Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sea Dispute between China & ASEAN Members



This is the current conflict and tension between China and ASEAN members (Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia) when China, which is known for being the strongest and richest country in Asia region, claims uninhabited island, Spartly Islands and the whole South China Sea as part of China territory. China and all the ASEAN countries want to claim their shares on the South China Sea, which is popular for the world's busiest shipping lane.


Philippines deploys second ship in China standoff

  April 13, 2012


  • Graphic on disputed boundaries in the South China Sea. The Philippines said its flagship navy vessel was involved in a standoff on Wednesday with two Chinese surveillance ships that blocked the arrest of intruding Chinese fishermen











The Philippines deployed a second vessel to tiny islands in the South China Sea on Thursday in a bid to protect its sovereignty in an increasingly tense territorial standoff with China.

Authorities said a coast guard boat joined the Philippines' biggest warship at Scarborough Shoal, where two Chinese surveillance vessels were protecting a group of Chinese fishermen from being arrested.

"It has arrived in the area. It is there to support our navy and to show our flag," foreign affairs department spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters, referring to the 56-metre-long (184-foot) search and rescue coast guard vessel.

"It is mandated to protect our seas."
However Hernandez also emphasised the Philippines was intent on ending the standoff peacefully, and quickly.

"We are confident the two sides will find a diplomatic solution as they are committed to finding one," he said.

"We want this to be resolved immediately. Our people are there, the Chinese fishermen are there. It is hot and they could run out of food so we want this to be resolved as soon as possible."

The dispute began on Sunday when Philippine authorities found eight Chinese fishing boats at the shoal, a group of tiny islands and reefs 124 nautical miles west of the country's main island of Luzon.

The Philippines accused the fishermen of being there illegally, asserting the area was Philippine territory because it was within the country's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, as recognised by international law.

However China claims all of the South China Sea as its own, even waters up to the coasts of other countries, and Chinese authorities insisted the fishermen were allowed to be at the shoal.

Competing claims to the South China Sea have long been regarded as one of Asia's potential flashpoints for military conflict.

Aside from the Philippines and China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also have competing claims to the waters.

More than 70 Vietnamese sailors were killed in 1988 when China and Vietnam battled for control of the Spratlys, an archipelago south of Scarborough Shoal.

The sea holds huge economic and political significance, as it is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas resources, is home to vast fishing grounds and hosts shipping lanes that carry a third of the globe's maritime trade.
In the latest flare-up in tensions, the Philippines deployed its navy flagship vessel to Scarborough Shoal immediately after the Chinese fishermen were discovered there.

But the two Chinese surveillance vessels appeared on the scene on Tuesday and blocked the Philippine warship from arresting the fishermen, who had reportedly hauled in corals, live sharks and some endangered species.
"For us, this is illegal fishing, illegal poaching and that is why our navy is there to protect our sovereignty and assert our rights," Hernandez said.
The Chinese embassy in Manila released a statement on Wednesday insisting the waters belonged to China and ordering the Philippine warship to leave immediately.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin accused the Philippines of "harassing" the Chinese fishermen and said a protest had been lodged.
"We urge the Philippine side... not to make new troubles and create conditions for the friendly relations of the two countries," Liu said.

The Philippines and Vietnam complained last year of increasingly aggressive acts by China in staking its claim to the South China Sea.

The Philippines accused Chinese vessels of firing warning shots at Filipino fishermen, as well as harassing an oil exploration vessel and placing markers on islets within Philippine territory.

However this week's standoff is the highest-profile in recent years.

