Indonesian president visits island in waters disputed by Beijing

UNTV News   •   January 8, 2020   •   606

Jakarta – The president of Indonesia on Wednesday visited an island in disputed waters of the South China Sea amid a weeks-long standoff between Indonesian and Chinese vessels, an outgrowth of the ongoing territorial spat in which Jakarta and Beijing both claim sovereignty over the area.

Joko Widodo made the symbolic trip to Natuna Besar – the main island of the Middle Natuna Archipelago in the Riau Islands province – in a bid to assert Indonesia’s claims of ownership of the waters. There, he met with local fishermen and talked to reporters.

“I am here too to ensure law enforcement for our sovereign rights – our country’s sovereign rights – over the richness of our marine natural resources in the exclusive economic zone,” Widodo said. “Why are Bakamla (the Indonesian Maritime Security Agency) and the Navy here? To ensure the rule of law.”

The leader, who was re-elected to a second term in April of last year, added that Indonesia had a district, a regent and a governor in the area. “There are no more debates. De facto, de jure, Natuna is Indonesia.”

Meanwhile, Geng Shuang, the main spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said Wednesday that Beijing had repeatedly reiterated its sovereignty and jurisdiction over relevant waters in the South China Sea.

“I have to stress that China and Indonesia have no territorial sovereignty disputes. Our claims for maritime interests in certain waters in South China Sea overlap,” Geng said. “We are ready to properly handle the differences with Indonesia and uphold the peace and stability in the region as well as our two countries’ relations. Actually, we have been in communication through diplomatic channels.”

The face-off between the two Asian nations erupted in the second half of December when a Chinese coast guard ship that was escorting several fishing vessels entered waters that Jakarta says belong to its EEZ (though Beijing claims the waters as its own, along with most of the South China Sea).

In response to the incursion, Indonesia summoned the Chinese ambassador, issued a letter of protest and sent warships and fighter jets to strengthen its military presence in the area, which it re-named the North Natuna Sea in 2017. Beijing, in turn, deployed another coast guard boat.

On Tuesday, Indonesia sent four more warships as reinforcement. The Southeast Asian country currently has a naval presence of 10 military vessels around Natuna.

The dispute over the Natuna Islands dates back to 2016, when Indonesia decided to build military bases in the region following a series of conflicts with Chinese fishing boats.

Besides Indonesia, China is locked in sovereignty disputes over the South China Sea with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Beijing stakes claim on nearly the entire South China Sea region, an area through which $5 billion worth of commercial traffic passes annually, and which boasts large fishing zones and is reportedly rich in oil and gas reserves. EFE-EPA

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Chinese projects in PH to continue, China envoy says

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 2, 2020

China on Tuesday (September 1) said Chinese projects in the Philippines will continue amid the sanctions imposed by the United States on several Chinese firms involved in the reclamation and militarization in the South China Sea.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian made the statement during a radio interview reiterating the continuation of projects in the Philippines under the Build Build, Build program.

Ambassador Huang Xilian: All Chinese projects will continue as plannedOn 1 September 2020, Chinese Ambassador Huang…

Posted by Chinese Embassy Manila on Tuesday, September 1, 2020

“The pragmatic cooperation between China and the Philippines has always been based on mutual respect, mutual benefit and win-win results, and all projects are all conducted in compliance with the existing laws and regulations,” he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also said President Rodrigo Duterte also want the infrastructure projects with China would continue, including the Sangley Airport project.

“Sangley project will continue, all other projects involving Chinese companies that are banned in the United States can continue in the Philippines. We are not a basal state of any foreign power and we will pursue our national interest,” he said. AAC

Lawmaker calls on gov’t to scrap contracts with Chinese firms involved in militarization of WPS

Marje Pelayo   •   August 31, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros urges the government to scrap all contracts with Chinese companies that are involved in constructions of military structures and other establishments in the West Philippine Sea. 

This follows the move by the United States government to blacklist a total of 24 Chinese firms that are helping the Chinese military in establishing artificial islands and militarized the disputed territory in the South China Sea and China’s alleged missile launches in the island. 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin previously announced that he would recommend that the Philippine government cut business ties with Chinese companies if proven that they are involved in the militarization activities in the West Philippine Sea.

Hontiveros argued that it is alarming to know that the Philippine government is dealing with Chinese firms that destroy the country’s own territory. 

The lady senator claimed that several subsidiaries of the China Communications Construction Company Limited that were among the companies the US government blacklisted, have existing Memorandum of Understanding with the Philippine government particularly in infrastructure projects in Manila, Davao City, Cebu and Clark in Pampanga.

Among these projects include:

  • Davao Coastline and Port Development Project
  • Manila Harbour Center Reclamation Project
  • Cebu International and Bulk Terminal Project
  • Manila-Clark Railway

Additionally, the Chinese firm China Harbor Engineering Company has won the bidding in the construction of an access road to New Clark City. 

Hontiveros said these projects must stop.

“Hindi pwedeng magpatuloy ang mga proyektong ito. [These projects must stop.] If we continue with these deals, it may be equivalent to giving up our territories,” Hontiveros said.

Meanwhile, the group Akbayan urges President Rodrigo Duterte to reveal to the public all Chinese-loaned contracts that his administration has entered into.

“A comprehensive debt audit of all Chinese loans is necessary to determine if these loan agreements are legitimate, don’t carry unjust conditionalities that could undermine our country’s sovereignty, territory, economy and security, and not the result of questionable transactions,” Akbayan Chairman Emeritus and former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Etta Rosales said. 

Malacañang is yet to respond on the matter. MNP (with details from Harlene Delgado)

US imposes visa restrictions on Chinese nationals involved in militarization of South China Sea

Marje Pelayo   •   August 27, 2020

The United States announced on Wednesday (August 26) that it is imposing visa restrictions on Chinese nationals involved in militarization activities in the South China Sea.

“The United States supports a free and open South China Sea,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

“We respect the sovereign rights of all nations, regardless of size, and seek to preserve peace and uphold freedom of the seas in a manner consistent with international law,” he added.

The US official specified restricting Chinese nationals who were “responsible for, or complicit in, either the large-scale reclamation, construction, or militarization of disputed outposts in the South China Sea or the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) use of coercion against Southeast Asian claimants to inhibit their access to offshore resources.”

Pompeo further said that “These individuals will now be inadmissible into the United States, and their immediate family members may be subject to these visa restrictions as well.”

In addition, the Department of Commerce has added 24 PRC state-owned enterprises to the Entity List, including several subsidiaries of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC).

Likewise, workers of 24 People’s Republic of China (PRC) state-owned enterprises to the Entity List, including subsidiaries of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and their immediate family members are also not allowed to enter any US domain.

Pompeo said the United States will act until Beijing discontinues its coercive behavior in the South China Sea.

“We will continue to stand with allies and partners in resisting this destabilizing activity. continue to stand with allies and partners in resisting this destabilizing activity,” the official concluded.

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