From the Manila Standard Today (Jun 20): China takes dual-track sea policy: Power and peace
China “naturally loves peace” but will take “resolute measures” to protect regional stability, Premier Li Keqiang said Wednesday, affirming a dual-track foreign policy of power and peace despite tensions with nations including Japan and Vietnam.
Li insisted that an urge for expansion was “not in the Chinese DNA” and that a “stable neighboring environment” was necessary for China’s continued economic development.
He was speaking London’s financial district on a three-day trip which aims to build trade ties and repair relations strained when British Prime Minister David Cameron met exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in 2012.
China is currently facing territorial disputes with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines amid a hardline approach pursued by Li’s administration.
“We want to have a stable external environment. The Chinese naturally love peace. Confucius taught us that we should not do to others what we don’t want done to us... this has been imprinted on to the DNA of the nation,” Li said.
“Expansion is not in the Chinese DNA nor can we accept the logic that a strong country is bound to be hegemonic.”
But he added that China would take action “to protect the stability of the region” where necessary.
“For those acts of provoking incidents and undermining peace, China will have to take resolute measures to stop them, to prevent the situation from getting out of control,” he said.
“This is to protect the stability of the region.”
Meanwhile, 12 Vietnamese were sentenced to six months in jail and fined $100,000 for illegal fishing in Philippine waters, the prosecutor in the case said.
The fishermen, who were arrested on March 21 with a boatload of sharks just off the western island of Palawan, pleaded guilty last week, prosecutor Alen Rodriguez said.
If the 12 cannot pay the fine, the equivalent of more than $8,000 each and a huge sum for such fishermen, the judge could add more time to their sentence, said Rodriguez.
But in similar cases in the past, foreign fishermen caught in Philippine waters were allowed to go free after serving their sentences without paying the fine, he said.
The Vietnamese embassy in Manila could not be contacted for comment.
Vietnamese fishermen have been caught repeatedly fishing in Philippine waters in recent years, mostly near Palawan, which is the closest major Filipino island to Vietnam.
The 1,250-mile coast of Palawan is home to some of the region’s richest fishing grounds.
The Philippines has few maritime resources to police the area, so fishermen from neighboring countries regularly sail in.
In 2011, 122 Vietnamese were arrested near Palawan in the biggest illegal fishing bust in recent memory. They served jail terms of about six months, then were sent home.
The arrests of the Vietnamese fishermen have generally occurred in waters very close to Palawan, and not in areas of the adjoining South China Sea that are subject to competing territorial claims by the Philippines, Vietnam, China and other neighboring countries.
In Manila, lawmakers aired mix reactions to the plan of the Philippine Navy to build a runway at the Pagasa Island located within the Kalayaan Island Group, a move seen as the government’s way to strengthen its claim on the territory, but has drawn strong protest from China.
To date, there have been five COP seminars. The COP1, COP2, and COP4 were organized for three different conflict areas, namely Mindanao, Aceh, and Southern Thailand, while COP3 and COP5 were designed exclusively for Mindanao. There was also a program organized to promote peace education in higher education institutions in Mindanao. This was the Mindanao Educators Peace Summit of 2010. This present COP6 program is organized to keep the momentum going in the Mindanao Peace Process and will be held at the Hiroshima International Convention Center in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on June 23-25, 2014.
This COP6 is an important opportunity for the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders and other stakeholders to discuss challenges in the search for peace in Mindanao. Specifically, this COP6 aims to clarify the ongoing discussion in the GPH-MILF peace process and find ways to continue the momentum of this process.
This COP6 will focus on the following topics – Bangsamoro socio-economic development, the institutionalization of the Bangsamoro government, and developments in normalization. The themes on development, transition and normalization in this seminar will further give emphasis on ideas to develop technical and functional capacities, organizational changes, social cohesion and establishment of a new working relationship among institutions and stakeholders that will lead to reconciliation and forging of sustainable peace in the Bangsamoro region.
The COP6 to be held in Hiroshima, Japan will be a high level meeting. The delegation of the GPH will be led by the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles, and Government Negotiating Panel Chair, Prof. Miriam Coronel-Ferrer. The MILF delegation will be led by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) Chair and MILF Peace Panel Chair, Mr. Mohagher Iqbal, and Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) Chair, Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan. Other stakeholders are also presenting during this meeting, including the International Monitoring Team (IMT) Head of Mission, Major General Dato Abd. Samad Yaakub of Malaysia, Prof. Yuji Uesuji of Japan from the Independent Commission on Policing, and Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Hon. Mujiv Hataman.
Key government officials are also expected to attend and deliver official remarks, namely, Secretary Florencio Abad of the Department of Budget (NEDA) and Deputy Director General Margarita Songco of the National Economic Development Agency (NEDA). The event will be officially opened by the JICA President Dr. Akihito Tanaka and Univesiti Sains Malaysia Dr. Prof. Kamarulzaman Askandar.
The COP6 slated in Japan shall be a historic occasion as a peacebuilding platform with the participation of the MILF Chair, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and his spouse, Hja. Lupia Ebrahim as Guests of Honor. It is also expected that President Benigno Aquino III will grace the occasion and deliver a keynote speech. The City of Hiroshima as a symbolic place of peace will be a meaningful venue of the COP6 for Mindanao. It is envisioned that the COP6 will further strengthen the peacebuilding process between the Government of the Philippines and the Bangsamoro people.