China has appointed military officers at a newly-established garrison in the South China Sea, state media reported Friday, the country’s latest step to bolster claims to disputed islands in the area.
Separately, in comments likely to anger Beijing, Japan’s defence minister said that his country could dispatch its military to islands in the East China Sea if a territorial dispute there with China escalates.
China’s defence ministry announced the appointments Thursday, the China Daily said, two days after China said it had established the city of Sansha on an island in the disputed Paracel chain, along with the military garrison.
China’s neighbours reacted furiously to the move with Vietnam, which also claims the Paracel Islands, filing a formal protest and saying it “violates international law”.
Manila, which is involved in a dispute over another archipelago, the Spratly Islands, summoned the Chinese ambassador to lodge a complaint against the garrison announcement.
Sparsely populated Sansha is China’s smallest city in terms of population and land size. China reckons, however, that it’s the biggest when total area is factored in given the wide swathe of the South China Sea it is meant to oversee.
State media have carried photos of a large domed and pillared building that serves as the city’s administrative centre on the island of Yongxing, as well as images of a police station, a bank, a telecom office and residents relaxing outside humble wooden dwellings.
The three-floor building that state media said came into use on July 20 appears by far to be the biggest structure on the small island, which from photos appears largely covered in thick, green vegetation, including palm trees.
While Chinese media accounts of Yongxing’s population vary, it appears to be not much bigger than 1,000 people.
Defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said the new garrison was responsible for guarding the city and disaster relief, among other functions, according to China Daily.
However, he added that a separate maritime garrison under the Chinese navy was responsible for maritime defence and military combat, appearing to suggest that the Sansha garrison would not have such responsibilities.
China owns much of the South China Sea, though Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia each claim portions of it.
The dispute has simmered for decades, though tensions have risen markedly recently as China has moved to more strongly assert its territorial claims.
The Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) at a summit earlier this month failed for the first time in 45 years to issue a joint statement, as members were unable to agree how to refer to China’s behaviour in the disputed waters.
China says it is acting within its rights, though its moves have raised alarm bells in the region and beyond.
Beijing is also involved in a separate dispute with Japan over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
That row has also simmered for years, though tensions have increased substantially since a standoff between a Chinese fishing vessel and Japan’s coast guard in the resource-rich area nearly two years ago.
On Friday, Satoshi Morimoto, Japan’s defence chief, said Tokyo would use force to defend the islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
“Senkaku or not, defence of islands is principally conducted by the coastguard and police,” Morimoto told reporters in Tokyo.
“However, the law stipulates that Self-Defense Forces troops can act” if local authorities are unable to handle the situation.
His comments came after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told parliament Thursday that he would take “stern actions” against any “illegal actions” on Japanese territory, including using the Self-Defense Forces, if needed.
China’s foreign ministry, reacting Friday to Noda’s remarks, expressed “serious concern and strong dissatisfaction,” reiterated that the islands belong to China and called on Japan to value bilateral relations.
Freshly elected Mandarins serving the 1000s of Sansha residents. (circa 2012)
“Nothing can change China’s strong will and determination to safeguard its territorial sovereignty,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
Zhou Yongsheng, an expert on Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said Noda and Morimoto’s recent remarks show that Tokyo’s stance on the Diaoyu Islands issue is becoming tougher with less room for diplomatic maneuverability.
As the Japanese election draws near, some politicians such as Noda care little about China-Japan relations and “place priority on winning the election”, said Zhou.
Shen Shishun, an expert on Asia-Pacific studies at Haikou College of Economics in Hainan province, said there is little chance that Tokyo will send its troops to the islands.
“In spite of the strong remarks from Japanese politicians, the government has not yet made up its mind to really send in troops,” said Shen.
Hong said some politicians in Japan have expressed a willingness for a diplomatic resolution.
Japanese Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura, the government’s top spokesman, on Friday said the prime minister merely responded to a hypothetical question and was “referring to a theoretical possibility” of military action.
“(Noda’s remark) was not specifically directed at containing China,” Mainichi Daily Newspaper reported Osamu as saying.
Analysts said Tokyo’s mixed responses reflect its desire to not rule out diplomacy.
“Some politicians, such as Noda and Morimoto, use strong rhetoric as a political tool for votes,” Shen said.
Zhou warned that Japan may continue to take a hard line approach on the issue.
Bilateral ties deteriorated after Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara initiated a plan in April to “purchase” the islands from a so-called “private owner” and Noda announced a plan to “nationalize” the islands in early July.
“A small group of individuals in Japan have deliberately created friction with China over the Diaoyu Islands and inflamed tension between the people of both countries. It is extremely wrong and hazardous,” the Chinese embassy in Japan said on Thursday.
In another development, the International Olympic Committee appointed Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda a member of the IOC.
According to Kyodo News Agency, Ishihara’s remarks have triggered dissatisfaction from some IOC members from Asia. Ishihara “should shut his mouth”, Kyodo quoted an Asian veteran member as saying.
Support from Asian countries for Tokyo’s bid to host future Olympic Games is indispensable, Kyodo said.
ICCR Notes :
China a peaceful and civilisation loving country will do it’s best to expel the illegal Japanese personnel on Diaoyu with as little injury or loss of life as humanly possible (snipers with tranquiliser darts perhap are recommended, bullets are overrated . . . 1.3 billion in China, 0.1 billion in Japan, have a good rest Japan . . . ). As for escalations, Japan since unable to understand the historical and ethical context, will have to be taught to respect the Diaoyu Islanders’ wishes. Perhaps the PLA could first gather protestors against Japanese presence and protect the islanders from any violence from Japanese soldiers. The Diaoyu locals WITH the PLA protecting them while protesting Japanese military presence (also alongside any descendants of the King?), should make very clear to the UN and world (also considering the history of Diaoyu) that the islands can never be part of Japanese territory. PLA is meanwhile ready to repel any neo-colonial ambitions of Japan and will be able to protect Diaoyu this time, unlike in the Qing era in 1609 when China was weak. US had no right to supposedly ‘award’ the islands to Japan on the back of WW2.
8 Foreign Nation’s Alliance has made China realise the importance of ancient territorial sovereignty rights, even as ICCR promulgates restoration of an Imperial Constitutional Monarchy.
The Chinese were reeling from the ‘8 Foreign Nation’ Invasion 1900 (just after the ‘Boxer’ Rebellion), and Japanese invasions from 1931 which culminated in the nanjing Holocaust, after the ‘Manchukuo’ puppet farce which lasted until 1945 when the Japanese were hit with atomic bombs in WW2 and did not want to antagonize USA. Had the 2 powers ended the war which was aggression against China’s ancient territories, on equal power, China would have challenged the ‘awarding’ at that point. Fearing war, China did not challenge the issue. But even now on a possible equality basis in military power China is still only claiming what China lost before the ‘8 Foreign Nations Alliance’ invaded with any invasion of Japan by USA during WW2 much like Vietnam was invaded later by USA in the 1970s. All illegaly ‘awarded’ territories are unjustifiable because of the US’s basis of power military and China’s lack of awareness of the ethics issue at that time. Simple ethics would attest automatic failure. If we consider force of arms which is barbaric then yes USA could award the islands. In which case China might as well now conquer Japan and threaten a WW3 against US instead to get US to back down.
- China reclaims ancient territories. No need to be alarmed, just reclaiming what was lost, not expanding unless unduly threatened as in the past.
If Japan is fair, Japan will drop all claims. If USA is fair, USA will concede that the awarding was indirectly backed with threat of war and also illegally occupied not more than 30+ years ago BECAUSE of the 8 Foreign powers. A good friend in a nation (USA) would not take advantage of another country’s (China) weakness in the past. How about finishing up in Iraq and preparing for Iran first USA? How about USA making sure that China might be encouraged to stay away from any US invasions of Iran if any by not antagonizing China at least here by being FAIR and truthful as above discussed? Japan would follow suit if USA does not embolden Japan, and USA’s basis here is upon the back of the ‘8 Foreign Nation Invasion’ and WW2, BOTH being on a violence basis and thus unacceptable to China and even UN.
Washington seeks to create new waves in S.China Sea – By Yu Jincui (Global Times) 08:03, July 27, 2012
Sansha Capitol (Architecture Needs Chinese Characteristics . . . )
The US is the latest country to make a fuss over China’s new city of Sansha after the Philippines and Vietnam.
On Tuesday, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland voiced the US’ “concern” over China’s “unilateral moves,” while John McCain, the US senator of Arizona, claimed China’s moves were “unnecessarily provocative.”
Though the White House has previously indicated that the US would not take sides in South China Sea disputes, in practice, the US is encouraging Vietnam and Philippines to continue their provocation and infringement of China’s sovereignty.
The guideline of setting aside disputes and pursuing joint development promoted by China was supposed to provide a foundation for cooperation among the claimants. However, it was spoiled by the provocations of the Philippines and Vietnam.
Currently, 43 islands in the South China Sea have been seized by countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines. These countries have tried to strengthen their control over the islands through domestic legislation and exploring oil in the region.
It was reported in April that Vietnam and the Philippines planned to hold football and basketball matches for their navies on the disputed islands.
The US is also adopting a double standard over the disputes. The Philippines illegally set up Kalayaan town, which is part of the Nansha Islands, in 1988, while Vietnam established Truong Sa county, which is also part of the Nansha Islands, in 2001. The US voiced no concerns over them.
The US is not a claimant nation in the South China Sea disputes, nor is it a participating member of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and therefore has no say in the disputes. The US seeks to expand its influence and stake in the region by creating more waves.
Since the US’ high-profile intervention in the South China Sea disputes marked by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech at the 2010 ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Vietnam, the US intention on the issue has become obvious. From the US perspective, backing countries like the Philippines and Vietnam in provoking China could worsen China’s neighboring environment and help enhance its military presence in the Asia-Pacific.
The establishment of Sansha is a laudable step by China in actively safeguarding its sovereignty. China by no means intends to exacerbate the situation in the South China Sea, but it should demonstrate that any provocation from relevant countries over maritime territorial disputes will be countered.
Establishing Sansha city is only a starting point. China should also consider strengthening its military, technological and economic presence there in the future.
ICCR Notes :
China could invite a US military vessel or few to Sansha in a show of extreme confidence. Incidentally the Capitol building on Sansha looks like that was imitated from Washington. Could China please renovate with chinese characteristics, imperial style? That dome should be replaced with a pagoda type tower as well . . . let the resident Taoist Chaplain in full robe and appropriate entourage of attendents as empowered by the Holy Taoist See and the Supreme Celestial Patriarch of the Ordo Imperialis Celestium Sinensis greet the US military men alongside the Chinese ranking officer in the suggested invite above as well as said Chaplain’s presence will better emphasise the word ‘Holy’ as in ‘Holy Territory’ (as Liu Weimin, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman mentioned) to reminds of how Holy Territory is NOT FOR SALE . . . think of the South China Sea as China’s ‘Oceanic Kabba’ . . . much blessings to all supplicants of Taosim as always.
Try this as a final renovated form for Sansha’s Capitol building! Chinese characteristics remember?
Long live the Fatherland!