leads protest vs Chinese incursions
into Philippine territory
■ Jose Maria Sision: Concerning the Maritime Dispute of the Philippines and China, 2014
■ Jose Maria Sison: The Philippines Between Two Greedy Giants, 2013
■ Jose Maria Sison: On Philippine Sovereignty, US and China, 2012
■ Jose Maria Sison: Comment on the Philippine Case Before ITLOS and Arbitral Tribunal
■ Tonyo Cruz: Unite, think big, fight back (Interview with Jose Maria Sison)
■ Antonio Carpio: What's at Stake in Our Case Vs China
■ Interview on China and the US with Prof. Jose Maria Sison by Jan Victor Ayson
■ Interview with Prof. Jose Maria Sison on Current Issues with US and China by Tonyo Cruz
■ Carol Araullo: The Only Real Deterrent to China's Agression
■ Ellen Tordesillas: PH to submit 300-year old map to UN in case vs China
■ Q & A: South China Sea Dispute
June 4, 2015
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today led a protest in front of the Chinese consulate in the Philippines to demand a stop to aggressive actions and incursions in Philippine waters.
“We are serving notice to the Chinese government that Filipinos from different walks of life are united in opposing China’s incursions in Philippine waters. We will defend our sovereignty against the absurd claim that the entire South China or West Philippine Sea belongs solely to China,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“We ask China to respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which defines the extent of the Philippines exclusive economic zone and territorial waters. It is also the basis of the memorial filed before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. We seek peaceful solutions but we are not passive. We will resist if pushed back,” Reyes said.
Bayan however clarified that it does not support United States
intervention in the dispute, saying that this will go against national
interest. “We are not pro-China nor pro-US. We are pro-Philippines. We
advocate an independent foreign policy in dealing with disputes,” Reyes
Most controversial now is China’s massive reclamation activities in the disputed Spratly’s particularly Mischief Reef which is 130 miles off Palawan. The area is being claimed by the Philippines but is currently being occupied by China.
“What China has done to Panatag Shoal and Mischief Reef is an affront to our sovereignty. Filipinos have the patriotic duty to oppose these aggressive actions as well as to call on our own government to defend our territorial integrity,” Reyes said.
Bayan said it will join a planned June 12 rally again in front of the Chinese consulate as well as the US embassy in Manila. Nationalist group P1NAS has issued an open invitation for the protest signed by former senator Rene Saguisag, actress-director Bibeth Orteza and lawmaker Neri Colmenares.
“We don’t want to be caught in the middle of two big powers trying to outdo each other in the region. Neither China nor the US respect our sovereignty. Neither will protect our national interests. It will be up to the Filipinos to find a way to fight smart,” Reyes said.
The group said that China’s economic interests in the Philippines for
example may be legitimate targets of protests. It is considering pushing
for the nationalization of China’s 40% stake in the Philippine’s
transmission lines (TRANSCO) as a response to continued aggressive
Philippine authorities and other wishful thinkers mindlessly cling to the
illusory notion of Big Brother immediately coming to our defense despite
the fact that the US has repeatedly stated that it will not intervene in
the territorial disputes in the WPS/CHS. They also ignore the reality
that the US has far bigger, more important stakes in its relations with
China -- trillion of dollars in trade and trillion more in loans -- than
it has with its former colony.
was made clear by no less than US President Obama when he declared during
his visit in April 2014, at the height of the tensions over the WPS/SCS,
that US-PH military agreements, such as the MDT, do not bind it
automatically to take military action to defend the Philippines in the
event of a Chinese attack. Moreover, the presence of US troops, war
materiel and facilities on Philippine territory, especially on the basis
of a military alliance, could only serve as a magnet for attack from the
enemies of the US, as in WW II when Japan attacked the Philippines which
was then a US colony.
China’s 9-dash line claim of indisputable sovereignty over 90% of the South China Sea violates the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and robs the Philippines of 80% of its Exclusive Economic Zone and 100% of its Extended Continental Shelf.
Interview with Prof.
JOSE MARIA SISON
By ROSELLE VALERIO Liberation International, April 23, 2014
1. Why do you support the Philippine reactionary state in invoking the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and pursuing an arbitration case against China before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), particularly in the Arbitral Tribunal based in The Hague?
JMS: What I support is not so much the Philippine reactionary state as the invocation of the UNCLOS and upholding the sovereign rights of the Philippines and the Filipino people over the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as well as the extended continental shelf (ECS) in another 150 nautical miles from the outer limits of the EEZ. Thus, I have urged the Philippine government to act promptly on the matter.
It so happens that the Philippine state has the legal personality to pursue the case before the ITLOS. It is fine that it has filed a case against China under UNCLOS in January 2013 and the ITLOS has referred the case for hearing by one of its four mechanisms, the Arbitral Tribunal based in The Hague. On March 30, 2014 the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs submitted its Memorial to the Arbitral Tribunal that is hearing the case.
China claims “indisputable sovereignty” over 90 per cent of the South China under the so-called 9-dash line map in violation of the UNCLOS. It has hypocritically called for peaceful negotiations and consultations over what it asserts as non-negotiable issue and has also called for shelving disputes and going into joint development projects in the EEZ and ECS of the Philippines. For quite sometime, the consistent point of China has been to maneuver and paralyze the Philippines into a position of acquiescence to the false claim of China and prevent a legal case from being brought before the ITLOS under the UNCLOS.
If China is allowed to violate the UNCLOS and claim 90 percent of the South China Sea under the so-called 9-dash line map, the Philippines would suffer the loss of 80 per cent of its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea, including the Reed Bank and even Malampaya. It would also lose all its ECS. We have practically lost Mischief Reef and the Scarborough Shoal to what is veritably Chinese aggression.
Irrespective of the political and social character of the present government occupying the seat of the Philippines in the community of states, the Filipino people and all patriotic and progressive forces must uphold the national sovereignty and safeguard the territorial integrity of the Philippines, including sovereignty over the territorial sea and the internal waters and sovereign rights over the EEZ and ECS. These are fundamental points of principle in the Program of the People’s Democratic Revolution.
2. The arbitration case is supposed to involve a maritime dispute rather than a territorial dispute. Why a maritime dispute? What are the implications and consequences?
JMS: It is a given fact that the Philippines and China have their sovereign rights over their respective EEZs under the UNCLOS beyond their respective 12-mile territorial seas from their respective baselines. The EEZs, including the ECSs, of both countries do not overrlap and are far apart from each other by hundreds of nautical miles. And the UNCLOS has extinguished the so-called historical rights of China over the islets, reefs and shoals outside of its EEZ and ECS. Moreover, these so-called historical rights beyond Hainan island are false and baseless even in the time before the UNCLOS.
The Philippine case brought before the ITLOS involves a maritime dispute. It is not about a territorial dispute or a case of maritime delineation, which is not governed by the UNCLOS and is not within the jurisdiction of the ITLOS. What the Philippines is simply after in the legal case is a court ruling that there are no overlapping EECs and ECSs between the Philippines and China and that China has no reason whatsoever to prevent or interfere with the Philippines enjoying its sovereign exclusive rights over its own EEZ and ECS.
There is no territorial
dispute whatsoever between the Philippines and China, involving issues of
sovereignty or ownership over land territory, such as islands or other
elevations above water at high tide. Rocks or reefs that are below water
at high tide cannot be considered land that is subject to territorial
dispute. They are properly subject to maritime dispute that is governed by
According to the Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio who has done scholarly legal work on the matter, the arbitration case of the Philippines against China is solely a maritime dispute. It does not involve any territorial dispute. The Philippines asks the tribunal whether China’s 9-dash lines can negate the EEZ that is guaranteed to the Philippines under UNCLOS. The aggrieved state also asks the tribunal whether rocks above water at high tide, like Scarborough Shoal, generate a 200-nautical mile EEZ or only a 12-nautical mile territorial sea. The Philippines further asks the tribunal whether China can appropriate low-tide elevations (LTEs), like Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, within the Philippines’ EEZ.
3. The whole world knows how China arrogantly claims almost the entire South China Sea as being under its “indisputable sovereignty”, how in this regard it has expressed contempt towards any judicial process and how it has engaged in bullying and in aggressive occupation of islets and rocks within the EEZ of the Philippines. But in legal terms, how does China react to the arbitration case filed by the Philippines? And how does the Philippines answer?
JMS: China is determined to avoid participation in the proceedings of the Arbitral Tribunal. It argues that the Arbitral Tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case submitted by the Philippines, supposedly for two reasons: first, China can opt out of compulsory arbitration because the dispute involves maritime boundary delimitation arising from overlapping EEZs of the Philippines and China, requiring the consent of both to litigate; and second, China’s 9-dash line claim is a historical right that predates UNCLOS and cannot be invalidated by UNCLOS.
The answer of the Philippines is that the waters within China’s 9-dash lines do not constitute an EEZ because said lines are not drawn from baselines along the coast of China or any of its islands. China’s 9-dash lines do not comply with the UNCLOS for drawing EEZs. There is in fact no EEZ of China that overlaps with the Philippines’ EEZ. Relative to the Scarborough area, China’s baselines are either along the coast of Hainan Island, which is 580 NM from Luzon, or along the coast of mainland China, which is 485 NM miles from the Zambales coastline in Luzon facing Scarborough Shoal. Even the Chinese-held Paracels are 480 miles from Luzon.
Low-tide elevations (LTEs) in the Spratlys within the 200-nautical mile EEZ of the Philippines, like Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, are subject to the sovereign rights of the Philippines. Under the UNCLOS, only the Philippines can construct structures here. China has no right whatsoever to occupy and construct structures on any of the LTEs in the EEZ of the Philippines.
