Lessons from Paracels Pt XII: Nusantara’s rejection of Panda-nomics

China's military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China’s military maneurvres affecting neighbouring nations and region the past 40 years are centred on hydro-carbon deposits

China should back off from its aggressive maneuvers in South China Sea and stick to commitment of the Document of Conduct (DOC)  signed with ASEAN in November 2002, which agreed to resolve issues which include multiple claims on disputed territories via multilateral discourses based on United Nations Convention Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) dated 1982.

The Wall Street Journal story:

China Must Exit Disputed Waters, Asean Leader Says

Updated May 16, 2014 7:17 a.m. ET
Officers of the Vietnamese Marine Guard monitor a Chinese coast guard vessel on the South China Sea, about 210 kilometers off the coast of Vietnam, on Thursday. Reuters
JAKARTA, Indonesia—China needs to leave disputed waters of the South China Sea, the Asean secretary-general said Friday.

The “next step now, we have to get China out of the territorial waters of” Vietnam, Secretary-General Le Luong Minh told The Wall Street Journal. “That’s the first thing.”

Doing that “will be conducive to restoring confidence” in talks to resolve disputed claims by several countries in the resource-rich waters, Mr. Minh said.

Mr. Minh, a Vietnamese national, was speaking amid an outburst of violence this week outside Ho Chi Minh City and in central Vietnam in response to a tense standoff over an oil rig China recently placed in contested parts of the South China Sea.

Vietnam says the Chinese oil rig is 241 kilometers from Vietnam’s shore, well within its “exclusive economic zone,” defined by the United Nations as areas extending 370 km from a country’s coast. China, however, claims jurisdiction over the waters, off the Paracel Islands, which are controlled by China but also claimed by Hanoi.

Mr. Minh’s statement was the strongest yet by a spokesman for the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Four Asean members—Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei—have territorial disputes with China in the waters.

The statement also marked a shift for Mr. Minh, who during an Asean summit last weekend pointed to a joint statement that expressed “serious concern” over the Vietnam-China confrontation but stopped shy of criticizing Beijing.

On Friday, Mr. Minh said China’s move was a setback to regional talks and showed again that a declaration of conduct signed by China and Asean in 2002 “has not been effective enough in preventing these incidents.”

A lack of progress with China in resolving territorial claims has been “disappointing,” he said, and the latest incident made it all the “more important that we try to engage in substantive consultations and negotiations.”

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that he shared Mr. Minh’s view that “this is a very dangerous situation” and that he was calling on Asean members to “renew their thoughts on the South China Sea.”

Mr. Natalegawa stopped short of supporting Mr. Minh’s calls for China to leave the region, but said “China must deliver on its officially stated commitment to implement” the 2002 declaration and push forward with talks in earnest.

Currently, he said, there is “almost an attempt to deny there is an issue in the first place.”

Sek Wannamethee, spokesman for Thailand’s Foreign Ministry, declined to comment on Mr. Minh’s statement, saying the conflict was a bilateral issue between Vietnam and China.

The islands, reefs and atolls of the South China Sea, and the waters around them, are claimed in whole or in part by six governments. Though the disputes have prevented thorough exploration, energy analysts believe significant reserves of oil and gas lie beneath its seabed.


ASEAN EEZ Vs China's claims over South China Sea with the imaginary Nine-Dash-Line

ASEAN EEZ Vs China’s claims over South China Sea with the imaginary Nine-Dash-Line

ASEAN Head of Government Summit in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar last week upheld the call for all disputing parties in the region to exercise maxmum restraint and opt for multilateral discourses to resolve issues, as per the DOC inked in Phnom Penh tweleve years ago.

The Channel News Asia story:

ASEAN leaders adopt “Nay Pyi Taw Declaration” on cooperation

Added by admin on May 12, 2014.
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Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have adopted the “Nay Pyi Taw Declaration” at the 24th ASEAN Summit held in Myanmar.

The declaration identified broad areas on how the leaders are committed to further enhancing cooperation among the 10 member nations and on how to better promote economic development.

It also included calls for all parties to exercise self-restraint and the non-use of force to handle confrontations in the South China Sea.

The leaders have all agreed to refrain from taking actions that would further escalate tension.

They aim to work towards an early conclusion of the code of conduct in the South China Sea.

The code will act as an instrument to prevent and help manage future incidents from happening in the disputed waters.

Another point which the leaders agreed on is to further promote ASEAN’s efforts in peace and reconciliation in the region through relevant mechanisms and entities associated with the grouping.

They also want to expedite the implementation of the remaining action plans to achieve an ASEAN community by end next year.

Myanmar’s President and ASEAN chair Thein Sein said: “It is also important to have unity among the ASEAN member countries to maintain credibility. We also set out our goals of peace and stability for ASEAN.”

This set of declaration is seen as a positive achievement for Myanmar, who is chairing ASEAN for the first time in 17 years since they joined the grouping.


This is seen as very positive and the strong stand by ASEAN, Especially towards China’s arrogance to uphold its claim of the imaginary and unsubstantiated ‘Nine-Dash-Line’ in the South China Sea and increased in commitment of Peoples’ Liberation Army Navy assets and military units as projection of force.

The News Straits Time story:

16 May 2014| last updated at 11:29PM

Asean’s step in the right direction

By Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

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THE Nay Pyi Taw Declaration adopted by the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) at the end of the 24th Asean Summit at Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar, on the 11th of May 2014, may turn out to be one of the regional grouping’s most significant documents.
The declaration spells out, albeit in general terms, a unified position on the contentious issue of the territorial disputes between China, on the one hand, and various Asean states, on the other, pertaining to the South China Sea (SCS).
It calls upon all parties involved in competing claims on the SCS to exercise self-restraint and to refrain from using force or taking action that will escalate tension. At the same time, the declaration urges both China and Asean to implement effectively the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the SCS (DOC) in accordance with international law. It seeks an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the SCS which is what the DOC is supposed to lead to.
A unified position might not have emerged if Vietnam and the Philippines were not incensed by what they perceived as provocative Chinese behaviour in the SCS.
China had moved an oil-drilling rig in early May into waters also claimed by Hanoi, off the Paracel Islands. It is alleged that Chinese vessels had then attacked Vietnamese boats. The Philippines had accused China of poaching in waters that are also claimed by the former. Eleven crew members of the poaching boat were subsequently arrested by Philippine maritime authorities.
Both the Vietnamese and Philippine delegations at the Nay Pyi Taw Summit lobbied hard for a united stand. It will be recalled that in the 2012 Summit held in Phnom Penh, Asean leaders failed to come up with a consensus on the maritime issue.
It is critically important for China to understand Asean’s unified stand this time. Asean is a region that China cannot afford to antagonise. The friendship and respect of its neighbour is vital for China’s emergence as a major global player. It should never give the impression to any of the Asean states that it seeks to dominate and control any individual state or the region.
It is partly because the Soviet Union dominated Eastern Europe, part of its neighbourhood, during the Soviet era that the states in that region and even those within the Soviet Union eventually threw off the yoke and asserted their independence.
Likewise, it is because of the United States’ relentless drive for hegemony over Latin America to the south of its border that a significant number of states in the region have revolted against US power and are now carving out their own collective path to the future.
It would be in China’s own interest, therefore, to show greater empathy for the position of various Asean states in disputes over the SCS and to abide by international law.
Just as China needs to empathise with Asean, so should Asean develop a genuine bond of fraternity with its huge neighbour to the north. It is a bond that should go beyond trade, investment and tourism.
Through education, culture and science, Asean should endeavour to add depth and breadth to its relationship with China. Malaysia which commemorates the 40th year of its diplomatic ties with China this May, and assumes the Chair of Asean next year, should be in the forefront of this mission.
While the Asean-China bond is crucial, the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration also signals an opportunity to strengthen unity and solidarity within Asean itself. Achieving political consensus on controversial and divisive issues facing the grouping has always been a challenge. It has now taken a small but significant step. It should build up on this minor accomplishment.
In more concrete language, Asean should try to develop a common policy position on its relations with China on the one hand and the US on the other. This is admittedly an arduous task given the differences in attitudes towards the two powers among Asean states.
Nonetheless, it is imperative that we make the effort. There is no guarantee that the relationship between China and the US will not take a turn for the worse in the future.
When the US feels that China’s ascendancy — not just in the economic sphere — is a direct threat to its desire for global hegemony, it may seek to confront China.
This may see the Asean region which is vital to both China and the US in terms of the assertion of their geopolitical and geo-economic power, transformed into a cockpit of conflict. And Asean states may be forced to choose between the antagonists.
This is why evolving a shared perspective on the role of the US and China in the region which may prevent Asean from being torn asunder is of paramount significance. Through sincere dialogue among not only political leaders and government officials but also between other sectors of society in Asean we may be able to craft a common position vis-a-vis the US and China.
This is a better path to take than to forge quasi-military alliances and security pacts with one side or the other which will only expedite the very conflict that we want to avoid.
Read more: Asean’s step in the right direction – Columnist – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/asean-s-step-in-the-right-direction-1.598040#ixzz31ud0mIdF


