Keeping an eye on Communist, Totalitarian China, and its influence both globally, and we as Canadians. I have come to the opinion that we are rarely privy to truth regarding the real goal, the agenda of Red China, and it's implications for Canada [and North America as a whole]. No more can we rely on our media as more and more information on China is actively being swept under the carpet - not for consumption.
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
China’s latest island grab: Philippines protests Beijing’s swarm of boats around Spratly island town in South China Sea
China’s latest island grab:
Philippines protests Beijing’s swarm of boats around Spratly island town in South China Sea
There are fears Beijing is about to launch an undeclared invasion as 200 Chinese militia vessels swarm a disputed part of the South China Sea.
April 1, 2019
The Philippines has protested the presence of more than 200 Chinese vessels swarming near a Philippine-occupied island in the disputed South China Sea.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Department of Foreign Affairs lodged the protest after the military monitored about 275 Chinese fishing-militia and military-controlled Coast Guard vessels near Thitu island, which is called Pag-asa by Filipinos, in the Spratlys, the most hotly contested region in the busy waterway.
The Chinese vessels have been sighted more than 600 times near Thitu so far this year, military officials said.
What makes their presence so intimidating is they are not fishing. Instead, they seem to simply be occupying the waters near the three sandbars between Pag-asa and Zamora (Subi) Reef.
But, asked yesterday if the Chinese flotilla’s presence was a cause for worry, Presidential spokesman Panelo said: “Anything that concerns the security of the Philippines will always be a concern.”
Australian and Philippine soldiers simulate an anti-terrorism drill. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
Philippine military chief General Benjamin Madrigal Jr. has told local media his soldiers will patrol the disputed area and urged representatives of both nations to address the massed Chinese presence around the island.“This is a concern not only for the military, but for other agencies as well, including the Coast Guard. We are looking for ways to address this,” Madrigal told reporters at the opening ceremonies for the annual Balikatan joint military drills between the Philippines, the US.
This years exercise will include about 8000 American and Filipino personnel and small contingents from Japan and Australia.
Philippines President Duterte has been insistent the exercises are not aimed at China.
But international analysts fear the Chinese presence around Thitu island is a consequence of the President caving under Beijing’s economic and military reassure.
“This is a straightforward intimidation tactic — to interrupt Filipino maritime traffic in very proximity to Thitu,” says Alexander Neill, Shangri-la Dialogue Senior Fellow for Asia Pacific security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Neill told Philippines media that Beijing had been embolden by the “inability of Filipino forces to react to probing tactics by Chinese vessels, and on the political front by President Duterte who has warmed to China and is prepared to dismiss the threat by China to Philippines territory.”
A, Chinese Coast Guard members approach Filipino fishermen as they confront each other off Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Picture: APSource:AP
While China also claims ownership of Thitu, where Filipino forces and a fishing community can be found, it apparently started to deploy Chinese navy and coast guard ships and fishing boats in sizeable numbers in the area in 2017 after Filipinos tried to erect shelters on one of three sandbars that naturally emerged in recent years between Thitu and a Chinese-occupied man-made island called Subi.
China protested the Philippine attempt to occupy the sandbar, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to order a halt to the planned construction, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said at the time.
Thitu island. Efforts by the Philippines to upgrade its facilities here has been met by a swarm of 'militia' fishing boats sent by Beijing. Picture: Google MapsSource:Supplied
Since then, the Chinese vessels have never left the vicinity of the barren sandbars, collectively called Sandy Cay, near Thitu. The nearest sandbar in Sandy Cay is about 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 kilometres) from Thitu island.
The Philippines military warns the number of Chinese militia and Coast Guard vessels may differ day-by-day as ships in the area “come and go.”
“What’s happening is they remain stationary in the area. Some come and go, that’s why it’s quite inaccurate to report the number because some of them come and go. Although some of them stay for a few days or weeks,” a spokesperson said.
Eengineers from NAMRIA, the central mapping agency of the Philippine Government, survey the area around the Philippine-claimed Thitu Island with a sandbar sitting on the horizon off the disputed South China Sea in the western Philippines. Picture: APSource:AP
Panelo did not say when the Philippines protested, but a Filipino diplomat told The Associated Press that the foreign affairs department in Manila sent a diplomatic note to the Chinese Embassy on Friday to express concern over the “swarming of Chinese boats” near Thitu. The diplomat asked not to be named because of a lack of authority to discuss the issue publicly. China and the Philippines, along with Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei, have been disputing ownership of the strategic waters for decades.
Tensions flared in recent years, when China arbitrarily transformed seven disputed reefs into islands, three of which had military-grade runways, sparking protests and concerns from Western and Asian countries. The artificial islands were later reportedly installed witha missile defence system.
Since then, Chinese military controlleded elements of the nation’s fishing fleet have been acting as Beijing’s ‘eyes and ears’ in the occupied regions.
Their presence is both to monitor the fishing fleets and militaries of other nations, as well as serve as a constant reminder as to the ease with which China can seize more reefs and islands.
“The probing of the air and sea space around Thitu and the saturation of the area with the maritime militia is likely a response to the upgrading of the Thitu airfield,” Neill said.
“China will be very uncomfortable with the possibility of a challenge to its presence on Subi Reef. So the pace and scale of Chinese activity will be commensurate to activities to upgrade and defend Thitu island, in particular an improvement in any capability to mount regular air patrols from Thitu.”
A Chinese Coast Guard boat circles a Filipino fishing boat near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Picture: APSource:AP
BELT OR THE ROAD
Duterte has taken a nonconfrontational approach to the territorial disputes between China and his country as he sought Chinese trade, investment and infrastructure funding. He has refused to immediately take up with China a ruling by a UN-linked tribunal that invalidated Beijing’s sprawling claims in the South China Sea, sparking criticism from nationalists and left-wing groups, which wanted him to demand immediate Chinese compliance with the landmark decision.
Opposition spokesman Gary Alejano has issued a statement attacking the government for not taking immediate action over Thitu.
“The government has been warned two years ago, but President Duterte and his cohorts only downplayed the incidents,” Alejano said. “While it is a positive development that the AFP is starting to be transparent on the real situation in the West Philippine Sea, I urge the Duterte administration to act on the rising number of Chinese vessels around Pag-asa Island and protest China’s illegal actions. China is establishing a norm there which we cannot alter later on. Every day is a wasted opportunity to assert our sovereignty if we do not act now.”