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Scarborough Shoal The Scarborough Shoal or Panatag Shoal or Huangyan Island (), more correctly described as a group of islands,

atolls, and reefsthan a shoal, is located in the Luzon Sea (West Philippine Sea) or South China Sea. The nearest landmass is Palauig town, Zambalesprovince, Luzon Island, with only 221 kilometers. It is about 123 miles west of Subic Bay. Both the Philippines and the People's Republic of China claim it. In April 2012, the Philippines accused Chinese boats of fishing illegally. The boats were asked to leave, but China also claims the Scarborough Shoal. The Philippines invited China to go to the ITLOS to finish this issue The Philippines base their claim on its proximity, its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and the principle of terra nullius. Of which can only be valid if no one ever owned it before or the previous sovereign had relinquished its claims to the shoal without ceding it to an apparent entity, while discovery does not equate to ownership (see Marxist Theory of International Law). The Chinese basis for claim is that the shoal would have been first discovered by Chinese in the 13th century and historically used by Chinese fishermen. Although a claim to sovereignty would require a deeper understanding then discovery

and resource use.

Multiple engagements and arrests of Chinese fishermen were already (Google archived news articles) made at the shoal by the Philippine Navy for using illegal fishing methods and catching of endangered sea species. >>>>>> UNCLOS can't settle Philippine territorial disputes with China - expert The Philippine government's plan to settle its territorial claims over the Scarborough Shoal with China using the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) may not work because the treaty does not contain provisions "on how to decide the competing sovereignty claims in the West Philippine Sea," said an expert on international law. "The law of the sea convention proceeds from a premise that sovereignty is not in dispute, so you can't use the convention to justify your claims, you have to go elsewhere," Dr. Lowell Bautista, research fellow of the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, told at the sidelines of a forum organized by the Ateneo de Manila School of Law in Makati. Bautista added that while the UNCLOS has a compulsory settlement provision that mandates parties to peacefully negotiate disputes, it also has Clause 298 that allows a party to "opt out" from mandatory settlement. The UNCLOS may still be helpful to address the dispute in "some" aspects, he said. What the Philippines and China can do, according to him, is resort to adjudication and arbitration by going to international tribunals like the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. "Depending on how you craft the legal question, that will determine which forum you will bring (your case)," he said. Bautista then added that "something exciting" is in the offing in the legal front concerning the Philippines claims on the disputed territory. Both China and the Philippines are signatories to the UNCLOS, an internationally binding instrument that lays down the most comprehensive regime of law and order in the world's oceans and seas. It defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.

The Philippines signed the Convention on December 10, 1982 and ratified it on May 8, 1984. The UNCLOS became effective on November 6, 1994. The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said it is exploring all legal aspects to the countrys territorial claims on Scarborough Shoal, which is located 124 kilometers off Masinloc, Zambales. The dispute resurfaced in April after the Philippine authorities arrested some Chinese fishermen caught fishing at the shoal. The Philippines also accused China of erecting barriers along the shoal, and of illegal fishing. China maintains its disagreement with settling its territorial issues using UNCLOS or in any international tribunal. It said that the dispute may only be resolved through direct negotiations direct negotiations between concerned parties. Aside from the shoal, the Philippines and China - along with Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan - are also claiming parts of the South Chinas Sea.

China's Territorial Disputes Updated: Sept. 27, 2010 China and its neighbors have long been involved in a number of border disputes, many of them dating back to the end of World War II or the civil war that followed. Asserting Chinese sovereignty over borderlands in contention everywhere from Tibet to Taiwan to the South China Sea has long been the top priority for Chinese nationalists, an obsession that overrides all other concerns. Tensions over those conflicts rose sharply in the late summer of 2010, complicating Chinas attempts to present the countrys rise as a boon for the whole region. The disputes have also handed the United States an opportunity to reassert itself one the Obama administration has been keen to take advantage of, potentially creating wedges between China and its neighbors. Washington leapt into the middle of heated territorial disputes between China and Southeast Asian nations despite stern Chinese warnings that it mind its own business. The United States is carrying outnaval exercises with South Korea in order to help Seoul rebuff threats from North Korea even though China is denouncing those exercises, saying that they intrude on areas where the Chinese military operates. Nothing has underscored the rising tensions better than the diplomatic conflict between China and Japan over the detention of a Chinese fishing captain, Zhan Qixiong, by the Japanese authorities, who said the captain rammed two Japanese vessels around the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. The islands are administered by Japan but claimed by both Japan and China. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese prime minister, refused to meet with his Japanese counterpart, Naoto Kan, and threatened Japan with further action if it did not unconditionally release the fishing boat's captain. The Chinese government also blocked exports to Japan of a crucial category of minerals used in products like hybrid cars, wind turbines and guided missiles. It even detained four Japanese. The subsequent release of the captain by Japan three weeks after his arrest seemed aimed at defusing the standoff. But tensions continued with Beijing demanding compensation and an apology; Tokyo responded that it would ask seek payment to repair the two coast guard ships. The dispute may strengthen the military alliance between the United States and Japan, as did an incident in April 2010 when a Chinese helicopter buzzed a Japanese destroyer. Such confrontations tend to remind Japanese officials, who have suggested that they need to refocus their foreign policy on China instead of America, that they rely on the United States to balance an unpredictable China, analysts say. In July, Southeast Asian nations, particularly Vietnam, applauded when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that the United States was willing to help mediate a solution to disputes that those nations had with

China over the South China Sea, which is rich in oil, natural gas and fish. China insists on dealing with Southeast Asian nations one on one, but Mrs. Clinton said the United States supported multilateral talks. Freedom of navigation in the sea is an American national interest, she said. China has also been objecting to American plans to hold military exercises with South Korea in the Yellow Sea, which China claims as its exclusive military operations zone. The United States and South Korea want to send a stern message to North Korea over what Seoul says was the torpedoing last March of a South Korean warship by a North Korean submarine. Chinas belligerence has served mostly to reinforce South Koreas dependence on the American military. American officials are increasingly concerned about the modernization of Chinas navy and its long-range abilities, as well as Chinas growing assertiveness in the surrounding waters. In March, a Chinese official told White House officials that the South China Sea was part of Chinas core interest of sovereignty, similar to Tibet and Taiwan, an American official said in an interview at the time. American officials also object to Chinas telling foreign oil companies not to work with Vietnam on developing oil fields in the South China Sea. Some Chinese military leaders and analysts see an American effort to contain China. But Asian countries suspicious of Chinese intentions see Washington as a natural ally. In April, the incident involving the Chinese helicopter and Japanese destroyer spooked many in Japan, making them feel vulnerable at a time when Yukio Hatoyama, then the prime minister, had angered Washington with his pledges to relocate a Marine Corps air base away from Okinawa. In 1951, no less than then Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai asserted that Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) was part of Chinas territory. In its latest fact sheet on the disputed rock formation, the Chinese Embassy pointed out that after the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949, the PROC continued to exercise sovereignty over the shoal, which Beijing calls Huangyan Island. The mission disclosed that Zhou said in a 1951 statement on the US and United Kingdoms draft peace treaty with Japan that the Xisha and Nanwei Islands, just like the Nansha, Zhongsha and Dongsha Islands, have always been Chinas territory although they had been occupied by Japan during World War II. The embassy maintained that Huangyan Island, being part of the Zhongsha group of islands, indisputably belongs to China. The mission also recalled in 1983, the Committee on Geographical Names of China was authorized (by Beijing) to publicize the geographical names of selected islands in the South China Sea, in which Huangyan Island was included as the standard name and Minzhu Jiao as its alternative name. Misinterpretation The Law of the PROC on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, publicized in 1992, explicitly provided in Article 2 that the land territory of the PROC includes mainland China and its coastal islands; Taiwan and all islands appertaining thereto, including the Diaoyu Islands, the Pengshu Islands, the Dongsha Islands, the Xisha Islands, the Nansha Islands, as well as the Zhongsha Islands, it said. The embassy emphasized that before 1997, the Philippines had never claimed sovereignty over Huangyan Island, which Manila calls Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal.

The official maps of the Philippines publicized in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and even 2011 had all marked Huangyan Island outside the boundary of the Philippine territory, it also stressed. The embassy said the Philippine claim that the Huangyan was located within Manilas 200-mile economic zone was a misinterpretation and abuse of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Jerry E. Esplanada

HONG KONGAlongside an armada of paramilitary patrol vessels and fishing boats, China has fired off a barrage of historical records to reinforce its claim over a disputed shoal near the Philippines in the South China Sea. While this propaganda broadside makes it clear Beijing will take a tough line with Manila as a standoff over Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal continues into a seventh week, the exact legal justification for China's claim and the full extent of the territory affected remain uncertain, according to experts in maritime law. Like most of its claims to vast expanses of the resource-rich and strategically important South China Sea, Beijing prefers to remain ambiguous about the details, they say. This allows the ruling Communist Party to demonstrate to an increasingly nationalistic domestic audience that it can defend China's right to control a swathe of ocean territory. And, it avoids further inflaming tensions with neighbors who are already apprehensive about China's growing military power and territorial ambition. "This ambiguity serves China's domestic purpose which is to safeguard the government's legitimacy and satisfy domestic public opinion," said Sun Yun, a Washington DC-based China foreign policy expert and a former analyst for the International Crisis Group in Beijing. Potential flashpoint Rival claims to territory in the South China Sea are one of the biggest potential flashpoints in the Asia-Pacific region. China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei all have territorial claims across a waterway that provides 10 per cent of the global fisheries catch and carries $5 trillion in ship-borne trade. Half the world's shipping tonnage traverses its sea lanes. The United States, which claims national interests in the South China Sea, recently completed naval exercises with the Philippines near Scarborough Shoal. It is stepping up its military presence in the region as part of a strategic "pivot" towards Asia after more than a decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The acrimonious confrontation over Scarborough Shoal, known as Huangyan Island in Chinese, began last month when Beijing ordered its civilian patrol vessels to stop the Philippines arresting Chinese fisherman working in the disputed area. Beijing and Manila both claim sovereignty over the group of rocks, reefs and small islands about 220 km (132 miles) from the Philippines. The Philippines says the shoal falls within its 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ), giving it the right to exploit the natural resources in this area. Song Dynasty records

