Philippine Solution to the South China Sea Problem: More Problems, Less Solutions?


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Philippine Solution to the South China Sea Problem: More Problems, Less Solutions?

  1. 1.  PHILIPPINE  SOLUTION    TO  THE  SOUTH  CHINA  SEA  PROBLEM:      MORE  PROBLEMS,  LESS  SOLUTIONS?    Rommel  C.  Banlaoi    Paper   presented   at   the   International   Conference   on   “Security   Environment   of   the   Seas   in   East   Asia:  From   the   East   and   South   China   Seas   -­   Power   Shift   and   Response”     organized   by   the   Ocean   Policy  Research   Foundation   (OPRF),   The   Nippon   Foundation   and   the   S.   Rajaratnam   School   of   International  Studies  (RSIS)  at  Marina  Mandarin  Hotel,  Singapore    28-­29  February  2012    INTRODUCTION     To   provide   an   overarching   solution   to   the   territorial   problem   in   the   South  China   Sea,   the   Philippine   government   launched   the   idea   of   the   Zone   of   Peace,  Freedom,  Friendship  and  Cooperation  (ZoPFFC).    Planned  to  be  discussed  at  the  19th  Summit   of   the   Association   of   Southeast   Asian   Nations   (ASEAN)   and   6th   East   Asia  Summit  (EAS)  in  Bali,  Indonesia  on  17-­‐19  November  2011,  the  idea  failed  to  get  into  the  conference  table  because  of  China’s  vehement  rejection.       Though   Vietnam   endorsed   the   idea   of   ZoPFFC,   China   argued   that   the  Summits   were   not   the   proper   forums   to   discuss   the   South   China   Sea   issue.1     Even  Malaysia   said   that   the   Philippine   proposal   would   "only   complicate   the   matter  further".2   Cambodia,   the   next   ASEAN   Summit   Chair   and   known   to   be   close   with  China,  stressed  that  while  it  was  not  against  the  idea,  "the  problem  is  how  to  avoid  duplication".3    Though  other  members  of  ASEAN  and  EAS  chose  to  be  silent  on  the  issue  after  China  made  its  strong  point,  the  United  States  supported  the  Philippine  initiative  to  promote  regional  stability  and  freedom  of  navigation  in  the  South  China  Sea.4   This   paper   describes   the   current   security   situation   in   the   South   China   Sea  focusing   on   major   incidents   occurring   in   2011   to   the   present.5     This   paper   also  presents   the   “Philippine   solution”   to   the   South   China   Sea   problem,   examines   the  merits   of   this   solution,   and   describes   the   limitations   of   Philippine   proposal.     This  paper  concludes  with  a  policy  recommendation  to  manage,  if  not  to  totally  resolve,  the  current  problem  in  the  South  China.    CURRENT  SECURITY  SITUATION  IN  THE  SOUTH  CHINA  SEA     The   year   2011   saw   the   escalation   of   tensions   in   the   South   China   Sea  prompting   Robert   D.   Kaplan   to   describe   the   South   China   Sea   as   “the   future   of  conflict”.6   Increasing   assertiveness   of   claimants   manifested   through   resolute  diplomacy,   naval   capability   development,   and   increased   unilateral   patrols   and  surveillance   ship   activities   in   disputed   waters   is   the   main   source   of   increased     1  
  2. 2.  security  tensions.      If  security  tensions  continue,  the  South  China  Sea  will  indeed  be  “ripe  for  rivalry”.7     Resolute   Diplomacy   in   the   Spratlys.   All   claimants   have   become   more  resolute   in   their   foreign   policy   positions   in   the   South   China   Sea.       They   all   claim   that  the   South   China   Sea   is   part   of   their   sovereignty   guaranteed   by   international   laws.    Claimants  use  all  possible  diplomatic  means  to  assert  their  sovereignty  claims  in  the  South  China  Sea.      But  clash  of  sovereignties  makes  the  resolution  of  conflicts  in  the  South  China  Sea  very  difficult.8  It  is  even  argued  that  the  South  China  Sea  disputes  will   not   be   resolved   in   the   foreseeable   future   if   sovereignty   issues   will   be  continuously  raised.9   Using  various  diplomatic  channels,  China  strongly  reiterates  its  “indisputable  sovereignty”   of   all   the   waters   and   features   in   the   South   China   Sea.       In   its   latest  Defense   White   Paper   released   in   March   2011,   China   renews   its   commitment   to  defend  its    “vast  territories  and  territorial  seas.”10     Taiwan   has   identical   sovereignty   claim   with   China.   In   August   2011,   the  Taiwan’s   Ministry   of   Foreign   Affairs   released   an   official   statement   asserting   that  their   claim   in   the   South   China   Sea   is   non-­‐negotiable.         Taiwan   re-­‐affirmed   that   all  features   in   the   South   China   Sea   “without   a   doubt   fall   under   the   sovereignty   of   the  government  of  the  Republic  of  China  (Taiwan).”11     The  Philippines  asserted  its  sovereignty  claim  when  the  Philippine  Mission  to  the   United   Nations   submitted   a   Note   Verbale   on   5   April   2011   restating   the  Philippines’  claim  to  sovereignty  over  the  Kalayaan  Island  Group  (KIG).      President  Benigno  Simeon  Aquino  III  even  ordered  in  June  2011  the  use  of    “West  Philippine  Sea”   (WPS)   to   refer   to   its   claimed   waters   in   the   Spratlys,   particularly   around   the  KIG.    