Still Under Pressure: Manila Versus the Militia

April 16, 2019  |  AMTI BRIEF

Still Under Pressure: Manila Versus the Militia

Since early March, Chinese fishing vessels—apparently part of the country’s maritime militia force—have been operating near two Philippine-held features in the disputed Spratly Islands: Loaita Island and Loaita Cay, called Kota and Panata Islands by Filipinos. The Philippine press began to report this militia presence in early April, prompting the government to say it would protest to Beijing. This comes as tensions between the two sides are running high over the presence of a larger Chinese flotilla deployed since December 2018 near Philippine-occupied Thitu Island. Over the last several weeks, Philippine officials have issued diplomatic protests and public recriminations against Beijing over that deployment, which appears aimed at dissuading Manila from continuing modest infrastructure upgrades on Thitu. Continue reading “Still Under Pressure: Manila Versus the Militia”
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Back off from Thitu island: President Duterte tells China

Philippine president warns of possible military action if Beijing ‘touches’ Thitu island in South China Sea.

Friday April 5, 2019 AlJazeera
China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have all staked claims to various islands [Al Jazeera]
China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have all staked claims to various islands [Al Jazeera]

 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned China to back off from a disputed island in the South China Sea, warning of possible military action if Beijing “touches” it amid rising tensions over the key waterway.

Continue reading “Back off from Thitu island: President Duterte tells China”

China’s latest island grab: Fishing ‘militia’ makes move on sandbars around Philippines’ Thitu Island

Beijing has snatched another patch of the South China Sea, with its “militia” seizing control of a string of sandbars and denying fishermen access.

Jamie Seidel, AFP
News Corp Australia Network MARCH 5, 2019 1:57PM

China has won the South China Sea

There’s a new name in the South China Sea’s growing list of flashpoints: Thitu Island. While nowhere near the scale of Fiery Cross or Mischief Reefs, this island and bundle of low-lying sandbars off the Philippines coast is just as significant.

It’s a prosperous fishing spot. And it’s another potential territorial marker in the hotly contested international waterway.

Now, China has physically staked its claim over the sandbars that surround it. Continue reading “China’s latest island grab: Fishing ‘militia’ makes move on sandbars around Philippines’ Thitu Island”

Under Pressure: Philippine Construction Provokes a Paramilitary Response

February 6, 2019  |  AMTI BRIEF

Under Pressure: Philippine Construction Provokes a Paramilitary Response

On February 4, Philippine defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced that construction of a new beaching ramp at Thitu Island would be completed in early 2019. Thitu is the largest of the nine features occupied by the Philippines in the Spratlys Islands and is home to about 100 civilians along with a small military garrison. The ramp, which was originally scheduled for completion in 2018, will facilitate the delivery of construction equipment and materials to the island for further planned upgrades, especially to its crumbling runway. AMTI previously tracked the start of repair work on the runway in May 2018, but that appears to have been halted while the beaching ramp is completed. Continue reading “Under Pressure: Philippine Construction Provokes a Paramilitary Response”

A place called ‘hope’: the tiny island on the frontline of US-China tensions

More than 100 Filipinos live 15 miles from one of Beijing’s most ambitious island bases in the South China Sea

A Filipino soldier patrolling the shore of Pagasa island (Thitu Island) in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea.
A Filipino soldier patrolling the shore of Pagasa island (Thitu Island) in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea. Photograph: Reuters

On the horizon, the azure sea water stops and the white, concrete structures of the Chinese military base rise up.

“Sometimes we get nervous because we are only civilians. If they invade the island, they can harm us. They can do whatever they want,” says Romeo Malaguit, a fisherman and father of two, who lives on the nearby Philippine-claimed island Thitu.

Locally known as Pag-asa, meaning hope in Tagalog, Thitu is a tree-studded settlement no more than 1.5km long and 800 metres wide. A dilapidated runway takes up almost half the area. Continue reading “A place called ‘hope’: the tiny island on the frontline of US-China tensions”

Việt Nam reaffirms sovereignty over Trường Sa

vietnamnews

Update: May, 09/2017 – 10:20

As asserted many times previously, Việt Nam has sufficient legal grounds and historical evidence proving its sovereignty over Trường Sa (Spratly) archipelago, stated Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng. — VNA/VNS Photo Văn Điệp

HÀ NỘI — As asserted many times previously, Việt Nam has sufficient legal grounds and historical evidence proving its sovereignty over Trường Sa (Spratly) archipelago, stated Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lê Thị Thu Hằng. Continue reading “Việt Nam reaffirms sovereignty over Trường Sa”

China, Philippines spar over military visit to island

Al Jaazeera

China voices displeasure after high-profile Philippine military brass visit disputed island in the South China Sea.

Troops march as a plane carrying Philippine military brass arrives on Pag-asa island [Bullit Marquez/AP]

China has protested about a visit by Philippine military chiefs to a disputed island in the South China Sea, but Manila maintained on Saturday that it owns the territory where Filipino troops and villagers have lived for decades.

The public argument comes amid a thaw in once-frosty relations between the neighbours after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office last June and moved to rekindle Manila’s friendship with Beijing, which has been strained by long-seething territorial disputes. Continue reading “China, Philippines spar over military visit to island”