomatic situation and call the USG to intervene on its behalf. Aquino is playing with fire, he is essentially turning the phillipines back into the vassal state it was under the americans.

  2. April 18th, 2012 at 16:32 | #2
  3. April 18th, 2012 at 21:16 | #3

    @Ray

    A great contrast, especially considering both Thailand and Philippines are the only 2 ASEAN nations who are also treaty allies with the U.S.

  4. Navigator
    April 18th, 2012 at 22:26 | #4

    Might be a great contrast, except that China doesnt share a border with Thailand, unlike the Philippines.

    Makes it a pretty dumb contrast in that case.

    “The Philippines claims sovereignty over the island which is Chinese territory.”

    Dumb article too. If it were as simple as this the problem would have been solved long ago…Discounting or ignoring others claims doesnt make them go away- don’t we all wish?!

  5. April 18th, 2012 at 22:55 | #5

    Another thing I’ve been hearing is that China’s historical claims over-reaches. Some say, hey, China used to possess territories beyond its current borders. Just because it once possessed some territories does not make it theirs today.

    Well – that’s a distortion of China’s position.

    China is not saying that it claims all its historical territories. It is saying that it is claiming the South China Seas, the reason being historical connection.

    That is not only good international law, but makes good sense morally.

    If history doesn’t matter, and current control is all that matters, than I can go grab any territory tomorrow, and morally claim that since history doesn’t matter.

    I do agree that history at some point alone is not the only criterion – it’s the entire history that is relevant.

    China used to possess Outer Mongolia, but it doesn’t claim it because it has since renounced it … by recognizing Mongolia.

    The same is not true of the South China Seas. Going back to the Qing, you will see maps that includes all the South China Seas as part of China. It’s a persistent and continual claim that dates back hundreds of years. Chinese fisherman have history and continues to fish there today. China has never given it away, even at her weakest.

    Compared to the Philippines – it’s a recent phenomenon…

  6. April 18th, 2012 at 23:03 | #6

    Another thing I hear is people gasping: how can China claim islands that reach so far out to sea – so close to the Philippines?

    That’s like saying, how can United States reach so far out to the West – to include Hawaii and Alaska.

    It’s basically presuming where a nation’s natural border lies.

    China’s territory has a certain shape, and it reaches into the South China Sea.

  7. Navigator
    April 18th, 2012 at 23:14 | #7

    Allen, does this mean Americas claims can also extend out to the moon?

    Malaysia, Phillippines, Brunei, Vietnam et al also have a “natural shape”, but see, that doesnt help solve the problem.

    Try coming up with actual workable solutions.

    Also I’d be interested in hearing more about your theory of “natural borders” too. Im a geographer by trade and I’ve certainly never heard of such a thing. Sounds very contorted, and frankly absurd, but I am willing to be convinced you are onto something. 2 questions spring to mind. What determines a country’s “natural border”, and what happens when 2 or more country’s “natural borders” overlap?

  8. April 18th, 2012 at 23:26 | #8

    From Xinhua: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/video/2012-04/18/c_131535352.htm

    Chinese fishing vessels that were involved in a five-day stalemate with the Philippine Navy are back in port after they left Huangyan island in the western part of South China. Ten Chinese boats are still fishing in the area, while one Chinese surveillance ship has remained behind to provide protection.

    The stand-off erupted when the Philippine Navy spotted Chinese fishing boats that were seeking refuge from bad weather at a lagoon off Huangyan Island on April 8. The Philippines sent its largest warship to block the entrance of the lagoon on April 10.

    Two Chinese Marine Surveillance ships near the area rushed to the scene to protect the Chinese fishermen from being harassed.

    Chen Minghai, one of the crewmen from the Chinese vessels, recalled the experience when he and other four co-workers on board saw the Philippine warship near Huangyan Island.

    Crewman Chen Minghai said, “Five of the Philippine soldiers boarded our vessel with sub machine guns, they searched our vessel and took some photos.”

    After suffering illegitimate harassment, the crewmen asked for help from Chinese Marine Surveillance ships, which came to Huangyan Island at around 5pm that day.

    Chen Minghai said he would continue fishing in the Nansha Island area which is an integral part of China.

    For fishermen at Tanmen Port in Hainan Province, the South China Sea area has been their fishing grounds since ancient times.

    This handwritten copy Geng Lubu, a fishing history book finished during the Qing Dynasty, is a strong evidence to China’s claim.

    Lu Chuanfu, chairman of Culture Association of Qionghai, Hainan province, said, “When the ancient fishermen went fishing in Xisha Islands or in Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, they recorded the locations and directions of island reefs along the water course in this Geng Lubu. As a non-governmental history book, it is evidence that Chinese fishermen are the first to develop Xisha Islands and Nansha Islands. ”

    Two Chinese fishing vessels sailed back safely to Tanmen Port in Hainan province on April 14th and April 15th respectively, which helped defuse the situation between China and the Philippines.

    Meanwhile another ten ships have resumed fishing in areas around Xisha Islands and Nansha Islands.

    On Monday, China urged the Philippines to withdraw all of its vessels from the Huangyan Island area to restore peace and stability in the region.

  9. April 18th, 2012 at 23:29 | #9

    @Navigator

    I don’t have a theory of natural borders. Not sure where you got it. Natural border is the border that others presume for China. That’s all I meant.

    Try coming up with actual workable solutions.

    I trust the diplomats are working at that. However, from my angle, the only solution I see is to postpone it for future generations to solve – to keep the peace for now.

    China has offered joint explorations, gas projects, etc. to that end. It’s being pragmatic without letting selling out on core interests.

  10. Andrew Morris
    April 19th, 2012 at 00:07 | #10

    Yes, we want to see a fixed solution that China – Philippines dispute in the South China Seas issue. Thanks mate for meaningful deal.

    [commercial link removed by Allen]

  11. jxie
    April 19th, 2012 at 00:58 | #11

    @Allen

    Another thing I hear is people gasping: how can China claim islands that reach so far out to sea – so close to the Philippines?

    When ROC claimed those islands officially in 1947, Philippines was barely independent from the US, Vietnam was still basically a French colony, and Malaysia a British colony. None of them disputed the claims.

    The area in question, Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island) is about 150 miles away from Philippines, close to 600 miles from Hainan — but only about 300 miles away from Paracel (Xisha) Islands that PRC controls and inhabits. A bit further away is Taiping Island (of Spratly/Nansha) that ROC controls and inhabits. The area is within the combat radius of J-10s stationing in Lingshui AF Base of Hainan, without mid-air refueling.

  12. silentchinese
    April 19th, 2012 at 06:59 | #12

    If distance is a used as argument, then,…

    The whole Luzon archapelago also lies only about 1K km from hainan, much closer to Hainan than Beijing or Shanghai is to Hainan.

    so… can one make an argument based on distance that naturally Hainan Province’s borders shall include the entirety of Luzon archapelago?

    how ridiculous that argument would make? the counter argument would inevitablly be that that Historically Luzon has been part of Philippines.

    so in the case of Luzon Philippines uses history as an argument.

    hmmm.

    see how inconsistent and stupid the “150 km, closer so it is mine,” argument is?
    if that distance argument stands then Falkland, Diego Garcia, and whole of Okinawa, Saipan, guam, Hawaii, bunch of islands in pacific and indian ocean, French and Dutch Guayana. etc etc would fall into the a big dispute.

    China miight as well start to ship C802 missiles to Argentia because they would make a move eventually.

    p.s.

    also on a cynical and very Bismarckian note:

    also notice this is the Huangyan Island/Scarborough Shoal, which is only in dispute between PHL and China.
    and the chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army
    has just finished a trip to china?

    Vietnamese and Chinese armies strengthen cooperation
    http://english.vietnamnet.vn/en/politics/21279/vietnamese-and-chinese-armies-strengthen-cooperation.html

    “Regarding the East Sea issue, both sides agreed to strictly implement the signed agreements including the agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea-related issues”

    I am not surprised if Vietnam has given china assurances on give up on dragging outside powers and joining in a 3 way fight in some nasty eventurallities. i.e. when CHina makes an example of PHL, over
    Huangyan Island/Scarborough Shoals, Vietnam will fold their hands.

    also If I remember correctly Vietnam has had some nasty confrontations in Spratly ith PHL. may be Vietnam will not fold their hands. but instead grab some more islets in Spratly that is occupied by PHL.

    :)

  13. silentchinese
    April 19th, 2012 at 07:01 | #13

    Ray :A great contrast with Thailand:http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20120417-340230.html

    I will have to say.

    Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is a very attractive lady :).

    my compliments to Thailand in electing her.

  14. silentchinese
    April 19th, 2012 at 07:08 | #14

    Navigator :Allen, does this mean Americas claims can also extend out to the moon?
    Malaysia, Phillippines, Brunei, Vietnam et al also have a “natural shape”, but see, that doesnt help solve the problem.
    Try coming up with actual workable solutions.
    Also I’d be interested in hearing more about your theory of “natural borders” too. Im a geographer by trade and I’ve certainly never heard of such a thing. Sounds very contorted, and frankly absurd, but I am willing to be convinced you are onto something. 2 questions spring to mind. What determines a country’s “natural border”, and what happens when 2 or more country’s “natural borders” overlap?

    Actually Mr Armstrong didn’t carried that american flag on to the moon just for TV.
    He was originally suppose to say that He claim the Moon as territory of United States of America.

  15. April 19th, 2012 at 09:21 | #15

    @silentchinese

    That’s certainly food for thought, especially given this quote attributed to Pres. Kennedy.

    …for the eyes of the world now look into space, to the Moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace.

    - John F. Kennedy. “Remarks of the President: Rice University Stadium, Houston, Texas.” NASA News Release, 12 September 1962. On file at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) History Office.

    However, Article 11 of the so-called delcaration of outerspace use explicitly forbids the taking of the Moon.

    1.The Moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind,
    which finds its expression in the provisions of this Agreement, in particular
    in paragraph 5 of this article.

    2. The Moon is not subject to national appropriation by any claim of sovereignty,
    by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.

