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Home Weekly Bulletin Weekly Bulletin 10/7-16/7

Weekly Bulletin 10/7-16/7

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China completes trial exploration of flammable ice; Philippines issues Statement on the First Anniversary of the Arbitral Tribunal Award; Indonesia renames part of South China Sea…

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Activities of related states

China

China completes trial exploration of flammable ice

China on July 9 completed the trial exploration of flammable ice in the South China Sea, which extracted more than 300,000 cubic meters after a 60 day non-stop mining operation. Starting from May 10, the mining operation in waters aout 320 kilometers to the southeast of Zhuhai city, Guangdong Province. The substance can be ignited like solid ethanol. One cubic meter of flammable ice, a kind of natural gas hydrate, is equal to 164 cubic meters of regular natural gas.

China responds to that Indonesia renaming part of the South China Sea

During a press conference on July 14, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said: "the term "Nanhai" and its standard English name "South China Sea", refer to a clear geographical scope, which has been widely recognized and accepted by the international community, including the United Nations . The so-called change of name makes no sense at all and is not conducive to the effort to the international standardization of the name of places. We hope relevant country can work with China for the shared goal and jointly uphold the current hard-won sound situation in the South China Sea."

The Philippines

Philippines issues Statement on the First Anniversary of the Arbitral Tribunal Award

The Statement reads: "The Duterte administration reaffirms its unwavering commitment to protect our country’s territorial claims and maritime entitlements, but believes that the ongoing territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) should further be resolved in a manner consistent with the spirit of good neighbourly relations. The Philippine approach has led to great benefits for the country, allowing us considerable economic gains as well as strengthening our status as ASEAN Chair and regional peacemaker. Through the adoption of positive neighbourly relations, our fishermen are back exercising their livelihood in Scarborough Shoal. We have received investment and financial assistance commitments upwards of USD 30 Billion from our partners in the region.Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter S. Cayetano reiterates that the Duterte Administration is committed to its strategy to strengthen old allies and engage new partner nations.  The Philippines shall remain an enemy to none and a friend to all in its pursuit of economic and political benefits for the country, including the long-term security and stability in the region."

PHL talking with other South China Sea claimants for oil, gas exploration

On July 14, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetanon said: “The DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] is pursuing the agreements on the undisputed areas. We are not discounting future agreements in the disputed areas but any agreement has to conform to our domestic law and our Constitution.” Cayetano clarified that it is not true the Philippines has already allowed drilling rights in Reed Bank (Co Rong).

Indonesia

Indonesia renames part of South China Sea

Indonesia renamed the northern reaches of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea on July 14. the deputy of maritime sovereignty at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Arif Havas Oegroseno, noted the northern side of its exclusive economic zone was the site of oil and gas activity. He added that the North Natuna Sea would be reported to the United Nations and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) for official registration.

Malaysia

Malaysia detains 22 Vietnamese sailors on illegal fishing charges

Malaysian authorities seized a fishing boat and detained 22 Vietnamese sailors for illegal fishing on July 11, according to New Straits Times. The boat was spotted and intercepted about 94 nautical miles from the fishing village of Kuala Kemaman in Malaysia's Terengganu State, the news site quoted a statement from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) as saying. Muhamad Rezal Kamal Bashah, director of MMEA Kemaman, said the detained Vietnamese fishermen, aged between 16 and 43, did not possess valid travel documents or permits to fish in Malaysian waters. The MMEA seized a total of 1,200 kilograms (2,650 pounds) of fish, 100 kilograms of dried squid, 800 liters of diesel and fishing equipment worth MYR700,000 ($163,500) from the vessel, according to Rezal.

The US

House of Representatives passes NDAA authorizing huge spending boost for Trump's Defense Department

The House on July 14 passed a defense policy bill that calls for more ships, aircraft, and soldiers, and authorizes $696 billion in defense spending in fiscal year 2018, well above President Trump's request. The House approved the National Defense Authorization Act after days of debate that saw lawmakers block many controversial amendments to the bill, including a proposed ban on transgender medical care for troops and the closure of excess military facilities. The House defeated that in a narrow 209-214 vote.

Canada

Canadian warships shadowed by Chinese navy in South China Sea

A pair of People’s Liberation Army Navy frigates came within three nautical miles of Canadian HMCS Winnipeg during a freedom-of-passage exercise the Canadian frigate conducted with U.S., Australian and Japanese warships late last month in the hotly contested South China Sea. “We have interacted with Chinese ships,” HMCS Winnipeg’s captain Cdr. Jeff Hutchison said. A few days after the encounter in the South China Sea, a Chinese intelligence-gathering ship bristling with antennae and other electronic gear monitored the Winnipeg’s movements in as it entered the East China Sea, where it conducted exercises with a South Korean warship.

Regional Snapshot

Vietnam-the Netherlands call for a peaceful solution for the South China Sea disputes

Vietnam and the Netherlands have issued a joint statement in the framework of the working visit of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to the Netherlands from July 8-11. The Joint Statement reads: “Prime Minister Rutte and Prime Minister Phuc recognized that peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea (called East Sea in Vietnam), are of strategic significance. The leaders also affirmed their full support for the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The leaders jointly decided to explore ways to intensify the bilateral dialogue on international law and the settlement of disputes by peaceful means.”

Indonesia and Singapore committed to promote peace, security and stability in Asean

Indonesia's armed forces (TNI) chief General Gatot Nurmantyo made the remarks in a statement on July 12 during the visit of the commander of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Lieutenant General Perry Lim for the 20th Combined Annual Report Meeting (CARM) - Indonesia-Singapore High Level Committee (INDOSIN HLC) between the SAF and TNI. The joint annual high-level meeting between Singapore and Indonesia is to discuss security and defence matters. The two countries had agreed in 2012 to have an overall governing body overseeing bilateral meetings between the armed forces in the areas of operations, exercises, intelligence, logistics and personnel.

Thailand-the U.S. calls for maintaining peace in the South China Sea

On 14 July 2017, H.E. Mrs. Busaya Mathelin, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, led the Thai delegation comprising senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Defense and the National Security Council to attend the Sixth U.S. – Thailand Strategic Dialogue at the Department of State in Washington D.C., United States. During the meeting, both sides reaffirmed that maintaining peace, security and stability in the South China Sea as well as safety and freedom of navigation and overflight is in the interest of all countries. In this regard, they welcomed the progress of cooperation between ASEAN and China on the South China Sea issue. The Thai side discussed its aspiration of turning the South China Sea into a Sea of Peace, Stability and Sustainable Development.


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