The  Philippines  also  hosted  the  Manila  Conference  on  the  South  China  Sea  on  5-­‐6   July   2011   in   the   attempt   of   the   Philippine   government   to   internationalize   the  South  China  Sea  Disputes.     In   Vietnam,   Prime   Minister   Nguyen   Tan   Dung   also   re-­‐affirmed   on   9   June  2011   its   “incontestable   sovereignty”   in   the   South   China   Sea.       The   Prime   Minister  exclaimed,  “We  are  ready  to  sacrifice  everything  to  protect  our  homeland,  our  sea,  and  our  island  sovereignty.”12  To  raise  Vietnam’s  international  profile  on  the  South  China   Sea   issue,   the   Diplomatic   Academy   of   Vietnam   organized   in   Hanoi   on   26   April  2011   the   Second   National   Conference   on   South   China   Sea   with   the   title   “The  Sovereignty  Disputes  in  the  South  China  Sea:  History,  Geopolitics  and  International  Law”.         Malaysia’s  claim  to  sovereignty  in  the  Spratly  is  based  on  the  continental  reef  principle   outlined   by   UNCLOS.   During   the   ASEAN   Bali   Summit   in   November   2011,  the   Malaysian   Minister   of   Foreign   Affairs   reiterated   the   need   to   implement   the  Declaration   on   the   Conduct   of   Parties   in   the   South   China   Sea   (DOC)   and   to  eventually  adopt  the  regional  Code  of  Conduct  in  the  South  China  Sea  (COC).       2  
  3. 3.   Brunei  does  not  occupy  any  feature  in  the  Spratlys.  But  in  January  2011,  the  Sultanate   of   Brunei   re-­‐asserted   its   position   that   the   Louisa   Reef   being   claimed   by  Malaysia  is  part  of  Brunei’s  Exclusive  Economic  Zone  (EEZ).     Naval   Capability   Development.   All   claimants   in   the   South   China   Sea  strongly  uphold  the  peaceful  resolution  of  disputes  in  the  South  China  Sea.    But  all  claimants  are  also  developing  and  enhancing  their  naval  capabilities  to  assert  their  respective  claims.        Among   the   claimants,   China’s   naval   capability   development   is   the   most  controversial   and   the   much   talked   about.     In   August   2011,   China’s   first   aircraft  carrier,   Varyag,   started   its   sea   trial   and   navigated   the   waters   near   the   disputed  South   China   Sea.     China   also   started   in   2011   the   construction   of   its   indigenous  aircraft   carrier   to   be   finished   in   2015.13         The   People’s   Liberation   Army   (PLA)   Navy  also  deployed  in  2011  some  of  its  60  new  HOUBEI-­‐class  (Type  022)  wave-­‐piercing  catamaran   hull   missile   patrol   boats   in   its   coastal   waters   near   the   South   China   Sea.14  The   PLA   Navy   has   also   expanded   in   2011   its   force   of   nuclear-­‐powered   attack  submarines   (SSN).     China’s   two   second-­‐generation   SHANG-­‐class   (Type   093)   SSNs    started  its  operations  in  2011  and  it  has  been  reported  that  as  many  as  five  third-­‐generation  Type  095  SSNs  will  be  added  in  the  coming  years.15 In  Vietnam,  the  Defense  Ministry  confirmed  in  August  2011  that  the  country  would   get   its   six   Kilo   Class   submarines   from   Russia   “within   six   years.”16       On   7  December   2011,   the   Rosoboronexport   and   the   Zelenodolsk   Gorky   Plant   finished   the  shipping   of   Vietnam’s   first   two   Gepard   Class   corvettes   and   have   just   signed   a  contract   for   additional   two   units.17     But   unlike   the   first   two   corvettes,   which   are  armed   with   surface   attack   weapons,   the   additional   two   corvettes   will   concentrate  on   anti-­‐submarine   warfare.18   Vietnam   also   received   on   5   March   2011   its   First  Gepard  class  frigate  from  Russia,  naming  it  the  Dinh  Tien  Hoang,  in  honor  of  the  first  Vietnamese  emperor.   In   June   2011,   the   Philippines   and   the   U.S.   navies   held   their   11-­‐day  Cooperation  Afloat  Readiness  and  Train  (CARAT)  in  the  Sulu  Sea,  a  water  less  than  100   nautical   miles   away   from   the   South   China   Sea.   On   17   August   2011,   the  Philippine   Navy   (PN)   received   the   delivery   of   second-­‐hand   Hamilton   Class   Cutter  (named   BRP   Gregorio   del   Pilar)   from   the   United   States.   The   PN   announced   that   it  planned   to   acquire   eight   more   of   this   kind   “within   five   years”   to   patrol   its   vast  maritime   waters.19     President   Aquino   III   even   announced   on   23   August   2011   his  dream  of  acquiring  a  submarine.20  In  October  2011,  the  Philippine  Marine  Corps  and  the   U.S.   Marine   Corps   held   their   Amphibious   Landing   Exercise   (Phiblex)   in   the  waters  West  of  Palawan,  a  maritime  area  close  to  the  South  China  Sea.   The  Royal  Malaysian  Navy  (RMN),  for  its  part,  announced  in  September  2011  the   deployment   of   its   Scorpene   Class   submarines   in   Sabah,   an   island   very   close   to  the   Spratlys.21   The   RMN   also   held   its   annual   Operation   Sea   Training   Exercise  (OSTEX)   on   15   July   2011   in   the   East   Malaysian   portion   of   the   South   China   Sea,   close  to  the  disputed  Spratly  Islands.22     3  
