Philippines DFA summons Chinese envoy over incursion near Spratlys

Discussion in 'China' started by amoy, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

    Jan 17, 2010
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    01-Jun-11, 1:14 PM | Veronica Uy,
    DFA summons Chinese envoy over incursion near Spratlys -

    MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE – 2:33 p.m.) The Department of Foreign Affairs has summoned China’s charge d’affaires in Manila over the reported incursions of Chinese warships beyond the disputed Spratly Islands and well into Philippine territory.

    In a statement, the DFA said Bao Tian, the top Chinese diplomat in the country, was summoned to its offices on May 31 to convey the government’s “serious concerns over recent actions of the People’s Republic of China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).”

    Citing reports from the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the DFA said Chinese ships were seen toward the end of May near the Iroquois Reef-Amy Douglas Bank, which is located southwest of Recto (Reed) Bank and east of Patag (Flat) Island, well within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

    A China Marine Surveillance (CMS) vessel and other People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships “reportedly unloaded building materials, erected an undetermined number of posts, and placed a buoy near the breaker of the Amy Douglas Bank,” the DFA said.

    While the bank itself is still unoccupied and without any structures, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario said that “any new construction by China in the vicinity of the uninhabited Iroquois Bank is a clear violation of the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea.”

    "The posts and buoy placed by the Chinese at the vicinity of Iroquois Bank are about 26 nautical miles east of Patag Island and 125 nautical miles from mainland Palawan,” the DFA pointed out.

    According to the DOC, “parties (shall) undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner.”

    Earlier, on May 27, the DFA also conveyed its concern to the Chinese embassy over reports in Chinese state media about China’s planned installation of its most advanced oil rig in the South China Sea in July. During this meeting, the DFA asked the Chinese embassy for the exact location of the planned mega oil rig and reminded that it not be placed within Philippine territory or waters.

    An exclusive report by News5's DJ Sta. Ana last May 25 -- published by InterAksyon and the Philippine Star -- bared documents and information suggesting that China had steadily been expanding its structures in the South China Sea over the past decade, including in islets well within Philippine-claimed parts of the Spratlys. President Aquino and the DFA -- while hosting the Chinese defense minister Liang Guanglie on the same day that Sta. Ana's report was published -- initially brushed aside the report, saying the pictures provided by the report were "old" and not necessarily alarming.

    A subsequent report by's Lourdes Fernandez on May 30 quoted authoritative sources in the military as saying that the same pictures were, while not all recent, definitely "authentic", and pointed to a pattern of observed Chinese activities that lay bare a more overt strategy to expand China's presence in the Spratlys. On the same day that InterAksyon's follow up report came out, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Oban and Defense Sec. Voltaire Gazmin led other officers on a tour of Philippine command posts off Palawan.

    The garrisons cited in Sta. Ana's report, InterAksyon's source said, complemented Chinese plans to purchase big "surveillance ships", and the ultimate outfitting of the same with military weapons.

    Wednesday's summoning of China's charge d'affaires by the DFA points to a greater concern at the top levels of government. Keeping to the rigid diplomatic protocol and language, however, the DFA said: “The Philippines is also committed to cooperating closely and actively with ASEAN and China in finding peaceful solutions to attain this goal.”

    “The Philippines recognizes that critical to the peace and stability of the West Philippine Sea is the full and faithful implementation of the ASEAN-China DOC on the South China Sea,” the DFA said in its June 1 statement, as it called on all claimant countries “to transform the area into a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation (ZOPFF/C) through sustained consultations and dialogue.”

    Still earlier this year, the DFA also lodged a note verbale with the Chinese embassy following a confrontation between Chinese patrol vessels and a Philippine oil exploration vessel off the Reed Bank.

    The ZOPFF/C provides a framework for segregating the disputed territorial features which may be considered for collaborative activities from the non-disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea in accordance with international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

    The Spratlys, believed to be rich in gas, oil, and mineral resources, has long been a source of dispute among China, Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, and Malaysia, and the growing Chinese military presence in the region has been a cause of concern not just in the Southeast Asian region, but around the world as well.

    Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin called the Chinese incursions "alarming in the sense that the intrusions are increasing."

    He also noted that the incursions happen in areas where the Philippines has no military presence.

    The timing seems good for China as main powers are tied up on various fronts
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2011

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