*China eyes 3 PH islands play significant roles in the country’s national security, according to military officials- Inquirer.net
*China eyes a strategic Military port in the Philippines - IMOA.ph
*Chinese casinos near PH military camps worry DND - Inquirer.net
*China eyes Palawan - thephilbiznews.com
*China eyes Manila Trench as possible site for its underwater base - Inquirer.net
Photo: China POGO currently occupies an entire island in Cavite for Chinese POGO workers.
China eyes 3 PH islands that play significant roles in the country’s national security, according to military officials. -inquirer.net
The islands — Fuga in Cagayan province, and adjacent Grande and Chiquita in Subic Bay, Zambales province — play significant roles in the country’s national security, according to military officials.
Fuga Island, part of the country’s second northernmost island group, provides access to the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, while Subic Bay is just 260 kilometers from Panatag Shoal that China seized from the Philippines in 2012.
The Chinese company’s Fuga plan would be patterned after its ongoing megainfrastructure project in Fujian province, the agency said.
The 10,000-hectare Fuga Island is a quiet, coastal town in Babuyan archipelago, the second northernmost island group in the Philippines. Its location provides access to both sides of the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.
The island, off mainland Luzon, belongs to the municipality of Aparri in Cagayan province.
Control of Luzon Strait
For the Philippine Navy, Fuga and all other features in the Batanes Group of Islands are considered “strategic features” because “it can potentially control access to Luzon Strait.”
“It is one of the rationales for establishing presence on Mavulis Island at the border with Taiwan,” said the Navy spokesperson, Capt. Jonathan Zata, referring to the naval detachment launched in the northernmost part of the Philippines this year.
Fuga Island is also considered “unique” by the Navy for its private airfield on one of the adjacent islets and lies astride a telecommunications submarine cable connecting the country with mainland Asia.
Subic Bay, Panatag
Subic Bay, a former US military base until it closed in 1992, is about 260 kilometers from the Chinese-controlled Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, waters within the country’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
Both Grande and Chiquita served as key defenses of Spain and the United States during their colonization of the Philippines.
Grande Island sits at the mouth of Subic Bay, and served as an important naval fortification for the United States during World War II.
On the western side of the Philippines, Beijing has been flexing its military muscle to have effective control of the South China Sea, one of the biggest potential flash points in the region.
Skeptics are suspicious of the 3,400-meter runway and the nearby deep-water port that are not supposed to be necessary for tourism purposes.
Public trust toward China in the country is also low amid reports of the influx of Chinese nationals and ongoing developments in the West Philippine Sea.
A recent survey by pollster Pulse Asia showed that China was the least trusted country by a majority of Filipinos.
China eyes a strategic Military port in the Philippines - IMOA.ph
A sudden and unexpected bankruptcy has provided China with a unique opportunity to win control of a Philippine port facility at Subic, the former site of US military bases that were closed in 1991 amid a surge of anti-American nationalism at the end of the Cold War.
Situated about 50 miles north of Manila, the port opens onto the strategic and contested South China Sea. It also lies just over 100 nautical miles from the contested Scarborough Shoal, currently occupied by China and seen as a crucial link if Beijing moves to impose an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the maritime area.
Chinese casinos near PH military camps worry DND -globalnation.inquirer.net
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday (Aug. 16) raised concern over the location of Chinese casinos, also known as Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogo), which appeared to be too close for comfort to Philippine military camps in Metro Manila.
“This is very concerning until such time I saw the map,” Lorenzana told reporters. “They are near,” he said.
He cited the locations of Chinese casinos at Araneta Center and Eastwood which are within striking distance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo.
Pictures of satellite maps showing the locations of the Chinese casinos near some of the Philippine military’s biggest camps in Metro Manila had gone viral on social media.
The Philippine defense installations near the Chinese casinos, which employ an army of up to 130,000 Chinese workers, included Camp Aguinaldo, the Philippine National Police headquarters Camp Crame, the Air Force headquarters in Pasay City, the Philippine Army headquarters in Taguig City and the Philippine Navy headquarters on Roxas Boulevard.
