Philippines vowed to fight China “to the last man standing”


Manila: The Philippines vowed Thursday to fight China “to the last man standing”, as a Chinese warship patrolled around a remote reef occupied by a handful of Filipino marines in disputed waters.

In the latest flare-up over competing claims to parts of the South China Sea, the Philippines this week denounced the “provocative and illegal presence” of the warship and a fleet of Chinese fishing vessels near Second Thomas Shoal.

After China brushed off the protest and insisted it owned the tiny reef and islets that are home to rich fishing grounds, the Philippines on Thursday ramped up the rhetoric against its much more powerful rival.

“To the last soldier standing, we will fight for what is ours,” Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told reporters when asked if the Philippines would bow to Chinese intimidation and pull its forces from the shoal.

However Gazmin said the Philippines was not intending to send any military reinforcements to the area, and there had been no confrontations between the two sides at the shoal since the Chinese vessels arrived early this month.

Second Thomas Shoal is one of nine Filipino-occupied islands or islets in the Spratly Islands chain.

It lies about 200 kilometres northwest of the Philippine island of Palawan, the nearest major landmass, and more than 1,000 kilometres from China’s Hainan island.

The shoal is guarded by a handful of Filipino marines, believed to number fewer than 10, aboard a World War II-era ship that was deliberately grounded there in the late 1990s to serve as a base.

China says it has sovereign rights over nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters far away from its main landmass and approaching the coasts of Southeast Asian countries.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the sea, and the area has for decades been regarded as a potential trigger for major military conflict in the region.

All claimants, except Brunei, have troops stationed on various islands and atolls in the Spratlys — the biggest archipelago in the sea — to assert their claims.

Regional tensions have escalated in recent years as China has taken more aggressive steps to assert its claims to the sea, which is believed to sit atop vast reserves of oil and gas worth billions of dollars.

China has established a new city to oversee the area and deployed navy vessels on wide-ranging patrols of the sea, with its ships reaching as far as 80 kilometres from Malaysia’s coast.

China last year also took control of Scarborough Shoal, another bountiful fishing area far closer to the Filipino landmass than China’s, after a stand-off between vessels from both countries ended with the Philippines retreating.

Second Thomas Shoal is about 40 kilometres east of Mischief Reef, a Philippine-claimed outcrop that China has occupied since 1995.

Second Thomas Shoal and Mischief Reef are within the Philippines’ internationally recognised exclusive economic zone.

“They should not be there. They do not have the right to be there,” foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez told AFP via text message on Thursday when asked the Chinese presence at Second Thomas Shoal.

“No one should doubt the resolve of the Filipino people to defend what is ours in that area.”

President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday announced a planned $1.8-billion military upgrade to defend the country’s maritime territory against “bullies”.

But China’s announced defence budget of $115 billion this year is nearly 100 times more than that of the Philippines.

Gulf News
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'Asia tension could lead to conflict' - Foreign Affairs Sec del Rosario

TOKYO -- Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario warned on Thursday that territorial rows in Asia are "causing considerable tension that could lead to conflict" as several countries face off with China over island claims.

Speaking at a Tokyo business conference, Del Rosario said China's "nine-dash line claim encompassing almost the entire South China Sea" is "excessive."

"In addition to the South China Sea, we have in Northeast Asia, home to Asia's biggest economic powerhouses, several disputes that have adversely affected relations between and among Japan, China and the Republic of Korea.

"The competing territorial and maritime disputes are causing considerable tension that could lead to conflict," he warned.

China is believed to be boosting its naval capability in the Pacific and has been criticized by neighbors for what is seen as an increasingly aggressive stance in the region, particularly in its multiple territorial disputes.

Chinese maritime surveillance vessels have been frequently spotted in the 12-nautical-mile zone off the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku islands, which China calls the Diaoyus, in the East China Sea since Tokyo nationalized three of the outcrops in September.

China says it has sovereign rights over nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters far away from its main landmass and approaching the coasts of Southeast Asian countries.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also claim parts of the sea, and the area has for decades been regarded as a potential trigger for major military conflict in the region.

All claimants, except Brunei, have troops stationed on various islands and atolls in the Spratlys -- the biggest archipelago in the sea -- to assert their claims.

Interkson

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    During the aggressive raid this morning, Nghe An police has mobilized a huge force as large as 10 times the number of local civilians. Among them, appeared a monstrous force of masked female police who were chasing, beating and arresting people.

    Local residents could identify this group of special female police by looking at their unique floral shirts and masks. Their masked faces look like those of the terrorists. They are very aggressive and cruel so that they have to veil their faces, fearing people could recognize them.

    This morning, Mrs. Hoa Thi Nguyen, mother of Cuong Dinh Nguyen, called out loud for the release of her son and was abruptly arrested by this group of female police. Video clips captured at the sense show those female police used specially trained techniques to crack down and arrest people effectively in a cruel manner.

    During the arrest of Mrs. Hoa Nguyen, they controlled her hands while another masked female stabbed her lower abdomen with a strange object, she then collapsed in pain.

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    Mrs. Nguyen said her body is still very painful and weak that she can’t walk. When arrested, she said, the masked female police stabbed her lower abdomen with a hard and sharp object. The wound has since caused pain on her each step.

    Her son, Cuong Dinh Nguyen, was among the 8 young patriots who appeared at the appeal court this morning.

    Cuong was sentenced to 4 years in prison and 3 years of probation at a trial in January 1, 2013. At that trial, Mrs. Nguyen yelled to her son “Do not be afraid!” Immediately, she was pulled out of the courtroom and beaten so badly. As the result, she had brain injury and must stay in a hospital for 2 months.

    Mrs. Nguyen was not allowed to attend the appeal of her son today.

    Although suffering severe pains she refused to go to hospital to check her injury. Currently, she continues to sit outside the courthouse waiting for theoutcomes and police are monitoring her around.

    Regardless of the outcomes today, Cuong Dinh Nguyen will surely have a smile for having a courageous and indomitable mother.

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