update: Aug 8, 2012
China bares claws in maritime dispute
By Ian Storey
For more than two decades Beijing has pursued a consistent policy in the South China Sea composed of two main elements: gradually strengthening the country’s territorial and jurisdictional claims while at the same time endeavoring to assure Southeast Asian countries of its peaceful intentions. Recent moves by China to bolster its maritime claims have brought the first element into sharp relief, while reassurances of benign intent have, however, been in short supply.
China hardens its stance
Commentaries in China’s state-run media analyzing the South China Sea issue have become markedly less conciliatory. Opinion pieces highlight several new themes in China’s official line.
One theme is that China’s territory, its sovereignty as well as its maritime rights and interests increasingly are being challenged by Southeast Asian nations and Japan in the South and East China Seas. China’s response, it is argued, should be to uphold its claims more vigorously, increase its military presence in contested waters, and, if necessary, be prepared to implement coercive measures against other countries. One commentary notes: “Cooperation must be in good faith, competition must be strong, and confrontation must be resolute.”
Another theme is that while China has shown restraint, countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam have been pursuing provocative and illegal actions in a bid to “plunder” maritime resources such as hydrocarbons and fisheries that China regards as its own.
A third theme is that Manila and Hanoi continue to encourage US “meddling” in the South China Sea and that the United States uses the dispute as a pretext to “pivot” its military forces toward Asia. To reverse these negative trends, Chinese commentators have urged the government to adopt more resolute measures toward disputed territories and maritime boundaries. Nationalist sentiment, they argue, demands no less.
much more, detailing perspectives put forth by different players in the conflict over the resource-rich south china seas, from asia times
China says it will use military to assert claims to Spratly Islands
(AFP) – Apr 26, 2012
China’s military on Thursday vowed to defend the country’s territory amid a stand-off with the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea, the official Xinhua news agency said.
China is locked in a maritime dispute with the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, which is considered a potential Asian flashpoint due to the overlapping claims of several nations.
“China’s armed forces bear the responsibility for the task of defending the nation’s territorial sovereignty and safeguarding maritime rights and interests,” defence ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng was quoted as saying.
China claims all of the South China Sea as a historic part of its territory, even waters close to the coasts of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.
The Philippines said Thursday it would seek more US military help during top-level talks next week, despite China’s warning not to “internationalise” the tense territorial dispute.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines was looking to the United States to help it achieve a “credible” defence system, and wanted to extract maximum benefits from a mutual defence treaty between the allies.
The United States and the Philippines are now holding military exercises though officials of both countries deny a link to the dispute with China.
The Philippines has complained over the past two years that China has become increasingly aggressive in staking its claim to the waters, with tensions spiking over the Scarborough Shoal standoff.
China itself is currently holding naval exercises with Russia off the Chinese coast which included live-fire drills on Thursday, state media said.
The exercises are the first ever dedicated naval drills between the two countries.
China plans more military exercises with Russia and central Asian countries belonging to a regional grouping which have been scheduled for June in Tajikistan, Geng said.
He added that China’s recent tests of its first aircraft carrier had no relationship to the “current regional situation”.
That vessel, a refitted former Soviet carrier called the Varyag, underwent its second sea trial in November last year.