China tells U.S. to mind it’s own business

US must ‘get used to China’s rise’

(China Daily)    07:38, May 22, 2014

Washington’s engagement in territorial issues ‘complicates problems’

Chinese and Western observers seemed to reach a consensus on Wednesday over President Xi Jinping’s proposal to establish a new framework for security cooperation in Asia, and he also sent a veiled warning to Washington.

“To beef up a military alliance targeting a third party is not conducive to regional common security,” Xi said without mentioning the United States when delivering a keynote speech at a regional security forum in Shanghai on Wednesday.

The Chinese navy conducts drills in the South ...

Continue reading “China tells U.S. to mind it’s own business”

Beijing’s dangerous arrogance in the South China Sea

Philip Bowring says Beijing’s superiority complex and selective reading of Southeast Asian history have become the toxic brew fuelling tensions in the South China Sea

Philip Bowring BIO

China’s current behaviour vis-à-vis its South China Sea neighbours is aggressive, arrogant and smacks of Han chauvinism and ethnocentrism. Far from being an expression of national pride, it is giving patriotism a bad name. Patriotic Hongkongers should recognise it for what it is: a dangerous ploy.

Not only has Beijing bared expansionist teeth to Vietnam and the Philippines, it has now succeeded in shifting Indonesia from a position of trying to act as a moderator between China and the other South China Sea states to opponent. Twice in recent months, Indonesia has accused China of claiming part of its Natuna island archipelago. So much for a “peaceful rise” when you rile neighbours with populations of more than 400 million, who you assume to be weak. Continue reading “Beijing’s dangerous arrogance in the South China Sea”

China hints it is ready for war with the Phillipines

The Philippines’ tough stance can only end in embarrassment

(People’s Daily Online) 13:04, May 13, 2014

This year, the Philippines’ conduct on the South China Sea issue has been bewildering: At first, it pretended to be a victim of China’s “threat of force”, complained that China was preventing it from supplying the warship beached on the Ren’ai Reef, and accused China of refusing to accept arbitration on the issue. Then before the quest for sympathy had even had a chance to run its course, the Philippines suddenly adopted a hard line. On May 6, 2014, armed personnel from the Philippines detained a Chinese fishing boat around the Half Moon Shoal in the Nansha Islands, and on the same day a senior military official of the Philippines announced a so-called “Defense Plan of the South China Sea” through Japanese media channels.

The Philippines tough stance was not taken on a whim: their confidence to challenge China on the South China Sea issue stems from the belief that they have the protection and support of the US. Continue reading “China hints it is ready for war with the Phillipines”

War of words erupts as John Kerry calls Beijing ‘provocative’ in South China Sea disputes

Foreign minister hits back after John Kerry calls Chinese actions in South China Sea ‘provocative’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 May, 2014, 5:09pm

Teddy Ng and Agencies in Hanoi and Washington

Several thousand Vietnamese workers protested at Chinese-owned factories yesterday, vandalising some of them, as anger flared at Beijing’s deployment of an oil rig in the Paracel Islands. Photo: SCMP Pictures

China and the United States exchanged heated words yesterday over the recent tensions between Beijing and its neighbours about disputed territory in the South China Sea. Continue reading “War of words erupts as John Kerry calls Beijing ‘provocative’ in South China Sea disputes”

Ships collide as Vietnam tries to stop China oil rig deployment in disputed waters

Beijing hits out after Philippines seizes fishing vessel and collision with Vietnamese boats


Just Added from the – A low-quality version of that video has been posted on Youtube. It appears to have been taped by one of the media outlets that attended the press conference. English language subtitles of Thu’s remarks also appear on the video:



PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 4:42pm

Teddy Ng in Beijing and Agencies in Hanoi and Manila


Tensions in the South China Sea flared up yesterday as China exchanged harsh rhetoric with the Philippines and Vietnam after confrontations in the waters. Continue reading “Ships collide as Vietnam tries to stop China oil rig deployment in disputed waters”

Chinese media threatens Vietnam with a ‘lesson it deserves’ over oil rig row



PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 May, 2014, 10:47am


Map of the South China Sea


Agence France-Presse in Beijing


Vietnam reacted furiously to a decision by Beijing to move a deep-water drilling rig into disputed waters for the first time. Photo: Xinhua


China should give Vietnam a “lesson it deserves to get” if Hanoi ratchets up tension in the South China Sea, an aggressive editorial in state-run media said on Tuesday.


