Chinese sea patrol in disputed territory alarms Philippines

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - China yesterday sent its first patrol vessel to disputed parts of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) ahead of the enforcement of new rules that authorised Chinese border police to board, search and expel foreign vessels from waters Beijing considers its territory.

The state-run Xinhua news agency reported that the patrol ship Haixun 21 sailed into the high seas Thursday under the administration of the Maritime Safety Administration of Hainan province, from which China administers the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines said it would verify the report.

If the report proves correct, the Philippines will ask the Chinese why they are "patrolling and in what areas," Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said.

Del Rosario said the Philippines was also verifying reports that China was investing US$1.6 billion to fortify and develop islands involved in territorial disputes with Southeast Asian nations in the West Philippine Sea.

Hainan province announced in late November new rules that authorised Chinese border patrols to board, search and expel foreign vessels from waters in the West Philippine Sea claimed by China.

Freedom of navigation

The new rules will come into effect on January 1, but Southeast Asian nations and the United States have asked China for clarification on the purpose and extent of the new rules.

The United States has taken a neutral stance on its Southeast Asian allies' territorial disputes with China, but it has made clear that it has a "national interest" in freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea, home to sea-lanes where a third of global trade passes and to islands, reefs and atolls believed to be sitting on vast gas and oil reserves.

Del Rosario said China had yet to respond to the Philippines' request for clarification of the new maritime rules.

China claims almost the entire West Philippine Sea, but the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam claim parts of the sea within their exclusive economic zones. Taiwan also claims some islands in the sea.

The Philippines and Vietnam are the more strident claimants, pressing for the resolution of their claims according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and for a code of conduct in the sea to prevent the conflicting claims from erupting into armed clashes.

Fortifying Sansha

On Wednesday the financial news agency Bloomberg reported that China was investing $1.6 billion to build infrastructure, including air and sea ports, in Sansha City, a garrison town built by China on Woody Island, in the Paracels, claimed by Vietnam.

China established Sansha City in June to govern the Paracel and Spratly islands and the Panatag Shoal (Scarbourough Shoal), where Chinese and Philippine ships faced off with each other from early April to mid-June.

Vietnam and the Philippines protested the establishment of Sansha City, calling it a violation of international law.

Manila said it was "unacceptable" for a Chinese city to hold administrative control over territories within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

Instead of responding to the protests, China, through Hainan, announced the new maritime rules.

In its report yesterday, Xinhua quoted Ruan Ruiwen, head of the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration, as saying that the Haixun 21's departure for the South China Sea marked the beginning of Chinese sailing beyond coastal waters.

"In the past, Hainan provincial maritime law enforcement entities could only cover coastal waters and never reached the high seas. The newly enlisted Haixun 21 ends the history of no large oceangoing patrol vessels in South China Sea," Ruan said.

Maritime safety

Xinhua also quoted Huang He, deputy head of the maritime bureau of China's Ministry of Transport, as saying that the vessel "will monitor maritime traffic safety, investigate maritime accidents, detect pollution, carry out search and rescue work, and fulfill international conventions".

The report said the ship could sail without refeuelling for up to 7,200 kilometres, roughly the same distance between the Philippines and Australia.

Chinese media criticised China's rivals for territory in the West Philippine Sea for "provocations" and justified China's decision to fortify Sansha and upgrade its naval forces.

Del Rosario said the Philippine Embassy in Beijing was verifying reports of the Chinese investment.

If the reports are true, Del Rosario said, China would violate the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea that it signed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2002.

The declaration aims to deter use of force and instead promote peace and self-restraint among countries claiming territory in the sea.

"We have officially asked for clarification from the Chinese Embassy in Manila and as well asked our Beijing post to directly contact their [Chinese] foreign ministry. Until now we are still awaiting an official response," Del Rosario said.

China's Global Times and China Daily insisted that China had the right to secure its sovereignty over the islands claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam in the West Philippine Sea and by Japan in the East China Sea.

Provocations

The two newspapers called the Philippines' and Vietnam's protests against China moves in the sea "provocations".