4. How does the Philippine debunk China’s invocation of historical rights to claim almost the entirety of the China Sea and even certain habitable islands (as in the Paracels) previously conceded to Vietnam at the 1951 San Francisco Peace Conference and nonhabitable islets, shoals and reefs that are within the EEZ of the Philippines and other countries?
The prevalent view, if not almost unanimous, among non-Chinese scholars on the law of the sea is that China’s “historical right” to the waters within the 9-dash lines in the South China Sea is completely without basis under international law. First of all, the UNCLOS extinguished all historical rights of other states within the EEZ of a coastal state. Thus, the term “exclusive” is used to denote the sovereign rights of a coastal state over its exclusive economic zone. Fishing rights that people from Hainan, Taiwan and Japan previously enjoyed in what would become the Philippine EEZ were automatically terminated upon the effectivity of UNCLOS. The UNCLOS does not allow any state to invoke historical rights in order to claim the EEZs or ECSs of other coastal states.
The historical records show that never did any state claim, beyond the 12-nautical mile territorial sea, that the South China Sea is its internal waters or territorial sea, until 1947 when China domestically released its 9-dash line map and 2009 when China officially notified the world of its 9-dash line claim and submitted the 9-dash line map to the United Nations Secretary General. No country other than China recognizes the validity and effectivity of China’s 9-dash line claim. China has never effectively enforced its claim between 1947 and 1994 when UNCLOS took effect, and even thereafter. Outside of the valid territorial sea of China, ships have freely crossed the South China Sea and planes have flown over it, without having to get permission from China.
The waters enclosed within China’s 9-dash lines cannot form part of China’s EEZ or ECS because they are beyond the limits of China’s EEZ and ECS as drawn from China’s baselines in accordance with UNCLOS. Such waters do not fall under any of the maritime zones – internal waters, territorial sea, EEZ and ECS – which are recognized by international law or UNCLOS. So far, China has not explained to the world what kind of maritime regime the 9-dash line waters fall under. It simply keeps on harping ad nauseam that it has “indisputable sovereignty” over such waters by “historical right.”
5. You have made fun of China’s “historical right” to having “indisputable sovereignty” over the entire South China Sea by comparing it with the irridentist ambitions of Mussolini to reclaim the territories that previously belonged to the ancient Roman empire. Don’t you think that it is useful to examine and test the factual basis of the “historical right” invoked and asserted by China in order to debunk its arrogant claim to “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea.
JMS: Indeed, it is useful to examine and test the factual basis of China’s claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea as a matter of “historical right”. And in the process, you can have a few laughs. For instance, China claims that Scarborough Shoal, or Huangyan Island to the Chinese, is the Nanhai island that the 13th century Chinese astronomer-engineer-mathematician Guo Shoujing allegedly visited in 1279, upon the order of Kublai Khan, the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, to conduct a survey of the Four Seas to update the Sung Dynasty calendar system.
But in the document entitled “China’s Sovereignty Over Xisha and Zhongsa Islands Is Indisputable” dated January 30, 1980, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially declared that the Nanhai island that Guo Shoujing visited in 1279 was in Xisha or what is internationally called the Paracels, a group of islands more than 380 nautical miles from Scarborough Shoal. China has thus debunked itself and is estopped from claiming the shoal. The Chinese claim to the shoal becomes hilarious when the purported historical account depicts Guo Shoujing going ashore on the small rock and building on it a massive observatory with a height of 12.6 meters.
The Murillo map is the oldest map in the world showing Scarborough Shoal as part of the Philippine archipelago. It was first issued in 1734 during the Spanish colonial period. It is entitled Mapa de las Islas Filipinas. It was drawn up by the Spanish priest Fr. Pedro Murillo. It clearly shows Scarborough Shoal, then called Panacot, in the vicinity of Zambales. Filipino fishermen called the shoal Panacot and often went to it for fishing.
One more absurd and funny claim of China is that the southernmost territory in the South China Sea is James Shoal, 50 nautical miles from the coast of Bintulu, Sarawak, East Malaysia. This shoal is a fully submerged reef, 22 meters under water. It is entirely within Malaysia’s EEZ and is more than 950 nautical miles from China. It is obvious that Chinese leaders and cartographers claimed James Shoal as China’s southernmost territory without anyone of them seeing it. But once more the Chinese narrative goes hilarious as it speaks of Chinese going ashore to “visit” James Shoal. James Shoal is unique for being the only national border in the world that is fully under the sea and too far beyond the territorial sea of the claimant state.
Many errors crept into the map of South China Sea made by the “Inspection Committee for Land and Water Maps” created by the Republic of China in 1933. The committee merely copied the existing British maps and changed the names of the islands by either translating them or transliterating them to make them sound Chinese. For example, Antelope Reef was translated as Lingyang and Spratly Island was transliterated as Sipulateli. The Chinese map even copied 20 errors in the British map (which misrepresented non-islands as islands) which the British map makers would later correct.
All Chinese official maps during the Yuan, Ming and Ching Dynasties acknowledged Hainan island as the southernmost border of China. These Chinese dynasty maps never mentioned the Paracels, the Spratlys, Scarborough Shoal, the 9-dash lines or the U-shaped lines. The Chinese Government officially declared to the world in 1932 that the “southernmost part of Chinese territory” or border was Hainan Island. In the 1951 San Francisco Peace Conference, the Soviet Union demanded on behalf of China that the Paracels and Spratlys be turned over to China but the demand was rejected by a vote of 48 states to 3 states.
The Chinese should not mislead themselves into thinking that they own the entire South China Sea just because the European mariners and cartographers gave it such name. The Chinese do not own it as much as the Indians do not own the entire Indian Ocean. Long before the Chinese imperial admiral Zeng He undertook his famous sea voyages from 1405 to 1433 A.D., the prehistoric inhabitants of the Philippines had fished in the waters, now within the Philippine EEZ, and the Filipino traders had become masters of the South China Sea in the course of trading with China, Indochina and their brother Malays in what are now Indonesia, Kalimantan and Malaysia.
6. A Chinese professor from the University of Beijing wrote recently that China has the right to own islands, islets, reefs and shoals even within the EEZ of the Philippines, as in the case of British isles being dependencies of Britain even as they are geographically far closer to France?
JMS: Such scholars conveniently do not mention the fact that the British isles referred to have long been inhabited by the British and have been recognized as British dependencies by nearby states and to my knowledge all other countries. They might as well mention the colonial possessions of Britain in far flung areas in the history of British colonialism and imperialism. In an effort to hold on to the Malvinas or what they they call the Falklands, the British have combined the aggressive use of imperialist force and the deployment of British settlers.
7. Is it possible and mutually beneficial for the Philippines and China to engage in joint development projects within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines? What are now the obstacles? Why is it that China has manifested aggressive behavior?
JMS: It is possible and
mutually beneficial if first of all both China and the Philippines
simultaneously recognize their sovereign rights over their respective
EEZs and ECSs and then immediately agree on joint development projects.
It is preposterous if such joint development is subject to the
precondition of recognizing China’s “indisputable sovereignty” under its
9-dash line claim over almost the entire South China Sea.
The Philippines and the Filipino people cannot take lightly or ignore the aggressive actions already taken by China in connection with its greedy claim of owning almost the entire South China Sea. Through aggressive actions, China has grabbed the Mischief Reef in 1995 and Scarborouigh Shoal in 2012. Earlier it grabbed from Vietnam the Paracels in 1974 and Fiery Reef Cross in 1988. By all indications, China is poised to force out the handful of Philippine marines aboard the shipwrecked Philippine navy boat on Ayungin Reef, a low tide elevation in the EEZ of the Philippines in the Spratlys. Armed aggression violates the UN Charter.
The Filipino people should understand that China since the death of Mao has become a capitalist country. As the neoliberal partner of US imperialism, it has prominently promoted big comprador operations such as the proliferation of export-oriented sweatshops, privatization of the rural industries built under Mao and the wanton use of finance capital to generate a private construction boom and consumerism among less than 10 per cent of the population.
It converted proletarian state power into a bourgeois nationalist power and indeed developed further its industrial base, including its production of advanced weapons. Although it still has a relatively low per capita GDP, China is already a big capitalist power with the economic features of a modern imperialist power and is on the verge of a definitive kind of military aggression.
8. In legal terms, what are the prospects of the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China? What are the prospects in political and economic terms? How do you take into account the further entrenchment of US imperialism in the Philippines and the collusion and contention between the US and China?
JMS: The Philippines has a good chance of winning the case. The approach in the case is excellent. It is a maritime dispute and not a territorial dispute. It attacks the outrageous claim of “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea. To be benefited is not only the Philippines but also the other state claimants to EEZs and ECSs under the UNCLOS and all the people of the world who are interested in free and safe navigation over the South China Sea by ship and by airplane.
I estimate that the judges will make a ruling that yields the benefits that I have just mentioned and that keeps the South China Sea from becoming a hotbed of aggression based on the overreaching claims of China or the US. China insists that it can defy compulsory arbitration by arguing out of court that the case filed by the Philippines with the ITLOS is not a maritime dispute but territorial dispute or dispute over maritime delineation which are not governed by the UNCLOS and are outside the jurisdiction of the UNCLOS.
It cannot escape from compulsory arbitration because the tribunal can consider and rule on the pleading of the Philippines and weigh the arguments given by China for not participating in the process. If the ruling of the Arbitral Tribunal is not favorable to it, China will probably behave better in the face of the international community or will proceed on a path of imperialist aggression.
A decision favorable to the Philippines can be a good basis for pro-actively offering cooperation to China and for telling the US to stop pretending as the protector of the Philippines against China and to cease its unbridled plundering and further military entrenchment in the Philippines. Unlike the US, China is a country that has never carried out a fullscale aggression to conquer the Philippines. It has the capacity and probable willingness to help the Philippines achieve national industrialization through equitable and friendly economic and trade relations.
However, the Philippines and the Filipino people must be always vigilant to the relationship of collusion and contention between the US and China in a world still suffering from imperialism, neocolonialism and the revisionist betrayal of socialism and the revolutionary forces of the people are just beginning to reinvigorate themselves and resurge.
9. What ought to be the long term view of the Filipino people and the patriotic and progressive forces in upholding national sovereignty, territorial integrity and sovereign rights over the exclusive economic zone and the extended continental shelf?
JMS: The Philippines should be independent of the US, China and other capitalist powers. To have their own strength and gain the respect, solidarity and cooperation of other peoples, the Filipino people should win the new democratic revolution and proceed to the socialist revolution. They must attain national sovereignty and democracy for the toiling masses of workers and peasants, realize social justice, carry out land reform and national industrialization, promote a patriotic and progressive culture and develop cooperative relations with all countries for the sake of peace and development.
10. What would you suggest as study material for understanding the dispute of the Philippines and China in connection with the latter’s claim of indisputable sovereignty over the entire South China Sea and even the West Philippine Sea, where the Philippines has its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and extended continental shelf (ECS)?
JMS: The most studious should read and study the 4000-page memorial of the Philippines in its arbitration case against China, submitted to
By John Toledo
1. Historically, who are the original claimants of the West Philippine Sea? Where did this dispute come from? Who are the claimants today?
Prof. Jose Maria Sison (JMS): Let us first put into context what you refer to as the West Philippine Sea. The Spratlys are a group of 250 islets plus the shoals and reefs spread over 265,542 square kilometers. They are claimed entirely by China, Taiwan and Vietnam and in part by Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines. The part of the Spratlys claimed by the Phiippines is what it calls the Kalayaan group of islets located in the West Philippine Sea.
China, Taiwan and Vietnam claim ownership of all the Spratlys supposedly since ancient times on the basis of historical references, seasonal visits by their fishermen and assertions of claims against colonizers as well as yielding of the Spratlys by the Japanese to the French and thus to Vietnam in the San Francisco peace treaty after World War II. Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines claim parts of the Spratlys that are geographically closest to them and within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone under the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) plus prehistorical and historical claims that the islets concerned have long been the fishing grounds of their respective fishermen.
2. Why is the West Philippine Sea being claimed by China and Philippines? Is it economically and politically useful? Why or why not?
China arrogantly claims not only the entire Spratlys but also the entire sea south and east of China as its property and by making military shows of strength to assert its claims. But the Kalayaan group of islets, the Recto (Reed ) and Panatag Shoal (Scarborough) are all within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines under the UNCLOS. It is wrong for China to claim these.
In economic terms, the contested islets and shoals and the waters around them are at least rich fishing grounds and sources of corals but they also have a high potential as sources of gas and oil. The Recto Bank is well known for having rich gas and oil deposits as a result of explorations. In political and military terms, the contested islets and shoals can serve as outposts for military vessels and for controlling navigation and commerce or evoking power and influence.
3. Why is US joining in the conflict? Why is it strategic for US to support the Philippines with many armed forces and materials?
The US is fishing in troubled waters. As a matter of fact, it is responsible for stirring up trouble in the first place. It has undertaken controlled trouble-making just to make the Philippine reactionary puppet government run to it for support, to have the reason for entrenching US military forces in the Philippines and to have the Philippines as a base for influencing policies and development within China. The US has strategic objectives in using the Philippines as a strategic base in the US encirclement of China.
4. Is it logically possible that China will wage war on the Philippines because of this West Philippine Sea dispute? Or is it just a ploy for US to wage war with China? Why or why not?
China will not wage war on the Philippines but it will continue to take calculated actions, including shows of force, to discourage and prevent Philippine attempts to control and occupy the contested islets and develop the gas and oil resources there. Neither will the US wage war with China to support the Philippines in the territorial dispute. It has far more economic and political interests in good relations with China than in those with the Philippines.
The US has repeatedly proclaimed that it is neutral in the territorial dispute between China and Philippines. The most it can say is that it is militarily entrenching itself in the Philippines in order to discourage China from attacking the Philippines. However, it will not act militarily against the calculated military moves of China to prevent Philippine attempts to explore and develop the gas and oil resources in the contested islets and shoals.
But China and the US might even make a deal to exploit the gas and oil resources for the benefit of US and Chinese corporations and some big comprador Filipino-Chinese firms or the Indonesian-Chinese firm (Salim group) being managed by Manuel V. Pangilinan. The whole world knows that the mineral ores of the Philippines are being wantonly excavated by US, Japanese, Canadian, Australian, Swiss, Chinese and other foreign firms, together with their big comprador allies. And China has been a major destination of the mineral ores.
In an attempt to look nationalist, the US-Aquino regime is obviously play-acting against China over the well-hyped territorial disputes. It is well within the bounds of the collaboration between the US and China. The US is steering the Philippine government towards the attainment of the narrow self-interest and strategic objectives of the US.
One more reason why the US is entrenching itself militarily in the Philippines and using this as part of the US encirclement of China is not to wage war soon but to influence policies and developments in China. The US is trying to realize the complete privatization of the most strategic state-owned enterprises in China and to promote the liberalization of Chinese politics to the point of doing away with the authoritarian rule and causing the weakening or even disintegration of the bureaucrat monopoly capitalism.
5. What are the implications of the Sino-Philippine territorial dispute in relation to the sovereignty of the Philippines?
What is tragic about the Philippine ruling system of big compradors and landlords is that it is weak and servile to imperialist powers and that both the US and China take advantage of the Philippines. The US pretends to protect the Philippines but it is a bantay salakay. Having long become a capitalist country, China cannot be expected to be a gentle and generous giant.
The Filipino people can
best assert their national sovereignty and defend their territorial
integrity by overthrowing the ruling system and establishing a people´s
democratic state that is truly independent and democratic, determined to
carry out land reform and industrialization, realizes social justice and
aims for socialism. Such a state is capable of using effective diplomacy
and defending its territory against intruders. ###
Reply to Questions from Renato Reyes, BAYAN Secretary General
Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Renato Reyes (RR): I hope that you can answer briefly the following questions re China, Philippines and the assertion of national sovereignty. We have an all-leaders meeting this Saturday and we are trying to get views on how to deal with the issue of China’s incursions on Philippine territory, the Aquino regime’s response and US intervention.
Jose Maria Sison (JMS): First of all, as a matter of principle, the Filipino people must assert their national sovereignty and Philippine territorial integrity over the issue of Spratlys (Kalayaan) and other islands, reefs and shoals which are well within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). According to the Philippine reactionary government, it submitted on time to the UN the necessary scientific and technical grounds to define the Philippine 200-mile EEZ under UNCLOS.
The UNCLOS is the strongest legal basis for the definition of the territorial sea and EEZ of the Philippine archipelago.. Also, archaeological evidence shows that the islands, reefs and shoals at issue have been used by inhabitants of what is now the Philippines since prehistoric times. But the Philippine reactionary government muddles the issue and undermines its own position by making historical claims that date back only to a few decades ago when pseudo-admiral Cloma made formal claims to the Kalayaan group of islands.
Chinese historical claims since ancient times amount to an absurdity as this would be like Italy claiming as its sovereign possession all areas previously occupied by the Roman empire. The name China Sea was invented by European cartographers and should not lead anyone to think that the entire sea belongs to China. In the same vein, neither does the entire Indian Ocean belong to India.
RR 1: How do we view the incursions and aggressive behavior of China in territories claimed by the Philippines? Is this aggressiveness proof that China has imperialist ambitions and should be criticized as an imperialist power? What is the relationship between China’s revisionist regime and its apparent desire to flex its muscles in the region?
JMS: The Filipino people and progressive forces must oppose what may be deemed as incursions and what may appear as aggressive behavior of China with regard to the territories belonging to the Philippines. But so far China’s actions and actuations manifest assertiveness rather than outright military aggression. The Philippine reactionary government should desist from self-fulfilling its claim of China’s aggression by engaging in an anti-China scare campaign.
The Filipino people and progressive forces must consciously differentiate their position from that of the Aquino regime, its military subalterns and its Akbayan special agents who pretend to be super patriots against China but are in fact servile to the interests of US imperialism and are using the anti-China scare campaign to justify the escalation of US military intervention in the Philippines and US hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region.
At any rate, China must not violate Philippine national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea it agreed to with the ASEAN. The apparently aggressive or assertive acts and words of China are in consonance with its own premise of national sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as with the bourgeois character of the Chinese state that may indicate an imperialist tendency or ambitions.
The Chinese state is blatantly a capitalist state. Only occasionally does it claim to be socialist so as to cover up its capitalist character as the revisionists in power systematically did in the past. Whatever is its character, the Chinese state must not infringe or threaten to infringe Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity. When it does, it opens itself to criticism and opposition by political and diplomatic action.
RR 2: On the other hand, would criticism of China serve the US ploy of increasing its military presence in the region by supporting the claim that China is indeed a major threat to Philippine sovereignty? Would such criticism serve to support the claim that China is indeed a major threat while obfuscating the US continuous undermining and violation of Philippine sovereignty? How important is it that the Left join in the assertion of Philippine sovereignty against incursions by China?
JMS: Criticism and opposition to any actual incursion by China is consistent with
the assertion of national sovereignty and does not serve the US ploy so long as we expose at the same time why and how the Aquino regime’s posture against alleged incursions by China are meant to serve US goals in the region.
We must be alert to and oppose the malicious efforts of the US and the Aquino regime to hype China as an imperialist aggressor in order to allow the No. 1 imperialist power to further entrench itself militarily in the Philippines and realize its strategy of encircling China and enhancing its hegemony over East Asia and entire Asia-Pacific region. You should take critical notice of the fact that the agents of US imperialism like Aquino, his military sidekicks and his Akbayan hangers-on are presenting themselves as superpatriots against China while they allow the US to increase the presence of military forces and activities under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Balikatan exercises and various other pretexts.
It is a matter of principle to invoke national sovereignty and territorial integrity against China’s claims on certain islands, reefs and shoals that belong to the Philippines. But we should expose and oppose the US and the Aquino regime for actively undertaking what are obviously anti-China provocations and propaganda aimed at justifying the escalation of US military intervention and further entrenchment of US forces in the Philippines, as part of the strategic scheme of the US to preserve and strengthen its hegemony over the Asia-Pacific region, particularly East Asia.
Further, the US imperialists are increasing their pressure on China to privatize its state-owned enterprises, to restrain its bourgeois nationalist impulses, to yield further to US economic and security dictates and to further promote the pro-US or pro-West bourgeois forces within China. In comparison to the Philippines, China is a far larger country for imperialist exploitation and oppression. Having more economic and political interests in China than in the Philippines, the US is using the Philippines as a staging base for actions aimed at pressuring and influencing China rather than protecting the Philippines from China.
The US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty does not contain an automatic retaliation provision. The US has used this treaty as the basis for the Visiting Forces Agreement and for the escalation of US military intervention in the Philippines. But in case of attack from any foreign power, the Philippines has no basis for expecting or demanding automatic retaliation from the US. The treaty allows the US to act strictly in its national interest and use its constitutional processes to bar the Philippines from demanding automatic retaliation against a third party that attacks the Philippines.
The US and China can always agree to cooperate in exploiting the Philippines. In fact, they have long been cooperating in exploiting the Philippines. The Chinese comprador big bourgeoisie in both the Philippines (Henry Sy, Lucio Tan and the like) and China (within the bureaucracy and outside) are trading and financial agents of the US and other imperialist powers.
RR 3: The Aquino government has availed of diplomatic venues to resolve the dispute. Meanwhile, the Chinese incursions continue. The Philippines is a weak country militarily and has no capability for securing its territory. What would be the requirements for the
Philippines to be able to effectively assert its sovereignty (not limited of course to questions of territory)? Briefly, how can the Philippines develop a credible external defense?
JMS: Rather than entertain hopes that the Aquino regime would defend Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Filipino people and progressive forces must resolutely and militantly expose and oppose the puppetry, shameless mendicancy and the hypocrisy of the regime in pretending to be for national sovereignty and territorial integrity against China while inviting and welcoming increased US military intervention in the Philippines and using the country as a base for strengthening US hegemony in the Asia Pacific region.
Only the Filipino people and revolutionary forces can gain the capability to secure, control and defend their territory by fighting for and achieving national and social liberation in the first place from US imperialist domination and from such reactionary regimes of the big compradors and landlords like the Aquino regime. Otherwise the US and their puppets will always be the bantay salakay at the expense of the people.
When the Filipino people and revolutionary forces come to power, they will certainly engage strongly among others in metal manufacturing, ship building and fishing in close connection with securing the Philippine territorial sea and exclusive economic zone.
They shall have internal political-military strength and socio-economic satisfaction. And they shall develop international solidarity and use diplomatic action against any foreign power that violates Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity.
At the moment, the US and Aquino regime are engaged in a calibrated anti-China propaganda campaign in order to justify and allow the US to control the Philippines and East Asia militarily. We are being subjected to an anti-China scare aimed at further strengthening the dominance of US imperialism and the domestic rule of its reactionary puppets like Aquino. Right now, we must give the highest priority to fighting these monsters.
The Filipino people and the progressive forces must complain to the entire world against any incursive act of China and at the same time against the maneuvers of the US and its Filipino puppets to use the anti-China campaign to further oppress and exploit the Filipino nation and people. By the way, the Aquino regime blows hot and cold against China. In fact, it is vulnerable to China’s manipulation of Philippine exports to China like some semimanufactures and agricultural and mineral products.
When the Filipino people and revolutionary forces win, they shall be able to bring up through official representatives the issues concerning the UNCLOS to the UN General Assembly and the Hamburg-based International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. They can encourage the cooperation of certain countries like Russia and Norway to avoid unwelcome impositions from US, UK and Netherlands in the exploration and development of oil and gas in the areas of the Philippines.
Even at this time, approaches can be made to China to avoid confrontations and tensions over the territories that belong to the Philippines and to engage in all-round cooperation for mutual benefit, especially for the advance of national independence, the industrial development of the Philippines and the termination of the extremely oppressive and exploitative US hegemony over East Asia, which victimizes both the Philippines and China.
RR 4: What approaches would you like the Philippines to make towards China? Were such approaches taken into account in the 2011 NDFP proposal to the Aquino regime for an alliance and truce? In this regard, what can the Left do in view of the rabid servility of the Aquino regime to the US.
JMS: China has been known for its policy of dealing diplomatically solely with the state (rather than with the revolutionary forces) in any country and for its flexibility in considering the needs and demands of that state or country. It is not as imposing and as aggressive as the US in diplomatic and economic relations with other countries. It tries to comply with what it professes, such as the principles of independence, non-interference, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit.
Thus, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines has proposed to the Aquino regime strategic alliance and truce in the context of peace negotiations. It has challenged the Aquino regime to make a general declaration of common intent with the NDFP to assert national independence and end unequal treaties and agreements; expand democracy through empowerment of the workers and peasants; carry out national industrialization and land reform; foster a patriotic, scientific and pro-people culture; and adopt an independent foreign policy for world peace and development.
A key part of the NDFP proposal is for the Philippines to approach China and other countries for cooperation in the establishment of key industrial projects for the national industrialization of the country. Certainly, it would be greatly beneficial for the Filipino people that the Philippines is industrialized and ceases to be merely an exporter of raw materials, semi-manufactures and migrant workers, mostly women.
But the US agents in the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and in Akbayan and Aquino himself supplied information on the NDFP proposal to the US embassy and Washington. They proceeded to cook up the anti-China scare campaign in order to undercut the proposal and serve US imperialist interests. It would be absurd for BAYAN, Bayan Muna and MAKABAYAN to join the rabidly pro-Aquino Akbayan or even compete with it in the anti-China scare campaign that draws away attention from US imperialism as well as justifies US military intervention and aggression in the Philippines and the whole of East Asia and the Asia-Pacific.
The people should know that the agents of US imperialism in the Aquino regime have used various malicious and cruel tactics to block the road to a just peace. The tactics include the abduction, torture and extrajudicial killing of NDFP consultants in violation of JASIG and the continued imprisonment of hundreds of political prisoners in violation of CARHRIHL.
RR 5: How would you describe the contradictions between the US and China? On one hand, the US is wary of the rise of China as a military power and has sought to encircle China, yet on the other hand, the US economy is closely linked to China’s. and China is said to be the biggest creditor of the US.
JMS: There is unity and struggle between two capitalist powers in the relationship between the US and China. The US is not yet really worried about China having the military strength that can be projected outside its borders. It is more worried about China’s military strength being able to defend China, fend off US imperialist dictates and threats and combat separatist forces in Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang.
The US strategy of encirclement is calculated to keep China as a friendly partner in the exploitation of the Chinese and other peoples. The US and China have already more than three decades of being close partners in promoting and benefiting from the neoliberal policy of globalization. The super-exploitation of the Chinese working people, China’s trade surpluses and huge indebtedness of the
US to China
are matters well within the negotiable relations of two capitalist powers, which would rather go on taking advantage of the working people rather than go to war against each other.
efforts of China to find its own sources of energy and raw materials and
markets and fields of investment can be at times irritating or even
infuriating to the US (when the conflicts of interest occur as in Iran,
Sudan, Libya and Syria). But the capitalist powers can settle their
relations with each other at the expense of the working people and
underdeveloped countries, until the crisis of the world capitalist system
further worsens to the point that a number of capitalist powers accelerate
their aggressiveness and even become fascist in their home grounds. ###
BEFORE ITLOS AND ARBITRAL TRIBUNAL
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
In a previous interview, I said that the strongest piece of international law in favor of the Philippines is the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), particularly with regard to the 200 mile exclusive economic zone. I even challenged the Manila government to file a case in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
By manifestations through writing and mass actions, the patriotic and progressive forces have stood for Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity over the islands or islets in question in the sea west of the Philippines on the basis of UNCLOS and other international instruments. This is not the first time that their position has concurred with that of the Philippine reactionary government on a territorial issue, as in the case of Sabah.
It is better than not for the Philippines to file the case before ITLOS and in particular the Arbitral Tribunal as the chosen mechanism for arbitration regarding the islands or islets west of the Philippines. When the revolutionary government gains the personality to make representations for the Philippines in the community of states,it will certainly take responsibility for asserting territorial integrity.
The Chinese government of today invokes the position of previous Chinese governments as far back as the feudal dynasties in the same manner as the irredentist Mussolini of Italy invoked the scope of the ancient Roman empire to claim territories. The Chinese government also argues that certain territories are owned by a country no matter how far those are and closer to other countries. But it should also mention that such territories are usually habitated by nationals of the owning country (e.g. British territories closer to Germany and France than to UK) or occupied through colonization (e.g. Malvinas island and all previous British colonies).
The Philippines cannot accept the view that China is ever willing to negotiate with the Philippines and yet it asserts from beginning to end that its claim of sovereignty over the islands in question is nonnegotiable. What China actually means is that it has the sovereignty and territorial integrity over the islands and the Philippines can only negotiate or beg for some accommodations like permission for Filipino fishermen to fish in the area, to have more time to tow away the stranded boat on Ayungin shoal or continue the joint oil exploration stupidly agreed to by the Arroyo regime.