The editorial in the Global Times newspaper comes after Vietnam reacted furiously to a decision by Beijing to move a deep-water drilling rig into disputed waters for the first time. Continue reading “Chinese media threatens Vietnam with a ‘lesson it deserves’ over oil rig row”

Philippine police accuse Italian ambassador of human trafficking and child abuse

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 11:44pm
Agencies in Manila
Philippine Police Superintendent Noel Calderon Alino (left) answers questions from reporters about Daniele Bosio (inset) beside Senior Superintendent Romulo Sapitula at a police station in Binan, south of Manila. Photo: AP

Philippine police have detained a vacationing Italian ambassador and filed complaints of human trafficking and child abuse after he was allegedly found in the company of three underage boys at a resort.

Police arrested Daniele Bosio, a diplomat based in Turkmenistan, at a water fun park near Manila at the weekend following a tip-off from a local child rights group.
Continue reading “Philippine police accuse Italian ambassador of human trafficking and child abuse”

Manila’s provocations reflect weakness

“The Philippines could do nothing but provoke China like a clown under the indulgence of some Western forces”
BRP Artemio Ricarte (PS-37), a Jacinto class c...
(Global Times)    07:36, March 31, 2014

The Philippines on Sunday filed a case against China’s “territorial invasion” with the UN arbitral tribunal. This comes a day after a nearly two-hour standoff between Chinese coastguard ships and Philippine supply vessels ferrying food and soldiers to Ren’ai Reef. Witnessed by more than a dozen Philippine and Western journalists invited onboard a Philippine ship, the Philippine boats “eventually maneuvered away from the Chinese blockade” and arrived at the reef, winning applause from domestic public opinion and support from the Western media. Continue reading “Manila’s provocations reflect weakness”

Philippine vessel evades Chinese Coast Guard ships in disputed waters

Philippines boat carrying supplies to soldiers evades coastguard after a two-hour stand off

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 March, 2014, 8:44pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 March, 2014, 6:02am
Agencies in Manila
A Philippine government ship slipped past a Chinese coastguard blockade yesterday and brought food and fresh troops to a marooned navy ship used as a base by Philippine troops to bolster the country’s territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea.

The cat-and-mouse-like confrontation was witnessed by journalists, who were allowed by the Philippine military to board the government vessel to show what Manila has said is “China’s bullying” in the disputed waters.

The two-hour stand-off was the latest in a series of escalations in a dispute between the two countries over their competing claims to waters and islands close to Philippine land mass.
Continue reading “Philippine vessel evades Chinese Coast Guard ships in disputed waters”

China will never tolerate Philippines’ infringement on its territory

(People’s Daily Online) 08:35, March 14, 2014

– The Philippines’s ulterior motive – to occupy the reef – is unmistakable.

– We will not take anything that isn’t ours, but we will defend every inch of territory that belongs to us.” The Philippines have chosen to turn a deaf ear to China’s warnings.

While China was working with other ASEAN countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft, and the country was worrying about the safety of the passengers in the missing plane, two ships loaded with construction materials and carrying the flags of the Philippines approached the Ren’ai Reef on March 9, 2014.

The Ren’ai Reef falls under the dominion of China’s Nansha Islands, and China claims indisputable sovereignty over the Reef. In 1999 a Philippine warship grounded on the reef, claiming it had been stranded. Since then, China has repeatedly demanded that the Philippines retrieve the warship, but the Philippines have refused to do so on the basis of claimed “technical reasons”. The Philippines’s ulterior motive – to occupy the reef – is unmistakable. Continue reading “China will never tolerate Philippines’ infringement on its territory”

Filipinos back Manila’s move to confront China over South China Sea

Move to challenge China’s territorial claims in UN-backed court popular: poll

UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2014, 1:27am

Raissa Robles in Manila


Philippine Foreign Affairs Department spokesman, Raul Hernandez. Photo: AFP

A majority of Filipinos back the Philippine government’s move to challenge China’s territorial claims over the South China Sea before an international arbitration court, according to the results of a poll released yesterday.

The poll also showed that Filipinos did not trust China much.

Philippine pollster Social Weather Stations  said 81 per cent of Filipinos it surveyed backed last January’s decision to challenge Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea in the UN-backed tribunal. Continue reading “Filipinos back Manila’s move to confront China over South China Sea”

China offers $100,000 aid to typhoon-ravaged Philippines

Tuesday, 12 November, 2013, 4:34am

Staff reporters and agencies
US and Japan send rescue teams

China, the world’s second largest economy, has offered US$100,000 in aid to the Philippines in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan.

It is the same amount as Vietnam, itself now battling to limit the damage from the storm which made landfall yesterday. Meanwhile, the US has sent US$20 million in aid, while Australia and Britain have pledged US$9.38 million and US$9.6 million respectively.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang announced yesterday that Beijing would give US$100,000 in aid to the Philippines, as the United Nations, Japan and the United States mobilised emergency relief teams and supplies after one of the biggest storms on record devastated the central Philippines on Friday. China’s offer did not include personnel, but Qin said Beijing could proceed with further assistance after consulting Manila and relief agencies.

