Thursday, May 17, 2012

China all at sea with territorial claims

After centuries, nay millennia, of walling itself in, and the rest out of, the great terroir mass of Asia, China is trying to break out to the big wet of the Pacific. But first it has to seize the seas. But the rejection of the others in the 'hood is now unanimous: that ain't going to happen, peacefully or inexpensively anyway. Even Little Brother North Korea has now signed the memo.

North Korea 'Piracy' Targets China Fishing Vessels, As Chinese Fishermen Draw Controversy Across Asia-Pacific
These are turning out to be difficult times for Chinese fishermen. Even North Korea, which relies on China for large quantities of economic assistance, is picking on its far bigger neighbor's sailors.

On Wednesday, state media reported that the Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that 29 Chinese fishermen and 3 fishing boats had been taken captive by as yet "undefined persons" from North Korea. Whether those entities were criminals acting independently, or ultimately personnel with links to government authorities, remains unclear.

However, the case has many of the hallmarks of the maritime hijackings and piracy that are more common in South East Asia or the Gulf of Aden. Xinhua says that the three ships and its crew were variously captured between the early morning and afternoon of May 8, within Chinese waters.

Over the past month, Chinese fishermen have found themselves a central element in foreign policy disputes between China and other Western Pacific nations.

On April 30, South Korean authorities reported that arrests of 9 Chinese fishermen poaching in Korean waters led to a scuffle that resulted in 4 Korean coast guard officers being hurt by knife wounds. Earlier, on April 19, South Korean news agencies reported that Chinese fisherman Cheng Dawei, who had stabbed and killed a Korean coast guard service member in December 2011, had been sentenced to 30 years in a Korean prison. South Korea has seized 475 Chinese fishing vessels over the last year in the Yellow Sea for illegal entry and fishing in their waters.

The incidents between South Korea and China have incensed nationalistic communities in both countries.

But even in places as far away as Palau, more than 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) from China's southern Hainan Island, Chinese fishermen are getting into confrontations with local authorities. Palau, an island nation in the Pacific, is located between Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. On April 2, Palau police shot and killed a Chinese fishermen and arrested 25 others originally from Hainan during a chase with what Palau says were illegal poachers.

Palau authorities also claim the Chinese vessel attempted to ram its coast guard ship. The fishermen were later released and flown home to China more than two weeks later. Palau does not have diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China on the mainland and instead recognizes the Republic of China government on Taiwan.

Beijing may be upset and embarrassed with the friction caused by its own fishermen and has enforced a temporary fishing suspension in the South China Sea. The seasonal fishing moratorium, which goes into effect on Wednesday, will last until August. It will mostly affect fishermen in China's southern provinces, particularly on Hainan, and may serve to alleviate present tensions in the South China Sea.

Although Hainan has become home to a booming tourist industry in recent years, fishing remains an important part of regional livelihoods, especially for smaller communities and lower-income families. New skyscrapers dot the landscape at Hainan's tourism resort of Sanya, China's southernmost city, and yearly conferences at Bo'ao draw business moguls and leading poltiicans from across the world, but the province still has one of the lowest GDPs per capita in all of China.

Consequently, even when the recent ban is lifted, Hainan fishermen may have no choice but to head into controversial waters again, likely stirring tempers abroad. As for Beijing enforcing stricter regulations on its own fishing communities, the task won't be easy. After all, people in China understand the old adage that "heaven is high and the emperor is far away" - in this case, even more so when you're off on the high seas.
Guambat is left wondering if this just isn't some seasonal thing.


LATER THAT DAY: Maybe its a Szechuan seasoning kind of thing:

China outraged by Philippines' provocation over Huangyan Island (Xinhua press)
The Chinese people are enraged by the offensive behavior of the Philippines over the Huangyan Island dispute, expressing full support to the efforts made by the Chinese government for safeguarding its territorial sovereignty.

In defiance of China's warning and stance of resolving disputes through diplomatic ways, the Philippines keeps making trouble in the waters around Huangyan Island, China's indisputable territory.

He Shixuan, a fisherman in the city of Qionghai in south China's Hainan province, is the owner of one of the 12 Chinese fishing vessels harassed by the Filipino warship. He went back to Huangyan Island again after the incident.

He said his family has fished in waters of Huangyan Island for generations, and believed it always a part of China's territory. The return of his vessel to the island is largely a sign of his support to the government in safeguarding its sovereignty.

"We have no reason to be afraid of any country, as we are fishing around our own island, nor do we need to evacuate the waters," said He.

According to media reports, the Philippines has notified China on its readiness to raise the issue of the sovereignty of Huangyan Island to international arbitration.

In addition, it tried to rename the island and remove the signs and monuments related to China, and even attempted to agitate Filipino people to hold demonstrations against China around the world.

According to media reports, the Philippines has notified China on its readiness to raise the issue of the sovereignty of Huangyan Island to international arbitration.

In addition, it tried to rename the island and remove the signs and monuments related to China, and even attempted to agitate Filipino people to hold demonstrations against China around the world.

However, the Chinese army has shown its attitude. On Thursday, the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China, listed historical evidence, human activities and international rules that Huangyan Island is part of China's territory.

"Anyone's attempt to take away China's sovereignty over Huangyan Island will not be allowed by the Chinese government, the people or the armed forces," the newspaper said in another signed article titled "Don't Attempt to Take Away Half an Inch of China's Territory."

"When one is driven beyond the limit of endurance he doesn't need to show patience any more," read an ed-op carried by China's flagship newspaper People's Daily in its overseas edition Tuesday.

The paper in a Thursday commentary noted that with its surging overall strength, China is completely free to tackle the Huangyan Island incident in a different way.

The Philippines should "take a proper measure of itself," and avoid going beyond the limit in a wrong direction, noted the article.

"The Philippines falsely believes that it has the exterior advantages to provoke China and that China won't dare to resort to armed force. That's why it has dared to pull tricks repeatedly," Jin said.

Is this just hyperbole of the sort daily fed the North Koreans through their state run mind control, or something else?

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