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WEST PHILIPPINE SEA VI
3/9/2014 7:24:36 PM

Joint development: Why it's problematic

China has been dangling to the Philippines and other claimant states its offer for joint development of the disputed areas while shelving the sovereignty issues, an idea suggested by the late Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. There are at least three problems to this offer.

First, China wants to jointly develop the EEZ of the Philippines but refuses to jointly develop China’s own EEZ. In effect, China is saying to the Philippines, what is exclusively China’s economic zone is China’s alone, but what is exclusively the Philippines’ economic zone belongs to both China and the Philippines, and if the Philippines does not agree, China’s warships will be there to prevent the Philippines from exploiting its exclusive economic zone.

Second, as explained by Chinese officials and scholars, China’s offer of joint development is subject to the precondition that participating coastal states must first expressly recognize China’s “indisputable sovereignty” under its 9-dashed line claim. This precondition effectively means that once a state agrees to joint development, it must not only vacate any island it possesses in the Spratlys and turn over the same to China, it must also renounce any maritime claim within the 9-dashed line area. This precondition demanded by China is obviously inconsistent with its offer to shelve the sovereignty issue.

Third, if the Philippines agrees to China’s joint development offer, the Philippines will in effect give up its exclusive “sovereign rights” to exploit all the living and non-living resources in its own EEZ. The Philippines will also give up its exclusive right to exploit the mineral resources in its own ECS. The bottom line is that China’s joint development offer will negate the maritime entitlements of the Philippines under UNCLOS. This is constitutionally impermissible because our 1987 Constitution mandates the State to “protect the nation’s marine wealth in its xxx exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.” Any joint development with China constitutes a “culpable violation of the Constitution.”

Of course, the fact that the use and enjoyment of our EEZ is reserved exclusively to Filipino citizens does not mean that Chinese companies cannot participate in the exploitation of oil and gas in our EEZ. They can but as technical and financial contractors of the Philippine Government or Filipino companies under Philippine law, not Chinese law. As such technical contractors and financial contractors, they may be paid in kind. This is actually the set-up in Malampaya where Shell is the technical and financial contractor of the Philippine Government under Philippine law.

Not one of the claimant states to the Spratlys has accepted China’s joint development offer. Acceptance of China’s joint development offer means a complete surrender to China’s outlandish “indisputable sovereignty” claims. In an article in The Diplomat dated February 28, 2014, Prof. Carl Thayer, a well-known regional security analyst, quoted how a Malaysian defense official viewed China’s joint development offer:

Nor are we ready to consider joint development activities with the Chinese. That would require recognition of China’s claims in the South China Sea, including our EEZ. And that’s not our policy.

Vietnam has a similar view of China’s joint development offer. Dr. Tran Truong Tuy, Director of the Centre for South China Sea Studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, interprets the Chinese offer as saying: “What is mine is mine, what is yours is mine and we are willing to share.”

The world is now familiar with the expansionist designs of China in the South China Sea. China’s creeping invasion of the islands, rocks and reefs, as well as of the waters, of the South China Sea grows in force and aggressiveness each day as China’s naval forces assume greater superiority over those of other coastal states. The Philippines is particularly vulnerable to Chinese bullying because the Philippines has the weakest navy among all the major disputant states in the South China Sea.

The Philippines lost Mischief Reef in 1995 and Scarborough Shoal in 2012 to Chinese invasion. Vietnam lost the Paracels in 1974 and Fiery Reef Cross in 1988 to Chinese invasion. China, as I speak, threatens to forcibly evict the handful of Philippine marines aboard the shipwrecked RPS Sierra Madre in Ayungin Reef, an LTE within the Philippines’ EEZ in the Spratlys. The Chinese invasion and occupation of these islands, rocks and LTEs are acts of armed aggression outlawed by the United Nations Charter.

Deng's commitment

The world should now remind China of Deng Xiaoping’s solemn commitment to the world when he declared in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly on April 10, 1974:

A superpower is an imperialist country which everywhere subjects other countries to its aggression, interference, control, subversio



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