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Chinese jets shadow Philippine aircraft in West Philippine Sea

Aircraft from China’s People’s Liberation Army shadowed Philippine aircraft that participated in the joint Philippine-Australia drills in the West Philippine Sea over the weekend, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr......»»

Category: newsSource: philstar philstarNov 26th, 2023

Countries queue for joint Phl patrols

The Philippines is considering multilateral patrols with other nations by next year, aside from the country’s maritime cooperative activities with the United States and Australia, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Romeo Brawner Jr. said Monday. But even without its allies, Brawner said the Philippines will continue its unilateral maritime and air patrol in its exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea amid China’s encroachment “as it is our responsibility.” “But the joint maritime and air patrols with our allies and our partners will continue, we just don’t know for now how frequent they  will be and also maybe the extent of our patrols, but we are working on that. We are constantly talking to our allies and partners,” he said. Brawner said many countries have signified an interest in conducting joint patrols with the Philippines. “They are also very much willing to conduct and to continue conducting this joint maritime and air patrols with the US in the West Philippine Sea,” he noted. “Aside from the bilateral joint exercises and joint operations that we are doing, there are also some countries who are expressing their desire to conduct this joint maritime and air patrols not just bilaterally but multilaterally,” he added. Brawner said they have yet to start the planning and preparation for the multilateral patrols. The safety of all patrol participants is a top concern, he added. The Philippines last week held joint MAC patrols with the United States and Australia, with Chinese military assets constantly shadowing the allies, whether on air or sea. The AFP chief said China’s activities during the MCAs were as expected. “I don’t think it was unusual, in fact, it happened this year, in May of this year, when US aircraft were  flying over the South China Sea and they also encountered Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army) aircraft circling them so this is not the first time this happened,” said Brawner. He cited the US-PLA encounter in relation to Sunday’s incident in which two Chinese fighter jets not only shadowed but encircled two Philippine Air Force turboprop Super Tucano planes. Despite the harassment of the Tucanos, Brawner described the joint Philippines and Australia patrol as a “very successful event” as the AFP was able “to achieve the set objectives” for the joint activity. For his part, Defense Chief Gilberto Teodoro Jr. confirmed the country’s possible iterations of the MCA with other nations. “All iterations are possible with friendly and allied nations, that’s within the multilateral relations that we discussed earlier,” he said. By doing so, Teodoro said, these multilateral activities are part “of the acceptance of the righteousness of our country’s position.”.....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsNov 27th, 2023

Brawner: Chinese jets seen shadowing PH aircraft during AFP drill with Australia

MANILA, Philippines — Chinese jets shadowed an aircraft used during the joint patrol of Australia and the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea on Sunday, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. Brawner said two People’s Liberation Army (PLA) jet fighters were found circling a Philippine Air Force’s.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 27th, 2023

Christmas convoy begins crucial phase of journey

ON BOARD M/V KAPITAN FELIX OCA – Hours after arriving from Manila, this ship left the San Fernando Port in El Nido, Palawan after midnight last night to lead a convoy of some 30 fishing vessels in what could be the most challenging part of their voyage to Ayungin Shoal and two remote island communities in the West Philippine Sea to deliver Christmas goodies under the shadow of Chinese coast guard and militia......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsDec 10th, 2023

Japan, U.S.: ‘We got your back’

Key allies of the country expressed their unwavering support after a Chinese Coast Guard ship intentionally collided with a Philippine Navy boat to stop a resupply mission to the grounded BRP Sierra Madre on Ayungin Shoal. Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. described the maneuver as an escalation of China’s aggression within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. Japan issued a statement expressing support after the incident. “Japan expresses serious concern for actions which increase regional tensions, including a dangerous action that caused a collision between Chinese and Filipino ships on 22 October,” the Japanese Foreign Ministry said. It added that Japan believes the issue of the South China Sea is directly related to the peace and stability in the region and is a legitimate concern of the international community, including Japan. “Thus, Japan opposes any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force as well as any actions that increase tensions in the South China Sea,” it said. Citing the Japan-Philippines Joint Statement last February, the Foreign Ministry said the “government of Japan concurs with the Philippines’ long-standing objections to unlawful maritime claims, militarization, coercive activities, and threat or use of force in the South China Sea.” “Furthermore, Japan highly appreciates the government of the Philippines for having consistently complied with the arbitral tribunal’s award as to the disputes between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China regarding the South China Sea, and has shown its commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the (West Philippine Sea), as stated in the statement by the Foreign Minister of Japan issued on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the issuance of the award,” it said. Japan said it would continue to cooperate with the international community, such as the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United States, to “protect free, open and peaceful seas.” ‘Ironclad’ vow The United States, meanwhile, reiterated its “ironclad” commitment to the Philippines. According to a White House statement, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan assured National Security Adviser Eduardo Año of US support in safeguarding its sovereign rights in the WPS under the Mutual Defense Treaty between both nations. “Sullivan reiterated US support for our Philippine allies following the PRC Coast Guard and maritime militia’s dangerous and unlawful actions on 22 October, obstructing a routine Philippine resupply mission to Second Thomas Shoal,” the statement read. “Sullivan emphasized the ironclad US commitments to the Philippines under theUS-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, which extends to armed attacks on Philippine public vessels, aircraft and armed forces — to include those of its Coast Guard — in the Pacific, including in the West Philippine Sea,” it added. Signed in 1951, the Philippines and the United States agreed that an armed attack in the Pacific area on either of the parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declared that it would act to meet the common dangers by its constitutional processes. The White House said Sullivan and Año “reaffirmed the enduring alliance and friendship between our nations and discussed upcoming US-Philippine engagements and ways to further strengthen our close partnership.” Manila vs Beijing Both Manila and Beijing condemned the incident, which they said violated their sovereign rights over Ayungin Shoal, a low-tide elevation in the WPS. The two countries traded blame for the incident, which also sparked concern from Australia, Canada and South Korea. In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected Beijing’s historical nine-dash line claim to the WPS. Militia boats utilized Teodoro labeled the Chinese actions near the shoal as deliberate. “Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels, in blatant violation of international law, harassed and intentionally hit the Unaiza May 2 and Philippine Coast Guard vessel BRP Cabra,” Teodoro said. “We are here to decry in the strongest terms this egregious violation and illegal act within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone and the obfuscation of the truth by China’s distorting of the story to fit its own ends.” His comments came hours after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met with security officials and ordered the Coast Guard to investigate the incident, which was “being taken seriously at the highest levels of government,” Malacañang said. The military monitored “a large number of Chinese maritime militia vessels” swarming in the West Philippine Sea, National Security Council spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, said. In a television interview, Malaya said these vessels were spotted “not only in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc but also in other features, including (Scarborough Shoal) and Sabina (Escoda) Shoal.” “We are alarmed by the environmental degradation our Coast Guard ships were able to monitor in these areas,” he told the ANC. Malaya noted that environmental degradation or coral destruction would directly impact the livelihood of the fishermen in the WPS. “Sometimes we forget the reasons why we are pushing our rights in the WPS. Some critics say this is just posturing on the part of the Philippines or a tug-of-war between China and the Philippines. No, this is not,” he stressed. “This is a battle for the resources of our country, particularly for our fishermen, so that when we monitor coral destruction in parts of the WPS, it alarms the government because it directly impacts the livelihood of our fishermen,” he said. Malaya also slammed China’s “maligned information operation” and sharing of “false narratives” in its sweeping claims on the WPS. “Definitely, there’s a maligned information operation going on nowadays that is shared to the public and we are just happy it is not just the Philippine government that is sharing our side here — we have allies, if we may call them witnesses, from the media,” he said. The post Japan, U.S.: ‘We got your back’ appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 24th, 2023

