CHINA CLAIMING ANOTHER REEF; PH FILES NEW PROTEST

JUNE 24  -PHOTO: FLAG RAISING AT PAGASA ISLAND LAST INDEPENDENCE DAY-- The Philippines has filed a new diplomatic protest against China over its land reclamation on McKennan (Hughes) Reef in the Spratly group of islands, which is indisputably within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson, said the foreign office lodged the protest sometime last week. But he could not say how China responded to the latest note verbale. The Chinese Embassy in Manila had immediately rejected all previous Philippine protests in relation to the South China Sea dispute. Filed last week --“We filed the protest last week. The reclamation there was confirmed first,” said Jose. He said the Philippines continues monitoring to confirm what appeared to be similar Chinese activities on Gavin (Gaven) Reefs and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reef, also in the Spratlys, which President Aquino and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario bared on Thursday last week, expressing concern over Beijing’s “aggressive expansion agenda” in the disputed waters. China is also known to be undertaking similar activities on Malvar (Eldad) Reef. Jose said the Philippines would “definitely lodge a similar protest” against China once it is confirmed that it was reclaiming land in these territories. Jose could not say whether last week’s diplomatic protest was filed before or after the top officials made public the surveillance information on Chinese activities on the two other reefs (Gavin and Calderon). Neither President Aquino nor Del Rosario mentioned Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef) in their press engagements last week. READ MORE...

ALSO: PH becoming a thorn in China’s side

JUNE 24  -Who would have thought that the tiny Philippines would be a thorn in the side of giant China? Magdalo Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo said the Philippines’ geographic location is in the way of China’s defense strategy in the Asia-Pacific region, giving its ally, the United States, a base from which to counter China. “Our strategic location has an impact on China’s establishment of its nine-dash line and any strategy to counter China will always factor in the Philippines,” Acedillo said in a recent interview, referencing China’s claim to 90 percent of the South China Sea. “From the point of view of China’s strategy, we are the biggest thorn in its side because our location gives any [allied] country the upper hand in deterring the move of China toward the Pacific and we are getting in the way of [China’s] intentions,” Acedillo said. For China “to feel secure, it must ensure that its enemies are outside the second island-chain,” which is nearer the Pacific, and no one would be able to hold the line in the first chain, he said. The Philippines lies right in the middle of the two island-chains, while Japan is at their northern tip. “China is not looking for war. But it is looking for oil, fish and geopolitical strength,” said Acedillo, a former Air Force lieutenant. Tokyo talks The West Philippine Sea and China’s increased aggressiveness in the region “will be high up” on the agenda of the talks between President Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Tuesday, Acedillo said. “[But] whether official Philippine and Japan spokespersons admit [the island-chain strategy] is on the agenda … is another matter. They might still decline to admit it to avoid a backlash from China,” he said. In the face of China’s military might, the Philippines “will have to rely on the security guarantee” presented by the United States, Acedillo said. “We should very well recognize that not because we want to be subservient to the US interest but it is for the good of the region that we should be a reliable security partner of the US in providing the security guarantee in Asia and the Pacific,” he said. The Philippine government, he said, must have “strong political will” to do more in protecting the country’s territories in the West Philippine Sea that China claims. “We have to be able to do more,” Acedillo said. Failure to respond In a privilege speech two weeks ago, Acedillo criticized the government for failing to come up “with a sensible strategy to face Chinese aggression,” from the time the Chinese first claimed Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) in 1995 until it seized control of Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) two years ago. READ MORE...

