Photos released by the Philippines on Sept. 7, 2016, revealed that China has still been courting the South China Sea. This occurred even after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled against China’s claim.
The South China Sea is a body of water between Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, China, and Brunei. Paracels and Spratyls, island chains, reside in the South China Sea. Those countries and lands each have claims, whether minor or major, on these two chain islands and the sea they are in.
Natural resources lie in these islands, and the Filipinos know there is an abundance of fish in the Sea. Also, it serves as a major shipping route.
Beijing claims that centuries ago it had regarded the islands as part of China. Therefore, they believe their claim is valid. The Chinese government supports this with the following:
- The Han Dynasty travelled to the Spratly islands in 110 AD.
- The Ming Dynasty did the same from 1403-1433.
- Chinese merchants and fishermen have worked in the area for quite some time.
- In addition, they have used archaeological evidence.
While World War II had been progressing, China claimed the islands. 1947 brought the country’s claim, again, as the Chinese created a map with 9 unmarked, coordinate-less, dotted lines. These lines, in their minds, justly engulfed all of the South China Sea and the islands. Then in 1992, China’s law again redoubled its claims.
In 1976, it usurped Paracel from Vietnam. China then reclassified the Paracel Islands as part of the Hainan Island province and now calls it the Xisha Islands.
The Hague-based PCA judged China’s claim over the South China Sea on July 12, 2016, and the PCA voided it. Western and Philippine experts praised the decision as damning for China and a great success for Manila, capital of Philippines.
The ruling was after Manila had taken China to the PCA in January 2013. It also followed the clash over the South China Sea, in May 2014, between Vietnamese and Chinese ships. The conflict began because China had brought a drilling rig into the area, near the Paracel Islands.
The PCA also said that the Han-majority country trespassed on the Philippines’ sovereign rights. That it did so by constructing artificial islands and keeping the Philippines from fishing. The board proceeded to condemn the most populated country on earth of permanently harming the marine environment. China poisoned the same water it wants to use.
They seemed to push even harder into the South China Sea after the verdict. Although, its government tried to reduce the size of the matter. In Beijing, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman stated that the Chinese policy had not changed, and the media should not escalate the situation.
The Philippine Defense Ministry stated that China had ships which could be used as material diggers and could carry troops. Those were the boats pictured, but experts said they could determine the ships’ abilities or purposes.
The U.S. can help the Philippines because it already has a few bases in the South China Sea. Despite this, Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s President, cursed Barack Obama on Tuesday. He called Obama a “son of a b**ch” in his native tongue.
The White House immediately canceled Obama’s meeting with Duterte. Obama instead met with the President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye. Since then, Duterte has expressed regret over his comments. He further claimed that the comments were actually about a journalist.
Washington was troubled about the amount of criminals Duterte has killed since his election. The police have killed 756 suspect drug users, and there have been 1,160 unsolved killings from the president’s war on drugs, reported the Philippines Police Chief.
Not long ago he proposed holding bilateral talks with Beijing. This was even after the South China Sea claims. Notwithstanding this, China still courts the South China Sea.
By Osveen Funwi
Edited by Cathy Milne
BBC: Why is the South China Sea contentious?
atimes: China appears to be more aggressive after the South China Sea ruling
BBC: South China Sea: Obama urges Beijing to abide by ruling
The Washington Post: Philippines broadens claims of Chinese reach into disputed South China Sea
CNN: Duterte’s tongue the least of Obama’s Philippine problem
GlobalSecurity.org: Territorial claims in the Spratly and Paracel Islands
Image Courtesy of Royal Media’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License