There are no known historical records showing that the Spratly islands and the Scarborough Shoal are owned by the Philippines. It’s a myth. To the ordinary people of the Philippines, these uninhabitable features of the South China Sea (SCS) are irrelevant except that the President of the Philippines believes that is why the Americans are occupying the Philippines military bases. Not true. The Americans are in the Philippines for a war with China because the USA wants to curb China’s economic growth. Both war and killing China’s economy will be catastrophic to the Philippines.
Hydrocarbons and fisheries within Philippines Extended Economic Zone belong to the people of the Philippines and China has no colour of right whatsoever in barring Philippines fisherfolk from their own waters.
By Melissa Hemingway and Micheal John
A USAF F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 14th Fighter Squadron takes off from Clark Air Base, Philippines, 2 May 2023. Photo by Airman 1st Class Sebastian Romawac. Photo is cropped. Art/Cropping/Enhancement: Rosa Yamamoto / Feminine-Perspective-Magazine
These international relations matters should be guided by diplomatic negotiations, international agreements, and respect for sovereignty to maintain stability and minimize the risk of escalation—not inviting the American military to occupy the Philippines. That move may prove to be catastrophic. Avoiding war would have been a better choice.
There is strong evidence to suggest that the islands claimed by China are not part of the Philippines. Among the evidence, is the islands’ absence from the 1898 Treaty of Paris which defined the Philippines as it exists today without those islands and reefs. A portal for some wild lies and tall stories is opened by this omission. Regardless of ownership however, nothing supersedes Philippines EEZ and that is the core of the issue. China’s conduct has been seriously misguided and brought severe harm to the Philippines which many legal experts suggest is actionable.
The facts are disputed. Because there is little data other than scantily recorded history and what China has collected and reported without sharing, all the countries making claims are telling stories backed with little to no proof in the case of most features (300) of the South China Sea, many of which are tidal rocks no bigger than a sea turtle, mapped by geographer Yang Huairen.
These features have become somewhat important. Notwithstanding, this does not pertain to rights to sea life and hydrocarbons.
The features ownership issues are mistakenly perceived to yield control over maritime routes but should not under international law prevent safe passage and navigation according to a 2016 tribunal decision discussed a little later.
On the China side, research shows the country has ancient history of asserting sovereignty over the South China Sea islands. The Chinese government argues that historical documents and maps demonstrate Chinese claims to these islands, including the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, and Scarborough Shoal.
On the Philippines side, it obtained independence from the United States in 1946. The transfer of sovereignty over the territories previously controlled by Spain to the United States following the Spanish-American War of 1898 is a historical event that involved various agreements, such as the Treaty of Paris. These agreements determined the transfer of territorial control and administration but not the islands.
The Treaty of Paris signed in 1898 between Spain and the United States did not explicitly address the specific islands in the South China Sea. The treaty mainly dealt with the transfer of sovereignty over the Philippines from Spain to the United States.
The United States explained specifically in 1946 that it was not transferring the islands because it did not have them from the Spaniards. That could have been because in those times the islands were seen as being inconsequential. That has changed in the past fifty years.
Regarding the issue of the islands in the South China Sea being inconsequential in the past and left out of treaties and historical records, it is true that some of the features were not historically regarded as significant due to their limited habitability and lack of resources. However, in recent years, the strategic and economic importance of these islands, including their potential for fisheries, hydrocarbon resources, and assumed control over maritime routes, has gained attention, especially from neighbouring nations including China. There is some history indicating that the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, and Scarborough Shoal were ceded back to China by the French which of course had no use, far from home, for a bunch of rocks and corral jutting out of the water at low tide.
The 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) primarily focused on the interpretation and application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It addressed issues related to maritime entitlements, the status of certain features, and the extent of exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and continental shelves in the South China Sea. (J.M. Van Dyke & R.A. Brooks, “Uninhabited Islands: Their Impact on the Ownership of the Oceans’ Resources,” Ocean Development and International Law, Vol. 12, Nos. 3-4, p. 265 (1983).)
- Download the Civil Society South China Sea Agreement Proposal which could walk this issue back to a peaceful resolution.
- Download if you wish, the referenced Convention on the Law of the Sea: UNCLOS
- Download: Explanation of the July 2016 court decision in favour of the Philippines
- Download The 500 pg Decision in favour of the Philippines
While the PCA ruling clarifies certain aspects of maritime law, including the legal status of specific features, it did not address the issue of sovereignty or resolve the territorial disputes over the islands themselves. The territorial claims and the resolution of ownership remain complex and subject to ongoing diplomatic negotiations and potential future legal proceedings.
Understanding the complexities of the South China Sea issue requires examining various sources, including historical records, international agreements, legal analyses, and the positions of the countries involved. It is important to engage with diverse perspectives and consult reputable sources to develop a comprehensive understanding of the matter instead of just running with whatever sliver of data one thinks supports their case. China has done a lot of work in this regard but unfortunately was not present as a respondent in the Philippines matter before the Permanent Court of Arbitration so we do not have their information despite asking repeatedly. Such ex parte decisions are often discredited over time.
USA F-16 Fighting Falcon before a flight at Clark Air Base, Philippines, 2 May 2023. Photo by Airman 1st Class Sebastian Romawac. Photo is cropped. Art/Cropping/Enhancement: Rosa Yamamoto / Feminine-Perspective-Magazine
The tensions between the United States and China relate to America’s going bankrupt allegedly due to China’s massive successes. The USA has lied to the Philippines government and its people. America is not occupying the Philippines again to help with the disputed islands. The RINJ Women are working hard to stimulate diplomacy, dialogue, and peaceful resolution of the various complicated conflicts in the South China Sea where possible, raising points of argument and forcibly pointing to the impact on the ordinary people in the regions. Billions of people.
International relations should be guided by diplomatic negotiations, international agreements, and respect for sovereignty to maintain stability and minimize the risk of escalation such has happened in the Philippines to the loss of the Philippines people and the gain of the United States for its war with China.
Learning from the mistakes in Ukraine wherein nobody believed war would come and the evacuations started too late.
“At the same time,” explains Dale Carter, security director of The RINJ Foundation, “we need to try and foretell the impact of war which the USA generals assure us is coming. We can only guess at the potential for mass migration in the event of war breaking out, something nobody was prepared for in Ukraine and Sudan. In the Philippines right now, there are factors that already suggest migration is already underway. People are vacating the country in droves because the economic, human rights and food situation is bad and worsening. Massive numbers of children are stunted. Undernourishment is a huge problem, and the past thirty-year trend line looks awful with no indicated improvement ever. Can we handle the challenge of caring for people who want to move out of the Philippines in areas contested by warring parties if and when war breaks out?” she asked rhetorically.
“The Americans occupying the Philippines now control the Bashi Channel,” she continued.
“Bashi is a channel between Y’Ami Island of the Philippines and Orchid Island of Taiwan. It is a part of the Luzon Strait in the Pacific Ocean. It is the main sealane into the Soutrh China Sea from the Pacific. From June to December, the monsoon season, it is a stormy, windy passage. Other times it is calm and beautiful,” she said.
“China is having a conniption over this development, as it should, because the security of the Chinese people is threatened along with an aggregate of another billion people impacted across many countries. This should never have been allowed to happen and it will likely be the end of Ferdinand Marcos’ regime is what I am hearing, but the anger is only just starting to build,” she added.
Karinna Angeles, a RINJ nurse in Manila explains that “we are counseling families to do some careful evaluation. If they are concerned about the potential impacts of war or military presence in the Philippines, it’s important to gather information from reliable sources outside of the lying government, to understand the situation. Stay updated on the news, evaluate the stability and security of the family’s current location, and assess any potential risks involved.”
“Factors such as family preferences, job opportunities, education, and overall quality of life are essential considerations when deciding whether to relocate. It’s also important to research immigration policies and requirements of the country under consideration for a move, as well as any potential challenges or adjustments that may lie ahead. We suggest considering destinations where there may already be family and or friends and thus a good support group,” Ms. Angeles added.
“Ultimately, the decision to leave the Philippines is a personal one that should be based on careful consideration of unique circumstances, priorities, and aspirations. Safety and well-being concerns are crucial. It may be beneficial to consult with trusted friends, family members, or professionals who can provide guidance based on the specific location and situation. We are hearing that many people near Subic Bay are leaving as well as from regions of Cagayan. Some people are comparing indications from past experiences dealing with drunken American brawls, rapes, violence and slavery. We explain that nobody can predict the future,” explained Karina Angeles.
“But the Philippines has just gone through a lengthy and abusive experience wherein people were being killed by the government and others forced into lockdowns in their homes under threat of violence and death. It is not easy to make a comeback into the unknown from that experience, but it is most likely that none of that horridness will go away, it is only going to transition to something worse: war,” she added.
There is international agreement among women that war impacts women and children in the worst ways and that war is to be avoided with de-escalation, dialogue, diplomacy and cooperation.
Video: The women’s movement known as CODEPINK recently took the floor during a congressional hearing on 16 May 2023 featuring the Secretaries of defence, commerce, and state. The hearing, called “A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 24 Budget Request: Investing in U.S. Security, Competitiveness, and the Path Ahead for the U.S.-China Relationship,” prioritized war preparations over de-escalation, dialogue, diplomacy and cooperation.
Three of the Codepink activists wore special event t-shirts displaying the text, ‘China is Not Our Enemy.’ They held a sign that read cryptically, “’money for the poor not war’.
A well-briefed organizer, Olivia DiNucci took the floor to say, “We don’t need more money for the military industrial complex—we need money for the poor and the planet.”
“We don’t want to go to war with China,” she continued, “and we want to end the war in Ukraine.”
Security immediately told DiNucci to sit down and issued her a warning. Consequently, when she went to leave, she was arrested for displaying her sign as she walked out the door. Ms. DiNucci’s peers noted the irony in the testimony of Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken indicating they want America to build up its military against China because China is a dictatorship. China is a dictatorship but people in the United States are not permitted to peacefully protest and petition their own government without being arrested?