Global Times opinion writer Yu Jincui said in an article published yesterday that China's plan to develop Sansha City was aimed at bolstering the country's southern maritime defence.

Yu said the development of Sansha City was China's response to "provocations" from the Philippines and Vietnam.

China Daily said China's efforts to upgrade its Navy should not set off alarm bells in the region.

The paper cited "provocations" from the Philippines and Japan as justification for China's bulking up its naval muscles.

Other countries should not "read too much into China's efforts to build itself into a maritime power," the paper said.

"China does not seek hegemony. It will not pose a threat to others. Its resolve to enhance its defence forces only serves its need to cultivate a good security environment for its peaceful development," the paper said.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia not to carry out executions
    U.N. chief appeals to Indonesia not to carry out executions

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to Indonesia on Saturday not to execute 10 prisoners, including two Australians, for drug-related crimes. Indonesia has so far informed seven of the 10 death row inmates, including the Australians and one Nigerian, that they will be executed in a matter of days, possibly as soon as Tuesday. Nationals from Brazil, Ghana and the Philippines are also on Indonesia's death row. A temporary reprieve was granted to a French citizen who will not …

  • Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions
    Indonesia defiant as UN leads condemnation of looming executions

    Indonesia on Sunday signalled it was determined to push ahead with the execution of eight foreign drug convicts, despite a growing wave of global condemnation led by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. Authorities on Saturday gave formal notice to the eight -- from Australia, Brazil, Nigeria and the Philippines -- that they would be executed by firing squad imminently, along with an Indonesian prisoner. The group have been moved to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan, where …

  • AFP monitoring deployment of Chinese seaplanes in Spratlys
    AFP monitoring deployment of Chinese seaplanes in Spratlys

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is adopting a wait and see approach amid reports that China will soon deploy seaplanes to further strengthen its maritime claims in the disputed Spratlys. Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala, spokesman for the military and commander of the AFP Civil Relations Service, said they have yet to ascertain the real purpose behind China’s continuing aggressive moves in the region. “We will wait and see before coming up with an official stand,” Kakilala said when …

  • US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations
    US eyes access to Phl bases in 8 locations

    The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington’s next phase in its Asia “pivot,” deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region. The Asia “pivot” has already seen US Marines rotating through the …

  • Washington bucks China’s aggressive actions
    Washington bucks China’s aggressive actions

    Short of condemning China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea, a senior US military official said Washington does not support any act of coercion and bullying. “We don’t stand for coercion, bullying and aggressiveness,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, assistant US military director for  Phl-US Joint Balikatan Exercises 2015. At the sidelines of this year’s joint military exercises’ static aircraft display held at Clark Air Base in Pampanga, Mahoney told a media briefing that …

  • ‘Giving Bangsamoro police control is constitutional’
    ‘Giving Bangsamoro police control is constitutional’

    The proposed grant to the chief minister of the envisioned Bangsamoro region of operational control over police forces in the area is consistent with the Constitution, a senior administration lawmaker said yesterday. It is clear in the proposed BBL that the Bangsamoro police will be part of the Philippine National Police (PNP), while the Bangsamoro Regional Police Board (BRPB) will be part of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) and will carry out Napolcom’s mandate in the region,” he …

  • Noy off to KL for Asean meet
    Noy off to KL for Asean meet

    President Aquino will arrive here this afternoon with Manila hopeful of support from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to achieve peace and stability in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as well as economic prosperity and inclusive growth among the people in the region. Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya III said that with respect to the dramatic developments in the South China Sea, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman had called for the early …

  • Madrid Fusion Manila reignites Pinoy appetite for great food
    Madrid Fusion Manila reignites Pinoy appetite for great food

    After months of preparation and hard work from both the government and private sectors, the future of food is finally here in the country’s capital. Madrid Fusión Manila opened its doors on Friday to an international delegation who eagerly awaited the discussions of some of the most renowned and revered names in the culinary world. Madrid Fusión Manila is a historic gastronomic event marked by talks and exhibitions that showcases Spain and the Philippines’ shared cultural heritage, as well as …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options