Dirgahayu, TLDM

In the current flavour of the 26th ASEAN Summit now in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi where Malaysia is chairing, the world should be reminded that the Royal Malaysian Navy celebrates its 81st anniversary today.

It was formed as Straits Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve and it has grown so far ever since. RMN is now a formidable and respectable naval force in region, especially after acquiring submarine force capability and assets since 2009.

Two RMN Perdana Class submarines in Sepanggar Bay and an RMAF S61 Nuri helicopter approaching and the Mount Kinabalu as the backdrop

Two RMN Perdana Class submarines in Sepanggar Bay and an RMAF S61 Nuri helicopter approaching and the Mount Kinabalu as the backdrop

Malaysia is a maritime nation. 30% of the nation’s food resource and over 90% of the trade requires safe passageway in the open seas.

Coupled with the fact that the world’s second most busiest maritime passageway, the Straits of Melaka and South China Sea are part of the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as defined under United Nation Conference Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS), arisen the requirement for a strong naval and maritime force.

A detailed map of China's claims into ASEAN nations' EEZ

A detailed map of China’s claims into ASEAN nations’ EEZ

It is imperative that a seemingly formidable naval and maritime force exist to police and serve the security and defense requirements and obligation, to maintain the safe passageway as well as sovereignty and the defence of the realm.

In the complexity of modern day hybrid of economic, political and even military projection of power and eventually control and dominance, Malaysia too must keep herself abreast with all these developments. Needless to say, makes the necessary preparations and upgrade existing capability and role and positioning.

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 fact is that many are watching all the military manoeuvres by PLAN and tough diplomatic warnings, China is out to set ‘De Facto Control’ in the South China Sea.

The Wall Street Journal story:

China Set to Consolidate ‘De Facto Control’ of South China Sea, Philippine Official Says

By JASON NG and BEN OTTO

April 26, 2015 6:39 a.m. ET

KUALA LUMPUR—The Philippines cautioned Sunday that China will likely continue reclamation work in the South China Sea and called on Southeast Asian nations to confront the issue before their much-larger neighbor extends its influence over the contested waters.

Beijing claims sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea. In recent months, China has been expanding two islands it controls and began construction of seven new islets in the sea under its reclamation program.

China is “poised to consolidate de facto control of the South China Sea,” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario told his counterparts during a meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The implications, he said, are “urgent and far-reaching, going beyond the region to encompass the global community.”

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Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei—all members of Asean—lay claim to part of the sea. Asean members and China signed a nonbinding pact in 2002 to refrain from actions in the disputed region such as building on islets. That pact was to lead to a legally binding code of conduct in the region, which remains pending.

The Philippines and Vietnam have accused China of breaking the deal through its recent activities, while China says it is entitled to undertake construction projects within its own sovereign territory. Manila has long led the charge against China in the disputed waters, last year warning Asean members that Chinese reclamation threatened to militarize the region and filing a complaint at the United Nations.

Mr. Del Rosario warned that if China successfully completes its reclamation work before signing the binding code—“which is likely to happen”—any eventual agreement would have the effect of “legitimizing China’s reclamation.”

“Asean should assert its leadership, centrality and solidarity,” Mr. Del Rosario stressed. “Asean must show the world that it has the resolve to act in the common interest.”

Chinese officials didn’t immediately comment publicly on Mr. Del Rosario’s remarks.

Write to Jason Ng at jason.ng@wsj.com and Ben Otto at ben.otto@wsj.com

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It is a very important ingredient to maintain sovereignty, safe passageway for maritime and economic purposes, serve the extension of foreign and other policy and above all, maintain neutrality.

The progression of China’s attitude of territorial expansion and imperialism, especially in the unsubstantiated claims of the Nine-Dash-Line is a growingly thorny and worrying issue to ASEAN nations. One of hand China wants to be ‘friendly’ with ASEAN but the aggressiveness and  actions of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy points the other way.

The Code of Conduct

The signatories of the Document  of Conduct

Despite being signatory to the Declaration of Conduct in November 2002 with ASEAN, China has demonstrated her unwillingness to progress further to ensure that Conduct of Conduct (COC) is complied but intead stubbornness to adhere.

Almost a year ago, ASEAN through its Secretary General made the call that “China should exit the ‘Disputed Waters’ , which will conducive to restore confidence in the talks to resolve the multiple0claims by others”.

It is necessary that the desire which has since been translated into wrongful (as per defined by UNCLOS) occupation should be impeded from further progression.

Associated Press story:

Philippines urges ASEAN to stop China’s land reclamation in South China Sea

Published April 26, 2015 Associated Press
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The Philippines on Sunday urged the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to take immediate steps to halt land reclamation by China in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, warning that failure to do so will see Beijing take “de facto control” of the area.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers that if China’s construction of artificial islands on reefs claimed by other countries is allowed to be completed, then Beijing will impose its claim over more than 85 percent of the sea.