The United States has sent 90 marines, aircraft, emergency shelters and 55 tonnes of emergency food. Tokyo is sending a team of 25 medical personnel.

The donation comes a month to the day after China criticised the US for giving tacit backing to the Philippines’ stance [1] after Manila had launched an arbitration case with the United Nations to challenge the legal validity of Beijing’s sweeping claims over the resource-rich South China Sea.

Despite an official death toll of 1,774, authorities in the Philippines fear that the toll could climb to more than 10,000. At least two million people in 41 provinces were affected by the disaster, with tens of thousands of houses destroyed.

An aerial image shows the devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan in Hernani township, Eastern Samar province, central Philippines. Photo: AP

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has declared a state of national calamity, allowing the government to use state funds for relief and rehabilitation and control prices.

Beijing’s offer highlights the fine diplomatic line it needs to walk amid its ongoing territorial dispute with Manila in the South China Sea.

“Given the tense relationship between China and the Philippines, resentment among Chinese may be triggered if Beijing helps the Philippines,” said Du Jifeng , a Southeast Asian affairs analyst at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Members of the Japan Disaster Relief Medical Team depart. Photo: ReutersQin denied any link between the aid and its relations with the Philippines.

Vietnam, despite itself being hit by a weakened Haiyan, offered emergency aid of US$100,000. It said it “stands by the Philippine people in this difficult situation”.

Reaction to the news of China’s donation among Chinese web users was mixed on Tuesday, with many commenting that Beijing should not have donated any aid.

“The Chinese government should not have offered aid in the first place to a country that’s unfriendly or even hostile to China. Instead, grass-roots organizations and individuals should be encouraged to offer aid,” wrote a microblogger by the name of Mituofo.

IN PICTURES: Typhoon Haiyan leaves a trail of devastation [2]

“China has so many impoverished areas that could use the aid money,” said another called C_Q77

One commenter on the Global Times website wrote: “So many of China’s own children are starving and don’t have enough clothes to wear – Why would the government pretend to be a good guy to other countries while turning a blind eye to your own people?”

Agence France-Presse, Reuters

Taiwan Risks Tensions With Survey of Disputed Spratlys

Oct. 9, 2013 – 02:06PM   |

TAIPEI — Taiwan has conducted a natural gas and oil survey in the disputed Spratly Islands, a legislator said Wednesday, the latest in a string of moves that risk stoking tensions over the South China Sea archipelago.

A team of technicians from the state-run CPC Corporation, Taiwan sailed to Taiping, the island in the chain that is controlled by Taipei, on Monday, legislator Lin Yu-fang’s office said in a statement.

“They completed the survey on Tuesday afternoon and were on their way back to Taiwan escorted by a naval fleet” composed of a dock landing ship and a frigate, the statement said.

Taiwan risks ratcheting up regional tensions over the Spratlys with the move. The islands are also claimed entirely or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

All the claimants except Brunei have troops based on the group of more than 100 islets, reefs and atolls, which are spread across a vast area but have a total land mass of less than five square kilometers (two square miles).

A senior assistant to Lin told AFP the step is expected to be followed by more sensitive surveys of the water in the vicinity, declining to provide details.

The geological survey came after the Taiwanese government granted the company permission in 2011 to explore for oil and natural gas in the waters off Taiping.

Taiwan maintains a small coastguard garrison on Taiping, 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) from its southern coast, and earlier this year sent new mortar and anti-aircraft systems to the islet, angering Vietnam.

Taipei also said it plans to build a dock big enough for warships in the disputed archipelago, an upgrade from the existing pier that caters only to small patrol boats.

Taiwan built a 1,150-meter (3,800-foot) runway on Taiping in mid-2006, despite protests from other countries.

The Philippines and Vietnam have been strengthening their military deployment in the area after complaining that China is becoming increasingly aggressive in asserting its own claims.

Anon posts Filipino president’s phone numbers

EEV: As with all information being claimed to be leaked ,or hacked information, without validation. This information is for entertainment value only.




Attempts to give Aquino a wake-up call and democracy a kick-start

By Phil Muncaster

Posted in Security, 17th June 2013 06:23 GMT

Customer Success Testimonial: Recovery is Everything

An Anonymous hacktivist has published what he claims to be three telephone numbers belonging to the Philippine president Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III, including his private mobile number, in a bid to urge voters to confront their leader directly.

Going by the pseudonym “#pR.is0n3r”, the hacker posted the numbers to his 10,000+ followers on Facebook on Friday night alongside the president’s home address and the address of Aquino’s office in the House of Representatives Batasan building.

Beneath the numbers is the message “This is now the chance for your voice to be heard”, alongside an Anonymous logo.

There was no confirmation as to the veracity of the phone numbers but an Aquino spokesman, Ricky Carandang, didn’t sound too happy.

“It’s cyber vandalism plain and simple,” he told AFP [1]. “We’re dealing with it. That’s all I can say for now.”

When the news wire tried to contact the numbers on Saturday morning they had apparently stopped working.

There was no further info on the Facebook page [2] of #pR.is0n3r as to exactly how he obtained the numbers but in a message sent to local paper The Star [3], the hacktivist claimed he was “100 per cent” sure they were Aquino’s.

He also complained that the president was “very silent when it comes to national issues”, adding, “We want to hear him.”

Anonymous has had run-ins with the Acquino administration in the past, most notably in January when it defaced several government web sites in response to the Cybercrime Prevention Act [4] 2012.

Local hacktivists claiming to be affiliated with the group have also been involved in a bitter online battle between Filipino and Malaysian hackers [5] which erupted after bloody clashes in the northern Borneo region of Sabah, and in tit-for-tat exchanges with patriotic Chinese over the disputed group of rocks known as Scarborough Shoal [6]. ®

PAF readies evacuation plan for 40,000 Filipinos in South Korea


MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Air Force has an evacuation plan for the 40,000 Filipinos in South Korea should tensions with North Korea escalate.

“The Philippine Air Force has contingency plans in place for the repatriation and evacuation of our countrymen in foreign lands,” Colonel Miguel Ernesto Okol said in a statement Tuesday.

He said there are two C-130 transport planes that could be used in the evacuation. Each plane can carry up to 120 people.

“We just finalize details like the air route, ground handling, other support systems plus DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] efforts to secure diplomatic clearance. Then we tailor it to a specific area or country as the need arise,” he added.

The last time the Air Force made a similar the same mission was in 2003, when it helped evacuate Filipinos in Myanmar.

China plan to board ships sets off alarm : ” potential military flash point, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes “

News Desk Philippine Daily Inquirer Publication Date : 01-12-2012

Southeast Asia’s top diplomat warned yesterday of great anxiety over China’s plan to board and search ships that illegally enter what it considers its territory in the disputed South China Sea and said it could lead to naval clashes and undermine confidence in East Asia’s economy.

Beijing, however, moved to ease international alarm over the issue and said it attaches “great importance” to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, a day after state media said police in its southern island province of Hainan will carry out the new plan.

“All countries have freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in accordance with international law,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.

New rules to come into effect on January 1 will allow police in the southern Chinese province of Hainan to board and seize control of foreign ships that “illegally enter” Chinese waters, the official China Daily reported on Thursday.

The report, which was also carried by other state media, further ratchets up tensions over Southeast Asia’s biggest potential military flash point, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes where several countries claim sovereignty.

President Aquino ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday to verify reports about the new Chinese border rule.

If the reports are true, the Philippines will defend its interests, Aquino told a news conference in Mandaue City, Cebu province.

Aquino said the Philippines had two options: raise a diplomatic protest to Beijing or bring the dispute to an international court.

“In advancing our interest, we might accelerate and bring it [to] the appropriate international tribunal to finally settle the matter or at least start the process of settling it legally and completely,” he said.

China’s plan would be difficult to implement because it runs counter to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he said.

Aquino said China had made repeated statements that it would not block freedom of navigation in the area.

Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), said yesterday that China’s plan was an escalation of tensions and a “very serious turn of events.”

“It certainly has increased a level of concern and a level of great anxiety among all parties, particularly parties that would need the access, the passage and the freedom to go through,” Surin told Reuters in an interview from Thailand.

Surin, using unusually strong language, said the plan could lead to a major incident that would affect confidence in East Asia, a major engine of global economic growth.

“It is extremely important to exercise restraint and to try to approach this development with a level head and be open to listen to concerns of all parties, all sides,” he said.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea. Asean members the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia claim various parts, and so does Taiwan.

The shortest route between the Pacific and Indian oceans, the South China Sea has some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. More than half the globe’s oil tanker traffic passes through the South China Sea.

Analysts said the plan to board foreign vessels would roil global financial markets, add to global economic uncertainty, and impact global trade that would impact China as well, said Scott Harrison, managing director of Pacific Strategies and Assessments in Manila.

In Manila, Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the Philippines should protest China’s plan.

“That’s not a good statement from China. We will just have to see what we can do to avoid this situation where they will be boarding our ships. Maybe at this point we need to file right away a protest,” Gazmin told reporters after celebration rites for the 149th birth anniversary of national hero Andres Bonifacio in Camp Aguinaldo.

