Saturday, May 26, 2012

Analysis: China's nine-dashed line in South China Sea


HONG KONG (Reuters) - Alongside an armada of paramilitary patrol vessels and fishing boats, China has fired off a barrage of historical records to reinforce its claim over a disputed shoal near the Philippines in the South China Sea.

While this propaganda broadside makes it clear Beijing will take a tough line with Manila as a standoff over Scarborough Shoal continues into a seventh week, the exact legal justification for China's claim and the full extent of the territory affected remain uncertain, according to experts in maritime law.
Like most of its claims to vast expanses of the resource-rich and strategically important South China Sea, Beijing prefers to remain ambiguous about the details, they say.

This allows the ruling Communist Party to demonstrate to an increasingly nationalistic domestic audience that it can defend China's right to control a swathe of ocean territory.

And, it avoids further inflaming tensions with neighbors who are already apprehensive about China's growing military power and territorial ambition.

"This ambiguity serves China's domestic purpose which is to safeguard the government's legitimacy and satisfy domestic public opinion," said Sun Yun, a Washington D.C.-based China foreign policy expert and a former analyst for the International Crisis Group in Beijing.

POTENTIAL FLASHPOINT

Rival claims to territory in the South China Sea are one of the biggest potential flashpoints in the Asia-Pacific region.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei all have territorial claims across a waterway that provides 10 per cent of the global fisheries catch and carries $5 trillion in ship-borne trade. Half the world's shipping tonnage traverses its sea lanes.

The United States, which claims national interests in the South China Sea, recently completed naval exercises with the Philippines near Scarborough Shoal. It is stepping up its military presence in the region as part of a strategic "pivot" towards Asia after more than a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The acrimonious confrontation over Scarborough Shoal, known as Huangyan Island in Chinese, began last month when Beijing ordered its civilian patrol vessels to stop the Philippines arresting Chinese fisherman working in the disputed area.

Beijing and Manila both claim sovereignty over the group of rocks, reefs and small islands about 220 km (132 miles) from the Philippines.

The Philippines says the shoal falls within its 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ), giving it the right to exploit the natural resources in this area.

SONG DYNASTY RECORDS

In a concerted response from Beijing, official government spokesmen, senior diplomats and reports carried by influential state-controlled media outlets have drawn on the histories of earlier dynasties to rebut Manila's claim.

They say the records show China's sailors discovered Huangyan Island 2,000 years ago and cite extensive records of visits, mapping expeditions and habitation of the shoal from the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) right through to the modern period.

To back up these arguments, China has also deployed some of its most advanced paramilitary patrol vessels to the shoal in a calibrated show of strength, for now keeping its increasingly powerful navy at a distance.

A Philippines government spokesman said on Wednesday China had almost 100 Chinese vessels at the shoal, including four government patrol ships. Earlier, Manila demanded that all Chinese vessels leave the area.

China's Foreign Ministry responded on Wednesday that only 20 Chinese fishing boats were in the area, a normal number for this time of the year, and they were operating in accordance with Chinese law.

NINE-DASH LINE

Maritime lawyers note Beijing routinely outlines the scope of its claims with reference to the so-called nine-dashed line that takes in about 90 percent of the 3.5 million square kilometer South China Sea on Chinese maps.

This vague boundary was first officially published on a map by China's Nationalist government in 1947 and has been included in subsequent maps issued under Communist rule.

While Beijing has no difficulty in producing historical evidence to support its territorial links to many islands and reefs, less material is available to show how it arrived at the nine-dashed line.

In a September, 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing reported that a senior Chinese government maritime law expert, Yin Wenqiang, had "admitted" he was unaware of the historical basis for the nine dashes.

In a March, 2008 cable, the embassy reported that a senior Chinese diplomat, Zheng Zhenhua, had handed over a written statement when asked about the scope of this boundary.

"The dotted line of the South China Sea indicates the sovereignty of China over the islands in the South China Sea since ancient times and demonstrates the long-standing claims and jurisdiction practice over the waters of the South China Sea," the statement said, the embassy reported.
Scarborough Shoal falls within the nine-dashed line, as do the Paracel and Spratly Islands, the two most important disputed island groups in the South China Sea.

LAW OF THE SEA TREATY

China insists it has sovereignty over both these groups but it has yet to specify how much of the rest of the territory within the nine-dashed line it intends to claim.

One reason suggested for this lack of clarity is that China, like all of the other claimants except Taiwan, is a signatory to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

If Beijing defined its claim to conform with the provisions of this treaty, it would almost certainly reduce the scope of Chinese territory and expose the government to criticism from vocal nationalists.

Alternatively, if Beijing was to maximize the extent of its claim to include all or most of the territory within the nine-dashed line, it would be difficult to justify under international law and antagonize its neighbors.

"Neither choice leads to a promising prospect," said Sun. "Therefore sticking to the existing path is the most rational."

This means that China is likely to remain vague, experts say, particularly during the current period of heightened political sensitivity ahead of a leadership transition scheduled for later this year.

TRADITIONAL FISHING GROUNDS

However, this lack of clarity doesn't mean China's claims over South China Sea territory have less merit than other claimants, experts say.

In the case of Scarborough shoal, Beijing says the land is Chinese territory and the waters surrounding the shoal have been China's traditional fishing grounds for generations.

"This geographic proximity argument the Philippines is using is not necessarily good in international law," says Sam Bateman, a maritime security researcher at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University.

"If China can demonstrate sovereignty, its claim is as good as the Philippines'."

Under the provisions of UNCLOS, a nation with sovereignty over an island can claim a surrounding 12-nautical mile territorial sea.

UNCLOS defines an island as a natural land feature that remains above water at high tide. If the island is inhabitable, it is also entitled to an EEZ and possibly a continental shelf.

JOINT EXPLOITATION

However, Beijing has not claimed a territorial sea or an EEZ from any of the features of Scarborough Shoal.

Most maritime experts doubt China will agree to have any claims over the South China Sea heard by the United Nation's International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), the body set up to rule on disputes.

Beijing's policy is to negotiate on the joint exploitation of natural resources in contested areas but rival claimants are reluctant to accept this formula because it could be seen as recognition of China's sovereignty.

Beijing is also increasingly wary about the Obama administration's military "pivot" to Asia designed to counter China's growing power," security experts say.

They suggest Vietnam and the Philippines have already shown greater willingness to challenge China since the U.S. signaled a renewed interest in the region.

"They think they have the U.S. on side," said Bateman.-Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC), (May 25, 2012)

3 Japanese training ships due in PH, says Navy


MANILA, Philippines - Three Japanese training vessels are expected to dock in Manila for a week-long "goodwill visit" aimed at enhancing and strengthening relations between the two navies, the Philippine Navy said Friday.

In a statement, the Navy said the Japanese vessels are from the Japanese Training Squadron of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). They are composed of JS Kashima (TV-3508), JS Shimayuki (TV-3513) and JS Matsuyuki (DD-130).

They will arrive at the port of Manila on May 28 and will stay there until June 1. The squadron will be headed by Rear Admiral Hidetoshi Fuchinoue who will lead a series of goodwill activities with personnel of the Philippine Navy and heads of the local government and other government agencies in Manila.

A Meeting Procedure off Corregidor Island is set in the early morning of May 28, prior their entry into Manila Bay with Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Apolinario Mabini (PS36), a Jacinto-Class Patrol Vessel (JCPV) designated as the receiving ship during the procedure.

A Meeting Procedure is a traditional navy event observed internationally where the host ship meets with the visiting ship/s and escorts them to their port of call. The visit hopes to strengthen existing friendly relations between the two navies through a series of scheduled events aimed at enhancing understanding and cooperation.

The Meeting Procedure will be followed by quarantine, immigration and discussion of the details of the scheduled activities and a security briefing aboard the Japanese ships by Philippine officials at the Anchorage Area of Manila Bay over the day.

On May 29, the ships and her crew will participate in a Welcome Ceremony at the Eva Macapagal Super Terminal, South Harbor headed by Philippine Navy representative Commodore Manuel Natalio Abinuman, Commander of the Philippine Fleet’s Patrol Force who will welcome the JSDMF Squadron Commander, Fuchinoue.

Other activities lined up include a ship's tour, a wreath laying at the Rizal Park and other events. The Navy said these kinds of "Navy to Navy engagements" are a vital part in the diplomatic role of navies.

he PN incorporates its International Defense and Security Engagements mission area into this diplomatic role to further its operational effectiveness through interoperability enhancements and sharing of best practices regarding related naval tactics, techniques and procedures," it said.-Interaksyon (May 25, 2012)

OPINION: HU JINTAO the "HITLER" of 20th Century?

Do you think

HU JIN TAO

the President of China
will become the

HITLER 
of our generation???






OPINION: 
      They were insisting that Scarborough Shoal is part of their territory, but they don't want  to bring the issue on the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea? are they afraid to know that their reason is not valid!. I read an article in Xinhua (online publication in China) says that they're agrresively moving towards the Scarborough Shoal (huangyan island, Panatag, bajo de Masinloc), they stated that if they need to shoot all the filipinos in the island just to leave,they will do it,PM of China Hu Jintao already asked the Filipinos to get out the disputed Island and the defense Secretary of China says that they will protect the Huangyan till the end... see??? they will kill the Filipinos for the sake of that Island, for they are GREEDY of POWER and WEALTH!... God sake!,... I know that whatever happen, whenever the other Nation refuse to help the Philippines when the war between David and Goliath started the Lord will stay on our side and never leave us in times of need! 

                                   Remember David defeated Goliath! 

                                           and 

                            the History repeat itself!!!...





Visit these sites:
China is prepared for escalation of Huangyan Island incident


News Analysis: Int'l tribunal not solution to South China Sea tensions
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2012-05/13/c_131585164.ht


Manila's 'prophet of boom' says China, not impeachment, more crucial for economy


MANILA - Beijing’s refusal to let Philippine bananas into China has more serious economic repercussions than the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona on the economy, according to Manila’s ‘prophet of boom.’

During the Asia CEO Awards press launch, Bernardo Villegas said whether the chief justice will be convicted or not has no bearing on the Philippines' growth.

"You know I'm less concerned about Corona than bananas in China. And those bananas with the problem with China, I can assure you that China realized they cannot live without Philippine bananas. And as I read today, they are now allowing entry of Philippine bananas," he said.

"I always thought that bananas is one of the sunrise sectors of agribusiness because agribusiness is finally been given attention that it deserves," the economist said.

The impeachment trial, he said, is a political event and is important in the country's history but will not make a mark in the Philippines’ growth path since the economy has its own drivers for expansion.

The economist said continued inflows of overseas Filipino remittances of over $20 billion a year, the rise of the business process outsourcing sector and tourism will not change whether or not the sentor-judges convict the chief justice.

"If he is not convicted, people will say there is justice there. If he's convicted then the fight of the President against corruption can go on. On the part of the President, if Corona stays in the Supreme Court, mahihirapan siya to try to pursue the accusations against GMA. Yun ang kanyang thinking. But foreigners really won't mind that,” Villegas said, referring to President Benigno Aquino III’s pursuit of cases against former president and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

It is a different story, however, when it comes to the geo-political issues that come with the Scarborough stand-off with China, especially since the Philippines has yet to make its agribusiness sector take off, Villegas said.

He said the Philippine government should have made the development of the agribusiness sector a priority a long time ago instead of hotly pursuing industrialization, and now the services sector.

"I've been preaching for the last 40 years that we should not have gone too fast into industrialization. We should have built more farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, everything that the small farmers need to make money. We didn't do that," he said.

Newly-appointed Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan had said that the National Economic and Development Authority under his watch will focus on agriculture and labor productivity for more inclusive growth as this would bring down the prices of food and at the same time put less pressure on increasing wages prematurely.

The Asian Development Bank earlier called on the Philippine government to focus more on the development and diversification of exports and of the entire manufacturing sector.

But some economists contend that that the country should spend for the upliftment of the services sector, especially the BPO industry, since this is where its competitive advantage lies.

Villegas, however, disagrees, saying the Philippine government can take on the three sectors despite its limited resources.

"I don't think it's an either-or. All three sectors are important. If you focus on agribusiness, remember that agribusiness is not just growing crops. It's processing, it's marketing, it's synergy between agriculture and industry then services. Everything that sells in the malls, in the supermarkets, a lot of that is food but a lot of that is services. I don't believe we have to skip one for the other. We have to focus on all three and show to the rest of the world in some sectors in all three," he said.

Alongside the agribusiness sector, the country's manufacturing sector will rise again given that China - once the darling of companies seeking cheap labor - has lost its competitive advantage in this area, the economist said.

"Napakamahal na ngayon ng wages sa China. They've been growing at 15 percent every year. And the Chinese are already regretting their one-child policy. And so a lot of manufacturing is being closed in China and they're either transferring to Vietnam, Indonesia or the Philippines. We have another opportunity in manufacturing. I'm not giving up on manufacturing," he said.

It is unfortunate that there are negative perceptions of the country abroad, Villegas said, adding that is was high time that the Philippines should be put back on the radar screen now that it has reached the "tipping point."

From hereon, the country would be growing by seven percent a year in the next 10 years, he said.

He said that it helps that the local businessmen are bullish on the economy since this encourages the foreign investors to follow and set up shop in the country. The Japanese Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines had said Canon and Brothers already set up their manufacturing plants here to churn out printers.-Interaksyon (May 25, 2 012)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Leave Shoal, PH Tells China




MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has demanded anew that Chinese vessels immediately pull out from Panatag (Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough) Shoal and the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It also asked China to refrain from taking further actions that exacerbate the situation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) made the demand after receiving reports from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) that there is an increasing number and pattern of Chinese government vessels and fishing boats in the disputed area.
This developed as a key Taiwan official that China is reportedly planning to build two more aircraft carriers in a determined bid to further assert its military might in Asia, while the Philippines received from the United States a 378-foot Hamilton class weather high endurance cutter.
The cutter, which will be renamed BRP Ramon Alcaraz, was received by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, and Philippine Navy Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano.
Based on reports received by the DFA, there were five Chinese government vessels (CMS-71, CMS-84, FLEC-301, FLEC-303, and FLEC-310), and 16 Chinese fishing boats, 10 of which were inside the lagoon while six were outside on May 21.
In addition, there were 56 utility boats, 27 of which were inside the lagoon and 29 were outside.
On Tuesday, there were still 16 Chinese fishing vessels and the number of utility boats went up to 76.
Hernandez said the Chinese vessels “are fishing and are collecting corals.”
Currently, he said there are no Philippine vessels in the area but the PCG and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) are continuously “monitoring and documenting what is being done by other side.”
“We have been doing that (demanding that Chinese vessels leave the area) since we found out they are in the area,” said Hernandez. “We will continue demanding.”
He pointed out that the Chinese side has issued the same reply several times that “they would like us (the Philippines) to leave the area.”
“It is regrettable that these actions occurred at a time when China has been articulating for a de-escalation of tensions and while the two sides have been discussing how to defuse the situation in the area,” said DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez in a news briefing at the DFA headquarters at noon Wednesday.-The Manila Bulletin (May 24, 2012)

