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Home Weekly Bulletin Weekly Bulletin 24/7-30/7

Weekly Bulletin 24/7-30/7

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Xi personally behind island-building in the South China Sea; Vietnam’s oil, gas activities in waters completely under its sovereignty; Singapore and Brunei may join sea patrols…

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China

China’s foreign minister wants to maintain stability in the South China Sea

On July 24, during an offical visit to Thailand, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi met with Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai. Speaking in the meeting, Wang Yi expressed that China and Thailand are one family, and China has been Thailand's sincere partner and friendly neighbor. He also said that China wants to jointly safeguard the stable and sound situation in the South China Sea, and forge an upgraded version of China-ASEAN strategic partnership, so as to promote the construction of a closer China-ASEAN community of shared destiny.

China’s foreign minister visited the Philippines

On July 25, Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks in Manila with Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano of the Philippines. Wang Yi expressed that under decision and guidance made by the two heads of state, China-Philippines relations have achieved comprehensive turnabout, conforming to the common interests of both countries and bringing tangible benefits to the two peoples. According to Wang, with the joint efforts made by China and ASEAN countries, the current situation in the South China Sea tends to be stable. The Chinese side stands ready to, together with the Philippines, strengthen communication and coordination, well safeguard positive momentum, well host a series of meetings on East Asian cooperation this year, focus on cooperation and properly solve differences, so as to push China-ASEAN relations and East Asian cooperation for greater development. For his part, Alan Peter Cayetano stated the Philippines treasures the current sound situation centering on the South China Sea issue, and is willing to enhance coordination and communication with the Chinese side, prevent any accidents affecting each other's mutual trust, well safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea and actively discuss and implement China' s idea of joint exploitation, so as to make the South China Sea truly benefit the two countries and people of various countries in this region. With regard to joint exploitation in the South China Sea with the Philippines, Wang Yi said: “If one party conducts unilateral exploitation in waters that have overlapping claims of maritime rights and interests between two parties, the other party will certainly take corresponding actions, which will complicate the maritime situation, and even escalate the tension, leading to no exploitation by either party. The solution is the conception with rich political wisdom offered by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping to the Philippine leaders 31 years ago. Joint Exploitation does not influence or involve in respective legal systems, but to reach a standard and arrangement accepted by both sides through bilateral negotiation. China-Philippines relations have been constantly improved. It is necessary for both sides to make a decision at an early date, so as to make Mr. Deng Xiaoping's goodwill toward the Philippines over 30 years ago blossom and yield fruits today, and benefit the two peoples.”

China urges to stop oil exporation in the SCS

In a press conferenc on July 27, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said: "China urges the relevant party to stop its unilateral actions that infringe upon China's rights and safeguard with concrete actions the sound situation in the South China Sea that does not come easily."

Xi personally behind island-building in the South China Sea

An editorial on July 28 in Study Times – put out by the Central Party School, the Communist Party’s top academy – revealed: "“[President Xi] personally steered a series of measures to expand [China’s] strategic advantage and safeguard the national interests,” the article said. On the South China Sea issue, [Xi] personally made decisions on building islands and consolidating the reefs, and setting up the city of Sansha. [These decisions] fundamentally changed the strategic situation of the South China Sea."

China's Xi urges need for 'world-class' army loyal to Party

In a speech at the expansive Zhurihe training base in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous region to mark the 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army, Chinese President Xi Jinping stated: "The world is not all at peace. Peace must be safeguarded. Today we are closer than ever before to the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and - more than any other time in history - we need to build a strong people's military."

Vietnam

Vietnam’s oil, gas activities in waters completely under its sovereignty

In reply to reporters’ question about recent opinions and information relating to Vietnam’s oil and gas activities, Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang on July 28 said: “Relevant oil and gas activities of Vietnam take place in the sea areas that are completely under the country’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction, which were established in line with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Vietnam asks all parties concerned to respect its rights and legitimate and legal interests and together make efforts to actively and practically contribute to the maintenance of peace and cooperation in the East Sea (South China Sea).”

The Philippines

Duterte: Joint gas exploration deal in disputed sea may be forged with China

On July 24, during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said the Philippines and China may conduct a joint exploration in disputed areas in the South China Sea. “When they start to excavate the gas and all. I tell you, it’s going to be just like a joint venture. Para pareho (So it will be fair)." He added, “I’m not prepared to go to war. I have to be frank. The truth is, I will not. It will end up a slaughter to my forces. Kulang tayo (We lack manpower). They have the state-of-the-art and everything.” Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on July 26 said: "[The proposal made by President Duterte will not be a unilateral action from the Philippines because the premise of the President is peace and stability, and unilateral action by anybody leads to destabilization.  There will also have to be consultations with the whole ASEAN because we  want to keep the stability there.”

'Improvements' seen on China's artificial islands in South China Sea

Speaking before the the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines has noted certain 'improvements' on structures that China put up on three of its artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea. defense officials received information on the Chinese structures based on pictures taken in November and just last month. He added that they have sought help from the United States, a top defense ally, to verify the data.

Philippines receives two new surveillance aircrafts from the US

The two Cessna C-208B Grand Caravans worth $33 million (P1.67 billion) is capable of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and could fly for five and a half hours on a single fuel load.  The planes are expected to aid the Philippine military's counter-terrorism efforts, internal security operations, law enforcement, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said the donation was a symbol of the strength and enduring nature of the long-standing Philippine-US alliance.

The UK

Britain plans bigger role in Asia post-Brexit

Speaking The Australian newspaper in a Sydney interview on July 27, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Britain plans to play a bigger role in Asia after Brexit, including deploying its military to the area if necessary. "One of the purposes of my trip is to get over the message that we are now going to be more committed to the Asia-Pacific region and more committed to Australia." Johnson said Britain took "no position on the South China Sea disputes, but "the law of the sea is there to be honoured".

Britain plans to send warship to South China Sea

On July 27, British Defence Minister Michael Fallon said Britain plans to send a warship to the disputed South China Sea next year to conduct freedom of navigation exercises. "We have not finalised exactly where that deployment will take place but we won't be constrained by China from sailing through the South China Sea," Fallon told Reuters.

Regional Snapshots

Singapore and Brunei may join sea patrols

The Trilateral Maritime Patrol (TMP) involving Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines may soon include Singapore and Brunei, said Malaysia Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. The Defence Minister said the patrols on the Sulu Sea would certainly be more successful with the participation of the two countries. “While there is no decision from both countries yet, my counterparts sounded positive the last time I spoke to them.”

Vietnam, Malaysia step up collaboration

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and his Malaysian counterpart Anifah Aman on July 27 co-chaired the 5th session of the Vietnam-Malaysia Committee for Economic, Science and Technology Cooperation in Hanoi. At the meeting, the two countries agreed support each other at regional and international forums, promote ASEAN’s solidarity and central role in the regional security architecture, and increase consultation for peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea. They called on involved parties to practice restraint, not to use or threaten to use force, respect legal and diplomatic process, settle disputes on the basis of international law including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and soon finalize the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).


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