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“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms, by truth when it is attacked by lies, by faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, in the final act, by determination and faith.”

― Archibald MacLeish

Monday, March 31, 2014

AYUNGIN SHOAL :Can The Philippines fight the China Bully?

"Imperialism will not last long because it always does evil things. It persists in grooming and supporting reactionaries in all countries who are against the people, it has forcibly seized many colonies and semi-colonies and many military bases, and it threatens the peace with atomic war. Thus, forced by imperialism to do so, more than 90 per cent of the people of the world are rising or will rise up in struggle against it. Yet imperialism is still alive, still running amuck in Asia, Africa and Latin America." Chairman Mao 
In Ayungin reef's shallow shores, there sits a forsaken ship, manned by eight Filipino troops whose job is to keep China in check.
Philippine Marines deployed on the BRP Sierra Madre take part in a flag-raising ceremony on the ship in Ayungin Shoal the other day. AP  
The Chinese Bully Strategy
“We should do more such things in the future. For those small islands, only a few troopers are able to station on each of them, but there is no food or even drinking water there. If we carry out the cabbage strategy, you will not be able to send food and drinking water onto the islands. Without the supply for one or two weeks, the troopers stationed there will leave the islands on their own. Once they have left, they will never be able to come back.” Chinese General
From Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines - With four Chinese vessels nearby, soldiers on a rusty Navy ship raised the Philippine flag and sang the national anthem yesterday morning on Ayungin Shoal.
The singing became louder in the final line, which declares that in the face of oppression, Filipinos will happily die for their country.
In the shadow of the Chinese Coast Guard ships, the Filipinos rallied to the flag.
Two Chinese vessels on Saturday blocked a Philippine civilian ship, the BFAR AM-700, from bringing food supplies to troops stationed at the Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in Palawan. The shoal is located within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
Despite the Chinese harassment, the civilian vessel managed to reach the BRP Sierra Madre, a Navy ship that has been aground on Ayungin.
The military reinforced its forces in Ayungin as part of the Navy’s regular troop rotation.The civilian vessel carried Marines who replaced their colleagues who had spent five months guarding the country’s territorial waters.
The troop rotation is usually held every three months. But the troops had to stay for five months because Chinese ships were blocking efforts to bring in new military personnel.
China’s latest bullying of Philippine ships will not stop the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) from pursuing the country’s territorial rights through diplomatic channels.
 “The government remains focused on resolving the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea through diplomatic and peaceful means, “ Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said yesterday.
MalacaƱang is leaving it up to Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to file the necessary diplomatic protest against Beijing, although the issue will be studied and discussed among Cabinet members to come out with a reasonable protest.
DFA spokesperson Charles Jose said they are still considering whether Manila would file another diplomatic protest against China regarding Saturday’s incident.
Chinese vessels used water cannon to drive away Filipino fishermen from Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal on Jan. 27.
The Philippines protested both incidents with China, but Chinese officials maintained that Panatag Shoal and Ayungin Shoal are part of their territory.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippines yesterday submitted its memorial to the arbitral tribunal that is hearing the case it brought against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in January last year.
Asked if the Philippines is ready to push for arbitration even without the support of its neighbors, Valte said the government is determined to fight for what is right and fair.
 She said the government is inspired by the support it has been getting from the international community.
The Philippines is prepared for any possible sanction China will impose, the Palace official added.
Dangerous Ground
From NYT
To understand how Ayungin (known to the Western world as Second Thomas Shoal) could become contested ground is to confront, in miniature, both the rise of China and the potential future of U.S. foreign policy. It is also to enter into a morass of competing historical, territorial and even moral claims in an area where defining what is true or fair may be no easier than it has proved to be in the Middle East.
The Spratly Islands sprawl over roughly 160,000 square miles in the waters of the coasts of the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and China — all of whom claim part of the islands.
The Chinese and Taiwanese base their claims on Xia and Han dynasty records and a 1947 map made by the Kuomintang. The nine-dash line derived from that map pushes up against the coastlines of all the other countries in the area.
The current Philippine claim is based on the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea from 1982, which established an Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nautical miles off the shore of sovereign states.
Why the fuss over “Dangerous Ground”? Natural resources are a big piece of it. According to current U.S. estimates, the seabed beneath the Spratlys may hold up to 5.4 billion barrels of oil and 55.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. On top of which, about half of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage and nearly one third of its crude oil pass through these waters each year. They also contain some of the richest fisheries in the world.
In 2012, China and the Philippines engaged in a standoff at Scarborough Shoal, after a Philippine warship attempted to expel Chinese fishing boats from the area, which they claimed had been harvesting endangered species within the Philippine EEZ. Although the shoal lies well to the north of the Spratlys, it is in many ways Ayungin’s direct precedent.
"I have said that all the reputedly powerful reactionaries are merely paper tigers. The reason is that they are divorced from the people. Look! Was not Hitler a paper tiger? Was Hitler not overthrown? I also said that the tsar of Russia, the emperor of China and Japanese imperialism were all paper tigers." Chairman Mao
In June of last year, the United States helped broker an agreement for both China’s and the Philippines’s ships to leave Scarborough Shoal peacefully, but China never left. They eventually blocked access to the shoal and filled in a nest of boats around it to ward off foreign fishermen.
“Since [the standoff], we have begun to take measures to seal and control the areas around the Huangyan Island,” Maj. Gen. Zhang Zhaozhong, of China’s People’s Liberation Army, said in a television interview in May, using the Chinese term for Scarborough. (That there are three different names for the same set of uninhabitable rocks tells you much of what you need to know about the region.) He described a “cabbage strategy,” which entails surrounding a contested area with so many boats — fishermen, fishing administration ships, marine surveillance ships, navy warships — that “the island is thus wrapped layer by layer like a cabbage.”
There can be no question that the cabbage strategy is in effect now at Ayungin and has been at least since May. General Zhang, in his interview several months ago, listed Ren’ai Shoal (the Chinese name for Ayungin) in the P.L.A.’s “series of achievements” in the South China Sea. He had already put it in the win column, even though eight Filipino marines still live there. 
General Zhang also seemed to take some pleasure in the strategy. Of taking territory from the Philippines, he said: “We should do more such things in the future. For those small islands, only a few troopers are able to station on each of them, but there is no food or even drinking water there. If we carry out the cabbage strategy, you will not be able to send food and drinking water onto the islands. Without the supply for one or two weeks, the troopers stationed there will leave the islands on their own. Once they have left, they will never be able to come back.”
Who can help the Philippines?