ALSO: Justice Carpio tears down China’s historical lies

JUNE 24  -The country owes Justice Antonio Carpio a debt of gratitude for his recent lecture, titled “Historical Facts, Historical Lies, and Historical Rights in the West Philippine Sea,” in De La Salle University. Its 62 pages (about 40 of which contain maps dating from 1136 AD during the Song Dynasty and through the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties) provide the most lucid and exhaustive exposition of those topics I have come across. Brilliant. Given its importance to current and future generations of Filipinos—put simply, China’s 9-dash-line claim deprives the Philippines of 80 percent of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and 100 percent of its extended continental shelf (ECS) in the West Philippine Sea—I strongly suggest that Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Commission on Higher Education Chair Tati Licuanan make sure it is required reading in all schools. The rest of us, including the Chinese-Filipino community, can access it from the Internet, but it should be published as a monograph. Knowledge is power. Carpio demolishes, point by painful point, the Chinese government’s assertion that “historical facts” justify its 9-dash-line claims, by citing actual historical facts based on China’s own (a) historical maps, (b) constitutions, and (c) official pronouncements, which are all “glaringly inconsistent” with China’s current position. Item: Maps. Carpio shows 16 maps drawn by Chinese authorities or individuals, from 1136 to 1933. These maps show that Hainan Island is the southernmost territory of China. He also shows three maps drawn between 1700 and 1833 by foreigners showing the same thing. What does this have to do with us? Simply, “There is not a single ancient Chinese map, whether made by Chinese or foreigners, showing that the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal were ever part of Chinese territory.” Carpio also shows 34 maps drawn between 1636 and 1933 by Philippine authorities and foreigners, all showing Scarborough Shoal, named or unnamed (Punto de Mandato, Panacot, Bajo de Masinloc), as part of the Philippines. Another point on Scarborough: It was used from the 1960s-1980s as an impact range for US and Philippine warplanes (pictures of wreckages of dummy ordnances in the waters). Neither China nor any other country protested these bombing practices, despite worldwide prior notices to mariners, through the International Maritime Organization of the United Nations, for them to keep away from Scarborough Shoal during the practices. If the Philippines can bomb a shoal repeatedly over decades without any protest from neighboring states, it certainly must have sovereignty over such shoal. Item: Constitutions. Carpio quotes from five constitutions of China since the fall of the Qing Empire in 1912, which reiterates that its territory remained the same as the territory of the Qing Dynasty (which means that Hainan Island is China’s southernmost territory). Carpio then shows that under international law, the territory of the Republic of China as of the effectivity of these constitutions is limited to the territory of the Qing Dynasty (with Hainan Island as its southernmost territory). READ A LOT MORE...

ALSO: China bares new map covering Kalayaan Islands

China recently released a new vertical version of the map of its so-called territory encompassing contentious areas claimed by the Philippines and other neighboring states. China state news agency Xinhua reported that the new map printed by the Hunan Map Publishing House was recognized by State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping Geographic Information. The map is the first large format full vertical version which shows the mainland and its extensive claims over the South China Sea using its "nine-dash line." Beijing claims that the dashed delimitation is based on historical records, but the Philippines said it is a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It depicts Philippine-claimed Spratly (Kalayaan) Islands and the Vietnam-claimed Paracel Islands as part of China. Photo (below) showing the newly issued vertical atlas of China by Hunan Map Publishing House. It clearly shows China's sweeping claims over the South China Sea. Xinhua/Bai Yu --The maritime features in the disputed waterway are no longer depicted as illustrations unlike in older versions. "Islands in South China Sea share the same scale with mainland and are better shown than traditional maps," the report explained. The report cited the publishing house saying that the map is significant in promoting awareness of the country's "national territories" as well as the bodies of water that are part of it. "It will enable the reader a comprehensive understanding of China's intuitive full map that does not distinguish primary and secondary points," the publishing firm said. A Filipino magistrate, however, recently debunked the historical basis of China's claims over what the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea. READ MORE...

ALSO: China celebrating Spratlys' 2nd anniversary as part of new 'city'