In a concerted response from Beijing, official government spokesmen, senior diplomats and reports carried by influential state-controlled media outlets have drawn on the histories of earlier dynasties to rebut Manila's claim. They say the records show China's sailors discovered Huangyan Island 2,000 years ago and cite extensive records of visits, mapping expeditions and habitation of the shoal from the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) right through to the modern period. To back up these arguments, China has also deployed some of its most advanced paramilitary patrol vessels to the shoal in a calibrated show of strength, for now keeping its increasingly powerful navy at a distance. A Philippines government spokesman said on Wednesday China had almost 100 Chinese vessels at the shoal, including four government patrol ships. Earlier, Manila demanded that all Chinese vessels leave the area. China's Foreign Ministry responded on Wednesday that only 20 Chinese fishing boats were in the area, a normal number for this time of the year, and they were operating in accordance with Chinese law. Nine-dashed line Maritime lawyers note Beijing routinely outlines the scope of its claims with reference to the so-called nine-dashed line that takes in about 90 percent of the 3.5 million square kilometer South China Sea on Chinese maps. This vague boundary was first officially published on a map by China's Nationalist government in 1947 and has been included in subsequent maps issued under Communist rule. While Beijing has no difficulty in producing historical evidence to support its territorial links to many islands and reefs, less material is available to show how it arrived at the nine-dashed line. In a September, 2008 US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, the US Embassy in Beijing reported that a senior Chinese government maritime law expert, Yin Wenqiang, had "admitted" he was unaware of the historical basis for the nine dashes. In a March, 2008 cable, the embassy reported that a senior Chinese diplomat, Zheng Zhenhua, had handed over a written statement when asked about the scope of this boundary. "The dotted line of the South China Sea indicates the sovereignty of China over the islands in the South China Sea since ancient times and demonstrates the long-standing claims and jurisdiction practice over the waters of the South China Sea," the statement said, the embassy reported. Scarborough Shoal falls within the nine-dashed line, as do the Paracel and Spratly Islands, the two most important disputed island groups in the South China Sea. Law of the sea treaty China insists it has sovereignty over both these groups but it has yet to specify how much of the rest of the territory within the nine-dashed line it intends to claim. One reason suggested for this lack of clarity is that China, like all of the other claimants except Taiwan, is a signatory to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). If Beijing defined its claim to conform with the provisions of this treaty, it would almost certainly reduce the scope of Chinese territory and expose the government to criticism from vocal nationalists. Alternatively, if Beijing was to maximize the extent of its claim to include all or most of the territory within the ninedashed line, it would be difficult to justify under international law and antagonize its neighbors.

"Neither choice leads to a promising prospect," said Sun. "Therefore sticking to the existing path is the most rational." This means that China is likely to remain vague, experts say, particularly during the current period of heightened political sensitivity ahead of a leadership transition scheduled for later this year. Traditional fishing grounds However, this lack of clarity doesn't mean China's claims over South China Sea territory have less merit than other claimants, experts say. In the case of Scarborough shoal, Beijing says the land is Chinese territory and the waters surrounding the shoal have been China's traditional fishing grounds for generations. "This geographic proximity argument the Philippines is using is not necessarily good in international law," says Sam Bateman, a maritime security researcher at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. "If China can demonstrate sovereignty, its claim is as good as the Philippines'." Under the provisions of UNCLOS, a nation with sovereignty over an island can claim a surrounding 12-nautical mile territorial sea. UNCLOS defines an island as a natural land feature that remains above water at high tide. If the island is inhabitable, it is also entitled to an EEZ and possibly a continental shelf. Joint exploitation However, Beijing has not claimed a territorial sea or an EEZ from any of the features of Scarborough Shoal. Most maritime experts doubt China will agree to have any claims over the South China Sea heard by the United Nation's International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), the body set up to rule on disputes. Beijing's policy is to negotiate on the joint exploitation of natural resources in contested areas but rival claimants are reluctant to accept this formula because it could be seen as recognition of China's sovereignty. Beijing is also increasingly wary about the Obama administration's military "pivot" to Asia designed to counter China's growing power," security experts say. They suggest Vietnam and the Philippines have already shown greater willingness to challenge China since the US signaled a renewed interest in the region. "They think they have the US on side," said Bateman. Reuters

