News / Asia

Philippines Wary of Chinese Fishing Boats Near Spratlys

Aerial view of Pagasa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines (File)Aerial view of Pagasa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines (File)
x
Aerial view of Pagasa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines (File)
Aerial view of Pagasa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines (File)
Simone Orendain
MANILA — The Philippines is expressing concern over 30 Chinese vessels that have settled near a reef among some disputed islands it partially claims in the South China Sea.  The boats arrived from Hainan province Sunday, just days after a heated regional forum that ended with no consensus over how to address territorial disputes in the region. 
 
Chinese news agencies say the fleet of fishing vessels near Yongshu Reef is accompanied by a 3,000-ton reinforcement ship and a government vessel for protection. China Daily says this is the largest fleet out of Hainan province to go on their annual fishing excursion.
 
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs reacted immediately to the reports, issuing a statement on the arrival of the boats near the reef also known as Fiery Cross Reef.
 
“We just want to make sure that they don’t intrude into our exclusive economic zone and that they respect our sovereign rights over the resources within our EE Zed,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said, reiterating the department’s stance.
 
Fiery Cross Reef is about 500 kilometers west of Palawan province.  That puts it well beyond the 370 kilometers from a country’s coastline that is considered under its authority by international law.
 
Analyst Carl Thayer specializes in security issues in the South China Sea at the University of New South Wales at the Australia Defense Force Academy.  He calls the Philippines’ message to China “a massive response.”  
 
“The more the Philippines stands up, the more China responds in clever ways," Thayer said.  "The military is not involved.  The PLA is always in the background, but it hasn’t been directly involved.”
 
Thayer points to the result of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ regional forum in Cambodia last week as an example where China gained the upper hand without having to involve its Peoples Liberation Army.  
 
For the first time in its 45-year history the group of 10 ASEAN countries closed a meeting without a joint statement.  According to the Philippine officials, a months-long standoff between the Philippines and China at a shoal claimed by the Philippines was discussed multiple times throughout the four-day forum.  But Secretary Albert del Rosario says the ASEAN chairman from Cambodia, an ally of China, did not want to include the issue in a joint communiqué.  
 
“ASEAN members who are not principally involved in this just want to hang back and not get involved or actually view the Philippines as being the cause of all this rather than China, if the Philippines would just stop doing it,” Thayer explained.
 
Apart from the Philippines, ASEAN member states Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have some claims in the South China Sea.  China claims practically the entire sea, which has abundant fishing, busy sea lanes and potentially vast reserves of oil and gas.
 
Ten years ago, ASEAN and China signed a non-binding code of conduct promising to settle differences over the sea peacefully.  But while several countries want to address disputes through multilateral talks, China prefers to deal with claimant countries one on one.
 
Thayer says with another six months before China’s major turnover in leadership, the country could continue to take advantage of what he calls the state of ASEAN’s “disarray.”

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid