China rejects Vietnam’s call to stop oil drilling

Updated 05 May 2014
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China rejects Vietnam’s call to stop oil drilling

HANOI, Vietnam: Vietnam demanded China stop oil drilling operations in a disputed patch of the South China Sea, saying on Monday that Beijing’s decision to deploy a deep sea rig over the weekend was illegal.
China dismissed the objections, saying the activity was being carried out in its territorial waters.
Beijing’s increasingly assertive territorial claims to the waters, which are thought to have large oil and gas deposits beneath them, have angered Vietnam, the Philippines and other claimants. The region is widely seen as a potential area of conflict.
Last week, President Barack Obama signed a new defense pact with the Philippines aimed at reassuring Asian allies of American backing as they wrangle with Beijing’s growing economic and military might.
The China Maritime Safety Administration posted a navigational warning on its website advising that the CNOOC 981 rig would be drilling in the South China Sea from May 4 to Aug. 15, in an area close to the Paracel Islands, which are controlled by China but Vietnam claims as its own.
China’s maritime administration also said that ships entering a 3-mile (4.8-kilometers) radius around the area are prohibited.
Vietnam’s foreign ministry said the area where the rig was stationed lay within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf as defined by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“All foreign activities in Vietnam’s seas without Vietnam’s permission are illegal and invalid,” the ministry said in a statement. “Vietnam resolutely protests them.”
Vietnam’s state-owned oil company, PetroVietnam, demanded that China National Offshore Oil Corporation “immediately stop all the illegal activities and withdraw the rig from Vietnamese waters.”
Asked about Vietnam’s objections, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the drilling was taking place in Chinese waters.
Many analysts believe China is embarking on a strategy of gradually pressing its claims in the water by seeing what it can get away with, believing that its much smaller neighbors will be unable or unwilling to stop them. Vietnam has accused Chinese ships of cutting cables to its exploration vessels and harassing fishermen, as has the Philippines.
Chinese assertiveness puts Vietnam’s authoritarian government in difficult position domestically because anger at China, an ideological ally, runs deep in the country. This is exploited by dissident movements, who accuse the government of being unwilling to speak out against Beijing.
Tran Cong Truc, the former head of a government committee overseeing the country’s border issues, said the latest Chinese move was especially provocative.
“This act by China is much more dangerous than previous actions such as cutting the exploration cable or fishing bans,” he said.
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Associated Press news assistant Zhao Liang in Beijing contributed to this report.


New Philippine military chief vows to drive Daesh out

Updated 12 min 44 sec ago
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New Philippine military chief vows to drive Daesh out

  • New military chief seeks cooperation of mainstream Muslim groups in fighting violent extremists
  • For the first time, leaders of the two major Muslim rebel groups attended the Philippine military's change of command ceremony

MANILA: The new armed forces chief in the Philippines took up his post with a pledge to drive Daesh from the Philippines while also extending an olive branch to Filipino militants and insurgents.
Army Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez became the country’s 50th military chief on Wednesday, replacing the retiring Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero. 
President Rodrigo Duterte led the change of command ceremony at Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.
In a speech at the ceremony, Galvez called on all enemies of the state to choose peace. “It is time for rebuilding and reconciliation among Filipinos,” he said.
“It is the best time to walk the path of peace. I now extend to our misguided brothers and sisters a chance to end all conflicts,” he added.
He noted that that for decades, Filipinos have fought fellow Filipinos. Communist rebels, Galvez said, have brought misery and enmity among Filipinos, while Abu Sayyaf and other local groups have terrorized communities. He added though that many members of these insurgent and militant groups had already abandoned their illegal activities and begun rebuilding their lives.
“Hundreds of our comrades have already stocked arms and abandoned your hopeless cause. They have seen by themselves that our government is a just and fair government. Your armed forces... invite you to abandon your pointless struggle and return home to your families and your community,” said Galvez.
Galvez pointed out that violent extremism remains a threat as shown by the destructive fighting in Marawi City, which was attacked by members of the Daesh-inspired Maute Group in May last year. 
The Marawi crisis lasted almost five months.
“Daesh and the battle of Marawi have just very recently shown us how truly destructive violent extremism can be. We have won many battles but we have yet to win the war,” he said.
“Violent extremists and their corrupted ideology remain a threat. Too much (blood) has been spilled. Too many lives have been lost to terror and hate,” he added.
He called on all peace-loving Filipinos, including “our Muslim brothers and sisters,” to join the AFP in the fight against all forms of violent extremism. 
“We will pursue with even more vigor our campaign to end insurgency and terrorism. And with your indispensable help, we will ultimately win,” he said,
“Together, we shall render the cause of insurgency irrelevant for it can only thrive where discord prevails. Together we shall defeat the Abu Sayyaf and all other terrorist group for terrorism only works when people are divided and afraid. Together we shall drive Daesh and other violent extremists from our shores for extremism dies in the light of a people united and strong,” he added.
For the first time, leaders of the two major Muslim revolutionary groups, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), attended the change of command ceremony.
Galvez expressed his full support to the peace process with the armed groups.
“Even though we soldiers are warriors, we shall always prepare the path of peace. Hence we shall support all peace initiatives of the government,” he said.
“We shall more vigorously work hand in hand with government agencies, non-government organizations and other stakeholders to address the underlying cause of conflict. We shall keep our door open with all peaceful possibilities.
“We look forward to the final peaceful political resolution of conflict in Mindanao,” Galvez continued, as he vowed to further strengthen existing peace mechanisms and revitalize the peace and development offices of AFP unified command levels.