  4. 4.   Meanwhile,   Taiwan   announced   in   October   2011   its   willingness   to   deploy  missiles  in  Itu  Aba  Island  to  assert  its  sovereignty  claim  in  the  South  China  Sea.    The  Taiwan  Navy  has  four  Kidd  class  destroyers,  eight  Oliver  Hazard  Perry  class  frigates,  eight   Knox   class   frigates,   six   La   Fayette   class   frigates,   two   Zwaardvis   class  submarines  and  two  older  Tench  class  submarines.23   Finally,  Brunei,  though  the  most  benign  and  low  profile  among  the  claimants,  also   joined   the   region   in   naval   development.     In   January   2011,   the   Royal   Brunei  Navy   (RBN)   received   two   new   Darussalam   class   Offshore   Patrol   Vessels   (OPVs)  from  Germany.24  In  November  2011,  the  RBN  commissioned  a  new  fast  interceptor  boat   (FIB   25-­‐012)   called   KDB   Mustaed.25     The   RBN   also   has   in   its   Muara   Naval   Base  four  Itjihad  Class  corvettes,  two  Serasa  Class  Amphibious  Warfare  Craft  (LCM),  three  Bendeharu  Class  patrol  boats,  personnel  launchers  and  patrol  boats  among  others.26     Increased   Unilateral   Patrols   and   Surveillance   Ship   Activities   in   the  South  China  Sea.    In  an  attempt  to  protect  their  territorial  waters  and  assert  their  sovereignty   in   their   claimed   features   in   the   South   China   Sea,   claimants   increased  their   maritime   patrols   and   enhanced   their   surveillance   ship   activities   in   the  disputed  area  in  2011.    These  maritime  patrols  and  surveillance  ship  activities  led  to  some  serious  events  that  raised  security  tensions  in  the  South  China  Sea.   One  major  event  was  the  26  May  2011  Cable  Cutting  Incident  involving  three  Chinese   surveillance   ships   and   Vietnamese   state-­‐owned   Binh   Minh   02   seismic  survey   ship.     Reports   said   that   the   China   Maritime   Surveillance   Ship   84,   escorted   by  two  other  ships,  cut  a  cable  towing  seismic  monitoring  equipment  belonging  to  Binh  Minh  02,  which  at  that  time  was  conducting  drilling  and  seismic  survey  activities  in  an   oil-­‐rich   area   called   Block   48.     The   Chinese   government   argued   that   the   three  Chinese   ships   were   just   conducting   their   “maritime   law   enforcement   activities”   in  their   “jurisdictional   area”   where   Vietnam   ship   was   “illegally   operating”.27     But   the  Vietnamese   government   protested   that   the   Binh   Minh   02   was   operating   in  Vietnam’s  continental  shelf  and  was  not  a  disputed  area.       Another   Cable   Cutting   Incident   occurred   on   9   June   2011   involving   Chinese  fishing  vessel  Number  62226  and  PetroVietnam’s  Viking  2  seismic  survey  ship.  The  Vietnam  Ministry  of  Foreign  Affairs  narrated:       At   6   a.m.   on   9th   June   2011,   when   the   Viking   2   vessel,   chartered   by   PetroVietnam   (PVN),   was   conducting   seismic   explosion   survey   at   lot  136/03:  6o47,5’  North  –  109o17,5’  East  in  the  continental  shelf  of   Vietnam,   the   fishing   boats   from   China   No.   62226   supported   by   two   Chinese   fishing   enforcement   vessels   No.   311   and   303   traveled   the   Viking  vessel  at  the  front  and  then  turned  direction  and  accelerated.   Despite   the   warning   flare   of   the   Vietnamese   side,   the   fishing   boat   No.   62226   intentionally   ran   into   the   exploration   cable   of   the   Viking  2  vessel  and  the  specialized  cable-­‐cutting  device  of  the  fishing     4  
  5. 5.   boat  No.  62226  got  trapped  into  the  cable  net  of  the  Viking  2  vessel,   making  the  Viking  2  vessel  not  operate  normally.28     But  the  Chinese  government  explained  that  the  cable  cutting  took  place  when  Vietnamese   ships   chased   Chinese   fishing   boats   in   the   waters   near   the   Vanguard  Bank   (Wan   An).     While   moving   away,   the   Chinese   fishing   boat   No.   62226   reached  the   cable   of   Viking   2.     In   order   to   escape   Vietnam’s   hot   pursuit,   the   Chinese  fishermen   cut   the   cable.     According   to   Chinese   Foreign   Ministry,   “The   Vietnamese  ship  put  the  lives  and  safety  of  the  Chinese  fishermen  in  serious  danger.”29     Aside   from   Vietnam-­‐China   cable   cutting   incidents   in   the   South   China   Sea,   the  Philippines  and  China  also  got  into  several  incidents  in  2011  that  raised  the  security  tensions  in  the  Spratlys.        These  incidents  were  the  following:   • 25   February   2011.     The   Armed   Forces   of   the   Philippines   (AFP)   reported   that   the   Chinese   Jianhu   V   Class   missile   frigate   Number   560   fired   three   shots   at   three  Filipino  fishing  vessels    (Jaime  DLS,  Mama  Lydia  DLS  and  Maricris  12)   operating  the  waters  near  the  Quirino  (Jackson)  Atoll.    The  Atoll  is  only  140   nautical   miles   west   of   Palawan   Island.   But   the   Chinese   Ambassador   to   the   Philippines  denied  the  firing  incidents.30     • 2   March   2011:   Two   Chinese   maritime   patrol   vessels   (Number   71   and   Number   75)   threatened   to   ram   MV   Veritas   Voyager,   an   energy   research   vessel   of   Forum   Energy   commissioned   by   the   Philippine   government.     The   research   vessel   was   conducting   a   seismic   survey   in   the   Reed   Bank,   just   85   nautical   miles   north   of   Palawan   Island.       The   MV   Veritas   Voyager   called   for   help  prompting  the  AFP  to  send  two  units  of  OV10  jets  to  the  Reed  Bank  to   look  into  the  incident.    But  the  Chinese  government  said  that  Patrol  Vessels   71  and  75  were  just  doing  their  jobs.31     • 6   May   2011.     The   AFP   reported   a   sighting   of   a   Chinese   maritime   research   vessel  in  Abad  Santos  (Bombay)  Shoal.    This  shoal,  which  surrounds  a  lagoon,   is   still   unoccupied   but   is   under   the   control   of   the   Philippines.     Though   the   Chinese   government   denied   the   incident,   it   stressed   that   there   was   nothing   wrong  for  Chinese  vessels  to  navigate  in  Chinese  territorial  waters.     • 19  May  2011:  Two  unidentified  fighter  jets,  alleged  to  be  Chinese,  are  sighted   near  Palawan  Island.  The  AFP  reported  that  these  two  fighter  jets,  believed  to   be   MIG-­‐29,   harassed   an   Air   Force   OV-­‐10   “Bronco”   while   patrolling   the   Philippines  territory  in  Palawan.32  The  Chinese  Embassy  in  Manila  denied  the   incident.     • 21   May   2011.     The   AFP   reported   another   sighting   of   Chinese   Maritime   Patrol   Vessel   75   navigating   near   Southern   Bank   together   with   Salvage   Research   Ship  707.       5  
  6. 6.   • 24   May   2011:   While   Chinese   Defense   Minister   Liang   Guanglie   was   enjoying   his  “goodwill”  visit  to  the  Philippines  on  May  21-­‐25  to  “improve”  Philippines-­‐ China  relations,  the  Philippine  military  discovered  in  the  same  period  some   Chinese  ships  unloading  construction  materials  near  the  unoccupied,  but  still   Philippine   controlled,   Amy   Douglas   Bank.33   Based   on   the   report   of   the   Philippine  military,  China  has  erected  an  undetermined  number  of  posts,  and   placed  a  buoy  near  the  breaker  of  the  Amy  Douglas  Bank.  The  AFP  reported   that   Filipino   fishermen   saw   a   Chinese   Marine   Surveillance   Vessel   aided   by   ships   of   the   People’s   Liberation   Army   (PLA)   Navy   laying   steel   posts   and   a   buoy   in   the   Iroquois   Reef   Amy   Douglas   Bank,   100   nautical   miles   off   Palawan.     The   AFP   considered   the   presence   of   PLA   Navy   ships   in   the   waters   of   Amy   Douglas  Bank  as  an  incursion.    The  Philippine  Department  of  Foreign  Affairs   (DFA)   brought   this   incident   to   the   attention   of   the   Chinese   Embassy   in   Manila.    But  the  Chinese  Embassy  denied  any  incursion  of  Chinese  ships  and   argued   that   the   ship   sighted   was   just   a   Chinese   Marine   Research   Vessel   “conducting  normal  maritime  research  activities  in  the  South  China  Sea”.34     • 6  June  2011.  The  Naval  Forces  West  of  the  Philippine  Navy  based  in  Palawan,   reported  that  its  naval  troops  dismantled  a  foreign  marker,  suspected  to  be   Chinese,   that   was   erected   in   the   Boxall   Reef,   105   nautical   miles   from   mainland   Palawan   and   only   20   nautical   miles   from   Ayungin   Shoal   (Second   Thomas  Shoal).35      The  Chinese  Embassy  in  Manila  denied  Chinese  ownership   of   the   marker.       But   China   asserted   that   the   Boxall   Reef   belonged   to   China   arguing  that  the  reef  was  very  close  to  Mischief  Reef.     • 18  October  2011.    The  Philippine  Navy  Patrol  Ship  74  collided  with  a  Chinese   fishing   vessel   that   was   towing   25   smaller   boats   in   the   contested   Spratlys   waters   near   the   Reed   Bank.   The   Philippine   Navy   said   that   the   collision   was   an  “accident”  and  “not  a  hostile  act.”  China  justified  Chinese  fishing  activities   near   the   Reed   Bank   and   claimed   that   the   actions   of   the   Philippines   had   harmed  the  “lawful  right  and  interests  of  fishermen.”36     • 11-­‐12   December   2011.     The   AFP   reported   the   sightings   of   two   Chinese   vessels   and   a   navy   ship   intruding   the   waters   of   Escoda   (Sabina)   Shoal,   70   nautical  miles  off  Palawan.    The  DFA  conveyed  its    “serious  concerns”  to  the   Chinese   embassy   in   Manila.     But   the   Chinese   embassy   replied   that   it   saw   nothing  wrong  with  the  passage  of  three  Chinese  vessels  and  insisted  that  the   Escoda  Shoal  “is  within  China’s  territorial  waters”.37    PHILIPPINE  SOLUTION  TO  THE  SPRATLY  PROBLEM   Amidst   rising   security   tensions   in   the   South   China   Sea   (SCS)   or   WPS,   the  Philippine  government  proposed  the  idea  of  ZoPFFC.    It  recommends  the  adoption  of  a  regional  mechanism  that  aims  to  separate  disputed  and  non-­‐disputed  areas  in     6  
  7. 7.  the   SCS   pursuant   to   applicable   international   laws,   particularly   the   United   Nations  Convention  on  the  Law  of  the  Seas  (UNCLOS).         The  Philippine  government  further  explains  the  idea  of  ZoPFFC  in  its  official  paper   entitled,   “Philippine   Paper   on   ASEAN-­‐CHINA   Zone   of   Peace,   Freedom,  Friendship  and  Cooperation  (ZoPFF/C)  in  the  WPS/SCS”.    This  paper  identifies  what  the  Philippine  government  calls  as  “10  ways  to  ZoPFFC”,  to  wit:   1. Not  the  whole  of  the  WPS  (SCS)  is  disputed;     2. The   area   of   dispute   in   the   WPS   (SCS)   is   specific,   determinable   and   measurable;     3. The   area   of   dispute   can   be   determined   and   measured   by   clarifying   the   nature   of,   and   distinction   between   “territorial   disputes”   and   “maritime   claims”  in  the  WPS  (SCS);     4. The   nature   of   and   distinction   between   “territorial   disputes”   and   “maritime  claims”  in  the  WPS  (SCS)  can  be  clarified  by:  first,  recognizing   the   distinction   between   geological   features   (i.e.   islands,   rocks,   low-­‐tide   elevations)   and   waters   (including   continental   shelf);   and   second,   by   applying   the   rules   governing   each   of   these   elements   in   accordance   with   the  United  Nations  Convention  on  the  Law  of  the  Sea  (UNCLOS)     5. The  dispute  in  the  WPS  (SCS)  is  principally  on  the  relevant  features  (i.e.,   islands,   rocks,   and   low-­‐tide   elevations).   If   ever   there   is   a   dispute   on   the   water,   this   is   principally   caused   by   the   dispute   on   the   features.   Under   the   principle  of  “la  terre  domine  la  mer”,  or  “the  land  dominates  the  sea,”  he   who  owns  the  land  also  owns  the  sea  around  it.  Therefore,  if  the  owner  of   the   land   is   disputed,   then   the   sea   around   it   could   also   be   assumed   as   disputed;     6. However,   the   extent   of   adjacent   waters   projected   from   the   island   is   limited,   finite,   determinable,   definite,   and   measurable   under   UNCLOS   (1.e.,  Article  121,  Regime  of  Islands);     7. Once   the   extent   of   adjacent   waters   is   determined   and   measured   in   accordance  with  international  law,  specifically  UNCLOS,  then  the  extent  of   dispute   both   on   the   relevant   features   [“territorial   dispute”]   and   maritime   zones   [“maritime   claims   dispute”]   generated   from   the   said   features,   can   already  be  determined;     8. Once  the  extent  or  limit  of  the  disputed  area  (relevant  features  +  adjacent   waters)  is  determined;  the  same  can  now  be  segregated  from  the  rest  of   the  non-­‐disputed  waters  of  the  WPS  (SCS);       7  
  8. 8.   9. The   disputed   area   (relevant   features   +   adjacent   waters)   can   be   segregated   from   non-­‐disputed   waters   (and   continental   shelf)   of   WPS   (SCS)   by   enclaving   the   said   disputed   area.   Enclaving   will   literally   operationalize  the  “shelving  of  territorial  disputes”  and  pave  the  way  for   effective  and  meaningful  cooperation  among  the  claimant  countries  in  the   WPS  (SCS).     10. Therefore,   joint   cooperation   in   the   Enclave   (as   Joint   Cooperation   Area)   could  be  conducted  among  the  claimant  countries.  Outside  of  the  Enclave,   the   littoral   states   in   the   semi—enclosed   sea   can   also   engage   in   appropriate   cooperative   activities   under   Part   IX   of   UNCLOS,   while   exercising   their   sovereign   rights   over   these   bodies   of   waters   under   Articles  3,4,  55,  57,  and  76  of  UNCLOS.38     Since  not  the  whole  of  the  WPS/SCS  is  disputed,  the  Philippine  government  recommends   the   separation   of   disputed   and   non-­‐disputed   areas   to   manage   the  conflict   in   the   SCS.   Non-­‐disputed   areas   are   waters   and   continental   shelves,   which  are   “beyond   the   disputed   relevant   features.”39     In   non-­‐disputed   areas,   claimants   can  develop  them  unilaterally  based  on  the  principle  of  sovereign  rights  in  accordance  with   the   application   of   EEZ,   continental   shelf,   and   other   maritime   zones   provided  for  by  UNCLOS.       Disputed   areas   are   the   Spratlys   and   the   Paracels.   The   Philippine   government  explains   that     “disputed   relevant   features   (and   their   adjacent   waters)   could   be     8  
  9. 9.  segregated  from  the  rest  of  the  waters  of  the  SCS  by  enclaving  the  said  features.  The  adjacent   waters   of   the   relevant   features   could   be   determined   by   applying   Article  121  of  UNCLOS.”40    To  promote  cooperation  and  avoid  conflict  in  the  disputed  areas,  the   Philippine   government   recommends   the   pursuance   of   joint   development   by  converting   all   disputed   territorial   features   as   “enclaves”   and   declare   these  “enclaves”  as  “Joint  Cooperation  Areas”  (JCA)  that  could  be  demilitarized.       In   the   JCA,   the   Philippine   government   says   that   the   following   joint  cooperative   activities   can   be   pursued:   1)   Joint   development.   2)   Marine   scientific  research;   3)   Protection   of   the   marine   environment;   4)   Safety   of   navigation   and  communication  at  sea;  5)  Search  and  rescue  operation;  6)  Humane  treatment  of  all  persons  in  danger  or  distress  at  sea;  7)  Fight  against  transnational  crimes.41     President   Benigno   Simeon   Aquino   III   summarizes   the   wisdom   of   ZoPFFC   in  the  following  words:  “What  is  ours  is  ours,  and  with  what  is  disputed,  we  can  work  towards  joint  cooperation.”    DFA  Secretary  Albert  F.  Del  Rosario  expounds  the  idea  of   ZoPFFC   by   saying,   “There   is   a   need   to   segregate   the   disputed   area   from   non-­‐disputed  area.    What  is  ours  and  is  ours,  and  what  is  disputed  can  be  shared.”42      MORE  PROBLEMS  IN  THE  SOUTH  CHINA  SEA     It  is  very  unfortunate  that  the  idea  of  ZoPFFC  as  the  Philippine  solution  to  the  South   China   Sea   Dispute   is   problematic   for   other   claimants.     Though   Indonesia,  Singapore   and   Vietnam   expressed   its   support   to   the   Philippine   proposal,   some  claimants  and  ASEAN  members  rejected  it.       China   has   expressed   strong   opposition   to   ZoPFFC   as   it   challenges   “China’s   9-­‐dash   line   claim”.     The   Philippine   paper   on   ZoPFFC   even   underscores   that   the   9-­‐dash  line  claim  of  China  “is  bereft  of  any  legal  basis  under  international  law”.43    Philippine  Foreign   Affairs   Secretary   Albert   F.   Del   Rosario   even   described   China’s   9-­‐dash   line  claim  as  “the  core  of  the  problem”  that  must  be  “subjected  to  rules-­‐based  regime  of  UNCLOS.”44    Though  the  Philippine  government  argues  that  the  ZoPFFC  proposal  is  consistent   with   the   rules   based   framework   of   managing   international   disputes,  China   vehemently   opposes   Manila’s   proposal   because   Beijing   is   not   ready   to   bring  the  South  China  Sea  Disputes  before  international  adjudication.45     In   fact,   China   hijacked   the   agenda   of   the   2011   ASEAN/EAS   Summits   in   Bali  when  it  warned  participants  not  to  discuss  ZoPFFC  and  the  South  China  Sea  Dispute.    Thus,  participants  failed  to  discuss  ZoPFFC  at  the  2011  Bali  Summits.    Secretary  del  Rosario   admitted,   “ZoPFFC   was   not   brought   up   at   all.   We’re   the   only   one   who  brought   up   the   ZoPFFC.   All   the   interventions   were   on   maritime   security   in   the   West  Philippine  Sea.”46 The  Philippine  government  planned  to  raise  ZoPFFC  again  in  the  next   ASEAN/EAS   Summits.     But   without   the   concurrence   of   China,   it   is   utterly  difficult  for  the  Philippines  to  move  the  ZoPFFC  proposal  forward.     9  
  10. 10.   Malaysia   also   expressed   its   “fundamental   concerns”   on   ZoPFFC.   Dato’   Sri  Anifah   Aman,   Malaysia’s   Minister   of   Foreign   Affairs,   issued   an   official   statement  arguing  that  the  Philippine  concept  of  disputed  and  non-­‐disputed  areas  in  the  South  China   Sea   could   be   a   source   of   disputes,   particularly   in   the   context   of   the   Sabah  Problem.47  Minister  Aman  raised  the  following  points  against  ZoPFFC:   1. Malaysia   has   fundamental   concerns   with   the   Philippine’s   proposal   on   the   Zone  of  Peace,  Freedom,  Friendship  and  Cooperation  (ZOPFF/C);     2. The   Philippines’   proposal   is   premised   on   the   need   to   segregate   the   disputed   area   from   the   non-­‐disputed   area.   The   issue   is,   what   may   be   considered   as   being   disputed   by   one   party,   is   considered   as   an   established  fact  by  another.  Therein  lies  the  source  of  the  dispute  to  begin   with.   This   is   especially   true   in   the   case   of   the   Philippines’s   claim   over   Sabah,  whose  integrity  and  sovereignty  is  recognized  by  the  international   community   as   being   part   of   Malaysia.  For   this   reason,   this   proposal   cannot   be   used   as   a   basis   to   address   the   South   China   Sea   issue.   To   Malaysia,  this  is  non-­‐negotiable;     3. Malaysia   emphasized   that   ASEAN’s   attention   should   instead   be   directed   towards   the   effective   implementation   of   the   Declaration   on   the   Conduct   of  Parties  in  the  South  China  Sea  (DOC)  and  the  eventual  realization  of  the   Code   of   Conduct   in   the   South   China   Sea   (COC).   We   should   not   be   distracted  from  this  effort;  and,     4. Malaysia  strongly  feels  that  it  is  not  opportune  for  ASEAN  to  embark  on   such  an  ambitious  endeavor,  which  is  a  non-­‐starter  and  will  be  counter-­‐ productive   to   our   genuine   effort   to   maintain   peace   and   stability   in   the   South  China  Sea.48       Cambodia   joined   China   and   Malaysia   in   rejecting   the   ZoPFFC.     When   media  asked   the   Cambodian   Foreign   Minister   on   his   take   on   the   issue,   he   reportedly  laughed   and   raised   the   issue   of   duplication.     Though   the   Cambodia   Foreign   Minister  explained  that  his  government  was  not  totally  against  ZoPFFC,  he,  however,  stressed  to  avoid  the  problem  of  duplication.49       Cambodia   is   the   next   Chair   of   ASEAN.   With   the   reputation   of   Cambodia   of  being  a  “China’s  ally  in  ASEAN”,  putting  ZoPFFC  into  the  official  ASEAN  agenda  will  be  a  great  challenge  to  the  Philippine  government.  ASEAN  Secretary  General  Surin  Pitsuwan   lamented   that   ZOPFFC   was   already   put   in   the   diplomatic   back   burner   and  that  it  "remains  to  be  discussed  further”.50    In  diplomatic  parlance,  it  means  that  the  ZoPFFC  has  already  been  "shelved".51         10  
  11. 11.  SUMMARY  AND  CONCLUSION       The  year  2011  saw  the  escalation  of  security  tensions  in  the  South  China  Sea.  Increasing   assertiveness   of   claimants   through   resolute   diplomacy,   naval   capability  development,   and   increased   unilateral   patrols   and   surveillance   ship   activities   in  disputed  waters  contributed  immensely  to  the  current  security  situation.       The   Philippine   government   proposed   ZoPFFC   as   the   solution   to   the   South  China   Sea   problem.     But   the   Philippine   proposal   raised   more   problems   and   than  solutions   to   the   conflict.     Though   the   Philippine   government   had   the   backing   of  some   ASEAN   members   in   pursuing   ZoPFFC,   major   claimants,   particularly   China   and  Malaysia,  opposed  the  idea.    The  Philippine  government  even  failed  to  bring  ZoPFFC  in  the  official  agenda  of  the  2011  ASEAN/EAS  Summits  in  Bali.   Despite   this   set-­‐back,   there   is   a   need   to   point   out   that   the   ZoPFFC   has   its  merits   in   managing   territorial   disputes   in   the   South   China   Sea,   particularly   the  general   idea  of  joint  development  that  China  and  other  claimants  support.  Though  the  Philippine  government  “failed  to  gain  support  at  the  last  ASEAN  Summit  in  Bali”,  the   ZoPFFC   could   still   “be   an   effective   way   to   address   the   core   problems”   in   the  South   China   Sea.52     ZoPFFC   failed   to   get   enough   support   from   ASEAN   and   EAS  participants  because  the  devil  was  in  the  details.   There  is  no  doubt  that  the  problems  in  the  South  China  Sea  are  complex  and  complicated.     But   there   is   no   shortage   of   idea   to   solve   these   problems.53     What   is  needed   is   a   strong   political   will   for   all   parties   to   “compromise   and   abide   by   all  agreements”   and   to   acknowledge   regional   interests   as   integral   part   of   national  interests.54     11  
  12. 12.                                                                                                                    END  NOTES    1T.J.  Burgonio,  “President  Aquino’s  Spratlys  Plan  Hold  Until  Next  Year”,  Philippine  Daily  Inquirer  (20  November  2011).  2Nusa   Dua,   “ASEAN   Backs   Away   from   Maritime   Stand     Against   China”,   Energy   Daily   (15   November  2011).  3Ibid.  4Aurea  Calica,  “Sea  Dispute:  Noy  Gets  US  Support”,  Philippine  Star  (20  November  2011).  5For  excellent  analyses  of  situations  in  the  South  China  Sea  prior  to  2011,  see  Carl  Ungerer,  Ian  Storey  and   Sam   Bateman,   “Making   Mischief:     The   Return   of   the   South   China   Sea   Dispute”,   ASPI   Special  Report,  Issue  36  (December  2010)  and  Clive  Schofield  and  Ian  Storey,  The  South  China  Sea  Disputes:    Increasing  Stakes,  Rising  Tensions  (Washington  DC:    Jamestown  Foundation,    November  2009).  Also  see   Rommel   C.   Banlaoi,   “Maritime   Security   Environment   in   East   and   South   China   Seas”   (Paper  presented   at   the   International   Conference   on   Maritime   Security   Environment   in   East   Asian   Waters  organized  by  the  Ocean  Policy  Research  Foundation  (OPRF),  Tokyo,  Japan  on  16-­‐17  February  2011).  6Robert  D.  Kaplan,  “The  South  China  Sea  is  the  Future  of  Conflict”,   Foreign  Policy  (September/October  2011).  7The   term   “ripe   for   rivalry”   was   originally   coined   by   Aaron   L.   Friedberg   in   his   "Ripe   for   Rivalry:  Prospects   for   Peace   in   a   Multipolar   Asia,"   International   Security,   Vol.   18,   No.   3   (Winter   1993/94),   pp.  5-­‐33.  8Rommel  C.  Banlaoi,  “Clash  of  Sovereignties  in  the  Spratlys”,  Philippine  Star  (30  June  2011).  Also  at  9Sam  Bateman,  “Managing  the  South  China  Sea:  Sovereignty  is  not  the  Issue”,   RSIS   Commentaries   (29  September  2011).  10Information  Office  of  the  State  Council,  China’s  National  Defense  in  2010  (31  March  2011).  11Maritime   Information   Center,   “Ministry   of   Foreign   Affairs   of   the   Republic   of   China   (Taiwan)  reiterates   its   position   on   the   South   China   Sea”   (23   August   2011)   at    12“Vietnam’s  Top  Leader  Add  Fire  to  South  China  Sea  Dispute”,  Deutche  Press  Agentur  (9  June  2011).  13Office  of  the  Secretary  of  Defense,  Military  and  Security  Developments  Involving  the  People’s  Republic  of   China   2011:   A   Report   to   Congress   Pursuant   to   the   National   Defense   Authorization   Act   for   Fiscal   Year  2000  (Washington  DC:    Department  of  National  Defense,  2011).  14  Ibid.  p.  4.  15  Ibid.,    16“Vietnam   to   Get   Sub   Fleet   in   6   Years:   State   Media”,   Defense   News   (4   August   2011)   at­‐Get-­‐Sub-­‐Fleet-­‐6-­‐Years-­‐State-­‐Media.  17“Vietnam’s   Russian   Restocking”,   Defense   Industry   Daily     (11   December   2011)   at­‐Reportedly-­‐Set-­‐to-­‐Buy-­‐Russian-­‐Kilo-­‐Class-­‐Subs-­‐05396/  18Ibid.    19“Philippines   would   be   Purchasing   Eight   ex   Hamilton   class   Over   Five   Years”,   RP   Defense   (2   June  2011)   at   http://rpdefense.over-­‐­‐philippines-­‐would-­‐be-­‐purchasing-­‐eight-­‐ex-­‐hamilton-­‐class-­‐over-­‐five-­‐years-­‐75533441.html  20  Alexis  Romero,  “Submarine  for  Navy:    Noy  Bares  AFP  Shop  List”,  Philippine  Star  (24  August  2011).  21“Malaysia’s   Scorpene-­‐class   Submarines   in   Service   to   be   Vested   Interests   To   Stick   to   the   Nansha”,  22“RMN  Holds  Annual  Drills  in  South  China  Sea”,  Jane’s  Defense  Weekly  (15  July  2011).     12  
  13. 13.                                                                                                                  23Frederik   Van   Lokeren,   “The   Naval   Balance   of   Power:   The   South   China   Sea”,   The   Geopolitical   and  Conflict  Report  (12  May  2011)  at­‐the-­‐naval-­‐balance-­‐of-­‐power-­‐the-­‐south-­‐china-­‐sea    24Waleed   PD   Mahdini,   “New   Sea   Power   for   Brunei”,   Free   Republic   (8   January   2011)   at­‐news/2653421/posts  25KDB  stands  for  Kapal  Diraja  Brunei  (meaning  Royal  Brunei  Ship  in  Malay).  See  “Muara  Naval  Base,  Brunei  Darussalam”  at  http://www.naval-­‐­‐naval-­‐base/  26Ibid.  27“China   Reprimands   Vietnam   Over   Offshore   Oil   Exploration”,     Nam   Viet   News   (30   May   2011)   at­‐reprimands-­‐vietnam-­‐over-­‐offshore-­‐oil-­‐exploration/.  28“Again,   Chinese   Boats   Cut   Cable   of   PVN’s   Vessels”,   People’s   Army   News   Paper   Online   (9June   2011)   at­‐us/75/72/183/161/163/150636/Default.aspx  29For   an   excellent   analysis   of   the   cable   cutting   incidents,   see   Carlyle   A.   Thayer,   “Chinese  Assertiveness   in   the   South   China   Sea   and   Southeast   Asian   Responses”,   Journal   of   Current   Southeast  Asian  Affairs,  Volume  30,  Number    2,  (2011),  pp.  77-­‐104.  30Tessa  Jamandre,  “China  fired  at  Filipino  fishermen  in  Jackson  atoll”,  Vera  Files  (2  June  2011)  at  31For   an   excellent   scholarly   analysis   of   the   Reed   Bank   incident,   see   Ian   Storey,   “China   and   the  Philippines:   Implications   of   the   Reed   Bank   Incident”,   China   Brief,   Volume   11,   Issue   Number   8   (6   May  2011).    32Rene   Acosta,   “Oban   Downplays   Harassment   of   Air   Force   Plane   by   Chinese   Fighter   Jets”,   Business  Mirror  (19  May  2011).  33For  a  detailed  analysis  of  the  Amy  Douglas  Bank  incident,  see  Rommel  C.  Banlaoi,  “A  Mischief  Reef  in   the   Making?”,   Newsbreak   (2   June   2011)   at   http://archives.newsbreak-­‐­‐mischief-­‐reef-­‐in-­‐the-­‐making/    34  “China  denies  incursion  into  West  Philippine  Sea”,  Philippine  Star  (3  June  2011).  35Dona   Pazzibugan,   “Philippine   Navy   Dismantles   Foreign   Marker   on   Spratlys”,   Philippine   Daily  Inquirer  (15  June  2011).  36  Alexis  Romero,  “AFP  Unfazed  by  China  Threats  in  Spratlys”,  Philippine  Star  (28  October  2011).  37“China:  Intrusion  Charge  Groundless”,  Philippine  Daily  Inquirer  (10  January  2012).  38Philippine   Paper   on   ASEAN-­CHINA   Zone   of   Peace,   Freedom,   Friendship   and   Cooperation   (ZoPFF/C)   in  the   West   Philippine   Sea   (WPS)/South   China   Sea   (SCS)   at­‐tam-­‐du-­‐lieu-­‐bien-­‐dong/doc_download/364-­‐philippine-­‐paper-­‐on-­‐asean-­‐-­‐china-­‐zone-­‐of-­‐peace-­‐freedom-­‐friendship-­‐and-­‐cooperation-­‐in-­‐the-­‐south-­‐china-­‐sea+zone+of+peace+freedom+friendship+and+cooperation+(zopff/c)&ct=clnk  39Ibid.    40  Ibid.  41  Ibid.  42  Ibid.  43  Ibid.  44  Albert  F.  del  Rosario,  “On  West  Philippine  Sea”   (Delivered  at  the  ASEAN  Foreign  Ministers’  Meeting  in   Bali,   Indonesia   on   November   15,   2011)   at­‐secretary-­‐of-­‐foreign-­‐affairs-­‐on-­‐the-­‐west-­‐philippine-­‐sea-­‐november-­‐15-­‐2011/  45Aileen   S.P.   Baviera,   “The   South   China   Sea   Disputes:     Is   the   Aquino   Way   the   ASEAN   Way?,   RSIS  Commentaries  (5  January  2012).  46  T.J.  Burgonio,  “President  Aquino’s  Spratlys  Plan  Hold  Until  Next  Year”,  Philippine  Daily  Inquirer  (20  November  2011).  47Dato’   Sri   Anifah   Aman,   “Zone   of   Peace,   Freedom,   Friendship   and   Cooperation   (ZOPFF/C)”   (Press  Statement  during  the  ASEAN  Ministerial  Meeting  (AMM)  held  in  Bali,  Indonesia,  15  November  2011).­‐   13  
  14. 14.                                                                                                                  2&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=5&_101_INSTANCE_Yt06_struts_action=%2Fasset_publisher%2Fview_content&_101_INSTANCE_Yt06_urlTitle=press-­‐statement-­‐by-­‐the-­‐minister-­‐of-­‐foreign-­‐affairs-­‐during-­‐the-­‐asean-­‐ministerial-­‐meeting-­‐english-­‐version-­‐only&_101_INSTANCE_Yt06_type=content&redirect=%2Fweb%2Fguest%2Fhome  48  Ibid.  49Rey   O.   Arcilla,   “Two-­‐Track   Approach”,   Malaya   (22   November   2011)   at  50Ibid.  51Ibid.  52Fahlesa  Munabari,  “A  look  into  ASEAN-­‐China’s  DOC”,    The  Jakarta  Post  (7  February  2012).  53National  Defense  College  of  the  Philippines,  Foreign  Service  Institute  and  the  Diplomatic  Academy  of   Vietnam,   The   South   China   Sea   Reader   (Papers   and   proceedings   of   the   Manila   Conference   on   the  South  China  Sea:    Toward  a  Region  of  Peace,  Cooperation  and  Progress,  Manila,  5-­‐6  July  2011),  p.  9.  54Ibid.     14