China blasts Philippines' weapons purchase


MANILA, Philippines - China warned the Philippines on Wednesday that the 2 countries' territorial dispute over Scarborough shoal will get worse because of Manila's decision to buy weapons abroad.

China's Foreign Ministry, in a press statement published  by state-owned China.org.cn, lashed out at the Philippines' impending acquisition of a second Hamilton class cutter from the United States, as well as President Benigno Aquino's plans to buy fighter jets for the the Philippine Air Force.

Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary earlier said Manila will buy 12 patrol ships from Japan, aircraft from South Korea, as well as search and rescue ships from Australia.

China quoted Del Rosario as saying that the Philippines is getting the help of other countries to build a "minimum credible defense posture."

"The Philippine decision to draw a third party into the incident in any way will further escalate the situation and even change the nature of the issue," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

Beijing also quoted an official of China Institute of International Studies as saying that while the Philippines can buy weapons to improve its armed forces, it can't be compared to China's military.

"And with the Philippine economy performing worse since Aquino became president, the country will face rising financial dangers if it spends too much on its military, Qu said," according to China's Foreign Ministry.

'Philippines no match to China'

It said Major General Xu Yan, an official of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) National Defense University, sees the Philippines as no match to China even if Manila buys new weapons and equipment.

"Once (the Philippines) dares escalate the movements of maritime police into military operations, it will suffer a great calamity from China's strike in response to their attack," Xu said.

Xu added that China now has "a large batch" of large and advanced ships that can be immediately deployed to Scarborough shoal.

According to the US Department of Defense's latest report on China's military forces,  Beijing has 203 destroyers, frigates, amphibious transport, landing ships, diesel and nuclear attack submarines, and coastal patrol vessels deployed in the South and East China seas alone.

"The PLA Navy has the largest force of principal combatants, submarines, and amphibious warfare ships in Asia," the Pentagon report said.

China also has around 2,120 operational combat aircraft consisting of air defense and multi-role fighters, ground attack aircraft, fighter-bombers, and bombers.

It also has an undetermined number of ballistic and cruise missiles at its disposal.

Japan-Philippines alliance

A separate commentary published by China.org.cn, meanwhile, criticized Japan over its proposed patrol ships deal with the Philippines.

"At a summit held last September, the leaders of Japan and the Philippines agreed that Japan would aid the Philippines in terms of strengthening its garrison force in the South China Sea and training the Philippine Coast Guard. In addition, both sides will share intelligence regarding matters in the South China Sea. It is therefore clear that Japan is establishing a platform of full engagement in the region," said the commentary written by Chen Guangwen.

"As Japan is already engaged in a dispute with China over the sovereignty of Diaoyu Island, aiding the Philippines in its territorial disputes with China in this way could dramatically escalate tensions in the region," Chen added.

"It is not hard to understand Japan's intentions. As a country outside the region, Japan's active engagement has two main purposes. One is to distract China's attention from Diaoyu Island and the East China Sea. Japan wants to use the disputes between China and other South East Asian countries as bargaining chips in its negotiations with China on the issue of Diaoyu Island. The second purpose is to protect its interests relating to its freedom of navigation and resource development in the South China Sea," Chen said.

"Both Japan and the Philippines are concerned about China's peaceful rise, despite its good intentions based on the policy of 'building an amicable, tranquil and prosperous neighborhood. The Philippines has already benefited from China's rise and concomitant bilateral trade. Even in the Huangyan Island dispute, China did not react with force to Philippine stubbornness. By contrast, the recent warming of relations between Japan and the Philippines is clearly based on the intention to counter China's growing regional influence," he said.

China still sending ships to Scarborough

The DFA on Wednesday said contrary to China's claims that it is easing the tension on Scarborough, the Philippine Coast Guard has monitored an increasing number Chinese government vessels and fishing vessels in the area.

"At around 1900H of May 21, 2012, there were five Chinese Government vessels (CMS-71, CMS-84, FLEC-301, FLEC-303 and FLEC-310), and 16 Chinese fishing boats, ten of which were inside the lagoon while six were outside. In addition, there were 56 utility boats, 27 of which were inside the lagoon and 29 were outside," the DFA said in a press statement.

