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PH-China economic ties likely the reason behind ASEAN ministers’ “weak” stance on South China Sea – Golez

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano forefronts economic progress as the reason why the ASEAN foreign ministers, in their statement on Tuesday, did not highlight the arbitral ruling favoring Philippines over China in the West Philippine Sea dispute.

“There is no doubt we do not like the actions of some players including China in the past, but we need to have progress. If you go back in the past just to scold, it’s regressive,” he said.

Former national security adviser Rolio Golez said the Duterte administration is balancing out our relations with China given the economic benefits from our engagement with them.

“They want to avoid an irritant. The Philippines as the host, the president would like to strengthen the economic engagement with China, economic package that we got last year, project, loans, credit, grants, investments and also trade, so they are giving that priority right now,” said Golez.

However, Golez voiced out his concern that the Philippines’ refusal to assert its rights over the West Philippine Sea might affect its position in the long run.
“Medyo delikado ang trade off na iyon (That trade off can be dangerous). Hindi natin alam ano ang magiging epekto nito sa ating paninindigan (We do not know how it will affect our stand) because we will have to negotiate the arbitral ruling. Now, a lot of people are worried, including myself that this might weaken our position in the end,” he said.

Director of the Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, Atty. Jay Batongbacal, meanwhile believes it is a small victory already that the ASEAN ministers emphasized the importance of non-militarization, even if China is finished with its installations in the disputed waters.

He added, however that the consistencies in the statements of Sec. Cayetano and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi prove that the two countries have reached an accord and are coordinated in terms of their respective positions in the issue.

Many are expecting that at the end of the ASEAN meetings this year, under the chairmanship of the Philippines, ASEAN will finalize the code of conduct that might be legally binding for all countries that have overlapping claims on some areas in the West Philippines Sea. — Joyce Balancio | UNTV News & Rescue



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Malacañang downplays China’s naming of some underwater features in Philippine Rise

by UNTV   |   Posted on Thursday, February 15th, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang clarified that China’s naming of some undersea features in the Philippine Rise is not a violation of the Philippines’ sovereign rights over it.

Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said that China’s naming of the said features is a scientific process and it does not mean that China is owning them.

Roque underscored that the Philippines will also not recognize the Chinese names.

“Kinikilala ng China na wala silang kahit anong karapatan sa Benham Rise at kinikilala nila ang sovereign rights natin sa Benham Rise,” said the official.

(China recognizes that they have no rights over the Benham Rise but respects our sovereign rights on it. Only Filipinos now are allowed to use the resources there and conduct scientific research. We already have funds and the Filipino scientists will use the fund.)

Malacañang reiterated that there is nothing to worry about the action of China on the Philippine Rise.

Even Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuan has earlier said that China respects the rights of the Philippines over the Philippine Rise and insists that the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) permitted the “naming.”

“China respects the Philippines’ relevant rights to Benham Rise. At the same time, we hope the relevant party can take a professional and responsible view of relevant continuing work,” said China foreign ministry spokesman to Reuters.

Malacañang said that the government will give names to the underwater features.

“Ito ay na-award sa Pilipinas. Kahit anong sabihin ng China, maglalagay din tayong Pilipinong pangalan diyan. Kung ano man ang tawagin ng mga Tsino doon sa water features nuon, babalewalain na rin natin,” said the presidential spokesperson.

(This is awarded to the Philippines. Whatever China says, we will also give Filipino names. Whatever names China gave to the water features, we will not recognize it.) — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News and Rescue

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Chinese paper says UK trying to grab attention with South China Sea mission

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, February 15th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015.

BEIJING (Reuters) – Britain’s Defence Ministry is trying to justify its existence and grab attention with a planned mission by a British warship to the disputed South China Sea next month, a Chinese newspaper said on Wednesday.

A British warship will sail through the South China Sea to assert freedom-of-navigation rights, British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said in remarks published on Tuesday during a visit to Australia.

British officials first flagged the voyage six months ago and the journey is likely to stoke tensions with China, who claim control of most of the area and have built military facilities on land features in the sea.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to the energy-rich sea through which billions of dollars in trade pass each year.

The widely read state-run tabloid the Global Times said Williamson needed to state clearly the purpose of the mission.

“If not provocation, the Royal Navy should behave modestly when passing through the South China Sea,” it said in editorials published in its English and Chinese-language editions.

“By acting tough against China, Britain’s Ministry of Defence is trying to validate its existence and grab attention,” it said.

The paper wondered whether the Royal Navy could actually complete the trip, considering budget cuts and problems with a new aircraft carrier that has a leak.

“As the Royal Navy has been hit by news such as a leaky aircraft carrier and the UK government has a tight budget, it appears a difficult mission for the Royal Navy to come all this way to provoke China,” it wrote.

China has repeatedly accused countries outside the region – generally a reference to the United States and Japan – of trying to provoke trouble in the South China Sea while China and its neighbors are trying to resolve the matter through diplomacy.

Speaking of Britain’s plan, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it hoped “relevant sides don’t try to create trouble out of nothing”.

Britain, which will be leaving the European Union next year, has looked to China as one of the countries it wants to sign a free trade deal with once it leaves the bloc. British Prime Minister Theresa May ended a largely successful trip to China earlier this month.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait

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Senators push to file a diplomatic protest against China

by UNTV   |   Posted on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Snapshot of a DA-BFAR video on Benham Rise / Philippine Rise

MANILA, Philippines — Following Beijing’s move to rename five underwater sea features of Benham or Philippine Rise after it conducted a marine research in the area in 2004.

Some senators led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV called on the Duterte administration to file a diplomatic protest against China.

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) approved last year the names given by China to the said sea features.

What irks the senator is that Beijing used Chinese names for the sea features despite the United Nations’ recognition that the Benham Rise is part of the Philippines territory.

According to Trillanes, the filing of diplomatic protest shows the Philippines’ strong opposition to China’s move.

“We are not agreeing to what they did. But this administration has not filed a diplomatic protest or even verbally opposed it. We heard nothing from them,” said Trillanes.

Several senators are in favor of filing such diplomatic protest against China.

“What China has been doing is already bullying the Philippine government,” said Sen. JV Ejercito.

“They cannot claim it. The United Nations has already declared that this is a part of our extended continental shelf. That’s very clear,” said Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian.

Senator Panfilo Lacson has expressed concern that Beijing might grab the Benham Rise next.

“Kung pinangalan na nila ng mga Chinese names ‘yung mga seamounts, hindi far-fetched na sabihin nila na kanila na naman ‘yun,” said Lacson.

(If they named seamounts with Chinese names, it’s not far fetched that they will soon grab them.)

However, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel is not concern over the matter.

“I’m not bothered. Read the rules who can propose names and who can oppose the proposals,” said Sen. Koko Pimentel.

Meantime, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque said that the government does not recognize the names given by China to the undersea features of Philippine Rise.

Roque said that the Duterte administration already recommended to the Philippine embassy in Beijing to inform about the matter the Chinese government and the commission in charge of undersea features of countries or the International Hydrographic Organization. — Mai Bermudez | UNTV News and Rescue

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