Notes: Spratleys, Sabah, China, USA, Vietnam, Philippines


China to neighbors: Stop oil search in Spratlys – (As of 6/9/2011)

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) China warned Asian neighbors Thursday to stop searching for oil near the disputed Spratly Islands and vowed to assert its sovereignty over the potentially petroleum-rich territory in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) despite rival claims.

China and the Philippines have swapped diplomatic protests over the islands, with Filipino officials accusing Chinese forces of intruding into Manila-claimed areas six times since February and of firing shots in at least one incident. Beijing denied the allegation Thursday and said it would use violence only when attacked.


MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has reiterated its commitment to the resolution of the Spratlys dispute with China and other claimants “in the most diplomatic and most peaceful way possible” but did not discount the possibility of US involvement if the situation would worsen.

“Hopefully, it doesn’t get to that point because, again, we are committed to the resolution of the issue in the most diplomatic and the most peaceful way possible,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said on radio Saturday.


Vietnam plans live-fire drill after China dispute

(June 10, 2011)

HANOI, Vietnam—A squabble over territory in the South China Sea escalated Friday when Vietnam announced a live ammunition drill in an apparent response to China’s demand that the Vietnamese halt all oil exploration in the area.

The heated verbal clash between the two communist neighbors comes amid a similar spat between China and Philippines earlier in the week over another disputed area of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), where several countries are eyeing potentially rich oil and gas reserves.

Vietnam said Friday its Navy would carry out two exercises totaling nine hours Monday in an area off the country’s central Quang Nam province. The announcement posted on the state-owned Northern Maritime Safety Corp.’s website warned boats and ships to stay out of the area. It was the first time Vietnam has issued such an alert about conducting maritime drills.

It came a day after China and Vietnam traded diplomatic punches, with each demanding that the other stay out of waters they claim. The two countries have a long history of maritime scraps in disputed parts of the South China Sea near the Spratly and Paracel islands, but the recent row has sparked an unusually hostile response from Hanoi.

On Thursday, China accused Vietnam of illegally entering its waters and endangering its fishermen’s lives. Hours earlier, Vietnam had slammed China for interfering with its seismic survey off the country’s central coast, saying the Chinese fishing boat supported by two patrol vessels had damaged an exploration cable on a survey boat hired by state-owned PetroVietnam.

Vietnam said it was the second time China had hindered the operation of an oil and gas exploration boat in two weeks, adding that its actions were “completely premeditated” and accusing it of flaring regional tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

Spratlys, Sabah, Philippines


US Destroyer sent to South China Sea amid tension in Spratlys

(June 11, 2011)

The United States has sent one of the most formidable warships, the USS Chung-Hoon, a guided-missile destroyer to the South China Sea and Sulu sea amid tensions between China, Vietnam and the Philippines over the disputed Spratly Islands.

“Yahoo Online News said that USS Chung-Hoon, a guided-missile destroyer, has been sent on an independent deployment to the South China as well as to the Sulu Sea early this week to assert right of free passage in the region,” reports.

“The ship will be sailing through waters that the US considers international waters to assert right of free passage and to demonstrate the international community does not accept national claims to the contrary,” the report said.

US destroyer sent to South China Sea

By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) Updated June 11, 2011 12:00 A

The US embassy said the Chung-Hoon is one of the US Navy ships invited to participate in the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise between the Philippines and the US navies.

“More details (on CARAT) would be released when appropriate,” US embassy spokesman Rebecca Thompson said.

CARAT exercise is held yearly as part of a mutual defense agreement between the Philippines and the US.

Earlier, US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. assured the Philippines of support against threats to its security.

Similar Cases: Territorial Claims in the Arctic

Under international law, no country currently owns the North Pole or the region of the Arctic Ocean surrounding it. The five surrounding Arctic states, Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland), are limited to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi) adjacent to their coasts.[1]

Upon ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a country has a ten year period to make claims to an extended continental shelf which, if validated, gives it exclusive rights to resources on or below the seabed of that extended shelf area.[2] Due to this, Norway (ratified the convention in 1996[3]), Russia (ratified in 1997[3]), Canada (ratified in 2003[3]) and Denmark (ratified in 2004[3]) launched projects to provide a basis for seabed claims on extended continental shelves beyond their exclusive economic zones. The United States has signed, but not yet ratified this treaty, although George W. Bush asked the United States Senate to pass a resolution of ratification on May 15, 2007[4] and on October 31, 2007, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 17-4 to send the ratification vote to the full US Senate.[5]


Reagan’s Opposition to Law of the Sea Treaty

National Security Issues

Under the Treaty, a 12-mile territorial sea limit and a 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are established. This sets a definitive limit on the oceanic area over which a country may claim jurisdiction. However, innocent passage–including non-wartime activities of military ships–is protected. Even without the Treaty, these boundaries, and the precedent of safe passage, are protected under multiple independent treaties, as well as traditional international maritime law. Additionally, given the United States’ naval superiority, few countries would attempt to deny safe passage. However, under the Treaty, intelligenceand submarine maneuvers in territorial waters would be restricted and regulated.

Environmental and Economic Issues

Former President Reagan refused to sign the Treaty in 1982 due to its innate conflict with basic free-market principles (e.g., private property, free enterprise, and competition). Twelve years later, the Clinton Administration submitted to the U.S. Senate a revised version of the Treaty. This revised version allegedly corrected many of the original objections to the Treaty, but still failed to receive Senate ratification: Therefore, the United States’ provisional participation expired in 1998. The Treaty still requires adherence to policies that regulate deep-sea mining, as well as forcing participants to adopt laws and regulations to control and prevent marine pollution. Additionally, under the Treaty, a corporation cannot bring suit, but must rely upon its country of origin to address the corporation’s concerns before the U.N. agency.

Reagan’s Objections

Former President Reagan’s first objection to the Treaty was the Principle of the “Common Heritage of Mankind,” which dictates that oceanic resources should be shared among all mankind and cannot be claimed by any one nation or people. In order to achieve this goal, the Treaty creates the International Seabed Authority (“Authority”) to regulate and exploit mineral resources. It requires a company to submit an application fee of $500,000 (now $250,000), as well as a bonus site for the Authority to utilize for its own mining efforts. Additionally, the corporation must pay an annual fee of $1 million, as well as a percentage of its profits (increasing annually up to 7%), and must agree to share mining and navigational technology–thereby ensuring that opportunities aren’t restricted to more technologically advanced countries. The decision to grant or to withhold mining permits is decided by the Authority, which consists disproportionately of underdeveloped countries. Technology-sharing is no longer mandatory, however, there are remaining “principles” to guide its use and distribution. Additionally, the Council has been restructured so that the United States has a permanent seat, and developed countries can create a blocking vote.

Secondly, former President Reagan believed that the Treaty would restrict the world’s supply of minerals. The Treaty was originally designed to limit the exploitation of heavy minerals in order to protect the mineral sales of land-locked, developing nations. This is no longer a severe limitation, because production limits to preserve land-based mining have been removed.
The third–and still valid–objection is that mandatory dispute resolution restricts autonomy. Either a U.N. court or tribunal must mandate maritime Issues involving fisheries, marine environmental protection, and preservation, research, and navigation. A country may opt out if the dispute involves maritime boundaries, military, or limited law enforcement activities. Submitting to external jurisdiction creates an uncomfortable precedent. Furthermore, it weakens the U.S. argument of autonomy when it refuses to submit to the International Criminal Court. Additionally, a country must petition to be excluded from mandatory jurisdiction requirements.

Other Models – Joint Utilization: Iceland, Norway, and Russia

This Protocol entered into force 1999-07-15.

Agreement between the Government of Iceland, the Government of Norway and the Government of the Russian Federation concerning Certain Aspects of Co-operation in the Area of Fisheries

The Government of Iceland, Government of Norway and the Government of the Russian Federation, hereinafter referred to as the Parties;

Determined to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable utilisation of the fish stocks concerned in their entire area of distribution, and committed to the principle of responsible fishing;

Having regard to the importance of close co-operation between the Parties;

Having regard to the relevant provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks;

Committed to promoting and conducting marine scientific research and to basing their respective management measures for the relevant stocks on the best scientific advice;

Recognising that a considerable part of the living marine resources of the northern Norwegian and Barents Seas represents a single regulated biological stock system;

Have agreed as follows:

Article 1

The Parties agree to enhance co-operation of mutual benefit in the field of fisheries and for this purpose to establish by this Agreement principles and procedures for such cooperation based on a precautionary approach and in accordance with international law.

Article 2

The Parties may agree on a reciprocal basis to exchange annual quotas in their respective exclusive economic zones, and to grant vessels of the other Parties access to fish quotas in their respective exclusive economic zones, taking fully into account the biological situation and the development of the stocks concerned, as well as the interests of the national fisheries.

Article 3

Details of the quota exchanges, based on management decisions taken by the coastal states, provisions for access to fishing by the Parties referred to in Article 2, as well as provisions on other matters referred to in Article 8, which the Parties may agree on, shall be regulated in protocols under this Agreement between the Governments of Iceland and Norway, and the Governments of the Russian Federation and Iceland, providing a reasonable balance in their bilateral fisheries relations.

The Parties shall make every effort to agree on the protocols.

Article 4

The Parties agree that total catches from a stock taken under the protocols referred to in Article 3 by vessels flying their flags, wherever they are taken, shall not exceed the total quotas for that stock as set out in the protocols referred to in Article 3. This provision is without prejudice to any agreement between private entities, concluded in accordance with national rules and regulations of the Parties, that may include additional fishing possibilities.

The quotas referred to in Article 2 shall be taken in the exclusive economic zones and the Parties will refrain from any claims for additional fishing possibilities on that stock.

Article 5

The Parties will ensure that fishing vessels flying their flag comply with the conservation and management measures as well as national rules and regulations established for the operation of fishing activities referred to in Article 2. Adequate advance notice shall be provided of such measures, rules and regulations.

Article 6

The Parties shall work together to investigate possibilities and take measures, when relevant, to discourage any of their nationals from being party to arrangements by which they register a fishing vessel under the flag of another state for the purpose of engaging in fishing activities that undermine the effectiveness of this Agreement and of the management measures referred to in Article 5.




Initial Impressions:


  • The Philippines needs to accelerate its defense modernization program – that’s IF – it has the money.
  • Diplomacy – ASEAN+Japan+USA+Aus+NZ / UN Security Council
  • Pass legislation on borders
  • Reduce dependence on oil
  • US Mutual Defense Treaty
  • Diplomacy – Bilateral Talks with China
  • Diplomacy – Bilateral Talks with Vietnam
  • Diplomacy – Intra ASEAN Dialog
  • Identify exclusive economic zones based on Laws of Sea Treaty (if applicable)


  • Take the cue from Taiwan – Get wealthy and get armed to the teeth
  • More trade in renewables with China
  • Establsh a protocol for oil extraction similar to the Norway, Iceland, Russia Fisheries Agreement.

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