His­tory: Manila has re­peat­edly com­pli­cated dis­putes

China Daily (Canada) - - DOCUMENT -

into ef­fect of UNCLOS, the rel­e­vant dis­putes be­tween China and the Philip­pines in the South China Sea have grad­u­ally in­ten­si­fied.

70. Based on the prac­tice of the Chi­nese peo­ple and the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment in the long course of his­tory and the po­si­tion con­sis­tently up­held by suc­ces­sive Chi­nese gov­ern­ments, and pur­suant to China’s na­tional law and un­der in­ter­na­tional law, in­clud­ing the 1958 Dec­la­ra­tion of the Gov­ern­ment of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China on China’s Ter­ri­to­rial Sea, the 1992 Law of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China on the Ter­ri­to­rial Sea and the Con­tigu­ous Zone, the 1996 De­ci­sion of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China on the Rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea, the 1998 Law of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China on the Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone and the Con­ti­nen­tal Shelf, and the 1982 United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea, China has, based on Nan­hai Zhu­dao, in­ter­nal wa­ters, ter­ri­to­rial sea, con­tigu­ous zone, ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone and con­ti­nen­tal shelf. In ad­di­tion, China has his­toric rights in the South China Sea.

71. The Philip­pines pro­claimed its in­ter­nal wa­ters, archipelagic wa­ters, ter­ri­to­rial sea, ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone and con­ti­nen­tal shelf ac­cord­ing to, among oth­ers, the Philip­pines’ Repub­lic Act No. 387 of 1949, Repub­lic Act No. 3046 of 1961, Repub­lic Act No. 5446 and Pres­i­den­tial Procla­ma­tion No. 370 of 1968, Pres­i­den­tial De­cree No. 1599 of 1978, and Repub­lic Act No. 9522 of 2009.

72. In the South China Sea, China and the Philip­pines are states pos­sess­ing land ter­ri­tory with op­po­site coasts, the dis­tance be­tween which is less than 400 nau­ti­cal miles. The mar­itime ar­eas claimed by the two states over­lap, giv­ing rise to a dis­pute over mar­itime de­lim­i­ta­tion. his­tory, and no one has ever ex­pressed ob­jec­tion to this for quite some time”; and “For the sake of the friend­ship be­tween our two coun­tries, we can shelve the is­sue for now and pur­sue joint de­vel­op­ment”. Since then, when han­dling the rel­e­vant South China Sea is­sue and de­vel­op­ing bi­lat­eral ties with other lit­toral coun­tries around the South China Sea, China has all along acted in keep­ing with Deng Xiaop­ing’s idea: “sovereignty be­longs to China, dis­putes can be shelved, and we can pur­sue joint de­vel­op­ment”.

77. Since the 1980s, China has put for­ward a se­ries of pro­pos­als and ini­tia­tives for man­ag­ing and set­tling through ne­go­ti­a­tion dis­putes with the Philip­pines in the South China Sea and re­it­er­ated re­peat­edly its sovereignty over Nan­sha Qun­dao, its po­si­tion on peace­fully set­tling the rel­e­vant dis­putes and its ini­tia­tive of “pur­su­ing joint de­vel­op­ment while shelv­ing dis­putes”. China has ex­pressed its clear op­po­si­tion to in­ter­ven­tion by out­side forces and at­tempts to mul­ti­lat­er­al­ize the South China Sea is­sue and em­pha­sized that the rel­e­vant dis­putes should not af­fect bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

78. In July 1992, the 25th ASEAN For­eign Min­is­ters Meet­ing held in Manila adopted the ASEAN Dec­la­ra­tion on the South China Sea. China ex­pressed ap­pre­ci­a­tion for rel­e­vant prin­ci­ples out­lined in that Dec­la­ra­tion. China stated that it has all along stood for peace­fully set­tling through ne­go­ti­a­tion the ter­ri­to­rial is­sues re­lat­ing to part of Nan­sha Qun­dao and op­posed the use of force, and is ready to en­ter into ne­go­ti­a­tion with coun­tries con­cerned on im­ple­ment­ing the prin­ci­ple of “pur­su­ing joint de­vel­op­ment while shelv­ing dis­putes” when con­di­tions are ripe.

79. In Au­gust 1995, China and the Philip­pines is­sued the Joint State­ment be­tween the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China and the Repub­lic of the Philip­pines con­cern­ing Con­sul­ta­tions on the South China Sea and on Other Ar­eas of Co­op­er­a­tion in which they agreed that “dis­putes shall be set­tled by the coun­tries di­rectly con­cerned” and that “a grad­ual and pro­gres­sive process of co­op­er­a­tion shall be adopted with a view to even­tu­ally ne­go­ti­at­ing a set­tle­ment of the bi­lat­eral dis­putes.” Sub­se­quently, China and the Philip­pines reaf­firmed their con­sen­sus on set­tling the South China Sea is­sue through bi­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tion and con­sul­ta­tion in a num­ber of bi­lat­eral doc­u­ments, such as the March 1999 Joint State­ment of the China-Philip­pines Ex­perts Group Meet­ing on Con­fi­dence-Build­ing Mea­sures and the May 2000 Joint State­ment be­tween the Gov­ern­ment of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China and the Gov­ern­ment of the Repub­lic of the Philip­pines on the Frame­work of Bi­lat­eral Co­op­er­a­tion in the Twenty-First Cen­tury.

80. In Novem­ber 2002, China and the ten ASEAN Mem­ber States signed the DOC in which the par­ties solemnly “un­der­take to re­solve their ter­ri­to­rial and ju­ris­dic­tional dis­putes by peace­ful means, with­out re­sort­ing to the threat or use of force, through friendly con­sul­ta­tions and ne­go­ti­a­tions by sov­er­eign states di­rectly con­cerned, in ac­cor­dance with uni­ver­sally rec­og­nized prin­ci­ples of in­ter­na­tional law, in­clud­ing the 1982 UN Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea”.

81. Af­ter­wards, China and the Philip­pines reaf­firmed this solemn com­mit­ment they had made in the DOC in a num­ber of bi­lat­eral doc­u­ments, such as the Septem­ber 2004 Joint Press State­ment be­tween the Gov­ern­ment of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China and the Gov­ern­ment of the Repub­lic of the Philip­pines and the Septem­ber 2011 Joint State­ment be­tween the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China and the Repub­lic of the Philip­pines.

82. The rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions in all the afore­men­tioned bi­lat­eral in­stru­ments and the DOC em­body the fol­low­ing con­sen­sus and com­mit­ment be­tween China and the Philip­pines on set­tling the rel­e­vant dis­putes in the South China Sea: first, the rel­e­vant dis­putes shall be set­tled be­tween sov­er­eign states di­rectly con­cerned; sec­ond, the rel­e­vant dis­putes shall be peace­fully set­tled through ne­go­ti­a­tion and con­sul­ta­tion on the ba­sis of equal­ity and mu­tual re­spect; and third, sov­er­eign states di­rectly con­cerned shall “even­tu­ally ne­go­ti­ate a set­tle­ment of the bi­lat­eral dis­putes” in ac­cor­dance with uni­ver­sally rec­og­nized prin­ci­ples of in­ter­na­tional law, in­clud­ing the 1982 UNCLOS.