    3. Neither the surface nor the subsurface of the Moon, nor any part thereof
    or natural resources in place, shall become property of any State, international
    intergovernmental or non-governmental organization, national organization
    or non-governmental entity or of any natural person. The placement
    of personnel, space vehicles, equipment, facilities, stations and
    installations on or below the surface of the Moon, including structures
    connected with its surface or subsurface, shall not create a right of ownership
    over the surface or the subsurface of the Moon or any areas thereof.
    The foregoing provisions are without prejudice to the international regime
    referred to in paragraph 5 of this article.

    4. States Parties have the right to exploration and use of the Moon without
    discrimination of any kind, on the basis of equality and in accordance with
    international law and the terms of this Agreement.

    That declaration has since been ratified as treaties (U.S. did it in 1967), and can be summarized as follows:

    1. the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind;
    2. outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States;
    3. outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means;
    4. States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner;
    5. the Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes;
    6. astronauts shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind;
    7. States shall be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities;
    8. States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects; and
    9. States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.

  16. silentchinese
    April 19th, 2012 at 10:30 | #16

    @Allen

    “Stop quoting laws to us, we carry swords!”
    -Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus , to a beseiged Roman Town objecting to being seiged.

  17. April 19th, 2012 at 10:56 | #17

    Philippines claim: “in the eyes of God and man” and/or EEZ. Though at the very very end of the article it acknowledged China’s historic claim though simply saying it’s not valid.

    Article below is from Manilla Bulletin – the biggest paper in Philippines:
    http://mb.com.ph/articles/357440/leave-shoal-palace-tells-chinese-boats

    Leave Shoal, Palace Tells Chinese boats

    By MADEL R. SABATER and ROLLY T. CARANDANG
    April 18, 2012, 8:09pm
    MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang Wednesday ordered Chinese vessels to leave the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal a few days after China told Philippine vessels to leave the disputed area.

    “Well, we’re also telling their ships to do the same. That’s our territory and we’re also saying the same thing to their ships,” Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ramon Carandang said in a press briefing Wednesday.

    The Palace official likewise said China has not yet responded to the Philippines’ invitation to bring the dispute to the United Nations International Law of the Sea (Itlos).

    However, the Philippine government is also looking at other ways to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner.

    “I think the best way to resolve this issue is through international law and international legal procedures which all nations had promised to adhere to. As the President said, we don’t intend to go to war over this but if we can resolve this diplomatically, peacefully, and legally then ‘yun ang gagawin natin [that is what we’ll do],” Carandang said.

    Carandang, meanwhile, said that Senator Ralph G. Recto’s suggestion to have a joint exploration with China to resolve the dispute would have to take a backseat.

    He said this particular issue (territorial dispute) should be settled first before another agreement such as a joint exploration with China is forged.

    “That’s not something we could go into now,” Carandang said.

    Recto had urged President Benigno S. Aquino III to seriously consider engaging China, not through diplomatic protests, but through a possible joint exploration agreement in the Spratlys Islands.

    “Every standoff, the territorial tension only escalates and we’re not gaining anything – zero. We could pursue a different tact by working out a possible joint exploration without impinging on our sovereignty,” Recto said.

    Recto said the only practical solution left for the country is to pursue a possible joint exploration deal of the whole of Spratlys for gas and other natural resources.

    Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay stressed yesterday that “in the eyes of God and man” the Philippines has sovereign rights over the waters surrounding the Scarborough Shoal.

    Binay issued the statement as he called on claimants to respect the Philippines’ rights over the Panatag or Scarborough Shoal which lies within the country’s territory recognized by international marine law. It is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales, which is still within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

    “Sa mata ng tao at mata ng Diyos, e atin po talaga iyon (In the eyes of God and man, the island is ours),” Binay said in a television interview last Tuesday.

    The Department of Foreign Affairs also said a claim by itself, including historical claim, could not be a basis for acquiring a territory.

    “Chinese assertion based on historical claims must be substantiated by a clear historic title,” the DFA said in a position paper on the ongoing standoff in the disputed area. “It should be noted that under public international law, historical claims are not historical titles,” the DFA said.

    China is claiming the shoal based on historical arguments, claiming it to have been discovered during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368AD). (With reports from JC Bello Ruiz and Roy C. Mabasa)

  18. April 19th, 2012 at 13:32 | #18

    @YinYang

    “historical claims are not historical titles”

    That is true. And I don’t think China is claiming necessarily that it had historical title. I mean, not title in the Western law sort of way. The Chinese emperors saw them as emperors over all of heaven, they didn’t see the need to take title – even on something you discover. It just exists. Various governments / sovereigns can exert control over them – but that’s that. The Native Americans used to think that taking “title” over land / nature is a strange concept. Land is mother nature. It exists to nourish us. We are but little children. Why would children take “title” over the entities that give them nourishment?

    I diagress…

    Back to South China Sea: China is merely saying under currently accepted (Western) Law of Sea, a nation may take title based on historical claim. And no one is disputing its historical claims (continual ties since at least the Yuan dynasty). When the ROC – accepting Western international law – officially took title under Western law, no one – not any of the imperial powers that controlled Southeast Asia – including what is now Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, etc. complained.

    It’s only until much more recently that these various nations are starting to contest China.

    Now again, I emphasize, I don’t think this is a legal issue under UNCLOS per se. UNCLOS as a treaty – especially with the declarations and reservations Philippines and China took – doesn’t address territorial disputes in the South China Sea. That should not be controversial.

    It’s a diplomatic issue that China hopes to settle in a neighborly way, but if it’s not possible, I would support China to fight a limited war to settle the boundaries.

    There is nothing unprincipled about any of this.

  19. April 19th, 2012 at 14:40 | #19

    Navigator :
    Might be a great contrast, except that China doesnt share a border with Thailand, unlike the Philippines.
    Makes it a pretty dumb contrast in that case.
    “The Philippines claims sovereignty over the island which is Chinese territory.”
    Dumb article too. If it were as simple as this the problem would have been solved long ago…Discounting or ignoring others claims doesnt make them go away- don’t we all wish?!

    EditMore OptionsModerateSpamTrashMoveE-mailBlacklist

    The contrast is relevent because China borders over a dozen countries.

  20. April 19th, 2012 at 14:47 | #20

    On top of the Malvinas, the UK also hold St.Helena, Diego Garcia etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:British_Overseas_Territories.svg

    France still hold a bunch of Pacific and S. American islands. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Outre-mer_en.png

    Both countries have claim to the antartic.

    Even Spain still hold on to Canary Islands.

  21. April 19th, 2012 at 16:22 | #21

    @Allen
    Very insightful.

  22. zack
    April 19th, 2012 at 16:38 | #22

    @Allen
    if it must come to war, then it should be a war that should leave no doubt that China is the master of East Asia, not the United States nor anyone else

  23. April 19th, 2012 at 16:51 | #23

    silentchinese :

    Ray :A great contrast with Thailand:http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20120417-340230.html

    I will have to say.
    Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is a very attractive lady .
    my compliments to Thailand in electing her.

    EditMore OptionsModerateSpamTrashMoveE-mailBlacklist

    The people voted for her brother, Thaksin.

  24. April 19th, 2012 at 23:52 | #24

    zack #22
    Your wording is a little off. China does not seek to be “master’ of East Asia, and recognises that East Asian countries have a right to their own destinies, but she is the principal guarantor of peace and stability in the region.

  25. Navigator..
    April 20th, 2012 at 00:08 | #25

    Ive heard Zacks words echoed countless times uttered by PRC folk the world over, and it is exactly comments like that that lead other countries citizens hearts and minds straight into America’s hands.
    What China “seeks” in the future is open to debate but China’s neighbors, like China itself, have long memories.

  26. April 20th, 2012 at 05:10 | #26

    Funny, I’ve heard PRC folks echoing what I have just said around the world, with citizens of their host countries agreeing and supporting with China’s stand.
    Many things are open to debate in the future, and China’s neighbours have long memories about many things. South Korea has a temple dedicated to a Ming emperor who contributed to her defence against Japanese invasion, for example.

  27. April 20th, 2012 at 07:07 | #27

    Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore all have HUGE trade surplus with China.

  28. silentchinese
    April 20th, 2012 at 07:57 | #28

    Seek Hegemony through force is stupid.
    history is littered with example of states that was ruined because execessive reliance on force.

    China was what it was because it was the most prosperous, technologically advanced, powerful and stable state in East Asia up to Opium war. She had a chance to dominate in 16th century in Indian Ocean too but lost that chance through internal weakness.

  29. silentchinese
    April 20th, 2012 at 07:57 | #29

    @Ray

    Regardless who did they vote for, she is still hot!

  30. pug_ster
  31. Navigator..
    April 21st, 2012 at 22:35 | #31

    If Filipinos dont want the US there as you seem to be trying to claim, then you should tell all your fellow Nationalists to stop complaining about Americas influence there, and constant references to them being Americas “poodle”

    Or maybe you are just not used to robust democratic systems, which allow people to openly air their beliefs. Odd if you live in America though…

  32. zack
    April 22nd, 2012 at 01:09 | #32

    @Navigator..
    i’m sorry, did you just say that ‘robust democratic systems…allow people to openly air their beliefs’?
    you mean like kim kardashian and sarah palin?

    truly, a robust democratic system.

    or did you mean the kind that silences whistleblowers like julian assange and monopolises power amongst the Washington Elite?

  33. pug_ster
    April 22nd, 2012 at 06:28 | #33

    @Navigator..

    ‘Robust’ democratic system. That’s a good one. The problem with the American ‘robust’ democratic system is that the only people with influence, money and power are the ones who can get themselves in the ballot box. Of course, occasionally you get people like Alvin Greene who managed to scrap up $10K of his own money in order get himself nominated for the Democratic ticket, but didn’t get support from his fellow democrats afterwards.

  34. April 23rd, 2012 at 22:27 | #35

    Some recent Q&A with Chinese embassy in Philippines about the dispute here.

    French nationals on archaeological mission looking for sunken ancient Chinese ship!

    4. Q: The Philippine side said a Chinese surveillance ship had harassed a Phlippine-registered archeologial vessel with 9 French nationals on aboard. What’s your comment?

    A: There is, indeed, an ancient Chinese wreck ship in Huangyan Island area, of which China has the ownership. In accordance with relevant international conventions and Chinese laws, it is illegal to conduct salvage activities without the permission of the Chinese government. We urge the archaeological vessel leave the area immediately.

  35. Jherskie
    April 25th, 2012 at 00:50 | #36

    well, why don’t we just lay out all the historical evidence on a table and double-check their authenticity? maps of Philippine territorial boundaries from the 1800s are distributed and still in existence to this day. how about China’s?

    the distance will always matter. as the Scarborough shoals is too near the Philippines that locals really use the shoals as shelter is a crucial matter.

    and then there’s the issue of poaching of endangered species of flora and fauna. up until recently, the population of green sea turtles was dangerously low most likely from POACHING by CHINESE. good that the numbers are increasing BECAUSE OF ACTIVE EFFORT by the Philippine authorities to safeguard their existence.

    so, again, let’s lay all the claims on the table and talk in a civilized, not two-faced lying, manner. and the table should be at ITLOS – which exists to solve these problems in the first place.

  36. April 25th, 2012 at 07:43 | #37

    @Jherskie
    The PRC has repeatedly shown its historical claim. Distance does not matter on sovereignty as noted by US, French, British or Spanish territories. China’s claim go back to the antiquity.

    The poaching claim is just your opinion. There is legal and illegal fishing. When you used phrase such as “most likely” you have no basis. Let me put a simple question to you. How much trees have the Philippines planted. China planted more trees than the whole world combine from 2000-2010, doubling the forest in China. China also lifted more percentage of its population out of poverty than the Philipines (the reverse is true for Philippines which has the no.2 highest per capita GDP in 1960. If the Philippines govn’t is sincere about the welfare of its own citizens, then why no improvement being made in the squatters population in Manila? I just read about a riot there while the dispute is going on.

    I have to stress again, if the territory is yours you don’t need validation from others. The US, UK, France etc don’t do that and neither will China be it ROC or PRC.

    Territorial sovereignty is based on TWO things only:
    Historial basis and actual control. If you cannot have both, you simply don’t have it. That’s the reality.

  37. silentchinese
    April 25th, 2012 at 10:24 | #38

    @ Jherskie
    wether or not those fisherman was fishing illegally has nothing to do with the sovereignty of those islands.

    the issue is who has jurisdiction over them.

    as far as china is concerned they were sheltering in chinese territorial waters (with in the coral island).

    as for phl fisherman sheltering in those shoals….

    Chinese coastal ports routinely gave shelter to Vietnamese fisherman fishing in gulf of tonkins. same to the taiwanese ships. so I think it is non-sensical and non-issue to begin with.
    the convience of shelter does not gave any right to sovereignty then, in another word… it is convient for you, does not mean it is yours.

    Let me put it bluntly for you, what if the entire nation of China tomorrows finds convenient that archeapelago of Luzon is a nice forward station for the chinese shipping fleet. would you recognize the claim that the entire Luzon should be part of chinese territory just because it is close to china?

    final and last words:
    as in any cases that settles these type disputes, both parties must agree on principles of settlement first. then use those principles to settle the differenses.

    what are phl’s principles or rationa for claims? none I can see that stands under any level of scrutiny. it will not a good outcome no matter how had phl pushes.

  38. Charles Liu
    April 25th, 2012 at 10:47 | #39

    @Jherskie

    I wonder what the ITLOS ever say about the Falkland islands?

  39. zack
    April 25th, 2012 at 14:28 | #40

    @Ray
    good point Ray,
    it’s interesting to posit that the Aquino administration-and general Filipino Elites- are attempting to drum up nationalistic fervour to distract the population from the incompetance of their own leadership

  40. April 25th, 2012 at 14:38 | #41

    The largest island in the South China Sea is actually occupied by the ROC. They have runway and a marines detachment there. It was named Taipin Dao when an ROC warship of the same name retook posseision after WWII. It is also the only island with fresh water.

    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/taipinroc.jpg
    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/taipin.jpg

  41. Jherskie
    April 25th, 2012 at 18:26 | #42

    then bring it to ITLOS – this is why the tribunal exists in the first place. any reason cited not to do so is basically just excuses.

  42. tc
    April 25th, 2012 at 19:16 | #43

    China might want to share South China Sea resources with the Philippines, Vietnam …, who historically have not been aggressive toward China. But, Japan and India are totally different story. China should NEVER yield one single inch of territory to these two aggressors.

  43. zack
    April 25th, 2012 at 19:55 | #44

    @Ray
    excellent; when ROC and PLA eventually do joint exercises; those facilities would go a long way towards ensuring China’s maritime rights

  44. April 26th, 2012 at 07:47 | #45

    @Jherskie
    Be realistic. China will never do that. Neither will the US, USSR, France, UK etc.

    If you think ITLOS will solve anything, why don’t Philippines submit its claim on the Malaysian state of Sabah?

  45. Alex Magno
    April 26th, 2012 at 12:17 | #46

    @Ray
    And why must the Philippines submit its claim on the Malaysia state of Sabah? ITLOS is the body one goes to for settling international disputes about the seas. Besides, Sabah is also a disputed territory that the sultanate of Sulu (now part of the Philippines) lays its claim to on the basis of historical fact. Scarborough Shoals is also historically regarded as part of the Philippine territory way back in 1734 under the Spanish colonial administration (see http://globalnation.inquirer.net/34369/scarborough-belongs-to-ph-old-maps-show). Like what you said, “control” is one of the basis of sovereignty – since time immemorial, fishermen from nearby Zambales (the province that considers Scarborough part of its historic waters, and is only 124 nautical miles from its shore) go there to fish daily, unlike Chinese fishermen who stray to the area once in a blue moon due to long distance (600+ miles) from China.

  46. April 26th, 2012 at 14:02 | #47

    @Alex Magno
    Your comment is really stupid. Even the Filipino Foreign Affairs department has officially said the basis of their claim is not based on what Spain ceded to the United States. So, how is what Spain claimed as its colony legitimate as what constitutes what is Philippines? By your logic, there’s really no contest. China’s claim predates colonial Spain’s.

    Also, the Chinese, Filipino, and Vietnamese fisherman have always been fishing at the contested area, peacefully, even til this day:
    http://globalnation.inquirer.net/34785/at-%E2%80%98karburo%E2%80%99-filipinos-fish-laugh-eat-drink-with-chinese-viet-fishermen

  47. zack
    April 26th, 2012 at 14:19 | #48

    the filipino claim is weak, hence why they’re appealing heavily to the US’ geopolitical interests and its sinophobic propaganda machine. In essence, what they’ve done is a ‘deal with the devil’, so to speak; they’ve sold themselves out and found themselves under boot of their former colonial masters.

  48. Jherskie
    April 26th, 2012 at 18:43 | #49

    still, my stand remains: settle things at ITLOS. should the tribunal rule in favor of China, the Philippines will of course yield – since the country really believes in the rule of law. defending on judicial matters is of course, something the Philippines will not falter on.

    unless someone bribes somebody, again.

  49. silentchinese
    April 27th, 2012 at 10:41 | #50

    @Jherskie

    Except these are territorial disputes and ITLOS are not the venue for these.

    By yelling take-it-to-ITLOS every 3rd sentence is really a way for pinoy’s to build up a level of moral indignation. and nothing more. China would not take that suggestion seriously as it is both lacking in legal merit and severe breach of diplomatic protocal to openly challenge some one to a court.

    al;so most of these courts will avoid hearing issues that are political in nature, as it is very much now a political issue when outside power is dragged in and the issue has become a nationalistic push button issue in phillipines. as they lack effective compulsory mechanisms.

    btw
    fyi, The traditional venue for territorial disputes is the ICJ at hague. I suggest teh president of phillipines to check with his lawyers before he say something again.

  50. colin
    April 27th, 2012 at 11:32 | #51

    @Jherskie

    “unless someone bribes somebody, again.”

    One wonders if China could even find a neutral court with the mass of western media and population so biased.

  51. Alex Magno
    April 27th, 2012 at 14:40 | #52

    @zack
    Everyone is entitled to his opinion. But more people believe that the disputed shoal is both historically (since 1734) and legally (UNCLOS) belongs to the Philippines. It is only 124 miles away from the Philippine shore, but over 600 miles away from China. One’s claim and sovereignty is established additionally by custom and practice, everyday fishermen from Zambales go there to catch fish since time immemorial. China ratified UNCLOS, but it cannot dispute the provision about EEZ which is the usual convention accepted by most countries. It does not make sense ratifying it and not abiding by its important provisions, including submitting to the UN ITLOS to settle disputes.

  52. Alex Magno
    April 27th, 2012 at 14:43 | #53

    @YinYang
    Well, then, I can say the feeling is mutual. :)

  53. zack
    April 27th, 2012 at 16:42 | #54

    @Alex Magno
    what ‘most people believe’ doesn’t make it right; that’s why kangaroo courts and courts of public opinion are never just, and the defence of ‘oh everyone thinks so’ is, quite frankly, laughable.

    if Manila was truly confident with their legal rights vis-a-vis the SCS, then why the need for all this sabre rattling and jingoism? There seems to be a lot of use of the propaganda/american media rather than any true legalistic analysis. That by itself should be a massive flag for bullshit, on the part of the filipinos.

  54. LOLZ
    April 28th, 2012 at 23:21 | #55

    The only solution to this is a diplomatic one.

  55. jxie
    April 29th, 2012 at 10:42 | #56

    PLAN and PLAAF probably are waiting for Philippines to pull a Saakashvili — firing the first bullet or making the first militarily hostile move. You would think after Georgia lost the 2 ethnic Russian-dominant enclaves, its American “ally” would at least put up an angry face for at least the next decade. Oh no, in a few months H. Clinton went to Russia and presented that “reset button”. In short, nobody is willing to fight a land war with Russia.

    If there is any sort of one-on-one military conflict, within 48 hours there won’t be a navy or an air force to speak of in Philippines, but of course it’s never one-on-one — the US looms large in the picture. Nuclear powers have never gone in wars with each other. Assuming it’s a limited engagement, Scarborough Shoal is a rather poor choice for anybody to fight with the Chinese, given that it’s under the cover of many landed-based military assets from China. If I have to fight a war with China in the South China Sea, I would pick a place as far south as possible.