In Kawit, Cavite, a 36-hectare former resort is being transformed into a Pogo hub that can accommodate up to 20,000 Chinese workers. The site is just 3 kilometers from a facility being used by the Philippine Air Force’s 15th Strike Wing and Philippine naval base Heracleo Alano in Sangley Point, a former US base in Cavite province.
Lawmakers have also recently expressed concern on the location of Pogo centers near military camps.
While it remains unlikely for now, Lorenzana said the Chinese workers in Pogo facilities can shift their operations to spying.
China eyes Palawan - thephilbiznews.com
Chinese interest on Palawan
It is interesting to note that last November, President Duterte told the Palawan provincial government that he would be compelled to expropriate the franchise of independent power producers in Palawan and sell them to “big players” to end the power outages in the province. “China is itching just to get a hold of development here,” he said. Duterte also decided not to allow any country to stockpile arms and ammunition in Palawan.
In my opinion, this would be the first step for China to get a strong foothold on Palawan, especially so that there is a plan to break Palawan into three provinces. Anders Corrs, a European-based international risk analyst said, “If China wants a military base on Palawan, mining rights, or fishing rights, after breakup it would have multiple officials with whom it can negotiate or bribe, playing one against the other.”
On Duterte’s decision to keep Palawan free from foreign arms stockpiles, Corrs said, “It would leave Palawan militarily vulnerable to the advantage of China.” Indeed, China has been eyeing Palawan for at least three decades now, which makes one wonder: Without MDT and EDCA what do you think China would do next?
Geographically speaking, Palawan is only 100 miles away from the China’s militarized artificial islands in the Spratlys while there is the large Sea of Palawan that separates it from the rest of the Philippines. And without MDT and EDCA, Duterte might just as well kiss Palawan goodbye.
China eyes Manila Trench as possible site for its underwater base- Inquirer.net
The Manila Trench, an oceanographic feature situated within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is one of the locations being eyed by China for its proposed underwater base in the South China Sea.
The Hong Kong daily newspaper South China Morning Post reported early this week that China is considering to build an underwater sea base, dubbed as AI Atlantis, in the hotly-contested waterway, for its unmanned submarine science and defense operations.
“The project – named in part after Hades, the underworld of Greek mythology – was launched at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing this month after a visit to a deep sea research institute at Sanya, Hainan province, by Chinese President Xi Jinping in April,” the report said.
The ambitious project, seen as “the first artificial intelligence colony on Earth,” is estimated to cost Chinese taxpayers $160 million.
A massive earthquake could trigger a tsunami as high as four meters towards the Pearl River Delta Area, including Hong Kong, within three hours, he pointed out.
Part of the project includes underwater docking platforms and robot submarines to survey the seabed. China would operate the base in the South China Sea, where they have built huge, artificial military outposts in recent years.
The Manila Trench, which is closer than Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal) to the country’s nearest landmass, was the site of a tense stand-off between the Philippines and China two years ago. It was the incident that prompted the former to file a maritime case in the international court in 2013. The ruling, which invalidated the Asian superpower’s massive sea claims, was never acknowledged by China.
Davao City eyes sisterhood pact with Chongqing, China
President Duterte’s hometown is seeking to further deepen its ties with China as it works out a sisterhood agreement with Chongqing for the development of an industrial park out of this upcoming relationship.
Chongqing is one of four municipalities in China that are under the direct administration of the Chinese central government.
Since taking power in 2016, Duterte has pivoted towards China.
Firm that built China's fake islands gets Davao City deal
A Chinese state-owned company said to have been involved in Beijing's island-building in the South China Sea signed a deal to construct islands for rival claimant the Philippines as its President Rodrigo Duterte visited last week, reports said.
CCCC Dredging will create four artificial islands totaling 208 hectares of reclaimed land in Davao, the port city on the southern island of Mindanao where Duterte was mayor, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.
The islands will spread along eight kilometers of coastline and be used for government buildings, commercial spaces, residences, ports and industry in a project to be completed by 2019, it added.
The deal with the Philippines' Mega Harbour Port and Development was one of several inked as Duterte paid a state visit to China last week, when Beijing offered $9 billion in soft loans for development projects.
Philippines' Sangley airport deal seen as favouring China
People who reviewed the joint venture documents and feasibility study said these showed that a Chinese partner was favoured from the beginning. The Inquirer has also seen copies of the documents.
The sources included groups that decided to back out due to what they described as the project’s subjective criteria and a rushed selection process.
Instead of at least six months to a year, bidders were given just more than two months to prepare proposals before the deadline on Dec 17,2019. At the time, the Cavite government had wanted to hold a groundbreaking ceremony early this year.
“It was clear to us that the project is really for China, ” said someone who had seen the documents.
"China has been deploying dozens, sometimes up to a hundred, militia vessels from nearby Subi Reef to keep an eye on Philippine operations in Pag-asa, sometimes to prevent vessels from getting to Pag-asa,"
Chinese militia vessels were found surrounding an island in the West Philippine Sea, according to Anthony Esguerra's Friday report on Stand for Truth.
CSIS-Asia Maritime Transparency Institute Director Gregory Poling warned the Philippine government of militia vessels guarding the Pag-asa Island.
"China has been deploying dozens, sometimes up to a hundred, militia vessels from nearby Subi Reef to keep an eye on Philippine operations in Pag-asa, sometimes to prevent vessels from getting to Pag-asa," Poling said.
"As a result, the AFP's planned upgrade work -- to fix the runway and build a beach and ramp -- none of that has really moved forward much for over a year now. It's been delayed," he added.
Duterte says China's Xi threatened war if Philippines drills for oil
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday Chinese counterpart China Xi Jinping had warned him there would be war if Manila tried to enforce an arbitration ruling and drill for oil in a disputed part of the South China Sea.
In remarks that could infuriate China, Duterte hit back at domestic critics who said he has gone soft on Beijing by refusing to push it to comply with an award last year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which ruled largely in favor of the Philippines.
Duterte said he discussed it with Xi when the two met in Beijing on Monday, and got a firm, but friendly warning.
“We intend to drill oil there, if it’s yours, well, that’s your view, but my view is, I can drill the oil, if there is some inside the bowels of the earth because it is ours,” Duterte said in a speech, recalling his conversation with Xi.
“His response to me, ‘we’re friends, we don’t want to quarrel with you, we want to maintain the presence of warm relationship, but if you force the issue, we’ll go to war.”
Duterte has long expressed his admiration for Xi and said he would raise the arbitration ruling with him eventually, but needed first to strengthen relations between the two countries, which the Philippines is hoping will yield billions of dollars in Chinese loans and infrastructure investments.
The Hague award clarifies Philippine sovereign rights in its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone to access offshore oil and gas fields, including the Reed Bank, 85 nautical miles off its coast.
It also invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim on its maps denoting sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.
Duterte has a reputation for his candid, at times incendiary, remarks and his office typically backpeddles on his behalf and blames the media for distorting his most controversial comments.
Duterte recalled the same story about his discussion with Xi on oil exploration in a recorded television show aired moments after the speech.
He said Xi told him “do not touch it”.
He said Xi had promised that the arbitration ruling would be discussed in future, but not now.
Duterte said China did not want to bring up the arbitral ruling at a time when other claimant countries, like Vietnam, might also decide to file cases against it at the arbitration tribunal.
It was not the first time the firebrand leader has publicly discussed the content of private meetings with other world leaders.
Chinese company launches onshore oil project in Cebu
PRESIDENT DUTERTE warned residents of Alegria, Cebu, to brace for the influx of local migrants as a Chinese company launched on Saturday the commercial operation of the first onshore oil discovery in the country.
“Prepare for a massive migration,” he told the townfolk who witnessed the event, which was hosted by China International Mining Petroleum Co. Ltd. (CIMP), the entity behind the project that expects to drill at least 3 million barrels of oil up in the mountains of Alegria in the next 19 years.
Doing business with China means mining in PH
One way or another, Duterte’s “pivot” towards China is going to run counter to his administration’s environmental policy orientation, at least as far as mining is concerned, because it will result in new mining operations, or the reopening of operations that the administration, through the efforts of DENR’s Lopez, have already judged should be closed. And China, whose environmental record is best described as “appalling,” is unlikely to be of any help to the Philippines in maintaining a sustainable or environmentally responsible mining sector.