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Muzi News : News : Philippine Navy Fires Warning Shots at Chinese Boats

Muzi News ( 2000-02-04] MANILA, Philippines - A Philippine navy patrol ship fired three warning shots near two Chinese fishing boats, warning that they should leave a shoal in the disputed South China Sea area, officials said Friday.

The Chinese boats, trolling waters claimed by both countries, attempted to evade the patrol ship after they were spotted near Scarborough Shoal late Wednesday afternoon, Vice Admiral Luisito Fernandez said in a report.

He said the Philippine ship attempted to contact the boats by radio without success. It signaled with lights and a sound system, but the fishing boats continued evasive actions, he said.

About an hour after the initial sighting, the commanding officer on the Philippine ship ``decided to fire a warning shot of three rounds in the opposite direction of the fishing vessels,'' Fernandez said.

The fishing boats halted after the shots were fired, and left the area after men on a rubber boat sent from the patrol ship instructed them to leave, he said.

The Philippines protested to China twice in January over the presence of Chinese fishing boats in the area of Scarborough Shoal. China responded by accusing the Philippines of harassing, forcibly boarding and robbing Chinese boats in the waters.

The Philippines says the shallow waters lie within its 200-mile exclusive economic zone, and that it has the right to patrol the area and safeguard its resources. Beijing, however, claims the area has long been a Chinese fishing ground.

In May last year, a Philippine patrol boat accidentally sank a Chinese fishing boat it was chasing near the shoal. All those aboard the boat were rescued.

The shallow waters, which hold rich fishing grounds, lie 130 miles off the western Philippine province of Zambales and north of the Spratly Islands, another disputed territory

MuziNet : Dailynews : China Makes Proposal in Island Fight

Muzi Dailynews ( 1999-11-29] SINGAPORE - If the dispute among Asian nations over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea cannot be resolved, the governments involved should instead jointly develop the archipelago, a Chinese spokesman said today. Lateline News
The territorial dispute over the Spratlys, which are believed to lie in the middle of rich oil and national gas fields, has become a major irritant among several Asian governments. Lateline News
``If the dispute cannot be resolved for the time being, we have put in a pragmatic response,'' Zhu Bangzao, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, told reporters. ``Let's shelve the dispute and join to develop the islands.'' Lateline News
Five governments - China, Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines - claim the islands. Zhu Bangzao spoke during a visit that Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji is making to Singapore. Lateline News
The Foreign Ministry spokesman also reiterated Chinese claims to the islands during an evening news conference. He said the Spratlys ``have always been Chinese territory from ancient times. China has undisputed sovereignty over the islands.'' Lateline News
The dispute was a major topic during the weekend summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The leaders of ASEAN proposed a ``code of conduct'' that was rebuffed by the Chinese. Lateline News
``It is better for us to deal with it seriously and in real earnest and then after it is signed it will become a very valuable document,'' Zhu told reporters after meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. Lateline News
The Chinese leader said the parties to the dispute have reached agreement on the bulk of the code. Lateline News
``However, some disagreements remain,'' he said through an interpreter. Lateline News
At a dinner held in Zhu's honor today, Goh said China's decision not to devalue its currency helped contain the impact of the Asian financial crisis. Lateline News
``China's good economic performance, and in particular, its decision not to devalue the renminbi, has helped contain the impact of the crisis and contributed to the region's economic recovery,'' Goh said. Lateline News
China's expected entry into the World Trade Organization also has been a major topic of conversation during the Chinese premier's travels. Zhu said membership in the WTO would bring China disadvantages as well as benefits. Lateline News
``Once we open up our markets it would force us to cope with the challenges arising from the opening up,'' he said. Lateline News
Zhu arrived in Singapore today for a three-day visit to discuss international and regional issues with leaders of Singapore, the richest country in Southeast Asia. This is Zhu's first visit to Singapore as premier.

MuziNet : Dailynews : Bulk of agreement reached on Spratlys code

[Muzi Dailynews ( 1999-11-29] SINGAPORE - Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji said on Monday the bulk of an agreement on a proposed code of conduct on disputed islands in the South China Sea has been reached but disagreements remain. Lateline News
Zhu, who is on a state visit to Singapore, said the disagreements were both among members of the Association of South East Asian Nations and with China. Lateline News
``In principle all the parties concerned have expressed their support to such a code of conduct. Actually we have reached an agreement on the bulk of the code of conduct,'' Zhu told reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. Lateline News
Zhu said the code of conduct was a very serious and important matter to China and it would not rush to sign an agreement. Lateline News
``It is important that after signing it is carried out, therefore we need to have full consultation in order to achieve unanimous agreement,'' he said through an interpreter. Lateline News
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said on Friday in Manila that ``major differences'' existed between it and other claimants, adding that rival claimants had put up ``new obstacles'' to the signing of the plan to defuse tensions in the area. Lateline News
At the centre of the dispute is a cluster of isles, reefs and rocky outcrops -- called the Spratly islands -- which are potentially rich in oil and straddle strategically important sealanes. Lateline News
The Spratlys are claimed wholly or in part by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Adjacent to the Spratlys is another island group, the Paracels, which are disputed by Vietnam and Brunei. Lateline News
ASEAN groups Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei. Lateline News
Zhu said his bilateral talks with Goh focused on improving already strong diplomatic and economic relations. Goh will make a state visit to China next year. Lateline News
The spokesman said Zhu has called for deepening economic and trade relations by inviting more investment from Singapore in central and western China. Lateline News
He said the two sides looked to strengthen cooperation in the financial sector to guard against risks and explore listing of Chinese companies in Singapore. Lateline News
A Chinese embassy official in Singapore said bilateral trade had grown to $8.15 billion in 1998 from $2.82 billion in 1990.

