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    » 04/20/2012, 00.00

    PHILIPPINES - CHINA

    Tensions rise between Beijing and Manila over South China Sea



    China sends a third patrol vessel to the Scarborough Shoal, a small island off the coast of the Philippines. The navies of the two nations are at a standoff over the shoal, which has rich fishing grounds and seabed minerals. Manila plans to go to UN court to press its case.

    Manila (AsiaNews/ Agencies) - Despites appeals by Manila, tensions between the Philippines and China are rising over the South China Sea as China sends another patrol vessel to the Scarborough Shoal, 220 km from Luzon (Philippines), which both Beijing and Manila claim for its wealth of natural resources. In their response, Filipino authorities have accused the Chinese of seeking a military escalation without reason.

    Today Filipino Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said that his government is prepared to go to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLOS) for redress. "If China will not go with us to ITLOS, our legal team will go to ITLOS unilaterally," he said.

    On 8 April, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the Filipino Navy's largest and newest ship, proceeded to the area to stop eight Chinese fishing boats, carrying corals, giant clams and live sharks as well as other endangered marine species, taken off the Scarborough Shoal, which the Chinese call Huangyan Island.

    In response, China sent two maritime surveillance vessels to prevent the Gregorio del Pilar from stopping its fishing boats. This sparked a diplomatic row between the two nations.

    Since 10 April the Filipino naval vessel, the two Chinese surveillance ships and the eight fishing boats have been at a standoff near the shoal.

    Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCOS), the dispute island is within the Philippines's recognised 370-kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone in which it can exercise special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources (fishing and mining).

    Among all the nations in the Asia-Pacific region involved in the dispute, China has the most extensive claims in the South China Sea.

    Exerting hegemonic control over the area would give Beijing a major strategic advantage in terms of trade and access to oil and natural gas.

    Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan are opposed to China's expansionism, and can rely on the support of the United States, which has major strategic interests of its own in the area.

    Vietnam and Philippines have complained about China's growing aggressiveness. During the last ASEAN summit on 3 April in Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Filipino President Benigno Aquino suggested that the ten-nation association "maintain a common stance" vis-à-vis China, which favours instead bilateral deals with the various stakeholders to take advantage of its greater economic and military power.

    On Monday, the Philippines and the United States began 12 days of joint naval exercises. China slammed the move, criticising Manila for trying to exert its control in the South China Sea, proof of its "Cold War mentality".

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    See also

    15/05/2012 CHINA - PHILIPPINES
    South China Sea: Southern Airlines cuts flights to Manila, overlapping fishing bans announced
    The Chinese airliner cuts are due to a major drop in reservations because of rising tensions between the two governments and a Chinese advisory against travel to the Philippines. More than half of all flights are cancelled. To save face, Manila and Beijing issue overlapping bans in disputed waters to replenish fish stocks.

    11/05/2012 PHILIPPINES - CHINA
    South China Sea: hundreds of Filipinos in the streets against Beijing's "imperialism"
    Protesters demonstrate in front of the Chinese Embassy in Manila. About 100 police officers have been deployed around the building, but so far, no incidents have been reported. As the Filipino government distances itself from the protest, India calls on the parties to show "moderation".

    09/05/2012 PHILIPPINES - CHINA
    Winds of war between Beijing and Manila blowing across the South China Sea
    Ready to respond to provocations, China summons Philippines' chargé d'affaires. For its deputy foreign minister, it is hard "to be optimistic". Chinese media fuel the confrontation, urging the government to take action. Experts believe the dispute could be settled diplomatically. Prospects for cooperation between Manila and Beijing in natural gas development emerge.

    10/01/2014 CHINA - UNITED STATES
    Washington: Beijing's programs in South China Sea "provocative and dangerous"
    The U.S. government criticizes the Chinese government's new norms, which impose limitations and restrictions on foreign vessels in disputed waters. There is no justification in international law and the move threatens to exacerbate already tense relations in the area. Hanoi intervenes in the dispute.

    12/10/2010 VIETNAM – CHINA – US
    Vietnam urges China to talks over territorial disputes
    An ASEAN summit on military cooperation opens in Hanoi with the presence of China, Russia and the United States. For months, Beijing has tried to expand its military presence in disputed areas, with other nations turning to the international community.



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