    So how long will this strange standoff last?

  56. Dennis
    April 29th, 2012 at 11:57 | #57

    China’s reasoning that the Scarborough Shoal is part of their territory because it was drawn in a map in the Yuan dynasty as early as 1279 and historically used by Chinese fishermen is illogical. During ancient time, various races, like the Chinese, the Vietnamese, the Spaniards and the Portuguese, claimed various lands and seas that they could place on their map, without the knowledge of the rulers who actually governed these lands.

    The Imperial annals Zhu Fan Zhi (1225) says that during the Song dynasty (960-1279), China traded with the Philippine state of Ma-i (麻逸). At a much later point in history, they even claimed it as part of their territory. However, China did not wrestle control of the Philippines state from the “barbarians.” It was actually the Spaniards, and later the Americans, who actually conquered the Philippines. Based on their ancient claim, should China now assert sovereignty over the Philippines as well? In 1493, the papal bull Dudum siquidem granted rights to the Indian mainland and islands to Spain. Should Spain now also claim that modern India is part of its territory based on this document?

  57. raventhorn
    April 29th, 2012 at 12:35 | #58

    @Dennis

    “During ancient time, various races, like the Chinese, the Vietnamese, the Spaniards and the Portuguese, claimed various lands and seas that they could place on their map, without the knowledge of the rulers who actually governed these lands.”

    well, if they can produce their maps from earlier dates, they would have a good claim.

    “Based on their ancient claim, should China now assert sovereignty over the Philippines as well? In 1493, the papal bull Dudum siquidem granted rights to the Indian mainland and islands to Spain. Should Spain now also claim that modern India is part of its territory based on this document?”

    If the land is already settled, then obviously, the new explorers are not the 1st to “explore” the land. Your own premise of the scenario is illogical.

    And seriously? You are going to reach for a strawman argument as ridiculous as “the Papal bull”?

  58. Dennis
    April 29th, 2012 at 13:09 | #59

    The obvious point is that Filipino fishermen have been fishing in that shoal for centuries. The fact that Chinese fishermen have ventured far away from the mainland a few times and saw it too does not mean it is now theirs. For centuries, various races have asserted that you should only claim as territorial waters those that are at most 200 nautical miles from your own shores. Hainan province is over 600 nautical miles away. Zambales province on the other hand, is only 124 miles away.

    And by claiming international waters (old term: high seas) over 1,000 kilometers from its shores, China is declaring as its own an area where a major part of the world sea trade passes through. That would be infringing on the rights of all the world’s major nations. I would think that is like China trying to take on the whole world. Dan Blumenthal describes it this way “China is attempting to rewrite long-established and accepted international law.”

  59. raventhorn
    April 29th, 2012 at 14:52 | #60

    @Dennis

    “The obvious point is that Filipino fishermen have been fishing in that shoal for centuries. The fact that Chinese fishermen have ventured far away from the mainland a few times and saw it too does not mean it is now theirs. For centuries, various races have asserted that you should only claim as territorial waters those that are at most 200 nautical miles from your own shores. Hainan province is over 600 nautical miles away. Zambales province on the other hand, is only 124 miles away.”

    Distance does not prove frequency of exploration.

    Detailed MAPS do. If it was only Chinese fishermen who ventured “a few times” to that shoal, then I doubt they would have been capable of making detailed maps. And yet, if Filipino fishermen have been there often, then why can’t they come up with earlier maps of the area?

    “And by claiming international waters (old term: high seas) over 1,000 kilometers from its shores, China is declaring as its own an area where a major part of the world sea trade passes through. That would be infringing on the rights of all the world’s major nations. I would think that is like China trying to take on the whole world. Dan Blumenthal describes it this way “China is attempting to rewrite long-established and accepted international law.””

    Not at all. Sovereignty claims based upon uninhabited island is clearly based upon the Law of “1st to Explore”. That has been the International legal norm.

    And China has not declare that no trade shipping can pass through the area. Under UNCLOS, the area would be marked as EEZ of China. And plenty of international trade shipping pass through other EEZ of China.

  60. jxie
    April 29th, 2012 at 15:20 | #61

    @Dennis

    For centuries, various races have asserted that you should only claim as territorial waters those that are at most 200 nautical miles from your own shores. Hainan province is over 600 nautical miles away. Zambales province on the other hand, is only 124 miles away.

    There are so many factual errors in this… This x NM as territorial water, and y NM as EEZ business is very recent, not “for centuries”, and may not even last for centuries. Territorial water is typically limited to 12 NM, not 200 — 200 NM is the limit typical associated with EEZ assuming it doesn’t overlap with others’ claims. BTW Scarborough Shoal can’t be a base to extend EEZ because it’s uninhabitable. If 200 NM is so sacred, will Philippines give up the claims over a few reefs/shoals it had some control over in Spratlys outside of 200 NM from the shore of Philippines?

    Hainan is less than 470 NM away, and YongXing (Woody), which is a tourist spot of China, is less than 300 NM away. Oh, get this, the closest reef/shoal China claims is only 90 NM away.

  61. Dennis
    April 30th, 2012 at 11:09 | #62

    No country has the right to fence of international waters for itself. And that is what China is doing. China’s aggressiveness has already pushed Japan, South Korea, India, and even Australia to increase defense spending. (You can read that from the British magazine “The Economist” April 2012) And that is why the US armed forces are now getting a better welcome in the Philippines, Japan and Australia. The US posture as a peacekeeper is becoming more and more credible because of China’s actions. Even if other Asian nations combine their forces, there are those who argue that this is not enough without the US. India has nuclear weapons, and recently took formal charge of a nuclear submarine (from the Russians). But it is the US which has the most experience, having led, together with the UK, the War on Terror. (Australian troops also participated, of course)

    I know you also don’t like the Americans’ views, but here is what Blumenthal is saying “China’s maritime behavior in East Asia runs contrary to international law and custom as they have been commonly understood for centuries.”(http://the-diplomat.com)

    Of course, people who study in mainland China have a different viewpoint of international law. And I expect that China will become more and more aggressive in defending its proclaimed territorial waters as the years go by. As a student of history however, I am afraid of where this would lead.

  62. raventhorn
    April 30th, 2012 at 16:00 | #63

    @Dennis

    “No country has the right to fence of international waters for itself. And that is what China is doing.”

    if claiming EEZ’s are “fencing off international waters”, then please go chat up with US, Europe, and Japan about that.

    China didn’t invent the concept of EEZ in international law.

  63. jxie
    April 30th, 2012 at 16:14 | #64

    @Dennis

    China claims a large EEZ not a large body of territory water in the South China sea, which means ships, especially commercial ships are free to pass through.

    There are a lot of narratives out there, one of which is Dan Blumenthal’s. Heck even Hitler believed he was doing the great good. You have to look at the real data. China’s defense spending to GDP ratio has gone down consistently since 1980; South Korea’s has steadily gone down; Japan’s has stayed flatline at 1%; India’s has bounced around but the overall is at a downtrend. On the other hand, Australia’s defense budget has been ticking up but the champ has got to be America. As it stands, America has been spending near half of its non-Social Security tax base on military — direct cost (not including pensions, health care benefits. etc.).

  64. Dennis
    May 1st, 2012 at 10:39 | #65

    Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Vietnam do not feel threatened by the US right now. The threat is China. Why would Japan form a military alliance with US and UK even though China is nearby?

    Japan and other countries in Asia don’t think America will steal their territory.

    In Japan’s Isen Shinbun, Hiroshi Kawamoto says: China has begun to dabble in the contested Senkaku Islands – traditionally Japanese territory. At this rate, the entire South China Sea will become Chinese territory. What our country should do is take another look at this U.S.-Japan alliance. Japan’s future development will be impossible without deepening this relationship.

    12NM is territorial waters for rock formations, not habitable land masses. But of course I know that China would insist on its own rules against the whole world. This is mine, that is mine, nothing for all the smaller countries. Japan is not powerful now, unlike in World War II when it conquered China. But it has enough money and technological strength to become powerful again.

    The US may have spent a lot of money when it fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa, but America was supported by the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Pakistan, New Zealand, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, etc.

    Fang Lizhi said that “A rising economic power that violates human rights is a threat to world peace.” Many people, not just in the West, but in Asia, have the same view.

    China claims all the South China Sea, even though everybody knows historical claims are not historical titles under public international law. That is why China would not allow itself to submit to an international tribunal. Sun Tzu, said that “If a battle cannot be won, do not fight it.” China thinks the best way to negotiate is with highly armed gunboats.

    So the whole world watches, forms alliances, and prepares.

  65. colin
    May 1st, 2012 at 12:22 | #66

    @Dennis

    1) Wrong, the threat is not China. The *perceived* threat is China, the perception being manufactured by those of the status quo who do not want to see a competitive China rise. If anything, the threat to a rising Asia is meddling and divide and conquer policies by the US and other developed western powers.

    2) Wrong again. The Senkaku/DiaoYu, if they belong to anyone, belongs to Taiwan. Whether Taiwan is a nation or a province of China is another discussion.

    3) “The US may have spent a lot of money when it fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Horn of Africa, but America was supported by the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Pakistan, New Zealand, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, etc.”

    So what does thsi day about the whole western establishment? It’s easy to say that the whole western backed world is misguided, at best.

    4) Re Fang Lizhi’s comment, give me a break. As if the US and western governments really care about human rights. Trumpeting china’s human rights record while ignoring the absolutely horrendous human rights records of the western powers shows many things about who make such claims. Disingenious. Fallacious. Agenda driven. Ignorant. Hypocritical. Naive. Foolhardy. Gullible… the list is long.

    How many people in the west even know about the 2M who died in the Rwandan genocide? That, in a nutshell, defines western human rights.

    5) “China thinks the best way to negotiate is with highly armed gunboats” Give me a break. You’re just spreading misinformation and outright lies here.

    6)”So the whole world watches, forms alliances, and prepares.”. Shows your duplicity here. Like many china-bashers, you really want to see some kind of end-game conflict or chaos for China. So much for human rights as excuses then, huh?

