Monday, March 31, 2014

An Opinion on the South China Sea Crisis

Some important matters before I give my opinion on the South China Sea crisis. Exclusive Economic Zones are legal prescriptions based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Our own Constitution mandates us to defend it and protect it.

It is unfortunate that our Armed Forces is ill-equipped to answer the security threat that is China. Upgrading our Navy and Air Force to the standards of a modern Defence force will take a lot of our resources away from social programs and maybe even impact needed infrastructures for economic development. Our lawmakers and opinion movers should now be undertaking a comprehensive assessment of prioritizing where our limited money goes. These matters extend beyond the term of a congressman or a president so it should not be left to the vagaries of an election or mood of the public.

The Philippines submitted documents to a United Nations court for a clarification of the UNCLOS as it applies to the South China Sea crisis. The Philippines do not believe that there is overlapping of EEZ in the South China Sea simply because the width of the SC sea is more than 500nautical miles and the UNCLOS provides for only 200nautical miles for each nation claimant.

In other words, the Philippines believe that by just following what the UNCLOS prescribes, the South China sea crisis would be prevented. And it would then just be a matter of sharing intelligence, working out scheduled naval patrols and a lot of respect for each nation.

China believes in the 9 Dash Line and that historically it claims almost the whole of SC sea. Historical claims are not recognized in international law because nations' armies and navies fight and wage war to impose their will on history. This is precisely what international laws want to prevent.

China is throwing the idea of shared development of the SC sea which when analysed in its details provides for sharing of disputed areas only (read: other nations' EEZ) and do not include its own EEZ. China is simply saying: What is mine is mine and what is yours is mine but we are willing to share.

The international community should call on China to join the civilized community of nations who want to uphold what is legal based on international agreements.


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