In recent days, some regional countries as well as India have all finger-pointing China over the reignited South China Sea disputes. But, in actuality, who on earth is the persistent irritating source?
Philippines: China should be condemned for escalating the South China Sea tension
In response to China’s newly revised Regulations on Border Security in Hainan's Coastal Regions, Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and media accused China of escalating the South China Sea tension.
Sun Xiaoying, a researcher with the SE Asia Affairs Institute in Guangxi, told Global Times there is nothing wrong with Hainan’s move since it’s a provincial bill approved by the NPC Standing Committee.
In a statement posted on the website of the DFA on Dec.1, the Philippines said if media reports are accurate that China gave its police the right to search foreign vessels passing through the waters, it is a "gross violation" of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC), international law, particularly UNCLOS.
It added that China’s move is a "threat to all countries” and should be condemned by the international community. The DFA urged China to clarify the plan immediately.
According to the Daily Inquirer, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the Philippines should protest China’s plan. Biazon, a former military chief, urged President Aquino to convene the National Security Council “so we will have a uniform voice.”
Philippine media also joined the chorus in condemning China. Quoting ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan, The Manila Stanadard Today said on Monday that China’s new policy “has increased the level of concern and great anxiety among all parties”.
In another Inquirer report, Philippine Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said China is “literally testing the waters” to see how far it can go in provoking America’s tolerance with the vessel search plan.
In response to a reporter’s question on Hainan’s revised regulations, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said: "China carries out maritime management according to international and domestic laws. Navigation freedom that countries have all along enjoyed in the South China Sea by international law should and would be protected. China attaches importance to maintaining navigation freedom in the South China Sea. There is no problem with it."
Indian navy chief threatens to send forces to the South China Sea to protect "interests"
In June, Indian Navy Eastern Sea Fleet, consisting of the warships INS Rana, INS Shivalik, INS Karmukh and INS Shakti, visited China’s Shanghai port.
India has long positioned itself as an outsider of the South China Sea disputes, however, with its Looking Eastward strategy, it is now fixating the region.
Indian Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi said on Monday India will protect its “interests” in the disputed South China Sea, even if it means sending forces there. He said “the modernization (of Chinese Navy) is actually a major cause of concern.”
But both countries expressed optimism over bilateral relations yesterday.
India’s National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon paid a visit to Beijing on Monday. Indian media said although the border talks may not see a significant breakthrough, India-China relations will remain stable under new leadership in China.
D K Joshi on Monday said at a press conference in New Delhi that Indian warships are prepared to set sail for the South China Sea if the country's “economic interests” there are threatened in any way.
The newly-appointed navy chief vowed to protect Indian interests in South China Sea if the need arises, even that means sending forces.
Vietnam says China sabotaged its exploration cable
China’s territorial sovereignty over the South China Sea has long been challenged by the Philippines and Vietnam.
Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported on Monday Vietnam's state oil and gas company, Petrovietnam (PVN), accused Chinese boats of sabotaging an exploration operation by cutting a seismic cable being towed behind a Vietnamese vessel.
The incident reportedly occurred on Nov.30 within Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Two of a fleet of Chinese fishing vessels collided with PVN’s exploration ship, and as a result, a seismic cable was cut off.
Responding to the report, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Vietnam was illegally exploring oil and gas in China’s Nansha Islands and drove away Chinese fishing boats, which "seriously infringed on China's sovereignty and maritime interests”.
The spokesman urged the Vietnamese side to stop its illegal activities and do not endanger Chinese fishermen’s personal safety.
“Vietnam should refrain from taking actions that might complicate or aggravate the situation in the area,” He added, “China hopes Vietnam can contribute to peace and stability in the South China Sea.”