Activities of the Claimants


China shipyard to build world's first deep-sea mining vessel

A Chinese shipyard has inked a deal with a Singapore firm to build the world's first deep-sea mining vessel, which is due to be delivered in 2017. Wu Pingshan from Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding Co Ltd, which is based in East China's Fujian province, confirmed on December 11th that the contract had been signed with a Singapore company but declined to disclose the name of the contractor. Wu said the vessel will be 227 meters long by 40 m wide, with living quarters for up to 180 people and a maximum cargo load of 45,000 tons. The vessel with 30 megawatts of power can serve as a platform for seabed mining as deep as 2,500 meters, and will have a helipad.

China rejects U.S. stance on South China Sea

China on December 23rd denounced a U.S. State Department document on the South China Sea, urging the U.S. to abide by its commitment not to take sides on the South China Sea issue. "The document ignores basic facts and international legal principles," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a daily press briefing when asked to comment on the document, "Limits in the Seas -- China: Maritime Claims in the South China Sea", issued on December 5th. "The United States has violated its commitment of not holding position and not taking sides in the South China Sea issue. Such a move is inconducive to the resolution of the South China Sea disputes and the peace and stability of the South China Sea," Hong said. China's sovereignty and rights in the South China Sea have been upheld by successive Chinese governments, Hong said.  "We urge the United States to abide by its commitment, speak and act cautiously, and view and deal with the issue in a fair and objective way," he said.

In respone to Vietnam’s position paper sent to the Arbitral Tribunal, the Chinese side urges the Vietnamese side to earnestly respect China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, work with China to resolve relevant disputes over the Spratly Islands through consultation and negotiation on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law so as to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.


Vietnam rejects China’s claim in South China Sea


Vietnam resolutely rejects China’s claim over Hoang Sa (Paracel), Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes and contiguous waters, as well as its “historical rights” to the waters, seabed and subsoil within the “nine-dash line” it unilaterally introduced. Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Le Hai Binh voiced that consistent stance on December 11th when responding to reporters’ question on the country’s response to the Chinese government’s position paper on matter of jurisdiction in the South China Sea issued on December 7th. Regarding Vietnam’s position on the South China Sea arbitration lawsuit, the spokesperson stated that to protect her legal rights and interests in the South China Sea that would be affected by the lawsuit, Vietnam clarified its stance and viewpoints on the case to the Arbitral Tribunal and asked the tribunal to pay attention to the country’s legal rights and interests.


China worries may boost Indonesia defense spending to $20 bln/yr-official

Indonesia's defense spending could grow to $20 billion a year by 2019 to protect its sovereignty, including an area of the South China Sea near China's claims, an adviser to new Indonesian President Joko Widodo said onDecember 9th.  Luhut Panjaitan, a former commander of Indonesia's special forces, said Jakarta had no plans to use force to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea and would continue to promote dialogue between Beijing and its regional rivals. But he said it was important to strengthen the Indonesian military to protect national interests, including Natuna - a scattering of 157 mostly uninhabited islands off the northwest coast of Borneo that are rich in oil, gas and fish.

The Philippines

Phl won’t back down on arbitration case vs China


There is no backing down when it comes to the Philippines’ arbitration case before the United Nations to clarify maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, Malacañang stressed on December 9th amid reports that China would still not participate in the process. “We’ve noted the position that China has taken on the matter of arbitration that has been filed by us,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing. However, Valte said the government wishes to remind everyone that the Philippine position is clearly contained and reiterated in the memorial that has been submitted to the tribunal last March. She said she would defer to the Department of Foreign Affairs as to the next steps that the Philippines would take “assuming that the other party does not submit their memorial to the tribunal.”


On the same day, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said that arbitration is the only route to achieving a just and durable solution to disputes over the South China Sea, opposing China's contention that a U.N. court had no jurisdiction to hear a complaint. "It is about defending what is legitimately ours. It is about seeking not just any kind of resolution but a just and durable solution grounded on international law.” 

Regional Snapshots

Vietnam Deputy PM visits Laos

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc paid a working visit to Laos from December 9th-10th at an invitation of his Lao counterpart Somsavat Lengsavad. On December 9th, he had a meeting with Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, during which he affirmed that Vietnam always treasures and gives the highest priority to consolidating and developing the Vietnam-Laos traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation. Regarding the South China Sea issue, PM Thongsing Thammavong reiterated Laos’ stand of calling for concerned parties to solve disputes by peaceful means in respect for international law, implement the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and work towards the conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC). On the same day, the Vietnamese Deputy PM held talks with his Lao counterpart, during which they reviewed the implementation of several cooperation agreements.

Vietnam’s response to Indonesia’s sinking Vietnamese boats


Regarding the sinking of three empty Vietnamese boats which conducted illegal fishing in Indonesian waters by Indonesia Navy on December 5th, Pham Thu Hang, deputy spokesperson for Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated on December 9th that Vietnam had contacted Indonesia about the sinking of Vietnamese-flagged boats and appealed to Indonesia to deal with the fishermen “in accordance with international laws, based on humane spirit and on the relations between Indonesia and other countries.”