Monday, April 23, 2012

Tensions Between US and China Escalates Over Presence In South Seas

China military warns of confrontation over seas

Chris Buckley
6:39 AM EDT, April 22, 2012

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's military warned the United States on Saturday that U.S.-Philippine military exercises have raised risks of armed confrontation over the disputed South China Sea in the toughest high-level warning yet after weeks of tensions.

China's official Liberation Army Daily warned that recent jostling with thePhilippines over disputed seas where both countries have sent ships could boil over into outright conflict, and laid much of the blame at Washington's door.

This week American and Filipino troops launched a fortnight of annual naval drills amid the stand-off between Beijing andManila, who have accused each other of encroaching on sovereign seas near the Scarborough Shoal, west of a former U.S. navy base at Subic Bay.

The joint exercises are held in different seas around the Philippines; the leg that takes place in the South China Sea area starts on Monday.

"Anyone with clear eyes saw long ago that behind these drills is reflected a mentality that will lead the South China Sea issue down a fork in the road towards military confrontation and resolution through armed force," said the commentary in the Chinese paper, which is the chief mouthpiece of the People's Liberation Army.

"Through this kind of meddling and intervention, the United States will only stir up the entire South China Sea situation towards increasing chaos, and this will inevitably have a massive impact on regional peace and stability."

Up to now, China has chided the Philippines over the dispute about the uninhabited shoal known in the Philippines as the Panatag Shoal and which China calls Huangyan, about 124 nautical miles off the main Philippine island of Luzon.

China has territorial disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei,Malaysia and Taiwan across the South China Sea, which could be rich in oil and gas and is spanned by busy shipping lanes.

Major General Luo Yuan, a retired PLA researcher well-known for his hawkish views, amplified the warnings from Beijing issued through state media.

"China has already shown enough restraint and patience over this incident," Luo said of the friction with Manila, according to an interview published on Chinese state television's website (

If the Philippines "takes irrational actions, then the current confrontation could intensify, and the Chinese navy will certainly not stand idly by," he added.


Beijing has sought to resolve the disputes one-on-one with the countries involved but there is worry among its neighbors over what some see as growing Chinese assertiveness in staking claims over the seas and various islands, reefs and shoals.

In past patches of tension over disputed seas, hawkish Chinese military voices have also risen, only to be later reined in by the government. The same could be true this time.

Since late 2010, China has sought to cool tensions with the United States. Especially with the ruling Chinese Party preoccupied with a leadership succession late in 2012, Beijing has stressed hopes for steady relations throughout this year.

Nonetheless, experts have said that China remains wary ofU.S. military intentions across the Asia-Pacific, especially in the wake of the Obama administration's vows to "pivot" to the region, reinvigorating diplomatic and security ties with allies.

The Liberation Army Daily commentary echoed that wariness.

"The United States' intention of trying to draw more countries into stirring up the situation in the South China Sea is being brandished to the full," said the newspaper.

(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

Chinese daily calls for 'small-scale war' against Philippines

Agencies Posted online: Sun Apr 22 2012, 11:25 hrs

Beijing : As the stand off between the Chinese and Philippine navies continue over the disputed islands in the South China Sea, a state run Chinese daily has said that Beijing should be prepared to wage a "small scale war" with Manila, besides imposing sanctions.

"China should be prepared to engage in a small-scale war at sea with the Philippines", state run Global Times said in an editorial over the ongoing stand off between the navies of China and Philippines over the Huangyan Island or Scarborough Shoal in the SCS claimed by both the countries.

"Once the war erupts, China must take resolute action and deliver a clear message to the outside world that it does not want a war, but definitely has no fear of it.

Nevertheless, such a war cannot put the SCS to an end", it said.

"Cold treatment to Manila should last for a certain period. China needs to undertake losses from ensuing sanctions on Manila. Protecting islands in the SCS is not an empty slogan. It calls for our patience, costs and perseverance", the editorial said.

SCS disputes involving China and a host of East Asian countries including Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan flared up in recent months as US extended its firm backing to the small countries ranged against Beijing to assert their maritime rights.

China has also protested to India and Russia over their companies taking oil exploration contracts in the blocs claimed by Vietnam in SCS.

The editorial in the daily came as China has sent its most advanced fishery patrol ship to the uninhabited island stating that its aim is to protect from the harassment of the Philippine naval gunboats.

The 2,580-tonne Yuzheng-310 set sail from the southern port city of Guangzhou to protect China's territorial waters and ensure the safety of Chinese fishermen a statement released by the SCS Fishery Bureau said.

"In the period of time that follows, the ship will go on regular patrols, help Chinese fishermen in the area and look into other issues concerning fishing activity there," it said.

The Yuzheng-310 is equipped with advanced marine technology and has the ability to carry helicopters.

Dai Yudao, a local official from the fishing town of Tanmen in China¿s Hainan province, said more than 700 of the town's fishermen have been arrested, robbed, assaulted or rudely asked to leave by the armed forces of neighbouring countries while fishing in the South China Sea over the last 12 years.

In the most recent case, twelve Chinese fishing boats were harassed on April 10 by a Philippine Navy gunboat while taking refuge from harsh weather in a lagoon near Huangyan Island, official China Daily reported.

The incident led to a diplomatic spat between the two countries with China lodging protest to Manila over the incident.

Meanwhile China released 21 Vietnamese fishermen and their two fishing boats after detaining them for over a month for fishing at Xisha/Paracel Islands claimed by both the countries.

The fishermen were released after they guaranteed in writing not to infringe on China's maritime rights in its territorial waters, the South China Sea Fishery Bureau said.

Philippines says China claims to South China Sea threaten neighbors

April 23, 2012 | 12:35pm
Los Angeles Times

Philippine leaders warned Monday that increasingly aggressive Chinese claims to the valuable South China Sea threaten its neighbors, and called on other countries to take a stand. The debate over how much of the disputed waters belong to China has fueled ongoing unease in the region.

"The bigger picture is that anybody can be targeted," Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told ABS-CBN News in the Philippines. "China claiming everything, as having sovereign rights over the entire South China Sea, what is the message? The message is: I can set the rules for everybody."

China and the Philippines have been in a standoff over a group of islands in the South China Sea for weeks, with both sides claiming the Scarborough Shoal. China said it had withdrawn two ships from the area on Monday, de-escalating the situation, Xinhua reported Monday.

"China is ready to settle this incident through friendly diplomatic consultations," Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhang Hua was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Unnerved by the dispute, Philippine officials say they'll bring up the matter with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta next week, the Agence-France Presse reported. The Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations should also take a stand, President Benigno Aquino said Monday.

"The dispute has to be settled. It can’t be left hanging forever,” Aquino told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

China has pressed its claims to South China Sea outcroppings more aggressively after declaring the sea a "core national interest" two years ago.

Vietnam has sparred with China over another set of islands, last year accusing a Chinese boat of cutting the cables to a ship owned by its national oil and gas company. Brunei and Malaysia have also laid claims to the waters, which are lucrative fishing grounds and believed to cover oil and natural gas reserves.

Despite China having agreed to a U.N. convention on maritime zones that limited its reach at sea, official maps of China show almost all of the South China Sea as being in its territory, alarming neighboring countries. Even some of its own agencies don't seem to respect the same boundaries.

“The Sea will remain volatile unless China’s internal coordination problems and the legal confusion surrounding its maritime territorial claims are addressed,” said Robert Templer, Asia Program director for the International Crisis Group, which released a report Monday on the disputed waters.

China, Russia in first naval drills

April 23, 2012

BEIJING: China and Russia on Sunday launched their first joint naval exercises amid tensions between China and its Asian neighbours over regional territorial claims.

The six days of drills are talking place in the Yellow Sea off China’s east coast, the official China News Service said, adding these were the first dedicated exercises involving the two navies.

Taking place near Qingdao city off the coast of Shandong province, they were launched by Russian and Chinese military officials on Sunday morning, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

The exercises come as China boosts military spending and asserts claims over disputed territory, including a chain of islands in the East China Sea also claimed by Japan.

China and several Asian countries also have rival claims to uninhabited islands in the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and natural gas and straddles strategic shipping lanes vital to global trade.

The exercises will focus on joint air defence, anti-submarine tactics and search and rescue, Xinhua has previously said. They will also include simulated rescue of hijacked vessels and anti-terrorism drills.

China has 16 naval vessels and two submarines taking part while Russia has four warships.

China said on Thursday that the exercises were aimed at upholding regional peace.

“This joint military exercise is a long scheduled one between China and Russia in order to uphold regional peace and stability,” foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a regular news briefing.

China and Russia have together participated in four military exercises since 2005, some involving other countries as well, Xinhua has said.

The two countries previously held joint war games in 2005 but these are the first dedicated naval exercises, a Chinese expert said.

Yin Zhuo, an expert who advises the navy, said the number of ships involved was unprecedented.

“Both sides will have deep exchanges in terms of tactics and technology,” Yin told state television.

But the exercises could worry China’s Asian neighbours.

Beijing and Tokyo have a long-running dispute over a chain of islands, called Diaoyu by China and Senkaku by Japan — which sit in rich fishing grounds that may harbour lucrative energy resources.

Japan has so far shown little interest in the drills, which are taking place more than 1,000 kilometres north of the disputed islands.

But Japan’s defence ministry said in a recent report that China was becoming increasingly active in waters near Japanese territory while Russia was holding more frequent military exercises in its far east region.

It another flare-up which erupted earlier this month, China and the Philippines dispatched vessels as they lay claim to a group of islands in the South China Sea.

China’s Liberation Army daily on Saturday warned that US-Philippine military exercises have raised risks of armed confrontation over the South China Sea.

“Anyone with clear eyes saw long ago that behind these drills is reflected a mentality that will lead the South China Sea issue down a fork in the road towards military confrontation

and resolution through armed force,” said the commentary in the Chinese paper, which is the chief mouthpiece of the People’s Liberation Army.

“Through this kind of meddling and intervention, the United States will only stir up the entire South China Sea situation towards increasing chaos, and this will inevitably have a massive impact on regional peace and stability.”


US, Vietnam hold joint naval drills amid China tensions

April 23, 2012 11:39 am

Hanoi - The United States and Vietnam began joint naval exercises Monday off the coastal town of Da Nang as a territorial dispute with China simmers.

About 1,400 US personnel are taking part in the week-long event, the third of its kind since 2010, Lieutenant Commander Mike Morley said.

The drills come as the Philippines and the US enter the second week of war games in that South-East Asian country. China warned that the timing of the exercises could provoke armed confrontation amid the dispute over waters near the Scarborough Shoal.

Morley denied any significance in the timing of the exercises in Vietnam.

"The two are completely unrelated," he said. "The exercise in Vietnam was coordinated about one year ago.

"We have seen since the US and Vietnam normalized relations several years ago there is a steady progression every year in those relations growing stronger and the countries growing closer," he said.

Beijing complained about last year’s drills in Vietnam. They came shortly after Vietnam and the Philippines accused China of disrupting energy exploration in disputed areas of the South China Sea.//DPA

China de-escalates situation in Huangyan Island by withdrawing two vessels 2012-04-23 20:53:45

MANILA, April 23 (Xinhua) -- China is de-escalating the situation in Huangyan Island in South China Sea by withdrawing two law enforcement vessels, Zhang Hua, spokesman of Chinese Embassy in the Philippines said on Monday.

Two Chinese vessels, a Fishery Administration ship "Yuzheng 310 " and a Chinese Maritime Surveillance ship No. 084, have already left the Huangyan Island area by Sunday, Zhang said. "There is only one Maritime Surveillance ship remaining in the Huangyan Island area for its law enforcement mission."

"The withdrawal of the two ships proves once again China is not escalating the situation as some people said, but de-escalating the situation," the spokesman said.

The maritime standoff between the Chinese and the Philippine vessels in the Huangyan Island area has lasted for two weeks. Some Philippine officials and media said that China is deploying more surveillance and paramilitary ships to the Huangyan Island.

"China is ready to settle this incident through friendly diplomatic consultations," Zhang added.

Liu Weimin, spokesman for Chinese foreign ministry, has said that Huangyan Island is integral part of Chinese territory and China has indisputable sovereignty over the island.

No comments: