Cooling the tempers over Spratlys

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates at Pentagon.

With the ongoing positioning by claimant parties in the contested waters of the South China Sea as backdrop, the Foreign Service Institute of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs is holding a two-day conference on the South China Sea that should temper the tension among affected parties.

The conference to be held on July 5 and 6 at the Dusit Hotel in Makati will have as its theme, “The South China Sea: Toward a Region of Peace, Cooperation, and Progress.”

The FSI is partnering with the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and the National Defense College of the Philippines in this conference that will bring in experts on the South China Sea.

Among those in the list are Prof. Carlyle A. Thayer of University of New South Wales in Australia who will speak on “Security Cooperation in the South China Sea: An Assessment of Recent Trends”; Dr. Tran Truong Thuy, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam who will speak on “Recent Developments in the South China Sea and Implications for Regional Cooperation”; and Dr. Shen Hongfang, Xiamen University who will speak on ” South China Sea Issue in China-ASEAN Relations: An Alternative Approach of Reducing the Tension.”

Prof. Peter Dutton, China Maritime Institute of the Naval War College (USA), will talk on “The Implications of South China Sea Disputes for Regional Security Cooperation and the Japanese perspective will be presented by Mr. Tetsuo Kotani, Okazaki Institute.

There are many more big-name speakers including Filipino experts on the issue like Aileen San Pablo-Baviera, University of the Philippines and Renato De Castro, De La Salle University.

It would be interesting to hear Thayer‘s updated assessment of the situation in the South China Sea. In his paper presented last June 20 in a Conference on Maritime Security in the South China Sea, sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C , he said there are two major drivers that explain “China’s New Wave of Aggressive Assertiveness in the South China Sea”: sovereignty and hydrocarbon resources.

Highlights of Thayer’s conclusion:

• China’s recent aggressive assertion of sovereignty over the South China Sea has raised the security stakes for Southeast Asian states and all maritime powers that sail through these waters. Ensuring the security of the South China Sea is now an international issue that must be addressed multilaterally by all concerned states.Three major incidents mark the new wave of Chinese aggressive assertiveness.

• ASEAN and the international community, both of which rely on transit through the South China Sea, must diplomatically confront China over its aggressive assertiveness.

They should bring collective diplomatic pressure to bear on China at the forthcoming annual meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum and East Asia Summit to be held later this year to honor its commitments under the DOC (Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea)

• Both the Philippines and Vietnam should take steps to enhance their capacity to exert national sovereignty over their EEZs. Their weakness only invites China to act more assertively.

• Every effort by the international community toward peace and stability in the Eastern Sea is welcome. It is in the interest of the United States and its allies as well as India to assist both nations in capacity building in the area of maritime security.

At the same time this “coalition of like‐minded states” should back ASEAN in its efforts to secure agreement on a code of conduct for the South China Sea.

ASEAN members themselves could draw up a Treaty on Conduct in the South China Sea, and after ratification, open it so accession by nonmember states.

June 26, 2011 11:55 pm  Tags: ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs, Military, South China Sea

38 Responses

  1. johnmarzan - June 27, 2011 12:12 am

    mas matangkad si del rosario.

  2. J - June 27, 2011 12:25 am

    Is admission free and open to general public?

  3. Mike - June 27, 2011 1:08 am

    I wonder how former DFA Sec. Alberto Romulo would handle this issue? Hmmm….??? Nakakatakot isipin. :(

  4. acibig - June 27, 2011 3:23 am

    the point of the matter is, philippines should stop whining/ complaining asserting its right vs China , eh di naman pala kaya without asking US help, ano ito, hahanap ng away tapos pag lalaban ang kalaban tatakbo sa Amerika to get help??? within pinas ganyan din naman di ba, the poor keeps quiet at di lumalaban against the rich kasi wala silang panlaban, pls, the philippines should know where they stand in global politics, eh isang lunatic killer nga di mo ma kontrol, China pa? think before you open you mouth, ika nga ni enrile, do not agitate China, esp wala ka namang panlaban

  5. perl - June 27, 2011 4:19 am

    #4, sino may sabi syong naghahanap ng away ang pilipinas? gumagawa ng paraan ang gobyerno kung pano madepensahan ang ating teritoryo… at yung statement ni enrile na “don’t agitate china” basahin mo ulit yung balita… headline lang ata binasa mo… malamang kapag nagkagiyera, mauuna kang pumila pra maging makapili..

  6. roilogolez - June 27, 2011 4:53 am

    Forging alliances to deal with a more powerful adversary is normal in diplomacy and the conduct of war. England, for all it’s might, had to forge and lead alliances with other countries like Austria, Russia, Prussia, The Netherlands, etc, to fight and defeat France under Napoleon. The same thing happened in the First World War and the Second World War. Alliances are a part of the history of mankind.

  7. acibig - June 27, 2011 8:12 am

    to #5, hmm i think at this point in time, wala pang may – ari ng spratlys, so the term ATING TERITORYO is premature, since maraming bansa ang nag- aagawan dito. Regardless, point being, Philippines should argue and assert its right in a meek and humble way, yes, meek and humble, just like a poor and peasant being meek when asking help from the rich and royalty, yes, even if that poor and meek is LEGALLY ETHICALLY and MORALLY right, yes, because the Philippines is poor and China is rich and powerful and yes because , reality is ,at the end of the day, , the Philippines cannot survive without China, ohhh , did I remember right that we BEG for forgiveness about the drug case??? yes, that`s what the philipine govt is good at, begging and asking for help for every disaster, every problem that the country encounters. And please ,if you will notice , above are based on 80 % facts and the remaining 20 % , my opinion

  8. Al - June 27, 2011 8:23 am

    I agree, Congressman, #6.

    Forging alliances with other countries is not weakness. It’s wisdom.

  9. Al - June 27, 2011 8:28 am

    Acibig, #7. kaya nga disputed dahil more than one country is claiming the same area. So what do you do because other countries contest our claim? ibigay mo na lang?

    What the government is doing is correct.Assert you claim in many ways.Strengthen your capability to defend your claim. Bring it to international fora.

    Expose the bullying of China. Hindi ka dapat luluhod sa mga bully. Manindigan ka.

    In the article,Mr. Thayer has suggested various ways to do it.

  10. saxnviolins - June 27, 2011 9:02 am

    # 6

    That presumes a war, or an impending war. That is the error of Manong Johnny, and others – that dumb logic about, “Paano na kung may shooting war.” Why is that the major premise?

    This dispute comes within the jurisdiction of the International Law of the Sea; China is a signatory of this treaty. In fact, one of the judges of this tribunal is

    Judge Zhiguo Gao from China.

    (three w’s here)

    The participation of the US will only highlight the military angle of this dispute, not the diplomatic angle.

  11. Ellen - June 27, 2011 9:10 am

    Welcome to this blog, Congressman Golez. We are honored by your participation in the discussion of this very important topic.

    I know that you are one of our lawmakers who have closely followed the South China Sea issue.

  12. Becky - June 27, 2011 9:30 am

    Just wondering. This conference is in partnership with Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. Won’t this anger China more?

  13. Becky - June 27, 2011 9:32 am

    Congressman Golez, you are one of our politicians who talk sense in this South China Sea conflict.

  14. saxnviolins - June 27, 2011 9:59 am

    Here is a study done back in 1996:

    (three w’s here)

    by the United States Institute of Peace.

    Despite the age, the study has retained much of its relevance.

  15. Ellen - June 27, 2011 10:54 am

    Thanks, SnV.

  16. Phil Cruz - June 27, 2011 11:07 am

    I agree with Congressman Golez. Alliances go as far back as humankind can remember.

    Before there were even such things as governments as we know it today, there were already tribal alliances. It was necessary to protect one’s tribe against the more aggressive tribes. It is a human instinct for preservation and survival.

    Alliances, however, are strengthened or weakened depending on who is in power. No nation should have a fixed stand on who it wants to be an ally.

    The only fixed stand and position is “whatever is good for one’s country”.

  17. Ellen - June 27, 2011 11:19 am

    Agree, Phil.

  18. TonGuE-tWisTeD - June 27, 2011 2:23 pm

    Before Gloria entered into the JMSU with China, our official stance pertaining to South China Sea was to pursue collective action among ASEAN members. But the initially bilateral agreement virtually thrashed the collective spirit I’m sure our neighbors felt betrayed by the act. Not wanting to be left out, Vietnam followed suit.

    We know Gloria was salivating for Beijing’s money to finance her plunderous designs, but Vietnam?

    Now she has the gall to criticize the president for “wasting” all her achievements. She now calls a sellout an achievement?

  19. tru blue - June 27, 2011 3:26 pm

    “Forging alliances with other countries is not weakness. It’s wisdom.” – al

    Would Pinas forge an alliance to a country like…hmmmm, let’s say a very poor nation such as Ethiopia?

  20. tru blue - June 27, 2011 3:38 pm

    In terms of Human Rights Violation in the US against the ruling whites, there was or used to be “quite a strong alliance between the blacks and the jews”…but the jewish people got so far ahead of the blacks and became so economically and financially powerful the supposed unbreakable alliance fractured, leaving the blacks in the dust to fend for themselves.

    A country only matters if it’s useful, as in humans.

  21. Tilamsik - June 27, 2011 7:38 pm

    Kailan tayo lalaya sa Amerika..?

  22. humus - June 28, 2011 12:12 am

    Natutulog ako, nagising sa pancitan, naaalimpungatan kaya nasabi ko recycle sa kabilang thread noon pang nakaraang

    4. humus – June 24, 2011 5:21 am

    When push turns to a kick or a shove, one can turn to an effective ridiculous.

    The powerless will always have even a little nasty foolishness. Diplomacy is the weapon not only of the strong but also of the weak. Sometimes the weak do get hurt in the process, but the strong end up fighting the strong. A little knowledge can be dangerous even to the big knowledgeable ones.

    If the Spratly islands are really ours and some big bully comes to claim it and take advantage of our inability to defend the islands, we can turn to our big friends in the free world, get into a treaty or agreement for US or UK to develop right away, pronto, the islands. Establish military bases if necessary to defend their investments.

    The bilateral agreement will define whether we are giving the Spratlys to friends or fiends. Agreements profitable to some private pockets it has been claimed had been entered before for exploration of its natural wealth. In diplomacy bribery among friends may not be the standard practice. Or is it?

    Alternatively, Let’s see some action from our government agencies do infrastructure and peaceful ones on the islands. PAGCOR and Tourism agencies should have a look.

    Well, well, tila meron ng magandang nangyayari ngayon sa problema ng Spratly’s na ang iba sa atin, matapos hambalusin ang sarili at duraan ang mga kano hindi pala ganoon. Palagi seguro si P Noy, pero ang ilan sa ating mga salita masahol pa sa dada ng musmos.

  23. Phil Cruz - June 28, 2011 11:52 am

    Reality bites. But the reality is that at this time I would rather have the American bear as an ally instead of the Red Dragon.

    I am more comfortable with their values and their ways. That’s not to say that they’re perfect but hey, who’s perfect.

    And when one country decides to ally with each other, another reality has to be clear. The “What’s in it for me?” reality.

    That’s the real world.

  24. juggernaut - June 28, 2011 3:51 pm

    yes, that`s what the philipine govt is good at, begging and asking for help for every disaster, every problem that the country encounters. And please ,if you will notice , above are based on 80 % facts and the remaining 20 % , my opinion
    - acibig

    Good observation, now that you’ve pointed out the problem, are you ready to be part of the solution? :)

  25. juggernaut - June 28, 2011 5:43 pm

    In terms of Human Rights Violation in the US against the ruling whites, there was or used to be “quite a strong alliance between the blacks and the jews”…but the jewish people got so far ahead of the blacks and became so economically and financially powerful the supposed unbreakable alliance fractured, leaving the blacks in the dust to fend for themselves.

    The drug problem and “gangsta” phenomenon didn’t help either.

  26. chi - June 28, 2011 9:05 pm

    Personal kong opinyon na dapat mag-ingay ang Pinas tungkol sa usaping Spratlys para alam ng Tsina na hindi katanggap-tanggap sa lahat ang kanyang pambubuli. Hindi tayo naghahanap ng away, we are just registering our stand over the disputed islands.

  27. chi - June 28, 2011 9:07 pm

    “Every effort by the international community toward peace and stability in the Eastern Sea is welcome. It is in the interest of the United States and its allies as well as India to assist both nations in capacity building in the area of maritime security. ”

    Tumpak! Let us preserve peace but make it known that we are also capable of making noise. :)

  28. chi - June 28, 2011 9:11 pm

    #1. John, madaming pandak na kano. :)

    I wonder if Berto Romulo had the pleasure to set foot at Pentagon. If he did, tinanggap naman kaya sya na ambassador talaga? :)

  29. florry - June 29, 2011 1:07 am

    Not to forget, alliances are formed not to protect the others interest, but their own interest.

  30. Becky - June 29, 2011 1:47 am

    It is in the interest of the US, Japan and others who use the sea lanes that China does not control that area. It is in their interest to help us.

    That should be good enough for us.

  31. J - June 29, 2011 2:50 am

    @Becky, true. But it’s also in the interest of US not to antagonize China. :)

  32. Phil Cruz - June 29, 2011 10:45 am

    Becky and J, beautifully put. Sweet and simple.

  33. Phil Cruz - June 29, 2011 10:59 am

    The US interest is to keep the sea lanes open and out of China’s control.

    But it needs China’s cheap labor to manufacture American goods. It also needs China’s huge population as a market for American products. It also owes China a favor for the huge loans it got from China to prop up its ailing economy.

    Ahem..ahem..what does the Philippines have to offer in return?

  34. Ellen - June 29, 2011 11:03 am

    Statement from the DFA:

    Re passage of US Senate resolution on Spratlys:

    “We welcome the unanimous approval by the U.S. Senate of its resolution on the Spratlys. It supports the Philippine Government’s proposal for the multilateral and peaceful resolution of competing claims in the disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea.

    It is imperative for concerned parties to take concrete steps to ease tensions in the area through dialogue and diplomacy. We urge all claimant-countries to seriously consider our proposal to transform the area from a zone of dispute into a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation (ZoPFF/C). We thank Senator Jim Webb and Jim Inhofe for sponsoring the resolution.

  35. Phil Cruz - June 29, 2011 11:05 am

    We can only be as strong as the strength of the ASEAN. We are a member of that body. What do we contribute to that body to strengthen it? Or are we in fact a weakening factor to that body? I hope not.

    Perhaps government or media can enlighten us on our role and contributions past, present and future in the ASEAN.

  36. Becky - June 29, 2011 3:08 pm

    Thanks, Phil.

  37. Phil Cruz - June 29, 2011 4:39 pm

    Ellen, that US Senate resolution I guess is a signal to all claimants that the US Senate is now aware of what is happening in our neck of the woods and that they don’t want trouble to erupt there. Their advice is to just talk, don’t fight. Just rattle your sabers, but don’t unsheathe them.

    But of course we won’t unsheathe our saber. All we got is a pen knife.

  38. norpil - June 29, 2011 8:20 pm

    negotiations means a lot of time between unallied nations. it took more than 20 years for norway and russia to agree on the division of the Barents Sea whereas there was not much time used for the division in the north seas. Russia have spies among the norwegian political elites and pinas must be prepared for chinese spionage just in case.

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