Peter Paul Galvez, spokesperson for the Department of National Defence (DND), said Gazmin’s recommendation would be “the action once [the new Chinese plan] is made official” by a statement from the Chinese government itself.

Galvez said the DND was gathering more information about the new Chinese border rule.

“We are waiting for an official statement from the Chinese government,” Galvez said. “That will be something that the Department of Foreign Affairs will clarify.”

Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, chair of the House committee on national defence, said China’s plan was bound to affect the interests of countries that use the South China Sea, including the United States and European countries.

Biazon, a former military chief, urged Aquino to convene the National Security Council “so we will have a uniform voice.”

“China’s move will definitely escalate tensions in the area,” he said.

Ben Evardone, chair of the House committee on public information, said China’s plan was “provocative”.

He said Asean, the United States, and the United Nations should deal with the new Chinese move in a “collective action”.

“Clearly China is trying to bully the Philippines and other countries in the region,” Evardone said. “The Asean, UN and the US should initiate moves to preserve peace in the area and to ensure navigational freedom in the West Philippine Sea.”

Biazon said the DFA should clarify the reports directly with Beijing, and check if the order came only from Hainan province.

He said it should boost Manila’s rejection of Beijing’s insistence on bilateral talks to solve the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China.

“The problem should not be limited [to] Asean. It should be tackled at the level of the UN and include the US,” Biazon said.

“Not only [countries] in Asia will be affected. You also have countries [in] Europe, the Middle East, and Latin and North America [that] use the areas to be policed by China,” he said.

The DFA, he said, should be clarified about what “particular activities” will be covered by the new Chinese border rule.

“[How] would the order affect the international principle of innocent passage?” Biazon asked.

Reports from Nikko Dizon and Christian V. Esguerra in Manila.

Chinese police plan to board vessels in disputed seas

From Jan 1, Hainan police will seize control of foreign ships which “illegally enter” Chinese waters. -Reuters

Thu, Nov 29, 2012


CHINA – Police in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan will board and search ships which enter into what China considers its territorial waters in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Thursday, a move which could raise tensions further.

The South China Sea is Asia’s biggest potential military trouble spot with several Asian countries claiming sovereignty.

New rules, which come into effect on January 1, will allow Hainan police to board and seize control of foreign ships which “illegally enter” Chinese waters and order them to change course or stop sailing, the official China Daily reported.

“Activities such as entering the island province’s waters without permission, damaging coastal defence facilities and engaging in publicity that threatens national security are illegal,” the English-language newspaper said.

“If foreign ships or crew members violate regulations, Hainan police have the right to take over the ships or their communication systems, under the revised regulations,” it added.

China’s assertion of sovereignty over the stretch of water off its south coast and to the east of mainland Southeast Asia has set it directly against Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to parts.

China occasionally detains fishermen, mostly from Vietnam, who it accuses of operating illegally in Chinese waters, though generally frees them quite quickly.

Hainan, which likes to style itself as China’s answer to Hawaii or Bali with its resorts and beaches, is the province responsible for administering the country’s extensive claims to the myriad islets and atolls in the South China Sea.

The newspaper said that the government will also send new maritime surveillance ships to join the fleet responsible for patrolling the South China Sea, believed to be rich in oil and gas and straddling shipping lanes between East Asia and Europe and the Middle East.

The stakes have risen in the area as the US military shifts its attention and resources back to Asia, emboldening its long-time ally the Philippines and former foe Vietnam to take a tougher stance against Beijing.

China has further angered the Philippines and Vietnam by issuing new passports showing a map depicting China’s claims to the disputed waters.

India and China row over new map in passport – Claims part of India plus disputed areas of the Philippines, Vietnam, and Taiwan

A fresh row has broken out between India and China over territorial claims in the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin area in eastern Kashmir.

In new passports, China’s maps show the two areas as Chinese territory.

The Indian embassy in Beijing is said to have retaliated by stamping Chinese visas with a map of their own which shows the territories in India.

Several of China’s neighbours have also protested against the new map.

Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan have all objected because it shows disputed islands in the South China Sea and Taiwan to be a part of China.

They have described the new design as a violation of their sovereignty.

Chinese official maps have long shown Taiwan and the South China Sea to be part of its own territory, but the inclusion of such claims on the passport has caused considerable anger.

The potentially oil-rich Paracel Islands, claimed by Vietnam since their troops were forced to leave by China in the 1970s and also claimed by Taiwan, make an appearance on the map, as do the Spratly Islands, part of which are claimed by the Philippines.