I do not agree with the view that the Philippines should not have filed the case against China before ITLOS and the Arbitral Tribunal, supposedly because the Philippines should fear retaliation from China and/or because the Philippines stands to gain something from “negotiating” with China. Even after filing of the case, it is still possible to negotiate the issue out of court. After all, there are more matters than this issue that require both China and the Philippines to negotiate and transact business. In the first place, filing the case before ITLOS and the Arbitral Tribunal is not a violent act at all, no matter how China presents it as a hostile act. Had the Philippines desisted from filing the case, China would have certainly used the desistance as proof of a Philippine lack of conviction and interest in the case.
The national democratic movement must stand firm for national sovereignty and territorial integrity and should not give a chance to the Aquino regime, its military minions and propagandists to misrepresent it as pro-China on the issue at hand in order to favor their vicious use of the issue to justify their collaboration with the US in the violation of Philippine national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The US is a long-standing violator and a far bigger transgressor of Philippine territory than other foreign forces. It has arrogated unto itself the power and privilege of occupying the Philippines at will under the guise of protector and under other guises.
A former diplomatic official of the Philippine reactionary government has said that it is futile for the Philippines to file a case before ITLOS and the Arbitral Tribunal. He says that China can refuse to go before the international tribunal and that, as a matter of real politik, China can even defy a ruling favorable to the Philippines because the tribunal does not have any enforcement agency and China has veto power in the UN Security Council. Furthermore, the US will in fact remain neutral over the issue between China and Philippines or can even join China in the exploitation of oil and gas resources in the disputed area. But it is decisively necessary and better for the Philippines to make a well-grounded and sustained case before the international tribunal and before world public opinion, especially for long-term purposes, than do nothing at all.
The national democratic movement should assert that the islands in question belong to the Filipino people or the Philippines as a country in accordance with the UNCLOS and oppose the following:
1. The claim and related actions of China in contravention of the UNCLOS.
2. The US for taking advantage of the territorial dispute in order to entrench itself further in the Philippines and does worse than China in encroaching upon the entire Philippines and violating Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity.
3. The Philippine reactionary government for puppetry to the US, for believing that the US is its best protector against China and for belatedly making the case before ITLOS and the Arbitral Tribunal.
The national democratic movement should take a long term view. The future revolutionary government shall be in a fundamentally better position to assert national sovereignty and territorial integrity because it shall engage in national industrialization and become capable of producing the ships, planes and other instruments to defend the country and people. It shall be in a position to deal properly with the Chinese comprador big bourgeoisie now expĺoiting the Philippines and the Chinese mining operations now plundering the natural resources of the Philippines and all other forms of unwelcome Chinese intrusions.
It shall not be limited to being a passive object of
interest of the US and China and shall avail of broad diplomatic and trade
relations in order to preempt subservience to any foreign power. Now and
in the future, the more than one hundred million Filipino people and the
other hundreds of millions of people in Southeast Asia should not allow
themselves to be bullied by any foreign power.###
by Tonyo CruzApril 24, 2015
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Utrecht, The Netherlands — The “conventional wisdom” on how to fight back against China’s intrusions on Philippine territory is simple: We’re helpless as a country and thus we need to depend on the US, allow US military forces to come in, and let Americans build new bases.
Many don’t buy this BS promoted by the BS Aquino administration. Among them is Prof. Jose Maria Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Many would be surprised by Sison’s position, given the widespread (and outdated) view that the movement he founded was inspired by and supportive of Chinese communists.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
In an exclusive interview here in this Dutch city where he lives as a political refugee, Sison clarified that Filipino communists admired China when it undertook socialist revolution and construction, among others.
But not anymore – and actually for decades now. In many public statements, Sison has in fact repeatedly derided, condemned, and even poked fun at China’s disputed claims on the South China Sea. The CPP meanwhile has been calling the Chinese Communist Party as “social-imperialist” and “revisionist” for turning its back on socialism.
In the interview, Sison championed the Philippines and flatly denied that the country is helpless in the face of China’s bullying and intrusions.
According to Sison, “the Philippines is not really helpless in opposing Chinese acts of aggression in its grabbing of 100 percent of the Extended Continental Shelf (ECS) and 80 percent of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and in its reclamation activities on the reefs and islets of the Philippines.”
Mincing no words, Sison explained that “China is engaged in aggression to counter the case filed by the Philippines before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”
“If the court case before the ITLOS would be decided in favor of the Philippines, China would be liable for grabbing the West Philippine Sea and destroying the maritime environment. But still, if China would not respect the court decision, the Philippines and the other countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be able to expose as hypocritical the so-called peaceful rise of China,” Sison added.
Sison raised the idea of a patriotic, pro-Filipino movement to express outrage and press the government to let go of its small-mindedness in the fight against China.
“The most that the Philippines can do is to ban and nationalize Chinese state and private enterprises in the Philippines, which are now involved in private construction and real estate, shopping malls and retail trade, import-export, semi-manufacturing, power generation, transport and communications, banking, insurance, mining, logging, plantations, and so on,” said Sison.
For Sison, “the best option is to rely on the patriotic strength of the Filipino people in fighting for their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
“Filipinos should stop thinking small,” said Sison. “The Philippines has about 102 million population, has rich natural resources, and is bigger in size than several developed countries.”
Sison notes that “increasingly, the Filipino people and the patriotic organizations are already protesting in the streets and in the print and electronic media. Filipinos are often making protests before the Chinese embassy, to cite an outstanding act of protest in the Philippines. Even Filipinos abroad, especially in the US, are making sustained campaigns of protest against Chinese acts of aggression.”
“Such protests can become more strong-willed if there is widespread consciousness to fight for national sovereignty and territorial integrity against all aggressors, to ban and nationalize all foreign enterprises that extract superprofits and prevent the development of the Philippines, to strive for national industrialization, and to produce its own means for social progress and defense against aggressors,” he added.
Aside from that, Sison says, “the next best option is to unite with Vietnam and other ASEAN countries in opposing China’s arrogant claim of over 90 percent of the South China Sea. The Philippines cannot rely on US support. The US has already declared its neutrality and has allowed China to make the aggressive reclamations, because the US has bigger interests in relations with China than in those with the Philippines.”
MENDICANCY IS NOT GOOD
A long-time critic of US intervention in the country, Sison tears down the tired, old, colonial-minded mindset of Philippine government and military officials.
Sison says that both the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement “serve the imperialist interests of the US and not the national interest of the Philippines.”
“Under the VFA and EDCA, the Philippines has not become better off, safer, and more prepared to meet security challenges. At the expense of Philippine national interest, the US has gotten back its military bases in the Philippines and has allowed China to grab the West Philippine Sea, including ECS and EEZ of the Philippines. The Philippines has suffered violations of national sovereignty and territorial integrity in the conniving hands of the US and China,” Sison explained.
Sadly, colonial mentality is in the DNA of the current president and most officials. And we might as well add hypocrisy, according to Sison.
“The Aquino regime and its military minions should stop being hypocritical. They should stop pretending to be for national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and for strengthening external defense, while they take no action whatsoever to discourage the Chinese reclamation of Philippine reefs; continue pleading to the US and even Japan to establish military bases in the Philippines; and at the same time allow Chinese state and private enterprises to plunder the Philippines,” said Sison.
Assaulted from outside and allowed by a “special friend” to be assaulted, we Filipinos should know better than merely accepting the not-so-wise “conventional wisdom” about China and the US.
Amid the BS administration’s mendicancy and hypocrisy, patriots everywhere should find Sison’s greetings (see title) refreshing, inspiring and most welcome.
Follow me on Twitter @tonyocruz and check out my blog tonyocruz.com
WITH PROF. JOSE MARIA SISON
By Jan Victor Ayson
June 6, 2015
I have some
complex questions on the issue of Chinese expansion and the US pivot to
China’s rulers today have transformed China into the imperialistic hegemon that Deng Xiaoping asked the Chinese people and the world to fight and overthrow
Antonio T. Carpio
Published 9:09 AM, Mar 09, 2014
Updated 3:00 PM, Mar 10, 2014
Our 1987 Constitution mandates: “The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its xxx exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.” This is the mandate of the Constitution that we have all solemnly sworn to uphold.
To fulfill the State’s obligation to protect the nation’s marine wealth in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Philippines has filed an arbitration caseagainst China in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). At stake in the arbitration before an UNCLOS Annex VII tribunal is whether the Philippines will keep or lose 80% of its exclusive economic zone and 100% of its extended continental shelf in the West Philippines Sea.
UNCLOS, ratified by 165 states comprising 85% of the entire membership of the United Nations, is the primary international law governing the use of the oceans and seas of our planet. Specifically, UNCLOS governs the use of the following maritime zones: (a) internal waters or archipelagic waters, the landward waters adjacent to the territorial sea; (b) territorial sea, an area of 12 NM from the baselines along the coast; (c) exclusive economic zone (EEZ), an area of 200 NM from the baselines; (d) extended continental shelf (ECS), an additional area of 150 NM from the outer limits of the EEZ; and (e) the AREA, which is the common heritage of mankind, the maritime zone beyond the ECS. The AREA belongs to all states, whether coastal or land-locked.
UNCLOS governs maritime disputes on overlapping maritime zones like overlapping territorial seas, EEZs and ECSs. UNCLOS does not govern territorial disputes, which are sovereignty or ownership issues over land territory like islands or rocks above water at high tide. Rocks that are below water, or submerged, at high tide are not considered land and thus disputes over such rocks are governed by UNCLOS.
UNCLOS provides for a compulsory dispute settlement mechanism over maritime disputes among its member states, including disputes involving the interpretation or application of the provisions of UNCLOS.
A state may opt out of certain specified disputes, one of which is maritime boundary delimitation arising from overlapping territorial seas, EEZs or ECSs. A state cannot opt out of any dispute except those expressly specified under UNCLOS. China, the Philippines and all the other disputant states in the South China Sea are parties to UNCLOS, and are thus bound by the UNCLOS compulsory dispute settlement mechanism.
Maritime disputes are governed primarily by UNCLOS, while territorial disputes are governed by the general rules and principles of international law. Maritime disputes are subject to compulsory arbitration because under UNCLOS a party state has given its advance consent to compulsory arbitration, unless a state has opted out of compulsory arbitration involving certain specified disputes. In contrast, territorial disputes can be subject to arbitration only with the consent of each disputant state to every arbitration, unless such consent has been given in advance in a treaty. There is no such treaty between the Philippines and China involving compulsory arbitration of territorial disputes.
Solely a maritime dispute
The Philippines’ arbitration case against China is solely a maritime dispute and does not involve any territorial dispute. The Philippines is asking the tribunal if China’s 9-dashed lines can negate the Philippines’ EEZ as guaranteed under UNCLOS. The Philippines is also asking the tribunal if certain rocks above water at high tide, like Scarborough Shoal, generate a 200 NM EEZ or only a 12 NM territorial sea. The Philippines is further asking the tribunal if China can appropriate low-tide elevations (LTEs), like Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, within the Philippines’ EEZ. These disputes involve the interpretation or application of the provisions of UNCLOS.
The Philippines is not asking the tribunal to delimit by nautical measurements overlapping EEZs between China and the Philippines. The Philippines is also not asking the tribunal what country has sovereignty over an island, or rock above water at high tide, in the West Philippine Sea.
Under UNCLOS, every coastal state is entitled to a 200 NM EEZ, subject to boundary delimitation in case of overlapping EEZs with other coastal states. The EEZ is the area extending to 200 NM measured from the baselines of a coastal state. Under UNCLOS, EEZs must be drawn from baselines of the coast of a continental land or island capable of human habitation of its own. This basic requirement stems from the international law principle that the “land dominates the sea” – or to put it another way, areas in the seas and oceans can be claimed and measured only from land.
A coastal state has full sovereignty over its 12 NM territorial sea. Beyond the territorial sea, the coastal state has only specific “sovereign rights” up to 200 NM from its baselines. These “sovereign rights” are to the exclusion of all other states. The term “sovereign rights” refers to specific rights that do not amount to full “sovereignty.”
A coastal state’s “sovereign rights” to its EEZ beyond the territorial sea refer principally to the exclusive right to exploit the living and non-living resources in the area, without other sovereign rights like the right to deny freedom of navigation and over-flight, which a coastal state can deny in its territorial sea.
China claims almost 90% of the South China Sea under its so-called 9-dashed line map, which overlaps 80% of the Philippines’ EEZ in the West Philippine Sea. If China’s claim is upheld, the Philippines will lose 80% of its EEZ in the West Philippine Sea, including the Reed Bank and even Malampaya. The Philippines will also lose all its ECS in the West Philippine Sea.
The maritime dispute between the Philippines and China boils down to whether there are overlapping EEZs between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea. Are the waters enclosed by China’s 9-dashed lines part of the EEZ of China such that China’s EEZ overlaps with the EEZ of the Philippines? China also claims that the islands in the Spratlys like Itu Aba generate their own EEZs which overlap with the Philippines’ EEZ in Palawan.
China argues, through its scholars and officials, that the arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction over the Philippines’ claim for two reasons: First, the dispute involves maritime boundary delimitation arising from overlapping EEZs of the Philippines and China, a dispute that China has opted out of compulsory arbitration. Second, China’s 9-dashed line claim is a historical right that predates UNCLOS and cannot be negated by UNCLOS. On these grounds, China has refused to participate in the arbitral proceedings.
The Philippines’ response is that the waters enclosed within China’s 9-dashed lines do not constitute an EEZ because the 9-dashed lines are not drawn from baselines along the coast of continental land or habitable islands. Under UNCLOS, EEZs can only be drawn from baselines along the coast of continental land or an island capable of human habitation or economic life of its own. China’s 9-dashed lines do not comply with the basic requirement of UNCLOS for drawing EEZs.
China has no EEZ that overlaps with the Philippines’ EEZ in the Scarborough area. China’s baselines are either along the coast of Hainan Island, which is 580 NM from Luzon, or along the coast of mainland China, which is 485 NM miles from the Zambales coastline in Luzon facing Scarborough Shoal. Even if you grant the Chinese-held Paracels an EEZ, the Paracels are about 480 NM from Luzon. To have overlapping EEZs, the distance between the opposite baselines must be less than 400 NM. In the Scarborough area, there is no baseline in Luzon where its distance from the nearest Chinese baseline is less than 400 NM.
Low-Tide-Elevations or LTEs are rocks above water at low tide but below water, or submerged, at high tide. LTEs are not land but part of the submerged continental shelf. Under UNCLOS, LTEs beyond the 12 NM territorial sea are not capable of appropriation by any state. As part of the submerged continental shelf, LTEs beyond the territorial sea but within the EEZ of a coastal state are subject to the sovereign rights of such coastal state.
Thus, LTEs in the Spratlys within the 200 NM EEZ of the Philippines, like Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, are subject to the sovereign rights of the Philippines. Under UNCLOS, only the Philippines can construct structures on LTEs within its EEZ. Geographic and hydrographic surveys, satellite imageries, and international nautical charts, including China’s own nautical charts, all show that several geologic features in the Spratlys occupied by China, including Mischief Reef and Subi Reef, are LTEs within the Philippines’ 200 NM EEZ.
Scarborough Shoal, 124 NM from Zambales in Luzon, lies within the Philippines’ 200 NM EEZ. Scarborough Shoal has 3 to 4 rocks that protrude not more than 2 meters above water at high tide. The rocks have no vegetation and obviously cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own. As a non-habitable “island,” Scarborough Shoal generates only a 12 NM territorial sea.
Contrary to China’s claim, Scarborough Shoal cannot, for obvious reasons, generate an EEZ. The Philippine position is that whether China or the Philippines, which are the only two claimant states, has sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal, the rocks can only generate a 12 NM territorial sea. Thus, Scarborough Shoal has no overlapping EEZ with the EEZ of Luzon.
In the Spratlys, with the exception of China, all the disputant states, namely the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia, agree that none of the islands in the Spratlys generates an EEZ. The largest island, Itu Aba, has a land area of only 37.7 hectares and a coastline of 1.0 KM facing Palawan, the largest Philippine province. Palawan has a land area of 1,489,655 hectares and a coastline of 650 KM facing Itu Aba. In short, Palawan’s coastline is 650 times longer, and its land area 39,513 times larger, than those of Itu Aba. The distance between Itu Aba and Palawan is 250 NM. Itu Aba is occupied by Taiwan, which the Philippines recognizes as part of China.
Under UNCLOS, to generate an EEZ an island must be capable of human habitation or economic life of its own. The soldiers stationed in Itu Aba cannot survive without periodic supplies from Taiwan. In the law of the sea jurisprudence, there are many islands bigger than Itu Aba that have been denied EEZs opposite a mainland or a much larger island. In all probability, an international tribunal will deny Itu Aba an EEZ.
Even assuming for the sake of argument that Itu Aba generates an EEZ, the UNCLOS rule of ensuring an “equitable solution” in maritime boundary delimitation prohibits any substantial disproportion in the allocation of EEZs if the length of the opposite coastlines are substantially unequal. The opposite coastline of Itu Aba is 1 KM while that of Palawan is 650 KM.
Under law of the sea jurisprudence, the rule of “equitable solution” in opposite coastlines requires a reasonable degree of proportionality, or at least absence of excessive disproportionality, in the lengths of the coastlines and the areas of the adjacent EEZs. The best-case scenario for Itu Aba is a reduced EEZ of 50 NM facing Palawan, while Palawan will have a full EEZ of 200 NM facing Itu Aba. Itu Aba may, however, be given a longer or even a full EEZ facing the South China Sea away from Palawan.
Of course, if an arbitral tribunal rules that Itu Aba is capable of human habitation or economic life of its own and thus generates an EEZ, the tribunal will have no jurisdiction to proceed further without the consent of China. The arbitral tribunal cannot rule on the extent of such EEZ for that will involve a maritime boundary delimitation on overlapping EEZs – a dispute that China has excepted from compulsory arbitration.
In such eventuality, where an arbitral tribunal rules that Itu Aba generates an EEZ, the Philippines will then file a second case against China, this time for compulsory conciliation over the maritime boundary delimitation between China’s EEZ in Itu Aba and the Philippines’ EEZ in Palawan. Under UNCLOS, states that opt out of compulsory arbitration in maritime delimitation of sea boundaries cannot opt out of compulsory conciliation. While the report of the conciliation commission is non-binding, it will have persuasive authority as the equitable boundary delimitation under international law.
Interestingly, in China’s dispute with Japan over the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, China claims that the largest Senkaku island - Uotsurishima - with an area of 430 hectares, does not generate an EEZ but only a 12 NM territorial sea because, according to
China, Uotsurishima cannot sustain human habitation of its own. In sharp contrast, China claims that Itu Aba, which has an area of only 37.7 hectares, and Scarborough Shoal, whose largest rock has an area of not more than 3 square meters, each generates a 200 NM EEZ, implying that both Itu Aba and Scarborough can sustain human habitation of their own. Uotsurishima is 11.4 times larger than Itu Aba and 860,000 times larger than the largest Scarborough rock.
This is not the only glaring inconsistency of China. China claims that the largest Japanese-held rock in Okinorotishima in the Philippine Sea, protruding about two feet above water at high tide with an area of less than 4 square meters, does not generate a 200 NM but only a 12 NM territorial sea because obviously Okinorotishima cannot sustain human habitation of its own. Yet China claims that Scarborough, which just as obviously cannot sustain human habitation of its own, generates a 200 NM EEZ. There is neither reason nor rhyme in China’s position.
China on shaky ground
China’s claim to a “historical right” to the waters enclosed within the 9-dashed lines in the South China Sea is utterly without basis under international law. This is the almost universal opinion of non-Chinese scholars on the law of the sea.
First, UNCLOS extinguished all historical rights of other states within the 200 NM EEZ of the adjacent coastal state. That is why this 200 NM zone is called “exclusive” – no state other than the adjacent coastal state can exploit economically its resources. Fishing rights that other states historically enjoyed within the EEZ of a coastal state automatically terminated upon the effectivity of UNCLOS.
Moreover, UNCLOS prohibits states from making any reservation or exception to UNCLOS unless expressly allowed by UNCLOS. Any reservation of claims to historical rights over the EEZ or ECS of another coastal state is prohibited because UNCLOS does not expressly allow a state to claim historical rights to the EEZ or ECS of another state. In short, UNCLOS does not recognize “historical rights” as basis for claiming the EEZs or ECSs of other coastal states.
Second, under UNCLOS the term “historic bays” refers to internal waters, and the term “historic titles” refers to territorial seas. A state can claim “historical rights” over waters only as part of its internal waters or territorial sea. Thus, under UNCLOS, a state cannot claim “historical rights” over waters beyond its territorial sea.
The South China Sea, beyond the 12 NM territorial sea of coastal states, has never been considered as the internal waters or territorial sea of any state. Since time immemorial, ships of all nations have exercised freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Likewise, since the time airplanes flew across the seas, aircraft of all nations have exercised freedom of over-flight over the South China Sea.
If the South China Sea were the internal waters or territorial sea of China, then no state could have exercised freedom of navigation and freedom of over-flight over the South China Sea. Indeed, China has stated that there is freedom of navigation and freedom of over-flight in the South China Sea, an admission that the waters enclosed within the 9-dashed lines do not constitute China’s internal waters or territorial sea.
The waters enclosed within the 9-dashed lines cannot also form part of China’s EEZ or ECS because they are not drawn from China’s baselines and are beyond the limits of China’s EEZ and ECS as drawn from China’s baselines. In short, China’s claim to the waters enclosed by the 9-dashed line claim does not fall under any of the maritime zones - internal waters, territorial sea, EEZ and ECS - recognized by international law or UNCLOS that can be claimed by a coastal state. Only China seems to know what kind of maritime regime the 9-dashed line waters fall under, but China is not telling the world except that it is claiming “indisputable sovereignty” over such waters by “historical right.”
Third, under the general principles and rules of international law, a claim of “historical rights” to internal waters or territorial sea must satisfy four conditions. One, the state must formally announce to the international community such claim to internal waters or territorial sea, clearly specifying the extent and scope of such claim. Two, the state must exercise effective authority, that is, sovereignty, over the waters it claims as its own internal waters or territorial sea. Three, such exercise of effective authority must be continuous over a substantial period of time. Four, other states must recognize, tolerate or acquiesce to the exercise of such authority.
China fails to comply with any of these four conditions. China officially notified the world of its 9-dashed line claim only in 2009 when China submitted the 9-dashed line map to the United Nations Secretary General. Not a single country in the world recognizes, respects, tolerates or acquiesces to China’s 9-dashed line claim. China has never effectively enforced its 9-dashed line claim from the time of China’s domestic release of its 9-dashed line map in 1947 up to 1994 when UNCLOS took effect, and even after 1994 up to the present.
Thus, under the general principles and rules of international law, China cannot claim any “historical right” that pre-dated UNCLOS. Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that China has such “historical right,” the entry into force of UNCLOS in 1994 extinguished such right. Under UNCLOS, a state cannot claim any “historical right” to the EEZ or ECS of another state.
China, with its blatantly weak position under international law, has tried to shore up its position with so-called “historical facts”. For one, China claims that Scarborough Shoal, or Huangyan Island to the Chinese, is the Nanhai island that the 13th century Chinese astronomer-engineer-mathematician Guo Shoujing allegedly visited in 1279, having been ordered by Kublai Khan, the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty, to conduct a survey of the Four Seas to update the Sung Dynasty calendar system. Thus, the Chinese Embassy website in Manila claims:
Huangyan Island was first discovered and drew (sic) into China's map in China's Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD). In 1279, Chinese astronomer Guo Shoujing performed surveying of the seas around China for Kublai Khan, and Huangyan Island was chosen as the point in the South China Sea.
The alleged visit of Gou Shoujing to Scarborough Shoal in 1279 is the only historical link that China claims to Scarborough Shoal.
However, in a document entitled China’s Sovereignty Over Xisha and Zhongsa Islands Is Indisputable issued on January 30, 1980, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially declared that the Nanhai island that Guo Shoujing visited in 1279 was in Xisha or what is internationally called the Paracels, a group of islands more than 380 NM from Scarborough Shoal. China issued this official document to bolster its claim to the Paracels to counter Vietnam’s strong historical claims to the same islands. This Chinese official document, published in Beijing Review, Issue No. 7 dated February 18, 1980, states:
Early in the Yuan Dynasty, an astronomical observation was carried out at 27 places throughout the country. In the 16th year of the reign of Zhiyuan (1279) Kublai Khan or Emperor Shi Zu, (sic) personally assigned Guo Shoujing, the famous astronomer and Deputy Director of the Astronomical Bureau, to do the observation in the South China Sea. According to the official History of the Yuan Dynasty, Nanhai, Gou’s observation point, was “to the south of Zhuya” and “the result of the survey showed that the latitude of Nanhai is 15°N.” The astronomical observation point Nanhai was today’s Xisha Islands. It shows that Xisha Islands were within the bounds of China at the time of the Yuan dynasty.
China is now estopped from claiming that Scarborough Shoal is Nanhai island. China has officially declared that Nanhai island is in the Paracels, and thus China can no longer claim that Scarborough Shoal is the Nanhai island that Gou Shoujing visited in 1279. Besides, it is quite ridiculous to claim that the famous Chinese astronomer-engineer-mathematician would visit and write for posterity about a few barren rocks that barely protruded above water at high tide.
One could not imagine how Guo Shoujing went ashore to “visit” Scarborough Shoal when it was just a rock, with no vegetation, and did not even have enough space to accommodate an expedition party. Worse, the Chinese historical account that Guo Shoujing installed one of the 27 Chinese observatories on Nanhai island clearly rules out any possibility that Scarborough is Nanhai island because no observatory could have possibly been physically installed on Scarborough Shoal at that time.
on the extant Gaocheng Observatory built in 1276 by Guo Shoujing in Henan
Province, Guo Shoujing’s 27 observatories were massive 12.6 meters high
stone and brick structures. The purpose of the observatories was to
accurately determine the duration of the calendar year. To operate such an
observatory, one had to visit the observatory every day of the year to
take measurements. There was simply no way at that time that such an
observatory could have been built and operated on the tiny rocks of
Lost in translation
preposterous Chinese claim is that China’s southernmost territory is James
Shoal, 50 NM from the coast of Bintulu, Sarawak, Malaysia. James Shoal is
a fully submerged reef, 22 meters under water, entirely within Malaysia’s
200 NM EEZ and more than 950 NM from China. How did the fully submerged
James Shoal become China’s southernmost territory?
In the 1930s, China was engulfed in waves of nationalist anxiety. The predation of the Western powers and imperial Japan, and the inability of the Republic of China to do anything meaningful to stop them, caused anger both in the streets and the corridors of power. In 1933, the republic created the "Inspection Committee for Land and Water Maps" to formally list, describe and map every part of Chinese territory. It was an attempt to assert sovereignty over the republic's vast territory.
The major problem facing the committee, at least in the South China Sea, was that it had no means of actually surveying any of the features it wanted to claim. Instead, the committee simply copied the existing British charts and changed the names of the islands to make them sound Chinese. We know they did this because the committee's map included about 20 mistakes that appeared on the British map - features that in later, better surveys were found not to actually exist.
committee gave some of the Spratly islands Chinese names. North Danger
Reef became Beixian (the Chinese translation of "north danger"), Antelope
Reef became Lingyang (the Chinese word for antelope). Other names were
just transliterated so, for example, Spratly Island became Sipulateli and
James Shoal became Zengmu. And this seems to be where the mistakes crept
General George San Mateo
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Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate:
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BAYAN Sec Gen. Renato Reyes, Jr:
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Kalikasan Spokesperson Clemente Bautista"
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KMU Chair Elmer Labog:
PAMALAKAYA's Buddy Salvador
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KMP Secretary General Ka Tonying Flores
Apparently, Chinese leaders and cartographers claimed James Shoal as
China’s southernmost territory even without seeing James Shoal. Certainly,
no Chinese could have gone ashore to “visit” James Shoal. James Shoal is
the only national border in the world that is fully submerged and beyond
the territorial sea of the claimant state.
Bill Hayton’s account of how James Shoal became China’s southernmost territory gives us an idea how dubious are China’s “historical facts” under its so-called 9-dashed line claim. China’s official proclamation in 1980 that Nanhai island is in the Paracels also exposes China’s false claim to any historical link to Scarborough Shoal.
Indeed, all Chinese official maps during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties placed the southernmost border of China at Hainan Island. The famous 17th century Qing Dynasty Kangxi maps, prepared by the Jesuit missionaries who became advisers to Emperor Kangxi, placed Hainan Island as the southernmost border of China. None of the Chinese dynasty maps ever mentioned the Paracels, the Spratlys, Scarborough Shoal, the 9-dashed lines or the U-shaped lines.
