Disputed Spratly Islands - surrounding nations sent monks and missionaries while China sent military forces to build a stronger military outposts

By: System Admin in Editorial

Latest Update: Be surprised with the latest acquisition of Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force - warships and brand new supersonic jets as of August 3, 2012

The disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) brought a new tension between the overlapping claims of six neighboring nations including Brunei, People's Republic of China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Even Indonesia is allegedly joining the wagon of claimants of the archipelago. It's been a decade of debate between these countries if who really owns these islands. But for China, no one can take sovereignty over these islands except the People's Republic of China.

This topic has been chosen as the first editorial of www.diversityhuman.com. For some, it may be odd why we have set an editorial page but here's an overview. The staff of DiversityHuman.com would like to highlight delicate and important matter that impacts the Philippine society. However, don't get us wrong, there could be some topics in the future that we would hand pick even though it could not be that delicate. In other words, the editorial page is just one of the special pages that we recently added. We aim to have rich contents and we think this is the best way to start.

So, let's go back to the main topic. Let's take a look at the geographical overview of the Spratly Islands.

The Spratly Islands are a group of more than 750 reefs, more than 148 islets, atolls, cays and islands in the South China Sea.The archipelago lies off the coasts of the Philippines and Malaysia (Sabah), about one third of the way from there to southern Vietnam. A habitat of diverse wildlife such as sea birds and sea turtles.

Area (land based): less than 5 km²
Sea Surface: 410,000 km² of the central South China Sea
Coastline: 926 km
Climate: tropical
Terrain: flat
Origin: volcanic in origin

The islands themselves contain almost no significant arable land and have no indigenous inhabitants, although twenty of the islands, including Itu Aba, the largest, are considered to sustain human life.*

The claim and claimants

As mentioned above, surrounding countries hold competing and often overlapping claims of this territory. The territorial dispute over the waters, which are believed to sit atop vast deposits of gas and oil, has for decades been regarded as one of Asia's potential military flashpoints.

China roughly 575 nautical miles away from the land mass compared to other countries which is within 100-300 nautical miles away including the Philippines claims the entire group of islands as "undisputed land of People's Republic of China". It was being published in China that the entire China sea is for china and no one else.

China and Japan also have a long-standing dispute over an uninhabited but strategically coveted island chain known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, which lies between Japan and Taiwan in the East China Sea.

List of claimants

1. Brunei claims part of the South China Seas nearest to it as part of its continental shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In 1984, Brunei declared an EEZ encompassing the above-water islets it claims in Louisa Reef. Brunei does not practice military control in the area. Brunei's claims to the reef are based on the Law of the Sea. It states that the southern part of the Spratly Chain is actually a part of its continental shelf and therefore part of its territory and resources.

2. Malaysia has militarily occupied three islands that it considers to be within its continental shelf. Swallow Reef (Layang Layang) has been turned into an island through land reclamation and hosts a dive resort. Malaysia's claims are based upon the continental shelf principle, and have clearly defined coordinates.

3-4. People's Republic of China and Republic of China (Taiwan). The People's Republic of China (PRC) claim all of the Spratly Islands as part of China and had a historical naval presence. Recently, they have had a profound military impact on the area. The PRC and ROC base their claims on the belief that the islands have been an integral part of China for nearly two thousand years and that neighboring countries and European Powers took advantage of China's poor condition and diversity to impinge on its sovereignty.

China claims to have discovered the islands in the Han Dynasty in 2 BC. The islands were claimed to have been marked on maps compiled during the time of Eastern Han Dynasty and Eastern Wu (one of the Three Kingdoms). Since the Yuan Dynasty in the 12th century, several islands that may be the Spratlys have been labeled as Chinese territory, followed by the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty from the 13th to 19th Century. In 1755, archaeological surveys the remains of Chinese pottery and coins have been found in the islands and are cited as proof for the PRC claim.

5. The Philippines base their claims of sovereignty over the Spratlys on the issues of Res nullius and geography. The Philippines contend their claim was Res nullius as there was no effective sovereignty over the islands until the 1930s when France and then Japan acquired the islands. When Japan renounced their sovereignty over the islands according to the San Francisco Treaty, there was a relinquishment of the right to the islands without any special beneficiary. Therefore, argue the Philippines, the islands became Res nullius and available for annexation.

