March 17, 2018

PH backs US Navy presence in disputed maritime area

13 August 2017, 01:02 | Taylor George

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Beijing pressures Singapore over South China Sea

China, which claims virtually the entire South China Sea, routinely protests such operations.

The Asean foreign ministers' joint statement said the reclamation activities in the disputed waters "have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security, and stability in the region".

The ASEAN statement appears to be softer than the joint communiqué issued past year under the chairmanship of Laos.

In another major concession to Beijing, the communique made no mention of a 2016 judgment against China in a case brought by a previous Philippines administration in the global Permanent Court of Arbitration, or of a legally-binding Code of Conduct.

Ma said that while China will continue its military activities, those "in the Sea of Japan are still not that many". Whatever happens between the USA and North Korea in the current crisis, the Asia-Pacific will continue to constitute the locus of global hegemonic struggles in the long run.

Its sweeping claims overlap with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei - all ASEAN members - as well as Taiwan. While Beijing has built several man-made islands in the area that can house troops and weapons, it has been insisting on a gentlemen's agreement, or a bilateral deal with individual countries, and has opposed internationalising the issue.

An inside view of the Chinese military over 120 years.

These competing claimants argue that China's self-crafted line is unlawful because it appears to extend far beyond the limits set by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which gives states an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) up to 200 nautical miles from their coastline.

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Emboldened by ASEAN's acquiescence, China even suggested a "precondition" for the negotiation of a Code of Conduct - a framework for which was signed by ASEAN and Chinese diplomats in early August, amid much fanfare.

Zhou Fangyin, a researcher of China's foreign policy at the Guangdong Institute for International Strategies, said the incident shows that the USA, a country outside the South China Sea region, doesn't want to play "a minor role" in the region.

The photos released showing land reclamation in the South China Sea only refer to areas contested by China and Vietnam, the Palace said.

Beijing said that a "joint effort" by China and other countries to address the territorial disputes has yielded "signs of positive developments". It wishes to focus on consolidating its claim to certain maritime rights and deter others from consolidating their own claims.

US, Japan, and Australia have denounced China's island building and militarization of the South China Sea.

The sprawling base on the coast of the South China Sea is one of PLAN's three major bases, and PLAN is now poised for major expansion. At times, the grouping has been unable to formulate a consensus policy.

What is known as America's Freedom of Navigation program has been seen in China as an infringement on its "lawful" claims over the South and East China Seas, two of the world's most important waterways.

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