Strike when necessary in South China Sea: Chinese scholar

Taipei, China should hit out when necessary to resolve rows over some shoals in the South China Sea that are "unlawfully occupied" by other countries, a Chinese scholar has urged.

Chinese Navy’s amphibious landing ship Jinggangshan is seen during a training with a hovercraft in waters near Hainan Province on March 20, 2013. Photo: Xinhua

In a recent interview with a Shanghai-based radio, Han Xudong, a professor at the PLA National Defense University, issued the call on grounds that it is hard to settle the territorial disputes in that region through soft power such as "diplomatic maneuvering" and China "should strike at any time when necessary against any attempt by other countries to take control of the islets there."

"Diplomacy only leverages when backed by military might," he said, questioning why China cannot make military moves now that the Renai Shoal and Scarborough Shoal are the sovereign territory of China?

Since China's marine power now is strong enough to protect national interests and rights, China should exercise its diplomatic and military clouts interactively to achieve its aim, he contended.

Conflict between China and the Philippines over the Renai Shoal caught international attention last week after Manila accused Chinese warships of "illegally and provocatively" circling the area, foreign wire services reported.

The Philippines dispatched ships to Renai Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, in the Spratly Islands, where a handful of marines were living on a grounded ship -- a former U.S. tank-landing vessel that was intentionally abandoned by Filipino authorities to serve as a base in that area.

Han said that the Philippines has long been coveting shoals in the South China Sea and taking control of them since its independence after World War II, at a time when China was mired in internal fighting and its marine forces were powerless.

Even until the 1980s, China's Navy was still weak and those shoals in the South China Sea were beyond the reach of its power, he said.

The lack of attention paid to the region over the long term allowed the Philippines to send marines to station in waters near the Renai Shoal in 1999 and claim sovereignty over it, he said.

That same year, China's embassy in Yugoslavia was shelled by the United States and the bombardment made Beijing realize the fact that it should strengthen its marine power to safeguard its maritime interests.

(By Lawrence Chiu and Flor Wang)

Focus Taiwan


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