China demanding respect while breaking world law

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

The Philippine Coast Guard rescued last week a Chinese national who suffered head injury aboard a Chinese vessel off Zamboanga’s coast. The PCG reported that Zhang Donggou had fallen off the bridge deck of Shi Dailo that was passing through Philippine waters June 10th.

The National Maritime Center received a distress call for medical evacuation. At once, the PCG dispatched a special operations team with doctors to rush the victim to its Southwestern Mindanao base clinic. The foreigner was then transferred to a private hospital for further treatment and monitoring until recuperation.

The PCG displayed cooperation and empathy. It abides by the 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. SOLAS requires humanitarian aid regardless of nationality.

In contrast, Beijing intensified last weekend aggressions in the South China Sea. It began enforcing a China Coast Guard policy to detain “foreign trespassers” for 60 days. Beijing baselessly claims the entire SCS. Threatened by Beijing’s new rule are travelers, researchers and fishers of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines in their respective 200-mile exclusive economic zones.

On May 19th, four CCG rigid hull inflatable boats from two gunboats blocked and rammed a PCG RHIB half their size. The Filipinos were evacuating a sick Marine from BRP Sierra Madre beached at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal. Beijing disregards humanitarian aims.

Beijing twists the law. Last Monday, June 17th, the CCG blocked the latest food resupply to Sierra Madre. It blamed on the Philippine vessel the collision with its gunboat, which was trespassing in the first place. Ayungin is Philippine EEZ.

In early June, China banned fishing in the entire SCS, including the EEZs of five ASEAN countries and Taiwan.

A 2020 Beijing law authorizes the CCG to fire at, board or destroy foreign vessels and facilities in the SCS. Its 10-dash line encompasses even SCS international waters.

China aspires for world respect. But it flouts pacts like SOLAS.

Chinese national rescued at sea
PCG photo

In June 2019, a China maritime militia steel trawler rammed an anchored Filipino wooden boat, throwing 26 fishermen into the night sea. The trawler momentarily trained its searchlight at the victims, switched it off, then sped away. It was poaching in Recto Bank 80 miles off Palawan, well within Philippine EEZ and 650 miles beyond China’s.

Another hit-and-run occurred at noon in December 2023. A Chinese cargo ship crushed a Filipino wooden banca off Mindoro. Five fishermen were abandoned at sea. China routinely menaces other ASEAN fishers.

China violates the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It not only trespasses the EEZs of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. It even grabbed 25 reefs and shoals of the five.

Nine are owned by the Philippines: Panganiban (Mischief), Zamora (Subi), Kagitingan (Fiery Cross), Burgos (Gaven), Calderon (Cuarteron), McKennan (Hughes), Mabini (Johnson South), Panatag (Scarborough) and Sandy Cay.

China has concreted Panganiban, Zamora and Kagitingan into island fortresses and military airstrips. Wildlife was destroyed. That violated not only UNCLOS but also the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. China ignores the 2016 censure by The Hague permanent court of arbitration.

In November 2023, China pulverized 12,000 hectares of corals in Rozul (Iroquois) Reef and Escoda (Sabina) Shoal, both at Recto’s southside. Six People’s Liberation Army-Navy warships are circling the area, preparatory to landfilling. China will then steal Recto’s 5.4 billion barrels of oil and 55.1 trillion cubic feet of gas.

To justify its dictatorship, the Chinese Communist Party strives to please its citizens. It built 13 dams on its side of the Mekong River. That choked downstream flow to Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Farms and fishponds there dried up.

China has no qualms breaking the 1992 UN Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. It blocks the flow of five great rivers from Tibet, an independent kingdom that it annexed in 1952. At its mercy are India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan.

China’s 2,551-strong distant-water fishing fleet habitually engages in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) catching in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. No care for the 2001 International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing.

China’s Navy frequently barges into the Antarctic Sea to target practice machinegunning at penguins. Oblivious of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty that forbids militarization.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., dwIZ (882-AM).

Follow me on Facebook: https://tinyurl.com/Jarius-Bondoc

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