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Scarborough Shoal

Manila Bulletin Tue, Apr 17, 2012

MANILA, Philippines - As of this time of writing, all the eight Chinese fishing boats have left Scarborough Shoal. Only a Chinese maritime survey ship and a Philippine Coast Guard vessel had remained in the area while the two countries are engaged in finding a peaceful solution to their territorial dispute. The continuing pursuit of their unilateral interests could threaten peace in the region. On the other hand, the option to cooperate in establishing a joint maritime zone for the purpose of resource management and environmental protection is perceived by many as the most desirable solution. An argument for this alternative is that Scarborough Reef (or shoal) does not qualify as a fullyfledged island and therefore will not be able to generate its own exclusive economic zone or EEZ and/or continental shelf. Under the Law of the Sea Convention, the two countries may, however, declare an area of 12 or even 24 nautical miles in breadth around the Reef as a joint maritime zone. Zou Keyuan, professor of international law at the University of Lancashire, UK, and research fellow at the National University of Singapore, in his background analysis, Scarborough Reef - a new flashpoint in Sino-Philippine Relations? (1999) described the Reef (referred to as "Huangyan Island" in Chinese) as the biggest atoll in the South China Seas. Although regarded as part of the Zhongsha Islands since 1935, Chinese scholars had neglected to mention it in the traditionally acknowledged group of islands. The bilateral dispute surfaced in 1997 when Filipino naval vessels prevented three Chinese boats from approaching the reef. China then lodged a strong protest. Several foreign scholars have challenged the inclusion of the Scarborough Reef in the Zhongsha Islands as being "geographically questionable and incorrect despite China's claim. The Philippine claim is based on Article 1 of the 1987 Constitution that states that the "national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago with all the islands, and waters embraced therein, and all the other territories over which the Philippines has sovereignty and jurisdiction" - which includes the Scarborough Shoal. Too, the disputed horseshoe-shaped area is proximate to the country as it lies some 230 kilometers from Zambales province. The claim - that it is a part of Spratly Islands was made as early as the 1970's when our government occupied seven islands and designated them as the Kalayaan (Freedom) Islands. Scarborough Reef is north of the Spratlys and lies 348 kilometers beyond the Kalayaan area. Since the 1970's, Filipino fishermen have been fishing around the area which has also been used in oceanographic, reef structure, and other maritime scientific studies conducted by the University of the Philippines and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It has a lighthouse and it is also used as

impact range by defense authorities. Philippine laws on smuggling and illegal fishing have been enforced in the area. Over the past decade or so, China began sailing into the reef to collect shells, sea cucumber, and rare marine species. Approximately 300 ships pass through the vicinity daily. Japan uses the route in transporting petroleum from the Middle East. Issues that had given rise to the current tension may be addressed during the negotiation, and perhaps, mediation by UN and ASEAN. These include clarifying UNCLOS (UN Law of the Sea) principles and definitions (including ambiguities such as the exact meaning of "rock," "human habitation," and "economic life") and obtaining multilateral support from ASEAN (turning the Shoal into an area of cooperation) through the establishment of a maritime zone for the purpose of resource management. Likewise, it could provide a useful prototype in resolving the territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands, which to date, has been the subject of a claim by six countries - the Peoples Republic of China, Republic of China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and the Philippines. My email is

Scarborough Shoal: Its PH map vs China map

By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
2:26 am | Friday, June 15th, 2012

BAJO SCARBURO European cartographers named Scarborough Shoal as Bajo Scarburo in this 1820 map from the book Mapping the Philippines: The Spanish Period.

Old maps, which some government officials believe may hold the key to the Philippines claim to Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), were the created by foreign missionaries and colonial explorers, making them personal and unofficial, according to a report posted on the website of the Chinese Embassy in Makati City. The maps do not in any way represent the views of the government, said the same report written by Lu Yang, a Beijing-based scholar. It cited a Philippine foreign ministry website article dated April 28, which said that a map drawn by a missionary and published in 1734 was one of the first maps that indicated that Huangyan Island is part of the Philippines.

China refers to the shoal as Huangyan Island while the Philippines calls the rock formation Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal. The report said another map drawn by Spanish explorers in 1792 and published in 1808 in Madrid bared the path they took in arriving and sailing around the island. It said the Philippines may be hinting that if China can base its sovereignty claims over Huangyan Island on historical maps, so can it. But China can present a greater number of official maps to show its ownership of Huangyan Island. Even a Philippine citizen who wrote to (the newspaper) Manila Standard Today recognized the fact that China discovered Huangyan Island and drew it on a map as early as 1279 during the Yuan Dynasty (12711368). He said, 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 Chinas, the report noted. In his report, Lu also asserted that the official maps published by successive Chinese governments have always labeled Huangyan Island as part of Chinas territorynot as a matter of convenience, but to facilitate government. None of international treaties that define the extent of the Philippine territory includes Huangyan Island as part of its territory. Apparently, the old maps referred to by the Philippines had no validity when these treaties were being drawn up. Whats more, for a long time, the official maps of the Philippines or maps published with official sanction, all marked Huangyan Island or Scarborough Shoal, as lying outside the territorial limits of the country, Lu pointed out. According to the author, the Philippine national map published in 2006 by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority of the Philippines (Namria) positively placed Huangyan Island outside the limit of Philippine territory. The same is true of the Map of the Philippines, published in 2010, and the Political Map of the Philippines, published in 2008 and revised in 2000, he said, noting that all these maps are certified by the Namria and undoubtedly represent the official position of the Philippine government. In April, Senator Edgardo Angara, who has a collection of ancient maps of the country, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that old maps dating back to Spanish colonial times may hold the key to the countrys claim to Scarborough Shoal. Its clear that Scarborough Shoal is part of our cartography during Spanish colonial times. We have maps reproduced from the original, made in 1734. During that time, Scarborough was already part of the Philippines, Angara said. Asked whether the maps would establish beyond doubt Philippine sovereignty over the disputed shoal, he said its one strong evidence but he had other pieces of evidence. Meanwhile, another report posted on the embassy website cited several reasons why China has sovereignty over Huangyan Island: China started astronomical surveying on Huangyan Island back in the 13th century. In 1935, the Chinese government officially released the name list of South China Sea islands. Huangyan Island was included as a part of Zhongsha Islands. In 1947, Beijing released a new name list of South China Sea islands, where Scarborough Shoal was renamed Minzhu (or Democratic) Reef. In 1983, the Chinese government again released a name list of the same islands, which used Huangyan Island as the standard name for the island and Democratic Reef as its alternative name.

The Scarborough Shoal Dispute: Legal Issues And Implications Analysis


June 22, 2012 The dispute between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal area has until recently been a neglected sideshow in the South China Sea. However, if the Philippines goes to ITLOS or an Annex VII Arbitration Tribunal under UNCLOS to defend its sovereign rights, there might be important implications for any attempt to interpret Chinas U-shaped line as a maritime claim. By Huy Duong The tension between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal has turned the spotlight on a dispute that has until recently been a neglected side show. What is the dispute about and how can it be settled? The dispute between China and the Philippines over Scarborough Shoal consists of two legal parts, each affecting a distinct geographical area.

Scarborough Shoal

The first part is the sovereignty dispute over the five rocks in the shoal that are above high tide and their 12 nautical-mile territorial sea. The second part of the dispute is over sovereign rights in the EEZ beyond 12 nm from the rocks. The area affected is potentially ten times that affected by the sovereignty dispute. There is also an ambiguity about what Chinas U-shaped line in the South China Sea represents. Is it a claim only to the islands, to maritime space based on historic rights or on EEZ arguments? This article will look at the implication of the two disputes on the U-shaped line.

The Sovereignty Dispute

The Philippines claims that the historic evidence for its sovereignty includes the planting of a flag pole in 1965; the building and operation of a small lighthouse in 1965, which was rehabilitated by the Philippine Navy in 1992; and the use of Scarborough Shoal as an impact range by US and Philippine forces stationed at Subic Bay. However, the lighthouse is not currently operational. How continuously did the Philippines operate it? Was the use of Scarborough Shoal as an impact range an actual display of sovereignty over territory and the territorial sea, or was it no more than a military activity that is permissible in international waters or in the EEZ? China claims that in 1935, Chinas Map Verification Committee declared sovereignty over 132 islands, reef and shoals in the South China Sea, when Scarborough Shoal was listed as a part of what China today calls Zhongsha Islands. Chinese authors argue that, since China considers Scarborough Shoal to be a part of Zhongsha, when China declared sovereignty over Zhongsha in 1951 this declaration implicitly included Scarborough Shoal. Interestingly, in 1932 the Legation of the Chinese Republic in France had sent a Note to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs asserting that according to Chinas Map Verification Committee the Paracels form the southernmost part of Chinese territory. On Chinese maps, the label Zhongsha only appears over Macclesfield Bank, not Scarborough Shoal. Internationally Scarborough Shoal is regarded as being separate from Macclesfield Bank. It would seem that for Chinas declaration of sovereignty over Zhongsha to be taken as also including Scarborough Shoal, the onus was on China to specifically mention that its claim to Zhongsha also included Scarborough Shoal. Although both sides arguments for sovereignty seem to have weaknesses, neither is likely to abandon its sovereignty claim. Therefore, the only complete solution for the sovereignty dispute is third party adjudication or arbitration. Given that the Philippines and China are not willing to seek third party arbitration for the sovereign dispute, the best temporary solution is for the two countries to set aside the sovereignty dispute over the five rocks and share the resources of the 12 nautical mile territorial sea in some way. The five rocks themselves are economically worthless and their combined territorial sea only amounts to 2260 square nautical miles at maximum; therefore sharing the resources would not be significantly detrimental even to the side that in fact has sovereignty.

Since the Philippines is weaker on the ground, it may well accept equal sharing of the resources of the territorial sea, while China might wish for sharing of the EEZ beyond the territorial sea.

The Dispute Over Sovereign Rights

The second part of the dispute is over the sovereign rights in the EEZ beyond 12 nautical miles from the rocks. The area that it affects is potentially tens of times as large as that affected by the sovereignty dispute. The Philippines contends that the rocks at Scarborough Shoal fall under Article 121(3) of UNCLOS and are not entitled to EEZ or continental shelf, therefore the EEZ beyond 12 nautical miles from them belongs to Luzon Island, regardless of the question of sovereignty over them. Above high tide level, these rocks are but a few dozen square meters in area, and it is hard to imagine that they can sustain human habitation or economic life of their own. The Philippines stated aim is to seek a ruling from either ITLOS or an Annex VII Arbitration Tribunal under UNCLOS confirming that the rocks at Scarborough Shoal fall under Article 121(3) and are therefore not entitled to an EEZ. It is unlikely that the Philippines is seeking from ITLOS a ruling on the question of sovereignty, contrary to what Chinas Ministry of Foreign Affairs assumes. The latter dismissed the Philippines statements about going to ITLOS, on the ground that ITLOS is not the forum for resolving sovereignty disputes. China also prefers to use terms such as sovereignty and historical rights for the dispute as a whole. It is likely that China will accept joint development in the EEZ beyond 12 nautical miles consistent with its long-standing principle of setting aside dispute and pursuing joint development. In the past, the Philippines has stated that it is prepared to share resources in the disputed areas, but not in areas which it considers to belong to it outright. However, unless the Philippines manages to obtain a ruling that the rocks at Scarborough Shoal are not entitled to an EEZ, it might have little choice but to yield to Chinas pressure and accept joint development in parts of its EEZ, off Luzon Island.

Potential Implication For Chinas U-Shaped Line

Of the three disputed groups of features in the South China Sea, namely, the Paracels, Scarborough Shoal and the Spratlys, Scarborough Shoals features have the highest likelihood of being classified as rocks under Article 121(3). Although the Philippines cannot take the question of Are the rocks at Scarborough Shoal under Article 121(3)? to ITLOS without Chinas consent, it can unilaterally take

this question to an Annex VII Arbitration Tribunal where it has a good chance of obtaining an affirmative answer. With regard to the ambiguity as to whether Chinas U-shaped line is a claim only to the islands, or a claim to maritime space based on historic rights, or a claim to maritime space based on EEZ arguments, if the Philippines manages to obtain a ruling that the rocks at Scarborough Shoal are not entitled to EEZ then the third possibility will be ruled out for this area. That will be a significant step in narrowing down the possible meanings of the U-shaped line.
A standoff between the Philippines and China at Scarborough Shoal has brought tensions in the South China Sea to their highest level since the 1994 Mischief Reef incident. -The dispute arose on 8 April when the Philippines sent its navy to search Chinese fishing vessels operating in the disputed area. Chinese Maritime Surveillance Forces vessels subsequently arrived, provoking the Philippines to deploy its only warship, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar. Manila later withdrew the Gregorio del Pilar, but China sent out two Fishery Law Enforcement Command vessels. A standoff has ensued, with the Philippines requesting a diplomatic resolution to the crisis but refusing to retreat. Bilateral relations have quickly deteriorated, with China introducing restrictions on imports of Philippine bananas and calling on tour groups to leave, dealing a severe blow to the Philippine economy. The Chinese media is talking of war, although a fishing ban implemented by both sides may let tensions subside. The Aquino governments determination in this case is in contrast with its own decision to accept Chinese built fishermens shelters on Mischief Reef in 1994. President Aquinos stance, though, belies the Philippine navys weakness when compared with Chinas Maritime Surveillance Forces and Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Manila seems to be counting on assurances of US support. Indeed, the Philippines and the US drew attention to their military ties on 1 May, two weeks after launching long-planned Balikatan exercises, which included beach landings on the Philippine island of Palawan. In recent months, Washington has raised its annual military support to the Philippines to a (still-meagre) US$30 million, and stated that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea is a matter of US national interest. Those fearing a major war, though, should consider that US support for Manila has its limits. There are two aspects to this. First, the US relationship with China is strategically important. The two states economies are so deeply interwoven and the implications of a breach in relations so significant that maintaining a working relationship is a

priority for both capitals. Worth noting, too, are the Chinese government agencies engaged in the Sea: the Maritime Surveillance Forces; the Fishery Law Enforcement Command; the governments of Hainan and Guangdong Provinces; and the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN); as well as customs and coast guard. In theory, Chinas Ministry of Foreign Affairs has authority over them all, but the reality is that its sway is limited.[1] Judging whether Chinas aggressive stance derives from central government policy or from inter-agency competition is difficult, and the lack of clarity in this may limit President Obamas willingness to face Beijing down. Second, the Philippines and the US have a conflicted relationship, rooted in their colonial history. The US withdrew from Clark airbase and Subic Bay naval facility in 1992 after the Philippine Senate rejected a treaty to extend US basing rights (and after a volcanic eruption destroyed Clark). The two countries have since relied on ad hoc defence cooperation, such as anti-terrorist training for Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Special Forces in Mindanao, but their defence ties lack the intensity of the pre-1992 era.[2] The US also has room to step back from its security guarantee, as the 1951 Mutual Defence Treaty between Washington and Manila on which it is based is equivocal in its provisions. Article IV states: Each party recognises that an attack in the Pacific Area on either of the parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its constitutional processes. Article V also deals with an attack on island territories or forces in the Pacific. Washington may thus limit offers of support to the Philippines to funds or materiel in accordance with constitutional processes, or could even assert that the South China Sea lies outside the Pacific area. Of course, failing to support the Philippines raises risks for Washington. The San Francisco hub and spoke system is strong but brittle; a loss of faith in the US hub may weaken all the treaty partner spokes. On top of this general point are the specific threats that Chinese control of the South China Sea could pose to maritime supply lanes for the Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese economies, or to the aspirations of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) states, which require the fisheries to feed their populations and aspire to unlock the Seas latent energy reserves. From an operational perspective, Chinese dominance of the sea would also hinder US maritime and airborne intelligence collection activities. However, it is not clear how much Chinese control of Scarborough Shoal would threaten these interests. Manila has no choice but to turn to the US, as do most regional powers, all regional powers trade extensively with China already and so policymakers may not fear interdiction by PLAN vessels, and operational formulae can always change. Resolving the dispute will be difficult, though, notwithstanding the mutual fishing ban implemented in mid-May. China has accepted the Guidelines on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, a non-binding statement of intent, but the adoption of a binding Code of Conduct looks very difficult to achieve. Broader multilateral negotiations seem unlikely; the driving force between existing (if limited) agreements was ASEAN, and Chinese client Cambodia is holding the ASEAN presidency in 2012. China also seems to believe that regional states have become more assertive thanks to US support, contributing to the already significant strategic distrust between Washington and Beijing.[3] Furthermore, the Communist Party leadership will want to avoid any appearance of weakness as the economy slows and the leadership transition takes place. In this context, even a diplomatic solution to the spat may not ease broader tensions. The dispute, then, may be most important as a signal of Chinese geopolitical aspirations, and any reading that Beijing is becoming more aggressive could have significant economic consequences. A perceived rise in regional tensions could provoke investors to reappraise their political risk, as fears of conflict become more accurately priced into

ancillary costs such as insurance or financial derivatives. Any such repricing would arguably more closely match the reality of contemporary Asia, characterised sometimes as a region of hot economics and cold politics, than does the current market bullishness. It could also benefit other markets, as the differential on investment returns between regions may narrow, particularly if a concurrent Korean crisis broke out. A severe rise in tensions or small war in the South China Sea could thus induce some capital to move to seemingly safer regions, perhaps Latin America, perhaps back to the US. Normal Angell wrote The Great Illusion in 1910, arguing that the economic interdependence of Europes economies made war inherently futile, only to have his thesis founder in August 1914. Contemporary Asia recalls Angells Europe in that its economies are similarly interlinked, but its governmental systems are mutually suspicious and subject to capture by nationalism. This latest spike in tensions in the South China Sea is a good illustration of the risks of not taking that concern into account. Investors should take note.


[1] International Crisis Group, Stirring up the South China Sea (23 April 2012); Linda Jackobsen, New Foreign Policy Actors in China, SIPRI Policy Paper (26 September 2010). [2] Carlyle A Thayer, Is the Philippines an Orphan? The Diplomat (2 May 2012). [3] Brookings Institute, Addressing US-China Strategic Distrust (30 March 2012). URL: hal.pdf -About the Author: Kit Dawnay is an analyst of international relations, politics and economics. He has worked as a newspaper journalist, for the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, and for a defence services company analysing economic crime. He has undergraduate degrees in law and history, and an MPhil in international relations from Cambridge University. He lives in Hong Kong. Email:

Philippines accuses China of deploying ships in Scarborough shoal

Manila says nearly 100 vessels have entered disputed South China Sea region, renewing tensions between the countries


Email Tania Branigan and Jonathan Watts in Beijing and agencies, Wednesday 23 May 2012 17.18 BST

China-Philippines dispute: A Filipino fisherman sits on the hull of his boat in Zambales after returning from Scarborough shoal in the South China Sea. Photograph: Reuters

The Philippines has claimed that China has deployed almost 100 vessels in a disputed area of the South China Sea, raising fresh concerns about tensions in the region. China denies it has increased its presence in the waters around the Scarborough shoal. The countries are in talks to defuse the two-month standoff. The South China Sea has seen growing friction between China and its neighbours in recent years, with experts blaming valuable natural resources and the depletion of fisheries as well as long-term sovereignty disputes. They fear it is becoming harder to contain the conflict, which has also become conflated with Sino-US competition in south-east Asia. Manila's foreign affairs spokesman, Raul Hernandez, said there were 96 Chinese vessels at the shoal on Tuesday, including four government ships as well as fishing boats and dinghies, while the Philippines had only two vessels in the area. He added that despite a seasonal fishing ban imposed by both countries, Chinese ships had been seen fishing and collecting protected corals. "It is regrettable that these actions occurred at a time when China has been articulating for a de-escalation of tensions and while the two sides have

been discussing how to defuse the situation in the area," Hernandez added. On Monday Manila handed the Chinese ambassador a note protesting at the presence of 77 vessels, demanding their immediate withdrawal, he added. But China's foreign ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, said only around 20 fishing vessels were working in waters near the shoal, a similar number as previous years. "Their fishing activities are in line with Chinese law and the fishing ban," he told a daily news briefing. "The Filipino side recently carried out some provocations in the area and China took actions in response." Stephanie Kleine-Ahbrandt, North Asia director for the International Crisis group, said it had appeared the current crisis was easing. "The mutual fishing bans were promising ... the bananas are flowing again," she said. This month China impounded banana imports from the Philippines, saying stricter checks were necessary. Kleine-Ahbrandt said: "The skirmishes that have taken place there are getting harder and harder to de-escalate because of the factors such as military build-up in the region. We see this as turning into a spiralling security dilemma." She said internal jostling for power in China appeared to have contributed to the latest tensions, but added: "China is not alone at all in raising the stakes in the South China Sea. Vietnam and the Philippines continue to have worrying risk factors, including nationalist sentiment but also their economic situations." There was a danger of Beijing and Manila encouraging nationalist sentiment to justify their sovereignty claims, but then finding it harder to back down as a result, she added. Tensions had cooled in the region after a period of antagonism over the complex territorial dispute which involves six countries led to a diplomatic charm offensive by China. But they flared again in April, when the Philippines sent a warship to the area and said it had found Chinese fishing vessels there with illegal coral and fish.

Speaking before the latest Filipino claims, Dong Manyuan, deputy director of China Institute of international studies, said the Philippines had used the issue to distract attention from domestic problems. "The government incited local people's patriotic emotions to meet the desires of few politicians," he told the Guardian. But he said it had miscalculated, overestimating US willingness to get involved and underestimating China's determination to defend its sovereignty.

Philippines, China resume talks over disputed shoal

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Thursday, May 10, 2012 MANILA -- The Philippines and China have resumed negotiations in Manila to ease the escalating maritime tension over the Scarborough shoal, a Foreign Affairs official said. "We're continuing the talks. We are working to diffuse the situation," Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a chance interview at the European Union Day reception in Makati City. Click here to get the latest Kadayawan 2012 updates. The last known negotiations in Manila took place on April 16, although China has met the Philippine charg daffaires a number of times in Beijing to reiterate their demand for a Philippine withdrawal from the shoal.

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On May 7, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said in Beijing that her country was prepared to deal with an escalation of the conflict at the shoal, as she accused the Philippines of provocation by sending more ships to Scarborough, which China calls Huangyan Island. But del Rosario said that while bilateral consultations with Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing will continue, the Philippines will still proceed with bringing the dispute to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos) to legally settle the impasse, despite Chinas objections. In the same occasion, Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez added that going to an international arbitration forum such as the Itlos aimed at having a "permanent and durable solution to the issue in the West Philippine Sea." Meanwhile, del Rosario echoed the denial of Malacaang and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that Filipino fishermen are being denied access by Chinese ships in the area. "No, that's not true," he told reporters. Masinloc Mayor Desiree Edora of Zambales earlier received complaints from Filipino fishermen that Chinese government ships standing guard at the mouth of the shoal are driving them away. Edora said the fishermen, fearing for their safety, have ended up fishing outside the lagoon. 'Peaceful' anti-China protests In a separate interview Thursday night, del Rosario said the anti-China protests to be staged by Filipinos here and abroad on Friday is a peaceful, democratic exercise and is a purely private sector initiative. "They are out to exercise their right to freedom of expression. This is a private undertaking. We have nothing to do with this," he said, noting that even Chinese groups have launched similar actions against the Philippines abroad. Del Rosario said that when he was in New York last week for an official trip, Chinese groups staged a demonstration in front of the Philippine Consulate there for three days in a row. "So it's a way to express yourself. The Chinese have used it and our own civil society here is also using it. Were trying to get word out there if we can and were sure that these demonstrations are peaceful, he added. The Chinese embassy in Makati has posted a notice in its website advising their citizens to take precaution and to stay off the road in view of the protest rally, where some 1,000 people are expected to join, including former President Ramos and international singer-actress Lea Salonga. Both nations claim ownership to the shoal, located 124 nautical miles from Zambales province and 472 nautical miles from Chinas nearest landmass in Hainan province.

Manila also said Scarborough is well within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone and extended continental shelf as outlined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, of which both countries are signatories. (JCV/Sunnex)

China: Unclos not legal basis to resolve sea row

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Friday, July 27, 2012 A CHINESE Foreign Ministry official said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) is not the legal basis to determine the territorial sovereignty of the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal. In a statement released earlier this week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said "the facts and truths" about the Scarborough Shoal incident in April "have been clear" from the start. Click here to get the latest Kadayawan 2012 updates. "The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is not the legal basis to determine the territorial sovereignty of the Huangyan Island and cannot change the fact that the island belongs to China," Hong said, referring to the UN convention that provided for the 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that the Philippines is proposing to be used to resolve the territorial sovereignty issue of the shoal.

