Saturday, August 1, 2020

Australia files declaration against China's claims to islands in South China sea


In life you would have observed some street fighters ! ~ they would tend to fight and harm dangerously without any provocation !   In Western countries, you would have read of ‘random killing’ – a gunshop without any rhyme or reason, without apparent motive – more dangerous than hardcore killers !

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Vincent Arthur Henry McMahon   was a British Indian Army officer and diplomat who served as the High Commissioner in Egypt from 1915 to 1917.  He was also an administrator in the British Raj and served twice as Chief Commissioner of Balochistan. McMahon is best known for the McMahon Line between Tibet and India, and the Declaration to the Seven in response to a memorandum written by seven notable Syrians.

In civilized World too, there are ‘Rogue states’ – the ones that are to be outlawed for threatening global peace. In WW II, the scale of China’s involvement was massive. Chiang, for example, fielded four million troops, while China as a whole lost an estimated 14 million in the war. Had China folded, Japan’s capacity to fight the U.S. or even the Soviets would have been vastly amplified.  On the Chinese side, after 1949 when the civil war was over, the Nationalists had been exiled to Taiwan, and Mao was victorious on the mainland, it rewrote  a virgin history in the mainland of China—that the only people who had made a contribution to fighting and defeating the Japanese.

Recently in a sad day for the Nation, Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in a "violent face-off" with Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Ladakh. At that time there were so many articles on the ambush across the land borders and of earlier hostilities, and more specifically to the   1962 Sino-Indian War which India lost badly because of the administration lapses and lack of strong will by the Govt.

The McMahon Line is the demarcation line between Tibet and the North-east region of India proposed by British colonial administrator Sir Henry McMahon at the 1914 Simla Convention signed between British and Tibetan representatives.  It is currently the generally recognized boundary between China and India, although its legal status is disputed by the Chinese government.  The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is a loose demarcation line that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory in the Sino-Indian border dispute. The term was first used by Zhou Enlai in a 1959 letter to Jawaharlal Nehru.

To those who advocated that the skirmishes were on border dispute – here is something to read. Australia, as we know is thousands of miles away from China. The air travel (bird fly) shortest distance between Australia and China is 7,448 km= 4,628 miles. If one were to travel in an airplane that has   average speed of 560 miles per hour, it would take  8.26 hours to reach one country from other.

Israel, one of India’s top defence suppliers, assured all possible help to the country amid the Ladakh border crisis in a defence minister level conversation on Friday, adding to the list of allies who have pledged support as military tensions continue with China. People aware of the matter said the border situation with China was discussed during a telephonic exchange between defence minister Rajnath Singh and his counterpart Lt Gen Benjamin Gantz in which they also discussed “possibilities of further strengthening the defence engagements”. Besides, the Indonesian defence minister, Prabowo Subianto, is expected to visit New Delhi on Monday for discussions on regional issues and expanding defence ties with new joint naval exercises. India and Indonesia have been working together in the maritime domain, including joint patrolling activities along the Malacca straits under the CORPAT series.

The Spratly Islands dispute is an ongoing territorial dispute between China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Brunei, concerning "ownership" of  a group of small  islands and associated "maritime features" (reefs, banks, cays, etc.) located in the South China Sea. The dispute is characterised by diplomatic stalemate and the employment of military pressure techniques (such as military occupation of disputed territory) in the advancement of national territorial claims. All except Brunei occupy some of the maritime features.

In the 19th century, Europeans found that Chinese fishermen from Hainan annually sojourned on the Spratly islands for part of the year, while in 1877 it was the British who launched the first modern legal claims to the Spratlys.  When the Spratlys and Paracels were being surveyed by Germany in 1883, China issued protests against them. China sent naval forces on inspection tours in 1902 and 1907 and placed flags and markers on the islands. The Qing dynasty's successor state, the Republic of China, claimed the Spratly and Paracel islands under the jurisdiction of Hainan. The Spratlys and the Paracels were conquered by Japan in 1939. Japan administered the Spratlys via Taiwan's jurisdiction and the Paracels via Hainan's jurisdiction.   In 1947, the Republic of China drew up the map showing the U shaped claim on the entire South China Sea, showing the Spratly and Paracels in Chinese territory.  In 1947, the ROC government renamed 159 islands in the area and published the Map of the South China Sea Islands.

There has been a sharp rise in media coverage owing mainly to China's increasingly vocal objection to the presence of American naval vessels transiting the area in order to assert the right to freedom of navigation within international waters. Most of the "maritime features" in this area have at least six names: The "International name", usually in English; the "Chinese name", sometimes different for PRC and ROC (and also in different character-sets); the Vietnamese, Philippine and Malaysian names, and also, there are alternate names (e.g. Spratly Island is also known as Storm Island), and sometimes names with European origins (French, Portuguese, Spanish, British, etc.).

The ongoing dispute with Beijing may worsen as Australia made a declaration at the UN that several disputed islands are not Chinese territory.  Australia filed a declaration at the United Nations in New York on Friday night and rejected claims made by China to parts of the South China Sea. The declaration said China's claims to the Spratly Islands and the Parcel Islands were 'invalid' as they were inconsistent with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

This move will likely anger Beijing as the relationship between the two countries continues to deteriorate, with China bringing in crippling trade sanctions and threatening consumer boycotts. The declaration said Australia does not accept the assertion made by Beijing, who believes it claim to islands and parts of the South China Sea are recognised by the international community.Tensions between the nations have escalated since Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an inquiry into the origins of the coronvirus pandemic. Since then, China has brought in harsh trade tariffs which hit Australian farmers, including an 80 per cent tariff on barley.

'The Australian Government rejects any claims by China that are inconsistent with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in particular, maritime claims that do not adhere to its rules on baselines, maritime zones and classification of features,' the declaration said. 'There is no legal basis for China to draw straight baselines connecting the outermost points of maritime features or ''island groups'' in the South China Sea, including around the ''Four Sha'' or ''continental'' or ''outlying'' archipelagos. Australia said China cannot change the classification of a feature in the South China Sea under UNCLOS. 

The move comes days before talks between Australia and the US at the annual AUSMIN talks, where it is expected China will be a focal point of discussion. Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds are flying to Washington DC on Sunday and will meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper. 'Never has it been more important that we, as allies, sit down together and find every possible way to advance our shared interests,' Senator Payne and Senator Reynolds wrote in The Weekend Australian on Saturday.

Tensions in the South China Sea heightened last week when Chinese Navy and Australian warships were engaged in a stand-off. The Australian vessels were sailing close to the Spratly Islands - which are claimed by Beijing as well as the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam - when the incident happened, the ABC reported. Australian warships - including HMAS Canberra, HMAS Hobart, HMAS Stuart, HMAS Arunta and HMAS Sirius - are on exercise in the region ahead of military war games off Hawaii with the US and Japan. 'Australia is committed to a secure, open, prosperous and resilient Indo-Pacific region. We routinely work with regional partners to address shared security challenges,' a Defence spokesman said.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25.7.2020.

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