83. By re­peat­edly reaf­firm­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions as the means for set­tling rel­e­vant dis­putes, and by re­peat­edly em­pha­siz­ing that ne­go­ti­a­tions be con­ducted by sov­er­eign states di­rectly con­cerned, the above-men­tioned pro­vi­sions ob­vi­ously have pro­duced the ef­fect of ex­clud­ing any means of third party set­tle­ment. In par­tic­u­lar, the 1995 Joint State­ment pro­vides for “even­tu­ally ne­go­ti­at­ing a set­tle­ment of the bi­lat­eral dis­putes”. The term “even­tu­ally” in this con­text clearly serves to em­pha­size that “ne­go­ti­a­tions” is the only means the par­ties have cho­sen for dis­pute set­tle­ment, to the ex­clu­sion of any other means in­clud­ing third party set­tle­ment pro­ce­dures. The above con­sen­sus and com­mit­ment con­sti­tutes an agree­ment be­tween the two states ex­clud­ing third-party dis­pute set­tle­ment as a way to set­tle rel­e­vant dis­putes in the South China Sea be­tween China and the Philip­pines. This agree­ment must be ob­served. 84. It is China’s con­sis­tent po­si­tion that, the rel­e­vant par­ties should es­tab­lish and im­prove rules and mech­a­nisms, and pur­sue prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion and joint de­vel­op­ment, so as to man­age dis­putes in the South China Sea, and to fos­ter a good at­mos­phere for their fi­nal res­o­lu­tion.

85. Since the 1990s, China and the Philip­pines have reached the fol­low­ing con­sen­sus on man­ag­ing their dis­putes: first, they will ex­er­cise re­straint in han­dling rel­e­vant dis­putes and re­frain from tak­ing ac­tions that may lead to an es­ca­la­tion; sec­ond, they will stay com­mit­ted to man­ag­ing dis­putes through bi­lat­eral con­sul­ta­tion mech­a­nisms; third, they com­mit them­selves to pur­su­ing prac­ti­cal mar­itime co­op­er­a­tion and joint de­vel­op­ment; and fourth, the rel­e­vant dis­putes should not af­fect the healthy growth of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions and peace and sta­bil­ity in the South China Sea re­gion.

86. In the DOC, China and the Philip­pines also reached the fol­low­ing con­sen­sus: to ex­er­cise self-re­straint in the con­duct of ac­tiv­i­ties that would com­pli­cate or es­ca­late dis­putes and af­fect peace and sta­bil­ity; to in­ten­sify ef­forts, pend­ing the peace­ful set­tle­ment of ter­ri­to­rial and ju­ris­dic­tional dis­putes, to seek ways, in the spirit of co­op­er­a­tion and un­der­stand­ing, to build trust and con­fi­dence; and to ex­plore or un­der­take co­op­er­a­tive ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing ma­rine en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, ma­rine sci­en­tific re­search, safety of nav­i­ga­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion at sea, search and res­cue op­er­a­tion and com­bat­ing transna­tional crime.

87. China and the Philip­pines have made some progress in man­ag­ing their dif­fer­ences and con­duct­ing prac­ti­cal mar­itime co­op­er­a­tion.

88. Dur­ing the first China-Philip­pines Ex­perts Group Meet­ing on Con­fi­denceBuild­ing Mea­sures held in March 1999, the two sides is­sued a joint state­ment, point­ing out that, “the two sides agreed that the dis­pute should be peace­fully set­tled through con­sul­ta­tion in ac­cor­dance with the gen­er­ally-ac­cepted prin­ci­ples of in­ter­na­tional law in­clud­ing the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea, [... and to] ex­er­cise self-re­straint and not to take ac­tions that might es­ca­late the sit­u­a­tion.”

89. In the Joint Press State­ment of the Third China-Philip­pines Ex­perts Group Meet­ing on Con­fi­dence-Build­ing Mea­sures re­leased in April 2001, it is stated that, “the two sides noted that the bi­lat­eral con­sul­ta­tion mech­a­nism to ex­plore ways of co­op­er­a­tion in the South China Sea has been ef­fec­tive. The se­ries of un­der­stand­ing and con­sen­sus reached by the two sides have played a con­struc­tive role in the main­te­nance of the sound de­vel­op­ment of China-Philip­pines re­la­tions and peace and sta­bil­ity of the South China Sea area.”

90. In Septem­ber 2004, in the pres­ence of the lead­ers of China and the Philip­pines, China Na­tional Off­shore Oil Cor­po­ra­tion (CNOOC) and Philip­pine Na­tional Oil Com­pany (PNOC) signed the Agree­ment for Joint Ma­rine Seis­mic Un­der­tak­ing in Cer­tain Ar­eas in the South China Sea. In March 2005, na­tional oil com­pa­nies from China, the Philip­pines and Viet­nam signed, with the con­sent of both China and the Philip­pines, the Tri­par­tite Agree­ment for Joint Ma­rine Seis­mic Un­der­tak­ing in the Agree­ment Area in the South China Sea. It was agreed that dur­ing an agree­ment term of three yearpe­riod, these oil com­pa­nies should col­lect and process cer­tain amount of 2D and/or 3D seis­mic lines in the agree­ment area cov­er­ing about 143,000 square kilo­me­ters, re-process cer­tain amount of ex­ist­ing 2D seis­mic lines, and study and as­sess the oil re­sources in the area. The 2007 Joint State­ment of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China and the Repub­lic of the Philip­pines states that, “both sides agree that the tri­par­tite joint ma­rine seis­mic un­der­tak­ing in the South China Sea serves as a model for co­op­er­a­tion in the re­gion. They agreed that pos­si­ble next steps for co­op­er­a­tion among the three par­ties should be ex­plored to bring col­lab­o­ra­tion to a higher level and in­crease the mo­men­tum of trust and con­fi­dence in the re­gion.” 91. Re­gret­tably, due to the lack of will­ing­ness for co­op­er­a­tion from the Philip­pine side, the China-Philip­pines Ex­perts Group Meet­ing on Con­fi­dence-Build­ing Mea­sures has stalled, and the China-Philip­pines-Viet­nam tri­par­tite ma­rine seis­mic un­der­tak­ing has failed to move for­ward. 92. Since the 1980s, the Philip­pines has re­peat­edly taken moves that com­pli­cate the rel­e­vant dis­putes. 93. In China’s Nan­sha Qun­dao, the Philip­pines started in the 1980s to build mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties on some is­lands and reefs it has in­vaded and il­le­gally oc­cu­pied. In the 1990s, the Philip­pines con­tin­ued to build air­fields and naval and air force fa­cil­i­ties on these il­le­gally-oc­cu­pied is­lands and reefs; cen­tered on Zhongye Dao, the con­struc­tion has ex­tended to other is­lands and reefs, with run­ways, mil­i­tary bar­racks, docks and other fa­cil­i­ties built and ren­o­vated, so as to ac­com­mo­date heavy trans­port planes, fighter jets and more and larger ves­sels. Fur­ther­more, the Philip­pines made de­lib­er­ate provo­ca­tions by fre­quently send­ing its mil­i­tary ves­sels and air­craft to in­trude into Wu­fang Jiao, Xian’e Jiao, Xinyi Jiao, Banyue Jiao and Ren’ai Jiao of China’s Nan­sha Qun­dao, and de­stroyed sur­vey mark­ers set up by China.

94. Still worse, on 9 May 1999, the Philip­pines sent BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57), a mil­i­tary ves­sel, to in­trude into China’s Ren’ai Jiao and il­le­gally ran it aground on the pre­text of “tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties”. China im­me­di­ately made solemn rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the Philip­pines, de­mand­ing the im­me­di­ate re­moval of that ves­sel. But the Philip­pines claimed that the ves­sel could not be towed away for “lack of parts”.

95. Over this mat­ter, China has re­peat­edly made rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the Philip­pines and re­newed the same de­mand. For in­stance, in Novem­ber 1999, the Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to the Philip­pines met with Sec­re­tary of For­eign Af­fairs Domingo Si­a­zon and Chief of the Pres­i­den­tial Man­age­ment Staff Leonora de Je­sus to make an­other round of rep­re­sen­ta­tions. Many times the Philip­pines promised to tow away the ves­sel, but it has taken no ac­tion.

96. In Septem­ber 2003, upon the news that the Philip­pines was pre­par­ing to build fa­cil­i­ties around that mil­i­tary ves­sel il­le­gally run aground at Ren’ai Jiao, China lodged im­me­di­ate rep­re­sen­ta­tions. The Philip­pine Act­ing Sec­re­tary of For­eign Af­fairs Franklin Eb­dalin re­sponded that the Philip­pines had no in­ten­tion to con­struct fa­cil­i­ties on Ren’ai Jiao and that, as a sig­na­tory to the DOC, the Philip­pines had no de­sire to and would not be the first to vi­o­late the Dec­la­ra­tion.

97. But the Philip­pines did not ful­fill its un­der­tak­ing to tow away that ves­sel. In­stead, it made even worse provo­ca­tions. In Fe­bru­ary 2013, ca­bles were lined up around that grounded ves­sel and peo­ple on board bus­tled around, mak­ing prepa­ra­tions for the con­struc­tion of per­ma­nent fa­cil­i­ties. In re­sponse to China’s re­peated rep­re­sen­ta­tions, the Philip­pine Sec­re­tary of Na­tional De­fense Voltaire Gazmin claimed that the Philip­pines was sim­ply re­sup­ply­ing and re­pair­ing the ves­sel, and promised that no fa­cil­i­ties would be built on Ren’ai Jiao.

98. On 14 March 2014, the Philip­pine De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs is­sued a state­ment openly declar­ing that the ves­sel it ran aground at Ren’ai Jiao was placed there as a per­ma­nent Philip­pine gov­ern­ment in­stal­la­tion. This was an ap­par­ent at­tempt to pro­vide an ex­cuse for its con­tin­ued re­fusal to ful­fill its un­der­tak­ing to tow away that ves­sel in or­der to il­le­gally seize Ren’ai Jiao. China im­me­di­ately re­sponded that it was shocked by this state­ment and re­it­er­ated that it would never al­low the Philip­pines to seize Ren’ai Jiao by any means.

99. In July 2015, the Philip­pines stated pub­licly that the so-called main­te­nance re­pair was be­ing done to for­tify the ves­sel.

100. To sum up, by run­ning aground its mil­i­tary ves­sel at Ren’ai Jiao, then promis­ing re­peat­edly to tow it away but break­ing that prom­ise re­peat­edly and even for­ti­fy­ing it, the Philip­pines has proven it­self to be the first to openly vi­o­late the DOC.

101. Over the years, the Philip­pines has in­vaded and il­le­gally oc­cu­pied some is­lands and reefs of China’s Nan­sha Qun­dao and con­structed var­i­ous mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties there­upon in an at­tempt to es­tab­lish a fait ac­com­pli of per­ma­nent oc­cu­pa­tion. These moves have grossly vi­o­lated China’s sovereignty over the rel­e­vant is­lands and reefs of Nan­sha Qun­dao and vi­o­lated the Char­ter of the United Na­tions and ba­sic norms of in­ter­na­tional law. 102. Since the 1970s, the Philip­pines, as­sert­ing its uni­lat­eral claims, has in­truded into, among oth­ers, the mar­itime ar­eas of Liyue Tan and Zhongx­iao Tan of China’s Nan­sha Qun­dao to carry out il­le­gal oil and gas ex­ploratory drilling, in­clud­ing list­ing the rel­e­vant blocks for bid­ding.

103. Since 2000, the Philip­pines has ex­panded the ar­eas for bid­ding, in­trud­ing into larger sea ar­eas of China’s Nan­sha Qun­dao. A large span of sea ar­eas of China’s Nan­sha Qun­dao was des­ig­nated as bid­ding blocks by the Philip­pines in 2003. Dur­ing the fifth “Philip­pine En­ergy Con­tract­ing Round” launched in May 2014, four of the bid­ding blocks on of­fer reached into rel­e­vant sea ar­eas of China’s Nan­sha Qun­dao.

