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South China Sea thoughts?

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Old September 14th, 2012   #31
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Can you show me a link about the proven oil reserves in the disputed area of South China Sea? I have only ever seen estimated reserves. The reserves are not proven because it has been largely an exercise in futility in trying to survey the area for reserves due to the dispute.
The area in dispute has been well surveyed. What has not been done is drilling test wells to determine the nature of the reservoir, if there actually is one. Until that is done the reservoirs are not ‘proven’. Much of the bigger threats going back and forth are due to various countries attempting to move drill rigs in do so.

There is less than a 50% chance of a test well finding a usable reservoir (proven reserves), despite all the improvements in surveys. It is a HUGE improvement from 20 years ago when the odds were less than 1 in 6.
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Old September 14th, 2012   #32
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I am not so sure that Malaysian trawlers don't operate there.
They certainly do not operate in near any of the five reefs or islands or reefs that Malaysia occupies. Unlike trawlers from the Philippines, China or Vietnam, the area has never been a traditional fishing ground for Malaysian trawlers. Anyhow, the whole area is a security area and is off-limits, access to Layang-Layang [Swallow Point] for visitors/divers is by air.

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And trying to secure public support for this is probably an exercise in futility, particularly when there are different interests for different countries.

There is also the issue of political stability. Would a successor administration opt out of the alliance? Or remain committed to it? What happens if there is a coup?
I was referring to the future, perhaps in 2-3 decades when the geo-political enviroment may be very different from now and when ASEAN ties will have reached a greater point of maturity and when members may be forced to make certain decision for common goals.

The message by the current U.S. administration that the Asia Pacific region is an area ot the outmost importance for the U.S. and recent moves undertaken by the U.S. to strenghten its military presence in the region is very reassuring to ASEAN and other countries, though some might not publically say it. At one time, there were great fears that the U.S. might downscale it presence in the region, due to economic factors and other various reasons. The author Robert Fisk mentioned in an interview [let me know if you want the link] being told my senior Australian army officials some years ago, that there was talk about a future expansion of the Australian army due to fears that if thesituation in Afghanistan and Iraq went ratshit, the U.S. might downscale its military presence in the region.

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Would the US really engage a large nuclear-armed power (in its own backyard) over what is essentially a spat over a few uninhabited islands claimed by an ally?
Well for a start it certainly doesn't want to but if things suddenly got worse, it would be left with little choice, especially if its key national interests came under threat.

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Old September 15th, 2012   #33
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I wonder where TWN would stand if fighting did break out. It'd be confusing, since both TWN and JPN are US allies. But TWN opposes JPN's claim of Diaoyu (and its own claim of Diaoyu is the same one as the PRC's)...
I remember a few years ago when Japanese ships blocked Taiwanese protesters from entering the area, the PRC issued a strong warning to Japan. It really is confusing and not surprisingly, the only time Taiwan and the PRC see eye to eye is when both issue 'warnings' or dismiss actions taken by others.

Other disputes that come to mind in the one involving Japan and Russia over the Kuriles and over Dokdo, between Japan and South Korea.

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The JPN move to "buy" the islands from its "private owners" (it is never mentioned who they are) is a grand master stroke.
I was reading about it in the local papers. It's some family, can't recall the name, who supposedly have 'owned' the island for generations.

Some interesting videos. The first two I've posted before.

101 East - Standoff at Scarborough Shoal - YouTube

[one of the speakers in the video above raises a very important point as to how if things were to rapidly get out of hand during a standoff, ship COs won't have the time to radio Beijing or Kuala Lumpur or Manila for instructions and will have to make fast decisions]

Inside Story - The world's most disputed waters - YouTube[/nomedia]

feature=related"]Trouble brewing in the South China Sea - Decoder - YouTube


Asia's Arms Race - YouTube

[this video has footage of a Vietnamese ship ramming a Chinese ship]

Inside Story - Modernising China's military - YouTube

China's air defense exercise tests military hardware - YouTube

Inside Story - Is an India-China arms race brewing? - YouTube

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Old September 16th, 2012   #34
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If they didn't, then why is China not going to court? They're supposed to win because the Philippines' weak case right?
Because to allow the ICJ to rule on the issue would be to admit that foreigners have the right to dictate limits on their behavior. I think it is likely that the Chinese would see that as a major loss of face.
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Old September 18th, 2012   #35
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With China now increasingly engage with Japan over Senkaku-Diaoyou dispute, how far can China maintain this 'aggressive' claimant posture ? They (China) threaten trade war with Japan, well Japan simply close their business and will resulted with hundred of thousands unemployment in China and can drag further pressure to China job market that now already has pressure due to the slow down of export.

China seems stretching too far this time, with Japan. Perhaps this time the Philippines and Vietnam can try to push their luck further more. Can China keep the aggressive move within two front ? Yes their Southern fleet still can outmatch whatever Philippines and Vietnam Navy can throw out in South China sea. However PLAN need all their Three main Fleet if even want to have chances against JMSDF.
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Old September 18th, 2012   #36
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With China now increasingly engage with Japan over Senkaku-Diaoyou dispute, how far can China maintain this 'aggressive' claimant posture ? They (China) threaten trade war with Japan, well Japan simply close their business and will resulted with hundred of thousands unemployment in China and can drag further pressure to China job market that now already has pressure due to the slow down of export.
The whole point of the exercise is to increase political and diplomatic pressure on Japan, in the knowledge that Japan, like other countries, have no stomach/will for a fight and all have intensive trade links with China. This is not too say that China is itching for a fight, it is not, but it certainly is sabre rattling to see how much of an advantage it can get and how far it can push Japan.
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Old September 18th, 2012   #37
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This is not too say that China is itching for a fight, it is not, but it certainly is sabre rattling to see how much of an advantage it can get and how far it can push Japan.
Off course it's Sturm. That's what I mean with Vietnam and Philippines try to take advantage to push their action in SCS to see the reaction of China. What I'm getting at, will China willing to put an aggressive face on two front, considering their diplomatic relations can be harmed and can cause more of her neighbors 'gang-up' against her.
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Old May 11th, 2013   #38
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South China Sea thoughts?

The New York Times reported that on 9 May 2013, a Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel fired on a Taiwanese fishing boat at 10:30 am, killing a fisherman Hung Shih-cheng, aged 65, on the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28. The incident took place 164 nautical miles southeast of Taiwan's southernmost tip, in waters in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and the Philippines. I understand that a total of 52 bullet holes were found on the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28. The late Mr. Hung Shih-cheng is also not the first Taiwanese fisherman to be killed. Another Taiwanese fishing boat named Man Chun Yi was also attacked by a Philippine vessel in 2006, causing the death of Chen An-lao, the 68-year-old captain, and injuries to his 62-year-old brother Chen Ming-te (see additional link 1 and link 2). The Philippine coast guard authorities maintain that the fishing boat was trying to ram its patrol boat, prompting the officers aboard to fire warning shots.

On 10 May 2013, a Global Times editorial opinion notes the following:
"...Most of the analysts from the Chinese mainland speculated that because the Philippines was awed by the might of the Chinese mainland, it had vented its anger on Taiwan to show its will and determination, improve its position in negotiations, and maintain domestic morale. Shooting a fishing boat and causing death in a disputed area is a very serious event on the South China Sea. Although the details remain unknown, it is generally known that the Philippines will face retaliation from China if it really takes this ruthless approach to Chinese fishermen. In regard to this case, Beijing's next step depends primarily on how officials in Taiwan react - whether they have the courage to lift their "concern" to "strong condemnation" and whether they wish for help from the mainland...

The mainland needs to strike a balance between Ma's concerns and the interests of Chinese people. If it is confirmed the Philippine navy is behind the shooting, the mainland should show its stance by intensifying navy activities in the disputed water between the mainland and Philippines..."
Foreign Minister David Lin of Taiwan disputed the Philippine version of events at a news conference on 11 May 2013, saying that the Philippine government vessel had fired indiscriminately at the fishing boat, killing the 65-year-old fisherman. Further, in link 2 above, Hung Yu-jhih denied this claim and said his ship posed no threat since it is smaller and had no weapons on board. "When the bullets were fired at us, all we could do was hide in the cabin," said Hung. "My father was killed inside that cabin."

President Ma Ying-jeou said on 11 May 2013 Taiwan would consider sanctions against the Philippines amid widespread public outrage at Manila over the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman. “We will definitely seek justice for our fisherman. We will not rule out the possibility of taking any kind of sanctions” against the Philippines, Ma said while inspecting a coastguard drill in central Taiwan. IMO, Taiwan-Philippines relations is going to take a natural down-turn this year, because of a Philippine Government, own goal (due to the actions of BFAR).
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Old May 11th, 2013   #39
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There is always two sides to an story. Based on what I have read, it is from the Taiwan side. What about from the Philippines side? Why is mainland China getting involved in this incident? Is it because it is Chinese against Filipino? Is mainland China trying to stir something so Taiwan will act more forcefully against the Philippines about this incident? How about Chinese fishermen poachings of endangered species inside Philippine seas/waters far from the disputed Spratlys? What are their reactions to those incidents?
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Old May 12th, 2013   #40
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There is always two sides to an story. Based on what I have read, it is from the Taiwan side. What about from the Philippines side? Why is mainland China getting involved in this incident? Is it because it is Chinese against Filipino? Is mainland China trying to stir something so Taiwan will act more forcefully against the Philippines about this incident? How about Chinese fishermen poachings of endangered species inside Philippine seas/waters far from the disputed Spratlys? What are their reactions to those incidents?
For some reason I managed to read the same post and not come to the conclusion that the PRC was doing anything except to see how the incident is handled by Taiwan and the Philippines.

As for there being two sides to the story, the NY Times article has reporting from both Taiwan and the Philippines. One thing there does appear (at present at least) some differences in terms of where the Taiwanese vessel was, with numbers ranging from 164 n miles up to 180 n miles from the closest point of Taiwan. Either way though, that still falls within the 200 n mile EEZ. Given that at present there is no agreement between the Philippines and Taiwan over who has jurisdiction, then unless the Taiwanese fishing vessels where within the 12 n mile limit of Philippine territorial waters, this should have been an area that the Philippine Coast Guard handled with care. The presence of more than 50 bullet holes in the fishing vessel suggests this was not the case.

Taiwan has launched an investigation which will include examining the ship's data recorder which should either prove or disprove the claim by the Philippine Coast Guard that the fishing vessel was attempting to ram them. If it is determined that the fishing vessel did attempt to ram the Coast Guard vessel, then weapons fire from the Coast Guard vessel is justified. OTOH if it is determined that the fishing vessel did not attempt to ram the Coast Guard vessel, then things begin to look very badly for the Philippines. Normally if Country A encounters a foreign vessel fishing without permission in their EEZ, the Country A can board and seize the foreign vessel. What makes this situation a bit different (and quite different from the dispute about the Spratleys) is that the incident occurred within the EEZ of both Taiwan and the Philippines, given that the two countries have not reached an agreement on sharing or dividing the area subject to both claims. The Philippines (or at least it appears some within the Coast Guard) may not recognize the Taiwanese claim, but absent an agreement between both countries, there is international recognition of both claims.

What this may lead to is either an agreement between the two countries on their mutual overlapping EEZ claims. OTOH it also may lead to patrols by Taiwanese Coast Guard and/or naval vessels, especially if Taiwanese fishing vessels are out and about. That would likely dissuade any boarding attempts or warning shots from Philippine vessels, simply because the Philippines cannot escalate the situation to the degree that Taiwan could.

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Old May 12th, 2013   #41
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I would hazard the guess; given the rampant corruption within all Institutions of the Philippines, that this incident has less to do with maintaining territorial integrity and far more to good old fashioned extortion. - Meaning that Freelancing Coastguards extort "fines" from Fishing Boats and turn nasty when refused.

Its not he first time that I have heard the Philippines Coast Guard and Piracy mentioned in an unflattering way, in the same sentence. Its not the first time that a Taiwanese Fisherman has died in a hail of automatic fire from them either.

Will China exploit this incident in pursuit of its claims? You betcha!
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Old May 12th, 2013   #42
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...given the rampant corruption within all Institutions of the Philippines, that this incident has less to do with maintaining territorial integrity and far more to good old fashioned extortion. - Meaning that Freelancing Coastguards extort "fines" from Fishing Boats and turn nasty when refused.
In the interest of fairness, you may want to consider providing a source to support this position with precision rather than a general position on all institutions, unless you are prepared to lay the groundwork. In this shooting-at-sea incident, it is the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (vessel number: PCG-BFAR MCS-3001 - a 115.45 ton vessel that is over 30 m in length) that is entity responsible and the reported Philippine version of events has inherent defects and on the face of it, not credible without more details. In contrast, the Taiwanese fishing vessel, Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, was a 15.15 ton vessel this is 14.7 m in length.

For those who would defend such the version of events as reported in the Philippine press, as 'complete', IMHO are not reasonable people. This is why an investigation is being demanded by Taiwan and Philippine transparency on on this area will help with managing mutual concerns.

The last thing the Philippines need is a gun battle or ramming incident with the Taiwanese Navy. When the Philippine law enforcement agencies start shooting at civilians of another country, they cannot claim to want to settle maritime disputes peacefully. This is such a own goal. This shooting-at-sea incident once again demonstrates the incompetence of the Philippine Government in the area of crisis management (its chronic misguided sense of self-importance and lack of urgency in a crisis). This incompetence will again have unfortunate consequences for their citizens abroad and make life more difficult than necessary for those seeking to leave Philippines to earn a living in Taiwan.

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Will China exploit this incident in pursuit of its claims? You betcha!
I understand that there are legitimate concerns about freedom of navigation in contested waters, given the stated position of the Philippine Government. The urgent need to prevent further unnecessary deaths of fishermen in the South China Sea should provide scope for increased and robust unilateral Taiwanese patrols in areas of dispute in the EEZ boundaries between Taiwan and Philippines (which has already occurred). Taiwan's navy is fully capable of protecting its EEZ interests on its own, in this case. It is currently a bilateral, government-to-government issue between Philippines and Taiwan. If Taiwan does not over play its hand in military escalation options (as it cannot be seen as attacking naval vessels of an ally of the US), it should have a free-hand to use soft-power escalation options with longer term effects.

US and the other 9 ASEAN members should remain neutral in this dispute, unless the military aspect escalates out of control. The stating of neutrality by external parties should introduce an element of caution in the calculations of both parties in the dispute. External party neutrality will be seen as a favourable outcome for Taiwan by the Taiwanese, as the stronger naval power with a defence budget that is at least 5 times larger than the Philippines; and I suspect this would be their goal, in their escalation options. Pinoy pride is likely to prevent a quick settlement that may result in a period of hostility and tensions. The second and third order effects following from the incident is unfortunate and counter-productive for countries sharing a maritime border.

In the case of the People's Republic of China (PRC), its a wild card that I would not want to venture a guess as to future actions. IMO, the 10 May 2013, a Global Times editorial opinion gives us an insight to CCP concerns. Any early PRC intervention may complicate matters for Taiwan; and may not be appreciated.

See news quote below for the latest Taiwanese developments:

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Originally Posted by AFP
12 May 2013 -- TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan Sunday dispatched four coastguard and naval vessels to beef up patrols in waters near the Philippines following public outrage over the shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Filipino coastguards. "The government is determined to protect our fishermen," cabinet spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen said in a statement as a Lafayette-class naval frigate and coastguard vessels set sail for the area where the 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman was killed Thursday. The move came shortly after authorities issued a strongly-worded statement late Saturday night demanding Manila apologise to Taiwan and compensate the family of the dead man.

In its statement, Taiwan also asked the Philippine authorities to bring to justice the coastguards responsible and start negotiating with Taipei on a proposed fishery agreement. "If the Filipino government fails to respond in a positive manner within 72 hours, the hiring of Philippine workers will be frozen," presidential office spokeswoman Lee Chia-fei warned.

Hung Shih-cheng, the skipper of the 15-tonne "Kuang Ta Hsin No 28", was killed during the incident, which also left the boat riddled with more than 50 bullet holes. "This is nothing but a slaughter," prosecutor Liu Chia-kai told reporters after examining the ship...

<snip>
The Taiwanese Government's hand has been forced by the use of undiplomatic words of the Philippine Government spokesperson in public comments after the shooting-at-sea incident. Over the weekend, Taiwan will muster its political, economic and military power to bear against the Philippine Government, until they back-down from their current position. Due to domestic imperatives, the Taiwanese KMT Government under President Ma has no choice but to keep increasing the pressure on the Philippines to get a satisfactory outcome for Taiwan, but Pinoy pride and sense of self-importance will prevent them from backing down from their position (or negotiating to generate a mutually acceptable compromise). Consequently, as a second order effect, Philippine international credibility will be damaged by their insistence on their position without due regard to the legitimate concerns of Taiwan, which benefits PRC in the long run. US and the international community attention span is limited. They will develop greater selective deafness to the Philippines and their petty fishery disputes, as the Taiwan lobby in the US goes to work to protect Taiwanese interests (however Taiwan may define them) for the long haul as a third order effect. It is unfortunate that the Philippine Government may not appreciate the sophistication, funding and patience of the Taiwan lobby in the US.

For context, Taiwan has already inked a fisheries agreement with Japan, to ensure that the existing maritime dispute with Japan does not flare-up. They were trying to do the same with the Philippines. Given that this is the not the first shooting incident, Taiwan cannot proceed with an agreement with the Philippines with an attitude for compromise on the conditions set by President Ma. See this latest news: "Taiwan issues 3-day ultimatum, threatens to freeze hiring of Pinoy workers." The mess has been escalated by the media in Taiwan, which adopts the attitude of PRC and many Taiwanese watching these reports are not aware of the way Taiwanese fishing boats plunder the waters of other nations. The good news about this storm in a tea cup is the level of sanctions. If this is done for a short duration, it amounts to a slap on the wrist in the bigger scheme of things.
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Old May 13th, 2013   #43
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For context, Taiwan has already inked a fisheries agreement with Japan, to ensure that the existing maritime dispute with Japan does not flare-up. They were trying to do the same with the Philippines. Given that this is the not the first shooting incident, Taiwan cannot proceed with an agreement with the Philippines with an attitude for compromise on the conditions set by President Ma. See this latest news: "Taiwan issues 3-day ultimatum, threatens to freeze hiring of Pinoy workers." The mess has been escalated by the media in Taiwan, which adopts the attitude of PRC and many Taiwanese watching these reports are not aware of the way Taiwanese fishing boats plunder the waters of other nations. The good news about this storm in a tea cup is the level of sanctions. If this is done for a short duration, it amounts to a slap on the wrist in the bigger scheme of things.
Why will the Philippines government be concerned with Taiwan's "hiring freeze" of Pinoy Workers? Most of those filipinos employed in Taiwan are household help (maids) anyway? As if they are making big bucks like engineers, bank executives and/or factory workers? The Taiwanese government will be making a big mistake if they take revenge on these lowly paid workers? Then the Taiwanese elites will have to do household responsibilities themselves. This is an very laughable sanction if anyone even calls it as such?

Last edited by OPSSG; May 14th, 2013 at 12:54 AM. Reason: Trimmed quote to relevant section
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Why will the Philippines government be concerned with Taiwan's "hiring freeze" of Pinoy Workers? Most of those filipinos employed in Taiwan are household help (maids) anyway? As if they are making big bucks like engineers, bank executives and/or factory workers? The Taiwanese government will be making a big mistake if they take revenge on these lowly paid workers? Then the Taiwanese elites will have to do household responsibilities themselves. This is an very laughable sanction if anyone even calls it as such?
A significant amount of funding comes into the Philippines as remittances from the roughly 10 mil. overseas Filippino workers (OFW). ~75,000 are in Taiwan, with about two-thirds of those working in the manufacturing sector, with the other third covering home/personal care.

Even if the OFW's are not making 'big bucks' if the income when adjusting for cost of living, travel, EFT's, etc it seems to be economically advantageous to work overseas for periods of time, vs. trying to work domestically.

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Old May 13th, 2013   #45
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In the interest of fairness, you may want to consider providing a source to support this position with precision rather than a general position on all institutions, unless you are prepared to lay the groundwork. In this shooting-at-sea incident, it is the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (vessel number: PCG-BFAR MCS-3001) that is entity responsible and the reported Philippine version of events has inherent defects and on the face of it, not credible without more details.
I think the concept of the Philippines being one of the most corrupt nations in SE Asia will hardly come as a revelation to anyone.
If anyone really has doubts they are free to follow this link:
Transparency International - Country Profiles

Or read the words of this Gentleman
Corruption in the Philippines is "like a dagger pointed at our hearts," Manila's archbishop says - Vatican Insider

The point being that there is a generally accepted high level of corruption throughout the country, which lends itself to those in positions of authority to exploit that authority for personal gain. This itself leads to the idea that this incident looks more like a an unauthorised "shakedown" of the Taiwanese Fisherman gone wrong, rather than a more official policy from Manilla, which was my main point.

I would extend it by saying that I would not be surprised to see both the PLAN and the Taiwanese Navy extend Anti Piracy protection to each others Fishermen or indeed to initiate Anti Piracy patrols in the general region.

Last edited by OPSSG; May 14th, 2013 at 12:55 AM. Reason: Fixed quote format
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