Rosario urged the grouping to “stand up” to China by urging it to halt its reclamation work.

China, Taiwan and ASEAN members Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

ASEAN has maintained a cautious stand in the dispute to avoid angering China, a key trading partner.

Rosario said the reclamation threatened to militarize the region, infringe on rights of other states and damage the marine environment.

He warned that China, which has been dragging its foot on ASEAN’s push for a binding code of conduct governing behavior in the sea, will aim to complete its reclamation activities before it agrees to conclude the code.

If this happens, he said that the code will legitimize China’s reclamation.

“The threats posed by these massive reclamations are real and cannot be ignored or denied,” he said. “ASEAN should assert its leadership, centrality and solidarity. ASEAN must show the world that it has the resolve to act in the common interest.”

The Philippines filed a case with an international arbitration tribunal in 2013 challenging China’s claim.

Beijing has defended the reclamation, saying it is Chinese territory and the structures are for public service use and to support Chinese fishermen.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said Friday that ASEAN leaders are expected to raise concerns over Chinese land reclamation at their two-day summit starting Monday and will seek to speed up plans for the code of conduct with China.

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Atolls and reefs within the Nine-Dash-Line that China illegally occupy or for lack of better words, invaded, have since witness the rapid reclamation exercise and construction for bigger permanent facilities such as an airstrip.

IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly story:

China starts work on Mischief Reef land reclamation

Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 19 July 2014 and 30 January 2015 shows the start of dredging by China at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. (CNES 2014/Distribution Airbus DS/IHS)

Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 19 July 2014 and 30 January 2015 shows the start of dredging by China at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. (CNES 2014/Distribution Airbus DS/IHS)

James Hardy, London and Sean O’Connor, Indianapolis, IN – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly
11 March 2015

Airbus Defence and Space imagery dated 19 July 2014 and 30 January 2015 shows the start of dredging by China at Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. (CNES 2014/Distribution Airbus DS/IHS)
China has begun to create land on Mischief Reef in Beijing’s latest move to firm up its South China Sea claims.

IHS Maritime identified the dredger as Tian Kai , a trailing suction hopper dredger operated by CCCC Tianjin Dredging Co Ltd that was in the area from 14 January to 16 February.

The Airbus imagery shows Tian Kai dredging a channel close to one of China’s existing platforms in the reef, and depositing the spoil on the reef to create a landmass.

China’s existing presence on Mischief Reef consisted of two small concrete platforms that included buildings and shelters for fishermen.

Other data from IHS Maritime suggests that China is deploying its latest China Coast Guard (CCG) offshore patrol vessels to monitor potential outside interest in the dredging activities. AISLive data showed that Haijing 3307 , a 3000-tonne OPV fitted with water cannon and capable of embarking a helicopter, patrolled an area to the southeast of Mischief Reef from 5 to 24 January and again from 12 to 27 February.

Chinese media have also released satellite images suggesting China is beginning to create a landmass at Subi Reef, which is about 25 km southwest of the Philippine-occupied Thitu Island: Manila’s only Spratly island to have an airstrip. China’s presence on Subi Reef previously consisted of a concrete platform that included buildings, a helipad, and geodesic dome probably fitted with communications equipment.

Meanwhile, Beijing has reacted strongly to comments by the Vietnamese head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in which he rejected China’s ‘dashed-line claim’ to the South China Sea.

ASEAN secretary general Le Luong Minh told Philippine reporters in Jakarta on 4 March that all ASEAN claimants opposed the dotted line concept because it did not accord with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and because the dotted line covered “90% of the South China Sea”.

“There is no way it can be accepted by any party to UNCLOS,” Le said.

Le described China’s land reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands as potentially dangerous as they were changing “the status quo”.

“The expansion and illegal [occupation] of islands affect the status quo and [they are] complicating the situation,” he added.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei responded on 11 March by saying that ASEAN was not a party to the South China Sea dispute and that Le “has many times made partisan statements that do not accord with the facts nor suit his position” as ASEAN secretary general.

“This is a serious deviation from the neutral position ASEAN and its secretary general ought to have on the relevant issue, and damages the image of ASEAN as a regional international organisation,” Hong added.

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It is considerably unlikely that China would bow to diplomatic pressure and response positively, despite the steady growth of trade between the ambitious neo-pesudo Super Power and ASEAN. A good example is that being a signatory of DOC, China refuse to resolve the Scarborough Shoals issues with the Philippines at the International Court of Justice.

The only way to check on PLAN for further illegal intrusion and possession on atolls and reefs especially in disputed multiple-claims territory such as the Spratlys and most of South China Sea under the unsubstantiated Nine-Dash-Line is to have a formidable naval force.

Hence, the Royal Malaysian Navy must be expanded in its role and capability in the soonest and shortest time to ensure that it serves the obligation to provide defence of Malaysia’s EEZ on top of its new role as the ‘extension of Malaysia’s foreign policy’.

Published in: on April 27, 2015 at 01:30  Comments (14)