2016年07月15日

Sea talks

MANILA/BEIJING (Reuters) - A decision invalidating China's vast claims in the South China Sea was a "crowning glory" that renews faith in international law, the Philippines' top lawyer said on Friday, in Manila's strongest comment yet on its sweeping win.

The remarks by Solicitor General Jose Calida follow two days of carefully calibrated responses from the Philippines and are almost certain to irritate China further.

Manila has so far been keen not to rock the boat in the hope of starting dialogue towards Beijing allowing it to exercise what the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled were its sovereign maritime rights.

"It confirms that no one state can claim virtually an entire sea. The award is a historic win not only for the Philippines ... it renews humanity's faith in a rules based global order," Calida told a forum on the South China Sea.

"The award opens a horizon of possibilities for all stakeholders. The award is a crowning glory of international law."

China has refused to recognise Tuesday's ruling and did not take part in its proceedings. It has reacted angrily to calls by Western countries for the decision to be adhered to.

China's Foreign Ministry on Friday said Beijing's position on the case had the support of Laos, the current chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional bloc long dogged by discord over how to deal with China's maritime assertiveness.

The verdict was discussed on Thursday between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith ahead a regional summit in Mongolia.

"Thongloun said that Laos supports China's position, and is willing to work with China to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea region," the ministry said in a statement.

The statement did not elaborate. Laos' foreign ministry has not responded to Reuters' request for comment on the ruling and its state media made no mention of Thongloun's comments to Li.

Land-locked Laos, which is boosting economic ties with China, will be hosting a key security meeting later this month at which the South China Sea is expected to dominate. ASEAN has not issued a statement about the ruling and its members have not said why.

CAUTIOUS APPROACH

China has said it has widespread support for its rejection of the case but many countries have stuck to cautious comments about resolving disputes peacefully and following international laws.

China claims much of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.

Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte ended his unusual silence at a private function late on Thursday and said he wanted dialogue with China and was considering sending former President Fidel Ramos to Beijing to get the ball rolling.

"War is not an option," he said. "So, what is the other side? - Peaceful talk."

Immediately after the ruling, the normally brash and outspoken Duterte privately told his ministers to be magnanimous and not to pique Beijing, according to one minister.

But the cautious tone appears to be changing in the Philippines, where there are signs of public disgruntlement with the subdued government response to a decision that most of the country was celebrating.

The United States, a key Philippines' ally, is urging Asian nations not to move aggressively to capitalize on the court ruling, according to U.S. administration officials.

The chief of its naval operations, Admiral John Richardson will discuss the South China Sea among other issues when he meets China's navy commander, Admiral Wu Shengli, from Sunday on a three-day trip to "improve mutual understanding", according to a U.S. navy statement.


The Star, Published: Friday, 15 July 2016, MYT 12:25 PM
China says Laos supports it on South China Sea case
By Neil Jerome Morales and Ben Blanchard
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/world/2016/07/15/china-says-laos-supports-it-on-south-china-sea-case/

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he would send ex-leader Fidel Ramos to China for talks after an international tribunal ruled against Beijing's claims to most of the disputed South China Sea.

Duterte asked former president Ramos "go to China to start the talks" with Beijing after the UN-backed tribunal's ruling on the strategically vital waters, though he did not specify a timeframe.

"War... is not an option. So what is the other side? Peaceful talks. I cannot give you the wherewithals now," Duterte said at a college alumni meeting that was also attended by Ramos.

"I have to consult many people, including president Ramos. I would like to respectfully ask him to go to China and start the talks."

Duterte's remarks came after a UN-backed international tribunal on Tuesday ruled against China's claim to most of the South China Sea in what is widely seen as a diplomatic victory for the Philippines.

However the decision has also raised tensions with China refusing to recognise it and warning its rivals that too much pressure on the issue could turn the resource-rich waterway into a "cradle of war".

Ramos, who served as president from 1992 to 1998, is known to favour close ties with China. But the 88-year-old hinted he might not accept the offer, citing his age and other commitments.

Aides have said Duterte is now open to bilateral talks with China, suggesting the Philippines is in better position to negotiate following the Hague-based tribunal's decision.

The Philippines had initially refrained from asking China to abide by the verdict -- in line with Duterte's directive to achieve a "soft landing" with Beijing on the issue.

Duterte, who took office on June 30, has said he wants better relations with China and to attract Chinese investment for major infrastructure projects.

China claims almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea, even over territory also claimed by the Philippines as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.


Mail Online, Updated: 14:17 GMT, 14 July 2016
Philippines to send envoy to China over sea row
By AFP
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3689489/Philippines-urges-Beijing-respect-sea-ruling.html

PETALING JAYA: China has questioned the neutrality and appointment of judges of an arbitral tribunal in The Hague which ruled in favour of the Philippines over their Spratly Islands dispute.

China Foreign vice-minister Liu Zhenmin questioned the “procedural justice” of the appointment and the operation of the tribunal, South China Morning Post reported.

The tribunal was formed after the Philippines filed a case with the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITCLOS) in 2013 after a stand-off with China at the Scarborough Shoal the previous year.

Of the five judges, one was selected by the Philippines and the rest by Shunji Yanai (pic), the then president of ITCLOS, which was established under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This was reportedly due to China’s refusal to take part or recognise the tribunal.

Yanai was not among the panel of arbitrators.

“Leaving aside the obvious violation of procedural justice, we can hardly make a better explanation of judge Yanai’s motivation and purpose other than that he did it on purpose,” Liu said.

Born in Tokyo on Jan 15, 1937, Yanai read law at the University of Tokyo.

He served in the foreign ministry and was Japan’s ambassador to Washington.

He was also chairman of a panel which advised Japan’s government to revise its constitution to allow military action overseas.

The arbitral tribunal on Tuesday ruled that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its Exclusive Economic Zone through its large-scale activities in the South China Sea.

The tribunal arbitrators included Thomas A. Mensah of Ghana, Jean-Pierre Cot of France, Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, Prof Alfred H.A. Soons from Holland and Rüdiger Wolfrum from Germany.

The Star, Published: Thursday, 14 July 2016
China questions neutrality of judges
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/07/14/china-questions-neutrality-of-judges/


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