I refer to the report of Reuters by Matthew Bigg “ASEAN chief voices alarm at China plan to board ships in disputed waters” last Friday, November 30th.
Said report pertains to China’s plan to “board and search ships” it deemed to have illegally entered what it considers its “legitimate” territory in the disputed South China Sea. I concur with the grim view of the Southeast Asia’s top diplomat that China’s latest unreasonable move “could spark naval clashes and hurt the region’s economy.”
In an apparent attempt to ease alarm over the issue, China said it attached “great importance” to freedom of navigation in waters that have some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
However, “new rules that take effect on January 1 will allow police in the southern Chinese province of Hainan to board and seize control of foreign ships” which “illegally enter” Chinese waters, that according to the official China Daily on Thursday.
Further, Mr. Surin has warned that:
“It certainly has increased a level of concern and a level of great anxiety among all parties, particularly parties that would need the access, the passage and the freedom to go through…”
I overwhelmingly concur with Mr. Surin’s unusually strong language in depicting the said plan of China that “could trigger a major incident that would affect confidence in East Asia, a key engine of global economic growth”.
As Matthew Bigg noted:
“Several countries have overlapping sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas. It is the region’s biggest potential military flashpoint.
“A summit of Asian nations this month was overshadowed by disagreements between China and the Philippines over the dispute. Tensions were fanned again by China’s move to issue new passports containing a map of its maritime claims.”
Promptly, the Philippine government, in response to China’s latest imperialist design, immediately decided not to stamp the said passports that shows a map of its maritime claim.
This is the latest showdown between the two countries concerning the disputed territory that begun last April!
Now, let us consider in detail China’s version of “double speak.” As already stated, China said it attached “great importance” to freedom of navigation in waters that have some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Yet, what kind of “great importance” it attaches to the “freedom of navigation” in the said disputed waters which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world? By boarding and inspecting those foreign vessels in passing through the said lanes? Who the devil are they to declare whether a vessel is guilty of illegal entry or not? It is my considered view and so held that they are the one who are illegally entering a territory that they do not own!
They are acting as if they owned the said international waters and disputed territories! Said unreasonable act, in my view, constitutes bullyism and indiscriminate flexing of its muscles as against the convention and accord agreed upon by China with the ASEAN way back in 2002.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry is engaged in a contradictory and hypocritical stance.
“All countries have freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in accordance with international law … At present there are no problems in this regard”. However, Hong added that “Beijing wanted to resolve the dispute with neighbouring countries through negotiations”.
This is good, if this is true, yet when “asked on Thursday about the police boarding plans, Hong said that management of the seas according to the law” was “a sovereign nation’s legitimate right.”
China is duping and fooling the world in trying so hard to portray that it respects the freedom of navigation, yet at the same time those who will pass through the said lanes will be boarded and inspected. Wow! That is how they respect international law and attach importance to negotiation and civility to the other claimants of the said territories.
Beautifully preposterous, to say the least!
I invite the attention of the world to remember how China “negotiated” its dispute with Vietnam with regard to the Paracel Islands way back in 1974. The issue was “settled” by iron and blood!
The Giant’s greediness
China claims virtually the entire South China Sea. They anchored their spurious claim based on the stupid assertion because the name of the sea is South East China Sea if follows that all of it belongs to them! That claim is the most idiotic contention that I have ever encountered in my entire conscious life. If that is the case, then it follows that the entire ASEAN belongs to China as well, because those countries lies precisely on the said region! What a palpably absurd and idiotic reasoning!
The Philippine President Benigno Aquino said he had asked his “foreign minister to verify the plan and that, if confirmed, Manila would lodge a diplomatic note or formal protest.”
I agree with Mr. Aquino that “China’s move would be difficult to implement because it runs counter to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”.
The problem with this is that, China does not believe in international law, despite the fact that they invoke it.
Further, the Philippine President added that:
“We might accelerate and bring it before the appropriate international tribunal to finally settle the matter or at least start the process of settling it legally and concretely”.
Scott Harrison, the managing director of Pacific Strategies and the Assessment in Manila said that
“Chinese provocation by boarding foreign vessels would roil global financial markets, add to global economic uncertainty, and impact global trade that would impact China as well”.
True, but nonetheless, one of my solutions to this perennial issue is for the various claimants to unite and enforce the Code of Conduct, strengthen the ASEAN and bring this case to the appropriate international tribunal to settle once and for all the question of the legitimate owner/s of the said disputed territories and waters.
If the various claimants will not unite and make a collective, unified stance, then that would further embolden the giant to act more aggressively and unreasonably; worse still, our worst fear may come true: said disputed waters may be the theatre of a future bloody war.
ASEAN must wake up, stand up, unite and do the right thing, before it is too late!Jose Mario Dolor De Vega Polytechnic University of the Philippines Selangor, Malaysia
- Philippine Government denounces China’s new maritime law (South China Sea) (chinadailymail.com)
- China says freedom of navigation in South China Sea is important (news.yahoo.com)
- ASEAN Chief Worries Beijing Raising Stakes in South China Sea (blogs.voanews.com)