Philippines Eyes Exploration Deal with China in S.China Sea
The Philippines is looking to seal a pact with China within a few months to jointly explore for oil and gas in a part of the busy South China Sea waterway claimed by both countries, a Philippine official said on Monday. In February, the two countries agreed to set up a special panel to work out how to jointly explore for offshore oil and gas in areas both sides claim, without needing to address the touchy issue of sovereignty. "We're trying to see if we can achieve an agreement…
Philippines says China Will Halt Expansion in South China Sea
China has assured the Philippines it will not occupy new features or territory in the South China Sea, under a new "status quo" brokered by Manila as both sides try to strengthen their relations, the Philippine defence minister said. Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano also said the Philippines was working on a "commercial deal" with China to explore and exploit oil and gas resources in disputed areas of the South China Sea with an aim to begin drilling within a year. The defence minister, Delfin Lorenzana, told a congressional hearing the Philippines and China had reached a "modus vivendi", or a way to get along, in the South China Sea that prohibits new occupation of islands.
China Asserts Its Power at Strategic Shoal
Far out in the South China Sea, where dark blue meets bright turquoise, a miles-long row of fishing boats anchor near Scarborough Shoal, backed by a small armada of coastguard projecting China's power in Asia's most disputed waters. China still calls the shots at the prime fishing spot and has boosted its fleet there, nine months after an international panel ruled its blockade of the lagoon was illegal. Beijing rejected that ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated China's claim of sovereignty over most of the South China Sea. But the presence of Philippine boats dotted between Chinese vessels shows a degree of compliance with the ruling.
China Threatened War If Philippines Drills for Oil -Duterte
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday Chinese counterpart China Xi Jinping had warned him there would be war if Manila tried to enforce an arbitration ruling and drill for oil in a disputed part of the South China Sea. In remarks that could infuriate China, Duterte hit back at domestic critics who said he has gone soft on Beijing by refusing to push it to comply with an award last year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which ruled largely in favor of the Philippines. Duterte said he discussed it with Xi when the two met in Beijing on Monday, and got a firm, but friendly warning. "We intend to drill oil there…
Drilling in Disputed South China Sea may Resume
Drilling for oil and natural gas on the Reed Bank in the South China Sea may resume before the end of the year, a Philippine energy official said on Wednesday, as the government prepares to offer new blocks to investors in bidding in December. The Philippines suspended exploration at the Reed Bank, which it calls Recto Bank, in late 2014, as it pursued international arbitration over territorial disputes. The bank is in waters claimed by China. Ismael Ocampo, director at the Department of Energy's Resource Development Bureau, told reporters the agency expected the suspension to be lifted in December. He said a directive from the Department of Foreign Affairs directing the Department of Energy to resume oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea was already in the works.
North Natuna Sea: Striking at China Claims
Indonesia renamed the northern reaches of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea on Friday, the latest act of resistance by Southeast Asian nations to China's territorial ambitions in the maritime region. Seen by analysts as an assertion of Indonesian sovereignty, part of the renamed sea is claimed by China under its contentious maritime boundary, known as the 'nine-dash line', that encompasses most of the resource-rich sea. Several Southeast Asian states dispute China's territorial claims and are competing with China to exploit the South China Sea's abundant hydrocarbon and fishing resources. China has raised the ante by deploying military assets on artificial islands constructed on shoals and reefs in disputed parts of the sea.
Cambodia Urged ASEAN to Avoid Words That Escalate Tension
Cambodia advised a grouping of South East Asian nations to avoid using words that "would escalate tension between China and the Philippines" in a weekend statement, the country's foreign ministry said on Wednesday. Cambodia's support for China's position on an international court ruling denying the Asian giant's claims in the South China Sea handed Beijing a diplomatic victory when the grouping's ministers met on Sunday. The bloc, which follows an overriding principle of making decisions by consensus, omitted reference to the ruling after its first meeting following the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in favour of the Philippines.
The Hague to Arbitrate East Timor-Australia Maritime Dispute
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague will oversee a compulsory arbitration between East Timor and Australia on their maritime boundary, it said on Monday, rejecting Australian objections. East Timor asked for the process which could decide on which side of the border lies a large oil and gas field over which the two countries have a revenue-sharing agreement. The island nation said Australian espionage on its diplomats rendered recent agreements between them flawed. Australia has resisted negotiating a permanent border until 2056 at the earliest. The conciliation process will take place behind closed doors over the next year, the court said. (Reporting by Toby Sterling
Choke Points are Flash Points
The world is closely watching several contentious flash points that have potential to ignite. The behavior and rhetoric of China and Russia regarding vital shipping lanes in international waters have been alarming. Disputed sovereignty claims and efforts to enforce them have the maritime world on edge. China’s nine-dash line claims about owning the entire East and South China Sea have created a dilemma for themselves and the other nations in the region. The Philippines v. China case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague commenced on Jan.
Philippines: China Vessels Departed Scarborough Shoal
Unimpeded access for first time in 4 yrs. Ships' departure follows Philippine president's visit to China. Chinese ships are no longer at the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea and Philippine boats can resume fishing, the Philippine defence minister said on Friday, calling the Chinese departure a "welcome development". Philippine fishermen could access the shoal unimpeded for the first time in four years, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, capping off a startling turnaround in ties since his country rattled China in 2013 by challenging its maritime claims at an international tribunal. The departure of the Chinese coastguard comes after President Rodrigo Duterte's high-profile visit to Beijing and follows his repeated requests for China to end its blockade of the shoal…
Philippines Says Chinese Vessels Have Left Disputed Shoal
Chinese ships are no longer at the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea and Philippine boats can resume fishing, the Philippine defence minister said on Friday, calling the Chinese departure a "welcome development". Philippine fishermen can access the shoal unimpeded for the first time in four years, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, capping off a startling turnaround in ties since his country rattled China by challenging its maritime claims at an international tribunal. The departure of the Chinese coast guard ships comes after President Rodrigo Duterte's high-profile visit to Beijing and his repeated requests for China to end its blockade of the shoal, a tranquil lagoon rich in fish stocks.
China: Scarborough Shoal 'Situation' Unchanged
China said on Monday the situation at the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea "has not changed and will not change", after the Philippines said Chinese vessels that blocked the area for four years had stopped harassing its fishermen. Philippine security officials on Sunday said China had scaled down its maritime presence at the shoal since President Rodrigo Duterte's return from a visit to Beijing aimed at patching-up ties and courting investment. The disputed territory is significant not only for fishing, but for the broader balance of power in the South China Sea, and the circumstances behind China's apparent softening of its position are not clear.
South China Sea Arbitration: Implications for Maritime and O&G
A recent decision by an international tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, has significant implications for other maritime disputes, freedom of navigation, and future oil and gas claims in the Arctic. The arbitral award issued on July 12, 2016, by a unanimous five-member panel or Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the dispute between the Philippines and China over rocks and elevations in the South China Sea, sounded a clarion call for the rule of law and the clearly defined…
With China's Support, Duterte to Ban Fishing in Disputed Lagoon
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will issue an executive order declaring part of the disputed Scarborough Shoal a marine sanctuary off-limits to all fishermen, a move his office said was supported by Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Duterte will make a unilateral declaration barring fishermen from exploiting marine life at a tranquil lagoon that was central to years of bitter squabbling, and the basis of an arbitration case brought and won by the Philippines. The dispute over the Scarborough Shoal is one of several involving South East Asian countries seeking to counter China's growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. Since 2012…
Filipino Fishermen Still Blocked from Scarborough Shoal
China's coastguard has prevented Filipino boats from fishing around the hotly contested Scarborough Shoal, Philippine officials said on Friday, after Beijing kept a promise to ignore a court ruling voiding its vast South China Sea claims. A dispute over the shoal, 124 nautical miles northwest of the Philippines mainland was one of Manila's main reasons for bringing international legal action against China in 2013. Military officials and fishermen in northwest province of Pangasinan said Chinese coastguard vessels remained in place at Scarborough and were still preventing fishermen from entering the shoal's lagoon. Many boats had stayed away until the situation was clearer, officials said.
EU's Statement on South China Sea Reflects Divisions
The European Union issued a statement on Friday noting China's legal defeat over the South China Sea but avoided direct reference to Beijing, reflecting discord among EU governments over how strongly to respond to the court ruling. While the European Union is neutral in China's dispute with its Asian neighbours in the South China Sea, Britain, France and Germany want to make clear that Beijing must uphold international law as it seeks a bigger global role. But speaking with one European voice has become difficult as some smaller governments, including Hungary and Greece, rely on Chinese investment and are unwilling to criticise Beijing despite its militarisation of South China Sea islands.
Philippines' Offshore Oil Still in Doubt
The Philippines, eager to resume development of vital oil and gas reserves off its coast, will likely need to reach an accord with a Chinese government infuriated by last week's ruling that granted Manila a big victory in the South China Sea. The Philippines relies overwhelmingly on imports to fuel its fast-growing economy. That reliance will grow further in a few years when the main source of domestic natural gas runs out, so the clock is ticking for it to develop offshore fields that China shows no sign of loosening its grip on. Beijing has refused to recognise the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration that granted the Philippines sovereign rights to access offshore oil and gas fields, including the Reed Bank, a shallow tablemount some 85 nautical miles off its coast.
Kerry to Press ASEAN meeting for talks on SCS Disputes
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will urge Southeast Asian nations in meetings in Laos next week to find diplomatic ways to launch talks with China on easing tension over the South China Sea following an international court ruling that denies China's claims in the sea. Kerry travels to Laos' capital Vientiane on Monday for meetings of foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of South East Asia Nations where tensions between China and several ASEAN members, in particular the Philippines and Vietnam, over the South China Sea is expected to dominate talks.
ASEAN in Discord Ahead of Meeting with top China, U.S. Diplomats
Southeast Asian nations were thrown into disarray after Cambodia on Saturday blocked them from issuing a statement referring to an international court ruling against China's territorial claims in the South China Sea, diplomats said. The U.N.-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague handed an emphatic legal victory to the Philippines in the maritime dispute earlier this month, denying China's sweeping claims in the strategic seaway. Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will meet for the first time since the ruling on Sunday, before hosting U.S.
China sets up South China Sea environment protection fund
China has set up a 15 million yuan ($2.25 million) environmental protection fund for the South China Sea having already spent double that in the past four years, the Xinhua state news agency said on Monday. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled this month that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea and it criticised environmental destruction in the waters. China rejected the ruling and refused to participate in the case. The tribunal found that China's large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands has caused severe harm to coral and violated its obligation to preserve fragile marine environments. China has repeatedly denied damaging the environment in the South China Sea.
ASEAN Breaks South China Sea Deadlock
Manila drops request to refer to court ruling in statement. Southeast Asian nations overcame days of deadlock on Monday when the Philippines dropped a request for their joint statement to mention a landmark legal ruling on the South China Sea, officials said, after objections from Cambodia. China publicly thanked Cambodia for supporting its stance on maritime disputes, a position which threw the regional block's weekend meeting in the Laos capital of Vientiane into disarray. Competing claims with China in the vital shipping lane are among the most contentious issues for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with its 10 members pulled between their desire to assert their sovereignty while finding common ground and fostering ties with Beijing.
U.S. Backs S. China Sea Bilateral Talks
U.S. Secretary of State Kerry says backs bilateral talks; Philippines says dispute does not involve United States. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday he supported the resumption of talks between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea, following an international court ruling against Beijing over the dispute earlier this month. China did not participate in and has refused to accept the July 12 ruling by the U.N.-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration, in which U.S. ally Manila won an emphatic legal victory. China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi had asked Kerry to lend his support for bilateral talks to restart between Manila and Beijing in a meeting between the two in the Laos capital of Vientiane on Monday.
China Asks U.S. to Support Resumption of Talks with Philippines
China's foreign minister has asked the U.S. secretary of state John Kerry to support the resumption of talks between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea, following a ruling against Beijing over the dispute earlier this month. China did not participate in and has refused to accept the July 12 ruling by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, in which U.S. ally Manila won an emphatic legal victory. Meeting in the Laos capital Vientiane on Monday during a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Kerry that China and ASEAN had agreed the dispute should get back onto the "correct" track of being resolved by direct talks with the parties concerned.