6. Vietnam claims the Spratlys based on international law on declaring and exercising sovereignty. Vietnamese claims that it has occupied the Spratley and the Paracel islands at least since the 17th century, when they were not under the sovereignty of any state, and that they exercised sovereignty over the two archipelagos continuously and peacefully until they were invaded by Chinese armed forces.

Why nations rush into Spratly Group of islands?

1. The Spratly area is thought to hold vast untapped reserves of oil- and gas-producing sedimentary basins suggests the potential for oil and gas deposits. In 1968 oil was discovered in the region. The Geology and Mineral Resources Ministry of the People's Republic of China (PRC) has estimated that the Spratly area holds oil and natural gas reserves of 17.7 billion tons (1.60 × 1010 kg), as compared to the 13 billion tons (1.17 × 1010 kg) held by Kuwait, placing it as the fourth largest reserve bed in the world. These large reserves assisted in intensifying the situation and propelled the territorial claims of the neighboring countries.

2. Rich fishing grounds and productive commercial shipping. Because of its numerous virgin coral reef which is the habitat of fishes,estimate shows that commercial fishing in the area can cost as much as billion of dollars and if gas included can reach to trillion dollars of revenue. Tanker traffic through the South China Sea is over three times greater than through the Suez Canal and five times more than through the Panama Canal; twenty five percent of the world's crude oil passes through the South China Sea. This means, MONEY.

3. Coastal countries would get an extended continental shelf. Spratlys long coastline and natural scene is a great attraction for tourism.

4. Air space control. Whoever controls the area, controls the air space. That means, any commercial plane can not pass the aerial territory without appropriate tariff and all military planes from other countries could no longer use the air space, else it may cause war.

Protest, tensions, accusations, exploration, and military response of claimants

On March 12, 2012, Taiwan protested Tuesday over a Philippine plan to explore oil and gas in disputed waters in the South China Sea where Taipei claims sovereignty. Abigail Valte of Philippines told reporters, "We maintain that Recto Bank is within the territorial jurisdiction and is undisputed," , using the Filipino name for Reed Bank.

"Any country or company that engages in oil and gas activities in waters under Chinese jurisdiction without the Chinese government's approval does so illegally," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

The Philippines said it would push ahead with plans to expand oil and gas exploration, as it brushed off a fresh Chinese warning. However Layug insisted China had no legal claim to the three contentious blocs, as they were well within the Philippines' 200-nautical-mile economic exclusion zone recognised under international law.

The Philippines would hold large-scale military exercises with the United States in April 2012 near the area where it is locked in a tense sea territorial row with China. The annual event which this year will involve nearly 7,000 troops will reinforce the close military ties between the longtime allies, armed forces chief Lieutenant General Jessie Dellosa said. The exercises are called Balikatan, a Filipino word meaning shoulder-to-shoulder.

China has accused the United States of interference. Last month, Chinese state-controlled media said Beijing should impose sanctions on the Philippines over its offer to allow more US troops on its soil.

Tensions rose last year after the Philippines and Vietnam accused China of becoming increasingly aggressive in staking its claims. The Philippines alleged Chinese vessels fired on Filipino fishermen and harassed an oil exploration vessel in its waters. When Lieutenant-General Juancho Sabban received an urgent phone call from an oil company saying two Chinese vessels were threatening to ram their survey ship, the Philippine commander's message was clear: don't move, we will come to the rescue. Within hours, a Philippine surveillance plane, patrol ships and light attack aircraft arrived in the disputed area of Reed Bank in the South China Sea. By then the Chinese boats had left after chasing away the survey ship, Veritas Voyager, hired by U.K.-based Forum Energy Plc. The Philippines responded by calling for stepped-up military ties with the United States, triggering an angry response from China which does not want American involvement in the dispute.

The United States has also stepped up cooperation with Vietnam and the Philippines, which had both accused China of harassing their ships at sea, and plans to station troops in Australia.

"As Southeast Asian nations run to the U.S. for assistance, Beijing increasingly fears that America aims to encircle China militarily and diplomatically," said Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, Northeast Asia Director for the International Crisis Group. "Underlying all of these concerns is the potential that discoveries of oil and natural gas beneath the disputed sections of the South China Sea could fuel conflict."

Facts of individual Claimant's Armed Forces

1. People's Liberation Army (Mainland China)
Budget: USD $106.4 billion
Active personnel: 2,285,000
China-laser-railgun.jpg Supera-SA-312-helicopter.jpg Chinese-built-J-10-fighter-stealth-fighter.jpg Chinese-destroyer-china-submarine.jpg china-song-class-china-submarine.jpg Varyag-china-air-craft-carrier-aircraft.jpg

2. Malaysian Armed Forces
Budget: USD $3.5 billion
Active personnel: 109,000
Scorpene-Tunku-Abdul-Rahman-malaysia-submarine.jpg M52-and Mig-29-Aermacchi-MB-339-malaysia-airforce.jpg

3. Vietnam Armed Forces
Budget: USD 2,4 billion
Active personnel: 455,000
vietnam-rocket-launcher.jpg Scud-launcher-vietnam-ballistic-missile.jpg

4. Taiwan Armed Forces
Budget: USD $10.5 billion
Active personnel: 290,000
ROCS-Kang-Ding-class-frigate-s70c-helicopter.jpg ROCAF-AIDC-F-CK-Indigenous-Defense-Fighter.jpg

5. Philippines Armed Forces
Budget: USD 1.4 billion
Active personnel: 120,000
hamilton-class-philippine-navy.jpg sokol-afp-philippines.jpg

6. Brunei Royal Forces
Budget: USD $327 million
Active Personnel: 7,000

The March 2011, Chinese vessels fired on Filipino fishermen and harassed an oil exploration vessel in its waters is considered a turning point for the Aquino administration. The president hardened his stance on sovereignty rights, sought closer ties with Washington and has quickened efforts to modernize its military. This lead to acquisition of Hamilton class cutter, Sokol helicopters, and trainer jets. Manila is beefing up its tiny and outdated naval fleet and military bases, adding at least two Hamilton-class cutters this year and earmarking millions of dollars to expand its Ulugan Bay naval base in Palawan.

However, as mentioned by several conference, it's no match for China's fleet, the largest in Asia, which boasts 62 submarines, 13 destroyers and 65 frigates, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. China has made advances in satellite technology and cyber warfare in recent years and invested in advanced weaponry including its first aircraft carrier, a 300-metre-long (990-foot) former Soviet naval vessel that had its first sea trial in August. Beijing is also building new submarines, surface ships and anti-ship ballistic missiles as part of its naval modernization.

China's most popular newspapers warned in October 2011 that nations involved in territorial disputes should "mentally prepare for the sounds of cannons". China whose military spending has been sharply rising in recent years was still actively staking claims and challenging vessels that conduct operations in the hotly disputed waters. Premier Wen Jiabao made his comments at the opening of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament, a day after the government announced military spending would top $100 billion in 2012 -- an 11.2 percent increase on last year.

The Asian giant already has the world's largest armed forces and its defense budget has seen double-digit increases every year for much of the last decade, rattling the United States, which is forging ahead with plans to expand its own military power in Asia.

The U.S. Navy has announced it will deploy its own new amphibious assault vessels, the Littoral Combat Ships, to the "maritime crossroads" of the Asia-Pacific theater, stationing them in Singapore and perhaps the Philippines.


Admiral Robert Willard, the outgoing head of the US Pacific Command Willard said that the US presence in the South China Sea was vital as some $5.3 trillion in trade flow through the region each year, around one-fifth of it in US commerce. "The US military must be present there to ensure the security of those sea lines of communication and that important economic commerce for the United States and for our regional allies and partners," Willard said.

"China's economic growth has benefited the entire region and has certainly benefited the United States and our economic ties to China. So I think it would be unfair to imply that China's influence in Southeast Asia should only be regarded from the standpoint of the challenge that it poses," Willard said.

Taiwan has decided to purchase 66 brand new F-16 from United States but the latter declined. Instead Indonesia acquired 24 refurbished F-16 jets from United States.

Is this a dawn to world war III? It's up to you to assess the situation.
Latest Update: Be surprised with the latest acquisition of Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force - warships and brand new supersonic jets as of August 3, 2012
  • wikipedia
  • abs-cbn news, gma news, yahoo news, inquirer, philstar

System Admin


System Admin

DiversityHuman.com Administrator came from a very humble beginning. Born in the middle of the jungle. Raised by a very loving mother. Grew with a very hard working father. Experienced poverty at the lowest level.

Posted by DiversityHuman.com on 16 Mar 2012

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