(Source: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/philippines-deploys-second-ship-china-standoff-030306132.html;_ylt=Akg07NBim0DV7u5JLwtfeXsHV8d_;_ylu=X3oDMTFmaHJtNzE2BG1pdANJQiBNb2R1bGUEcG9zAzEEc2VjA01lZGlhSW5maW5pdGVCcm93c2VMaXN0;_ylg=X3oDMTNjaDZjNGJkBGludGwDc2cEbGFuZwNlbi1zZwRwc3RhaWQDMWQ1MGUzYmQtYWE3Ni0zZjFkLWJjOTgtMmVkNmZkMWRmNGI5BHBzdGNhdANlbnRlcnRhaW5tZW50fGFzaWFuBHB0A3N0b3J5cGFnZQR0ZXN0Aw--;_ylv=3)

 

Philippine warship in standoff with Chinese vessels

The Philippines' biggest warship was locked in a standoff on Wednesday with two Chinese vessels in the South China Sea, reigniting tensions in a decades-long dispute over the resource-rich waters.

The Philippine government said the Chinese ships were blocking efforts by its navy flagship vessel to arrest Chinese fishermen that were found on the weekend to have illegally entered its territory.

In a dramatic day of diplomacy, the Philippines summoned the Chinese ambassador in Manila and lodged a formal protest, but China insisted it had sovereign rights over the area and ordered the Philippine warship to leave.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino said he was looking to end the standoff through diplomatic means.

"No one will benefit if we have violence," he told reporters.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said both sides wanted a peaceful resolution, but also cautioned that negotiations were at an "impasse" and his country was ready to defend its territory.

"If the Philippines is challenged, we are prepared to secure our sovereignty," del Rosario said.

The standoff was occurring at Scarborough Shoal, just 124 nautical miles from the Philippines' main island of Luzon.

China insists it has sovereign rights to all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coast of other countries and hundreds of kilometres (miles) from its own landmass.

The Philippines says it has sovereign rights over areas of the sea within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, and that its position is supported by international law.

Apart from China and the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam have overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea, making the waters one of Asia's potential flashpoints for armed conflict.

The South China Sea holds enormous economic and political significance, as it is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas resources, has huge fish stocks and hosts shipping lanes that are vital for global trade.

The Philippines and Vietnam complained last year of increasingly aggressive acts by China in staking its claim to the South China Sea.
The Philippines accused Chinese vessels of firing warning shots at Filipino fishermen, as well as harassing an oil exploration vessel and placing markers on islets within Philippine territory.

However this week's stand-off is the highest-profile in recent years.
It occurred after the Philippines detected eight Chinese fishing boats at Scarborough Shoal on Sunday.

The Philippines said the boats were subsequently found to have hauled in live sharks, corals and some endangered species including giant clams.
The two Chinese surveillance vessels appeared on the scene on Tuesday, and blocked the Philippine warship from approaching the fishing boats.
The Chinese embassy in Manila released a statement on Wednesday ordering the warship out of the disputed waters.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin accused the Philippines of "harassing" the Chinese fishermen and said a protest had been lodged.
"We urge the Philippine side... not to make new troubles and create conditions for the friendly relations of the two countries," Liu said.

But in Manila, del Rosario insisted the Philippines could do as it pleased at Scarborough Shoal.

"We are there because we have sovereignty over the area. We want to be there and we have the right to be there," he said.

The Philippine coast guard also said it would deploy a boat to support the warship.

On Wednesday evening, del Rosario briefed reporters again, saying no breakthrough had been achieved.

Philippine concerns about China's perceived aggressiveness prompted it to seek help last year from the United States in building up its poorly equipped military and weak maritime defence capabilities.

The United States responded favourably, delivering the Gregorio del Pilar, a a 115-metre (378-foot) decommissioned US coast guard cutter, to replace a World War II-era vessel as the Philippine Navy's biggest ship.

The Gregorio del Pilar is the vessel involved in Wednesday's stand-off.

(Source: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/philippine-navy-standoff-chinese-ships-015620667.html)


China urges 'direct' talks on maritime disputes

China urged "direct" talks with Southeast Asian nations Thursday to resolve overlapping maritime disputes, a day after regional leaders pledged to work towards easing tensions.