The disputed Senkaku or Diaoyu islands, at the centre of recent tension between China and Japan are not included in the new document.

Relations between India and China have been uneasy – the two countries dispute several Himalayan border areas and fought a brief war in 1962.

Delhi is yet to officially take up the row over the map with Beijing.

(BBC News)

China angers neighbors with sea claims on new passports


By Manuel MogatoPosted 2012/11/22 at 4:58 am EST

MANILA, Nov. 22, 2012 (Reuters) — The Philippines and Vietnam condemned Chinese passports containing a map of China’s disputed maritime claims on Thursday, branding the new design a violation of their sovereignty.

The map means countries disputing the Chinese claims will have to stamp microchip-equipped passports of countless visitors, in effect acquiescing to the Chinese point of view.

Stand-offs between Chinese vessels and the Philippine and Vietnamese navies in the South China Sea have become more common as China increases patrols in waters believed to hold vast reserves of oil and natural gas.

“The Philippines strongly protests the inclusion of the nine-dash lines in the e-passport as such image covers an area that is clearly part of the Philippines’ territory and maritime domain,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Thursday, referring to the lines on the passport map.

Vietnam had written to China in protest against the new passports and had asked it to “reverse their incorrect content”, said Luong Thanh Nghi, a spokesman for Vietnam’s foreign ministry.

“This action by China has violated Vietnam’s sovereignty to the Paracel and Spratly islands as well as our sovereign rights and jurisdiction to related maritime areas in the South China Sea, or the East Sea,” he told a news conference.

Malaysia and Brunei are also claimants in the dispute which overshadowed an Asian leaders’ summit in Cambodia this week. China is also embroiled in a territorial dispute with Japan.

China’s foreign ministry said in a faxed response to questions that the new passports met international standards.

“The passports’ maps with their outlines of China are not targeting a specific country. China is willing to actively communicate with the relevant countries and promote the healthy development of Sino-foreign personnel exchanges,” it said.

It was not clear when China began printing the new passports.

The dispute spilled over into Southeast Asia’s normally serene government summits this year, with China accused of seeking to stall debate and divide the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) over the issue.

Philippine diplomats accused China at this week’s summit in Phnom Penh of using its influence over host Cambodia to push a formal statement saying that ASEAN did not want to “internationalize” the dispute.

The Philippines, which sees its alliance with the United States as a crucial check on China’s claims at a time when the United States is shifting its military focus back to Asia, protested to Cambodia and succeeded in having that clause removed from the final statement.

(Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing and Ngo Chau in Hanoi; writing by Stuart Grudgings in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Temperature rising in the South China Sea / Territorial showdown overshadows Obama’s trip to Southeast Asia


November 21, 2012 06:00


BANGKOK, Thailand — China’s largest claimed island in the disputed South China Sea, Yongxing, is just over half the size of New York’s Central Park. Its next-largest claim in the sea, Taiping Island, would fit inside Beijing’s Forbidden City palace with room to spare.

These outcroppings are crumbs peeking up from a vast abyss. Many are swallowed by waves at high tide. Yet many of the sea’s dribs and drabs of soil are the focus of a territorial dispute with ever-sinking odds of resolution.

This week’s East Asia and Asean summits in Cambodia highlighted again the inability of the many countries involved to reach a consensus on how to reduce tensions. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao fervently defended his country’s claim to almost all of the sea, while Obama urged Asean to work cooperatively toward a solution but stopped short of backing smaller nations against China.

China’s chief rivals in the conflict are Vietnam and the Philippines, both trumped by Beijing’s military and diplomatic might. Both now contend that as China summons more villagers, troops, tourists and even aerial drones to these islands, the dispute appears more intractable by the day.

“We’d like to shake hands with China. But it’s difficult to shake hands when your foot is on my foot,” said Henry Bensurto Jr., secretary general of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs’ maritime commission.

“There is a saying … if you’re being raped, maybe it’s good to just enjoy it,” Bensurto said. “We refuse to be like that.”

Both Vietnam and the Philippines claim dominion over large blocks of the sea extending off their shorelines. China, however, claims nearly the entire body of water. In July, it locked this zone into be a new prefecture named Sansha: a mere five square miles worth of actual land swimming in an aquatic zone larger than France.

“China’s act of defending its sovereignty is necessary and legitimate,” Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said at this week’s summit.

Much of this territory is far closer to either Vietnam or the Philippines than China’s mainland. But China’s claim rests not on proximity but on accounts of ancient mariners who got there first and occasionally left a few fishermen behind.

According to a Chinese government statement obtained by GlobalPost, the government has drawn upon “local chronicles” and ancient maps to determine that its seafarers reached these islands as early as the Han Dynasty (2nd-century BC) and no later than the Tang Dynasty in the late 8th century.