Enrile: PH Has Strong Case Over Scarborough By MARIO B CASAYURAN May 3, 2012, 10:20pm MANILA Philippines Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said Thursday that the Philippines has a good case over the Scarborough Shoal and the Reed Bank and China has no legal basis to claim them. He called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to prepare documents to prove the Philippines claim over the shoal before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Enrile said he could not believe that a nation such as the Peoples Republic of China (PROC) located about 500 nautical miles away from the Scarborough Shoal, also called Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, in the West Philippine Sea could claim the rights of the nearest sovereign state like the Philippines which is 124 nautical miles away from the shoal. I could not believe that simply because the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) was named after China as well as the islands embraced by it, including the Republic of the Philippines it would be owned by China. Otherwise, if that argument is correct then the whole Indian Ocean named after India India could claim all the islands embraced within the Indian Ocean, Enrile said. China continues to reject the invitation of the Philippine government to settle the territorial dispute before the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) or the International Court of Justice (ICJ). We do not have the firepower of China. I think that is the reason China is unwilling to bring these things to the ICJ because it has no legal ground or claim to stand on the basis of customary international law as well as the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), he pointed out. Enrile had asked government departments, particularly the DFA to prepare a paper to be submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Sen. Loren Legarda and the Senate to show how it would prove the Philippines case to the ICJ with respect to the Scarborough Shoal issue. There are too many legal issues and historical facts involved, he said. At present, China has increased the number of its vessels from three to 14 as of last Wednesday as against a lone Philippine Coast Guard vessel and an oceanographic expedition vessel. Henry S. Bensurto Jr., secretary general of the DFA Commission on Maritime and Ocean Affairs, said that the Scarborough Shoal is within the 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) baselines as defined under the UNCLOS. As such, the Philippines has the exclusive right to explore and exploit the fish and other resources of this body of water, Bensurto said in a Q & A paper submitted to the Legarda committee. Jose Maria Sison, a self-exiled founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), said China, whose military might is at par with some Western powers, would not go to war despite its assertiveness over the Scarborough Shoal and the Spratly Islands, both located in the West Philippine Sea. He said, however, that the existence of the 61-year-old PH-US Military Defense Treaty (MDT) would not stop China from bullying the Philippines.

China Vs Philippines - ICJ The dispute over Scarborough Shoal

Jose Mario Dolor de Vega I am writing in reference to the stand-off between the Philippines and China last week in relation to the dispute and ownership of the Spratly islands. The pertinent facts of this latest confrontation are not in dispute. According to the Associate Press:"A Philippine warship attempted to arrest several Chinese fishermen accused of illegal entry and poaching, but was prevented by the arrival of two Chinese surveillance ships. One of the Chinese ships blocked the entrance to a lagoon at the shoal, where at least eight Chinese fishing vessels were anchored. The Chinese ships also ordered the Philippine warship to leave Scarborough, claiming Chinese sovereignty over the rich fishing ground. But the warship has stayed put, arguing it is Philippine territory." Hence, due this volatile and fragile situation, diplomats from the two countries concern are scrambling to resolve the impasse. It is my firm contention and considered view that the most appropriate way and reasonable manner of settling this dispute and claim of ownership must be lodge to the International Court of Justice. Based on International Law, this sensitive case is so impressed not only with regional peace and stability, but most importantly of both human and universal interest. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), without a doubt, has the exclusive jurisdiction to resolve this matter of great and grave concern. The crucial issues that the Court will address and finally pass judgment will be the following: a) Who among the different claimants and disputants has the superior right with regard to the possession of the said group of islands? b) Who has the exclusive and/or the collective owner(s) of the same? c) The judicial act of giving, handling and granting custody, possession and jurisdiction to the rightful and legal owner(s). My legal contention is in conformity with the thesis advanced by V. Thomas: "Tensions between China and the Philippines rose when the Philippines challenged China's claims of exclusive rights and sovereignty over the Spratlys. These islands are reportedly rich in gas, oil and other mineral deposits. China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia have all made claims to them. "It could turn into a regional hot spot unless a diplomatic way is found to defuse the tension, such as by sharing the resources or, better still, if all the claimant countries refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands. "Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have availed themselves of the court's international law expertise to settle territorial disputes. "The court's judgment was accepted in good faith by all and this has raised its stature."