It added that at least 16 Chinese fishing vessels and 76 utility boats were in the area on Tuesday.

"It is regrettable that these actions occurred at a time when China has been articulating for a deescalation of tensions and while the two sides have been discussing how to defuse the situation in the area," the DFA said.

"The Philippines protests these actions of China as clear violations of Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Shoal and sovereign rights over the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that covers the waters around Bajo de Masinloc," it added.

The DFA said China's actions violate the ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct on the South China Sea.

"The recent actions of China are also in violation of the United Nations Charter, specifically Article 2.4, which provides the following: All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations," it added.

The DFA said it sent a note verbale to the Chinese embassy in Manila over China's actions.

"The Philippines demands that China’s vessels immediately pull out from Bajo de Masinloc and the Philippines’ EEZ and for China to refrain from taking further actions that exacerbate the situation in the West Philippine Sea," it added. "Discussions to defuse the tensions in Bajo de Masinloc are continuing cognizant of our mandate under the Philippine Constitution to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity."-ABS-CBN News (May 24, 2012)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

China local government 'chengguan' enforcers 'abusive'

China's local government "chengguan" law enforcers are engaged in "abusive conduct" that fuels public resentment, a Human Rights Watch report says.

The report documents abuses including assaults, illegal detention and confiscation of property.

The chengguan, or Urban Management Law Enforcement force, support the police in tackling low-level crime in cities.

But the force's ''thuggish'' behaviour had led to public anger and undermined stability, said the report.

"Chengguan forces have earned a reputation for brutality and impunity," said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

"They are now synonymous for many Chinese citizens with physical violence, illegal detention and theft."

The report cited poor supervision and the lack of a national framework specifying the duties and conduct of the chengguan as factors in abuses.

The absence of a system to monitor and investigate alleged abuse had also led to ''ad hoc'' control of the force at local levels, said HRW.

'Open scandal'

Set up in 1997, the chengguan are tasked with supporting police in enforcing ''non-criminal administrative regulations'' such traffic, environment and sanitation rules.

Chengguan officers can fine violators but do not have any authority to ''detain or use excessive force'' against offenders, said HRW.

However in testimonies given to the rights group, people told of being slapped, beaten, held on the ground and thrown onto the streets from vehicles.

Some also spoke of having possessions confiscated and being made to pay for the return of their belongings.

''The chengguan's ability to flout China's laws and inflict harm on members of the public is a recipe for greater public resentment and more violent confrontations,'' Ms Richardson added.

In July 2011, the death of a disabled street vendor who was reportedly beaten by local law enforcers sparked a riot in Guizhou province.

Public anger over abusive chengguan officers is also widespread on social media. In 2010, an online game pitting street vendors against officials trying to remove them took the internet by storm.-British Broadcasting Corporation (May 23, 2012)

Gov't hits China on rising number of Chinese vessels in Scarborough


BREAKING NEWS

THE FOREIGN Affairs department has again issued a diplomatic protest over the increasing number of Chinese government and fishing vessels in the Scarborough Shoal, over which the Philippines and China have been in a diplomatic gridlock since last month.
"We have received reports from the Philippine Coast Guard that there is an increasing number and pattern of Chinese government vessels and fishing vessels in the area," announced Foreign Affairs spokesperson and undersecretary Raul S. Hernandez in a briefing on Wednesday.
"The Philippines protests these actions of China as clear violations of Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction over the shoal and sovereign rights over the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone that covers the waters around Bajo de Masinloc (local name for Scarborough Shoal)," Mr. Hernandez said, saying they demand that China make its actions consistent with its statements that it wants a deescalation of the tension in the disputed area.
Citing reports from the Coast Guard, Mr. Hernandez said that at around 7:00 p.m. of May 21, five Chinese government vessels, 16 Chinese fishing boats, and 56 utility boats were in the area. Yesterday, however, the number of utility boats increased to 76.
Mr. Hernandez said they have already conveyed their "grave concern" over such actions through a May 21 Note Verbale sent to the Chinese embassy in Manila. This serves as the seventh diplomatic protest issued by the PHilippine government in relation to the shoal dispute.
"The Philippines, therefore, demands that China's vessels immediately pull out from Bajo de Masinloc and the PHilippines' Exclusive Economic Zone and for China to refrain from taking further actions that exacerbate the situation in the West Philippine Sea," the Foreign Affairs official said, saying that the increase of Chinese vessels in the shoal imperils the marine biodiversity and ecosystem in the entire West Philippine Sea.
The shoal--called Panatag Island and Bajo de Masinloc by the Philippines, and Huangyan Island by China--is located 124 nautical miles away from the shores of Zambales and 450 nautical miles from those of China.
The Chinese claim that the shoal is their based on historical records, while the Philippines stands firm that the disputed area is within its 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone.-Business World (May 23, 2012)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

China fake parts 'used in US military equipment'


Vast numbers of counterfeit Chinese electronic parts are being used in US military equipment, a key Senate committee has reported.