104. The Philip­pines has re­peat­edly in­truded into rel­e­vant wa­ters of China’s Nan­sha Qun­dao, ha­rass­ing and at­tack­ing Chi­nese fish­er­men and fish­ing boats con­duct­ing rou­tine fish­ing op­er­a­tions. Cur­rently avail­able sta­tis­tics show that from 1989 to 2015, 97 in­ci­dents oc­curred in which the Philip­pines in­fringed upon the safety, life and prop­erty of Chi­nese fish­er­men: 8 in­volv­ing shoot­ing, 34 as­sault and rob­bery, 40 cap­ture and de­ten­tion, and 15 chas­ing. These in­ci­dents brought ad­verse con­se­quences to close to 200 Chi­nese fish­ing ves­sels and over 1,000 Chi­nese fish­er­men. In ad­di­tion, the Philip­pines treated Chi­nese fish­er­men in a vi­o­lent, cruel and in­hu­mane man­ner.

105. Philip­pine armed per­son­nel of­ten use ex­ces­sive force against Chi­nese fish­er­men in ut­ter dis­re­gard of the safety of their lives. For ex­am­ple, on 27 April 2006, one armed Philip­pine fish­ing ves­sel in­truded into Nan­fang Qiantan of China’s Nan­sha Qun­dao and at­tacked Chi­nese fish­ing boat Qiongqiong­hai 03012. One Philip­pine armed mo­tor boat car­ry­ing four gun­men ap­proached that Chi­nese fish­ing boat. Im­me­di­ately these gun­men fired sev­eral rounds of bul­lets at the driv­ing panel, killing Chen Yichao and three other Chi­nese fish­er­men on the spot, se­verely wound­ing two oth­ers and caus­ing mi­nor in­juries to an­other. Sub­se­quently a to­tal of 13 gun­men forced their way on­board the Chi­nese fish­ing boat and seized satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment, fish­ing equip­ment and har­vests and other items.

106. The Philip­pines has re­peat­edly in­fringed China’s mar­itime rights and in­ter­ests in an at­tempt to ex­pand and en­trench its il­le­gal claims in the South China Sea. These ac­tions have grossly vi­o­lated China’s sovereignty and rights and in­ter­ests in the South China Sea. By do­ing so, the Philip­pines has se­ri­ously vi­o­lated its own com­mit­ment made un­der the DOC to ex­er­cise self-re­straint in the con­duct of ac­tiv­i­ties that would com­pli­cate or es­ca­late dis­putes. By fir­ing upon Chi­nese fish­ing boats and fish­er­men, il­le­gally seiz­ing and de­tain­ing Chi­nese fish­er­men, giv­ing them in­hu­mane treat­ment and rob­bing them of their prop­erty, the Philip­pines has gravely in­fringed upon the per­sonal and prop­erty safety and the dig­nity of Chi­nese fish­er­men and bla­tantly tram­pled on their ba­sic hu­man rights. 107. The Philip­pines also has ter­ri­to­rial pre­ten­sions on China’s Huangyan Dao and at­tempted to oc­cupy it il­le­gally.

108. Huangyan Dao is China’s in­her­ent ter­ri­tory, over which China has con­tin­u­ously, peace­fully and ef­fec­tively ex­er­cised sovereignty and ju­ris­dic­tion.

109. Be­fore 1997, the Philip­pines had never chal­lenged China’s sovereignty over Huangyan Dao, nor had it laid any ter­ri­to­rial claim to it. On 5 Fe­bru­ary 1990, Philip­pine Am­bas­sador to Ger­many Bien­venido A. Tan, Jr. stated in a let­ter to Ger­man HAM ra­dio am­a­teur Di­eter Löf­fler that, “Ac­cord­ing to the Philip­pine Na­tional Map­ping and Re­source In­for­ma­tion Au­thor­ity, the Scar­bor­ough Reef or Huangyan Dao does not fall within the ter­ri­to­rial sovereignty of the Philip­pines.”

110. A“Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Ter­ri­to­rial Boundary of the Repub­lic of the Philip­pines”, is­sued by the Philip­pine Na­tional Map­ping

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