It is my fervent hope that after the ruling of the Court, all the contestants, parties-in-interests, and disputants to this issue will respect and abide by the decision and thereby secure the peace and harmony that the region and the whole world justly deserve. Indeed, "it is better to settle territorial disputes with the court than opt for war". A military confrontation or an armed hostility would be against the interest of humanity. However, having said and laid down this humble suggestion in the hope of reasonably, peacefully and diplomatically adjudicating and resolving the problem, it is sad and unfortunate to state that China with her full might and vast power is doing acts and postures which undeniably are detrimental and indeed prejudicial to regional peace! Do I have to list down here their series of historical confrontations with the other disputants with regard to these islands through the years? China always invoked their so-called historical right to the said islands by virtue of the fact that it is located at the West Philippines (South China) Sea. This is not only a preposterous and outrageous idea, but definitely ridiculous! If we will follow the "logic" of this argument, that is if a reasonable mind could even construe it as an argument its conclusions would be that technically the whole of those islands and countries of Southeast Asia are domains and properties of China. And if the world will sanction this myopic position of China, then it will serve as a precedent that will empower India to say and assert that all those islands and countries that lie in the Indian Ocean based on their own historical right righteously belongs to it! This is utterly laughable to the core! A Philippine newspaper reported on April 13 that: "The government has stated that it is prepared to protect the sovereign integrity of the shoal which, at 124 nautical miles off Zambales, is well within the 200-Nautical -mile exclusive economic zone. In comparison, China is some 500 nautical miles from Scarborough Shoal." The pertinent question here is, given this irrefutable facts and undeniable proof, does China have the moral and the legal right to claim the said group of islands, solely on the dubious ground that those islands lies on the sea which contains their name?

On this juncture, may I refer the attention of the public to the article of Chow How Ban, "The Philippines and China in troubled waters", The Star, April 14. The author stated in no ambiguous term the following remarkable words: "Tension is rising in the South China Sea. China's navy is ready to hit back if a clash between several Chinese fishing boats and a Filipino naval vessel in the waters of Huangyan Island cannot be resolved diplomatically, Chinese patriots have been flooding the media with provocative comments stating that they are ready to go to war." China's navy is ready to hit back, the question is: Who hit first? The Philippine warship was within their countries exclusive economic zone, while China is 500 nautical miles away from their home. Who was the aggressor and the invader here? The Filipinos since day one have always resorted consistently to maximize the diplomatic channel and agreeable for the ICJ to assume jurisdiction! Question: Will China voluntary submit its claim to the jurisdiction of the ICJ? Chinese patriots are flooding the media with their provocative calls that they are ready for war. Commentaries: This is the same thing that the Japanese war-freaks did during 1929 to 1932 when they are emerging then as a global imperial power. We all know what they did to China then and the rest of the Southeast Asian countries. Is the author implying that China is now the new Japan? I vehemently condemn the provocative position taken by the writer which borders on arrogance and pure ignorance.

Because there is a problem the solution is war? Does he put into consideration how the world will receive this latest impending military fiasco? Does it mean that the UN and the Asean will simply just keep their mouths shut while China is conducting war on the Philippines and/or Vietnam? How about the global bar of public opinion of the international community? Does it mean that they will just sit back and enjoy watching from a distance this newest version of the battle between David and Goliath? I do not think so! As V. Thomas stated:"Should the dispute worsen, the solidarity of Asean members could be tested, apart from endangering the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality concept, which is a principle accepted by all major military powers to keep Southeast Asia free from conflict. "ASEAN members, noting the danger of the dispute should initiate a move, with the support of China and Taiwan, to refer the matter to the court." Again, I reiterate that the immediate way to facilitate the prompt resolution of this dispute is for all parties concern to voluntarily submit their contention to the jurisdiction of the ICJ. That is the right and the moral thing to do! However, if I may again call the attention of the public to the unwise and unfortunate words of Chow How Ban: "China attaches great importance to friendly ties with countries around South China Sea but a recent altercation between Chinese fishermen and the Philippine navy in the disputed Huangyan Island may turn into a full-scale war." Commentaries: Wow! Reading these words I thought I was inside the movie house watching a typical Hollywood film about military hostility and armed confrontation. Question: Is this a warning to us? Are you threatening us? Reply: To that writer of war of scenario and to the whole of the Chinese empire, may I remind you that we may be small as compare to your hugeness, we may be a dwarf as compare to your gigantic size, we may be poor, as compare to your economy but our people, the Filipino people are not weak, our people have character and strength. That was precisely shown and exemplified in action in conjunction with our latest showdown when we stood our ground, stayed put and dared you! Don't forget that we are the first country in Asia to overthrow a foreign power and declare a republic! During World War II, we stood and fought the Japanese Imperial Army from day one up to the end! We fought a dictator for more than two decades and had two revolutions. In fact, when your people tried to copied our own 1986 revolution in 1988 at Tiannamen Square, your government viciously crackdown on the people and the students who led the same! Hence, do not take us lightly, in the same vein that we are not taking you for granted, too. We may be small, yet we are capable of inflicting damage to you too! As a Filipino writer puts it so succinctly, Jose Ma. Montelibano, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 13: "China may risk killing some of us but it will find too costly to kill millions of us". Lastly, I am not threatening you, but warning you that we have our history of courage and greatness, too. Hence, I implore China to learn from history: do not ever forget the lessons of the Battle of Thermopylae.

It is always the case that the tiniest of the dust often cause the greatest irritation and discomfort to the biggest bloody eyes! Again, we are also warning you! * Jose Mario Dolor de Vega reads The Malaysian Insider. * This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.

China and Philippine Dispute Over Scarborough Shoal Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea has become the bone of contention between the Philippines and China. Both countries claim ownership of that barren shoal which is called Panatag by the Philippines and Huangyan by China. Scarborough Shoal is composed of islets, reefs and atoll. Beijing based its claim in history citing Yuan Dynasty map of 1279 which included the shoal as part of its territory. The Philippines on the other hand premised its claim on geography since it is only about 123 nautical miles or 198 kilometers off Subic Bay while it is 350 nautical miles from the nearest shore of China. The Philippines asserted that the shoal is within its 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and therefore it has the legitimate right to explore and use its maritime resources in accordance with the UN Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS). Countries at the South China Sea such as China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines and to a lesser extent Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims over the outlying group of islands and reefs in that sea. However, China claims sovereignty over almost all of the disputed islands. The conflicting claims resulted to an armed confrontation between China and Vietnam in the Paracel and Spratly's Islands. That engagement went badly for Vietnam, and since then China secured the area with troops. The Philippines also claims some of the areas such as the Panganiban Reef in the Spratly's which is just 87 nautical miles off the coast of its province of Palawan. But the Chinese fished at the water around it. When the Philippines protested, China responded by building a four-story military garrison there. China insisted that it is part of its territory. After some saber-rattlings by China the Philippines backed down. Scarborough Shoal is not part of Spratly's Islands, and the Philippine government considers it as part of its municipality of Masinloc, Zambales. But the Chinese government also considers it as its own. On April 10, 2012, eight Chinese vessels with their crew were caught by the Philippine Navy with corals, giant clams and live sharks at the shoal. In response, Chinese authorities then dispatched navy ships to that area. Although there was no armed engagement between Chinese and the Philippine vessels, the presence of the Chinese navy enabled the Chinese fishermen to get away. Relative to the incident the Philippine ambassador to China was called from his embassy and the Chinese authorities told him that the Philippines should let alone Chinese fishermen at the shoal and that its navy should not be sent there. The Philippines, however, is not in a mood to submit to the threat of its giant and powerful neighbor. It has signified its openness to the assistance of its long time ally, the United States, in the dispute. The US has so far shown supportive but ambivalent position with regard to the issue. Prior to the April incident the US senate passed a resolution on June 2011 condemning China's use of force against smaller countries in the area and affirmed US willingness to use its military might against China's aggression in the South China Sea. The US and the Philippines also agreed to conduct joint military exercise in the Philippines, a matter which further alienated the Philippines from China. Despite that resolution from the US senate, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton issued statement that the US will not take side in the event armed conflict erupts in South China Sea. Dealing with the Philippine's resoluteness, China engages its small neighbor in the economic front. It declared 150 containers of bananas as infected with pest and as a result the fruits just rot in the Southern Chinese ports. Chinese tourist bookings to Boracay Island, a popular tourist destination in the Philippines, were also cancelled. The Chinese account for the fourth largest tourists arrivals after the Koreans, Americans and Japanese. The sanction had an immediate impact on the affected businessman who relayed to the Aquino administration their plight. The president advised them to look for markets and tourists elsewhere. Some Filipinos view the event at Scarborough Shoal as an act of aggression and violation of their country's sovereignty by China. They marched at the Chinese embassy in the Philippines on May 11, 2012 to express their protest. Parallel march was also conducted at Chinese embassies in other countries. Before that protest China issued

