Philippines to erect ‘structures’ to assert sovereignty in South China Sea


Top politics and current affairs news for March 13, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "Trump to host Xi at Mar-a-Lago in April — U.S. media."

  • As concern over China mounts, Duterte orders navy to build ‘structures’ east of Philippines / SCMP
    Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday that he had ordered the navy to put up “structures” to assert Philippine sovereignty over Benham Rise, an area of ocean about 160 miles from the island nation’s northeastern coast, where a Chinese ship was spotted by the Philippine military last week. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana further explained that Duterte’s instruction was to increase naval patrols in that region and erect structures that say “this is ours,” but he didn’t specify what structures will be built. According to the defense chief, the Philippines’ military has observed several Chinese survey ships crisscrossing the Benham Rise waters from July to December of last year. In response, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said that Chinese vessels were only enjoying freedom of navigation and the right to innocent passage “without conducting any other activities or operations.”
    Separately, Reuters reports that Vietnam has “demanded that China stop sending cruise ships to the South China Sea,” after a cruise ship carrying more than 300 vacationers visited the disputed Paracel Islands, which China calls the Xisha Archipelago 西沙群岛.
  • Leung Chun-ying elected vice chairman of CPPCC National Committee / Xinhua
    Today, Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying 梁振英 (aka CY Leung) was officially named vice chairman of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at a closed meeting of the annual session of the advisory body. Jonathan Choi Koon-shun 蔡冠深, a CPPCC National Committee member from Hong Kong, said Leung deserves the new position because he successfully maintained the “one country, two systems” principle during his tenure and firmly tackled the “illegal ‘Occupy Central’ movement.”