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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid