China Violates ICJ Ruling by Placing Radar in Philippines' Territory
China is once again at the centre of controversy in the South China Sea as one of their aerostat radars has been spotted on a Philippine claimed island. The rapidly deployable radar and unmanned platform was captured in a sattelite image on Panganiban Reef, according to ImageSat International, a commercial company specialising in high resolution satelite images.
Posting on Twitter Monday ImageSat wrote: “For the first time, #China’s aerostat, probably for #military#intelligence-gathering purposes, seen by #ISI at #MischiefReef. The use of #aerostat allows China a continuous situational awareness in this resource-rich region.” Panganiban Reef is located the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea. The placing of the surveillance tech in the region violates the Hague courts 2016 ruling which said Panganiban Reef belongs to the Philippines.
China in recent years has transformed reefs and islands into strategic outposts, providing them with the ability to increase the hold they have over the much disputed region.
“By itself, (the aerostat) has nothing to with the claim. It’s more eyes on the site, but it’s not like they don’t have a lot. The big ones are designed for long-range and over-the-horizon detection. This is for short-range. You could say it completed their domain awareness coverage. What is interesting is that this kind of radar is portable and requires less power/equipment to operate; it could mean they are economizing on power consumption and logistics,” -- Maritime Expert Prof. Jay Batongbacal told INQUIRER.net
This latest development comes as Taiwan has denounced Beijing as the “enemy” this week. Taiwan's ruling party called China the "enemy of democracy" and accused Beijing of interfering in its politics ahead of the island's presidential and legislative elections on January 11.
Australian media reported the accusations made by a Chinese asylum seeker who said he was a spy while the government in Beijing dismissed the allegations dubbing the defector a fraud. Wang Liqiang alleged that he himself was a spy, and described the shocking operations carried out by China's agents, claiming he was tasked with interfering in Taiwanese elections and that the government in Beijing were using Hong Kong listed companies to manipulate its media, the Financial Times reported.
Cho Jung-tai, Chairman of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party condemned China in a scathing statement he said: “The enemy of democracy is China. “At present Taiwan’s most ambitious opponent, competitor, is also China.” Fears have also been raised over Chinese interference with Australia, where the local intelligence agency (ASIO) is investigating whether China tried to install an agent into the federal Parliament.
Australia's '60 Minutes' programme reported the story which ASIO are now investigating, serving as another marker of deteriorating relations between the two countries. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said to reporters in Canberra: “I find the allegations deeply disturbing and troubling." Mr Morrison added: “Australia is not naive to the threats that it faces more broadly.” highlighting the emphasis the country is putting on countering foreign interference.
Taiwan is increasingly finding itself at odds with the Chinese government as Xi Ping is intent on bring the island more obviously in line with the communist government. Taiwanese citizens generally want to remain a separate state however, and this resistance has resulted in increased hostility between the two. Australia has also seen recurring attempts from China to influence its domestic politics as well as its foreign policy in the South China Sea.
Despite China's political tactics sparking fear in its rival's politicians, the diplomatic aggression has also caused issues for Beijing. It has provoked the US to enter the fray in the South China Sea, coming to the aid of smaller nations such as Vietnam and the Philippines.