Attack on Phl would elicit U.S. response — State Dep’t

The United States warned on Monday that any armed attack on Philippine armed forces and Philippine Coast Guard civilian vessels could trigger its 72-year-old Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines. “The United States reaffirms that Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft — including those of its Coast Guard — anywhere in the South China Sea,” the US Department of State said in a statement. The statement came a day after a China Coast Guard ship collided with a Philippine resupply vessel that was conducting a routine resupply mission at Ayungin Shoal. During the same resupply mission, a Chinese maritime militia vessel also bumped the BRP Cabra, one of the PCG ships that were escorting the boat contracted by the AFP. Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. said the collisions, which President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered investigated by the PCG, were “intentional.” For its part, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs said further study is needed to invoke the MDT due to the incident. “The matter of filing another case is something that is still being studied by the government. But, of course, all incidents like these will actually bolster the case that it is not the Philippines that is the aggressor but the other party, which is China,” DFA spokesperson Teresita Daza said. “It’s a provocation on the side of China but at this point, whether it will constitute an armed attack that would allow the invoking of the MDT is something that needs to be studied,” she added. The Philippines and the US agreed under the MDT, signed in 1951, that an armed attack on either of the parties would be considered an attack on the other, necessitating common or joint actions.   Ambassador summoned The Philippines on Monday summoned China’s Ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian, to explain the “blocking maneuvers” conducted by its vessels. China has insisted on its territorial rights over the Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, which is in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Swarms of CCG ships and Chinese maritime militia vessels had been monitored in the WPS, which Philippine officials said was a blatant disrespect of the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea. In July 2016, the Philippines won the arbitral case it lodged against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration. The US said it stands with the Philippines in the face of China’s “dangerous and unlawful actions obstructing” a 22 October resupply mission to Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. “By conducting dangerous maneuvers that caused collisions with Philippine resupply and Coast Guard ships, the PRC Coast Guard and maritime militia violated international law by intentionally interfering with the Philippine vessels’ exercise of high seas freedom of navigation,” the US State Department said. “The PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) conduct jeopardized the Filipino crew members’ safety and impeded critically needed supplies from reaching service members stationed on the BRP Sierra Madre. Obstructing supply lines to this longstanding outpost and interfering with lawful Philippine maritime operations undermines regional stability,” it added. Citing the 2016 arbitral ruling on the South China Sea, the US noted that China’s territorial claims to Ayungin Shoal, a low-tide elevation outside the territorial sea of another high tide feature, were unfounded.   Unsafe moves “The unsafe maneuvers on 22 October and the PRC water cannoning of a Philippine vessel on 5 August are the latest examples of provocative PRC measures in the South China Sea to enforce its expansive and unlawful maritime claims, reflecting disregard for other states lawfully operating in the region,” the State Department stressed. Aside from the US, Japan, France, Canada, Australia and Germany also condemned China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea. In a separate statement, Canada condemned what it described as “unlawful and dangerous conduct” of the People’s Republic of China in the WPS, which “provoked two collisions with Philippine vessels engaged in routine operations inside the Philippine exclusive economic zone, in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal.” “The PRC’s actions are unjustified. China has no lawful claim to the West Philippine Sea. Its actions are incompatible with the obligations of a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the Canadian Embassy in Manila said. “Continuing acts of intimidation and coercion undermine safety, stability, and security across the region, and increase the risk of miscalculation,” it added.   France, Japan, Germany, too France expressed its “deep concern” over the dangerous maneuvers of the CCG against Philippine vessels “engaged in the Philippine exclusive economic zone.” “France calls for respect of the freedom of navigation guaranteed by international law and recalls its attachment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the decision rendered by the Arbitral Court on 12 July 2016,” the Embassy of France to the Philippines said. Japan, likewise, stressed that it was “seriously concerned” and “alarmed” about the collision of Chinese vessels with Philippine vessels. “Seriously concerned about and alarmed by the collision between Chinese and Philippines vessels,” Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko said in a tweet. Koshikawa said Japan “strongly opposes any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.” “Germany is very concerned about recent confrontations in the SCS involving Chinese coast guard ships and maritime militia vessels in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines,” German Ambassador to the Philippines Andreas Pfaffernoschke said in a separate tweet. The post Attack on Phl would elicit U.S. response — State Dep’t appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsOct 23rd, 2023

