ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark J. Valencia:
By Mark J. Valencia - 12 Jun 2019
There is no universal agreement on the interpretation of key provisions in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Indeed, important differences are emerging between Southeast Asian nations and the US regarding the theory and enforcement of freedom of navigation.
By Mark J. Valencia - 02 Jun 2019
In the early 2000s, when I accepted an invitation to speak at one of the very first of what has since become a very prestigious annual event, The Boao Forum for Asia — I had no idea I might wind up playing a minor role in what became the great giant clam controversy.
The Philippines is undertaking a government-sponsored marine scientific expedition to the Spratlys area. While billed as an advance in scientific knowledge, it may be perceived to be a soft assertion of sovereignty.
According to the Philippines, the presence of about 275 Chinese vessels near Thitu between January and March 2019 violated its “sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction”. It filed a diplomatic protest to this effect.
Two former Philippines officials filed a complaint with the ICC against China for “crimes against humanity”, alleging that President Xi Jinping, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the Chinese Ambassador perpetrated environmental damage in the South China Sea.
There is certainly no shortage of warmongering blaring from both China and the US regarding the South China Sea. Indeed, a recent public tit-for-tat illustrates both the danger of such public advocacy and of taking it seriously.
After China issued formal diplomatic protests to Quad members asking their intention, Australia withdrew from the Quad and meetings ceased. Indeed, the concept is more likely to go the way of the dodo than rise from its ashes like a phoenix.
A recent article in The National Interest posed the question “Are [US] Freedom of Navigation Operations in East Asia enough?” If FONOPs are to demonstrate non-acquiescence to what the US views as a violation of international law, they may be unnecessary.