March 20, 2017

China-Philippines Relations Poor - Chinese oil & submarine channel surveying

China is disadvantaged in being far from its main Persian Gulf sources of oil. Go here, scroll 1/4 way down and click on "China" tab. The Indian, and even more so, US navies can, in the Indian Ocean, block oil from reaching China. Hence China is trying to organise much closer sources of oil that China can control and extract itself in the South China Sea. China's needs and actions are influencing Philippine politics much more than in past years.

Philippine President Duterte and his Defence Minister/Secretary Delfin Lorenzana appear to have a more nuanced attitude (and disagree) about China's expansion into the South China Sea.

Lorenzana said on March 9, 2017 that he was "disturbed" by what he believes are survey missions by Chinese ships deep into the Philippines' 200nm exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Chinese survey missions included a warship detected 70 miles off the Philippine west coast and Chinese survey ships seen in the Philippines’ northeast and southeast seaboard.

Lorenzana voiced frustration on March 9 that since Duterte took office eight months ago, the Philippines had submitted about 12 requests to the Chinese Embassy to explain its maritime activities, but each time the Chinese Embassy had denied they had taken place.

The Philippines won an international arbitration decision in 2016 that invalidated China's claims to a Nine-Dash Line sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea. Duterte did not seek Chinese compliance but instead bartered the arbitration decision for $Billions in Chinese aid and soft loans.

Duterte seems to accept Chinese island building and its claims not because of good China-Philippine relations but because the Chinese military is so powerful the Philippine armed forces couldn't resist it. Chinese claims (on map above) include:

-  Benham Rise (or Plateau) is a 13 million hectare under sea region east of Luzon and is 35 meters underwater at its shallowest point. The "probability is extremely very high" there are massive oil deposits at Benham RiseLorenzana said that satellite imagery provided by allies [Pete Comment.  Probably the US] had tracked Chinese vessels for three months last year in Benham Rise, a vast area declared by the United Nations to be part of the Philippines' continental shelf.

-  Scarborough Shoal - (called Panatag Shoal by the Philippines and Huangyan Dao Reef by China) - a triangular atoll located 220 kilometers west of Luzon. The Shoal area may contain undersea oil. Duterte is allowing Chinese structures "environmental monitoring station" to be built on the Scarborough because China is too powerful and that even the US could not stop China, and

SUBMARINE RELEVANCE?

Lorenzana had received information suggesting China may be surveying seas (in Philippine waters) to map submarine channels for access to open Pacific waters. He said he had told the Philippine Navy to intercept Chinese survey vessels if they return [Pete Comment - Actual Philippine interception of Chinese naval survey vessels is highly unlikely].

See an earlier Submarine Matters' article China's South China Sea Island Base Building of September 24, 2015. This covered China's gradual militarization of Subi Reef, Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Reef, all in the Spratly Islands, South China Sea. Now Benham Rise and Scarborough Shoal appear less military and more oil/gas exploration phase. By military island building China graphically signals how serious it is and then oil/gas exploration can proceed unhindered by countries with less conventional military power than China (ie. all countries except the US).

Pete

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

According to REUTERS JPN [1], Japan will send helicoper carrier Izumo [2, 3, 4] to the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. Izumo will anticipate Malabar 2017. In Malabar 2016, Japan sent a smaller helicopter Hyuga, US-2, P-3C and P-1. In Inzumo, ability as a helicoper carrier is emphasized and its armament is not so strong as Hyuga. Japan may send other warships, but details are yet announced. President Duterte may be invited to Izumo. China showed irritated and nervous response as expected [5].

[1]http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-navy-southchinasea-exclusive-idUSKBN16K0UP
Japan plans to dispatch its largest warship on a three-month tour through the South China Sea beginning in May, three sources said, in its biggest show of naval force in the region since World War Two.

It will return to Japan in August, the sources said. "The aim is to test the capability of the Izumo by sending it out on an extended mission," said one of the sources who have knowledge of the plan. "It will train with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea," he added, asking not to be identified because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

[2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JS_Izumo
[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izumo-class_helicopter_destroyer
[4]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFM4NM3Ue10
[5]http://finance.sina.com.cn/roll/2017-03-17/doc-ifycnpvh4803549.shtml (we can understand size of Izumo, and equipment including medicine)

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said at a regular press conference on the 16th, Japan should reflect on history, do not stir up trouble in the South China Sea, do not do damage to the region peace and stability.
Hua Chunying replied that since last year, with the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea has been steadily improving. The countries concerned should respect the efforts of the countries of the region to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.


Regards

Anonymous said...


Hi Pete

Today, Japanese PM Abe met French counterpart and has announced that the first joint practice by France, Japan, UK and US will be conducted in this year.

Regards

MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

Saudia Arabia may have another option for submarines: used Ula-class / Type 210 from Norway.

Norways Ulas will be replaced soon by Type 212. It is not unusual for Germany Army to lease weapons to other countries (Eurofighter to Austria, tanks for Canada, ...). So maybe Norway will get a German Type 212A and TKMS could overhaul a Norwegian Ula very soon. Several Ulas are already "tropicalized".

KNM Utvær was disqualified from NATO exercise Joint Winter in 2004. The submarine did "sink" to many ships including HMS Invincible for a planed landing operation.

Regards,
MHalblaub

Anonymous said...

France is sending a Mistral class ship to the joint exercises in the Marianas.
KQN

Peter Coates said...

Thanks KQN [at 21/3/17 11:20 PM]

Here's a reference that rounds off your comment. http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/327013/military-exercise-aimed-at-china-planned-for-cnmi

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at 20/3/17 9:25 PM]

Thanks for the details. I'll use the details to do an Izumo-Malabar 2017 article on Thurs of Fri this week or Monday next week.

Regards

Pete

Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at 21/3/17 9:17 PM]

I'm confident Norway would have kept the Ulas in good condition with mainly shallow operations yielding minor hull contractions. Perhaps to prevent any Chinese submarine sales TKMS could lease:

- 2 or 3 tropicalised Ulas to Saudi Arabia and

- 2 or 3 tropicalised Ulas to the Philippines

Then build new 210mods for grateful Saudi and Philo navies.

Regards

Pete

Anonymous said...

Hi Pete

Today, second Izumo-class, Kaga commissioned. Now, Japan has four helicopter carriers. Izumo-class can carry 14 helicoptes including 7 HSs(SH-60K), improvement of anti submarine activity is expected [1].


[1] http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASK3P61MXK3PUTIL05M.html?iref=com_video_01
(“Second of MSDF’s largest warship comes into service”, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN,March 22, 2017 at 16:40 JST)

The Kaga can carry 14 or more helicopters, which will mainly patrol for submarines. Those patrol helicopters will search for Chinese submarines, which are becoming difficult for Japan to detect due to improvements in their capabilities.

Regards