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"We demonstrated utmost forbearance in dealing with this issue. We chose not to respond to their media's harangues. I do not think its excessive to ask that our rights be respected, just as we respect their rights as a fellow nation in a world we need to share," the President had said. But China, unlike the Philippines, is resolved to settle the issue through bilateral means, as evident by Hong's statement. "Resolute in safeguarding its territorial sovereignty, China is also committed to handling the incident through bilateral consultation," he said. The Philippine government has invited China into a multilateral negotiation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which Manila is a member of. But Beijing was adamant that it will only settle the issue through bilateral consultations with claimant-countries China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. "The situation off the Huangyan Island tends to relax on the whole. We hope the Philippine side can do more for further relaxation of the situation and sound development of bilateral relations," Hong said. Tensions have risen in the disputed island since early April this year where a standoff took place between the countries until about mid-June. The standoff started when Philippines officials were prevented to arrest Chinese fishermen who were caught illegally poaching in the area. Just when the situation at the shoal, which China calls Huangyan Island and the Philippines refer to as Bajo de Masinloc, is starting to ease, China establishes Sansha city that will supposedly administer the highly disputed Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Macclesfield Bank and Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The Philippines filed a diplomatic protest on the establishment of Sansha City, but China earlier this week announced that it will send a military garrison to the newly built city. (CVB/Sunnex)

Philippines tells China: Respect our sovereignty

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Monday, July 16, 2012 THE Philippine government urged Monday its Chinese counterpart not to encroach into its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) amid the reported arrival of 30 Chinese fishing vessels in the disputed Spratly Islands.

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Raul Hernandez said the area is within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone where the country exercises sovereignty. Click here to get the latest Kadayawan 2012 updates. "The Chinese fishing vessels must not intrude in the EEZ of the Philippines. We require China to respect the sovereign rights of the Philippines over the resources within our EEZ," he said.

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China willing to ease Asean rift on sea Philippines gets bids for South China Sea exploration China: Unclos not legal basis to resolve sea row Aquino appeals for calm, patience in sea row Philippines files protest over China's recent actions China to build military garrison in West Philippine Sea Palace welcomes Aseans move to settle sea rows Asean agrees on handling of South China Sea rifts Foreign Affairs official explains lack of Asean agreement Stalled Chinese warship rescued from disputed shoal Reports from the Xinhua news agency showed that the 30 fishing vessels -- the biggest fleet ever to be deployed in the area -- arrived near Yongshu Reef on the afternoon of July 15 after leaving the Chinese province of Hainan last Thursday. According to Xinhua, Chinese fishing boats regularly travel to the Spratlys, a potentially oil-rich archipelago, which China claims as part of its territory on historical grounds. The fleet includes a 3,000-ton supply ship and a patrol vessel, and will stay in the area in the next five or 10 days. The arrival of the fishing vessels came on the heels of the refloating also last Sunday of the Chinese naval frigate that ran aground at the Hasa-Hasa shoal, just 60 nautical miles off Palawan, which is also near the Spratlys. No diplomatic protest has yet been issued by the Philippines on the matter, however. As this developed, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario met with US Pacific Command chief Admiral Samuel Locklear, accompanied by US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas, at the DFA to discuss regional issues and developments at the West Philippine Sea (WPS). "We spoke about regional issues, bilateral issues. We talked about the WPS, the developments there. We also talked about the credible defense posture and also about the maritime domain awareness and the assistance that were seeking from them," del Rosario said. Del Rosario said, however, that there was no mention of spy planes, which President Benigno Aquino III earlier said the government would ask from the US, its biggest trade and military ally.

Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Cuisia said the issue on the country's credible defense posture is still being discussed. "That is being discussed in terms of what we need, so there are ongoing discussion. We are looking at hardware, joint use, joint exercises. So those are part of the discussions," he said. The matter was first raised during the 2-Plus-2 bilateral meeting in the US last May among Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and US State Secretary Hilary Clinton and US Defense Secretary Leo Panetta, at the height of the maritime standoff between Chinese and Philippine ships at the contested Scarborough shoal, also on the WPS. During the two countries' consultations, the Philippines and the US agreed to enhance their defense and security engagements within the framework of the Mutual Defense Treaty that will allow them to more effectively address the current and emerging security challenges in a mutually beneficial manner. According to del Rosario, "the focal point of cooperation is to build a minimum credible defense posture for the Philippines, and increase our capacity for territorial defense, maritime security, maritime domain awareness, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief." China said it has sovereign rights to all the South China Sea, believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits, including areas close to the coastlines of other countries and hundreds of miles from its own landmass. Other countries such as the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also have overlapping claims in the area. (JCV/Sunnex)