China is celebrating the second year since the establishment of Sansha, a settlement based in disputed Woody (Yongxing) Island and designated as a "city" to administer the Philippine-claimed Spratly (Kalayaan) Islands. In a report posted on the Chinese government's website, Sansha Mayor Xiao Jie recently expressed delight with the approaching date of July 24, when Beijing declared the city part of China's southernmost Hainan province. Sansha covers theVietnam-claimed Paracel Islands, Taiwan-governed Pratas (Dongsha) Islands and the Spratlys group. Its base on Woody Island has a Chinese population of 1,443 tasked to oversee hundreds of thousands of square kilometers despite the neighboring states' opposition. Some of the maritime features unilaterally declared under Sansha are controlled by the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. China has restricted the Philippines from accessing the Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc) following the 2012 standoff. Chinese media claimed that stocks have warmed up and ushered the so-called city's second anniversary, with investments having poured in and shares surging 8.53 percent in the first year. The city also boasted a 5.52 percent rise in "full-swing" construction as China's youngest prefecture-level city. The local government said that road projects water conservation projects, sewage and waste treatment plants as well as desalination infrastructures are ongoing. Xiao vowed to step up construction of a school, public housing facilities, livelihood infrastructure and office buildings to fuel the economy. The city also has a permanent 24-hour radio and television broadcasting network and a publication arm. READ MORE...


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China claiming another reef; PH files new protest


FLAG FLIES HIGH on Philippine territory as troops proudly salute at flag-raising rites on Pagasa Island during the country’s 116th Independence Day celebration on Thursday. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PHILIPPINE NAVY

MANILA, JUNE 30, 2014 (INQUIRER) By Tarra Quismundo - The Philippines has filed a new diplomatic protest against China over its land reclamation on McKennan (Hughes) Reef in the Spratly group of islands, which is indisputably within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Assistant Secretary Charles Jose, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson, said the foreign office lodged the protest sometime last week.

But he could not say how China responded to the latest note verbale. The Chinese Embassy in Manila had immediately rejected all previous Philippine protests in relation to the South China Sea dispute.

Filed last week

“We filed the protest last week. The reclamation there was confirmed first,” said Jose.

He said the Philippines continues monitoring to confirm what appeared to be similar Chinese activities on Gavin (Gaven) Reefs and Calderon (Cuarteron) Reef, also in the Spratlys, which President Aquino and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario bared on Thursday last week, expressing concern over Beijing’s “aggressive expansion agenda” in the disputed waters.

China is also known to be undertaking similar activities on Malvar (Eldad) Reef.

Jose said the Philippines would “definitely lodge a similar protest” against China once it is confirmed that it was reclaiming land in these territories.

Jose could not say whether last week’s diplomatic protest was filed before or after the top officials made public the surveillance information on Chinese activities on the two other reefs (Gavin and Calderon). Neither President Aquino nor Del Rosario mentioned Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef) in their press engagements last week.

In April, the DFA also protested China’s construction of an artificial island on Mabini Reef as it expressed concern that the expanded territory could be used for military purposes, particularly an airstrip.

Nine-dash-line claim excessive

These territories are indisputably within the Philippines’ 370-km EEZ in the South China Sea, an area locally called the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines is seeking an end to such Chinese incursions through its arbitration case filed against China before the United Nations, a legal action that aims to nullify China’s “excessive” nine-dash-line claim.

This historical delineation is Beijing’s basis in claiming “indisputable sovereignty” over some 90 percent of the South China Sea, extending well beyond its own EEZ and encroaching on that of other claimants, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Jose said China’s continuing land reclamation on Philippine-claimed reefs was proof of its intent to project its territory in the South China Sea despite being a signatory to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

This 2002 nonaggression pact seeks to prevent conflict in the contested waters pending resolution of the disputes.

Agreed principles

“China’s provocative and unilateral actions have lent credence to the view that it is pursuing an aggressive expansion agenda to advance its nine-dash-line position in the South China Sea,” said Jose.

“It raises tensions. Both China and the Asean signed this 2002 (DOC). One of the agreed principles was the exercise of restraint, that parties should not take any action that would complicate the situation. So, in our view, all that China is doing are in violation of the provisions of the DOC,” said the official.

Chinese intrusions in the disputed waters—including land reclamation and recent brushes with Vietnam in the Paracel Islands—continue amid progress in the Philippines’ legal case in the UN.

On June 2, the arbitral court based in The Hague, the Netherlands, ordered China to comment on the Philippines’ case and defend its own claims in the waters. Beijing has maintained the position that it would not take part in the legal process, reiterating its claim of ownership of almost all of the South China Sea.

PH becoming a thorn in China’s side By Nikko DizonPhilippine Daily Inquirer
5:51 am | Tuesday, June 24th, 2014


Johnson Reef, called Mabini by the Philippines, at the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea. AP FILE PHOTO


MANILA, Philippines–Who would have thought that the tiny Philippines would be a thorn in the side of giant China?

Magdalo Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo said the Philippines’ geographic location is in the way of China’s defense strategy in the Asia-Pacific region, giving its ally, the United States, a base from which to counter China.

“Our strategic location has an impact on China’s establishment of its nine-dash line and any strategy to counter China will always factor in the Philippines,” Acedillo said in a recent interview, referencing China’s claim to 90 percent of the South China Sea.

“From the point of view of China’s strategy, we are the biggest thorn in its side because our location gives any [allied] country the upper hand in deterring the move of China toward the Pacific and we are getting in the way of [China’s] intentions,” Acedillo said.

For China “to feel secure, it must ensure that its enemies are outside the second island-chain,” which is nearer the Pacific, and no one would be able to hold the line in the first chain, he said.

The Philippines lies right in the middle of the two island-chains, while Japan is at their northern tip.

“China is not looking for war. But it is looking for oil, fish and geopolitical strength,” said Acedillo, a former Air Force lieutenant.

Tokyo talks

The West Philippine Sea and China’s increased aggressiveness in the region “will be high up” on the agenda of the talks between President Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Tuesday, Acedillo said.

“[But] whether official Philippine and Japan spokespersons admit [the island-chain strategy] is on the agenda … is another matter. They might still decline to admit it to avoid a backlash from China,” he said.

In the face of China’s military might, the Philippines “will have to rely on the security guarantee” presented by the United States, Acedillo said.

“We should very well recognize that not because we want to be subservient to the US interest but it is for the good of the region that we should be a reliable security partner of the US in providing the security guarantee in Asia and the Pacific,” he said.

The Philippine government, he said, must have “strong political will” to do more in protecting the country’s territories in the West Philippine Sea that China claims.

“We have to be able to do more,” Acedillo said.

Failure to respond

In a privilege speech two weeks ago, Acedillo criticized the government for failing to come up “with a sensible strategy to face Chinese aggression,” from the time the Chinese first claimed Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef) in 1995 until it seized control of Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) two years ago.

He said that it was not even because of the “inability of planners to formulate a strategy.”

“The problem lies with interdepartmental turfing, rank naivete, and glaring shortsightedness that had resulted in the Philippines steadily losing its territories and our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) in the West Philippine Sea,” Acedillo said.

He criticized the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for blocking initiatives to increase the Philippines’ presence in the West Philippine Sea “so as not to provoke the Chinese.”

Acedillo said that in 1999, shortly after the BRP Sierra Madre was run aground on Ayungin Shoal, there was a plan to have another Philippine Navy ship installed as a garrison on Panatag Shoal.

“That was not to be, as the plan to send a vessel there in 1999 was scuttled at the last moment by the DFA,” Acedillo said.

All bark, no bite

He said the manner by which the DFA was pursuing the Philippines’ arbitration case against China in the United Nations was another “exercise [of its] naivete.”

Acedillo said that while he supported the arbitration case, the DFA must not “tie the hands of all our maritime and naval agencies [to prevent them from doing] anything that would jeopardize our pursuit of the case.”

He said the government must send more Coast Guard vessels to mark the Philippines’ territory in the West Philippine Sea and be as assertive as China.

While the Philippines follows the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which adheres to a status quo in the disputed territories, “our lack of action to strengthen or improve our installations in the area has only sent a clear message to the Chinese and that is we are all bark and no bite,” Acedillo noted.

“And this has only encouraged Beijing to move more aggressively as they know we will not act,” he added.

He urged the government to take a more decisive action in protecting the country’s territory.

Justice Carpio tears down China’s historical lies GET REAL By Solita Collas-MonsodPhilippine Daily Inquirer 12:09 am | Saturday, June 21st, 2014


Justice Antonio T. Carpio, Supreme Court of the Philippines

The country owes Justice Antonio Carpio a debt of gratitude for his recent lecture, titled “Historical Facts, Historical Lies, and Historical Rights in the West Philippine Sea,” in De La Salle University. Its 62 pages (about 40 of which contain maps dating from 1136 AD during the Song Dynasty and through the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties) provide the most lucid and exhaustive exposition of those topics I have come across. Brilliant.