an advisory to its citizens in those countries not to go out of their homes in that date. To ease the tension, the Philippines sent communication to China that the protest was an exercise of its citizen's right for the redress of their grievances and it was not initiated in any way by the government. China is the world's second largest economy and the third largest in size in terms of total area. It has also the world's second largest army with 2.3 million active troops that are supported with a whooping military budget of US $129 billion in 2011. It is also a recognized nuclear weapon state. Indeed, by all accounts, china is the strongest country in the area at the South China Sea and perhaps in all of Asia. A small and poor country like the Philippines has a very limited chance of success against China in a military conflict. However, the Filipinos are united behind the leadership of President Aquino to depend and protect what they think as rightfully belonging to them. The Philippines has so far made move to settle its dispute with China over the Scarborough Shoal. It has tried to propose with China to bring the matter to the International Tribunal for the laws of the Sea (ITLOS), but China refused. It has also tried to get the involvement of its neighbors in the area to help resolve the issue. And most of all, The Philippines has kept its line of communication always open to China to resolve the issue diplomatically. The disputed islets, reefs and cays in the South China Sea are mostly barren, uninhabited and mostly devoid of vegetation. Apart from being rich fishing ground, they have little economic value at present. However, speculations are rife that those groups of island sit on vast natural gas and fossil oil deposits. And it is probably the reason why China wants to have all of those islands and reefs. China is a newly industrialized country with the biggest oil consumption in the world. With its super power potential, increasing international influence as well as its growing economic and military powers, China may eventually possess and control all of the disputed areas in the South China Sea. The country that can deter or stop China from its aggression is the United States, the only remaining world super power. China will think twice before locking horns with the world's most powerful and influential country. Although the US is indebted financially to China, the latter owes its prosperity with its trading with the US and other western countries. The US can do better in having partnership with countries in the area other than China if that is indeed rich in underwater mineral resources. The control of China of important and strategic key trading route in the sea may not be good for the US in its global projection of power. The possession of islets, reefs and cays in accordance with the UNCLOS and other international laws by those countries at the South China Sea is perhaps the best option to avoid armed conflict among them. Had China and the Philippines based their ongoing dispute on security and threat, economic dimension, political and strategic military advancement, and territorial expansion OVER peace and security, commitment to mutual treaties and international laws, and plain RESPECT, then, a countdown to another Falklands War must be ticking! Territorial dispute has been an old trick of imperialism since time of greed unknown to man. History of the worlds never told a lie. War of aggression always has a price, and the price of waging war is expensive, too expensive for the Philippines to buy for it. On the verge of the ongoing territorial conflict, where China and the Philippines are staunch in claiming the piece of rock now, what is at stake? There maybe only three issues underlying the standoff: firstly, the Chinas interest, secondly, the Americas interest, and thirdly, the Philippines sovereignty. Why in all disputes either on territory, arm or military, or even on racism America has its unique or strategic presence? History provokes that it is because of Americas interest-to remain the sole superpower over terrestrial, fluvial, and aerial domains on earth, where she can exercise control to the fullest. Americas interventions in Gulf War, in Arab worlds, in Europe and in Latin countries, and of course in the Philippines (the only either a satrapy of America or a puppet for the imperialist in Asias empire) are least humble indications of Americas character as imperialist.

However, this Americas humble character has brought either good or bad, but evidently advantageous to her interest. If this is so, then still America is the benefactor of China-Philippines territorial dispute backwash. ON CHINAS CLAIM Scarborough Shoal (as called Huangyan Island in China), a triangular-shaped atoll with a circumference of 46km, has been regarded as part of the Zhongsha Islands in China since 1935. China has been constantly emphasizing, asserting this fact when Scarborough Shoal became subject of dispute among the claiming parties. Hence, China claimed Scarborough Shoal and most islands in South China Sea based on historical ownership.

The Scarborough Shoal (Photo from: ON PHILIPPINES CLAIM Scarborough Shoal (as called Bajo de Masinloc in the Philippines) is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales and the government of the Philippines claimed it as a part of the Municipality of Masinloc, Zambales province. Furthermore, the Philippines claimed Scarborough Shoal based on Philippine sovereignty under Public International Law and on Philippine sovereign rights under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS. THE PILLARS OF CLAIM History recalls that Scarborough Shoal was named after the capsized tea-trade ship, Scarborough. Dispute between China and the Philippines over it has first started on April 30, 1997 when the Filipino naval ships prevented the Chinese boats from approaching the shoal. This historic event prompted China to express their strong protest against this Philippines attempt. Meanwhile, the latest scuffle between the same sovereign states on the same subject of dispute erupted on April 10, 2012. China has been adamant in claiming over Scarborough Shoal even as early as 1935, in fact, China listed the Scarborough Shoal as part of the Zhongsha Islands. China, again, protested against the Philippines when the latter has claimed a sovereignty over some of the islands in South China Sea in 1956 for geographical basis. Ergo, Philippines has made their claims over islands in South China Sea based on territorial proximity around Philippine archipelago. Considering that China was being bullied by the Philippine government based on the latter 1956 claim, it could be possible that this has triggered China to promulgate its 1958 Declaration on the Territorial Sea that recognized the breadth of the territorial sea of China. This declaration covered the Zongsha islands, where Scarborough Shoal was a part of these islands. Moreover, the 1992 Law on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone reaffirmed the sovereignty of China over the Zongsha Islands. On the other hand, the Philippines is [over]confident in claiming over Scarborough Shoal primarily based on UNCLOS provisions and on the Philippine Constitution.

