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'New' name for island sparks fury from Beijing

Publication Date : 08-05-2012

 

Beijing yesterday slammed Manila's attempt to "rename" Huangyan Island as China is set to launch its first deepwater oil rig in the South China Sea.

Manila declared on Thursday that it would "rename" Huangyan Island as Panatag Shoal, and is considering removing signs on the island related to China.

Manila also planned to involve other countries and organisations in the dispute by raising the issue before international tribunals.

The Foreign Ministry warned on Monday that Manila's actions targeting Huangyan Island are "illegal and invalid", and will not change the fact that the island belongs to China.

"We strongly urge the Philippines to return to diplomacy," and any remark or move that complicates or intensifies the situation is nonsensical, Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a news conference in Beijing.

Beijing's stance in resolving the situation through diplomacy is "unchanged", Hong added.

Huangyan Island has been an integral part of China's territory for centuries.

The Philippines did not challenge China's sovereignty over the island until 1997.

Manila's latest actions over Huangyan Island have incited a nationalist fervor among the Philippine public, Yang Baoyun, a professor of Southeast Asian studies at Peking University warned.

A Philippine warship entered the island's territorial waters on April 10, and dispatched personnel to harass Chinese fishing boats and attempted to detain Chinese fishermen.

The move infringed sovereignty. Two Chinese patrol ships in the area came to the fishermen's rescue, and the warship left.

But the impasse continues as Philippine vessels were reported still to be in China's territorial waters on Monday.

In-depth oil drills

Meanwhile, China's first home-made deepwater rig will formally start operations on Wednesday in the South China Sea.

The move is widely expected to pave the way for mutually beneficial cooperation with neighbouring countries.

China National Offshore Oil Corp, owner and operator of the platform, said on Monday that deep-sea equipment, capable of operating at depths of 3,000 metres, will drill the first well 320 kilometres southeast of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

It demonstrates China's technological capacity to explore and develop oil and gas resources in the South China Sea, said Zhou Shouwei, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Tian Ling, a member of the French National Council for Diversity, agreed that Hollande will seek to foster smooth trade and investment relations with China.

"He is unlikely to clash with China on ideological issues but rather he will be pragmatic as he is a smart politician. However, it will take time for Hollande and his team to get to know more about China and Chinese policymakers, so there is still a question mark around his policies," Tian said.

Hollande did not fully elaborate his policies during the campaign, Zhang Jinling, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said.

Former Chinese ambassador to France Cai Fangbo told Chinese media that the partnership between the two countries would continue moving forward, but the Taiwan and Tibet questions remained red lines for China.

Sarkozy was the first French president since Valery Giscard d'Estaing in 1981 not to be re-elected and the 11th eurozone leader to be ousted from office since the beginning of the sovereign debt crisis.

US President Barack Obama on Sunday congratulated Hollande.

European leaders also scrambled to congratulate Hollande. German Chancellor Angela Merkel extended an invitation to him in a phone call on Sunday night to visit Berlin. - AFP and Tan Xuan in Brussels contributed to this story


 

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