Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Plot Thickens by Erick San Juan

The Carlos P. Romulo Foundation for Peace and Development, in collaboration with the Institute of South East Asian Studies(ISEAS-Singapore) hosted the Forum on West Philippine Sea(SCS) at the Manila Polo Club last Sunday and Monday. The CPR Foundation is chaired by former Foreign Affairs Secretary Roberto R. Romulo. The first session was chaired by former Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro while the Monday session was moderated by former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Domingo L. Siazon,Jr.

The conference was well attended by diplomats, scholars, public figures, civil society, security and military officers. They engaged in the dialogue, discussed ideas and solutions in defining the South China Sea issue. Secretary Romulo hoped that over time, the forum can influence official thinking and policy with the goal of identifying common interests.

Last sunday's closed-door session had a heated issue of India advising China not to interfere in Kashmir and India will not intervene in the South China Sea issue. The group committed for a successful conflict resolutions which will lead to peace , prosperity and regional cooperation.

Former US Ambassador to the Philippines, Frank Wisner, now the international affairs advisor of Patton Boggs LLP and the vice-chairman of AIG, told the audience that he came not as a diplomat but as an American with a keen interest in the region. He explained that the United States of America is a Pacific power with the destiny to linked to the asian belt. Wisner said that America's security and economic well being depend heavily on Asia and this fact will grow in importance in the years ahead. He added that the USA have interests in the South China Sea and that full half of the world's merchant ships pass the SCS each year. South China Sea carries six times the freight of the Suez Canal, especially oil. The amount of traffic through SCS will double by2030. "This is the reason why many nations are keen in promoting peaceful resolutions in the overlapping claims, the need for a code of conduct, the right of free passage, freedom of navigation and the orderly exploitation of the resources of the South China Sea are matters of huge importance to all.", Wisner concluded.

I was amazed by the speech articulated by Dr. Fu-kuo Liu of the Institute of International Relations, National Chengchi University in Taiwan. He reiterated Taiwan's interest in the South China Sea. He asked everyone of us why only now that the South China Sea issue is being addressed when in fact that in 1947, a U-shaped line was drawn by the Republic of China according to the international legal norms and reflected by the international political reality after the World War 2. The area within the line was identified as historical water of ROC. It was allegedly agreed by Japan through the United Nations and the Taiwan government reportedly can validate this. Although Dr. Liu said that the Republic of China(Taiwan) did not make it clear on how this U-shaped line was based upon and what it really means from the start. The U-shaped line exists long before UNCLOS was concluded in 1982. He concluded that Taiwan's sovereignty over the area within the line remain unchanged.

Is this the reason why the Taiwanese government through it's president, Ma Ying-Jeou made a fiery statement during it's national day(October 10,2011)? He said that the people of Taiwan have to defend it's sovereignty and they will install and deploy missiles in the South China Sea over concerns that rival claimants to the disputed islands are building up their arms. Taiwan's defense minister, Kao
Hua-chu through it's defense committee demand that it's coast guard units in Taiping and the Pratas islands, claimed by Taiwan be armed with Chaparral or Tien Chien 1 missiles. Taiping is the biggest island in the Spratlys.

The plot thickens!

No comments: