China: Satellite to protect sea bases
SHANGHAI—A newly launched satellite will help China protect its maritime interests, the official China Daily newspaper reported on Thursday, as Manila and Tokyo urged Beijing to respect maritime law and security, and the rule of law, to resolve peacefully disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
The Gaofen 3 satellite that was launched on Wednesday has a radar system that captures images from space with a resolution down to one meter and can operate in all weathers, the China Daily said, citing information from State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry.
“The satellite will play an important role in monitoring the marine environment, islands and reefs, and ships and oil rigs,” the paper said, quoting the project leader, Xu Fuxiang.
“Satellites like the Gaofen 3 will be very useful in safeguarding the country’s maritime rights and interests,” Xu said.
On July 12, the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled against China’s claims in the resource-rich South China Sea in an action brought by the Philippines, a decision stridently rejected by Beijing.
Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in shipborne trade passes every year.
It insists it has “indisputable sovereignty” over the area and has refused to recognize the court ruling.
Vietnam, China and Taiwan claim all of the disputed Spratly archipelago in the South China sea, while the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim some of the islands in the area.
Reuters reported this week that Vietnam had discreetly fortified several of its islands in the South China Sea with new mobile rocket launchers.
The deployment followed satellite photos in July that showed China appeared to have built reinforced aircraft hangars on Philippine-claimed Zamora (Subi), Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) and Panganiban (Mischief) reefs in the Spratlys.
The United States, which is monitoring developments in the South China Sea closely, said on Wednesday it was aware of reports that Vietnam had deployed missile systems on several of its outposts in the Spratlys.
The US state department spokesperson, Elizabeth Trudeau, said at a news briefing that the United States was aware of the reports and added: “We continue to call on all South China Sea claimants to avoid actions that build tensions, take practical steps to build confidence and intensify efforts that find peaceful diplomatic solutions to dispute.”
Respect rule of law
Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay followed up on Thursday during a joint news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who was visiting the Philippines.
Yasay and Kishida met in Davao City, where they discussed ways to enhance ties and the countries’ territorial disputes with China.
“We urge . . . China to make sure that maritime law and security must be completely and uncompromisingly respected,” Yasay said, adding that the Philippines and Japan shared experiences in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
Japan, which has called on China to respect the Hague tribunal’s ruling, has no claim in the South China Sea but it is in dispute with China over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
Last week, Japan reported a flurry of incursions by Chinese vessels into its waters near the disputed islands, known to the Japanese as the Senkakus and to the Chinese as Diaoyus.
“This is not the kind of action that is mandated by international law,” Yasay said, referring to what he said the Philippines and Japan saw as Chinese intimidation and provocation in connection with their disputes.
Respect maritime order
“Everyone must respect our maritime order and security in this area in the South China Sea and East China Sea and we urge them to respect the rule of law,” he said.
Kishida said maritime order based on the rule of law was indispensable for regional stability and prosperity.
“It is important that we submit ourselves to the rule of law and not the rule of coercion in the pursuit of solution to the conflict,” Kishida said.
He said Japan would maintain its support to the Philippines with the delivery next week of the first of 10 Coast Guard vessels.
Japan is also leasing the Philippines four TD-90 surveillance aircraft.
Help of allies
Also on Thursday, former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario urged the administration of President Duterte to engage naval powers to enforce the Hague tribunal’s ruling.
The Philippines “cannot do it alone,” Del Rosario said. “We need the support of our allies, the community of nations that helped us get to where we are,” he added, referring to the United States, Japan, India and the regional blocs G-7 and European Union that backed the Philippines in the action it brought against China.
“We should appeal to them for continued support so we can accomplish the objective that needs to be undertaken here,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of a forum on the dispute held at De La Salle University in Manila.
File a new case
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said at the forum that the Philippines should file a new case against China over the extensive damage it had caused in Philippine waters with its island building in the South China Sea.
He said the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam should establish a maritime peace zone in the disputed waters to stop China’s massive destruction of marine life in the sea.
China, Carpio said, violated the international customary law and provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that committed states to protect the marine environment. Reports from Estrella Torres and Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao/TVJ
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