Protest Chinese patrols

It is wrong for the government not to file a diplomatic protest over the Chinese naval vessel that was recently grounded 111 nautical miles from Hasa-Hasa in Palawan. No, the protest should not be that it grounded. Surely, a diplomatic protest cannot address the Chinese mariner’s obvious lack of familiarity with the dangerous waters surrounding the Spratlys group of islands; a fact that militates against their so-called ancient claim to the area. The protest should be over what the navy vessel was doing in our waters in the first place: patrolling.

Sovereign states could not exercise sovereignty and jurisdiction in the exclusive economic zone since their so-called sovereign right is limited to the right to explore and exploit the resources found thereat.  Still, foreign naval vessels, particularly in disputed territory, have no business patrolling the same. It should have been Philippine vessels from either the coast guard or our navy that should have been patrolling these waters in the first place.

The failure to protest the activity of Chinese vessels militates against our own claim because underiInternational law, the principle of estoppel has not only been consistently applied; it has also been ruled to be sufficient to extinguish title to territory even if one originally existed. For instance, in the case of the Preah Villar temple which was then disputed between Thailand and Cambodia, the International Court of Justice ruled the temple to be within the territory of Cambodia because.  In the early 1900’s, Thai authorities did not protest a map showing the temple to be in what was then the territory of France and today, of Cambodia.

Likewise, estoppel has been applied in the Eastern Greenland case between Norway and Denmark. There, the Permanent Court of International Justice cited Norway’s recognition of Danish title over Eastern Greenland when it recognized such title as embodied in the so-called Ilian declaration. In fact, estoppel, defined as a rule of evidence whereby a person or a state is precluded from denying the truth of a statement of facts he or it has previously asserted -has been accepted as a general principle of law in international law. Further, estoppel has oftentimes enabled states to prove a superior claim to disputed territory where both claimants are able to invoke almost identical evidence of effective occupation. It is hence the legal principle that has tilted the balance in favor of one state in a dispute where both parties have equiponderance of evidence.

The fact that we have recently been filing quite a number of protests over recent Chinese aggression and hegemony in the Panatag Shoal should be of no consequence. The law, after all, does not put a cap on how many of these protests we can file. We should not limit the number of these protests. Instead, we should always protest when there is a legal ground, and document them properly since they constitute strong evidence of title. This is because they form clear evidence that we have been asserting our claims through the means recognized by diplomacy as the proper form: a diplomatic protest. It is when we stop making these protests that we may be ruled as either abandoning our rights, or sitting on them.

In any case, this is not the only time when we should have protested Chinese incursion into our territory. Not too long ago, the international media reported a collision between an American destroyer and a Chinese submarine off the coast of Zambales.

Instead of protesting that incident, the Arroyo administration opted to sweep it under the rug and neither confirmed nor denied the incident. Perhaps, what worried the former administration was adverse public opinion that the Visiting Forces Agreement — that has enabled American ships to dock and navigate through our waters — could in fact increase the probability of military confrontation between the world’s lone superpower and the region’s military giant. While we do not know exactly where that collision occurred –as the Arroyo administration in fact claimed that it took place in international waters — the reality is that bereft of underwater scanners and facilities that would enable us to determine the presence of Chinese submarines, we will not know if they are in our waters. Note that while all submarines could exercise innocent passage even in our territorial waters, defined as 12 nautical miles from our coast.  Still, the requirement is that they must surface. In any case, the presence of submarines and other military  vessels patrolling disputed EEZ are not innocent. They constitute a threat to our national security.

What is clear is that once more, our policy makers opted to be very Filipino in their recent conduct:  opting not to add further coal to a burning fire. The only problem here is meanwhile, our adversary appears happy to pour gas onto the flames.

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2 comments on “Protest Chinese patrols


    Bullyism: The New Face of Imperialism (China’s invocation of its so-called historical right)
    I am writing once again to highlight to the international community and to the family of nation China’s aggressive imperialist design, to point out its continuous and hilarious invocation of its so-called historical right over the islands, shoals and islets, etc. that it is vigorously claiming ownership, not only in Southeast, but also in South Asia as against other parties-in-interests and claimants and to warn the whole world with regard to the nefarious repercussions of its rude gestures and crude behavior!
    A couple of days ago, for the first time in 45 years in the whole existence of its history, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has failed to come out with a joint statement or communiqué concerning the member states’ claim and stance in relation to China’s counterclaim.
    At the said regional summit, the Philippine foreign minister denounced Chinese “duplicity” and “intimidation” in the South China Sea.
    According to the said minister, Albert del Rosario, in an official statement:
    “If Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction can be denigrated by a powerful country through pressure, duplicity, intimidation and the threat of force, the international community should be concerned about the behavior.
    “If left unchecked, the increasing tensions that is being generated in the process could further escalate into physical hostilities which no one wants.”
    Del Rosario further stated that China’s increasingly and aggressively assertive stance over disputed and non-disputed areas of the South China Sea posed a “threat to the peace and stability” in the Asia Pacific region.
    On this juncture, I also condemn the idiotic, myopic and selfish position taken by the summit’s chair.
    Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong expresses regret but says he cannot accept that the joint communique “has become the hostage of the bilateral issue between the Philippines and China”.
    I perfectly understand that China is the number one trading partner of Cambodia, however, he should not only think of their own interest but also the interest as a whole and the general welfare of the other member states.
    The precedent set by Cambodia is not good, not only for the group but also for the whole region!
    This must be corrected!
    In an article, Ernest Bower, “Invest in Sean, understand a misaligned China”, the Senior Adviser and Director for Southeast Asia Program, Ernest Bower said the following remarkable words:
    “For the first time in its 45-year history, Asean’s foreign ministers failed to issue a joint communiqué following their consultations last week in Phnom Penh. It is important to understand the high-profile failure.

    “What happened and what does it mean for Asean and for the Philippines?

    “Asean foreign ministers spent hours reviewing a substantive agenda which by all accounts represented the growing maturity of Asean and its relevance not only to its 10-member countries but to its dialogue partners from around the world.

    “Ministers talked about a broad array of issues ranging from economic cooperation and integration to political and security alignment to social and cultural cooperation. Even the politically sensitive issues such as disputes in the South China Sea were fully discussed.

    “Problems arose when it was time to agree on the draft of the joint communiqué, which the Cambodian chair deputy prime minister and foreign minister Hor Nam Hong had delegated to a committee comprised Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.”
    This is my view is a negative sign. Negative in the sense that, Asean as a regional entity instead of uniting as a whole is perceived as a fragmented entity. The unfortunate event in Phnom Penh, its utter failure to come out with a unified call concerning the prevailing burning issue shows the division of the said bloc, betrays Asean member states’ lack of coherence, revealed the reluctance of some of its members to stand up as one against China, and worst, shows its fear and cowardice to offend the giant.
    I do not know whether the other member of the said grouping is aware or conscious of the ill-effect of putting a solid stance against China, yet it is my firm view that it has a grave and deleterious consequences in the long run, not only to the aggrieved parties subject of the dispute but to all members — in the years to come.
    The inutility and hesitance of Asean will further embolden the giant to continue to wreak havoc and sow confusion in the entire South China Sea.
    Consider the following cases of dispute, marked by tension in recent times wherein China is involved:
    1. Philippines versus China, April, 2012. This high profile incident concerns the stand-off of the two countries at the Scarborough Shoal. As of the moment, said issue is not yet resolve.
    2. Vietnam versus China, May, 2012. This pertains to China’s move in calling for foreign investors and gas explorations on a contested part of the Spratly which is near Vietnam’s jurisdiction.
    3. Japan versus China, June, 2012. The issue of this dispute is about the ownership of the islands of Senkaku.
    4. Taiwan versus China, July, 2012. This concerns the issue of Taiwan’s intention of widening the run way of an airport, on a contested Spratly island.
    5. Just days ago, one of China’s ship “accidentally” run aground at the Spratly, clearly within Philippine territory.

    As reported by Rappler, a Philippine Social News Network:

    The Sydney Morning Herald report says “Salvage operations could be diplomatically challenging given the vessel appears to have run aground within 200 kilometers of the Philippine coast which is squarely within what Manila claims to be its exclusive economic zone.”

    The vessel is believed to be People’s Liberation Army Navy vessel No. 560, a Jianghu-class frigate.

    The Australian news site says, “The accident could not have come at a more embarrassing moment for the Chinese leadership, who have been pressing territorial claims.”