Muzi Lateline News : China cautions against Philippine-US war games near Spratlys

Muzi Lateline News ( 8/4/99] BACOLOD, Philippines - China on Tuesday cautioned against the holding of joint Philippines-US military exercises near the disputed Spratly islands, AFP reported. Lateline News
Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Fu Ying said Washington should maintain its policy of neutrality regarding the conflicting claims over the South China Sea chain. Lateline News
"In the light of this policy, I think the US will be very careful where they do military exercises and usually, countries would be very careful to stay away from disputed areas," she said in a news conference. Lateline News
"I hope this sensitivity to the disputed area will be respected," said Fu, who was visiting the central city of Bacolod as a guest of the local Filipino-Chinese chamber of commerce. Lateline News
Philippine military chief General Angelo Reyes announced last week that American and Filipino troops will hold joint exercises in the western island of Palawan, the closest major Philippine island to the disputed Spratlys chain. Lateline News
However, Reyes said this was not connected to the simmering disputes over the Spratlys, insisting "we would not want to deliver any political message." Lateline News
He said the exercises in Palawan, scheduled in February and March, were "not near the disputed areas" and had "no relation whatsoever to the Spratlys." Lateline News
The maneuvers will be the first major joint military exercise between the Philippines and the United States in four years, signalling the warming defense relations between the two allies. Lateline News
Joint military exercises resumed after the Philippine senate ratified an agreement covering the legal status of US forces participating in the exercises when they commit crimes in the country. Lateline News
The Philippines and China, along with Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, have laid partial or entire claims to the Spratlys which guard vital shipping lanes and are believed to sit atop vast mineral deposits. Lateline News
A dispute over Chinese construction on Philippine-claimed Mischief Reef and the sinking of two Chinese fishing boats in collisions with Filipino navy warships have strained bilateral ties.

Related Top News

Fearing China, Manila Turns to U.S.

Muzi Lateline News ( 7/5/99] WASHINGTON - Eight years after the Philippines ordered a shutdown of American military bases on its soil, Filipino concern over Chinese actions in the South China Sea is leading to a partial revitalization of U.S.-Philippines military ties. Lateline News
At issue is Chinese construction on Mischief Reef, about 150 miles from Philippine territory and 800 miles from China. Manila is worried that Chinese construction there could be used to assist military operations. Lateline News
Neither the United States nor the Philippines is talking about reviving the sprawling U.S. bases that were once the centerpiece of a military relationship that reached a high point in 1944 when U.S. forces helped liberate the islands from Japan. Since 1951, the two countries have been bound together by a defense treaty. Lateline News
Nowadays, a more modest - and more politically sustainable - arrangement is contemplated, involving joint military exercises and periodic visits to Filipino ports by large U.S. military vessels. American officials declined to speculate about the possibility that the evolving relationship with the Philippines could one day bring the United States into a conflict with China. Lateline News
In any case, the shift in sentiment in the Philippines toward its one-time colonizer has been dramatic. In 1991, when the Philippines Senate rejected a proposed treaty governing the U.S. bases, then-Senators Joseph Estrada and Orlando Mercado were among those voting against it. Months later, the U.S. military abandoned the bases. Lateline News
Today, Estrada is president and Mercado is defense secretary. Both are enthusiastic proponents of renewed military ties with the United States. In late May, the Philippines Senate voted 23-5 to approve a so-called Visiting Forces Agreement, which lays the legal groundwork for the return of American servicemen. Plans are under way for joint exercises early next year. Lateline News
In rejecting church and Communist opposition to the proposal, Mercado said, ``Our country is weak, is extremely vulnerable to external threats and needs this alliance (with the United States) in order to protect our national interest.'' Lateline News
Just how far the United States will be willing to go to defend its ally is a matter of debate. Outgoing Filipino Ambassador Raul Rabe said in an interview that the United States pledged before the May vote to extend its defense perimeter into the South China Sea. Lateline News
U.S. officials say the administration has merely reaffirmed long-standing policy of pledging to consult with the Philippines if either party's territory is attacked - consistent with the defense treaty's language. Lateline News
The officials, who asked not to be identified, also seemed intent on not raising the rhetorical temperature - perhaps with a view toward someday mediating the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, a role it could not play if it aligns itself too closely with the Filipino position. The South China Sea is but one of many territorial disputes in the region. Lateline News
``We're not going to give them (the Philippines) a blank check,'' one official said. He also noted the United States has made clear its neutrality in the South China Sea dispute and he cited approvingly China's assertion that it will not interfere with freedom of navigation there. No significant U.S. weapons sales to the Philippines are contemplated, he added. Lateline News
If China is alarmed by the resurrection of the U.S.-Philippines military ties, it is not saying so publicly. China's ambassador to Manila, Fu Ying, told the Far Eastern Economic Review: ``We see the proposed Visiting Forces Agreement as a matter between the Philippines and the U.S.'' Lateline News
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., a member of the House International Relations Committee, is alarmed by what he calls ``a massive military buildup'' by China in the region. Lateline News
China, he said, ``is claiming the entire area of the South China Sea.... This is a blueprint for war on the part of Beijing.'' [AP]

China says Spratlys issue will not harm Asian neighbours

[Lateline News ( 6/16/99] KUALA LUMPUR - China on Tuesday assured its Asian neighbours that it will not allow the Spratlys issue to harm diplomatic ties. Lateline News
"We won't let the problem to affect bilateral relationship with Malaysia, the Philippines or other countries," Guan Dengming, China's ambassador to Malaysia, was quoted by AFP as saying. Lateline News
Guan stressed that China hopes the Spratly dispute should be solved through bilaterial consultation between the affected countries only. Lateline News
China shared Malaysia's stand which opposed the interference of third parties in solving the dispute over the overlapping claims to the Spratly Islands, he said. Lateline News
"A third party cannot solve the problem but they will complicate it. They have their own intention," he was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency. Lateline News
The Spratlys straddle vital sea lanes in the South China Sea and are believed to be sitting atop rich deposits of oil and natural gas. They are claimed in whole or in part by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Lateline News
Guan said the current situation at the disputed zone was stable and not as dangerous as had been highlighted in the media. Lateline News
It has been reported that the Philippines navy patrol arrested Chinese fishermen in two incidents in the past two weeks near the disputed area. Lateline News
"Before coming here, I was in the Phillipines for four years. I had dealt with the Spratlys issue many times and based on my experience, those rumours or remarks are being played up by the media who took advantage of it for their own interest," he said. Lateline News
Guan also said China would work closely with its neighbours to maintain peace and stability in the region and to continue with its policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries.


Sino-Philippine war of words over South China Sea shoal escalates

Lateline News ( 6/10/99] MANILA - Philippine officials said Thursday that China's claims to a shoal in the South China Sea were "without basis", while earlier in the same day, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue told a Beijing press briefing that Philippine claims to Huangyan Island, or Scarborough Shoal, were "irresponsible", AFP reported.

Lateline News
A Chinese fishing boat sank after a collision with a Philippine navy ship off Scarborough two weeks ago. Beijing claims that the naval ship intentionally smashed the fishing boat but Manila says it was accidental.
Lateline News
"Huangyan Island is Chinese territory and the international community, including the Philippines, has never objected to that before," Zhang said.
Lateline News
She said China hoped that the Philippines would "not make any more irresponsible remarks of this kind."
Lateline News
The spokeswoman was reacting to presidential executive secretary Ronaldo Zamora's remarks made on Monday, when he said that Manila would continue to protect its territorial claims in the South China Sea with naval patrols and reaffirmed the shoal was Philippine territory.
Lateline News
Zamora reiterated his stance on Thursday, saying that the inclusion of Scarborough Shoal on a new chart by the Philippine national mapping agency was lawful and based on international conventions.
Lateline News
"We are just putting on the map our EEZ," he said, referring to the 200-mile exclusive economic zone defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Lateline News
Scarborough Shoal is only 120 nautical miles from the Philippine province of Zambales, north of Manila.
Lateline News
President Joseph Estrada's spokesman, Fernando Barican, also defended Manila's claim to the shoal.
Lateline News
"If the Chinese are protesting the inclusion of Scarborough Shoal in the Philippine map, there is no basis for such protest since the shoal is, without question, under Philippine sovereignty," he told reporters.
Lateline News
But in Beijing, Zhang said the shoal was "clearly recorded in Chinese historical documents."
Lateline News
She pointed to a series of treaties signed between the United States and Spain, the Philippines' former colonial rulers, and between the US and Britain earlier this century which China believes clearly defined the Philippines' boundary.
Lateline News
"All the treaties clearly defined the western limits of Philippine territory as lying within 118 degrees east longitude, and Huangyan lies to the west of that and is part of China," Zhang said.
Lateline News
Manila and Beijing are locked in an increasingly tense dispute over territories in the South China Sea.
Lateline News
Diplomatic ties have been strained by Manila's allegations of Chinese construction on Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratlys island chain.
Lateline News
Philippine police said Thursday that two Chinese fishermen had been arrested just 300 yards (273 meters) from the shore of a Philippine-garrisoned island, Pag-asa, in the Spratlys chain.
Lateline News
Palawan police chief Jose Balane told AFP that it was the first time that foreign nationals had been arrested so near to Philippine-held territory in the Spratlys.
Lateline News
Twenty-seven Chinese fishermen were Thursday charged with poaching and illegal entry after being arrested on Monday off the western Philippine island of Palawan.
Lateline News
Mischief Reef is within the Philippines' 200-mile exclusive economic zone, but is claimed by China on historical grounds. The Spratlys are also claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Lateline News : Manila Rejected Beijing's Call for Punishment Over Collision


[Lateline News ( 5/26/99] MANILA - The Philippines called on China on Wednesday to respect Manila's sovereignty over a disputed rock in the South China Sea to prevent another collision of their ships, Reuters reported.

Lateline News
The Foreign Office in a statement insisted the sinking of a Chinese fishing boat in the area last Sunday was accidental, disputing Beijing's contention that a Philippine Navy ship had rammed the wooden junk. The boat's three Chinese crewmen survived.
Lateline News
``The Philippine government calls on the Chinese government to respect Philippine exercise of sovereignty over Philippine territory to avoid a repeat of this unfortunate incident,'' the statement said.
Lateline News
President Joseph Estrada ordered a probe into the incident.
Lateline News
``We have to investigate whose fault (it was), and who is responsible, whether it was the Chinese fishing vessel that bumped our boat, or our Navy vessel that bumped theirs,'' Estrada told reporters.
Lateline News
The Philippine Navy has said "rough seas hurled the Chinese boat against the patrol vessel".
Lateline News
Ownership of the rocky formation, called Scarborough Shoal, is contested by Manila and Beijing. The two countries are also squabbling over the potentially oil-rich Spratly Islands well south of the shoal, which lies about 120 nautical miles west of the main Philippine island of Luzon.
Lateline News
``We believe that the unfortunate accident could have been avoided had the Chinese fishermen respected our territory and our laws,'' the Foreign Office said in a separate statement.
Lateline News
Defence Secretary Orlando Mercado, trying to assuage Chinese feelings, said the Philippines "could build a substitute wooden boat " for the fishermen to replace the one they lost.
Lateline News
Mercado rejected Beijing's demand that Manila punish the Navy personnel involved in the incident.
Lateline News
The sinking of the Chinese boat was the latest in a series of incidents which have marred ties between the two countries. Much of the tension is caused by their rival claims over tiny isles and rocks in the South China Sea, a vital international sea lane.