Guangdong province of China first claimed the Paracels in 1909. China itself claimed the Paracels only in 1932 and the Spratlys only in 1946 after World War II. In the 1951 San Francisco Peace Conference that produced the Peace Treaty of San Francisco, the victorious allies rejected by a vote of 48 states to 3 states (only the Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia dissented) to turn over possession of the Paracels and Spratlys to China as demanded by the Soviet Union on behalf of China.
As late as in 1932, China has been telling the world that its southernmost border was Hainan Island. In a Note Verbale to the French Government on September 29, 1932 protesting the French occupation of the Paracels, the Chinese Government officially declared:
Note of 29 September 1932 from the Legation of the Chinese Republic in France to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris
On the instructions of its Government, the Legation of the Chinese Republic in France has the honor to transmit its Government’s reply to the Foreign Ministry’s Note of 4 January 1932 on the subject of the Paracel Islands.
The Si-Chao-Chuin-Tao Islands, also known as Tsi-Cheou-Yang and called the Paracel Islands in the foreign tongue, lie in the territorial sea of Kwangtung Province (South China Sea); the northeast are the Ton-Chao Islands; the Si-Chao-Chuin-Tao Islands form one group among all the islands in the South China Sea which are an integral part of the territorial sea of Kwangtung Province.
According to the reports on the Si-Chao-Chuin-Tao (Paracel) Islands drawn up in the Year XVII of the Chinese Republic (1926) by Mr. Shen-Pang-Fei, President of the Commission of Inquiry into these islands, and to the files of these islands compiled by the Department of Industry of Kwangtung Province, the islands lie between longitude 100°13’ and 112°47’ east. More than 20 in number, large and small, most of them are barren sandbanks, 10 or so are rocks and 8 are true islands. The eastern group is called the Amphitrites and the western group the Crescent. These groups lie 145 nautical miles from Hainan Island, and form the southernmost part of Chinese territory.
In short, in 1932 the Chinese Government officially declared to the world that the “southernmost part of Chinese territory” or border was Hainan Island, which for the first time according to the Chinese included the Paracels. This declaration categorically affirmed the previous official maps of the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties that showed Hainan Island as the southernmost territory or border of China. James Shoal, 800 NM away from the Paracels and 950 NW from Hainan Island, was never in Chinese history the southernmost territory or border of China.
The same is obviously true for Scarborough Shoal, which is 380 NM from the Paracels and 500 NM from Hainan Island. Since Hainan Island or even the Paracels are the southernmost territory or border of China as officially declared by China in its September 29, 1932 Note Verbale to the French Government, then Scarborough Shoal is not part of, and could never have been part of, Chinese territory.
The oldest map in the world depicting Scarborough Shoal is the Murillo map that was first issued in 1734 during the Spanish regime. The Murillo map, entitled Mapa de las Islas Filipinas, was made by the Spanish priest Fr. Pedro Murillo. The Murillo map clearly shows Scarborough Shoal, at that time called Panacot, lying just across Zambales. Panacot was the name given by Filipino fishermen to Scarborough Shoal during the Spanish regime.
The real and unvarnished historical facts in the South China Sea are quite different from what China has claimed them to be. Despite its name, which was given by European explorers and cartographers, the South China Sea was never the sole domain of China or of any one country. Even if we go back to the Sung Dynasty, we find the early Filipinos already sailing across the South China Sea to trade with the Chinese along the coast of Canton in mainland China.
A noted Chinese scholar during the Yuan Dynasty, Ma Tuan-lin, wrote in his book A General Investigation of the Chinese Cultural Sources, about traders from the Philippines, which the Chinese at that time called Mo-yi or Ma-i. Ma Tuan-lin stated in his book, published in 1322 during the Yuan Dynasty and republished in 1935 in Shanghai:
There were traders of the country of Mo-yi carrying merchandise to the coast of Canton [for sale] in the seventh year of Tai-ping-shing-kuo [of the Sung Dynasty, that is 982 A.D.].
As early as 982 A.D., Filipino traders were already masters of the South China Sea, sailing back and forth from the Philippines to China to trade, more than 400 years before the Chinese Imperial Admiral Zeng He launched his famous sea voyages from 1405 to 1433 A.D.
Joint development: Why it's problematic
China has been dangling to the Philippines and other claimant states its offer for joint development of the disputed areas while shelving the sovereignty issues, an idea suggested by the late Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. There are at least three problems to this offer.
First, China wants to jointly develop the EEZ of the Philippines but refuses to jointly develop China’s own EEZ. In effect, China is saying to the Philippines, what is exclusively China’s economic zone is China’s alone, but what is exclusively the Philippines’ economic zone belongs to both China and the Philippines, and if the Philippines does not agree, China’s warships will be there to prevent the Philippines from exploiting its exclusive economic zone.
Second, as explained by Chinese officials and scholars, China’s offer of joint development is subject to the precondition that participating coastal states must first expressly recognize China’s “indisputable sovereignty” under its 9-dashed line claim. This precondition effectively means that once a state agrees to joint development, it must not only vacate any island it possesses in the Spratlys and turn over the same to China, it must also renounce any maritime claim within the 9-dashed line area. This precondition demanded by China is obviously inconsistent with its offer to shelve the sovereignty issue.
Third, if the Philippines agrees to China’s joint development offer, the Philippines will in effect give up its exclusive “sovereign rights” to exploit all the living and non-living resources in its own EEZ. The Philippines will also give up its exclusive right to exploit the mineral resources in its own ECS. The bottom line is that China’s joint development offer will negate the maritime entitlements of the Philippines under UNCLOS. This is constitutionally impermissible because our 1987 Constitution mandates the State to “protect the nation’s marine wealth in its xxx exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.” Any joint development with China constitutes a “culpable violation of the Constitution.”
Of course, the fact that the use and enjoyment of our EEZ is reserved exclusively to Filipino citizens does not mean that Chinese companies cannot participate in the exploitation of oil and gas in our EEZ. They can but as technical and financial contractors of the Philippine Government or Filipino companies under Philippine law, not Chinese law. As such technical contractors and financial contractors, they may be paid in kind. This is actually the set-up in Malampaya where Shell is the technical and financial contractor of the Philippine Government under Philippine law.
Not one of the claimant states to the Spratlys has accepted China’s joint development offer. Acceptance of China’s joint development offer means a complete surrender to China’s outlandish “indisputable sovereignty” claims. In an article in The Diplomat dated February 28, 2014, Prof. Carl Thayer, a well-known regional security analyst, quoted how a Malaysian defense official
viewed China’s joint development offer:
Nor are we ready to consider joint development activities with the Chinese. That would require recognition of China’s claims in the South China Sea, including our EEZ. And that’s not our policy.
Vietnam has a similar view of China’s joint development offer. Dr. Tran Truong Tuy, Director of the Centre for South China Sea Studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, interprets the Chinese offer as saying: “What is mine is mine, what is yours is mine and we are willing to share.”
The world is now familiar with the expansionist designs of China in the South China Sea. China’s creeping invasion of the islands, rocks and reefs, as well as of the waters, of the South China Sea grows in force and aggressiveness each day as China’s naval forces assume greater superiority over those of other coastal states. The Philippines is particularly vulnerable to Chinese bullying because the Philippines has the weakest navy among all the major disputant states in the South China Sea.
The Philippines lost Mischief Reef in 1995 and Scarborough Shoal in 2012 to Chinese invasion. Vietnam lost the Paracels in 1974 and Fiery Reef Cross in 1988 to Chinese invasion. China, as I speak, threatens to forcibly evict the handful of Philippine marines aboard the shipwrecked RPS Sierra Madre in Ayungin Reef, an LTE within the Philippines’ EEZ in the Spratlys. The Chinese invasion and occupation of these islands, rocks and LTEs are acts of armed aggression outlawed by the United Nations Charter.
The world should now remind China of Deng Xiaoping’s solemn commitment to the world when he declared in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly on April 10, 1974:
A superpower is an imperialist country which everywhere subjects other countries to its aggression, interference, control, subversion or plunder and strives for world hegemony. xxx If one day China should change her color and turn into a superpower, if she too would play the tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as social-imperialist, expose it, oppose it and work with the Chinese people to overthrow it.
China’s rulers today have transformed China into the imperialistic hegemon that Deng asked the Chinese people and the world to fight and overthrow should China’s rulers in the future deviate from his vision of a peaceful and law-abiding China. Deng had repeatedly promised the world that China would “never seek hegemony.” Sadly for Deng, and sadly for the rest of the world, especially for the Philippines, that day has come.
I end by affirming that this exercise of pursuing the arbitration case against China is to reserve the use and enjoyment of our marine wealth in our EEZ exclusively to Filipinos, as mandated by the Constitution, which we have all sworn to uphold. - Rappler.com
(Philippine Supreme Court Senior Justice Carpio delivered this speech before the Philippine Women’s Judges Association on March 6, 2014)
The Philippine government will be submitting to the United Nations Tribunal on the Law of the Sea in The Hague this week an almost 300-year-old map of the Philippines showing the disputed Scarborough Shoal being part of Philippine territory as far back as three centuries ago.
The map debunks the
so-called nine-dash-line China has been using as proof of its claim over
the South China Sea. It also locates Scarborough shoal, then known as
“Panacot,” also called “Panatag” by Filipinos, off the shores of Luzon,
then known as Nueva Castilla. Scarborough shoal has been a source of
conflict between the Philippines and China.......
Vietnamese protesters mark China's seizure of the Paracels in 1974
What does the rest of the world say?