China voices anger as maritime row escalates

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Taiwan_and_Japan_Coast_Guard_2012-09-25Chinese officials have expressed anger as foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies said they strongly opposed the strong provocation in the South and East China Seas. China currently has a dispute with Japan over islets in the East China Sea. Whereas the $5 trillion trade route through South China Sea is further complicated with claims to the territories from Vietnam, Brunei, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan, China has claimed its rights go back centuries therefore 90 per cent belongs to them.

The meeting between G7 member states (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) took place in Hiroshima, Japan with the foreign ministers stated “any intimidating coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions” in the South and East Seas are opposed.  The Chinese foreign ministry retorted that the G7 members should focus on economic governance and co-operation given the weak global economic growth rather than provoking and hyping disputes. The ministry added in its statement, “We urge the G7 member states to honour their commitment of not taking sides on issues involving territorial disputes”.

China is committed to resolving disputes through talks with countries directly involved via international law and on the basis of respecting historical facts, to maintain peace and stability while safeguarding its sovereignty, it said.

It repeated that China will neither accept nor participate in any arbitration “illegally forced upon it”, a reference to a case lodged by the Philippines against China in the Hague, a decision which is expected soon to clarify United Nations maritime law and highly likely to dent China’s claim of 90 per cent of the disputed waters. A stance recently backed up today by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who ahead of a visit to China said that it is necessary to “to stop any interference in the talks between the parties directly involved (in them) and attempts to internationalize these disputes.”

Philippines, Vietnam alliance

The Philippines will as reported by Reuters, be meeting its defence official counterparts from Vietnam to further sure up an alliance to explore possible navy patrols, and joint exercises.

The meeting between Vietnam’s vice defence minister, Nguyen Chi Vinh, and Honorio Azcueta, the Philippine undersecretary of defense, is scheduled for tomorrow. The alliance between the two nations is being held under the backdrop of joint military exercises between the Phillipines and United States this week to be attended by Ash Carter, US Defence Secretary.

The discussions between the Philippines and Vietnam will in essence be preliminary with a view to a a deal in the very near future. Strengthening ties further, as the countries had already agreed on a strategic partnership in November, 2015 to enhance security relations, as China forged ahead with man-made islands and military build-up in the hotly disputed Spratly archipelago.

Only last year Vietnamese and Filipino troops played a game of tug of war, soccer and volleyball on the Islands, a repeat of a similar event that took place on the same Northeast Cay Island held by the Philippines. Earlier this week, the Philippines Foreign Minister was the first foreign dignitary to meet Vietnam’s new prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The between the two nations is a particularly bold step with China an economic powerhouse in the region, and holding economic leverage, only recently it was announced that Vietnam is expected to become China’s largest ASEAN trade partner.  

Spratly_with_flags
Spratly islands map marked with the flags of countries occupying them.

Why the dispute?

Rival countries have disputed the territory for centuries with intensification recently over sovereignty of the Islands. Resulting in clashes between China and Vietnam and stand-offs between the Philippines and China from 1974 onwards. China prefers bilateral negotiations with the countries involved behind closed doors, whereas the other countries prefer international mediation, as witnessed by the Philippines case being taken up by a UN tribunal that China is expected to dismiss if ruled against as they questioned the courts authority.

The Paracels and the Spratlys although largely inhabited and home to fishing grounds for those within the region are estimated to have large natural resources.

$5.3 TRILLION Total annual trade passing through the South China Sea
11 BILLION Estimated barrels of oil in the South China Sea
190 TRILLION Estimated number of cubic feet of natural gas in the South China Sea

 

 

 

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Chinese officials have expressed anger as foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies said they strongly opposed the strong provocation in the South and East China Seas. China currently has a dispute with Japan over islets in the East China Sea. Whereas the $5 trillion trade route through South China Sea is further complicated with claims to the territories from Vietnam, Brunei, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan, China has claimed its rights go back centuries therefore 90 per cent belongs to them.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Taiwan_and_Japan_Coast_Guard_2012-09-25Chinese officials have expressed anger as foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) advanced economies said they strongly opposed the strong provocation in the South and East China Seas. China currently has a dispute with Japan over islets in the East China Sea. Whereas the $5 trillion trade route through South China Sea is further complicated with claims to the territories from Vietnam, Brunei, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan, China has claimed its rights go back centuries therefore 90 per cent belongs to them.

The meeting between G7 member states (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) took place in Hiroshima, Japan with the foreign ministers stated “any intimidating coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions” in the South and East Seas are opposed.  The Chinese foreign ministry retorted that the G7 members should focus on economic governance and co-operation given the weak global economic growth rather than provoking and hyping disputes. The ministry added in its statement, “We urge the G7 member states to honour their commitment of not taking sides on issues involving territorial disputes”.

China is committed to resolving disputes through talks with countries directly involved via international law and on the basis of respecting historical facts, to maintain peace and stability while safeguarding its sovereignty, it said.

It repeated that China will neither accept nor participate in any arbitration “illegally forced upon it”, a reference to a case lodged by the Philippines against China in the Hague, a decision which is expected soon to clarify United Nations maritime law and highly likely to dent China’s claim of 90 per cent of the disputed waters. A stance recently backed up today by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who ahead of a visit to China said that it is necessary to “to stop any interference in the talks between the parties directly involved (in them) and attempts to internationalize these disputes.”

Philippines, Vietnam alliance

The Philippines will as reported by Reuters, be meeting its defence official counterparts from Vietnam to further sure up an alliance to explore possible navy patrols, and joint exercises.

The meeting between Vietnam’s vice defence minister, Nguyen Chi Vinh, and Honorio Azcueta, the Philippine undersecretary of defense, is scheduled for tomorrow. The alliance between the two nations is being held under the backdrop of joint military exercises between the Phillipines and United States this week to be attended by Ash Carter, US Defence Secretary.

The discussions between the Philippines and Vietnam will in essence be preliminary with a view to a a deal in the very near future. Strengthening ties further, as the countries had already agreed on a strategic partnership in November, 2015 to enhance security relations, as China forged ahead with man-made islands and military build-up in the hotly disputed Spratly archipelago.

Only last year Vietnamese and Filipino troops played a game of tug of war, soccer and volleyball on the Islands, a repeat of a similar event that took place on the same Northeast Cay Island held by the Philippines. Earlier this week, the Philippines Foreign Minister was the first foreign dignitary to meet Vietnam’s new prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. The between the two nations is a particularly bold step with China an economic powerhouse in the region, and holding economic leverage, only recently it was announced that Vietnam is expected to become China’s largest ASEAN trade partner.  

Spratly_with_flags
Spratly islands map marked with the flags of countries occupying them.

Why the dispute?

Rival countries have disputed the territory for centuries with intensification recently over sovereignty of the Islands. Resulting in clashes between China and Vietnam and stand-offs between the Philippines and China from 1974 onwards. China prefers bilateral negotiations with the countries involved behind closed doors, whereas the other countries prefer international mediation, as witnessed by the Philippines case being taken up by a UN tribunal that China is expected to dismiss if ruled against as they questioned the courts authority.

The Paracels and the Spratlys although largely inhabited and home to fishing grounds for those within the region are estimated to have large natural resources.

$5.3 TRILLION Total annual trade passing through the South China Sea
11 BILLION Estimated barrels of oil in the South China Sea
190 TRILLION Estimated number of cubic feet of natural gas in the South China Sea

 

 

 

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