  66. May 1st, 2012 at 12:59 | #67

    This is the 1947 edition of Chinese territory in the South China. Nobody is interested in this area until oil and gas is discovered in the 1970s. It is impossible for any Chinese govn’t be it the PRC or ROC to say otherwise.

    http://www.kongfz.cn/5130751/

  67. jxie
    May 2nd, 2012 at 06:18 | #68

    @Dennis

    Extended from habitable land mass, territorial waters are limited to 12 NM also — other than internal waters, which are case by case. What amazes me a bit is your persistence. so far most of the foundations of your knowledge and information have been proven factually incorrect. For anybody with a decent IQ and intellectual curiosity, s/he should step back and re-examine his/her knowledge and worldview up to that point.

    Japan has stuck in a fiscal funk that even if it wants to increase defense spending, it really can’t. On the other hand, South Korea has been running fiscal surpluses more often than not in the past decade or so. If it truly feels threatened by China, it could’ve easily increased the defense spending. It’s a much longer discussion on the dynamics among 2 Koreas, China and the US, but in short the younger and the better educated South Koreans are considerably less pro-US.

    The problem is, you don’t seem to understand those shoals/reefs, some even under the water in low tide, were never inhabited, which means nobody has a really solid claim over any one. At the very least, China was the first one who officially claimed them. They all of sudden have become contentious because of the potential economic benefit of owning them, i.e. gas/oil and fishing right in the associated EEZ. South Korea and Japan have ongoing disputes. Other than China, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all have overlapping claims. Heck, even Japan and Australia have dispute over Japan’s whaling operation in the Tasman Sea. If China behaves in a threatening manner — not just portrayed as behaving in a threatening manner — these capable neighboring nations will naturally want to spend more to defend themselves. So far the only nations in the whole West Pacific oceanic territorial disputes, have recently increased their respective defense budgets (to GDP), are curiously two Anglophone nations that have nothing to do with the territorial disputes.

  68. raventhorn
    May 2nd, 2012 at 16:29 | #69

    @Dennis

    “Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Vietnam do not feel threatened by the US right now. The threat is China. Why would Japan form a military alliance with US and UK even though China is nearby?”

    Because Japan has its own “fenced off” EEZ to protect.

    Like I said, go complain about EEZ with Japan. EEZ’s legitimacy are not based upon how “threatened” some nations “feel”.

    Nazi Germany was “feeling” threatened all the time. Doesn’t justify what they did because of their “feelings”.

    Every Warmongerer justifies based upon “feelings of being threatened”.

  69. pug_ster
    May 3rd, 2012 at 16:12 | #70

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsRQYk0Yxrg

    The issue with ASEAN nations going against China started when Obama president. Heck, the best thing happened to China in the last 10 years was ironically Bush’s war on Terror because the US was causing trouble in Iraq and Afghanistan while ignoring southeast Asia altogether. China ‘took advantage’ by sending diplomats to the ASEAN nations promoting relations between them. Did you hear news about border disputes, China ‘bullying’ other Asian countries between 2001-2008? Of course not. When Obama became president, the fun was over for China. You can believe Western Propaganda if you want, but China is not the aggressor here.

  70. zack
    May 3rd, 2012 at 20:01 | #71

    @pug_ster
    obama with his childhood in the asia pacific would naturally identify with asia and want to insert the US into asia; it’s no secret that his presidency has decided to ‘pivot’ towards Asia. people like Obama want to break with previous practice and do something revolutionary to get their names in history books and the such and considering how much american presidents are lionised, it’s no surprise the American media are getting in line with his policies.

    So what would a US ‘reinserting itself’ into the Asia Pacific mean? more tensions, more military buildup, perhaps even minor skirmishes which would nevertheless beggar the region and ensure the continued dominance of America over the region, even as she declines?

    If China plays its cards right, she can make the US as the outsider and the bad guy and the destabiliser, and even isolate elements such as the filipinos who want war. But let’s take a radical thought since Washington is dominated by radicals like hilary clinton who’s in favour of military containment of China, despite the drain on US resources; if it should come to war, then a blow should be hard and decisively struck such that there is no doubt that China, not America, not India, not Japan, not South Korea, not Russia is the undisputed hegemon of east asia. If the Americans are so committed to a world war, then i believe priority should be placed on taking Alaska, Guam and Hawaii in perpetuity for China. Think i’m being hawkish? No more than Pentagon planners or pundits who wargame a NATO led invasion of China designed to, in their words ‘ensure the non survivability of The Chinese Communist Party’. Well, this wargame of mine is designed to ensure the ‘non survivability of The American government’s influence in east asia’-now that’s a step above advocating the destruction of the American government, now isn’t it?

    And like those analysts, i just quoted, i will finish with the caveat that all this is a worst case scenario and that Washington simply respects China’s soverignty and resists resorting to gunboat diplomacy as America has proven itself to be so addicted to using.

  71. pug_ster
    May 3rd, 2012 at 22:01 | #72

    @zack

    The ASEAN nations are using China and the US for their own benefit. The ASEAN nations use the US as leverage on territorial disputes against China while being China’s main partner on Trade. The US gets a seat at the table on ASEAN talks to do its own China bashing. China knows that not to take on the US militarily but US knows that they have nothing to offer the ASEAN nations economically. Thus China gained tremendous advantage during the Bush years made many trade pacts with the ASEAN nations. So it is not in anybody’s interest to go to war with each other. The US will do their usual chest beating and have their war games with these ASEAN nations. Then US will go away while China use diplomacy to gain trust with the ASEAN nations.

    I think China knows this kind of cold war mentality from the US is long term fight. China is getting stronger and gaining more influence within the ASEAN nations while the US is getting weaker and it seems that the only thing the US can offer these ASEAN nations is ‘security.’ US’ economic strength is due to globalization but this globalization is starting to rear its ugly head. One day the US’ economy will collapse under its own debt and by then, I would not be surprised that US military will collapse also (post USSR style), leaving a big advantage to China to provide ‘security’ within the ASEAN nations instead of the US.

  72. Fabius
    May 3rd, 2012 at 22:38 | #73

    @Allen
    Mao was extremely reluctant to recognize outer Mongolia as a sovereign nation, but it was largely Soviet support for an independent Mongolia in ’24 and then KMT co-operation with the Soviets to recognize Mongolia in ’45 that forced him to do so. Molotov thought Mao still had intentions of re-taking Mongolia well into the 50′s. See Michael H. Hunt’s ‘The Genesis of Chinese Communist Foreign Policy.’ And the Republic of China claims Mongolia as part of its territory even to-day.

    Like the Germans before the War, many in the Chinese government to-day are assiduous students of history. And as many Germans thought of themselves in the 30′s, the Chinese hold that any place which was once Chinese — that is, that was occupied by people who are or were ever even remotely in the so-called Chinese sphere, or which can be geologically subordinated to the Chinese landmass — rightfully belongs to Red China to-day. The Germans, too, felt they were morally justified in ‘re-uniting’ what was ‘rightfully’ theirs, and they very much enjoyed keeping their border disputes bilateral.

  73. jxie
    May 4th, 2012 at 06:49 | #74

    @Fabius

    You are living in an upside-down world and you are far from alone.

    Nazi Germany first took over a German-speaking country (Austria) and then some German-speaking area with sizable ethnic Germans population in other country (Sudetenland). They went there with the pretension of protecting the oppressed German people. If you have to draw a parallel to that in China, China would need to talk about taking over Northern to Northeastern Myanmar, a part of or all of Thailand, and a part of or all of Vietnam. When Vietnam and Indonesia expulsed ethnic Chinese, it would have been a good time for maybe “Operation An Nan Freedom”. (An Nan is the old Chinese name for Northern Vietnam). Of course, the insignia can’t have a type of eagle on it. It needs to be replaced with a dragon, I suppose?

    Pretty soon Nazi Germany invaded other countries without the pretension of protecting oppressed Germans — it’s call Lebensraum, taking over other people’s land for a greater people’s living space, by wars and by killing if necessary, after which rounding up the remaining ones and sending to small confined areas. Hmm, I wonder who they learned that from.

    It’s actually not that hard to understand. China has been a civilization-state, without a properly defined border in the modern nationstate sense. Qing was the last Chinese empire that got dragged into the modern-day nationstate arrangements. Whatever lands Qing and later ROC signed away, PRC recognized. Effectively PRC even recognized the McMahon line, the base of which the Simla Accord, the ROC representative didn’t even sign!

  74. May 5th, 2012 at 00:04 | #75

    @Jherskie

    then bring it to ITLOS – this is why the tribunal exists in the first place. any reason cited not to do so is basically just excuses.

    You have mentioned something similar numerous times in this thread. Please re-read the post. The ITLOS doesn’t exist to resolve issues not covered under the UNCLOS.

  75. MatthewTan
    May 7th, 2012 at 06:29 | #76

    Manila Standard Today (April 28th, 2012)

    It belongs to China
    By Victor N. Arches II

    The Scarborough Shoal does belong to China which discovered it and drew it in a map as early as 1279 during the Yuan Dynasty. Chinese fishermen, from both the Mainland and Taiwan, have since used it. As a matter of fact, Guo Shoujing, (the Chinese astronomer, engineer and mathematician who worked under the Mongol ruler, Kublai Khan) performed surveying of the South China Sea, and the surveying point was the Scarborough Shoal which is considered part of the Zhongsha Islands (renamed Huangyan Island in 1983).

    By contrast, the “old maps” being relied upon by our Department of Foreign Affairs in its spurious claim on the same territory were drawn up only in 1820, or 541 years after China’s. I am surprised that Senator Edgardo Angara—supposedly a renowned lawyer—can claim that a map drawn 5 centuries and 4 decades after, takes precedence over the much earlier map of China.

    But I am all the more astonished that Fr. Joaquin Bernas, in his April 22 article in another newspaper, being one of the main framers of the 1987 Constitution, uses the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as his basis to defend the Philippine claim. This, despite and after acknowledging the fact that, indeed, “the Scarborough Shoal is OUTSIDE THE LIMITS set by the Treaty of Paris for Philippine territory.” What kind of double-speak is that?

    So, what exactly was the territory we declared independence from the US in 1946? Why is it that NONE of our constitutions, past and present, from 1899, 1935, 1943, 1973, 1986 and 1987, include either the Spratlys or the Scarborough Shoal within our declared national territory? Where, or from whom, did we, all of a sudden, acquire title to these? Out of thin air?