Ticking bomb

China’s latest military maneuvers in and around the Taiwan Strait are a cause for concern. Beijing’s latest exercises come at a time of heightened tensions between China and Taiwan, as well as between China and the United States. This week, Taiwan reported that over 100 Chinese fighter planes and fewer than a dozen warships had been detected in the waters and airspace around its territory. So far, this is the most significant number of Chinese warplanes seen in the area in recent memory. China’s military posturing is not only happening in the Taiwan Strait but also in the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan from the Philippines. It involved the deployment of the Shandong aircraft carrier, one of China’s only two operational carriers. Since time immemorial, the US has been sending its aircraft carriers (11 of which are in service presently) to project power away from its shores. So, there is no mystery here about what China’s message is in deploying the Shandong. The Taiwan Strait’s median line, the unofficial boundary between China and Taiwan, is only about 100 nautical miles, or 190 kilometers, from mainland China. Thus, Chinese planes need not take off from the Shandong to reach the exercise site. As in past exercises, Beijing entered the strait, much to the consternation of Taiwan, using planes that took off from airstrips on the mainland or from the islands in the West Philippine Sea which it has occupied in violation of the Philippines’ territorial rights. Deploying the Shandong, the gem of the Chinese fleet, was apparently intended to add to the scare factor directed toward its neighbors like Taiwan and the Philippines.  Of late, the China Coast Guard has also been bullying Philippine Coast Guard-led resupply missions to the BRP Sierra Madre. China claims the strait as part of its internal waters, while Taiwan and other nations like the United States see it as international waters. Freedom of navigation in the Taiwan Strait is guaranteed by international law, and the United States and other countries regularly conduct freedom of navigation operations there to challenge China’s claims. With the exercises, China may be trying to send a message to Taiwan and the United States that it is serious about its claims over Taiwan. China has threatened to use force, if need be, to achieve reunification with Taiwan. China may also be trying to test Taiwan’s air defenses and assess the US response to any Chinese military action against Taiwan. China’s latest military maneuvers are particularly concerning given its recent release of a new map claiming almost the entire South China Sea as its territory. The new 10-dash map of China is based on the nine-dash line, which it had used to claim almost the entire South China Sea since the 1940s. However, the new map adds a tenth dash to the east of Taiwan. The Taiwan Strait is a vital shipping lane, and any conflict in the area could have a significant impact on the global economy. It could well be a ticking time bomb, a potential flashpoint for regional and even global conflict. Nations must dissuade China from taking aggressive measures that might spark a conflict. Taiwan’s efforts to preserve its democracy and its right to self-defense should be encouraged by the international community. The post Ticking bomb appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsSep 18th, 2023

Latest resupply mission reaches Ayungin Shoal

The Philippines said a resupply mission had reached a remote outpost in the disputed South China Sea Tuesday, despite attempts by Chinese vessels to "block" the boats carrying provisions for Filipino marines. Two Philippine Coast Guard boats escorted two supply vessels to Second Thomas Shoal [Ayungin Shoal] in the Spratly Islands, where a handful of troops are stationed on a crumbling navy ship. They arrived just over two weeks after China Coast Guard ships blocked and fired water cannon at a resupply mission to the tiny garrison that prevented one of the boats from delivering its cargo. "The routine follow-on Rotation and Resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre was successfully conducted today," the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea said in a statement. The task force accused China Coast Guard and "Chinese Maritime Militia" vessels of attempting to "block, harass, and interfere" with the mission. "Routine missions to Philippine outposts on various features in the West Philippine Sea will continue on a regular basis," it insisted. The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Philippines has outposts on nine reefs and islands in the Spratlys, including Second Thomas Shoal. The Philippine Navy deliberately grounded the World War II-era BRP Sierra Madre atop the shoal in 1999 to check China's advance in the waters. The troops stationed on the rusty ship depend on regular deliveries for their survival. Second Thomas Shoal is about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the western Philippine island of Palawan, and more than 1,000 kilometers from China's nearest major landmass, Hainan island. The water cannoning on 5 August fanned tensions between the countries, which have a long history of maritime disputes in the South China Sea. China claims almost the entire waterway, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, and has ignored an international ruling that its assertion has no legal basis. It deploys hundreds of vessels to patrol the South China Sea and swarm reefs. Its coast guard and navy ships routinely block or shadow Philippine boats in the contested waters, Manila has said. Beijing has defended its actions in the 5 August incident as "professional", and accused Manila of "illegal delivery of construction materials" to the grounded ship. The Philippines has insisted that Second Thomas Shoal is within its exclusive economic zone, and therefore its efforts to resupply troops and repair the BRP Sierra Madre are legitimate. The post Latest resupply mission reaches Ayungin Shoal appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 22nd, 2023

