南シナ海緊張 中国の強硬姿勢に深まる憂慮

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 27, 2012)
China's hard-line stance cause for grave concern
南シナ海緊張 中国の強硬姿勢に深まる憂慮(7月26日付・読売社説)

We urge China to restrain itself from taking unilateral action and to work to alleviate tension through dialogue with Vietnam and other neighboring countries.

China has created the city of "Sansha" to administer the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands and Macclesfield Bank in the South China Sea. Vietnam and the Philippines, which are vying for sovereignty over those island chains with China, immediately voiced strong opposition.

The three island chains were previously administered by a liaison office of Hainan Province in southern China, which is located on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands. China apparently aims to strengthen its effective control over the island chains by upgrading them to a city.

China set up administrative organizations in Sansha, including a People's Congress, or city council, in which the mayor was elected. China said it plans to promote tourism, the fisheries industry and natural resource development in the South China Sea with Sansha as a foothold.


Responsibility lies with China

China's establishment of Sansha is a countermeasure against Vietnam's enactment of the Maritime Law, which stipulates its sovereignty over the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands. However, the initial cause of the trouble was that China unilaterally claimed sovereignty over the three island chains and other islets under the Law on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone 20 years ago.

Even more serious is that China decided to establish in Sansha a "security area" in which the Chinese military will be in charge of defending key strongpoints. Small units are already stationed to protect runways and other facilities, but the establishment of the security area is considered preparation for full-scale military action in the South China Sea.

China's attempt to use its military strength, which is far superior to that of Vietnam and other neighbors, to make the South China Sea "China's Sea" could trigger armed conflict. The situation is grave.

China also unilaterally announced a plan to invite bids for natural resource development in waters that Vietnam claims are inside its exclusive economic zone. Beijing sent 30 fishing boats accompanied by fishery patrol ships to waters around the Spratly Islands and other islets. These actions could cause tension in the South China Sea.


Stability crucial

The stability of the South China Sea is crucial for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It is also conducive to Japan's national interests from the viewpoint of securing the safety of its sea lanes.

In concert with Vietnam and the Philippines, which are threatened by China, Japan needs to strengthen cooperation such as fostering human resources in the field of maritime security and offering patrol vessels to those countries.

In the East China Sea, meanwhile, the situation surrounding the Senkaku Islands has been increasingly harsh.

Recently, Chinese fishery patrol ships intruded into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands on two consecutive days. As in the South China Sea, China has been blatantly escalating moves to expand its maritime interests.

China is conducting activities to make its presence felt with many fishing boats in the South China Sea. The possibility that Beijing may do the same thing in the East China Sea cannot be ruled out. Japan must heighten its vigilance against China over the Senkaku Islands.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 26, 2012)
(2012年7月26日01時47分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-07-28 07:51 | 英字新聞

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