    In the late 1970s, China organized many scientific expeditions in the Shoal and around that area. In fact, in 1980, a stone marker reading “South China Sea Scientific Expedition” was installed by China on the South Rock. This Chinese marker was removed, without authority, by the Philippines in 1997.

    All official maps published by the Philippines until the 1990s excluded both the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal from its territorial boundaries. Our own Republic Act No. 3046, passed by our Congress and approved in 1961, stopped us from our claim. Yet, we had the temerity to amend this law on March 10, 2009, after 48 long years, to unilaterally include the disputed territories.

    But what takes the cake is the fact that China holds three international treaties in support of its claim over the territories in question—namely, the 1898 Treaty of Paris between the US and Spain, the 1900 Treaty of Washington between Spain and the US, and the 1930 Treaty between Great Britain and the US, all limiting Philippine territorial limits to the 118th degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich.

    On the other hand, the basis of the Philippine claim is restricted to proximity, relying solely on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. As far as I know, a mere “convention” cannot overturn or supersede a treaty or an agreement reached between colonial powers. And even if it were considered a “law”, it cannot be made to take effect retroactively.

    Whom are we fooling?

    Mr. Arches is from San Juan City. He is a retired investment and merchant banker, a retired Certified Public Accountant, and a retired economist who loves to dabble in history and political science, among many other interests.

    (Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on /2012/April/28)

  76. Roman
    May 7th, 2012 at 10:24 | #77

    @jxie

    To jxie:–

    I will ignore the feeble attempt at an ad hominem jab and say simply that I am happy to live in a world that takes neither up nor down for granted, thank you.

    ‘If you have to draw a parallel to that in China, China would need to talk about taking over Northern to Northeastern Myanmar, a part of or all of Thailand, and a part of or all of Vietnam.’

    I think Hsinkiang and Tibet speak for themselves. Manchuria would, too, but the massive Han migrations thither, which were encouraged as a form of colonization by the Ch’ing, blotted out its native autonomy. It was the paucity of Han in Mongolia by the beginning of the XXth century that allowed it to be pulled into the Russian, rather than Chinese, sphere of influence. Beyond this, the PRC has of course fought numerous border wars and bickered bitterly with the Soviets about the extent of Chinese control into Central Asia. China’s foreign policy since the end of the Ch’ing empire, as Hunt also observes, has been to restore to Chinese control any and all lands held by any Chinese dynasty.

    As to rounding up and executing entire populations of vanquished enemies, that was common practice until fairly recently throughout all of the supposedly civilized world. If you want a more recent historical instance of some thing approaching premeditated genocide, though, you might look to the Ch’ien-lung emperor’s treatment of the Dzungar people.

    Otherwise, most of what you say rather misses the point. Firstly, the People’s Republic of China is not a ‘civilization-state,’ because, to make a very complicated argument much too simple, China as a state is not interchangeable with China as a civilization. Granted, there is over-lap; but the ambiguity of the extent to which a State represents or embodies a so-called Civilization is one which European imperialists capitalized on amply in the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries, and I think there is a strong argument that, since joining the society of nation-states, the Chinese state has likewise capitalized on this ambiguity. However, it would be inappropriate to consider even modern China as a nation-state in the Westphalian sense. In fact, with the disintegration of the USSR, China became the last remaining territorial empire in the world (if you ignore a handful of scattered European possessions in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, anyways).

    So, no, ‘China,’ however you want to define it, is not a ‘civilization-state,’ because the civilization and state of China are not conterminous.

    No doubt the conclusion of a childish and prejudiced mind — for example, one which would unblushingly ask ‘what are the most important Chinese values and why they might be better than those in the West’ — would hold that it is the right of the Chinese state to expand its sovereignty until state and ‘civilization’ are conterminous. That is imperialism. While there are arguments to be made in favor of imperialism, those arguments could not be relevant to anyone whose principles are of human dignity, the worth of the individual, and self-determination.

    Really, though, my main point, which it seems you missed, is that apportioning disputed territory on the basis of perceived historical possession thereof is dangerous, especially when one relies on the CPC’s less than disinterested assessment of Chinese history and historical claims. Any country with an official, government-mandated history will have a grossly distorted view of its historical privileges. That goes for the Philippines as well as China. Considering the extreme fallibility of both parties, however, the only reasonable solution is third-party arbitration.

  77. MatthewTan
    May 7th, 2012 at 12:05 | #78

    What is going on in Asia and ASEAN is an information war waged by US on China. Refers to the thread:

    Russia Today: “Hillary Clinton: US Losing Information War to Alternative Media”

    and the bbs.chinadaily article:

    “Clinton declares Information War on China”

  78. jxie
    May 7th, 2012 at 21:54 | #79

    @Roman

    Fabius/Roman (can you stick to one handle?), first if you consider calling you living in an upside down world as an “ad hominem jab”, aren’t you too delicate a flower? You should avoid debating in Internet in general because it’s a “harsh” place.

    Manchuria would, too, but the massive Han migrations thither, which were encouraged as a form of colonization by the Ch’ing, blotted out its native autonomy.

    At the risk of offending you again, you have no idea how silly this sounds. The problem as I see, is you don’t know much about the Chinese history. Even the authors of the precious few books you read about China, aren’t much experts either. Chinese is a hard language to learn as a second language, and the quantity of the historical records in Chinese, is simply mind-boggling.

    Hans had been migrating to what’s later known as Manchuria in Ming, and some even became Manchu bannermen. Manchu was a new concept consisting of mostly Jurchens plus other tribes including some Hans, in late Ming started by Nurhaci.

    Qing was founded by Manchus. The Manchu rulers worried that one day they might be forced back to the north of the Great Wall. They prohibited Hans migrating to Manchuria until in mid-Qing when Qing found the encroachment of Russians a more pressing concern. So you see, who are the colonizers in this case? The Manchu rulers? The Han migrants? The Manchu natives, who BTW were treated better than the Han migrants?

    China’s foreign policy since the end of the Ch’ing empire, as Hunt also observes, has been to restore to Chinese control any and all lands held by any Chinese dynasty.

    Li Bai (for your benefit, in Wade-Giles Li Po), considered by many the greatest Chinese poet ever, was born in a Tang military outpost in modern-day Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan. Do you see China claims those lands? No, not any Chinese dynasty. Qing minus the lands formally signed away.

    As to rounding up and executing entire populations of vanquished enemies, that was common practice until fairly recently throughout all of the supposedly civilized world. If you want a more recent historical instance of some thing approaching premeditated genocide, though, you might look to the Ch’ien-lung emperor’s treatment of the Dzungar people.

    Qing was without a doubt a cruel dynasty, inward and outward. Mongols were even more brutal — they practically killed off a sizable portion of the Jin people, all Tanguts (Western Xia) and all Baghdadians. Dynasties founded by majority Han people after Qin, were considerably more benign with the core Confucian values. There is the King’s Way (王道) vs. Hegemony (霸道). Qing and Yuan by any large were hegemonic — not the formula to have a long-lasting civilization since sooner or later you will get weaker.

    BTW, the Dzungar, a Mongolian tribe, were pretty nasty people themselves — if you care for that part of the history.

    Firstly, the People’s Republic of China is not a ‘civilization-state,’ because, to make a very complicated argument much too simple, China as a state is not interchangeable with China as a civilization.

    Fair point… but I was hardly debating that.

    China became the last remaining territorial empire in the world (if you ignore a handful of scattered European possessions in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, anyways).

    Well is the USA a “territorial empire”? Was it ever? If it was and it isn’t now, when did it stop being one?

    Considering the extreme fallibility of both parties, however, the only reasonable solution is third-party arbitration.

    Maybe, in an ideal world. Spanish judge Garzon recently investigated W. Bush and 6 advisers on the Gitmo torture case (Spanish nationals were involved). If Garzon found W. Bush guilty, would the US surrender Bush to the Spanish court? In 2004, a Texas court had a ruling on the Yukos bankruptcy case brought by some former Yukos shareholders, barring Yukos assets being sold off in Russia. Did Russia follow the Texas court’s ruling, or rather in Putin’s word, “the lady’s” ruling (the judge was a woman)?

  79. zack
    May 8th, 2012 at 01:21 | #80

    if the rising sinophobic sentiment fanned by the inept Aquinos and several Filipino legislators and newspapers in the Phillipines gets to the point where pogroms and violence against ethnic Chinese filipinos or Chinese citizens occurs, then obviously China should address these crimes militarily.

  80. May 9th, 2012 at 00:22 | #81

    “It belongs to China: Philippine media”
    Updated: 2012-05-09 10:52

    By Victor N. Arches II (Manila Standard Today)
    http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2012-05/09/content_15247142.htm

    The Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island) does belong to China which discovered it and drew it in a map as early as 1279 during the Yuan Dynasty. Chinese fishermen, from both the Mainland and Taiwan, have since used it. As a matter of fact, Guo Shoujing, (the Chinese astronomer, engineer and mathematician who worked under the Mongol ruler, Kublai Khan) performed surveying of the South China Sea, and the surveying point was the Scarborough Shoal which is considered part of the Zhongsha Islands (renamed Huangyan Island in 1983).

    By contrast, the “old maps” being relied upon by our Department of Foreign Affairs in its spurious claim on the same territory were drawn up only in 1820, or 541 years after China’s. I am surprised that Senator Edgardo Angara – supposedly a renowned lawyer – can claim that a map drawn 5 centuries and 4 decades after, takes precedence over the much earlier map of China.

    But I am all the more astonished that Fr. Joaquin Bernas, in his April 22 article in another newspaper, being one of the main framers of the 1987 Constitution, uses the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as his basis to defend the Philippine claim. This, despite and after acknowledging the fact that, indeed, “the Scarborough Shoal is OUTSIDE THE LIMITS set by the Treaty of Paris for Philippine territory.” What kind of double-speak is that?

    So, what exactly was the territory we declared independence from the US in 1946? Why is it that NONE of our constitutions, past and present, from 1899, 1935, 1943, 1973, 1986 and 1987, include either the Spratlys or the Scarborough Shoal within our declared national territory? Where, or from whom, did we, all of a sudden, acquire title to these? Out of thin air?

