China’s harassment


Last Sunday, Chinese Coast Guard ships drove away two civilian fishing boats contracted by the Philippine Navy to resupply the Philippine military outpost in Ayungin Shoal. This was the first time China stopped a routine supply mission in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea, proving that China has now reached a higher, even more irresponsible, level of assertiveness in pressing its territorial claims.

It is only right that China’s outrageous conduct be denounced, that diplomatic protests be filed, and that international pressure be applied.

Why are China’s most recent actions so lacking in goodwill, so counter to longstanding assurances of a “peaceful rise” for great-power status? We are not alone in thinking that China is taking a harder line against the Philippines because it has no real answer, in multilateral forums or legal tribunals, to Philippine claims.

Ayungin Shoal is only 105 miles west of the Philippines, well within the exclusive economic zone defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which China is also a signatory. Since 1999 the Philippines has maintained an unusual military presence in the area, which is part of the sprawling Spratlys: A World War II-era ship run aground serves as decrepit base for a detachment of eight soldiers. But Ayungin is also part of a barangay that has been administering what the Philippines calls the Kalayaan Island Group since the 1970s.

China only has its nine-dash line theory, a grand historical claim that actually goes back only to 1947, was never recognized by other countries, was not advanced during the lengthy deliberations that led to the Unclos, and was not enforced until China’s rapid economic takeoff in the 1980s. There is no valid historical basis for the nine-dash line, and even if it did, it would no longer be valid. The international community cannot accept a Chinese claim to almost 90 percent of the entire South China Sea.

But the community of nations would accept a fait accompli, and that is the real objective of China’s increasing belligerence: to force the Philippines (and other claimant-countries, including especially Vietnam) to withdraw from the disputed areas or to accept a diminished position, and then to dare the international community to accept the new state of affairs. Possession is nine-tenths of the law; the old legal axiom has its geopolitical equivalent, too.

This explains what happened with Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef), beginning in 1995. The cluster of huts allegedly for the use of Chinese fishermen turned over time into a military fortress; for all intents and purposes, Mischief Reef is now Chinese territory.

This explains what is happening to Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal). In June 2012, after a tense standoff between Philippine and Chinese vessels, the international community brokered a deal, an agreement for a mutual pullout. Unfortunately, only the Philippines withdrew. The Chinese vessels stayed, and today China has effective control of the area, too.

Ayungin Shoal is next on the list. In a popular multimedia narrative titled “The Shark and the Minnow,” the New York Times last year ran a riveting feature on what it called “an unlikely battleground in a geopolitical struggle that will shape the future of the South China Sea and, to some extent, the rest of the world.”

The report notes that the People’s Liberation Army had already listed Ayungin Shoal (Ren’ai Shoal, for the Chinese) in its “series of achievements.” It quotes from a TV interview given by the PLA’s Maj. Gen. Zhang Zhaozhong:

“We should do more such things in the future. For those small islands, only a few troopers are able to station on each of them, but there is no food or even drinking water there. If we carry out the cabbage strategy (a strategy of enveloping layers), you will not be able to send food and drinking water onto the islands. Without the supply for one or two weeks, the troopers stationed there will leave the islands on their own. Once they have left, they will never be able to come back.”

We are glad to know that an airdrop last Monday allowed the Armed Forces of the Philippines to provide fresh supplies to our eight-man detachment in Ayungin Shoal. But given the PLA’s avowed strategy of increasing attrition, we must continue to protest Chinese harassment at every international forum, and together with our Asean allies press China to agree, once and for all, on the long-promised Code of Conduct.

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  • PuñyeteroKa¿

    KAYO MGA FILIPINOS GUSTO KAYO NG MGA TSINITO ATSAKA TSINITA. Sarap-na-sarap ang tsinito atska tsinita…..

    Ba’t hindi kayo mag-surrender para kayo mga pinoys will have sex with tsinito and tsinita para ang anak n’yo tsinoto atska tsinita rin so when they grewed up they star in WoWoWieeee !

    • Brooding Bat

      You are actually right. It is ironic isn’t it. But the thing is. At least these Filipinos you look down upon can distinguish from hating the Chinese people and the Chinese government. If you want xenophobia. That’s something else.

      • Jane Tan

        There are still a fair number of racist Filipinos. This screen-name of mine has drawn its fair-share of Filipino racists, which is rather sad when the racists themselves have screen names.

        You should search the inquirer news regarding the recent “kidnapping of a Chinese-Filipino Scion”. It clearly says “Chinese-Filipino” but you will see how racist the comments are.

      • Brooding Bat

        For one thing….the “Chinese-Filipino” community has been largely quiet about condemning the Chinese incursions on our territory. There was even one “Chinese-Filipino” lady years back in an interview with Winnie Monsod when asked that they would support China when they are in the right. Putting forward the issue of nationalism? Where does the “Chinese-Filipino’s” lie? Hence the now seething racism. When a small demographic of differing ethnic background holds the largest portion of economic power. That would naturally sow resentment. but luckily….this has not reached the “European level” of discrimination where the idea of facism and ultra-nationalism had taken root years before. You see….Filipinos of Malay stock are naturally not very nationalistic as much as the Chinese (mainland) people are or so they wish the world to see. How does the “Chinese-Filipino” allay these fears.

        Then there’s the etymology of the phrase “Chinese-Filipino” which is quite new. Unlike in the early 80’s and 90’s when I still can remember that it was called “Filipino-Chinese” then. I wonder when the flip happened?

      • Jane Tan

        Most Chinese-Filipinos or Filipino-Chinese are realists. Those who have been living here for most, if not all of their lives, are more Filipino than Chinese.

        “You see….Filipinos of Malay stock are naturally not very nationalistic as much as the Chinese (mainland) people are or so they wish the world to see.”

        Honestly, I could say the same for pure Filipinos, when many of us, to my dismay, commit crimes against our own people, even on a national level.

        “Then there’s the etymology of the phrase “Chinese-Filipino” which is quite new. Unlike in the early 80’s and 90’s when I still can remember that it was called “Filipino-Chinese” then. I wonder when the flip happened?”

        Interesting. I will look into this.

      • Brooding Bat

        First off….there is no such thing as “pure Filipino”……we are now a amalgamation of all the racial stocks that have passed through, stayed on and made war with in these 7,107 islands. I cannot boast of purity of race because I myself know that I have Spanish, Scottish & Chinese in our family history. But for the most part….the Chinese stand apart from the racial cauldron. Keeping to their language instead. Thus even I can’t help but to wonder…..the bullets start flying… you keep your oath to your country? But as Stephen Decatur said “Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!”

  • kishbuff

    Asan na ang mga militante na ang trabaho e mag-rally? Kapag US ang umutot, takbo kaagad ang mga linsyak na ito sa embassy. Kapag itong mga komunistang instik, wala lang, dedma lang!!! Bakit kaya?

  • thomas_xmoore

    China will continue to mock the world until the world step up and show definite actions to how Chinese incursion to other countries territory. They know for a fact that their baseless even lame claim stands no ground reason being why they are pushing both for bilateral talks and bullying actions. Until the UN steps up and put an end to this mockery, China will just push to annex every inch of ground or sea it can get.

  • JoelSanti

    China, the land of fakes, could have forged their own signature on that UNCLOS international agreement

    • PuñyeteroKa¿

      I think signature forgeries, fakes and CCTVs splicing is owned by Filipinos.

  • Eustaquio Joven

    China is not harassing us. It is inching into our territory! And then, what?

    • PuñyeteroKa¿

      1stWorld countries knows that Philippines wants to damay other countries into their fracas with China.

      1stWorld will not spark a war with China over Philippines like they did not want to have war with North Korea. And that is for sure.

      • Eustaquio Joven

        In the conflict over a few uninhabited shoals, the Phl could lose rich fishing grounds and, possibly, a few gallons of oil deposits. What about the international communality? It has nothing at stake – only free and unimpeded air and sea travel in what is now considered international waters. Not to worry though. The rich nations of the world can afford to be freeloaders or fence sitters. The Phl can easily maintain its territorial integrity all by its lonesome self. It has enough bows and arrows, kapres, mangkukulams, asuwangs, and politicians.

  • Nic Legaspi

    P0tek, may adik na troll dito.

  • Efren Supanga

    China is deliberately doing what it is doing with much malice and pleasure because it is ready for war and the consequences of war. For the Chinese, it will be the inevitable and necessary reduction of populations for themselves and all parties involved and, for them as a superpower, the great possibility of expanding their borders because they feel sure to win it. A deterrent would be a united ASEAN allied with Japan and other defenders of democracy at large.

  • Semper Paratus

    Wala rin. Hanggang talak na lang talaga tayo.

  • Marcos5

    Less talk More Action : Support the Kalayaan Island Group.
    Purchase 2-3 more Whecs and Perry Class Frigates and load them up with ASM either Harpoons or Excocet.
    Convert half of FA-50 and load them up with Exocets or additional ASM.
    Wmecs will be decom. purchase all of them and station them to Ulugan Bay and KIG.

  • AlzheimersC

    Invite the Americans to have their navy’s R & R in Subic then shoot the Chinese blockade with harpoons or any anti-ship missile and sink them without any hesitation.

    Sometimes arming ourselves is not enough…my 0.001 cent advice :)

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