    The Philippines, for its part says it is ready to assist any ship in distress.
    Western Command spokesperson Lt Col Neil Estrella says the Philippines is “duty-bound to provide assistance regardless of whether or not they intruded in our territorial waters.”
    If the world will not do something, then China will overrun the whole of the Southeast and South Asia.
    I view China’s actuations today the same as the Japanese did during the period between 1929 to1932.
    The world did nothing! What happened? Japan annexed Korea, Manchuria, ransacked China (specifically Nanking in 1937), attacked and overrun the rest of Southeast Asia and tried to rule the rest of Asia under their so-called Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere rhetoric and propaganda.
    Now, look closely at the trend, compare the facts and analyze deeply the similarity between Japan then and China now.
    Though China is not (yet) fully using military means in asserting their claim, they are in a large sense engaged in harassment, intimidation and bullying in the whole region afore-quoted.
    Taiwan since day one had always been tagged as a “renegade province” and always posed to be taken back by whatever means.
    Vietnam and China were engaged in a brief military skirmish at the Yongshu Reef. It happened on March 14, 1988. Yongshu Reef is the Johnson South Reef in the Spratly that both China and Vietnam claim.
    With reference to the Philippines during the height of the April stand-off at the Scarborough Shoal, a news TV station in China even reported that the entire Philippines was also owned by them. After some protestation and perhaps, after they realize their mistake; they said that it was an oversight.
    As already noted, China just recently infuriated Vietnam by calling in foreign investors and gas exploration in another disputed area.
    Not content in Southeast Asia, this bloody giant and bully turn its attention to South China and this time engaged Japan in a new verbal tussle concerning the ownership of the Senkaku islands.
    As reported by Michael Auslin, in an article “Japan Fends Off a Bear and a Dragon” which appeared at the Wall Street Journal (Opinion Asia):
    “Japan’s dispute with China over the Senkaku islands (known to the Chinese as Diaoyutai) has dramatically heated up in recent weeks. The islands, which have been administered by Japan since 1972, straddle vast undersea natural gas and oil fields and are a key fishing ground. The catalyst for the latest tensions was provided by firebrand Tokyo mayor Shintaro Ishihara, who proposed in April to buy the Senkaku islands from their private owners.”
    In all of these disputes concerning various countries, China held firm with their so-called historical right over the said islands, shoals and islets.
    Only a moron, or worst a complete idiot will listen and/or give this giant the benefit of the doubt. Their argument is the worst basis one could advance in proving and asserting ownership.
    Be that as it may, if they are so certain about their contention; why it is that they are not resorting to the international judicial process by placing the various claims to the jurisdiction of a global court?
    Why they are engaged in a habitual act of both verbal assault and naval harassment?
    Why they are bullying those small countries that they have a dispute with?
    When would all of these ridiculous pronouncements and irritating conduct of China end?
    It is my firm view that China must be put to order or put to place.
    What do I mean?
    The world must come together to say to China that it cannot do all of its insidious, nefarious and aggressive conduct either in Asia or any part of the globe for that matter. The international community must issue to this bully and giant that, we are not tolerating its intimidation and harassment and that it must cease and desist from its imperialist and expansionist desires!
    The world must never forget the lesson of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and Japan’s imperialism in Asia.
    If the international community will not do something and contain at this early stage this bully and giant; then the worst might happen again and that is another war may ensue or military hostility in Asia may erupt.
    A war or an armed confrontation or a military hostility is against the interest, not only of the people of Asia but also of the whole humanity.
    Hence, I call upon the Asean to convene or call another high-level talk to discuss principally and specifically their joint attitude and unified stand as against China. The Philippines, Vietnam and other member states must continue to work and believe in Asean and must not leave nor bolt the said bloc. A divided and weak Asean is favorable to China’s interest. An attitude of “united we stand and divided we fall” is what Beijing wants. Manila, Hanoi, etc. must not fall to this trap.
    I concur with Bower that:
    “The most important message coming from Phnom Penh is not the intramural Asean spat over language in the joint statement; it is the fact that China has decided that a weak and splintered Asean is in its own interests.
    “Looking ahead, Asean must take a clear-eyed view of the message that China sent in Phnom Penh and redouble its efforts to stay the course its leaders laid out in the Asean Charter – namely to strive for political, economic and social integration by 2015.
    “The Philippines should work with countries interested in a strong and mature Asean to ensure regional organizations have the institutional confidence to resist efforts to cynically undermine regional cooperation to advance their own sovereign and commercial interests.

    “Filipinos should know what happened in Phnom Penh and understand that the message from Cambodia is not “Asean is messy and we should proceed carefully and reduce our engagement and investment,” but rather “Asean unity is not supported by China and this is an indication we need to redouble our efforts to engage and support Asean’s goals for unity.”
    I also call upon the United Nations to intervene with regard to this issue!
    China must be check and place properly to its proper place!

    Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
    Passport No.: XX4070556
    Mobile No.: 0129368909
    No. 19 USJ 11/3 A 47620
    Subang Jaya, Darul Ehsan,
    Selangor, Malaysia

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