“They have been parts of China’s territory since ancient times,” according to the report. As for the yawning distance between these islands and China’s mainland turf, the report maintains that “many countries have territories which are far away from their home territory but are closer to other countries.”

Philippine or Vietnamese incursions onto these islands — sometimes situated less than an hour’s boat journey from their home terrain — are seen as “acts of invasion.” Both Vietnam and the Philippines insist that old maps don’t cut it.

“Some of these claims aren’t even generated from international law,” said Nguyen Thi Lan Anh, deputy director of Vietnam’s Center for South China Sea Studies. “They’re from historical titles. At least we need rules for this game. If no one knows the rules of the game, we can’t control the outcome.”

The driver behind this conflict is not dominion over sandy atolls jutting above the surf. These nations desire the resources that lie beneath the sea. According to China, the region is home to more than 200 billion barrels’ worth of untapped oil, an amount equal to 80 percent of Saudi Arabia’s acknowledged reserves.

Neither the Philippines or Vietnam have the money or tech savvy to conduct their own studies. “It’s just too costly and too expensive to do so at the moment,” Anh said. Still, Bensurto said, China’s citing of 1,000-year-old mariner routes is hardly a claim to the seabeds that hold all that oil.

“Is it possible,” he said, “for a country to actively claim historical title over a seabed in the Song Dynasty? Was there a submarine in the 11th century that allowed some entity to occupy property under the sea?”

Today, however, China does ply the sea with submarines. So does another lurker, the United States. Announced nuclear submarine visits to the Philippines, a longstanding ally and former US colony, are paired with forays by American surveillance ships near China’s new submarine bases in the region. In recent years, these missions have goaded China’s navy into surrounding US vessels — a message to get off Chinese turf.

China also uses airborne drones to maintain a gaze from above. Recently, the Philippines’ naval defense department threatened to shoot Chinese drones out of the sky. Recurring standoffs between Philippine and Chinese vessels at sea have revived anxiety over American intervention as the US is treaty-bound to protect the Philippines from foreign invasion.

But the South China Sea’s potential to become a new naval battlefield between the two major powers — China and the US — is still low, Bensurto said. “A very good plot in a very good movie,” he said, “but it’s not reality … our hope is that these two superpowers will come together and find a way to stop this.”

Treaty or not, America can’t risk scrambling its relationship with China over this marine dispute, said Kavi Chongkittavorn, a senior fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University.

“They have deep interdependency. They might not agree on everything but they will definitely not go into open conflict,” Kavi said. “The South China Sea is not the Middle East. The Philippines is not Israel.”

So far, China’s harshest rebukes of its rivals are voiced through government media. An op-ed in the state’s “China Internet Information Center” diminishes the Filipino and Vietnamese argument to a dishonest distraction technique: “To prevent the economic crisis from turning into social unrest, some neighboring countries chose to divert domestic tensions by hyping the so-called ‘China Threat’ and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.”

Both the Philippines and Vietnam are open to discussing joint-development projects that would benefit both China and their own governments. “The peace and stability of the region is in jeopardy,” Anh said. “We have to shelve the sovereignty dispute.”

But China, for now, appears unbudging. The government continues to promote cruise ship tourism to its claimed islands while also deploying troops and barreling ahead with oil-drilling projects in disputed terrain.

“We at least need rules of engagement so we’re able to avoid accidents with each other,” Bensurto said. “A protocol to make sure the guns pointed at each other don’t shoot.”

At the close of the Asean summit on Tuesday, they were no closer to this goal.

Japan warns that South China Sea row could damage regional stability: China stalled on a plan to ease tensions


Reuters Monday, Nov 19, 2012

PHNOM PENH – Japan warned on Monday that a row over the South China Sea could damage “peace and stability”in Asia as China stalled on a plan to ease tensions and disagreements flared between the Philippines and Cambodia over the dispute.

The acrimony provided an uneasy backdrop to United States President Barack Obama’s arrival in Cambodia for a regional summit where he is expected to urge China and Southeast Asian nations to resolve the row, one of Asia’s biggest security issues.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda challenged efforts by summit host Cambodia, a staunch China ally, to limit discussions on the mineral-rich sea, where China’s territorial claims overlap those of four Southeast Asian countries and of Taiwan.

“Prime Minister Noda raised the issue of the South China Sea, noting that this is of common concern for the international community, which would have direct impact on peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific,” a Japanese government statement said after Mr Noda met Asean leaders.

That followed a statement on Sunday from Mr Kao Kim Hourn, a Cambodian foreign ministry official, who said South-east Asian leaders “had decided that they will not internationalise the South China Sea from now on.”

In a sign of tension, Philippine President Benigno Aquino disputed the Cambodian statement and said no such agreement was reached, voicing his objections in tense final minutes of discussions between Noda and Southeast Asian leaders.

As Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen began to conclude the meeting with Mr Noda, Mr Aquino abruptly raised his hand and tersely interjected.

“There were several views expressed yesterday on Asean unity which we did not realise would be translated into an Asean consensus,” he said, according to his spokesman.

“For the record, this was not our understanding. The Asean route is not the only route for us. As a sovereign state, it is our right to defend our national interests.”

Alternative diplomatic routes for the Philippines would likely involve the US, one of its closest allies, which has said it has a national interest in freedom of navigation through the South China Sea’s vital shipping lanes.

Asean on Sunday agreed to formally ask China to start talks on a Code of Conduct (CoC) aimed at easing the risk of naval flashpoints, according to its Secretary General, Surin Pitsuwan.

But Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao appeared to play down the need for urgent action in talks on Sunday night with Mr Hun Sen.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said he could “not recall” Mr Hun Sen making a formal request for talks.

“It takes some time for China and Asean to discuss the CoC,” he said. He repeated Cambodia’s statement that Asean had reached a “common position” not to internationalise the issue, directly contradicting Mr Aquino.

Mr Obama will meet South-east Asian leaders on Monday evening before sitting down with Mr Wen on Tuesday.

China’s sovereignty claims over the stretch of water off its south coast and to the east of mainland South-east Asia set it directly against US allies Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to parts.

Sino-Japanese relations are also under strain after the Japanese government bought disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China from a private Japanese owner in September, triggering violent protests and calls for boycotts of Japanese products across China.

China prefers to address conflicts through one-on-one talks.

A Dark Day for the Philippines as Government Passes Cybercrime Act : Criminalizes anonymous online criticism

October 3, 2012 | By Jillian C. York

A Dark Day for the Philippines as Government Passes Cybercrime Act

The government of the Philippines today has passed the troubling Cybercrime Prevention Act. The Act covers a range of offenses, but—as we wrote last month—is particularly problematic because of a libel provision that criminalizes anonymous online criticism.

In addition to criminalizing online libel, Section 19 of the Act would also allow the country’s Department of Justice to block access to “computer data” that is in violation of the Act; in other words, a website hosting criminally libelous speech could be shut down without a court order.

Activists in the Philippines believe that the Act is unconstitutional and are petitioning the country’s Supreme Court to declare it so.  In their submission, the petitioning groups (including the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the Philippine Press Institute, among others), write:

In this case of first impression, this Court is asked to rule on a statute that, if allowed to stand, will set back decades of struggle against the darkness of “constitutional dictatorship” and replace it with “cyber authoritarianism”. It is fitting that the words of the President’s own platform be the backdrop against which the looming darkness is to be dispelled.

Petitioners ask this Court to rule on Republic Act No. 10175, a law that establishes a regime of “cyber authoritarianism” and undermines all the fundamental guarantees of freedoms and liberties that many have given their lives and many still give their lives work to vindicate, restore and defend. It is a law that unduly restricts the rights and freedoms of netizens and impacts adversely on an entire generation’s way of living, studying, understanding and relating.

In addition to the petition, activists have taken more steps to demonstrate their opposition. The Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance has been encouraging a SOPA-style blackout protest and yesterday initiated a protest march to the Supreme Court. On social media—where many have referred to the Act as “Cyber Martial Law”— activists are using the hashtag #NoToCybercrimeLaw to register their opposition and encourage action. And one lawyer, Argee Guevara, is seeking to instigate a test case by posting libelous comments about a doctor who filed a libel case against him in 2010.

Others have taken a different approach: Philippines news site GMA News reported that on Monday, numerous government websites were defaced by a group claiming to be ‘Anonymous Philippines.’

Just today, Senator Edgardo Angara, who introduced the Act, filed a bill to amend his own law. According to reports, one of the amendments he intends to make would require the Department of Justice to secure a court order before restricting or blocking access to computer data that violates the law.

These events echo those that followed the introduction of the Stop Online Piracy Act in the US last year. That comparison hasn’t escaped Forbes contributor Paul Tassi, who stated that the Cybercrime Act “makes SOPA look reasonable,” and pointed out that “much like SOPA, these are lawmakers who don’t understand the true implications of the law on the technology they’re attempting to regulate.”

EFF stands with the many local activists in opposing this egregious violation of freedom of expression and offers our support to the petitioners and other activists in standing against the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

The following groups and initiatives are opposing the Act, and EFF encourages support of them:

Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility The Computer Professionals Union National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Philippine Press Institute Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance