News / Asia

    Philippines Seeks Pause in S. China Sea Development Activities

    Simone Orendain

    This week the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is expected to again try to make headway in resolving ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea. During the ministerial meeting and regional forum in Myanmar's (also known as Burma) capital Naypyidaw, the Philippines said it will propose a temporary halt to any development at disputed features in the South China Sea.

    Three-pronged approach

    The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs is calling it the "Triple Action Plan." DFA Spokesman Charles Jose said the idea behind the three-pronged approach is "to address the provocative and destabilizing activities in the region."

    The first part of the plan calls for all parties to implement the non-binding 2002 agreement known as the "Declaration of Conduct," or DOC, which urges all sides to exercise self-restraint in activities which could escalate territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

    "For the immediate approach we are calling for the full and effective implementation of the DOC, and the expeditious conclusion of the code of conduct. And for the final approach, well in the case of the Philippines, we are pursuing the arbitration case that we filed against China," said Jose.

    Negotiations have long been stalled on finalizing the "Code of Conduct" in the South China Sea, which would provide a legally-binding framework for avoiding conflict and resolving disputes. But China has never supported a regional agreement, instead insisting it will deal with territorial disputes one-on-one. Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also have claims in the resource-rich, heavily traveled sea.

    Moratorium

    Now, following months of tensions over Chinese land reclamation on reefs that the Philippines claims, as well as Chinese oil drilling near the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by Vietnam, authorities in Manila said they want a moratorium on all such actions until the disputes can be resolved.

    Foreign Affairs spokesman Jose said the moratorium would keep in check activities such as drilling near disputed features or expanding formations through reclamation work.

    Meanwhile, the Philippines is still pursuing its arbitration case with a United Nations tribunal that questions China’s claims to nearly the entire sea. Authorities in Manila filed the case in 2013, and this past spring, submitted nearly 4,000 pages of supporting materials.

    Beijing rejected arbitration and did not respond to the case. The Permanent Court of Arbitration has given it until December 15 to submit its materials.

    Vietnamese support

    Rommel Banlaoi heads the Philippine Institution for Peace Violence and Terrorism Research. He said among the five claimants facing China, Vietnam is the most likely to support the Philippines. But that is not a guarantee.

    "Vietnam is doing more development activities. In fact, in my observation, Vietnam is doing more reclamation activities than China," Banlaoi stated.

    Banlaoi said the claimants are all within their rights to develop and maintain territories that they have control over, as long as they are not for military purposes. He said putting a temporary stop to these activities might receive a negative domestic response in Vietnam.

    Furthermore he said China first wants to see full implementation of the non-binding agreement before it moves toward any legally binding code.

    Banlaoi said it would take a long time to assess the proposal’s merits and implications before ASEAN could come to any kind of agreement on it.

    Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesman Jose said ministry Secretary Albert del Rosario recently concluded what his office described as "positive meetings" with counterparts in Vietnam, Brunei and Indonesia to promote the plan.

    You May Like

    Ugandan Opposition Candidate: Only Intimidation, Vote Buying Can Prevent Victory

    Kizza Besigye says he has been drawing large crowds and claims he has widespred support ahead of Feb. 18 vote

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    Sanctions Just Got Real for Over 54,000 North Koreans

    Shuttering of Kaesong complex ends virtually any hope of peaceful settlement to long-standing tensions on Korean peninsula in near future

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.