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Chinese police plan to board vessels in disputed seas [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2012-11-29 20:05:41 |Display all floors

(Reuters) - Police in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan will board and search ships which illegally enter what China considers its territory in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Thursday, a move likely to add to tensions.

The South China Sea is Asia's biggest potential military trouble spot with several Asian countries claiming sovereignty over waters believed to be rich in oil and gas.

The shortest route between the Pacific and Indian Oceans, it has some of the world's busiest shipping lanes. More than half the globe's oil tanker traffic passes through it.

New rules, which come into effect on January 1, will allow Hainan police to board and seize control of foreign ships which "illegally enter" Chinese waters and order them to change course or stop sailing, the official China Daily reported.

"Activities such as entering the island province's waters without permission, damaging coastal defense facilities and engaging in publicity that threatens national security are illegal," the English-language newspaper said.

"If foreign ships or crew members violate regulations, Hainan police have the right to take over the ships or their communication systems, under the revised regulations," it added.

Hainan, which likes to style itself as China's answer to Hawaii or Bali with its resorts and beaches, is the province responsible for administering the country's extensive claims to the myriad islets and atolls in the South China Sea.

The Philippines, which also has claims to parts of the South China Sea, said the move could violate international maritime laws allowing the right of passage and accused Beijing of trying to escalate tension in the area.

"That cannot be. That's a violation of the international passage (rights)," Marine Lieutenant-General Juancho Sabban, commander of military forces in the western Philippines, which covers the contested area.

"That's too much. While we are exerting all peaceful means, that is what they are doing."

Raul Hernandez, a spokesman for the Philippines' foreign ministry, was more circumspect, saying the government was still checking the reports.

"If it is true, it will pose a concern to the Philippines and the international community," he added.

Rex Robles, a retired senior Philippine naval officer and security analyst, said China was just testing the reaction.

"Those warnings are not directed at us. They might be trying to find out how far the United States would react because this could affect freedom of navigation in one of the busiest sea lanes in the world. If this is an official policy announced by Beijing, this is very serious and a cause of concern."

China has said in the past it will respect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and that it has no intention of trying to restrict access to the area's vital shipping lanes for legitimate vessels.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said his government, which says it will brook no outside interference in its sovereignty claims, was perfectly within its rights in allowing police to board vessels in the South China Sea.

"Management of the seas according to the law is a sovereign nation's legitimate right," he told a daily news briefing.

China's assertion of sovereignty over the stretch of water off its south coast and to the east of mainland Southeast Asia has set it directly against Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to parts.

China occasionally detains fishermen, mostly from Vietnam, whom it accuses of operating illegally in Chinese waters, though generally frees them quite quickly.

The China Daily said that the government will also send new maritime surveillance ships to join the fleet responsible for patrolling the South China Sea.

The stakes have risen in the area as the U.S. military shifts its attention and resources back to Asia, emboldening its long-time ally the Philippines and former foe Vietnam to take a tougher stance against Beijing.

China has further angered the Philippines and Vietnam by issuing new passports showing a map depicting China's claims to the disputed waters.


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Post time 2012-11-29 20:09:40 |Display all floors
China claims 'historical' right to sea

BEIJING'S claims to nearly all the South China Sea are embossed in its latest passports, based on what it calls long-established "historical facts" and what Chinese analysts say is Western imperial precedent.

Beijing has grown increasingly assertive in recent years in claiming islands and waters even without effective control of them - in some cases hundreds of kilometres from the Chinese mainland and close to rival claimants' coasts.

The latest front on the simmering dispute is China's new passport, which shows a map of the country including almost all of the strategically significant sea, the site of key shipping routes and possibly significant petroleum reserves.

It is also claimed wholly or in part by Vietnam and the Philippines - both of which have refused to stamp the Chinese travel documents - Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Washington described the passports as unhelpful, while Jakarta called them "counterproductive".

Officials in Beijing and state media justify the South China Sea claim by pointing to "ample historical facts and evidence" about the area, while remaining ambiguous on what these are.

The claims were formulated in 1947 by the then Nationalist government in a map with a nine-section, U-shaped demarcation encompassing the Paracel Islands east of Vietnam, the Spratlys west of the Philippines, and other uninhabited features such as the Scarborough Shoal.

It is believed to be the first time the "nine-dash line" was printed on an official Chinese map.

To help support the claim, a group of 10 academics in China and Taiwan were last month tasked with providing "a legal explanation of the U-shape line" within a year, state media reported.