Lasers, drones vs China

If you may remember, the Afghans beat back the superior Russians from Afghanistan by secretly obtaining portable heat-seeking missiles from the US, which eventually changed the tide of the war. The missile device was so portable, it was smuggled by donkey to remote mountains. It was so user-friendly, even ordinary foot soldiers could use it. The missiles destroyed dozens of Russian warplanes, and eventually forced the Russians to withdraw from Afghanistan. We can use the same tactic in the West Philippine Sea against the superior Chinese warships and warplanes. If Marcos Jr. can somehow obtain lasers and drones, not necessarily from the US, not necessarily in secret, for the Philippine Coast Guard, Chinese warships may think twice before bullying us with their lasers and water cannons. China is currently harassing Filipinos in the Ayungin Shoal, triggering diplomatic protests. This aggression is virtually an act of war. Responding with legal arguments for China to respect the UNCLOS and The Hague court decision is useless. Social media exposés and campaigns cannot solve the problem. We have to face them in our territory in the West Philippine Sea. If we do not, we might as well concede. If we do, are we ready for the consequences of escalation? Has China secretly discovered oil in Ayungin, so it has to keep Filipinos away? Another strategy is to get a US firm as a partner in oil exploration in the Ayungin Shoal, escorted by US warships. Let’s get to the oil before China does. If there are competing explorations and oil rigs, this will prevent war. There is, however, a risk of a full-blown US-China naval confrontation. If we up the ante, China may back out or resort to an unpredictable escalation. Can we handle the escalation? Are we ready to go into this new stage of war, not just physically in terms of possible collateral damage, but also spiritually in terms of the political will to fight? This remains to be seen. Asymmetrics as a Game Changer “Asymmetric” weapons refer to small cheap high-tech weapons that can take out big expensive weaponry. For example, hypersonic missiles taking out aircraft carriers, killer drones neutralizing an entire naval base, super lasers shooting down satellites in outer space, silent electro-magnetic pulse bombs jamming an enemy assault. This is called the equalizer, the use of asymmetrics against far superior foes. Lasers and drones on our coast guard ships are asymmetrics. Asymmetrics are becoming popular. Ukraine is using them against Russia, and Iran against the US in the Strait of Hormuz. China is now able to jam the electronic signals of US warplanes in the WPS. These new sophisticated asymmetrics have evolved as powerful game changers in modern warfare in favor of the underdog.   The Vietnam Model Vietnamese water cannons faced Chinese water cannons, forcing the latter to abandon an oil rig close to the Vietnamese shore. We can learn from the Vietnamese, adopt its warrior ways, its spiritual orientation of defiance and belligerence. But we must be cautious as there may be consequences we are not yet ready for. Vietnam has been fighting China for centuries. China respects Vietnam’s audacity while it looks down on Filipinos whose leaders can easily be offered quid-pro-quo deals (Duterte) and whose tin can coast guard vessels they can easily step on. Can we change China’s attitude through a new type of belligerence using asymmetrics? Vietnam is the epitome of David defying Goliath, two Goliaths, in fact, the French and the Americans. France surrendered its colonization of Vietnam in the battle of Dien Bien Phu. The Americans gave up Vietnam after a 20-year guerrilla war, an embarrassing blow for a superpower falling to its knees to a “lowly” Third World country. Centuries before that, at its birth, Vietnam defied and splintered from the powerful Chinese Empire. Viet means south, nam means kingdom — the kingdom south of the empire. From where does Vietnam draw its strength? Vietnam is monolithic, one solid land mass. The Philippines is granulated, a scattered archipelago. It took more than 10,000 years of slow migration (the so-called Austronesian Dispersal) for Malays in improvised boats (balanghays) to populate the Philippines. While this was happening, Vietnam was growing in strength by defying the Chinese empire. Vietnam is a single neutral gray, the Philippines a rainbow. Vietnam has one central language, the Philippines 125-odd dialects. Except for the Hmong, Vietnam has few ancient ethnic groups. We have 85 ethnic groupings. Anthropologically, Vietnam and the Philippines are complete opposites. The Vietnamese is a natural warrior, the Filipino a natural adventurer. The French and the Americans failed to colonize Vietnam. The Filipino was conquered by the Spaniards, Americans and Japanese. The Vietnamese was defiant, the Filipino subservient. The Filipino absorbed colonization and foreign culture, the Vietnamese kept its culture intact. The post Lasers, drones vs China appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 21st, 2023

