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China's state media threaten war with Philippines over disputed islands


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But Communist party's aim is most likely to divert attention from domestic politics.

China's state-controlled media are seething with threats of war against the Philippines in an apparent attempt to divert public and international attention from domestic political tensions.

And although there is little real prospect that the words will become violent deeds, Beijing has also launched trade and tourism embargoes against the Philippines because of the long-standing dispute over the ownership of the rocks and islets making up Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

These appeals to Chinese nationalism come amid rumours that President Hu Jintao may delay a key Communist party congress later this year, which is intended to ratify the selection of a generation of party and governmental leaders.

The rumours that Hu wants to divert attention from domestic political friction stem from the recent expulsion of the ambitious Chongqing party boss, Bo Xilai, from several senior positions and Beijing's embarrassment last week when blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng was able to escape house arrest and seek refuge in the United States embassy. Even so, the potential for accidental conflicts arising from China's claim to own almost all the South China Sea and its disputes with littoral states Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei - as well as the Philippines - was evident on Wednesday when China's first deep water rig began drilling for oil 320 kilometres south-east of Hong Kong.

A raft of belligerent articles and editorials in Chinese news-papers and items on state-run television started earlier this week in response to a new flare-up in the long-running territorial dispute with Manila, which came to a head last month when the Philippine navy discovered eight Chinese fishing boats at Scarborough Shoals.

Manila accused the Chinese of illegal fishing and of harvesting banned products such as coral from the shoals, known as Huangyan by the Chinese, and which are well within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

But the incident rapidly became a dangerous standoff when Beijing dispatched fisheries protection vessels to guard the Chinese against the Philip-pine navy.

The announcement earlier this week that Filipinos intend this weekend to demonstrate outside Chinese embassies in Manila and elsewhere, including Canada, is being interpreted by Beijing as a purposeful ploy by the government of President Benigno Aquino to stir up nationalist sentiments.

China's vice-foreign minister, Fu Ying, on Tuesday called in a senior Philippine diplomat for the third time in this stand-off and warned that China has "made all preparations to respond to any escalation of the situation by the Philippines side." Chinese newspapers have been even more blunt.

On Wednesday the Global Times, a highly nationalistic newspaper owned by the main mouthpiece of the ruling Communist party, People's Daily, commented in an editorial that Fu's "remarks are seen as China sending a sign that it will not rule out the use of force."

"The Philippines needs to be taught a lesson for its aggressive nationalism," blustered the editorial. "For China, the standoff over Huangyan Island is a matter of sovereignty. And now Manila needs to be defeated in this area."

Another state-run news-paper, China Daily, accused the Aquino administration of "pressing us into a corner where there is no other option left but the use of arms."

"Manila is living in a fantasy world if it mistakes our forbearance for timidity."

And the voice of China's military, the People's Liberation Army Daily, weighed in with the comment that China will not stand for the Philippines attempting to grab Huangyan island.

"Not only the Chinese government will not agree, neither will the Chinese people, and the Chinese army will disagree even more."

The tone has been similar on state-controlled television, with one TV station sending a reporter out to one of the islets in the shoal, where he planted a Chinese flag.

Scarborough Shoal is only 230 kilometres off the Philippines' main island of Luzon, but 1,200 kilometres southeast of the nearest undisputed Chinese land mass.

However, with more and more evidence of substantial under-water oil and gas reserves, Beijing has in recent years become ever more assertive in pressing its claim - based on ancient maps - to ownership of most of the South China Sea, stretching south almost to Indonesian territorial waters about 2,000 kilometres from the nearest Chinese landfall.

China's bluster has grown with the ability of its modernized navy to project power throughout the region.

The Philippines has no functioning navy with which to respond. But on Wednesday, the Philippine defence minister Voltaire Gazmin said he was told recently by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, that while Washington will not take sides in the dispute, "they assured the Philippines the U.S. would honour a 1951 mutual defence treaty."

:view:Original Article: VancouverSun

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at the end of the day, it's all about the money.. too bad transgressions against sovereignty are being made in the name of profit and corporate greed.. hope uncle sam will not stand idly by but like what the article said, really honor that 1952 mutual defense treaty.

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