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South China Sea Newsletter

The South China Sea Newsletter: Volume 18 (July 2016)

Compiled by Hao Duy Phan

29 July 2016: Japan risks being more isolated on South China Sea

China Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the comment in response to Japanese media reports that Japan will continue to work with the international community to urge China to comply with international law and accept the so-called “award” of the South China Sea arbitration.


28 July 2016: China says to hold drills with Russia in South China Sea

The exercises come at a time of heightened tension in the contested waters after an arbitration court in The Hague ruled this month that China did not have historic rights to the South China Sea and criticized its environmental destruction there.


28 July 2016: Most Asean countries ‘want to stay out of Beijing’s South China Sea dispute with the Philippines’

No one but the Philippines insisted that the arbitral ruling be included, the diplomat.


27 July 2016: U.S. says backs resumption of China-Philippines talks on South China Sea

“The foreign minister said the time has come to move away from public tensions and turn the page,” Kerry said. “And we agree with that … no claimant should be acting in a way that is provocative, no claimant should take steps that wind up raising tensions.”


27 July 2016: US Navy to China: We’ll continue operations in South China Sea

The Obama administration has made it “absolutely clear” to China that the U.S. will continue engaging in flights and naval activities in the disputed waters despite objections from Beijing, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said.


26 July 2016: Asean ministers skirt around South China Sea ruling

The ministers agreed in general terms that they are committed to resolving regional disputes through “legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”.


26 July 2016: Asean Fails to Single Out China Over South China Sea at Meeting

The communique from the ministerial meeting in Laos did not cite China by name. Instead, it said ministers remained “seriously concerned over recent and ongoing developments and took note of the concerns expressed by some ministers on the land reclamations and escalation of activities in the area.”


26 July 2016: ASEAN bloc breaks deadlock on South China Sea

Southeast Asian nations have overcome days of deadlock after the Philippines dropped a request for their joint statement to mention a landmark legal ruling on the South China Sea, officials said, after objections from Cambodia. China publicly thanked Cambodia on Monday.


26 July 2016: ASEAN deadlocked on South China Sea, Cambodia blocks statement

Southeast Asian nations failed to agree on maritime disputes in the South China Sea on Sunday after Cambodia blocked any mention to an international court ruling against Beijing in their statement, diplomats said.


26 July 2016: Vietnam says it prefers bilateral talks with China on South China Sea

“For us, all means of peaceful settlement are important. All means. So you can count (international arbitration) but we attach importance to bilateral negotiations,” the vice minister said. “The important factor is you need to have the goodwill, and you need to base your claims on international law, the relevant international law,” he emphasized.


25 July 2016: Philippines President Duterte to strike cautious tone with China on South China Sea ruling

Duterte holds his first National Security Council meeting, a key government forum for foreign policy issues.


24 July 2016: Ramos to visit China for talks on South China Sea disputes

Former president Fidel Ramos formally accepted the offer of President Duterte to be the government’s special envoy to China.


23 July 2016: China Removed Missiles From South China Sea Islands Ahead Of UN Verdict

China has removed its new generation surface-to-air missiles from a disputed island in the South China Sea after US withdrew its aircraft carrier.


22 July 2016: Taiwan’s President rebuts South China Sea ruling

Taiwan opposes the ruling because as an interested party in the South China Sea, the country was not invited to participate in the proceedings, Tsai said.


21 July 2016: Taiwan lawmakers visit disputed South China Sea island after Hague ruling

A group of Taiwanese lawmakers visited the island, just a week after the ruling.


21 July 2016: China eyes 8 cruise ships to serve South China Sea

Sanya International Cruise Development Co Ltd will buy between five and eight ships.


20 July 2016: U.S. says its forces will keep operating in South China Sea

U.S. military forces will continue to operate in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson said during a visit to a Chinese naval base.


19 July 2016: US patrols could backfire: China

China kicks off its second military drill in two weeks in the South China Sea even as Chinese military leaders warn the United States that its freedom of navigation patrols could backfire and end in “disaster”.


19 July 2016: Philippines rejects China’s offer to hold negotiations in disregard of ruling

The Philippines was asked by China to “disregard” the international tribunal ruling over the South China Sea, according to its foreign minister.


19 July 2016: RI to mark Aug. 17 by sinking 3 Chinese fishing boats

Emphasizing Indonesia’s refusal to succumb to China’s might, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said the three boats would be among 71 foreign fishing vessels listed to be sunk for poaching during the celebration of the 71st anniversary of Indonesian independence on Aug. 17.


18 July 2016: Freedom of navigation patrols in South China Sea may end in disaster, Chinese admiral warns

“This kind of military freedom of navigation is damaging to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, and it could even play out in a disastrous way,” Sun Jianguo, an admiral and deputy chief of the Joint Staff Department of the powerful Central Military Commission, said.


18 July 2016: China Begins Air Patrols Over Disputed Area of the South China Sea

China’s air force flew a “combat air patrol” over the South China Sea “recently,” Xinhua, the official news agency, reported, citing Shen Jinke, an air force spokesman. The patrol consisted of bombers, fighters, “scouts” and tankers and would become “regular practice,” Mr. Shen said, according to Xinhua.


16 July 2016: Award has no impact on China’s territorial sovereignty — Chinese premier

“Under no circumstance will the arbitration award exert any impact on China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea,” Li added.


16 July 2016: Manila will not concede but is willing to talk with Beijing

“The baseline for the negotiations will be the decision. We will not concede any of the awards given to us. The negotiations must respect the decision,” the Solicitor-General said.


16 July 2016: Tokyo seeks to pressure Beijing on South China Sea ruling

“I strongly hope the parties to the dispute comply with the award and lead to a peaceful solution of the dispute in South China Sea,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.


16 July 2016: Chinese premier tells Abe to stop meddling

“Japan is not a state directly involved in the South China Sea issue, and thus should exercise caution in its own words and deeds, and stop hyping up and interfering,” Mr Li said.


14 July 2016: Myanmar ‘studying impact’ of South China Sea ruling

The ministry said it was “now studying the impact” of the ruling and urged “all parties to exercise restraint with regard to activities that could increase tension and refrain from threats or use of force”.


14 July 2016: Philippines urges Beijing to respect South China Sea ruling

The Philippines has urged Beijing to respect the ruling.


14 July 2016: Philippines’ Duterte to send envoy to China over sea row

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


14 July 2016: Taiwan resists Hague-based tribunal’s South China Sea ruling

Ms. Tsai matched the mainland’s fury at the decision, boarding a naval warship and telling the crew to “defend Taiwan’s territory”.


13 July 2016: Malaysia calls for South China Sea dispute to be resolved by diplomatic and legal processes after Hague ruling

“Malaysia believes that all relevant parties can peacefully resolve disputes by full respect for diplomatic and legal processes; and relevant international law and 1982 Unclos,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.


13 July 2016: UN chief calls on South China Sea dispute parties abide by law

Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has called on parties concerned in disputes in the South China Sea to abide by international law and avoid taking actions that could fuel tensions.


13 July 2016: India Asks All To ‘Show Utmost Respect’

On South China Sea Verdict “Sea lanes of communication passing through the South China Sea are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development. As a State Party to the UNCLOS, India urges all parties to show utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans,” the External Affairs Ministry said.


13 July 2016: EU cautions China to respect rule-based international order

Speaking in Beijing at the start of the EU-China summit, Tusk called on the Asian giant to protect the “rule-based international order”, saying the task “may be the biggest challenge ahead of us.”


13 July 2016: S. Korea calls for ‘peaceful, creative’ efforts to resolve South China Sea dispute

In a statement, Seoul’s foreign ministry said South Korea has consistently maintained the view that the South China Sea dispute should be resolved in accordance with relevant agreements and international regulations.


13 July 2016: Australia says China should respect ruling

“To ignore it would be a serious international transgression,” Bishop told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “There would be strong reputational costs.”


13 July 2016: China issues White Paper asserting sovereignty

In its policy paper, China’s government asserted its sovereignty over the islands and their surrounding waters and opposes other countries’ “illegal claims and occupation.”


13 July 2016: Chinese Foreign Minister: South China Sea arbitration is completely a political farce

He also said China will remain committed to peaceful settlement of disputes through consultation and negotiation.


13 July 2016: China says ruling could lead to confrontation

China’s ambassador to the U.S. says an international tribunal ruling that rejected its expansive claims over the South China Sea will intensify conflict and could lead to confrontation.


12 July 2016: China President Xi dismisses Hague arbitration

“Our national sovereignty and our maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea will not be affected in any way by the ruling and case brought about by the Philippines,” he said.


12 July 2016: Taiwan slams the ruling

The statement said the ruling “severely damaged our right to the island.”


12 July 2016: Singapore takes no position on South China Sea claims, calls for restraints

Singapore takes no position on the merits of specific claims in territorial disputes in the South China Sea, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.


12 July 2016: Singapore issues statement on the ruling

“As a small state, we strongly support the maintenance of a rules-based order that upholds and protects the rights and privileges of all states,” the statement said.


12 July 2016: US praises ruling as helping settle sea disputes

The U.S. State Department called the tribunal’s ruling an important contribution to the shared goal of peacefully resolving South China Sea disputes. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the ruling was binding on both parties and that the U.S. expected China and the Philippines both to comply with their obligations under the ruling.


12 July 2016: NZ comment on South China Sea Tribunal ruling

“While New Zealand does not take a position on the various territorial claims in the South China Sea we have consistently stated that the differing interests in the region should be managed peacefully and in accordance with international law,” Mr McCully says.


12 July 2016: Vietnam welcomes the ruling, reasserts its own claims

Vietnam welcomed a tribunal ruling rejecting China’s vast claims in the South China Sea, saying it strongly supports the settlement of such disputes through diplomatic and legal processes.


12 July 2016: China rejects the ruling

“The award is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it. China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea shall under no circumstances be affected by those awards. China opposes and will never accept any claim or action based on those awards,” the statement said.


12 July 2016: Japan urges China and the Philippines to comply with the ruling

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that the Arbitral Tribunal’s decision is “final and legally binding” and that the two sides should comply with it. Kishida said in a statement that “Japan strongly expects that the parties’ compliance with this award will eventually lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea.”


12 July 2016: The Philippines welcomes the ruling

Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said in Manila the “milestone decision” was an important contribution to efforts in addressing disputes in the sea. “The Philippines reiterates its abiding commitment to efforts of pursuing the peaceful resolution and management of disputes with the view of promoting and enhancing peace and stability in the region.”


12 July 2016: Arbitral Tribunal issues final award

The tribunal issued its ruling in response to an arbitration case initiated by the Philippines against China.


12 July 2016: Japan’s ship arrives in the Philippines for joint exercise

Japanese coast guard vessel has arrived in Manila for a joint exercise Commander Armand Balilo, the Philippine coast guard’s spokesman, said the Japanese vessel PHL02 Tsugaru docked at Manila’s South Harbor on Monday. Some 50 Japanese and 70 Filipino coast guard personnel will take part in Wednesday’s drills. Australia and the United States have sent observers.


11 July 2016: Chinese vessels sunk Vietnamese boat

Two Chinese vessels have rammed and sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, an official says.


9 July 2016: China Holds Combat Drill in South China Sea Ahead of Key Ruling

The Chinese navy conducted combat drills near its southern island province of Hainan and the Paracel islands in the South China Sea, the Ministry of Defense said on Saturday.


9 July 2016: Philippines FM clarifies remarks on joint development

“What I said is we have to wait for the ruling and study and dissect its implications. As the ruling will not address sovereignty and delimitation, it is possible that some time in the future, claimant countries might consider entering into arrangements such as joint exploration and utilization of resources in disputed areas that do not prejudice the parties’ claims and delimitation of boundaries in accordance with UNCLOS”, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs clariried.


8 July 2016: China: China’s position is subject to no change

By not accepting the ruling nor participating in the arbitral tribunal, China is acting in accordance with law while championing UNCLOS and the DOC as well as the international rule of law and regulations, Hong Lei said.


8 July 2016: PHL asks UN to strengthen UNCLOS by backing ruling on sea dispute

Ambassador Lourdes O. Yparraguirre, the country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, called on the international community to strengthen the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by supporting the enforcement of the forthcoming arbitral award.


8 July 2016: Philippines willing to share South China Sea: Manila

The Philippines is willing to share natural resources with Beijing in contested South China Sea areas even if it wins a legal challenge next week, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay told AFP Friday. Yasay said President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration hoped to quickly begin direct talks with China following Tuesday’s verdict, with the negotiations to cover jointly exploiting natural gas reserves and fishing grounds within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.


8 July 2016: US Says S China Sea Tribunal Ruling Presents Choice for Asia

Abraham Denmark, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, urged both parties to comply with the ruling. Denmark said it would be chance to determine “whether the Asia-Pacific’s future will be defined by adherence to international laws and norms that have enabled it to prosper, or whether the region’s future will be determined by raw calculations of power.”


8 China 2016: China: Nansha Islands as a whole are entitled to TS, EEZ, CS and other maritime rights and interests

“In accordance with China’s domestic laws and international laws including UNCLOS, China’s Nansha Islands as a whole are entitled to territorial sea, exclusive economic zone, continental shelf and other maritime rights and interests. Some countries, disregarding this basic fact, have attempted to separate the Nansha Islands from its components and negate the entirety and the maritime rights and interests of the Nansha Islands. This does not conform to the widely recognized international law,” Hong Lei said.


5 July 2016: Beijing begins military drills ahead of key territorial ruling

At least two guided missile destroyers, the Shenyang and Ningbo, and one missile frigate, the Chaozhou, were reported to be among the vessels being deployed to the region, where China has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam


5 July 2016: Philippines Set to Talk to China After South China Sea Ruling

The Philippines’ new president said Tuesday that Manila was ready to talk to China, not go to war, if an arbitration tribunal ruled in its favor in a case it brought against Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea.


5 July 2016: Cambodia and Myanmar in Joint Stand on South China Sea Dispute

“Cambodia and Myanmar completely support the negotiation for resolving the issue of the South China Sea peacefully by the claimants’ parties,” Hun Sen declared.


4 July 2016: Vietnam opposes China’s drills in East Sea

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Hai Binh said China’s action runs counter to common perception of senior leaders from both countries, and defies international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).


3 July 2016: China plans South China Sea military drills as court rules

China’s Maritime Safety Administration says the country will hold seven-day military drills around disputed islands in the South China Sea from Tuesday. The exercises will overlap with Wednesday’s expected ruling by an international arbitration court on China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea.


1 July 2016: China: Tribunal Expanded and Exceeded its Jurisdiction at Will

It is the Arbitral Tribunal that deliberately ignored that China and the Philippines had agreed to resolve disputes through negotiation and consultation, and that China had made a declaration on optional exceptions under UNCLOS. It is the Arbitral Tribunal that went against UNCLOS, pushed ahead with the arbitration and expanded and exceeded its jurisdiction at will.




  1. Pingback: The South China Sea Newsletter: Volume 18 (July 2016) - August 3, 2016

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