Poor team player

A string of blunders by the United States contributed greatly to the aggressiveness of China in the West Philippine Sea, in disregard of the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling that invalidated most of China’s maritime claims. A geopolitical expert even suggested that America’s traditional ally, the Philippines, was left out in the cold after the Obama administration initiated its Asian pivot to contain China. Dean Cheng, senior advisor to the China program at the US Institute of Peace, a federal watchdog on the global situation, assessed the recent deployment of “ships and other maritime forces to the disputed Spratly islands near the Philippines.” Cheng identified China’s goal as coerce the Philippines into withdrawing from the contested Second Thomas Shoal (Ayungin Shoal) to effectively cede it to the People’s Republic of China or PRC. The expert who advises the US government said China’s actions “are in defiance of the international Permanent Court of Arbitration’s findings that undermined the PRC claims to the Spratlys and they constitute a serious challenge to the international rules governing maritime conduct.” Cheng traced the unabated Chinese incursions to the poor handling of the situation during the 2012 standoff at Scarborough Shoal that practically encouraged Beijing to build permanent military structures on the sea formation. The weak response of the US government to China’s sea maneuvers emboldened increasingly drastic actions in the disputed region which Beijing claims is historically its territory. “It is worth recalling that in 2012, the United States chose to persuade the Philippines to withdraw from Scarborough Shoal (a separate set of features north of the Spratlys) while making no effort to compel the PRC to do the same. In effect, Washington forced Manila to cede that set of features to the PRC,” Cheng said. Worse, under President Barack Obama, the US took a three-year hiatus from freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, an absence that coincided with massive Chinese construction on features it controlled. “For the United States to once again fail to counter Chinese efforts to dominate a region that sees some $3.37 trillion in trade would reinforce a perception of American withdrawal,” according to Cheng. Over the years, Cheng said, the PRC has become more assertive in supporting its ambiguous claims. It has extended patrols in the area, often arresting foreign fishing boats for violating the nine-dash line while requiring everyone who wishes to fish there to register with Sansha in the Paracels, a Chinese prefecture. China has also undertaken extensive land reclamation on rocks and reefs under its control, totaling over 3,000 acres on artificial islands in the Spratlys — dwarfing all other claimants combined. “Despite promises not to militarize these new features, the PRC has deployed artillery pieces and rockets and built runways that can support both fighter and cargo aircraft,” Cheng said. China is intent on coercing the Philippines out of its position in the Spratlys, regardless of legal rights and claims. According to the US expert, it is likely that the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s findings have only strengthened China’s “resolve to secure the Spratlys (as well as the separate Scarborough Shoal and Macclesfield Bank territories). At the same time, the PRC is likely trying to signal to the region that American support is both escalatory and counterproductive.” The US has not matched its strong statements on the West Philippine Sea dispute, such as its frequent assurances to the Philippines of an iron-clad alliance, with determined moves, thus giving China the impetus to gradually ramp up its actions. When the ball was in its court, the US, because of domestic political considerations, exited the game leaving its teammate at the mercy of its powerful opponent. The post Poor team player appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 17th, 2023

AFP: Over 400 foreign vessels inside WPS, 85% Chinese-owned

The Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines has monitored more than 400 foreign fishing vessels that are currently within the country’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippines Sea. In a recent press conference in Palawan, AFP Western Command Chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos said 85 percent of these monitored vessels in the WPS are likely Chinese fishing ships. “This is inside EEZ, in WesCom area. Maybe, 85 percent of these are Chinese,” he said. As of Wednesday, Carlos noted that about 191 of these vessels are in the vicinity of the Chinese-occupied Mischief Reef, which is about 134 nautical miles from Palawan and 602 nautical miles from China. The AFP earlier stressed that the Mischief Reef is a low-tide elevation, like Ayungin Shoal, that forms part of the country’s EEZ and continental shelf. Due to the reported series of harassment incidents in the WPS, Carlos said they are suspecting that Chinese maritime militia are also taking orders from the China Coast Guard, as noticed in the involvement of two Chinese fishing boats in the latest water cannon incident. “Our suspicion is they are militia vessels taking order from (China) Coast Guard… The incident shows that they seem to be working… taking orders from the Chinese Coast Guard,” Carlos said. The Chinese militia’s vessels were among those swarming the country’s exclusive economic zone and blocking the Philippine vessels from the WPS in recent months. AFP Chief Romeo Brawner Jr. said they will further increase the military presence in the WPS "to defend and protect" the Philippines’ sovereign rights. “Definitely we have plans to deploy more ships and even our aircraft to monitor our exclusive economic zone. We really have to establish our presence in the area,” he said. These plans include the acquisition of a sub-marine vessel for the country, he said, but noted that AFP needs more funds to procure modern equipment and weapons. The post AFP: Over 400 foreign vessels inside WPS, 85% Chinese-owned appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 11th, 2023

Brawner: Water cannons are for saving lives

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan — Philippine ships, like those of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, are also equipped with water cannons but they are intended to save lives and not to attack other ships. Thus said AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner in a press conference here, during which he said the Philippines would continue carrying out rotation of troops and resupply missions to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal. “Water cannons (of the AFP) are being used only to save lives,” Brawner pointed out, as he assured that the AFP will “defend and protect” the people of Palawan and troops under the Western Command. He was referring to an incident last week when a China Coast Guard vessel trained its water cannon on ships carrying supply and fresh Philippine troops to the World War 2-era ship intentionally ran aground in the area. The AFP chief emphasized that the BRP Sierra Madre is a commissioned ship of the Philippine Navy, thus “it is the duty and obligation of the country” to resupply the troops stationed in the vessel. “So they don’t have the right to hold us back or tell us what to do in there. We are operating, in fact, within our exclusive economic zone, so we will continue to conduct resupply operations,” he added. Following the water cannon incident, Brawner said the AFP would be deploying more Filipino vessels in the area. “Yes, definitely, we have plans to deploy more ships and even our aircraft to monitor our exclusive economic zone. We have to establish our presence in the area,” he pointed out. However, Brawner admitted that the Philippines has fewer ships than China, and so the AFP is pushing for the acquisition of more vessels, including a submarine. In the same press conference, AFP Western Command Chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos reported more than 400 foreign fishing vessels are currently within the country’s exclusive economic zone in the West Philippines Sea, with 85 percent of these monitored vessels in the WPS likely being Chinese fishing ships. The post Brawner: Water cannons are for saving lives appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2023

Phl summons China ambassador over water cannoning of boats

Manila summoned Beijing's envoy on Monday after the China Coast Guard blocked and water cannoned Philippine vessels in the disputed South China Sea, President Ferdinand Marcos said. The incident happened Saturday as the Philippine Coast Guard escorted charter boats carrying food, water, fuel and other supplies to Filipino military personnel stationed at Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands. Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, and has ignored a 2016 international court ruling that its assertion has no legal basis. The Philippine military and coast guard have accused the China Coast Guard of breaking international law by blocking and firing water cannon at the resupply mission, preventing one of the charter boats from reaching the shoal. Another charter boat successfully unloaded its cargo. "Our Secretary of Foreign Affairs summoned Ambassador Huang (Xilian) today and gave him a note verbale including pictures, video about what happened, and we are awaiting their reply," Marcos told reporters. "The position of China, of course, is they say 'this is ours so we are defending it', and we, for our part, are saying 'no, we own it so we are defending it'. So that becomes a grey area that we are discussing." China maintained over the weekend that it had taken "necessary controls" against Philippine boats that "illegally" entered its waters. The US State Department on Sunday condemned the Chinese actions, saying they directly threatened regional peace and stability. Britain, Australia, Canada and the European Union also criticized Beijing's conduct. Second Thomas Shoal is about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the Philippine island of Palawan, and more than 1,000 kilometers from China's nearest major landmass, Hainan island. China's coast guard and navy vessels routinely block or shadow Philippine ships patrolling the contested waters, Manila says. The Philippines has issued more than 400 diplomatic protests to Beijing since 2020 over its "illegal activities" in the South China Sea, the foreign ministry said. China appeared to be "trying to gauge our commitment to supply our troops" at the shoal, National Security Council spokesman Jonathan Malaya told reporters on Monday. "For the record, we will never abandon Ayungin Shoal," Malaya added, using the Philippine name for Second Thomas Shoal, located in the Spratly Islands. 'David and Goliath' Malaya said Saturday's "David and Goliath" incident showed the Chinese had established what appeared to be a "blockade" of the shoal. "There were only two (Philippine) coast guard vessels and two Philippine supply boats against six large Chinese coast guard vessels and two Chinese militia vessels, and more People's Liberation Army naval vessels at near proximity to the area," he said. Malaya said he believed it was the largest Chinese presence at the shoal "in recent memory". At one point, a China Coast Guard vessel came "within 20 yards (18 meters)" of a Philippine coast guard boat, which he said could have resulted in a collision. The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea, which includes representatives of various government agencies, condemned the Chinese actions "in the strongest terms". "As a low tide elevation, Ayungin shoal can neither be the subject of a sovereignty claim nor is it capable of appropriation under international law," the task force said in a statement. Second Thomas Shoal was part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, and the resupply and upkeep of the BRP Sierra Madre were "legitimate Philippine government activities", it added. The Philippine military deliberately grounded the Sierra Madre on Second Thomas Shoal in the late 1990s, and keeps up a tiny garrison there to maintain a presence in the hotly contested waters. In a statement on Monday, the Chinese coast guard urged Manila to "tow away" the ship and "restore the reef to its original state". Manila and Beijing have a long history of maritime disputes over the South China Sea, but former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte was seen as cozying up to China in the hope of attracting investment. Since succeeding him, however, Marcos has insisted he will not let China trample on his country's maritime rights, seeking to strengthen defense ties with former colonial ruler and longtime ally the United States. The post Phl summons China ambassador over water cannoning of boats appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 7th, 2023

U.S. threatens MDT use

The Philippines and the United States condemned the China Coast Guard or CCG on Sunday for firing water cannons and interfering with the legal operations of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea. Armed Forces spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar confirmed that at least one chartered supply boat being escorted by the Philippine Coast Guard was “blocked and water-cannoned” by a CCG vessel on Saturday, 5 August. The Philippine vessels were en route to Ayungin or Second Thomas Shoal for a routine troop rotation and resupply mission when they were attacked by the CCG, Aguilar said in a statement to journalists. Aguilar characterized the attack as a “wanton disregard of the safety of the people on board and in violation of international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, and the 2016 Arbitral Award.” “The Ayungin Shoal is a low tide elevation that is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, pursuant to the 1982 UNCLOS and as affirmed by the 2016 Arbitral Award,” the Department of Foreign Affairs stressed in a statement. The US State Department immediately issued a warning that China’s provocative actions in the WPS, which overlaps with the South China Sea, or SCS, could make it invoke its Mutual Defense Treaty, or MDT, with the Philippines. Signed in 1951, the MDT states that if either country is attacked by an external party, the other country will come to its defense. The United States also called on China to abide by the 2016 arbitral ruling that found China’s claims in the South China Sea to be illegal. “Such actions by the PRC are inconsistent with international law and are the latest in repeated threats to the status quo in the South China Sea, directly threatening regional peace and stability,” a US State Department statement said. “By impeding necessary provisions from reaching the Filipino service members stationed at Second Thomas Shoal, the PRC has also undertaken unwarranted interference in lawful Philippine maritime operations,” the US pointed out.   Heightened tension The incident further heightened tension between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea, notwithstanding the visit of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to Beijing in January. Filipino lawmakers immediately condemned China’s actions (See related story). In a separate statement, the PCG reported that the use of water cannons by the CCG forced the Philippine vessels to change course, preventing them from reaching Ayungin Shoal. In recent months, the CCG has been increasingly aggressive in its patrols of the area, leading to a number of incidents between the two countries. The 2016 arbitral ruling recognized the WPS as part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone while invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim of ownership of nearly the whole of the South China Sea. China has rejected the arbitral ruling. “The United States calls upon the PRC to abide by the arbitral ruling as well as to respect the freedom of navigation, a right to which all states are entitled,” the US State Department said. It added that an armed attack on Philippine vessels, aircraft, and armed forces, including those of its coast guard in the WPS, “would invoke US mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty.” In February, the CCG vessels pointed a military-grade laser light at the BRP Malapascua, which caused temporary blindness in some of its Filipino crew. In separate statements, Japan, Australia, Canada and the European Union called on China to stop its harassment of Philippine vessels. Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko decried the incident. “Totally unacceptable, any harassment and actions which infringe on lawful activities of the sea and endanger the navigational safety,” Koshikawa said in a tweet. “Australia is concerned by the latest actions directed against the Philippines, which are dangerous and destabilizing,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu said in another tweet. Yu also called on China to “respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea for peace and stability in the South China Sea, which is a vital international waterway.” The Canadian Embassy in the Philippines echoed the same sentiments and said the country “unreservedly condemns the dangerous and provocative actions taken by the Chinese Coast Guard against Philippine vessels.” Likewise, European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron expressed concern about the incident. “Very concerned about dangerous action in South China Sea. The EU stands with the Philippines in upholding the rules-based international order,” Veron said. The post U.S. threatens MDT use appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 6th, 2023

