Activities of the Claimants


3 gas fields in South China Sea start production

Three gas fields in the South China Sea have started operations, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), the owner of the resources, announced on December 1st. The fields off the coasts of Guangdong Province and Hainan Province have a total of 13 wells, with two of them currently producing 21 million cubic feet of natural gas every day. Production at the three fields is expected to reach a peak daily capacity of 150 million cubic feet in 2015.

China denounces Philippine 'pressure' over sea dispute arbitration


China denounced the Philippines on December 7th for putting it under pressure with an international arbitration case over disputed waters, and refused again to participate a week ahead of a deadline to respond in the case. In a position paper, China outlined its arguments against the jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague to take up the case filed by the Philippines last year that could have implications for China's claims over the South China Sea. "Its underlying goal is not ... to seek peaceful resolution of the South China Sea issue, but rather, by resorting to arbitration, to put political pressure on China, so as to deny China's lawful rights in the South China Sea through the so-called 'interpretation or application' of the Convention," China's foreign ministry said. In an interview with Xinhua, Xu Hong, Director-General of the Department of Treaty and Law of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that “Despite China' s strong objection, the Philippines has been obstinately pushing forward the arbitral proceedings. Some people, who do not know the truth, have questioned China' s position of not accepting or participating in the arbitration. Some others, who harbor ulterior motives, have made one-sided and misleading readings of international rules and, on that basis, made accusations or insinuations that China does not abide by international law, and perversely branded China as a "challenger" to international rules.”


Vietnam welcomes US House’s Resolution H.Res 714

Vietnam acclaims the US House of Representatives’ first-ever adoption of a resolution that supports efforts to solve disputes in the South China Sea by peaceful measures on the basis of international law and the building of a Code of Conduct (COC) in the sea. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Hai Binh made the statement on December 5th in reply to reporters’ questions on Vietnam ’s response to the US House of Representatives’ approval of Resolution H.Res 714.  “We back all efforts to make active, effective and constructive contributions to maintaining peace, stability, security and safety of navigation and aviation in the region,” he noted. The resolution was passed by the US House of Representatives on December 4th and sponsored by congressmen Eni F.H Faleomavaega, Elliot Engel, Steve Chabot, Madeleine Bordallo, Ros Latihnen, Ani Bera and Steve Stockman.

The Philippines

China should match words with action


Chinese President Xi Jinping’s statement that China is seeking “peaceful development” and opposes the “willful use of threat or force” should be matched by actions on the ground leading to an improved situation in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on December 1st. DFA spokesman Charles Jose said the actions should include stopping Beijing’s reclamation work and withdrawing its overwhelming presence in the disputed areas in the South China Sea. “We reiterate that such expression of peaceful intentions, when matched by corresponding actions on the ground, will go a long way in ensuring stability and security in the South China Sea,” Jose said in a text message.

The U.S.

Obama says China's Xi has consolidated power quickly, worrying neighbors

U.S. President Barack Obama said on December 3rd Chinese President Xi Jinping had consolidated power faster than any Chinese leader in decades, raising human rights concerns and worrying China's neighbors. Obama, who met Xi last month in Beijing, told the Business Roundtable group of U.S. chief executives that the Chinese leader had won respect in the short time since he had taken over. "He has consolidated power faster and more comprehensively than probably anybody since Deng Xiaoping," Obama said, referring to the man who led China from 1978 to 1992. "And everybody's been impressed by his ... clout inside of China after only a year and a half or two years." But Obama said there were negative sides to Xi's rise. "There are dangers in that. On issues of human rights, on issues of clamping down on dissent. He taps into a nationalism that worries his neighbors," Obama said, noting maritime disputes in the region.

US House passes resolution on East Sea, East China Sea


The US House of Representatives passed a resolution on December 4th that stresses the need for a peaceful solution to maritime and jurisdictional disputes in the South China Sea (called East Sea in Vietnam) and the East China Sea on the basis of international law. The resolution, coded H.Res-174, is the first of its kind and its adoption shows deep concern of US law makers about the increasingly complicated developments in the region, including the South China Sea. It re-affirms the US government’s strong support for freedom of navigation and other internationally lawful uses of sea and airspace in the Asia-Pacific region. It condemns coercive actions or the use of force to impede these freedoms in international maritime domains and airspace, and urges the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), US allies and partners, and all claimants to seek peaceful solutions to disputes by fully abiding by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, towards formulating the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

US State Department assesses China's dashed line

The U.S. on December 5th published a report on China's maritime claims in the South China Sea. This report examined the historic, geographic and legal basis for China’s vast claims in the strategic region, concluding that they do not accord with the international law of the sea, based on the U.N. treaty that China has signed. The U.S. State Department said that the study was part of a series to “examine a coastal state’s maritime claims and/or boundaries and assess their consistency with international law.” Yet the timing of the publication was close to the deadline for China’s counter-pleading.

Regional Snapshots

Vietnamese PM Nguyen Tan Dung meets Russian State Duma Chairman

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met with visiting Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of Russia Sergey Evgenievich Naryshkin in Hanoi on December 2nd, stressing that Vietnam attaches special importance to its relations with Russia and wishes for their further growing ties in the future. For his part, Sergey Evgenievich Naryshkin stressed that Russia values the development of bilateral relations in all realms from politics-diplomacy and economy to oil and gas, nuclear energy, and military technique. Regarding the South China Sea issue, the Russian official reiterated his country’s support for Vietnam’s stance of using peaceful measures, abiding by internationally recognised principles, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and not using force under any form.

India wary of assertive China, IAF chief Arup Raha says

With the strategic gravity shifting from west to east, especially to Asia and Asia Pacific, "India faces security challenges in the region due to an assertive China and an intrusive Pakistan", the IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, said on December 6th. "The situation is not good for the environment, as peaceful rise of China remains a distant dream. An assertive China is investing heavily in developing military power, especially aerospace power, laying claims on international waters, island territories and air space over South China Sea and East China Sea," Raha said during the Eighth Annual Air Chief Marshal LM Katre Memorial Lecture. 

East Sea (South China Sea) Studies