View from EU: Dangerous evolution in sea row

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Robert Goebbels. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/www.robertgoebbels.lu

BRUSSELS—The territorial disputes between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors have reached the point of a “dangerous evolution,” according to a member of the European Parliament.

Robert Goebbels of Luxembourg, a member of the European Parliament since 1999 and a former journalist, urged the claimant states to resolve the disputes peacefully in international courts.

But Goebbels doubted that China’s ultimate goal is to provoke a military confrontation in the region. He said Beijing is apparently showing the world that it has “the necessary muscle” by investing heavily in submarines and an aircraft carrier, its first, which is “a typical offensive weapon.”

“That, to my ears, is a dangerous evolution,” Goebbels said in an interview with a group of journalists from Southeast Asia, including this writer, who were at the European Parliament in Brussels earlier this month on a media tour hosted by the European Union.

“Their goal is to show that ‘we have our own Fifth Fleet (a reference to the US naval force in the Pacific), we can operate wherever we like,’” Goebbels said.

Dangerous situation

“But it’s a dangerous situation because, even though I’m pretty sure there will be no more full-fledged war between superpowers or regional powers, you will never know. An escalation is quickly there and you end up having something nobody wanted,” he said.

Goebbels is vice chair of the parliament’s delegation for relations with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which includes the Philippines.

He is also acknowledged as the chief proponent of the Schengen visa system that fostered the integration of EU member countries.

Goebbels spoke about the territorial disputes when asked how he viewed China’s increasingly aggressive tactics in asserting its claims, including a new passport bearing a map that shows almost the entire West Philippine Sea as Chinese territory, and new maritime rules that allow border police from Hainan province to board,  search and expel foreign ships that enter what it considers its territory.

The new rules take effect on Jan. 1 but China has already sent out the first patrol vessel, the Haixun 21, which will go beyond the China coast and travel to as far as the Spratlys in the West Philippine Sea.

Philippines objects

The Philippines, which claims seven islands in the Spratlys, on Friday said that it “strongly objects” to the deployment of the patrol vessel.

Such patrols will not boost China’s claim to the disputed territory, according to Raul Hernandez, spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“The Philippines strongly objects to the Chinese patrol of Philippine maritime domain in the West Philippine Sea,” Hernandez said.

He said the Chinese patrol violates international laws and will not help China advance its claims in the sea.

“Such a patrol will not validate the nine-dash lines and is contrary to China’s obligation under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said.

Hernandez called on China to respect the Philippines’ territorial sovereignty in its exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

Referring to same sea

Goebbels said he personally saw how the territorial disputes came to a head on the diplomatic front when he attended an Asean meeting in Lombok, Indonesia, as an observer two months ago.

He noted that past Asean meetings were “normally very diplomatic and very soft.” But in the Lombok exchanges “it was different and there was real debate mainly on the South China Sea.”

Goebbels recalled how a high-ranking Chinese official spoke about “problems in the South China Sea” while the Philippine delegate spoke about “problems in the West Philippine Sea” but they were both referring to the same sea.

“It shows how geography is used to set claims. It is difficult to assess from the outside whose claims are better,” Goebbels said.

“The same goes for those concerning the islands. Whatever their names are, 99.9 percent of the world population would have problems locating those islands on the map, but here there is a fight going on” between China and the Southeast Asian claimants and between China and Japan, he said.

Escalating trouble

“Everyone has historical claims and everybody has occupied these islands once or twice and even more. We have international courts [that] can deal with that. You can go to The Hague or you can go to the maritime court in Hamburg that deals with these and try to have a judgment,” Goebbels said.

“But the problem is, for the moment, the situation seems to be escalating,” he said. With reports from Jerome Aning and AFP

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • dikoy321

    Abusive China, BOYCOTT their products, BUY Philippine-made products !!!

    Let’s be ready to die fighting for our country !

    Forward Philippines !!!

    • DakuAkongUtin

      Sulong sa Mindanao para kakatayun kayo sa mga pinagmamaliit ninyong Moros. Nag peace deal kayo sa mga Moros kasi hindi nyo silla kaya. Tapos naghahanap kayo ng away sa intsik. Hindi nyo kaya ang Moros , ang Tsina pa?  You are masturbating too much on black puurn.

  • TOINKZ_06

    We urged the new PM of Japan to build its arsenal to counter the threat that posed by “Singkits” changed their pacifist constitution.  And Philippines would acquire more and invest for our self defense. Singkits wisely doing extreme moves while Uncle Sam is busy to their economy. 

  • avmphil

    Reply to Judge Judy and the likes of her:

    Very poor Judgement you do possess and a shallow one at that. Your comments reveal your extreme biased opinion against the Filipinos at large. Why associate the US President and his families of being in-line with Mainland Chinese and provide conclusive support of its policies. Are you about to expose that Mr.Obama is going to join hands (or will) with the Chinese leadership and condemn Filipinos for not allowing Beijing a free hand to overrun Isles and Islets along the West Philippine Sea?

    Filipinos gave the highest chair in land to Mr.Aquino based on sympathy after the tragic circumstance that led to his father’s death and, to Mrs Aquino’s contribution to a democratic comeback after the rule of Mr.Marcos. Absolutely, not because of Chinese blood. Filipinos have also elected several other Presidents, Governors and Senators in this country with Chinese lineage. Please don’t pull puppet strings too hard lest its snaps, plunging you and your Chinese masters into the abyss of the Hainan.

    • http://twitter.com/judge_judy2 judge_judy

       Canada and US are the best neighbors of the world, yet there are still disputes between them.

      You place dispute in extrema, that is too negative view of history.
      Of all the cases come to this court, PH and China case is the most trivial one. The case shall be dismissed.

      P.S. Chinese immigrants to PH are not slaves and deserve respects as African Americans do in the US.

      • avmphil

        You must be another of the fabled ‘Rip Van Winkle’ behind 20 years of the making of ASEAN. Among the 10 ASEAN members with exception of Singapore: a Chinese dominated city-state, the Filipino-Chinese or Tsekwas in the Philippines have tremendous clout in the management and commercial sectors of the nation. And fully command much more respect especially when they Chinese mestizos. I had to repeat: Presidents, provincial Governors, Mayors and Senators wield powers of discretion, where this cannot be said in the 8 ASEAN states.
         
        Thailand may have a Chinese oriented Prime Minister at present however; the power base lies with the King and his appointed cabinet comprising almost all blue-blooded Thais. In the Philippines, one has to travel all corners and witness the who is who in the business world. With the addition of SM in Baguio, the city is now totally a Filipino-Chinese stronghold from the old Bayanihan to Chow-King. So your comparison and innuendos of Filipinos in general are false and deceptive.
         
        Now to compare the American social and integration system among the Whites and African-Americans, the latter were slaves bought by the Whites and kept in bondage until Abraham Lincoln came into the picture to save them the lot. That’s the period when the ‘colonist’ was pushing for the West and the African-American was part and parcel of that progress, thus the higher standard in the social climb, than the Hispanics, Chinese and other Asians.
         
        The immigrant Chinese hardly had barriers facing them when the Spanish ran this country for hundreds years. For the latter, as long as they get their gold and silver from the Chinese immigrants; protection, home, and land were available. So what kinds of ‘respect’ do you, and the likes of you, are pushing for? Fall over the feet of Chinese leaders, penning a peace treaty after selling this country’s sovereignty? Now that’s preposterous and absurd for all Filipinos.  

      • http://twitter.com/judge_judy2 judge_judy

         “So what kinds of ‘respect’ do you, and the likes of you, are pushing for?”

        Respect from you and the likes, that all men are created equal.
        Filipino-Chinese are Filipinos, there is no need to “fine tune” races.
        All Filipinos have to come from somewhere, do you know where the somewhere is ?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1254106019 Leamse Oapmaamid

        Now, I see judge_judy is nothing but prejudice judge. Or let me say that, you are a Chinese dick sucker. Right? Don’t force us to believe your argument, as if you are all knowing creature. Remember this, we Filipinos are no fear of any fights. We have fought against the Spaniards, Americans, and Japanese yet they did not prevail that long because Filipinos hearts and minds are stronger than any weapon they possessed that time and even this time your beloved China will not prevail. Aside from that, the True God is always with us.

      • http://twitter.com/judge_judy2 judge_judy

        “Remember this, we Filipinos are no fear of any fights”

        calm down.
        fight the poverty first.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1254106019 Leamse Oapmaamid

        Every nation in the world has a fair share of poverty problem. Even your sweet cherish China, millions of their people are living in poorest of the poor state. Obviously, claiming something that is  far beyond their grasp has something to do with their population and their resources. They want abundant resources for them to deal with their population problem in relation to their people stricken by poverty. Poverty problem is an old notion, and every nation are looking for solution but China is different, she wants to expand her territory in order to deal with it. It is true that the new offensive country in Asia is not anymore Japan but China. For now it is the sea, wonder that days will come even the land area will be claimed by China because Taiwan was already claimed as part of China which is approximately adjacent to the Philippines. Look at the map so that you will see what I’m talking about.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/simoun.magaalahas.10 Simoun Magaalahas

    Sa mga kababayan maging handa tayo sa nalalapit na digmaan sa tsina, hanggat maaari ay lumisan kayo sa mga siudad kagaya ng manila at mga kampo militar, magreserba na tayo ng sariling armas legal man o illegal na armas pati na mga delatang pagkain, nakakatawang isipin pero iyon ang totoo, Ang totoo lumalala na ang situasyon sa pagitan ng tsina at kalapit bansa nito.. walang tutulong sa atin kung hindi kapwa pilipino din…

  • bugoybanggers

    Bumili na kasi ng BUMILI kahit na RUSSIAN made. Pambihira, ang dami pa kasing papeles.. mga walang kwentang kwento!

  • DakuAkongUtin

    Tulungon muna ang mga taga Mindanao sa nalansang bagyo sa yung putakputak ang mga bibig nyo sa South China Sea. Ang daming bilyones in dollares pa nga ang gobyerno bakit ayaw gamitin sa rehabilitasyon ng Davao at Compostela Valley?

  • zdrx

    Matt Lee says:

    France have land territory thousands of miles away from France and a mere 12 miles to Canada. It clearly refutes the notion thateverything within 200 miles of Philippines’ EEZ belongs to them.
    ***************************************************

    UNCLOS 200 nm EEZ has no bearing…if there was an agreement or a treaty between 2 countries. china’s claim on the spratleys has no bearing……… because it is being contested by the philippines.

    DON’T COMPARE WHAT THE PHILIPPINES AND CHINA HAVE …WITH WHAT TRANSPIRED BETWEEN FRANCE AND CANADA. MORON.

    • http://twitter.com/judge_judy2 judge_judy

       Why don’t compare ? It is an excellent case to the law.

       Lee’s point is valid, there is no correlation between distance and EEZ.

       Claim is claim. You can’t claim what is claimed.

      • 100% freedom of navigation

        The France-Canada maritime boundary case was quite different. There was an arbitration panel that settled the issue. Over here in this case China refuses to go to ITLOS with the Philippines. And although the case was settled, it did not demarcate the Continental Shelf which means the continental shelf borderline stays intact for Canada and France got only 25% of what it wanted.
        The fact that the settlement did not change the demarcation of the Continental Shelf, that speaks volume how legal issues remained a big issue in the settlement. Proximity as well mattered a lot for Canada to be awarded with the larger portion of the pie which was 75%.

      • http://twitter.com/judge_judy2 judge_judy

         Ok, between the shoal and the coastline, 75% goes to PH, 25% goes to China.
        Case closed.

      • 100% freedom of navigation

        Judge_judy It depends on how some other claimants will agree. That is why it is very important for all the nations involved to go to ITLOS or to an International Court that has full jurisdiction of cases like this. Who ever gets “0%” must not feel bad if it is the order of the court.

      • zdrx

        i found out that it was st. piere and miquelon islands at the southern tip of newfoundland matt was referring to. it was discovered by portuguese, but annexed by france because it was not inhabited. french territories in north america changed hands between france and britain…but england returned st pierre and miquelon to france. except for some troubles, france maintained effective jurisdiction as the islands formed part of the last french territory in those parts. therefore, historically it was an internationally recognized french territory… as it was the means of claiming territories and settling disputes 100 to 200 years ago. going into the 20th century, many overlapping claims and territorial disputes remained to be solved…and some solution must be found.

        fast forward to the 80s…we now have UNCLOS III that sets rules on all varying claims. the most significant is the 200nm EEZ…under which the scarborough and the spratleys, fell under the philippines economic zone. the philippines has every right to the territory for the following reason:

        1) the islands were uninhabited and no country practices effective control and jurisdiction.
        2) the historical dispute between china and vietnam over SCS remained unresolved…therefore, claims and ownership not recognized internationally.
        3) the 11 dash line appeared in february 1948 as a private publication and became a 9 dash line “just like that”…. with no longitude, latitude, technical description. 
        4) the 9 dash line “mickey mouse” map was submitted to the UN on may 7, 2009, to support china’s claim over the territories. yeah, believe it or not, a “mickey mouse map” to support a claim!!! LOL…LMAO….
        5) UNCLOSIII was signed into law on december 10, 1982… and effectivity was on november 16, 1994…but china submitted the map on may 7, 2009!!! 27 years too late…even for a “mickey mouse map”. HA HA HA HA HA.
        6) historically, the islands and shoals were fishing grounds, stop over, and shelters from the storm of our seafaring forefathers. filipinos surveyed the area in 1730s and 1810s for publication and maritime references.
        7) being a desolate and uninhabited territory…..with no valid and recognized historical claimants, the issue here is not the proximity…but the set rules provided for by the UN 200nmEEZ.

  • zdrx

    if this is the case, then war is inevitable…and it will be china’s fault if it happens. china thinks the world is helpless…and she can do at will what she wants. china thinks the world will sit idly by as she gobbles up everything it fancies.
    then let’s hope china won’t choke on something more than she can chew. let’s hope she won’t lose all her teeth. LOL

  • DakuAkongUtin

    Nagpa impress itong European DOM (dirty old man) sa mga kayumangmang. Mukhang may chipapang pinay gustong nyang gagamitin . Mukha nga…. Ang daming mga illegal sa Europa pati pinays nagpapagamit sa mga ganitong mga Euro trash.

  • zdrx

     i found out that it was st. piere and miquelon islands at the southern
    tip of newfoundland matt was referring to. it was discovered by
    portuguese, but annexed by france because it was not inhabited. french
    territories in north america changed hands between france and
    britain…but england returned st pierre and miquelon to france. except
    for some troubles, france maintained
    effective jurisdiction as the
    islands formed part of the last french territory in those parts.
    therefore, historically it was an internationally recognized french
    territory… as it was the means of claiming territories and settling
    disputes 200 years ago. going into the 20th century, many overlapping
    claims and territorial disputes remained to be solved…and some solution must be found.

    fast
    forward to the 80s…we now have UNCLOS III that sets rules on all
    varying claims. the most significant is the 200nm EEZ…under which the
    scarborough and the spratleys, fell under the philippines economic zone.
    the philippines has every right to the territory for the following
    reason:

    1) the islands were uninhabited and no country practices effective control and jurisdiction.
    2)
    the historical dispute between china and vietnam over SCS remained
    unresolved…therefore, claims and ownership not recognized
    internationally.
    3) the 11 dash line appeared in february 1948 as a
    private publication and became a 9 dash line “just like that”…. with
    no longitude, latitude, technical description. 
    4) the 9 dash line
    “mickey mouse” map was submitted to the UN on may 7, 2009, to support
    china’s claim over the territories. yeah, believe it or not, a “mickey
    mouse map” to support a claim!!! LOL…LMAO….
    5) UNCLOSIII was
    signed into law on december 10, 1982… and effectivity was on november
    16, 1994…but china submitted the map on may 7, 2009!!! 27 years too
    late…even for a “mickey mouse map”. HA HA HA HA HA.
    6)
    historically, the islands and shoals were fishing grounds, stop over,
    and shelters from the storm of our seafaring forefathers. filipinos
    surveyed the area in 1730s and 1810s for publication and maritime
    references.
    7) being a desolate and uninhabited territory…..with no
    valid and recognized historical claimants, the issue here is not the
    proximity…but the set rules provided for by the UN 200nmEEZ.

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