Senators blast China’s use of water cannon vs. Philippine vessels in Ayungin Shoal

Senators on Sunday condemned the "excessive and offensive" actions of Chinese Coast Guard vessels against Philippine vessels near the Ayungin Shoal last Friday. Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri called the People’s Republic of China’s actions “reaffirms the merit of the resolution the Senate has unanimously passed.” The incident, which took place on 5 August near the Ayungin Shoal, happened barely a week after the Senate unanimously adopted a resolution denouncing China's intrusion into the West Philippine Sea and its harassment of Filipino fishermen. “Because China contemptuously ignores protests, all the more that we have to rally the world to condemn acts which have no place in a civilized order,” Zubiri said in a statement. In a statement issued on Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guards accused the CCG of using water cannon against its vessels while en route to the Ayungin Shoal for a routine troop rotation and resupply mission. Ayungin Shoal is located 105 nautical miles west of Palawan and is part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines. In a separate statement, the Armed Forces of the Philippines also condemned China’s latest actions in the WPS, which it described as “excessive and offensive.” Zubiri said China’s actions are “yet again a manifestation of its ‘might vs. right’ treatment of its peaceful neighbors.” “By its actions, it shows diplomatic duplicity, of preaching about amity, but practicing hostile behavior,” he said. “We want to have friendship with you but why is it difficult to love you, China?” Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros echoed the same sentiments against China, saying China has no right to block the Philippine vessels in its own territory. “The Chinese Coast Guard has absolutely no right to block, let alone water cannon, our supply vessels. They do not have any right to starve Filipinos in the Ayungin Shoal,” Hontiveros said in a separate statement. “China’s repeated provocations are in complete violation of UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award. I call on our regional neighbors and the broader international community to join the Philippines in condemning this dangerous behavior,” she added. In a bid to strengthen the country’s position in the Ayungin Shoal, the Philippine government permanently supplies its forces there through the BRP Sierra Madre. The BRP Sierra Madre was a World War 2 landing ship tank that was stationed at the Ayungin Shoal since 1999. Hontiveros said she is hoping that the Philippines could soon start joint patrols with other claimant countries in the South China Sea such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. “We need to cooperate with them to halt these aggressive actions of China,” she said. “I am also hoping that the DFA is now formulating steps to raise China’s endless incursions to different international fora.” “The recently adopted Senate resolution 718, with its precision and specific recommendations, is at their disposal,” she added. Senate Resolution 718 urges the Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, to “continue asserting” the country’s sovereign rights over its exclusive economic rights. 'Heed Senate’s call' For his part, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito called on the national government to heed the Senate’s resolution which contains several recommendations for the executive department. “We cannot let this slip. This is too much already! China is very frustrating! China’s hostile actions towards our Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and fishermen are extreme. Our territory, security, and peace are at stake here,” he said in a separate statement. “I urge the national government to heed the Senate's recent resolution on China's aggression and take decisive measures to safeguard our territorial integrity,” he added. Ejercito continued: “These measures will require us to expedite the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and strengthen our defense cooperation program and pacts with our allies.” For Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, China’s actions against PCG in the WPS require a strong stance from the Philippine government. “This is the reason why the Senate adopted Resolution No. 79 strongly condemning incursions like this,” Villanueva said. “Your Senate is always ready to fight for and protect the country’s sovereignty and sovereign rights.” Like Ejercito, Villanueva reminded the executive department of the newly adopted resolution which contains a guide for the DFA. “We urge the Department of Foreign Affairs to implement the courses of action stipulated in the resolution passed by the Senate to finally put an end into this harassment and bullying by China,” he said. Under the resolution, the DFA is “expected” to continue holding dialogues with the Chinese government to push for recognition and respect of the Philippines' sovereign rights over its EEZ and pursue the formulation of the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea based on international law and the UNCLOS. Should China continue to ignore the country’s efforts, the resolution contains actions the agency must do such as bringing international attention to China's harassment of Filipino fishermen in the Philippine EEZ and its continued violation of the Hague Ruling and the UNCLOS; utilizing international fora to rally multilateral support for the enforcement of the Hague Ruling and raise awareness on the real situation in the West Philippine Sea; and engaging with “like-minded” countries to call on China to respect the Hague Ruling and the UNCLOS. The DFA is also encouraged to file a resolution before the United Nations General Assembly, to call for the cessation of all activities that harass Philippine vessels and violate the Philippines' established rights in the West Philippine Sea; and pursue other diplomatic modes as the agency may deem appropriate and necessary. ‘Sensible plans' For his part, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III urged the PCG to come up with sensible plans to overcome China’s increasingly aggressive actions towards Philippine vessels that are on a re-supply mission to the Ayungin Shoal. “The PCG should overcome the CCG on our re-supply missions. They should come up with sensible plans behind closed doors,” Pimentel said in a separate statement. Asked if the recent actions of China against Philippine vessels could trigger the activation of the mutual defense treaty between the Philippines and the United States, Pimentel said: “Use diplomacy and intelligent tactics.” “The MDT should not be invoked lightly. Use our ‘kokote’ not the MDT,” he added. In a separate statement, the US State Department warned that an armed attack on Philippine public vessels, aircraft, and armed forces—including those of its Coast Guard in South China The post Senators blast China’s use of water cannon vs. Philippine vessels in Ayungin Shoal appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 6th, 2023

Conflict evolves

A new form of the Cold War that started in the 1950s is playing out in the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea that the mainland has claimed as historically part of its territory. A 2016 award of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, or PCA, invalidated the historic claim. China, however, said it does not recognize the ruling and it will only accede to bilateral discussions on the maritime conflict. United States security officials have laid out a scenario of heightened posturing in the WPS that is being referred to as the gray zone conflict in which China’s aggressiveness is expected to heighten short of an actual armed conflict. Geopolitical experts said the evolving military relations of the United States and the Philippines are geared toward the WPS developments. In May 2023, new bilateral defense guidelines were issued to clarify the conditions under which American forces would come to the aid of their Philippine counterparts under the terms of the Mutual Defense Treaty. The guidelines marked a change in American policy in the South China Sea from “scrupulous noninvolvement” to one that seems focused on deterring provocative Chinese actions in “gray zone” scenarios, according to Felix Chang, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and the chief operating officer of DecisionQ, an artificial intelligence engineering company. He said the Philippines had long sought a clarification of America’s obligations but Washington was reluctant to give it. The US government’s previous concern was that Manila might use the mutual defense treaty as leverage to advance its maritime and territorial claims against its neighbors in the South China Sea, potentially drawing the United States into confrontations with them, most notably China. The recent American policy shift in the South China Sea, however, follows others that have occurred over the last decade. The major factors that paved the way for the new bilateral defense guidelines have been Manila’s continued commitment to rebuilding its external defense capabilities and Washington’s growing perception of China as a strategic adversary. In the event of an attack, given that the Philippines and the United States share a long-standing mutual defense treaty, American forces would be obliged to come to the country’s aid if the attack occurred in recognized Philippine territorial waters. “But until Manila and Washington issued new bilateral defense guidelines in May 2023, it was unclear what America’s obligations would be if the attack occurred in disputed waters or against non-military Philippine government vessels, like those of its coast guard. Such circumstances were considered ‘gray-zone’ scenarios,” Chang indicated. The newly issued bilateral defense guidelines that were hammered out during the recent state visit of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. cleared up the ambiguity. They also marked a change in American policy in the WPS from “scrupulous noninvolvement” to one that seems focused on deterrence. Chang indicated that for the Philippines, the change could not have come soon enough with China’s increasingly aggressive efforts to assert its sovereignty over the waters within its “nine-dash line.” Barack Obama’s administration was the first to take a slightly firmer stance on the WPS. Then, Chang said, American policy took on a more defiant tone under President Donald Trump, who formally rejected China’s “nine-dash line” claim. And with relations between China and the United States deteriorating further during the early years of the Biden White House, not to mention continued Chinese assertiveness in Southeast Asia, Washington had become open to clarifying the terms of its MDT with Manila. President Marcos visited Washington in May 2023, he was able to secure what his predecessors had not: a clarification of America’s obligations in “gray-zone” scenarios. Chang added the main reason for Washington’s opaque posture had been Manila’s longtime neglect of its external defense capabilities. The Philippines, which at one time fielded one of Asia’s largest and most modern armed forces, had allowed its navy to dwindle to four offshore patrol boats and its air force to mothball its last jet aircraft in 2005, he said. President Marcos’ recent talks with President Joe Biden was all about restoring equilibrium in the disputed seas. The post Conflict evolves appeared first on Daily Tribune......»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsAug 2nd, 2023

AFP reports swarming of more than 50 Chinese vessels in West Philippine Sea

The aircraft pilots were quoted in an AFP Wescom statement saying that the "swarming" of Chinese fishing vessels is "quite visible from the air." One co-pilot said the boats appear to just be loitering in the area......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 7th, 2023

Chinese shoo away PCG plane with journalists in South China Sea

A Philippine Coast Guard aircraft carrying journalists was ordered to “leave immediately” by a Chinese coast guard ship as the plane flew over the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea on Thursday......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMar 11th, 2023

Chinese shoo away PCG plane with journalists in SCS

A Philippine Coast Guard aircraft carrying journalists was ordered to “leave immediately” by a Chinese coast guard ship as the plane flew over the Kalayaan Island Group in the West Philippine Sea on Thursday......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMar 10th, 2023

PCG reports ongoing dangerous maneuvers from Chinese vessels in West Philippine Sea

The Philippine Coast Guard is sounding the alarm as Chinese vessels continue in engaging in dangerous maneuvers in the West Philippine Sea, despite the presence of PCG and Philippine maritime assets......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2024

West Philippine Sea: Guard PH shoal, fishers with frequent patrols

The Philippines will take “decisive action” in securing one of its traditional fishing grounds amid growing Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea by establishing a constant presence at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal through rotational patrols of that area by government ships starting this month. National Security Adviser Eduardo Año on Friday said vessels from the Philippine Coast.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2024