    In the late 1970s, China organized many scientific expeditions in the Shoal and around that area. In fact, in 1980, a stone marker reading “South China Sea Scientific Expedition” was installed by China on the South Rock. This Chinese marker was removed, without authority, by the Philippines in 1997.

    All official maps published by the Philippines until the 1990s excluded both the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal from its territorial boundaries. Our own Republic Act No. 3046, passed by our Congress and approved in 1961, stopped us from our claim. Yet, we had the temerity to amend this law on March 10, 2009, after 48 long years, to unilaterally include the disputed territories.

    But what takes the cake is the fact that China holds three international treaties in support of its claim over the territories in question—namely, the 1898 Treaty of Paris between the US and Spain, the 1900 Treaty of Washington between Spain and the US, and the 1930 Treaty between Great Britain and the US, all limiting Philippine territorial limits to the 118th degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich.
    On the other hand, the basis of the Philippine claim is restricted to proximity, relying solely on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. As far as I know, a mere “convention” cannot overturn or supersede a treaty or an agreement reached between colonial powers. And even if it were considered a “law”, it cannot be made to take effect retroactively.

    Whom are we fooling?

    Posted April 28th, 2012 by Manila Standard Today & filed under Opinion.

  81. May 9th, 2012 at 00:30 | #82

    @YinYang

    I think MatthewTan beat you to it in Comment 76

  82. May 9th, 2012 at 06:32 | #83

    A 2006 map published by the Philippines showed that Huangyan Dao is outside its territory. Go to 6:03 and take a look.

    http://big5.ifeng.com/gate/big5/v.ifeng.com/news/opinion/201205/5918599c-bf5e-439b-818e-c14c2456ddc1.shtml

    This is the detailed map published by ROC in 1947:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/43/1947_Nanhai_Zhudao.png

  83. May 10th, 2012 at 01:18 | #84

    Following up on this previous coment

    Here is an article that validates my sense where the Filipinos see things.

    China claims virtually all of the South China Sea as its territory, even waters close to the coasts of the Philippines and other Asian countries.

    Since April 8 it has been locked in a stand-off with the Philippines over the disputed Scarborough Shoal, with both sides maintaining ships in the area to assert sovereignty.

    The shoal sits about 230 kilometers (140 miles) from the Philippines’ main island of Luzon. The nearest major Chinese landmass is 1,200 kilometres northwest of the shoal, according to Filipino navy maps.

    The real dispute is this: China’s only legitimate claim is to its contiguous landmass. The territories in dispute are tiny islands / rocks close to the Phillipine main island. Given the disputed territory is so far away from Chinese’ “natural” boundary, the Chinese claim is illegitimate.

    This is basically what I discussed in my previous comment…

  84. colin
    May 10th, 2012 at 11:24 | #85

    Interesting who benefits from this bickering. US potentially gets to sell more arms to PH, Also fewer Chinese tourists to PH, some who might go to the US instead.

    Divide and conquer at its finest. I don’t blame the US for playing this “great game” to its own advantage. I would blame the victim parties for failing to see it what is happening.

  85. May 11th, 2012 at 08:01 | #86

    @colin
    Unfortunately, the Philippines is not like Taiwan. Pretty much all US military equipment goes there in aid form so it costs the US taxpayers.

    http://globalnation.inquirer.net/16771/us-spent-507m-in-military-aid-to-philippines

  86. May 16th, 2012 at 10:52 | #87

    “Island dispute may soon be resolved: Aquino”
    By Cui Haipei (China Daily)
    08:29, May 16, 2012

    http://english.people.com.cn/90883/7817871.html

    Philippine President Benigno Aquino said that the Huangyan Island dispute might soon be resolved as he gave assurances that discussions with China had taken a clearer direction.

    “Our discussions with China have never stopped. There is direction now, whereas before the talks were not as clear. Now there appears to be some clarity in the talks,” the president told reporters on Monday.

    “It’s too early to say the situation has already cleared, but at least we are now moving nearer toward resolving the situation using diplomatic means,” he said, adding that Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario was given “terms of reference” by various legal consultants on how to resolve the issue.

    Aquino also implied that it might not bring the case before international courts on the Law of the Sea, Philippine media said.

    Tensions in the South China Sea escalated on April 10 when a Philippine warship harassed 12 Chinese fishing vessels that had sailed near the island to seek shelter from inclement weather.

    Experts said Aquino’s comments reflected that the Philippine side had softened its position. The Philippines is believed to have been under pressure from both the United States and its own people, said Ren Yuanzhe, a researcher at China Foreign Affairs University.

    China, through Defense Minister Liang Guanglie’s visit to the United States and the Sino-US strategic and economic dialogue that recently ended, has informed the United States of its position in the South China Sea, and the United States does not want to see the situation deteriorate, he said.

    The Philippine people have also put pressure on their government out of fear that trade prospects would be negatively affected if tensions intensified, and it would be a disaster for ordinary citizens, Ren said.

    China is the third-largest trade partner of the Philippines, and the Philippines is China’s sixth-largest trade partner among ASEAN members. Bilateral trade grew fast over the past decade and reached $30 billion in 2011, according to the Chinese embassy in the Philippines.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Tuesday repeatedly stated that the Chinese government has sought to resolve the dispute through diplomatic negotiations and urged the Philippine side to respect China’s territorial sovereignty over Huangyan Island and return to the right track.

    Ren said each party should learn from this incident and consider establishing a crisis management mechanism for the South China Sea to avoid potential conflicts.

    Also on Tuesday, China Southern Airlines, one of the three major Chinese airlines, announced that it is cutting flights to the Philippines as tourist numbers have shrunk amid tensions over Huangyan Island.

    The company will reduce its flights between South China’s Guangzhou city and Manila to just once a day on certain dates from May 26 to June 30. The airline normally operates two flights daily on the route.

    A spokesman for the airline said the adjustment was made in accordance with the cancellation of “a large number of tourist groups” lately.

    Major Chinese travel agencies canceled tours to the Philippines earlier this month after the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines warned Chinese citizens of “massive anti-China demonstrations”. The Chinese tourism administration on Sunday said almost all Chinese mainlanders on group tours would leave the Philippines by Wednesday.

    Xinhua contributed to this story.

  87. Zack
    May 16th, 2012 at 12:11 | #88

    @YinYang
    As far as i’m concerned, the filipinos, especially under Aquino, lack credibility. Until we start seeing something resembling an act of good faith from the Aquino administration, such as respect for China’s soverignty, then i’ll accept that the filipinos are genuine about wanting to resolve this crisis rather than prolonging it as a favour to their cronies in washington in their bid to reinsert themselves back into east asia.

  88. Fabius Martialis
    June 2nd, 2012 at 20:23 | #89

    @jxie

    You are admittedly adept at regurgitating largely irrelevant narratives, which indeed lends your rambling reply the appearance of a sound and thoughtful refutation. If you want another source, I suggest you glance over an article, available on-line, by Rose Maria Li, entitled “Migrations to China’s Northern Frontier, 1953-1982.” While she concerns herself primarily with migrations encouraged by the Communist government, she does also attest to the historical policy of securing border areas by inducing artificial migrations. I shall not summarize it further for you.

    I believe that our brief discussion may be neatly wrapt up with a phrase from Catullus which, delicate flower that he was, very sensitively conveys the essence of the matter—

    Pedicabo ego te et irrvmabo,
    Ixie pathice et cinaede,
    Qvi me ex versicvlis meis pvtasti,
    quod svnt mollicvli, parvm pudicvm…

    I am no poet, but the sentiment is no less movingly apposite. Let me know if you should be unable to translate it.

  89. June 2nd, 2012 at 22:00 | #90

    @Fabius Martialis

    Quite a culus you are, literally and figuratively, aren’t you?

    Thank goodness for the Internet… but which one of your previous assertions is supported by Li’s article? Like this one?

    Manchuria would, too, but the massive Han migrations thither, which were encouraged as a form of colonization by the Ch’ing, blotted out its native autonomy.

    Look, there are a lot of nuances in the history, and nobody is pretending knowing them all. By suggesting that the Manchu rulers in Qing/Ch’ing sent Han migrations to where later known as Manchuria, as a form of colonization, you are just so far off a level that we can engage a meaningful dialogue.

  90. Black Pheonix
    June 3rd, 2012 at 08:03 | #91

    @Fabius Martialis

    “While she concerns herself primarily with migrations encouraged by the Communist government, she does also attest to the historical policy of securing border areas by inducing artificial migrations.”

    I don’t see how that’s somehow wrong.

    “Securing border” with migration is not “invasion”.

    It’s far better than migration to take over an entire continent.

  91. Sigmar
    June 3rd, 2012 at 08:12 | #92

    Indeed, people moving from one place to another of their land, within their borders, is completely natural, as it is well within their rights to do so. And of course migrations are artificial, they are done by humans, for human purposes.

  92. Black Pheonix
    June 3rd, 2012 at 08:39 | #93

    @Sigmar

    Of course, if China is historically threatened by invaders from the North, and border disputes on the other frontiers, of course, China must naturally respond to such threats by “securing the border” areas via policies that encouraged artificial migrations.

    If for no other reason than to practically make up for the loss of population due to border conflicts and invasions.

    Mongol invaders caused massive population loss across China, China is somehow sinister in wanting to put people back into border areas where the Mongols invaded??

    I think Fabius is expecting China just to crawl back year after year, and just surrender territories.

    Well, he’s just being unrealistic. and China has no need for such moral superiority that has no practical basis in history.

  93. Sigmar
    June 3rd, 2012 at 10:40 | #94

    Agree, in fact China is being moral in defending her frontiers and the livelihoods of her people within.

  94. December 8th, 2013 at 11:11 | #95

    A good clarification of China’s claim in the South China Sea.

    http://v.ifeng.com/news/world/201312/01c8be22-8733-41f3-92df-b959d01fc6c2.shtml

  95. AK
    March 8th, 2014 at 22:49 | #96

    @Navigator
    “does this mean Americas claims can also extend out to the moon?”

