News / Asia

    China, Philippines Intensify War of Words Over S. China Sea

    Filipino fishermen wave from a fishing boat bound to fish near Scarborough Shoal in Masinloc, Zambales May 10, 2012. Filipino fishermen wave from a fishing boat bound to fish near Scarborough Shoal in Masinloc, Zambales May 10, 2012.
    x
    Filipino fishermen wave from a fishing boat bound to fish near Scarborough Shoal in Masinloc, Zambales May 10, 2012.
    Filipino fishermen wave from a fishing boat bound to fish near Scarborough Shoal in Masinloc, Zambales May 10, 2012.
    Daniel Schearf
    BANGKOK - A recent flare-up between China and the Philippines about a disputed island has renewed tensions surrounding South China Sea territories. The spat has also highlighted a July deadline for agreement on a code of conduct in the sea between China and Southeast Asian nations.

    On Thursday, China’s state media said most Chinese travel agencies suspended trips to the Philippines in an escalating and nationalistic war of words over a disputed island chain. China also issued a safety warning to its citizens in the Philippines because of anti-China protests expected this weekend.

    Foreign affairs spokesman Hong Lei on Thursday demanded the Philippines ensure that Chinese citizens are safe. The Philippines side encouraged people both at home and abroad to launch demonstrations against China, he said, warning authorities to take measures to protect the safety of Chinese nationals and institutions in the Philippines.

    The rising tension came from a face-off last month after a Philippine warship tried to stop Chinese fishing boats in the Scarborough Shoal, but were stopped by surveillance ships from China.

    The rocky islands, known as Huangyan in China, are in the South China Sea, about 230 kilometers northwest of the Philippines.

    Manila says the shoal is within its exclusive economic zone while Beijing claims not only those islands but almost all the territory in the South China Sea.

    That puts China in conflict with other claims in mineral and fishing-rich areas by Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

    Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
    x
    Click to enlarge
    Click to enlarge
    ​Political analysts say Beijing’s argued sovereignty of the region is weak because it is based on historic claims rather than international law.


    Carl Thayer, a professor at the Australian Defense Academy, points out that a map China gave the United Nations in 2009 that justified its territorial claims had nine unconnected lines drawn in the sea.
     

    “[Un]til China comes clear about what the nine dash lines mean and how they would be connected, and how the claims [are] under international law -- but they claim historic rights. Well, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea came recently. So, you can’t go back and say back when we had historic rights, we also claimed international law because it didn’t exist. So, we’re still stuck on the Chinese ambiguity. Some argue that it’s calculated. It suits China to keep everybody guessing," Thayer said.

    Conflicts among claimants in the sea are not new and have, in the past, involved arrests of Chinese and Vietnamese fishermen and even brief naval battles in the 1970s between China and Vietnam.

    But worries are growing about the possibility of greater conflict as China asserts its power and influence to claim resources and the United Sates backs up its ally, the Philippines, with increased arms sales.

    To ease tensions, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has for more than a decade been negotiating details on a code of conduct in the South China Sea.

    The regional grouping has set a deadline for reaching an agreement in July, when Thailand will become the ASEAN-China coordinator.

    Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, said Thailand, as a non-claimant, is in a good position to act as an arbiter, but is coming under pressure from both Beijing and ASEAN.

    “China prefers to deal with ASEAN on a bilateral basis," said Thitinan. "And, ASEAN itself does not have a single, common position on the South China Sea. So, we will see from Beijing, most likely, a kind of divide and deal posture. At the same time the ASEAN countries, especially the claimant countries - particularly The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia - they will want ASEAN to come up with a common position. And, this will put some
    pressure on Thailand.”

    Political analysts say the Philippines and Vietnam are pushing for a binding code of conduct that also clarifies geographic claims in the sea while China wants a weaker and ambiguous declaration.

    ASEAN’s ten member nations make decisions based only on consensus and China must also accept the agreement. That makes a clear and enforceable code less likely and a watered down list of principles like the 2002 Declaration of Conduct, or DOC, said Thayer.

    “If it’s not going to have what the Philippines wants as an enforcement mechanism, it doesn’t have a status as a treaty, it’s not going to be any more binding than the DOC, which, when you get down to the bottom, makes a net assessment, is nothing more than a political declaration of voluntary activities.”

    ASEAN’s other members include Burma, Indonesia, Laos and Singapore.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora