emfizz.com November 23, 2017

China, Philippines to draft protocol to avoid maritime 'miscalculations'

12 November 2017, 02:20 | Jan Cross

Chinese marine surveillance ships patrol the East China Sea. Kyodo Kyodo Reuters

Chinese marine surveillance ships patrol the East China Sea.       Kyodo Kyodo  Reuters

DA NANG (First published 11:06 p.m. on November 9) -President Rodrigo Duterte will raise the concerns of the entire Association of Southeast Asian Nations when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the reclamation and militarization of disputed islands in the South China Sea.

China-Philippines relations have often been frosty over the South China Sea, but ties have warmed under Duterte, who prefers to not provoke Beijing and wants to tap it for loans and investment.

China is undermining regional security and prosperity and challenging worldwide rules and norms by engaging in coercive activities in the South China Sea, US Congressional leaders have said and asked the Trump administration to ensure freedom of navigation.

He said he has seen surveillance photos that showed "almost all the islands (China occupies) were militarised already".

"Now, we are friends (with China)".

"It's about time that ASEAN countries, not really to confront, but to make clear to us what China really wants", he also said.

Duterte, as this year's Asean chair, said he believed there is nothing wrong in raising the regional bloc's concerns with China.

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China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes four governments involved in the sea feud, agreed earlier this year on a framework for a long-proposed nonaggression pact in the disputed waters. "It would be something like a scramble there because if China concedes to one, Philippines, it has to concede to the others", Duterte said.

"The Asean's (position is) up to where are we supposed and to what extent would be the use of that passage?"

A code of conduct, he said, would guide claimants on how their ships and planes can pass through the South China Sea without provoking the ire of the other claimants. "So just you read it and you'd know that you are not crossing boundaries because as of now, it is a contested claim", he added.

The president added that during the meeting with Xi, he would be frank and will assert the country's rights in discoursing over the maritime dispute. "The Philippines did not violate the Declaration of Conduct", Alejano said. "I would insist that we hurry up".

According to the defense chief, the sandbar is located about 2.5 nautical miles from Thitu, an island known locally as Pagasa, which forms part of the island chain where China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

The South China Sea is a vitally important waterway for global commerce and for regional security, with nearly 30 per cent of the maritime trade of the world transiting the South China Sea annually.

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