A year-long probe found 1,800 cases of fake parts in US military aircraft, the Senate Armed Services Committee found.

More than 70% of an estimated one million suspect parts were traced back to China, the report said.

It blamed weaknesses in the US supply chain, and China's failure to curb the counterfeit market.

The failure of a key part could pose safety and national security risks and lead to higher costs for the Pentagon, the committee said.

US servicemen rely on a variety of "small, incredibly sophisticated electronic components" found in night vision systems, radios and GPS devices and the failure of a single part could put a soldier at risk, the report said.

It highlighted suspect counterfeit parts in SH-60B helicopters used by the Navy, in C-130J and C-27J cargo planes and in the Navy's P-8A Poseidon plane.

After China, the UK and Canada were found to be the next-largest source countries for fake parts.

Continue reading the main story
Start Quote

Rather than acknowledging the problem and moving aggressively to shut down counterfeiters, the Chinese government has tried to avoid scrutiny”

Report on counterfeit electronic parts
US Senate Armed Services Committee

'Avoiding scrutiny'

The committee criticised China for failing to shut down counterfeit manufacturers and said that committee staff wanting to travel to China for the investigation had not been granted visas.

"Counterfeit electronic parts are sold openly in public markets in China," the report said.

"Rather than acknowledging the problem and moving aggressively to shut down counterfeiters, the Chinese government has tried to avoid scrutiny," it added.

But the report said that use of Department of Defense programmes such as the Government-Industry Data Exchange Program (GIDEP), designed to log suspected fake parts, were "woefully lacking".

Between 2009 and 2010 the GIDEP only received 217 reports relating to suspected fake counterfeit components, the majority of which were filed by just six companies, it said. Only 13 reports came from government agencies.

The report also said that in some cases the US defence department had reimbursed contractors for the costs they incurred as a result of their failure to spot fake components in their own supply chain - giving companies no incentive to weed out counterfeits themselves.

But it praised the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law on 31 December 2011 by President Barack Obama, which aims to stop counterfeit parts from entering the country and would cut down on sourcing components from unknown suppliers.

The report's focus on China comes as the US is beginning the task of "pivoting" its defence strategy towards the Asia-Pacific region.

The Pentagon is also preparing to absorb about $450bn (£285bn) of cuts over the next decade.

But it could face cutbacks of a further $500bn if mandatory across-the-board spending cuts come into effect at the end of 2012, after Congress failed to reach a deficit reduction plan last year.-British Broadcasting Network (May 22, 2012)

PH has lot to offer UK firms - Lord Mayor of London


MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has a lot to offer British companies in terms of opportunities in infrastructure and other areas, the Lord Mayor of the City of London told reporters Tuesday. For one, British companies see the possibility of participating in railways, airports, ports, and other infrastructure projects of the Philippine government, Lord Mayor David Wootton said.


Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II seems “keen on UK companies participating in infrastructure projects” here, he said.


The Lord Mayor met with President Benigno Aquino III, Roxas, and other Cabinet members on Monday, the first day of his two-day visit. He said this trip, after the last Lord Mayor’s visit six years ago, shows the “increasing importance of the Philippines to the UK” because the country’s “economy is going in the right direction and its economic indicators are increasing, and better than ours,” and because UK businesses are already here, with an “increasing number of opportunities not just in infrastructure but also in design, engineering, project management, operation and maintenance.”


The Lord Mayor also stressed that business process outsourcing is “one of the strengths of the Philippines,” noting that big British firms are huge BPO companies in the country.


“The Philippines has a lot to offer,” he said. He said his visit to the Philippines shows the country’s “importance in the Southeast Asian region. It is the most relevant in the business context.”


The emphasis of the meeting with the President was “infrastructure and government transparency,” the Lord Mayor said. The other Cabinet secretaries in the meeting included those from the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry, Finance, as well as the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Insurance Commission.


The Lord Mayor said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima assured him of the “increasing economic stability of the financial regulation regime.”-Interaksyon (May 22, 2012)

US-based migrants group predicts Jessica Sanchez's win in American Idol finale

MANILA -- The Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), a leading service institution for immigrants in Washington DC, has predicted that Filipino-Mexican-American Jessica Sanchez will win the prestigious American Idol singing competition title during the finals on Wednesday (May 23, Manila time).
Grace Valera, MHC co-director and spokesperson, sent an e-mail to the Philippines News Agency predicting a win by Jessica over American singer-composer Philip Philipps. Valera appealed to all Filipinos all over the world to unite and vote online for Jessica.
"A show of unity is a show of force leading to success. Jessica deserves to win," the MHC said in a press statement.
During the voting last week, Jessica garnered nearly 90 million votes, an incredible number as announced by Ryan Seacrest, MHC said.
Heavy favorite Joshua Ledet, a 19-year-old American, was eliminated in last week’s voting with Jessica and Philipps remaining in contention for the final selection of American Idol for Season 11.
“Many organizations and individuals all over the United States have zealously supported the voting every week,” MHC said.
In the East Coast, the MHC has been active since Day One of the popular TV show calling all kababayans, American, Asian, African-American friends, including the Spanish-speaking community, to cast their votes for the 16-year-old Jessica.
Two other MHC co-directors, Jesse A. Gatchalian and Arnedo S. Valera, also went out of their way calling on friends to vote online or text all for Jessica Sanchez whose mother is a Filipina from Bataan.
“In the West Coast, there is top-rated newscaster Gel Santos Relos and stage/movie actor Bernardo Bernardo at the helm doing their share online as well,” MHC said.
"'Making everyone hang on to your every note' and 'sending people into heavens’ were among the comments made by the AI judges, Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson, MHC added.
No female singer has won the American Idol title since 2007. The last one was won by Jordan Sparks.
During the Asia Heritage Foundation’s Fiesta Asia, the biggest Asian Street festival in the US capital, MHC campaigned to the over 21 ethnic groups participating in the annual event, attended by Asian, Latin, European, African-American, and white contingents.
Jessica became the judges' and public's favorite in her flawless rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you.”
MHC said “Jessica has a powerful voice that is remarkably sweet and tender.”
Once again, MHC is calling on all Filipinos/Filipino-Americans and friends all over the United States to cast their votes for Jessica for the final showdown of American Idol on Wednesday (Manila time).
There are three ways to vote: by telephone 1-866-436-570 (all landlines-Verizon, Vonage, Magic Jack, AT & T, skype/cellphones no limit depending on your telephone plan and as long as it’s a USA telephone number); or AT&T text to 570___ (Jessica’s number changes every week so watch out for this on Tuesday evening); voting ONLINE through www. Americanidol.com (50 times maximum only).
MHC will open its office again for an “AI Jessica Sanchez Voting Party on May 22, Tuesday 7 p.m. till midnight at 3930 Walnut St., Suite 200, Fairfax, VA 22030, to anyone who wants to join in the voting. All of its computers and telephone landlines will be made available -- 202-247-0117/202-631-8856 or 703-675-6334.
“This is the season’s finale so everyone is enjoined to do his/her share,” MHC said.-Interaksyon (May 22, 2012)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

71 countries to grill PH at UN rights review


MANILA, Philippines -- At least 71 countries have lined up to question the Philippine delegation when the country presents its human rights record to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on May 29, the group Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch said.
The group said that the first country in the list is the Republic of Korea followed by the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
Also on the list are the United States, United Kingdom, China, Italy, the Holy See, France, Belgium and Japan.
Last on the list is Qatar.
Each country is given one minute and 44 seconds to ask their questions.
The UPR is a process that involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN member-states once every four years.
This is the second time the Philippines will undergo the review, presenting before member-states its human rights record and the initiatives it has taken to fulfill its commitment in promoting human rights.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima will head the Philippine delegation, composed of officials from the Commission on Human Rights, Department of National Defense, and other agencies.
Groups belonging to the Philippine UPR Watch have submitted their own alternative reports questioning the government’s human rights claims.
In 2008, the Philippine government made a commitment before the UN to eliminate extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
Rights groups say this has not been met.
“The Philippine report is very underwhelming and provides no clear measure of progress in the Philippine human rights situation. On the contrary, the report glosses over the continuing human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances," Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayaan, said.
Reyes, who will be attending the Geneva gathering, said the Philippine government has continued a counterinsurgency program "that targets unarmed activists."
“The most glaring fact is that the Philippines has a less than one percent conviction rate for extrajudicial killings. That translates to 99 percent injustice for human rights victims. That alone speaks volumes on the Philippine human rights situation and our legal system. This is one reason why impunity persists,” he said.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch earlier reported that the Aquino government has yet to successfully prosecute a single suspect in pending cases of human rights violations.
The rights group also said that the Aquino government should do more that train state security forces to respect human rights, saying this “deflects attention from the more serious problem of failing to investigate, arrest and prosecute those responsible for abuses.”-Interaksyon (May 22, 2012)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lady Gaga's Manila concerts face protests


Christian groups in the Philippines plan to protest Lady Gaga's performances there Monday and Tuesday, just after Muslim protests have cast doubt whether she will be allowed to perform in Indonesia.

"This protest is not against Lady Gaga as a person but on her music and on how she declares distorted views about the Lord Jesus Christ," said, Reuben Abante, bishop of Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church and secretary-general of Biblemode Youth, which is leading the protests.

Abante said he expected a couple thousand protesters outside the Manila venue, Mall of Asia Arena, Monday night for a grand prayer rally before the concert. "We are Christian Filipinos. She comes to our land. For us, this is something that should not be shown to the youth we have."
His brother, the group's president, is former Congressman Benny Abante, himself a pastor.