    The short answer is no. International law and treaties governing space (that’s right — we actually have space treaties) consider celestial objects the “common heritage of mankind.” They argue that space should benefit everyone, and that all peoples should share free access to celestial bodies. Article II of the 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (aka the Outer Space Treaty), settles the issue clearly:

    “Outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”

    ========

    Please don’t try to confuse people.

  96. June 7th, 2014 at 00:53 | #97

    http://www.bjreview.com.cn/world/txt/2014-04/21/content_614465.htm

    A Sea of False Accusations
    The Philippines’ legal challenge over South China Sea disputes is untenable
    By Cao Qun

    Last year, the Philippines instituted arbitral proceedings against China over maritime disputes in the South China Sea. The case appeared to have entered a new phase when Manila submitted a 4,000-page memorial filing to the arbitral tribunal on March 30.

    The latest move of the Philippines, in truth, is merely the starting point for resolving the issue of whether the tribunal has jurisdiction over the arbitration case. In accordance with Article 25 of the Rules of Procedure adopted by the arbitral tribunal, if China does not appear before the tribunal, the tribunal shall invite written arguments from the Philippines on, or pose questions regarding, specific issues which it considers have not been canvassed or have been inadequately canvassed in the pleadings submitted by the Philippines. The Philippines shall make a supplemental written submission within three months, which shall be communicated to China for comments. The latter’s comments will then be submitted within three months of the communication. Therefore, whether the case will finally be accepted and heard by the tribunal is still far from certain.

    In response to the move, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said China does not accept the Philippines’ submission of the disputes for international arbitration. “On issues concerning disputes over sovereignty of islands and reefs and delimitation of maritime boundaries, China has all along adhered to settling disputes through direct negotiations with countries concerned,” said a ministry spokesman.

    Nine-dash line

    Under Article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China declared that it does not accept compulsory procedures relating to sea boundary delimitations in 2006. But the Philippines insisted that the arbitral tribunal have jurisdiction over the claims the country has asserted in the belief that its claims do not fall within the excepted category of disputes. In these circumstances, pursuant to Article 9 of Annex VII to the UNCLOS, the arbitral tribunal must demonstrate not only that it has jurisdiction over the disputes but also that the Philippines’ claims are well founded in fact and law before making its award.

    Though Philippines’ arbitral proceedings against China are carefully packaged, they come down to disputes concerning maritime delimitations involving the concurrent consideration of unsettled sovereignty disputes over insular land territory—issues that are not covered by the UNCLOS. The Philippines doubted the legitimacy of the “nine-dash line” claimed by China in the South China Sea, and asserted South China Sea maritime disputes should be judged by the UNCLOS. But the fact is, under the principle of “non-retroactivity of treaties” enshrined in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties adopted in 1969, the UNCLOS, which came into force in 1994, cannot deny China’s “U-shape line” published almost half a century ago.

    Moreover, since the Chinese Government has so far not made a clear interpretation of the nine-dash line, the logic behind the Philippines’ accusation that the line does not conform to the UNCLOS is questionable. Currently, there are several different interpretations over the nine-dash line within China’s academic circles. The Philippine side may ask China to give an official explanation before making its comments. However, Manila chose to distort China’s claim, saying China has claimed the sovereignty of the whole South China Sea and made that the precondition for negotiations.

    China has reiterated it has sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters, but never claimed sovereignty over all waters within the nine-dash line. For instance, in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in May 2009, the Chinese Government stated that “China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters, and enjoys sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the relevant waters as well as the seabed and subsoil thereof.” From a legal perspective, while having sovereignty over its internal waters and territorial waters, a country can enjoy sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelf. Therefore, “adjacent waters” in the letter should be interpreted as territorial waters, whereas “relevant waters as well as the seabed and subsoil thereof” refer to China’s EEZ and continental shelf.

    EEZ claims

    The Philippines also argued that China’s sovereignty claim over some low-tide elevations or submerged features such as Meiji Reef, Ximen Reef, Nanxun Reef and Zhubi Reef violates the UNCLOS, which says submerged features not above sea level at high tide are part of seabed and cannot be subject to the sovereignty of a state. However, China released its nine-dash line long before the UNCLOS entered into force. The international law community at that time distinguished seabed and subsoil from waters in the high seas. They essentially deemed that the seabed and subsoil can be occupied. For instance, the eighth edition of Oppenheim’s International Law published in 1955 said that states’ exploitation of seabed resources through the activities of their people had become an international practice.

    In the 1940s and 1950s, especially after Washington issued the Truman Proclamations in 1945, there were many cases of countries claiming rights over seabed and subsoil in the high seas. Truman Proclamation 2667 said the U.S. Government “regards the natural resources of the subsoil and sea bed of the continental shelf beneath the high seas but contiguous to the coasts of the United States as appertaining to the United States, subject to its jurisdiction and control.” Truman Proclamation 2668 vowed to establish conservation zones in those areas to protect fishery resources. Therefore, it is unfair to question China’s “historic title” over the submerged features within the nine-dash line that have been officially identified by China.

    It is worth noting that the low-tide elevations or submerged features the Philippines mentioned are all located within the EEZs of larger islands. Thus, the Philippine accusation that China claims too many waters is groundless. In a recent article published in RSIS Commentaries titled The South China Sea Disputes: Formula for a Paradigm Shift?, scholars Robert Beckman and Clive Schofield wrote that China could limit its EEZ claim to just the 12 largest islands in Nansha Archipelago. They all have vegetation and in some cases roads and structures have been built on them. Therefore, they are “islands” entitled in principle to EEZ and continental shelf rights of their own under the UNCLOS. The two authors pointed out that while it may appear that using only the larger disputed islands to generate its EEZ claim would entail a “loss” of potential maritime areas to China, the impact would actually be minimal because the islands are grouped in close proximity to each other, allowing a broad sweep of EEZ claims. They argued that claiming only the larger islands will not limit China’s maritime reach significantly, but would bring the country’s claim more in line with international law.

    Furthermore, the Philippines has failed to fulfill the obligation to exchange views with China on the disputes. Article 283 of the UNCLOS says that when a dispute arises between state parties concerning the interpretation or application of the convention, the parties shall proceed expeditiously to an exchange of views regarding its settlement by negotiation or other peaceful means. And in accordance with Article 286 of the convention, if the Philippines fails to fulfill this obligation, it has no right to subject the disputes to compulsory procedures. In fact, the Philippines knows the importance of this obligation, and often regards diplomatic consultations on sovereignty disputes involving Huangyan Island and Meiji Reef as evidence that it has fulfilled the obligation. As previously mentioned, arbitration under the convention should not address any dispute concerning sovereignty over land territory. The Philippines also states explicitly in its notification and statement that it does not “seek in this arbitration a determination of which party enjoys sovereignty over the islands claimed by both of them.” It therefore has no reason whatsoever to use diplomatic consultations on sovereignty disputes as evidence of fulfilling the obligation to exchange views.

    In conclusion, the Philippines’ push for international arbitration against China over maritime disputes in the South China Sea is suspected of abusing the procedures of the UNCLOS. It also seeks to damage China’s image by deliberately distorting the country’s stance. Since the arbitration items the Philippines submitted either go against facts or international law, or involve disputes that China has excluded from arbitration procedures, the arbitral tribunal should conclude that it has no jurisdiction over the case.

    The author is an assistant research fellow with the China Institute of International Studies

  97. June 7th, 2014 at 01:36 | #98

    https://ph.news.yahoo.com/blogs/the-inbox/china-withdraw-unclos-un-court-decides-favor-ph-153936547.html

    By Ellen Tordesillas

    The possibility of China pulling out of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has been mentioned in informal discussions among foreign affairs experts and observers but it was the first time that a Chinese scholar said it in public.

    Shen Dingli, speaking to reporters after his speech in a forum “What is to be done?: Resolving Maritime Disputes in Southeast Asia” organized by the Angara Centre for Law and Economics at Marriott Hotel last Thursday, said it was a mistake for China to have joined the 1982 UNCLOS, “an international treaty that provides a regulatory framework for the use of the world’s seas and oceans to ensure the conservation and equitable usage of resources and the marine environment and to ensure the protection and preservation of the living resources of the sea.”

    UNCLOS also addresses such other matters as sovereignty, rights of usage in maritime zones, and navigational rights, the UN website states.

    “We should not have joined UNCLOS,” Shen said.

    Shen, a professor of international relations at Fudan University, qualified his statements as “personal” but everybody knows that no one in China speaks in international without the permission of the government. That means, what he says, has the tacit approval of the government.

    A highly regarded academician, Shen is the founder and director of China’s first non-government-based Program on Arms Control and Regional Security at Fudan University. His research areas cover China-US security relations, nuclear arms control and disarmament, nuclear weapons policy of the United States and China, regional non-proliferation issues concerning South Asia, Northeast Asia and Middle East, test ban, missile defense, export control, as well as China’s foreign and defense policies.

    Shen received his PH.D in physics from Fudan University and did his post-doctorate in arms control at Princeton University.

    UNCLOS came into force on November 16, 1994 after the requisite 60 countries’ ratification. As of November 7, 2012, 164 States have ratified, acceded to, or succeeded to, UNCLOS including the Philippines and China .(The United States, although it recognizes it as general international law has not ratified it.)

    Asked what China would do if the UN Arbitral Court under UNCLOS where the Philippines lodged a suit to declare China’s nine-dash line map illegal, upheld the Philippine position, Shen said, “We don’t care a bit.”

    China’s 9-dash line covers some 85 per cent of the South China Sea and encroaches on the territory of other countries including the Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia. Taiwan and Vietnam.

    China has refused to participate in the UN judicial process. Although Philippine officials said the U.N does not have to the mechanism to compel China to abide by the decision. Neither does the Philippines have the naval might to implement it.

    But it will be a blow to China’s international image, which leaders are sensitive about.

    “If China quits UNCLOS, it will not be bound by it,” he said adding that the Asian superpower can quit UNCLOS anytime it wants to.” China has a right not to be party to it. Anybody can quit the treaty if the treaty is not to its interest.”

    Shen said there are four ways to settle a territorial conflict like what is straining Philippine-China relations: war, UN tribunal, negotiation, mediation.

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