By Raïssa Robles
The plane passengers were monitoring a supply ship that was en route to bringing provisions to marines guarding Ayungin Shoal from being taken over by China. China claims the Philippines is “illegally” occupying Ayungin. A Chinese coast guard vessel was trying to block the supply ship for hours last Saturday.
In the Globe Telecom statement, the company’s lead lawyer Froilan Castelo, said it is investigating the incident. Castelo went on to say that:
“Technically speaking, cellular phones are able to pick up a dominant signal in the area where they are. At a certain altitude, cellular signals could be as strong as radio frequencies emitted by cellsites because they are unimpeded by buildings or other on-ground infrastructure. In the case of the Ayungin Shoal, it is quite possible that the mobile phone could pick up the signal of another network since the area is within territorial borders.”
Atty. Castelo, however, does not explain whose territorial borders he’s referring to. Also, how come mobile phones can pick up China Mobile’s but not Globe’s network? Why is China Mobile’s signal dominant in an area claimed by the Philippines as part of its territory when China’s nearest land mass is miles and miles away? Where is China Mobile’s signal coming from?
You can read in full Atty Castelo’s statement below:
Some have commented here and elsewhere that I am making a mountain out of a molehill and this is just such a small thing.
Not to China, though. This is not a small thing. Why would it bother to have a strong signal in that area?
In addition, China in the past has used radio signals as part of its arguments that Ayungin and Scarborough Shoal and all the islands in the South China Sea are in its territorial jurisdiction.
At the height of the standoff between China and the Philippines in 2012 over the arrest by Philippine authorities of Chinese fishermen near Scarborough Shoal (which China calls Huangyan island), the Chinese embassy in Manila came out with a lengthy piece entitled Ten questions regarding Huangyan island.”
Among the pieces of evidence it presented to show that Huangyan island belongs to China was a series of visits to Scarborough Shoal or Huangyan island by radio amateurs.
The Chinese embassy article stated:
The relevant department of the Chinese government approved the application by radio amateurs to embark on Huangyan Island for radio exploration activities in 1994, 1995, 1997 and 2007 respectively.
In 1994, the Chinese and international radio amateurs used BS7H call sign to send out messages to the world from Huangyan Island for the first time. BS7H was a call sign internationally recognized for amateur radio communication from Huangyan Island. In this call sign, B refers to China’s radio station, S refers to the islands in the South China Sea, 7 refers to the 7th zone of Chinese radio amateur, to which Hainan Province belongs, and H refers to Huangyan Island.
To the question – “Why is Huangyan Island outside the territory of the Philippines?” – the Chinese embassy gave this answer:
The Philippines officially and explicitly stated that Huangyan Island did not belong to the Philippines. For instance, the former Philippine ambassador to Germany stated clearly in his letter to German radio amateurs on 5 February 1990 that “Huangyan Island is not within the territory of the Philippines according to the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority of the Philippines (NAMRIA).” Both the official document issued by NAMRIA dated 18 October 1994 and a document from the Philippine Amateur Radio Association to the American RadioRelay League dated on 18 November 1994 made it clear that “the territorial boundary and sovereignty of the Philippines were provided for in Article 3 of the Treaty of Paris between the US and Spain on 10 December 1898 with Huangyan Island outside the Philippine territory.”
You can read the entire article posted on the embassy website here.
The Philippine government has long destroyed the structure that the radio amateurs had left.
This time around, it seems, China no longer needs to put up physical structures to stake its claim on the area. A “welcome to China” message sent through a Philippine telecom carrier does it better, don’t you think?
UPDATE AS OF 6 PM, March 31, 2014
On Twitter, someone named “Banwahanon” called my attention to an article in May 2011 saying that China Mobile had expanded its coverage to the Spratlys group of islands which China calls the Nansha islands.
The reason given by Chen Zegang, project manager of China Mobile’s Hainan branch, is to allow soldiers, fishermen and merchant vessels to use its network.
You can read the rest of the article here.