Quantcast
Latest Stories

China plan to board ships sets off alarm


JAKARTA—Southeast Asia’s top diplomat warned on Friday of great anxiety over China’s plan to board and search ships that illegally enter what it considers its territory in the disputed South China Sea and said it could lead to naval clashes and undermine confidence in East Asia’s economy.

Beijing, however, moved to ease international alarm over the issue and said it attaches “great importance” to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, a day after state media said police in its southern island province of Hainan will carry out the new plan.

“All countries have freedom of navigation in the South China Sea in accordance with international law,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.

New rules to come into effect on Jan. 1 will allow police in the southern Chinese province of Hainan to board and seize control of foreign ships that “illegally enter” Chinese waters, the official China Daily reported on Thursday.

The report, which was also carried by other state media, further ratchets up tensions over Southeast Asia’s biggest potential military flash point, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes where several countries claim sovereignty.

President Aquino ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday to verify reports about the new Chinese border rule.

If the reports are true, the Philippines will defend its interests, Mr. Aquino told a news conference in Mandaue City, Cebu province.

Mr. Aquino said the Philippines had two options: raise a diplomatic protest to Beijing or bring the dispute to an international court.

“In advancing our interest, we might accelerate and bring it [to] the appropriate international tribunal to finally settle the matter or at least start the process of settling it legally and completely,” he said.

China’s plan would be difficult to implement because it runs counter to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, he said.

Mr. Aquino said China had made repeated statements that it would not block freedom of navigation in the area.

Serious turn of events

Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), on Friday said China’s plan was an escalation of tensions and a “very serious turn of events.”

“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,” Surin told Reuters in an interview from Thailand.

Surin, using unusually strong language, said the plan could lead to a major incident that would affect confidence in East Asia, a major engine of global economic growth.

“It is extremely important to exercise restraint and to try to approach this development with a level head and be open to listen to concerns of all parties, all sides,” he said.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea. Asean members the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia claim various parts, and so does Taiwan.

The shortest route between the Pacific and Indian oceans, the South China Sea has some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. More than half the globe’s oil tanker traffic passes through the South China Sea.

Analysts said the plan to board foreign vessels would roil global financial markets, add to global economic uncertainty, and impact global trade that would impact China as well, said Scott Harrison, managing director of Pacific Strategies and Assessments in Manila.

 

Protest

In Manila, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the Philippines should protest China’s plan.

“That’s not a good statement from China. We will just have to see what we can do to avoid this situation where they will be boarding our ships. Maybe at this point we need to file right away a protest,” Gazmin told reporters after celebration rites for the 149th birth anniversary of national hero Andres Bonifacio in Camp Aguinaldo.

Peter Paul Galvez, spokesperson for the Department of National Defense (DND), said Gazmin’s recommendation would be “the action once [the new Chinese plan] is made official” by a statement from the Chinese government itself.

Galvez said the DND was gathering more information about the new Chinese border rule.

“We are waiting for an official statement from the Chinese government,” Galvez said. “That will be something that the Department of Foreign Affairs will clarify.”

Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, chair of the House committee on national defense, said China’s plan was bound to affect the interests of countries that use the South China Sea, including the United States and European countries.

Security council

Biazon, a former military chief, urged President Aquino to convene the National Security Council “so we will have a uniform voice.”

“China’s move will definitely escalate tensions in the area,” he said.

Rep. Ben Evardone, chair of the House committee on public information, said China’s plan was “provocative.”

He said Asean, the United States, and the United Nations should deal with the new Chinese move in a “collective action.”

“Clearly China is trying to bully the Philippines and other countries in the region,” Evardone said. “The Asean, UN and the US should initiate moves to preserve peace in the area and to ensure navigational freedom in the West Philippine Sea.”

Biazon said the DFA should clarify the reports directly with Beijing, and check if the order came only from Hainan province.

He said it should boost Manila’s rejection of Beijing’s insistence on bilateral talks to solve the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China.

Not limited to Asean

“[T]he problem should not be limited [to] Asean. It should be tackled at the level of the UN and include the US,” Biazon said.

“[N]ot only [countries] in Asia will be affected. You also have countries [in] Europe, the Middle East, and Latin and North America [that] use the areas to be policed by China,” he said.

The DFA, he said, should be clarified about what “particular activities” will be covered by the new Chinese border rule.

“[H]ow would the order affect the international principle of innocent passage?” Biazon asked. Reports from Nikko Dizon and Christian V. Esguerra in Manila; Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Association of Southeast Asian Nations , China , Diplomacy , East Asia , South China Sea , territorial disputes , West Philippine Sea

  • David Fabian

    Bakit ba natin pinipilit isama sa usapin ang US? Sana naman Senator Biazon wag nating kaladkarin ang ibang bansa sa issue na ito. 

  • Jing Oreta

    Our Defense must ready itself (ang tanong: may ma-i-re-ready nga ba tayong mga kabagayan?) just in case solving the matter through diplomacy fails. Again, ang tanong: may ma-i-re-ready nga ba tayong mga kabagayan?

  • Sophia Castro

    Ang gulo ng DFA natin… 

  • Aiden Dela Cruz

    Paigtingin ang diplomasya! 

  • Karen Mabini

    sana nga wag magkagulo… si del rosario kasi e ang gulu-gulo nya… 

  • Gerald Bautista

    China is provoking the Philippines. Our military is not ready to go into battle. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZBCPCO2JKAPD2SB7WXAYZJJLNA Jing

    tsk tsk.. kawawa ang pilipinas pag nagkagiyera! lalo na kung di sya tutulungan ng ninong nyang kano!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/P2DTZ2X7VCHEVWISBZNICIY2OA Andrea

    the way i see it, the presence of del rosario encourages war more than peace.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UAFA6EPWWU6IERLX5OT3USD3JU Angel

    China, oh China! What art thou doing to my beloved Philippines? 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UPBI3ESYPHNYH72R3544I564UM Minnette

    wag sanang magkaguloooooo….. yung asawa ko sa china nagtratrabaho………..



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  • Why are Americans obsessed with missing plane?
  • Napoles to have surgery on Tuesday – report
  • Mayor’s assassination linked to black sand mining controversy
  • Initial batch of Etihad passengers tested negative for MERS-CoV
  • Sports

  • PBA D-League: Waves edge skidding Superchargers
  • Ilad’s last-second basket lifts Gems over Bakers
  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • Arrest warrants out vs. Deniece Cornejo, Cedric Lee, et al over serious illegal detention
  • Lindsay Lohan says she had a miscarriage
  • Discovery network cancels Everest jump
  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Business

  • Century Pacific Food sets IPO price at P13.75 per share
  • Oil prices down in quiet Asian trade
  • Asian shares mixed in holiday-thinned trade
  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Technology

  • PH has slowest internet in Southeast Asia
  • Nintendo’s trailblazing Game Boy marks 25th anniversary
  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos in Middle East urged not to panic amid MERS-CoV scare
  • Obama on mission to quiet Asia skeptics
  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • Marketplace