The military stand off China is exerting to the Philippines and Vietnam is getting very serious and chronic. China as a permanent member of UN Security Council blatantly expressed its arrogance for non compliance of UNCLOS, which include to settle multiple claims on disputed territories through arbitration when the Philippines referred the case of Scarborough Shoal and Spratlys to the International Court of Justice.

China has made it clear that ASEAN nations, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines have been very reactive to China’s aggressive military maneuvres in the region, building and compounded since 2008. The PLA Navy (PLAN) has been making ‘provocative exercises’ well deep in the EEZ territories such as in Beting Serupai aka James Shoal, which is 50 nautical miles off the coast of Sarawak March last year.

Forty years ago, China invaded Paracel Islands which were part of South Vietnam. South Vietnam at the time was weakened, after a prolong war with North Vietnam and was unable to fend or make any substantial military reciprocity to the invasion.

Recently, evidence demonstrated that China under the protection of PLAN is building an airstrip at Johnson South Reef, that is deep in the Philippines territories.

China's imaginary and unsubstantiated Nine-Dash-Line

China’s imaginary and unsubstantiated Nine-Dash-Line

These have been seen as ‘potential aggression’ where United States expressed their commitment to check on China from becoming the regional neighbourhood bully from then US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta’s announcement of “US Navy’s commitment half of the Pacific fleet to South East Asia” at the Shangri-La Forum in Singapore. June 2012.

President Barack H. Obama’s week long tour of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines two weeks ago, renewed this commitment. United States would be committing more  presence of military instrument as a projection of force and power.

The over lapping claims between the Phillippines and China in the South China Sea

The over lapping claims between the Phillippines and China in the South China Sea

China’s gluttony  reflective in the gross apetite for the vast yet to be tapped oil and gas fields within the disputed areas in South China Sea is very apparent, with the mobilisation of CNOOC USD1 billion platform to a disputed area which should be within Vietnamese EEZ earlier in the month.

United States would also actively act against PLAN’s projection of force and power to exert ‘control’ in the safe passage of maritime waterways in South China Sea, the world’s second most important trade route.

What would be interesting is Russia President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Beijing 20-21 May 2014 and the agreement that would be forged with President Xi Jinping. Especially, in the wake of Russia’s stubborn involvement in Ukrainian domestic instability and re-annexation of Crimea.

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Hj Abdul Razak Hussein historic call on Chairman Mao Zedong

Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Hj Abdul Razak Hussein historic call on Chairman Mao Zedong, 30 May 1974

Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak would be in Beijing at the end of May, to commemorate and renew the friendship forged by his late father, Second Prime Minister Tun Hj Abdul Razak Hussein forty years ago.

Striking the balance of Malaysia’s close and valuable friendship and trade with China against the strong message in the desire to ward off PLAN’s aggresive maneuvres as a projection of force, is a very delicate balancing act. Malaysia values PLAN’s involvement in the search of the missing Malaysia Airlines B777-200ER with tail number 9M-MRO with the flight number MH370 on a scheduled flight from KUL to PEK on 8 March 2014.

Never the less, China’s current Panda-nomics in the South China Sea for new hydrocarbon resources isn’t welcomed in its current form and exercise. Neither does the majority of ASEAN members. It is very much reflective in the recent riots in Ho Chi Minh City and demonstration in Manila.

Published in: on May 17, 2014 at 04:00  Comments (12)