Spratly5-99.JPG (7863 bytes)

Philippines Accuse China Of Dominating Sea

MANILA, Apr. 18, 1999 -- (Reuters) U.S. officials have told the Philippines they believe China will send larger naval forces to the disputed Spratly Islands, a senior Philippine official said on Thursday.

Foreign Undersecretary Lauro Baja, in the sharpest public attack on China by a Philippine official, accused Beijing of seeking to dominate the entire South China Sea and urged Japan and other maritime powers to show concern.

"In a recent briefing, Pentagon officials informed the Philippine ambassador in Washington that in five years time, the Chinese would be projecting even larger naval forces into the Spratlys," Baja said, referring to a potentially oil-rich cluster of isles, reefs and rocky outcrops in the South China Sea.

"This being so, Mischief Reef, aside from being a potential air naval base on its own right, would be a key Chinese command and control facility in support of that projection," he said.

Baja, in a speech to Manila businessmen, added: "Mischief Reef is a component of a comprehensive strategy for gaining ascendancy as regional military power."

The Philippines has accused China of sending naval ships to the Manila-claimed reef, about 135 nautical miles from the Philippines' southwestern coast, and building potentially military structures in the area.

China has said the facilities are shelters for fishermen and ignored Philippine requests to dismantle them.

The Spratlys straddle vital sea-lanes and are believed to sit atop huge deposits of oil and gas. The area is claimed wholly or in part by China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

"Considering Chinese hard-line position in claiming the whole of the South China Sea and on the basis of past Chinese actions, I believe there is an evident attempt to dominate the whole (South China Sea) as part of its objective to be a regional and eventually a global power," Baja said.

Baja said China had occupied 11 islands in the Spratlys with an estimated 900 to 1,000 troops stationed in those islands.

"The Philippines must stress on major maritime powers, particularly Japan, the importance of more active and vocal show of concern over the situation and express opposition to unilateral actions and militarization moves that will disturb the peace and stability in the area," Baja said. ( (c) 1999 Reuters)

Philippines Receive Short-Shrift On South China Sea Dispute

KUNMING, China, Apr. 06, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) The Philippines came away empty-handed Monday after seeking a pledge from China over a disputed reef in the South China Sea, officials said.

The Philippines was "sounding out China" on a proposal for a regional code of conduct amid a dispute over Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, the Philippines' Foreign Undersecretary Lauro Baja said earlier.

"This is a regional plan of action discussed in Hanoi in 1998 which we want regional countries and claimants to Spratly Islands to sign," he said.

But a Chinese official after the talks in this southwestern city between China and the nine-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said there was no need to sign any further documents.

"In today's meetings the Philippines indeed expressed their desire to explore ways to achieve a new region code of conduct," assistant foreign minister Wang Yi said.

But he said a statement signed in 1997 between ASEAN and Chinese leaders was sufficient and represented "a confidence-building measure."

"As long as both sides observe the orientation and content of the joint statement, then the South China Sea will continue to maintain stability," he said, adding that China understood the concerns of its neighbors.

"The international shipping lanes have not encountered any problems in the past and there will be none in the future," he said.

Baja had no immediate comment on the outcome of the talks as they wrapped up Monday.

But earlier he said the proposed code would spell out guidelines governing activities in the disputed chain according to international maritime laws.

The move comes amid a diplomatic row between Beijing and Manila over Chinese structures on a coral reef just 135 nautical miles from the Philippines island of Palawan.

Four ASEAN members -- Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam -- lay partial claim to the Spratlys.

China and Taiwan also partially or wholly claim the Spratlys, a group of reefs, islands and shoals that lie along strategic shipping lines and are believed to harbor rich oil reserves.

Analysts have identified the Spratlys as a potential flash point in East Asia, with tensions exacerbated in recent years by China's building activities there and Philippine detention of Chinese fishermen.

It was the second blow to the Philippines in less than a month after China in March promised self-restraint in its dispute but rejected Philippine demands for a commitment not to build new structures.

Philippine officials said the commitment fell short of their demand that Beijing make a firm promise to halt all construction of new structures in the Spratlys chain.

China also refused Philippine requests to tear down existing three-story buildings on the Philippine-claimed Mischief Reef, or to allow Manila equal access to the facilities -- two of which look like small beachfront hotels. ( (c) 1999 Agence France Presse)

Updated Wed., Mar. 31, 1999 at: Lon 4:54 p.m. Pra 5:54 p.m. NY 11:54 a.m. HK 11:54 p.m.

China Blames Philippines For Spratly Tension

BEIJING, Mar. 31, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) Tension between China and Philippines over Chinese structures built on a disputed reef in the Spratly islands is being stirred up by elements in the Philippine government, a senior Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday.

"The Philippines side, especially the military and the Congress, are still cooking up this matter," the official told reporters.

"The tensions are created by the Philippines side. The military should not carry out reconnaissance missions there and the people in the Philippines should not clamor for the use of force to settle the situation," he said.

China recently "renovated" structures which it claims are shelters for Chinese fishermen on Mischief Reef, over which both countries claim sovereignty.

The Philippines first discovered the structures which China built in 1995 but despite protests by the Philippines, China fortified them into three-story buildings in 1998.

The Philippines claim the structures may be for naval garrisons.

China's assistant foreign minister Wang Yi was in the Philippines earlier this month on a confidence-building mission between the two countries.

Both sides promised not to escalate tensions in the region and to restrain from taking actions that would do so.

"We indicated to the Philippines that with the completion of facility and improvement in bilateral relations, we will consider opening the facility to Philippine fishermen in the region," the senior Foreign Ministry official told reporters.

China has also told the Philippines to stop detaining and arresting Chinese fishermen in the South China Sea, the official said.

"Last year they illegally detained 11 fishing boats and 71 fishermen from China, causing a loss of $800,000 to $1 million to these fishermen," he said.

Asked if China would consider joint sovereignty over the disputed Spratly islands, the official said: "Sovereignty is indivisible and there is no question of our sovereignty. The most effective way out of the dispute is that the countries sit down bilaterally and talk."

Mischief Reef lies amongst the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also claim all or part of the Spratlys.

During the talks in Manila two weeks ago, China's Wang insisted on Beijing's 2,000-year-old claims to the entire Spratlys chain whose waters, he added, are traditional fishing grounds for their fishermen.

He also opposed Philippine plans to raise the dispute before U.N. bodies and regional forums as well as the involvement of third countries.

Officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China will meet in Kunming in the southwest province of Yunnan next week where the Spratlys issue is expected to be raised. ( (c) 1999 Agence France Presse)

China says to exercise restraint over Spratlys

March 30, 1999
Web posted at: 4:34 AM EST (0934 GMT)

BEIJING, March 30 (Reuters) - China and the Philippines have agreed to practise restraint and avoid moves that could fuel tension in the disputed South China Sea.

"The two sides agreed to exercise restraint and not make moves that could lead to the situation magnifying," Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi told reporters on Tuesday.

"China's stand to devote itself to peace and stability in the South China Sea has not changed," Sun said.

But Sun sidestepped a question on whether China had promised not to build new structures on one of the islands in the Spratlys.

Philippine President Joseph Estrada said last week China agreed it would not build new structures in the Spratlys after a two-day confidence-building meeting in Manila.

The Spratlys are a cluster of isles, reefs and rocky outcrops believed to be potentially rich in oil and are claimed entirely or in part by China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Brunei.

The Philippines has alleged Chinese structures on Mischief Reef -- claimed by Beijing as Meiji -- could be used for military purposes and demanded their removal.

Beijing has said the facilities are shelters for fishermen and ignored Manila's demand. China has protested against Philippine air force reconnaissance flights over the area.

Sun said China had "indisputable sovereignty" over the Spratlys.

The shelters were for fishermen and had been repaired after being damaged, he said.

China advocates shelving the dispute and jointly developing the islands, Sun said, adding that the issue should be resolved through dialogue.

China was willing to settle the dispute in accordance with international law and enter into bilateral cooperation with other claimants to avoid complicating the situation, the spokesman added.

China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are scheduled to hold high-level consultation in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming from April 5-8.

Copyright 1999 Reuters.

Updated Tue., Mar. 23, 1999 at: Lon 2:04 p.m. Pra 3:04 p.m. NY 9:04 a.m. HK 9:04 p.m. MitchiefChineseConstuct.jpg (3142 bytes)

China Refuses Commitment On Spratlys Spat

MANILA, Mar. 23, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) Chinese representatives have declined to give a categorical commitment not to build more structures in the disputed Spratly islands despite overnight talks, Philippine officials said in Manila on Tuesday.

Delegations from the Philippines and China on Tuesday continued to try to hammer out the contents of a joint statement to be issued after two days of talks in this country to resolve a territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Philippine diplomatic sources said Tuesday that they were still trying to get a "categorical commitment" from China not to build new structures in the Spratly island group in the South China Sea.

However, the sources said China was resisting making such a commitment.

The dispute focuses on the Philippines' complaints over a fortified structure (pictured) that China erected on Mischief Reef, an outcrop in the Spratly islands claimed by both countries.

The structure has raised tensions between the two countries, leading to the holding of this expert-level meeting.

But on the opening day Monday, China ignored Philippine demands to dismantle the structures on Mischief Reef and rebuffed Manila's bid to gain equal access to the facilities.

The Philippines later presented a draft joint statement to the Chinese side, but no agreement could be reached.

Chinese assistant foreign minister Wang Yi and Philippine foreign undersecretary Lauro Baja were Tuesday in one-on-one talks to iron out the differences in the content of the joint statement.

Baja told reporters late Monday: "They (the Chinese) have a phrase there that I interpret to mean that China will not undertake a unilateral act to occupy or build any structures on any reef."

"But I want it in a language that (is clear)," he added.

The Spratlys are a chain of islands in the South China Sea which are claimed in whole or part by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam as well as the Philippines and China.

The islands are believed to sit on vast mineral resources. All claimants except Brunei have troops posted in the area, which is considered to be a potential flash-point in Asia.

( (c) 1999 Agence France Presse)


Philippines, China open talks Spratlys dispute

March 22, 1999
Web posted at: 2:06 AM EST (0706 GMT)
MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- The Philippines and China opened two days of talks on Monday to find ways to resolve their simmering dispute over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

The two sides were to discuss a Chinese proposal for joint use of structures China built on Mischief Reef, an area in the Spratlys claimed by both countries.

The Philippines has demanded that China dismantle the structures, which are located about 215 kilometers west of the central Philippine province of Palawan and within its exclusive economic zone.

In a statement, Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Lauro Baja said the discussions require "the determination of both our sides to preserve and advance" bilateral ties.

Baja said good relations between the two countries, beginning with the establishment of diplomatic ties between Manila and Beijing in 1975, were "rudely interrupted" when China first built concrete structures on Mischief Reef in 1995.

"We cannot overly emphasize the concern, the fear, the humiliation of the Filipino people over this development, especially since the action came from a big neighbor which we had always assumed as a great friend," Baja said.

Tension mounted in October 1998 when China replaced the concrete huts with three-story concrete buildings, and Philippine officials accused China of "creeping invasion."

China said the buildings are storm shelters for Chinese fishermen. Philippine officials, however, believe they can be used for military purposes.

The head of the Chinese delegation, Assistant Foreign Minister Wang Yi, repeated Beijing's denials that the structures were intended for military use.

"That facility is completely for civilian purposes. It is so right now, and it will also be so in the future," he told reporters.

He said he was optimistic about the outcome of the talks and expected Philippine officials to adopt "a cooperative attitude."

Asked if China would dismantle the structures, Wang replied: "The Mischief Reef is Chinese territory, and we have true and sufficient basis and evidence to support our claim."

On Sunday, Wang said that Beijing wants a peaceful settlement of the dispute but that it was opposed to the United Nations getting involved.

"We have long believed that our two countries shall settle this question and problem through friendly consultations," Wang told reporters.

Although China prefers resolving the problem bilaterally, Wang said they are open to a settlement based on international law, including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Seas, which sets certain marine territorial boundaries for nations.

The Philippines has been seeking international support to halt what it says is China's expansion in the Spratlys archipelago, an area that straddles one of the world's busiest sea lanes.

U.N. Secretary General Koffi Annan told Philippine President Joseph Estrada last week that he will work for a peaceful settlement of the dispute.

China, Vietnam and Taiwan claim all of the Spratlys while the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim only some areas.

The islands are believed to be rich in oil and other minerals.

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

UN to help Manila in row over Spratlys

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has promised to help settle the simmering territorial dispute between the Philippines and China over the Spratly Islands, President Estrada said yesterday.

''The UN secretary general promised that he will do everything to resolve this problem through peaceful means, through diplomatic means,'' the President said in a phone interview from Los Angeles, during his weekly radio program ''Jeep ni Erap.''

But while Mr. Estrada said that ''China is clearly intruding into our territory,'' he was all in favor of the proposed Visiting Forces Agreement with Washington, slamming left-wing students who picketed the US Embassy in Manila this week.

The President's request for UN intervention in the Spratlys dispute capped a series of efforts by his administration to seek international support for Philippine claims on the oil-rich island chain, despite Beijing's insistence that the dispute should not leave Asia.

In Manila, top diplomats prepared to sit down for a verbal wrestling match with their Chinese counterparts starting today.

One senior diplomat described fortified Chinese structures on Mischief Reef as ''daggers'' plunged into the heart of the Philippines.

Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon met Beijing's new woman ambassador on Thursday and informed her that many Filipinos were outraged at the Chinese occupation of the reef.

Siazon told Ambassador Fu Ying that the occupation was ''a grave national concern.''

''It has conveyed the impression among the Filipino people that a big major power is imposing its awesome superiority over a small, vastly handicapped nation,'' Siazon was quoted by an official as telling the Chinese envoy.

Fu's response was reportedly evasive.

Siazon is scheduled to hold one-on-one talks with Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Wang Yi today.

'Daggers in heart'

The Chinese structures on Mischief Reef ''are daggers in the heart of Philippine security concerns,'' said Foreign Undersecretary Lauro Baja, who heads a Philippine delegation that will meet with Chinese experts tomorrow and Tuesday to prevent an escalation of the dispute.

The talks will be the first since the dispute between Beijing and Manila erupted over the structures in 1995.

Mr. Estrada said he had asked Annan ''if he could intervene in this process so that we might have diplomatic talks for a peaceful resolution of the conflict over the Spratly Islands and Mischief Reef.''

The two leaders met for half an hour earlier this week at the UN headquarters in New York. The President earlier attended the funeral of his oldest brother, Emilio Ejercito, who died last week of leukemia.

Erap defends VFA

On his radio program, Mr. Estrada said the VFA, a military training pact set to be discussed by the Senate next month, was vital in boosting the standard of the country's Armed Forces.

''Our military is one of the weakest,'' he said, adding that troops would benefit from being exposed to ''sophisticated weapons . . . that they have not seen before.''

He added the United States might provide the poorly equipped Philippine military with new weapons once joint training exercises begin.

Mr. Estrada said left-wing activists were afraid US military training would boost the Philippine military's capabilities in fighting local communist guerrillas.

On Friday, leftist activists staged a violent protest in front of the US Embassy to show their opposition to the military training pact, claiming it would infringe on Philippine sovereignty.

Reacting to the incident, Mr. Estrada said: ''Why don't those leftists protest at the Chinese Embassy?''

''What happened in Mischief Reef and the Spratly Islands ... we could do nothing,'' he added.

News blackout

Chinese Ambassador Fu told Siazon the Chinese Embassy has not been informing Beijing about local media reports on Mischief Reef, ''in order not to excite the Chinese people and inflame the situation,'' said Juanito Jarasa, the assistant foreign secretary of Asian and Pacific Affairs.

The tension between the two sides heightened late last year after China built larger concrete structures on the reef, which is claimed by both countries but is only 135 miles west of Palawan.

The reef is also within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone as defined by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

Wang, the Chinese assistant foreign minister, will lead a Chinese delegation in the two-day talks with the Philippines to draw up confidence-building measures over the brewing dispute.

Maximum demand

Topping the agenda of the meetings is a Chinese proposal for ''joint use'' of the structures with the Philippines.

Baja said Manila's ''maximum demand'' would be the dismantling of the buildings, but he conceded it was unlikely that China would agree.

The Chinese say the structures are fishermen's shelters but local defense officials say they appear to be naval garrisons.

''The maximum demand is to remove those structures. Failing that, then you have to enter in to some sort of arrangement, a modus vivendi. That's what we should explore with the Chinese on Monday,'' Baja told a news briefing. He said he thought that an agreement should be reached by 2000.

Baja said the Filipinos would seek clarification regarding China's offer for joint use of the Mischief Reef structures.

China has said that when the structures are completed ''fishermen from other nations, including the Philippines, will be entitled to use the facilities when the conditions are ripe.''

Proper forum

The results of the coming discussions would determine whether the Philippines would raise the dispute before UN bodies such as the Unclos tribunal, Baja said.

''Certainly, one of our ideas is that (the Unclos court) is a proper forum. That depends on what happens on Monday,'' Baja said.

Mischief Reef is part of the Spratlys chain of islands, reefs and shoals in the South China Sea that straddle one of the world's busiest sea lanes.

The Spratlys are believed to be rich in oil and minerals. China, Vietnam and Taiwan claim the entire area, while the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan claim some islands. Reports from Martin Marfil and Inquirer wires

More news at


By Andrei Pinkov

JH7ChinaAirForce.jpg (2478 bytes)JH7 by Andrei Pinkov

J8%25202MChinaAirForce.jpg (5320 bytes)J8 2M by Andrei Pinkov

As the pictures recently shown by the China Central Television Station revealed, the J8D in-flight refueling fighter planes have already equipped the naval air force. Normally, the fighter planes whose codes begin with "8" belong to the naval air force. In the meantime, it is also believed that the J8D planes also serve the South Sea Fleet. J8D is mainly used to conduct escort operations for the JH7 fighter-bombers and the H6 bombers as they launch an attack. In addition, if necessary, it can also carry the conventional bombs to perform the mission of attacking an island in South China Sea. The pictures shown on the international channel of the China Central
Television Station revealed that the J8D planes were also equipped with the radio warning receivers (RWR) originating from the KJ8602, its two antennas clearly visible on top of the vertical fin. It is reported that the date of production for the J8B/D equipped with the KJ 8602 RWR system may be later than 1996 as the earlier J8B planes were not equipped with the KJ8602 radio warning receivers.
After obtaining around 24 JH7 planes and at least 24 J8D planes to be used together with its 50 SU27 and H6 fighter planes, the Chinese navy has gained the control of the air above the South China Sea, unnoticed.
In terms of the control of the South China Sea, it is believed that the South Sea Fleet will use the largest “Lu Hai” -class destroyer (with a displacement of 6000 tons) that started to serve the navy in December 1998. Recently, an article of the PLA Daily News Paper has hinted that a new Chinese-made submarine was delivered to the navy in May 1997 and was deployed, after a half-year training, at the Hainan Island that is under the jurisdiction of the South Sea Fleet. It may be the "Ming"-class submarine.
During the Cold War period, China persistently focused on the construction of its North Sea Fleet in its northern territory. This fleet was usually the first to be equipped with the latest equipment. This practice lasted all the way until the early 1990s. The first (No. 112) of the "Luhu"-class destroyers (with a displacement of 4200 tons) was also given to this fleet.
In the same period, a dispute arose inside the navy on the development strategy and the concept of "balanced development" was proposed. The consolidation of the construction of the South Sea Fleet is the specific manifestation of the implementation of this strategic consideration.
In addition, there have been, in recent years, more frequent visits to the south by the East Sea Fleet that normally coordinates and supports the north and the south if need be and will play a major role in the struggle for the control of the Taiwan Strait. Even the second (No.113) of the "Luhu"-class destroyers also visited the Southeast Asia.
As China has been continuously increasing its presence in the controversial South China Sea, the movement of the South China Sea Fleet will become more conspicuous in the future (Andrei Pinkov).


(Kanwa news 15 Feb) The PLA Daily News Paper has lately indicated that the new submarinethat had been delivered to the Chinese navy in May 1997 was deployed at the military port surrounded by the coconut forest and it underwent an in-depth torpedo attack training in the strange area of the South China Sea in June 1998. This, once again, proves that the Chinese navy has frequented the South China Sea in recent years and it has covered an ever more extensive, new area. According to the analysis of the KWIC expert, this is an upgraded Ming-class submarine as, in 1997, a Ming-class submarine of the same type was launched into the water. The Ming-class submarine that now serves the South China Sea Fleet is equipped with a satellite-guiding system. Not including this new submarine, the Chinese navy owns a total of 15 Ming-class submarines, all of which serve the North Sea Fleet. Therefore, the above report of the PLA Daily newspaper shows that the Ming-class submarine has now started to be used on the South China Sea. This is another demonstration of the step that the Chinese navy has taken in enhancing the construction of its South Sea Fleet. (Kanwa news Andrei Pinkov).

China Disputes Philippine Claim over Spratly Structures
BEIJING, Feb. 26, 1999 -- (Reuters) MitchiefChineseConstuct.jpg (3142 bytes)

China dismissed on Thursday a report by Philippine defense officials that Beijing had built a helicopter landing pad, radar facilities and possible gun emplacements on a reef in the disputed Spratly Islands. (Pictured, an aerial photograph taken by a Philippine reconnaissance plane shows one of the structures)
"The reports that you mentioned are groundless," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue. The structures were shelters for fisherman, she told a news conference.
"China has indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands. Maintaining and consolidating the wind shelters on Mischief Reef are entirely for peaceful purposes," she said.
Philippine Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said this month that he had reconnaissance photos that challenge China's assertion.
"The construction at Mischief has been completed," he said.
"There appears to be a helipad, radar facilities. Antennas are obvious and it's very easy for them to put in gun emplacements there," he said.
The Spratlys are a cluster of potentially oil-rich islets, reefs and rocky outcrops claimed wholly or in part by China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.
The Philippines has protested against China's presence on Mischief Reef and accused Beijing of sending warships and other vessels to the area late last year to fortify structures that Manila said could be turned into a naval base. ( (c) 1999 Reuters)

China Has Taken Specific Measures Against The TMD Plan

[KANWA Jan. 25 Andrei Pinkov] At present, China seems to start to enhance, both in theory and in experiment, its research of the counter-measures against the TMD plan carried out by the USA and Japan. The Knowledge of Weapons Monthly, a publication with a military background, claims that the Chinese army deployed the new ground-to- ground missiles that carried shrapnel heads. The KWIC' s precise information analysis concludes that the Chinese army conducted at least one experiment on its own anti-ballistic missile system in October, 1997. A military source has publicly indicated that the new long-range ground-to-air missile has the capability of attacking the small objects flying at a high velocityame time. There is clear information that China is developing its own long-range ground-to-air missile named 2000 Series, on the basis of Russian S300PMU1. In the past several months, the military theoretical publications have been consistently exploring the theoretical possibility of increasing the ballistic missile' s flying speed, and shortening the time for the separation of the warhead from the body. According to the publications, the XXXX stealth paint has been successfully developed that can be used for the missile warheads (Kanwa digest news by Andrei Pinkov).

China Hopes To Set Up An "Anti-TMD Alliance"

-By Andrei Pinkov

China has made an extremely strong response to the TMD development both the USA and Japan are planning to undertake. There are indications that China has worked out the corresponding counter-measures at least in terms of its " deterrent " level so as to prevent Japan and the USA from including Taiwan in the TMD system. As a Chinese influential scholar of foreign affairs told the KWIC reporter, he believed that the new proliferation of the ballistic missile technology was bound to happen if Japan and the USA insisted on proliferating the anti-ballistic missile technology to Taiwan. This is tantamount to declaring that in this situation, China will not necessarily abide by the understanding it reached with the USA in 1994 on the prevention of the proliferation of ballistic missile technology.

An expert of the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences also indicated to the KWIC reporter that the TMD development would cause China to make an even bigger military investment and to take the corresponding counter-measures, thus jeopardizing the Chinese development policy of " taking the economic construction as the top priority ". He said that the USA had hoped to wear down the Soviet Union through the "Star War" in the 1980s and it would now use the same trick to put pressure on China. A series of movements also indicate that China hopes to launch an Anti-TMD and anti- NBMD campaign with Russia. Recently, China has repeatly asserted that the TMD plan is in violation of the ABM Treaty reached between the USA and the Soviet Union in 1972. In the meantime, China also wishes to make the ABM Treaty an international one. Though a strong force in the US Congress wants to end or modify the ABM Treaty, yet the motion was strongly opposed by Russia.

The above-mentioned change of China’ s attitude toward the ABM Treaty also indicates that China has more profound implications on the issue of the anti-ballistic missile technology. That is China opposes the US deloyment of the NBMD. It shows that China fears that its limited " second nuclear counter-attack capability " will thus become partially or even totally impotent.

Even though Taiwan will not end up getting totally involved in the TMD plan, the implementation of this plan by the USA and Japan will remain a factor that further complicates the strategic relationships of security between China, Japan, and the USA in the 21st century. This will, in turn, affect the all-rounded development of these entire relationships and will enhance China’ s cooperation with Russia in the similar areas ( Andrei Pinkov).

The Chinese Propaganda Media Hints That A Manned Vehicle Will Be Launched This Year.

SU30MK by Andrei Pinkov

[KWIC news Jan. 21] The pro-China Da Gong Paper of Hong Kong reports recently that after more than one year of meticulous construction and joint cooperation of the Shanghai Jiangnan Shipbuilding Group and nearly one hundred research institutes and
factories across China, the project for the technical upgrade of China’ s Yuanwang space and ocean survey fleet has been completed with a great success. This marks a giant step that China has taken in its space and ocean survey capability toward the advanced level of the world.
The newspaper further indicates that according to a responsible person of a department concened, the newly transformed survey ships will carry out the marine survey mission this year for the trial launch of several satellites and a new space vehicle. For this purpose, they will make their voyage to the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, and Indian Ocean, where they will be stationed (Kanwa digest news by John Wu).

Tue., Feb. 02, 1999 at: Lon 12:00 p.m. Pra 1:00 p.m. NY 7:00 a.m. HK 7:00 p.m.

Taiwan to Expand Anti-Missile Capabilities

TAIPEI, Feb. 02, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse)

Taiwan's military will expand its anti-missile capability to thwart any threat from rival China, new Defense Minister Tang Fei said Monday.

"How to counter China's missile threat has been given top priority among the military's ongoing arms buildup plans," Tang told reporters after he was sworn in to succeed the retiring Chiang Chung-ling.

"In addition to the Patriot missile system, we will adopt other effective defensive measures which are under evaluation."

He said the island might be interested in any defensive system available on the international market.

Prime Minister Vincent Siew and his new Cabinet took their oaths following a resignation en masse on Jan. 21 ahead of a shakeup.

Taiwan bought three batteries of PAC-II Plus Patriot missiles in 1992 at a cost of T$22.8 billion (US$706 million) despite China's wrath.

The three units, comprising missiles, wheeled vehicles and multi-functional radar, are to be deployed to defend the island's most populous areas. At least one such battery has gone into service.

There is increasing debate in the local media about whether Taiwan should team up with the United States and Japan to develop the more advanced anti-missile project known as TMD (Theatre Missile Defense).

Tang said the Defense Ministry would conduct a comprehensive and careful evaluation of the cost and effectiveness of TMD.

Local media have said that over three years the military is expected to pour some US$1 billion into the procurement of PAC III, part of the TMD project.

China has said any plans to integrate Taiwan into the TMD program would violate three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués on arms sales to Taiwan.

The U.S. Congress has passed a resolution asking Taiwan, Japan and South Korea to jointly finance the expensive project.

China launched ballistic missiles into shipping lanes off the island in 1996 as part of intimidatory war games. The crisis ended only after Washington moved two carrier battle groups to waters near Taiwan.

( (c) 1998 Agence France Presse)

Kanwa Intelligence Review & News