China hopes ancient maps and historical records will set the record straight, but Beijing's attempts to convince its rivals through academic research may prove fruitless, according to foreign analysts.

"China's claims are very dubious because you can make old maps say what you want them to say," said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, head of the department of Government and International Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Cabestan told AFP that China's only control of any of the islands came via maritime skirmishes over the past 40 years.

China took over the Paracels in 1974 following a brief naval battle with South Vietnamese forces, and some of the Spratlys in 1988 following the Johnson South Reef Skirmish, which resulted in 70 Vietnamese deaths.

Beijing also gained control over Mischief Reef in the Spratlys in the mid-1990s, when it built structures on the island that it claimed were for its fishermen, prompting protests by the Philippines.

Manila backed down over the Mischief Reef dispute, but was more assertive earlier this year when its navy and coastguard were embroiled in an extended stand-off with Chinese patrol vessels at Scarborough Shoal.

The island is well within a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone which Manila claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the flare-up demonstrated China's confidence in claiming territory far from its shores.

Zhang Haiwen, deputy director of the China Institute for Marine Affairs, recently told state media that distance has "absolutely no basis in international law and judicial practice" - using Britain's Channel Islands, less than 12 nautical miles from the French coast, as an example.

Jia Qingguo, professor at Peking University's School of International Studies, said China was merely following the example set by the West.

"The United States has Guam in Asia which is very far away from the US and the French have islands in the South Pacific, so it is nothing new," he told AFP.

"The geographical location of the island does not necessarily indicate to which country it belongs."
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Post time 2012-11-30 23:42:37 |Display all floors
Philippines criticises 'dictatorial' China
The Philippines has accused China of being "dictatorial" over plans to keep ships stationed in the disputed Scarborough Shoal area of the South China Sea.

"They say that these ships will remain there permanently. The longer the ships stay, the more impossible the situation becomes," said Albert del Rosario, the foreign minister, in an interview with the South China Morning Post.
China insists it has sovereignty over virtually all the South China Sea.
But the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan all contest Beijing's claims over different parts of the territory, with many of the disputed areas believed to be rich in natural gas and oil reserves.
Manila has been the most vociferous in its complaints over China's refusal to negotiate over the contested territory either via the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) or the UN.
Tensions over the South China Sea have already risen sharply in the last week, with the Philippines and Vietnam refusing to stamp new Chinese passports that show the disputed areas to be Chinese territory.

Mr Del Rosario's comments come as the secretary-general of ASEAN expressed his alarm Friday over a new Chinese law that gives its police the power to seize control of all ships that "illegally" enter what it considers to be its territory.
Set to take effect from January 1st, the law will allow the authorities in China's southernmost province of Hainan Island to board and search any ships they consider to be unlawfully in Chinese territory.
"It's a very serious turn of events," Surin Pitsuwan told Reuters. "It certainly has increased a level of concern and a level of great anxiety amongst all parties.
On Friday, Philippines President Benigno Aquino said that Manila would lodge a formal diplomatic protest over the new Chinese law, on the basis that it contravenes the UN's Convention on the Law of the Sea.
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Post time 2012-11-30 23:44:59 |Display all floors
We need US help against China
By Ramon Tulfo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

