Chinese-Philippine Standoff in South China Sea

The Philippines dispatch more ships to a disputed shoal where they attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen.

Philippine and United States navy warships participate in a joint exercise in the Sulu Sea, August 22, 2005
Philippine and United States navy warships participate in a joint exercise in the Sulu Sea, August 22, 2005 (US Navy/William Contreras)

It’s not all quiet in the South China Sea anymore! The Philippines’ largest warship was engaged in a tense standoff with Chinese surveillance vessels in the area on Wednesday after the ship attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen.

The crew of the BRP Gregorio del Pilar boarded Chinese fishing vessels for an inspection on Tuesday which were found in vicinity of the disputed Scarborough Shoal, situated more than two hundred kilometers west of the Philippines. The sailors discovered large amounts of illegally collected coral, clams and live sharks aboard one of the Chinese ships.

Two Chinese maritime surveillance ships then approached and positioned themselves between the Gregorio del Pilar and the fishermen. “There’s a standoff,” said a spokesman for the Philippine ministry of foreign affairs. According to the Chinese, the “marine surveillance ships are in this area fulfilling the duties of safeguarding Chinese maritime rights and interests.”

For good measure, Beijing added that the shoal “is an integral part of the Chinese territory and the waters around it, the traditional fishing area for Chinese fishermen.” Manila similarly insists that the shoal, which is really group of islands and reefs, “is an integral part of Philippine territory.” A Filipino navy official told the Associated Press that more ships are underway.

The Philippines recently explored the possibility of deepening defense ties with the United States. Standoffs as are occurring this week are the very reason. China’s neighbors regard its military rise warily. They seek an active American engagement to balance against what they perceive to be Chinese bullying.

Some six hundred Special Forces are currently stationed in the Philippines in assistance of local counterinsurgency efforts. United States Navy ships regularly call at Philippine ports but the Americans haven’t had a permanent base in the island nation since they were kicked out of Subic Bay in 1992.

In the South China Sea, China regularly clashes with other East Asian states. Beijing asserts varying degrees of sovereignty over virtually the entire area through which passes a third of all commercial maritime traffic worldwide and half of the hydrocarbons destined for Japan, the Korean Peninsula and northeast China.

American attempts at mediation have so far failed to significantly change Chinese behavior and may be unlikely to. The country is facing major demographic challenges as well as resource and water scarcities well into the twenty-first century, compelling it to ensure a favorable balance of power in its backyard and maritime access to natural riches in Africa and the Middle East.

Comments

  1. You know why that part is officially called South China Sea – and really no one really endorsed what it is called East Sea, West Philippine Sea or even the Indonesia Sea? Simple, because that is the sea that China dominates since time immemorial.

    Similarly why is GREECE able to dominate the WHOLE of Aegean Seas even up to the shore of larger neighbour TURKEY????? And the whole world including EU, US, UN and even TURKEY herself recognize that territorial waters????? Because the Greek had been there and left the foot-prints since the beginning of CIVILISATION in Europe!!!!!

  2. By your definition, I suppose the entire Indian Ocean belongs to India? Which I think is fine, if you’re willing to cut a deal. What say you, we give the South China Sea to Beijing and in return, it agrees to stay out of the Indian Ocean altogether?

    The Aegean Sea thing, by the way, is because of the Greek islands. If they have to sell a few, I wonder how that will affect the situation.

  3. My Dearest Joseph Tan,if I am not mistaken you are a Chinese as your name implies and you can say too I am a Filipino, a Muslim, a Christian and whatever suited you but I am not stupid to use the word DOMINATES as an official or legal term to signify sovereign ownership to a claim as what is known to be South China Sea. Please allow me to use it also just to prove it to you; During the dominance of Spain,several explorer,colonizer set sail all over the world and one of them is Christopher Columbus who was later known to have discovered America and another one by the name of Ferdinand Magellan who likewise known to have discovered Philippines. Majority of the events between these two explorers or colonizers was written in history books and you will be amazed how they were able to circumnavigate around the world through different uncharted waters and inhabitable islands as described. In spite of their superiority and dominance, no ocean, no sea and no land was officially named under them and Spain is the same Spain as before. Somehow,Philippines was colonized by Spain and was sold to USA after their defeat during the Spanish American war. Philippines gained Independence from USA later and became a member of the United Nations. I don’t care regardless the 200 nautical miles EEZ has just been drawn today but where was China’s claim of sovereignty back then before and after Christopher Columbus? Those fortified structures within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) if we will carbon dated it, was just recently built after the Philippines gained its Independence from USA which was similarly done by Vietnamese people fleeing the war in some of the disputed shoals.

  4. Why did you just bring up 2 persons Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan – Isn’t the first just found a few speak of islands today known as West Indies and you claimed that he founded Americas? Isn’t that very ignorant on your part or is it not you being brainwashed by the Western influence? Similarly isn’t Magellan being killed somewhere in the Visayan islands and because the Philippine had no central or proper or even weak government, quickly colonised by Spain.

    Why not you read the other alternate view – e.g. one that is propounded by MANZIES. I may not said that his writing is 100% gospel truth but if you even agreed with him 50% you would looked at history from a different perspective. Dominant does not necessary means colonisation. There are many shades and colours ion respect of dominant.

    Cheers.

  5. Did I say Americas? Since these two explorers circumnavigate most parts of earth however and though they colonized most of it,they do not own it at this point and time. By way of your reasoning,it seems to me you are a moron and discussing this matter with you is pointless. Have a nice day.

  6. A moron when run out of idea to write point an accusing finger to another and called another “moron” to deflect his “moron-ity” and closed with a greeting. Didn’t you said Columbus found America???

  7. You’re indeed a genuine MORON, yes that’s what I said America but not Americas and by the way,it seems to me you are the one who is badly influenced by your Moaism culture and belief. Authoritarian is over, it is a thing of the past that is why Philippines is a free country now. Stop your crazy allegations of owning the whole vast China sea,shoals and reefs within it otherwise, I should say that those two explorers I mentioned earlier got more proof of claiming most bodies of water on earth. We can settle this matter intelligently in a court so tell your boss to present your case there and be rational.

  8. You know why the West – whether Europe or US is not competitive – and have huge unemployment??? Because the universities or colleges produce “half-past-six” person like you. You can’t even articulate your argument well – how are you going to convince another person – less the world ? Read well, be humble, eat humble pie and most importantly learn! Accept yourself that you are NOT EVEN QUALIFY to write on this topic!!!!!

  9. To my ever dearest Mr. Joseph Tan,
    Okay, you made a point that I dislike and in disagreement with your statements however, I will be very nice to you this time to get to the bottom of our argumentation.
    First of all, we are all human regardless of nationalities and other factors secondly,earth is made of land mass and bodies of water. Third,people gathered together to form a community and established a government and/or country but during these developments and evolution,there were major natural catastrophe that made changes to earths landscape. People were separated by creation of water basin between land masses besides our own making called war. I have just cited only two explorers to you not to mention others such as pirates,traders,etc. since they navigated and circumnavigated most of the world and is well documented in the history books. Although they alleged they discovered it and occupied it, the aborigines somehow got it back.
    Throughout these changes people is learning a lot of things and civilization is growing for us to coexist, enjoy life and live longer. And to enhance civilization,a governing body of nations was created as represented by the United Nations in resolving world issues. Majority of countries has joined United Nations which is a good news that we are all together as a family in resolving our conflicts. So United Nation has created what we call now EEZ or exclusive economic zones besides the 12 nautical mile territorial waters from the shoreline as a rule to set boundary rights between neighboring countries water.It is a good thing because anything beyond it is considered international waters and any country can avail of it and no one owns it even those two explorers nor India on Indian Ocean.Remember also that shoals,reefs,corals and similarly others considered inhabitable are part of oceans,seas or bodies of water.I hope this will make clear to both of us in concluding each other rhetoric and please tell your boss to limit your fishing boats within the boundaries as prescribed in the convention of the United Nations.Thanks

  10. I too would like to be nice by ending that:-

    UNCLOS is subsumed to historical claims. Chinese had been there long even before Philippine had been civilised just as Greek vis-a-vis Turkey in the Aegean Seas and long before Philippine existed and qualified as a “nation state”. Thank you.

  11. Joel Armea commented on Chinese-Philippine Standoff in South China Sea.

    in response to :

    The Philippines are dispatching more navy ships to a disputed shoal where they attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen.

    You believe in history as a fact? What about Jesus as son of God? What about Bible? I think you don’t!! So, you think I must believe you? Come on…be realistic! Don’t create trouble or the whole world will be against you!

    REPLY: Put some sharp journalist instinct and articulate your arguments. Don’t use cheap wear-out method!!!!!

  12. @ Joseph Tan…historical basis should be back by justifiable evidences and accepted internationally legally. If China truly beleived it has a very stong case, they should already agreed on Philippine suggestion of putting the disputed claims on international court/tribunal. Which they dont so the world knows that history is pure of imagination and baseless. You should know every nation has its history.

  13. Long before the existance of Philippine as a “nation state”, China had long been there! That is history!!!