In the face of strong international allegations of expansionism in the East Sea (South China Sea or SCS), and with intense urges from many countries for an independent investigation into the true origin of the coronavirus, China had to successively use economic power to pressure other countries, most recently the Philippines and Australia.
An expert on Philippine maritime law, on April 27, 2020, accused China of using assistance to other countries to combat the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid being criticized for its continuous aggressiveness in SCS.
According to Jay Batongbacal, director of the Philippine Institute of Maritime Law and Marine, Beijing has taken advantage of the time to continually launch tricks to increase control in SCS when countries having disputed sovereignty in the sea have to focus on dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Responding to the Philippine media channel ANC, the expert said that “one could argue that (China) uses cooperation as a way to prevent any criticism and action against Chinese actions in West Sea of the Philippines (Filipino name for the SCS), because Beijing’s encroachments in the SCS take place at the same time as medical assistance and offer anti-epidemic cooperation.”
Last week, Beijing received Manila’s objection letter after a Chinese ship pointed a gun-control radar towards a Philippine Navy ship in February and declared Philippine areas in disputed waters belongs to a province of China.
For Batongbacal, the February incident between the Philippine Navy and a Chinese warship was an unprecedented escalation in the history of disputes between the two countries, “an act of aggression, an act of attack. .. heavy damage to diplomacy.” According to him, China knows it is a wrong but still did it.
According to Batongbacal, Manila was hesitant to oppose Beijing because when China acted provocatively in the SCS, the Philippine government had to step up cooperation with Beijing, waiting for Beijing to send medical aid and staff to help, and “all of these must be done before they are informed that they have actually sent a protest note.”
On February 17, Chinese warships aimed artillery on Philippine patrol boats in the SCS.
When the Philippines BRP patrol ship Conrado Yap was on a maritime patrol mission in the South China Sea, where the Malampaya natural gas facility was located, in the Philippine-claimed Kalayaan island group, it was disturbed by Chinese warship.
BRP crew Conrado Yap spotted a warship on the radar display and sent a warning message via radio. The warship responded with the message that the Chinese government has an “undisputed sovereignty” in the surrounding islands and waters in the SCS.
Philippine patrol boats repeated their warnings and asked Chinese ships to leave their sovereignty waters, but Chinese ships ignored the warnings and continued their course. The Philippine patrol ship’s crew confirmed the Chinese warship as a Type-056A missile guard, number 514.
The crew of the BRP ship Conrado Yap observed that the 76 mm cannon on Chinese ship 514 was turning its barrel toward them. The Chinese act is ready to attack the Filipino ship, Western Command, Philippines Armed Forces (AFP Wescom) said in a statement.
Although the BRP Conrado Yap did not have electronic equipment to support the confirmation that the Chinese warship directed a fire-control radar at its ship, the observation images identified the hostile behavior of the Chinese warship. The two ships continued their journey without any unfortunate incident.
BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) with a displacement of 1,200 tons, is the Philippines’ most heavily armed gun. Its original was a Korean-made Pohang-class corvette.
The ship was discontinued in 2016 by the South Korean Navy, then refurbished and provided aid to the Philippines.
However, allegations of China’s use of medical aid to evade its criticism of its ongoing encroachment actions in the SCS were immediately dismissed by the Philippine foreign minister.
Batongbacal’s allegations were immediately dismissed by the Philippine foreign minister. In a Twitter message, Mr. Teodoro Locsin Jr. defended China, arguing that there was no connection between Beijing helping the Philippines to fight COVID-19 and what happened in SCS.
Earlier, Secretary of State Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced, the Philippines has sent two diplomatic notes against China. In addition to the February 17 event, the Philippines also objected to China “declaring a part of the Philippines’ territory to belong to the sovereignty of Hainan province” by establishing two administrative zones called Xisha and Nansha in the SCS last week.
Secretary of State Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the Chinese Embassy has received notes on the afternoon of April 22. At the same time, the head of the Philippine Foreign Ministry warned other officials not to comment on this. “I hope that no one else in the government comments because they don’t have the capacity to do it,” Locsin wrote on Twitter the same day.
Earlier, former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario urged the Philippines to protest China’s moves, saying Beijing’s recent actions show it “has been constantly abusing the pandemic, continuing to pursue its claims and illegal expansion in the South China Sea.”
In another development, Chinese Ambassador to Canberra, Cheng Jingye, warned: Chinese tourists and students will boycott Australia if the Canberra government requests a investigation of COVID-19.
The warning was issued when the Chinese ambassador to Australia gave an interview to the Australian Financial Review on April 26.
The Chinese ambassador, Cheng Jingye, threatened that Australia’s request to open an independent investigation was a “dangerous” act that would not be responded internationally, in addition to that the Chinese public would be “urgent and bewildered” and disappointed by that attitude of Australia, they will wonder if Australia is still a friend of China or not (…) Chinese tourists will rethink the possibility of visiting Australia.
Chinese ambassador to Canberra also highlighted the possibility of Chinese boycotts from alcohol to Australian beef, Chinese students turn their backs on Australian universities.
Also in the answer to the Australian financial newspaper, the Chinese Ambassador did not forget to accuse Canberra of being a loudspeaker of Washington, repeating the US view.
This is the latest sign that relations between Beijing and Canberra continue to deteriorate.
In response to Beijing’s accusation, Secretary of State Payne in the Sydney Morning Herald on April 27 said that the Australian government “rejected all claims that imply economic pressure. Regarding COVID-19, the international community needs a global cooperation.”
Still according to the Australian Foreign Minister, the request to open an independent investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic was justified, as the health crisis had ed to many serious economic and social impacts.
Secretary Payne said: “A transparent and honest assessment of events will be essential as we end the pandemic and draw important lessons to improve our response to future. We hope all WHO’s members will cooperate in such efforts.”
Earlier, Australian Government officials had made moves to call for an investigation into the origin of the virus that caused the global pandemic.
On April 19, on ABC, Secretary of State Marise Payne declared Canberra of endorsing Washington’s call for an independent investigation into the corona virus’s origin and how Beijing handled the crisis when the pandemic broke out.
The Australian Government has called for an investigation into the origin of the disease, as well as the reorganization of WHO. Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said an independent investigation would serve the interests of both the country and the world.
According to the Australian Financial Review, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison mentioned this in talks with many leaders, including US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
To emphasize his call, Mr. Morrison said that all members of WHO should be obliged to participate in the assessment.
Officials in the UK, France and the European Union have taken a position that their priority is to fight the pandemic, but agreed to a need to re-consider the response to the disease.
Is the world so dependent on China?
Both the Philippines and Australia are “in a pinch” in relation to China.
China is increasingly being able to encroach and expose itself as an “ugly nation,” ready to take the power of “big country” to trample other countries.
Will China have its place in the world after Covid-19, after a series of concealment and threatening actions, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people around the world?
While countries are struggling to fight the pandemic, the red China has taken advantage of the time, inversely infringing upon the sovereignty of a number of other countries, including Vietnam.
Hai Yen from Hanoi – Thoibao.de (Translated)