China and several Asian countries have rival claims to uninhabited islands in the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in hydrocarbons and straddles strategic shipping lanes vital to global trade.

Leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Wednesday stressed the importance of a decade-old declaration on the conduct of the parties (DOC), pledging to promote peace in the disputed area.

China did not participate in that meeting, but is a signatory of the DOC agreement.

"Formulating a code of conduct on the South China Sea... should be reached through direct negotiations between China and ASEAN countries," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing in Beijing.

Cambodia is eager to bring its diplomatic ally China into the drafting process for the code of conduct, but the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam say the bloc should draft it themselves before presenting it to Beijing.

Hong said that the dispute should be resolved peacefully among the countries involved and suggested a regional organisation like ASEAN should not take a stance on the dispute.

China has competing territorial claims in the sea with ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

US naval commanders have repeatedly said they are concerned about minor incidents, such as recent clashes over fishing rights and energy exploration near the islands, blowing up into major regional conflicts.

Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Cambodia on the eve of the summit in what many analysts took to be a form of pressure on Phnom Penh to use its ASEAN chairmanship to slow down the South China Sea negotiations.
Analysts say ASEAN is paralysed by differences over how to deal with regional superpower China's claims.

(Source: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/china-urges-direct-talks-maritime-disputes-160730018.html)

 

Philippines urges united ASEAN stand on South China Sea

ASEAN should forge a common position on a proposed code of conduct aimed at easing tensions in the South China Sea before talking with China, Philippine President Benigno Aquino said Tuesday. 

Aquino told fellow leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that the fundamentals of the proposed code should be "internal" to the regional bloc's members, according to a statement from the Philippine foreign ministry.

"It is important that we maintain ASEAN centrality," Aquino said at the annual ASEAN summit in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.
"After the CoC (code of conduct) has been finalised by ASEAN, then ASEAN member states will meet with China."

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said there was a "big disagreement" at a session earlier when ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan announced that China might be invited to take part in the drafting of the code.

"We are saying that we're happy to invite China but this should be done after the approval of the CoC (by ASEAN). I think that we should be masters of our own destiny as far as the CoC is concerned," del Rosario told reporters, adding that Vietnam expressed a similar sentiment.

He said that it would be difficult for ASEAN -- which operates by consensus -- to have all of the 10 members agree on inviting China to be involved in the code's drafting.

"I believe that they need to have consensus if they are going to pursue this and they will not have consensus," del Rosario said.

"We are trying to do it as fast as we can, but what we are objecting to is we don't want China to be invited in terms of the drafting and the decision making."

Asked which countries wanted China to take part, he said: "I think Cambodia would be one of them." Cambodia is the current chair of ASEAN's rotating leadership.

During Indonesia's chairmanship of the regional bloc least year, ASEAN and China agreed on a set of guidelines for the proposed code, ending a nine-year impasse.

The code is envisioned to be a legally binding document aimed at preventing small incidents in the South China Sea from escalating into bigger conflicts that could draw in major world powers like the United States.

ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam along with non-members China and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the South China Sea, a conduit for more than one-third of the world's seaborne trade and half its traffic in oil and gas.

The Philippines and Vietnam accuse China of aggressively asserting its claims in recent years. The United States meanwhile asserts a "national interest" in keeping the sea's shipping lanes free and open.

Surin, the ASEAN chief, said recent clashes have "given a sense of urgency" on efforts to try to resolve the disputes.

"It has given the global community a sense of concern that this could lead to open conflict which will not be in the interest of any party," Surin said in an interview with AFP.

"So we have the support of the international community to resolve this problem peacefully, effectively as soon as possible and we are working on it."

The South China Sea will be a key issue during the ASEAN Regional Forum, a security-focused meeting held annually in July involving ministers from 27 countries, including the United States, China, India, Japan and Australia.

(Source: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/philippines-urges-united-asean-stand-south-china-sea-174416389.html)

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