A QUICK REVIEW ON CHINA AND THE PHILIPPINES AT UNCLOS UNCLOS codifies a comprehensive governance of law and order in oceans and seas in the entire globe. Its salient tasks enforce coastal and archipelagic states to exercise sovereignty over their territorial sea, establish an exclusive economic zones or EEZs, subject parties to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in cases of disputes, and among others. The Philippines signed the UNCLOS on December 10, 1982 and ratified it on May 8, 1984 with reservations. China, on the other hand, ratified the UNCLOS on June 7, 1996 also with reservations obviously pertaining to territorial sovereignty and made clear its opposition to Section 2 of Part XV of the UNCLOS with respect to all categories of disputes. CONCLUSION China has sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal based on its historical claim. Its control over this shoal is evident in Chinas issued proclamations and constant assertion. On the contrary, the Philippines has no basis to claim the Scarborough Shoal on the principle of acquiring a territory that no one has been claiming for (terra nullius), if and only if the Philippines asserts its claim based on public international law relating modalities of acquisition. As far as independence is concerned, while the Philippines had gained its [2nd] independence (this time from America) in 1946, China had already claimed the Shoal and asserted through a Declaration as early as 1935 claiming over Zongsha islands (where Scarborough Shoal is a part) and in 1947 the Shoal was given a name to Minzhu Jiao. Ergo, the Philippines can not suffice its claim based on the principle of terra nullius. It can also be deduced that the Philippines failed to consider historical basis and pertinent historical documents on territorial claim when drawing out territorial border. Hence, future conflicts like this can be prevented. I will call this kind of diplomatic initiative, RESPECT Furthermore, the 1978 map published by the Philippine National Mapping and Resource Information Authority did not include Scarborough Shoal as part of Philippine territorial sea. Moreover, the Philippines has already expressed its claim over the islands in South China Sea and that was limited only to the Kalayaan islands based on Presidential Decree No. 1596. Ergo, the Philippines claim over Scarborough Shoal is virtually inconsistent unless otherwise P.D. No. 1596 was superseded .

The Kalayaan Islands or Spratly Islands (Photo from: While the Philippines has been willing to settle down the dispute to the international tribunal so far, as far as provisions in UNCLOS is concerned, China closed its door for any international interventions. This Chinas response should not be undermined, misinterpreted, or misunderstood. For it only shows that China is firm and impossible to give up Scarborough Shoal and is very clear on this issue living by its historic claim, and that the Philippines should think twice in pursuing any moves beyond diplomacy. But up to what extent can diplomacy go? Or what will happen if all diplomatic options fail? Will history repeat itself? Which of these, the Falklands War or the Mischief Reef settled case?

Now, circumventing the whole issue based on historical perspective and on the present international treaty, especially on UNCLOS, China-Philippines dispute is unwise, unlikely, and incompetent to settle it down by interference of UNCLOS provisions because of the following issues that can not be set aside: 1. While UNCLOS has provided the sovereign state a basis for a claim to a 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone or EEZ to an island, the disputed Scarborough Shoal is categorically NOT an island, ergo, dispute over the Shoal is either strictly or considerably different and thus, it can not be resolved through 2. 3. UNCLOS. Chinas interest to reign over Asia and the Pacific can not be set aside; the same way to the Philippines however as a little sister, or an Asian satrapy of America. Both the Philippines and China had signified their reservations upon its ratification of UNCLOS.

In other words, both signatories-disputing parties have expressed reservations upon subscribing to the UNCLOS. Then, what makes sense in bringing up the issue to the international tribunal and resolving it based on UNCLOS when both the disputing parties-signatories have conditions hostile to the UNCLOS provisions? Neither diplomacy, nor waging war against each other is the best option to generate win-win solution at this moment in time, but right timing to diplomatic options would be the last resort. Meanwhile, the Philippines should come to know that despite Americas allegiance to the Mutual Defense Treaty and her promises, still America will position herself toward achieving her own interest at whatever cost as long as Americas interest will be preserved. It maybe contentious that proximity claim MUST NOT supersede historical claim. However, so be it; that is the pain that history teaches us good values such as RESPECT. When Chinas claim over Scarborough Shoal has been recognized so long before the birth of UNCLOS and other international laws and independence of the other claiming sovereign state, the Philippines, then why the latter, still persistent in claiming when in fact both have expressed reservations before such international treaty? Do framers of UNCLOS committed a biased shortcoming? Or are they (China-Philippines) guilty of territorial greed? One way or another, doubts cast a black hole to this China-Philippines dispute pointing out the role of America in the present arena of territorial conflict in Asian empire. Although America has not yet ratified the UNCLOS, her role in either diplomacy or military support to the Philippines is malignant to Chinas common sense yet dubious in some ways. When history pointed out Americas favor to historical basis of Great Britain over proximity claim of Argentina to Falkland Islands, the 1982 Falklands War broke out. Then, logically, to prevent war, upholding historical claim maybe the least to consider or maybe the best to exercise. But, can America afford to do nothing with Scarborough Shoal dispute seeing China is expanding? Well, another Falklands War in Asia is looming should the Philippines remains either a satrapy of America or a puppet for her interest. Then, the Philippines will be torn between the two boulders! Strategically, the best option left for the Philippines is right timing for any diplomatic moves. Not today, while the iron is still hot; not tomorrow when pride and sovereignty will be at stake. But as of this moment, show respect and listen to the giants historical claim drama. Listening or imbibing respect is not a form of being bullied, neither is it a body language of cowardice, nor is it a mechanism of being at a loss in the battle the we, actually, have never been. Only fools rush in!