Of particular offense to the group is the pop star's song, "Judas," with lyrics like, "Whoa whoa I'm in love with Juda-as, Jud-as," "Judas is my virtue and Judas is the demon I cling to I cling to."

Lady Gaga's Filipino promoter, Ovation Productions, is run by Renen de Guia, who is described on the company's website as a born-again Christian. Attempts to reach him were not successful.

The protests in the Philippines are the latest in the problematic Asian tour for Lady Gaga. Her provocative lyrics and risqué costumes have prompted conservative Muslims in Indonesia to call for the cancellation of her upcoming concert in Jakarta.

As of Monday, her Indonesian promoter, Big Daddy Entertainment, was still trying to secure a permit, and the June 3 event was still on, according to its website.

When she opened her tour in Seoul, South Korea, last month, it was to concertgoers aged 18 and above after the Korea Media Rating Board banned the show for minors, even with an accompanying parent or guardian.
At the heart of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" tour is her message to gay youth to embrace and accept their sexual identities.-Cable News Network (May 21, 2012)

Military execs fly to US for turnover of Philippines' second warship


MANILA -- Officials of the Armed Forces Philippines flew to the United States for the ceremonial turnover of the country's second warship from the US Coast Guard.

AFP spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos said AFP chief of staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa and Philippine fleet commander Rear Admiral Jose Luis Alano flew to Charleston, South Carolina to formally receive the USCGC Dallas, a Hamilton-class cutter that was commissioned by the Philippines to serve as its second warship following the BRP Gregorio del Pilar.

The "Dallas" will be christened the BRP Ramon Alcaraz, named after World War II hero Alcaraz, a naval officer who skippered the torpedo boat “Abra” that was among the first to engage Japanese forces during the war.

Burgos, however, clarified that it will only be a ceremonial turnover as the actual physical turnover of the warship will occur "by the end of the year." The skipper and crew of BRP Alcaraz will also undergo training in the US.

Burgos said the arrival of the BRP Alcaraz is seen to boost the country's military capability to aid the BRP del Pilar.

"This will boost our capability in protecting our marine resources and will complement the BRP del Pilar," Burgos said.

The USCGC Dallas is a high-endurance, Hamilton-class cutter that was commissioned by the US in 1967. It was decommissioned by the US in March 30 to be transferred to the Philippines. In her early years, the "Dallas" served as an "ocean station" that collected meteorological and oceanographic data in the Atlantic Ocean. She was also deployed in Vietnam, serving in combat patrol operations.-Interaksyon (May 21, 2012)

Taiwan president hopes for peaceful end to shoal row




TAIPEI – Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou expressed optimism yesterday that conflicting territorial claims of the Philippines, China and Taiwan in the South China Sea will be resolved peacefully.


Ma said they are committed to addressing the dispute in a “rational and peaceful way.”


“In the South China Sea, we have implemented a cohesive policy that we safeguard the sovereignty dispute, pursue peace and prosperity and promote joint exploration,” Ma said yesterday about two hours after he was sworn into office for his second term.


“We are a peace-loving country and we will solve the conflict in a rational and peaceful way,” he said.


With other government officials by his side, Ma held a 40-minute press conference at the President’s Office attended by journalists from different countries.


“We will solve the dispute in a peaceful manner, but we will still continue to uphold sovereign claims over the South China Sea,” the Taiwanese president said.


The claim on Panatag or Scarborough Shoal heated up after Chinese vessels started preventing Filipino fishermen frin entering the shoal lagoon.


The standoff at Panatag began on April 10 when two Chinese fishery ships were deployed in the area to prevent the Philippine Navy from arresting and detaining Chinese poachers who had been apprehended in the area for illegally harvesting endangered marine species.


China has also suspended the importation of produce from the Philippines, including bananas, which has hurt local producers in the country.


Aside from the conflict in Panatag, journalists from different countries also asked Ma about his dipping popularity over some policies implemented by his administration, which include the pricing structures of electricity and the possible lifting of a ban on US beef, among others.


“(In my second term) our goal is to promote and uphold ideas, work together and create well-being for Taiwan,” Ma said.


“The real second term starts after the election, so after the election we reshuffled the Cabinet and proposed some new policies... which gained some negative opinions from the public and (thus we will) make necessary adjustments,” Ma said.


Local newspapers here reported thousands of people marched in the streets of Taipei protesting some of the government’s recent controversial moves.


Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim also attended the reception on Saturday night hosted by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Earlier, the Philippine government expressed hope that there will be more work opportunities for Filipinos during Ma’s second term.


Amadeo Perez, chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei, said since 2010 more Filipinos have managed to find employment in Taiwan.


“Under President Ma, we were able to increase labor arrivals here from the Philippines,” Perez told reporters from the Philippines during Ma’s inauguration.


“For his second term, I hope we could further improve our relations between the Philippines and Taiwan,” Perez added. - The Philippine Star (May 21, 2012)