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    » 01/04/2016, 00.00


    Manila, Tokyo and Hanoi concerned about Chinese tests on Spratly Islands

    In recent days, Beijing has landed a civilian aircraft on a runway built on a man-made atoll in the South China Sea. Philippine government launches immediate protest. Japan expresses "serious concern" about the "unilateral change" the status quo. The Philippines consider formal complaint.

    Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Japan was the latest nation to intervene today with an official statement of condemnation following Beijing’s "testing" of an airstrip built in one of the disputed islands in the South China Sea.

    In the wake of Vietnam and the Philippines, Tokyo expressed "serious concern" about "the action taken by China", which is "a unilateral change of the status quo" in the region and an attempt to make the  controversial reclamation work a "fait accompli". The Philippine government also announced today that it intends to follow the direction taken by Vietnam and file an official protest.

    Beijing has recently completed the construction of a runway in an artificial atoll of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, an area at the center of an ongoing bitter territorial dispute between the countries of the region. In recent days, the Chinese government carried out a test landing of its aircraft in the area.

    Vietnam was the first government to condemn the action, pointing out that it violates Hanoi’s national sovereignty and asked China to stop such actions. In response, Beijing rejected Hanoi’s protests and looks set to do the same with the statements from Manila and Tokyo.

    On 2 January Hua Chunying, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, spoke of a "civilian aircraft" landing on the island ("Yongshu Jiao" according to Beijing) to check if the new runway built on "Chinese territory" meets the civilian aviation security standards.

    Tensions have grown in the past two years, with China building atolls in the disputed Spratly islands which, according to the governments in the region, Beijing wants to use for military purposes.

    Recent developments in the South China Sea are concerning various chancelleries of the continent, including the Japanese government that has already opened a dispute with Beijing in the East China Sea on the control of the Senkaku / Diaoyu. The Land of the Rising Sun says it “cannot accept" an escalation of tension in the region and intends to "cooperate with other nations" to ensure "freedom of the seas".

    Meanwhile, in a statement the US Department of Defense, joining the nations of Asia-Pacific expresses its "concern" about the Chinese test, which is intended to exacerbate tensions in the region.

    The Chinese government claims most of the sea (almost 85 per cent), including sovereignty over the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands, in opposition to Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. The Philippines – which is seeking a non-binding international ruling at the UN court – together with Vietnam, is increasingly worried about Beijing's imperialism in the South China and East China seas.

    For the United States, which backs the claims of Southeast Asia nations, Beijing's so-called 'cow tongue' line – which covers 80% of the 3.5 km2 - is both "illegal" and "irrational".

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    See also

    24/11/2014 PHILIPPINES - CHINA - US
    South China Sea: Beijing builds a new island, with naval and air base
    According to US sources, China is building a fourth island in the Spratly. Washington asks for a halt to the project and calls for "diplomatic initiatives" to release the tension. Philippine court sentences nine Chinese fishermen for poaching in its territorial waters. They risked up to 20 years in prison, but will have to pay a fine of 103 thousand dollars.

    28/06/2011 PHILIPPINES - USA - CHINA
    Naval exercises underway in South China Sea
    Manoeuvres involving more than 1200 men started this morning off the island of Palawan (Philippines) and will last 11 days. They come in the wake of paramilitary actions by Chinese ships in waters which Manila claims as its own.

    11/04/2013 PHILIPPINES - CHINA
    Manila charges Chinese fishermen over coral reef crash
    They must answer charges of "illegal fishing" and face up to 12 years in prison and a fine of 300 thousand dollars. The reef is considered UNESCO World Heritage Site. Charges include attempted bribery, for offering money in exchange for release.

    Vietnamese take to streets against China’s "imperialism" over maritime borders
    The summit in Singapore fails to reconcile tensions between Beijing, Manila and Hanoi. Chinese Minister of Defense: No military expansionism and hegemony. But Vietnam and the Philippines buy submarines to protect sea boundaries and call for the U.S. intervention. In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh citizens' protests over Spratly and Paracel islands invasions.

    10/01/2014 CHINA - UNITED STATES
    Washington: Beijing's programs in South China Sea "provocative and dangerous"
    The U.S. government criticizes the Chinese government's new norms, which impose limitations and restrictions on foreign vessels in disputed waters. There is no justification in international law and the move threatens to exacerbate already tense relations in the area. Hanoi intervenes in the dispute.

    Editor's choices

    Beijing's tricks and violence to stop Chinese youth from reaching WYD

    Vincenzo Faccioli Pintozzi

    The government yesterday blocked a group of 50 young pilgrims who had already boarded a plane bound for Krakow. Interrogated for hours by immigration, they were "admonished" and sent home with orders not to contact anyone abroad. Meanwhile, "young Chinese Catholics" hang around central World Youth Day locations in groups of five or six, with the task of spying on fellow countrymen. They work for cultural institutes or Chinese companies in Poland.

    "Our dream is to bring World Youth Day to China, despite government obstacles”

    The big Chinese delegation in Krakow for 31st World Youth Days has not lost hope. “The government has done so much to discourage us, but they cannot win all the time.” One day the Pope “will celebrate young people in China." Participants express the joy and the wonder of being in Poland. “Religious aspect of this trip aside, the trip is a source of wonder. At home, it is like living in a kind of cultural prison”; what impresses here “the most so far is meeting the world.”


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