China’s new policy to board and expel foreign ships entering waters it claims for its own but which are still the subject of dispute with other countries, including the Philippines, is tantamount to a declaration of war.
And if ever there is a shooting war in the South China Sea, since renamed by the Philippines as West Philippine Sea, we are no match to China.
China is an elephant; the Philippines is just an ant.
So what do we do about the threat?
This is something many Filipinos, especially the brave ones, will not accept: Seek the help of the United States.
Let’s face it, guys. Only a fellow superpower like the United States can stand up to China.
This means we have to allow the continuation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with all its defects.
* * *
Fighting China alone, in case a war breaks out between the Philippines and that military superpower, would be foolhardy.
We need help. Our country being a US colony in the past, I’m sure the United States will be more than willing to help us.
So let’s not exhibit false pride and say we don’t need the US because we do, if a pygmy like us fights a giant.
* * *
Marine Lt. Gen. Juancho Sabban, commander of the military’s Western Command based in Palawan province that oversees the West Philippine Sea, should not have made a comment that could worsen the already tense situation.
Said Sabban of China’s “board-and-expel” policy: “That cannot be. That’s a violation of the right of international passage. That’s too much. While we are exerting all peaceful means to resolve the territorial dispute, that is what they are doing.”
General Sabban, you are not the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
Leave foreign policy to your Commander-in-Chief, President Aquino.
Your job is to carry out orders from higher authorities should an untoward incident take place between our country and China.
* * *
One of the President’s many headaches is our disagreement with China over Panatag Shoal and Kalayaan Island.
“What if China suddenly attacks our fleet in Panatag or Kalayaan?” a Malacañang insider quoted the President as telling some of his Cabinet members.
If you think the President can sleep well regarding our problem with China, then you don’t know the guy.
“He’s a deep thinker.  He worries a lot about many things, about the country, the economy,” said my Palace source.
So let’s stand four-square behind the President in whatever decision he makes on the China problem.
* * *
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has urged retired Army Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who is now a fugitive, to surrender and face the murder charges filed against him.
Gazmin said that by being a fugitive of the law, “Palparan is destroying the image of the Armed Forces, and not only the Army.”
Palparan has been charged with the disappearance of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherly Cadapan in June 2006.
This may not sit well with many citizens, especially those who are human rights advocates, but Palparan is a hero to most soldiers.
To a soldier in the field, Palparan only did what the enemy was also doing to government troops and their sympathizers.
A tit-for-tat policy in dealing with the enemy is an unwritten code in warfare.
The only difference between Palparan and the other generals was that the latter were discreet about it.
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Post time 2012-11-30 23:48:22 |Display all floors
China to board, expel ships in disputed sea
PH military hits violation of int’l shipping rights


BEIJING—China has granted its border patrol police the right to board and expel foreign ships entering disputed waters in the South China Sea, including parts known as West Philippine Sea, state media reported on Thursday.
The rules, which come into effect on January 1, will allow police in the southern Chinese province of Hainan to board and seize control of foreign ships that “illegally enter” Chinese waters and order them to change course or stop sailing,” the official China Daily reported.
The Philippines, one of the obvious targets of the new rules, could not confirm the reports on Thursday.
Raul Hernandez, spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), said the agency was gathering more information on the new Chinese move.
“If it is true, it will pose a concern to the Philippines and the international community,” Hernandez said.
In Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said: “Instead of asking the Philippine government to comment on a position taken by a local Chinese government official, why doesn’t the press ask the Chinese Embassy here and confirm if that is also the position they are adopting?”
But the Philippine military found the new Chinese rule “too much.”
“That cannot be. That’s a violation of the international passage (rights),” Marine Lieutenant General Juancho Sabban, commander of military forces in the western Philippines (Wescom), which covers the West Philippine Sea, said in a phone interview with defense reporters at Camp Aguinaldo.
“That’s too much. While we are exerting all peaceful means (to resolve the territorial dispute), that is what they (are doing),” Sabban said.
No war
President Aquino, however, does not see the territorial dispute with China as leading to war.
Speaking to an audience of grade school students at The Learning Tree Child Growth Center in Sikatuna Village in Quezon City on Tuesday, Aquino said the Philippines would protect its exclusive economic zone.
But that did not mean the country would go to the extent of fighting a war with China, he said.
Noting that China was a nuclear power, Aquino said the Philippines would fight for its territory in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.
Asked about China’s position that the Philippines was misinterpreting the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea provision on the exclusive economic zone, Aquino said: “Well, obviously there will be a difference of opinion owing to the fact that we are on different sides of defense with their country, in reference to this particular issue. But we’ve always maintained that our approach to the dispute in the West Philippine Sea is a rules-based approach.”
Rival claims
China’s assertion of sovereignty over the stretch of water off its south coast and to the east of mainland Southeast Asia has set it directly against Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to parts of the sea.
Hainan, which likes to style itself as China’s answer to Hawaii or Bali with its resorts and beaches, is the province responsible for administering the country’s extensive claims to the myriad islets and atolls in the sea.
China Daily said the government would also send new maritime surveillance ships to join the fleet responsible for patrolling the sea, believed to be rich in oil and gas and straddling shipping lanes between East Asia and Europe and the Middle East.
The new rules come after Beijing issued new passports containing a map showing its claim to almost the whole of the South China Sea, infuriating its neighbors.
Vietnam and the Philippines refuse to stamp the documents, which Indonesia on Thursday called “counterproductive.”
Both Vietnam and the Philippines have protested the map, with the Philippines calling it an “excessive declaration of maritime space in violation of international law.”
The state-run Global Times reported on Thursday that Hainan passed new regulations this week allowing local police “to board, seize and expel foreign ships illegally entering the province’s sea areas.”
Activities defined as illegal by the new regulation include “illegally halting or dropping anchor… and carrying out publicity campaigns that endanger China’s national security,” the official Xinhua news agency said.
Hainan province administers around 2 million square kilometers of sea waters, including the Spratly islands, which are also claimed in whole or in part by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Panatag Shoal
The vast territory that China claims also includes Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal), a resource-rich part of the sea within the Philippines’ 370-kilometer exclusive economic zone, where Chinese and Philippine ships faced off with each other from early April to mid-June, both sides asserting sovereignty over the area.
Asked about the reports on Thursday, Beijing’s foreign ministry press officer Hong Lei said only: “It is the legitimate right of the sovereign state to carry out maritime management.”
The Global Times quoted Li Zhaojie, a professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, as saying the regulation could lead to stricter enforcement of Beijing’s right to expel ships entering its territory illegally.
Li said these rights were granted by a United Nations convention.
“In the past, when foreign ships broke the UN convention, the best thing our patrol could do was chase them out of China’s waters. The new regulation will change that, and give the patrol force the legal means to actually do its job.”
The Philippine Coast Guard, which on Sunday said it was ready to deploy a ship to Panatag to resume the face-off with China, had no comment on Thursday’s report on the new Chinese rule.
Pull out ships
But Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines was still asking China to withdraw three ships from Panatag Shoal almost six months after it promised to pull out.
Del Rosario said that while the Philippines withdrew its own ships from Panatag on June 4, as agreed by both countries, China’s three government ships remained in the area.
“They have three ships in the vicinity right now. They have never really left. We are continuing to ask them to honor our sovereignty and . . . we are asking them to pull out their ships as agreed upon,” he said.
The Philippines and Vietnam have accused China of ramping tensions in the area, with the map of China on new passports showing the disputed parts of the sea as the latest provocative move by Beijing.
The Philippines will implement next week a new procedure for processing visa applications for Chinese travelers carrying the new passport with the controversial map.
The Philippines is not stamping the new Chinese passports. But it is stamping visas for Chinese travelers on a separate form.
India has started stamping its own map onto visas for Chinese visitors as the passports also show the disputed border areas of Arunachai Prades and Aksai Chin as Chinese territory.
Beijing has attempted to play down the diplomatic fallout from the passports, with the foreign ministry arguing the map was “not made to target any specific country.”
Counterproductive
But Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa on Thursday said the new Chinese passports were “counterproductive.”
Although it is not a claimant to territory in the West Philippine Sea, Indonesia has mediated in the dispute between China and Southeast Asian nations with claims to parts of the sea.
Indonesia is also a major supplier of commodities to China, which is increasingly exploring mines and constructing smelters in Indonesia to fuel its economy.
Natalegawa, who has hopped between claimant nations this year over the issue, warned that the passports would worsen the already tense dispute and said Jakarta would convey its position to Beijing.
“These actions are counterproductive and will not help settle the disputes,” he said in an interview with the Jakarta Post daily.
“We perceive the Chinese move as disingenuous, like testing the waters, to see its neighbors’ reactions,” he said.
Natalegawa said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) should concentrate on finalizing a code of conduct as a first step to ease tensions over the territorial disputes.
“I hope that we, Asean and China, can focus on dialogue,” he said.
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Post time 2012-12-1 01:44:07 |Display all floors
Hell! The US, Canadian, Russian, Japanese, any
other Coat Guard, would board any\all ships that crosses into what
they deem as their waters without authorization.

Putin's a killer. This was the claim made by Fox News journalist; Bill O'Reilly during his recent interview with Donald Trump. Trump's reply came in the form of a simple question. What, you think our country's so innocent?

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Post time 2012-12-1 03:09:06 |Display all floors
edisonone Post time: 2012-12-1 01:44
Hell! The US, Canadian, Russian, Japanese, any
other Coat Guard, would board any\all ships that cro ...
Hell! The US, Canadian, Russian, Japanese, any
other Coat Guard, would board any\all ships that crosses into what
they deem as their waters without authorization.

Considering that China is crazy enough to think that ALL the nearby seas (both of them) are Chinese it would be a problem if China suddenly decided to use its coast guard to board all ships in those seas.

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