Given its importance to current and future generations of Filipinos—put simply, China’s 9-dash-line claim deprives the Philippines of 80 percent of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and 100 percent of its extended continental shelf (ECS) in the West Philippine Sea—I strongly suggest that Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Commission on Higher Education Chair Tati Licuanan make sure it is required reading in all schools. The rest of us, including the Chinese-Filipino community, can access it from the Internet, but it should be published as a monograph. Knowledge is power.

Carpio demolishes, point by painful point, the Chinese government’s assertion that “historical facts” justify its 9-dash-line claims, by citing actual historical facts based on China’s own (a) historical maps, (b) constitutions, and (c) official pronouncements, which are all “glaringly inconsistent” with China’s current position.

Item: Maps. Carpio shows 16 maps drawn by Chinese authorities or individuals, from 1136 to 1933. These maps show that Hainan Island is the southernmost territory of China. He also shows three maps drawn between 1700 and 1833 by foreigners showing the same thing. What does this have to do with us? Simply, “There is not a single ancient Chinese map, whether made by Chinese or foreigners, showing that the Spratlys and Scarborough Shoal were ever part of Chinese territory.”

Carpio also shows 34 maps drawn between 1636 and 1933 by Philippine authorities and foreigners, all showing Scarborough Shoal, named or unnamed (Punto de Mandato, Panacot, Bajo de Masinloc), as part of the Philippines.

Another point on Scarborough: It was used from the 1960s-1980s as an impact range for US and Philippine warplanes (pictures of wreckages of dummy ordnances in the waters). Neither China nor any other country protested these bombing practices, despite worldwide prior notices to mariners, through the International Maritime Organization of the United Nations, for them to keep away from Scarborough Shoal during the practices. If the Philippines can bomb a shoal repeatedly over decades without any protest from neighboring states, it certainly must have sovereignty over such shoal.

Item: Constitutions. Carpio quotes from five constitutions of China since the fall of the Qing Empire in 1912, which reiterates that its territory remained the same as the territory of the Qing Dynasty (which means that Hainan Island is China’s southernmost territory).

Carpio then shows that under international law, the territory of the Republic of China as of the effectivity of these constitutions is limited to the territory of the Qing Dynasty (with Hainan Island as its southernmost territory).

Item: Official pronouncements. As late as 1932, China was telling the world that its southernmost border was Hainan Island (now including the Paracels), and Carpio quotes from a note verbale issued to the French government on Sept. 29, 1932, protesting the French occupation of the Paracels: “These groups lie 145 nautical miles from Hainan Island, and form the southernmost part of Chinese territory.”

If Hainan Island and the Paracels constitute the southernmost part of Chinese territory per the official declaration of the Chinese government in 1932, asks Carpio, how can Scarborough Shoal, which is 380 NM from Paracels and 500 NM from Hainan, be part of Chinese territory?

Yet, that is what China’s 9-dash-line claim asserts. And China’s basis for this is “historical facts and international law,” as stated by its foreign minister. Carpio demonstrated that actual historical facts belie China’s claim.

But even if the historical facts were consistent with China’s 9-dash-line claim, it still would not be enough. Historical facts have no bearing whatsoever under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

In the same way that the 1481 Papal Bull, which divided the undiscovered world between Spain and Portugal, has no legal effect today; and the sea voyages of Chinese Admiral Zheng He from 1405 to 1433 cannot be a basis for China’s claim to the South China Sea, which is where it has its 9-dash line.

Furthermore, Zheng He’s voyages did not result in any claims of sovereignty, or colonies or anything. South China Sea was used as trade routes by the Austronesians a thousand years before Zheng He. (Carpio makes an interesting point about Filipino traders in balangay sailing between the Philippines and China 400 years before Zheng He, and Visayan caracoa’s pillaging the Fukien coast of China).

Unfortunately for China, international law is also against its 9-dash-line claim. Under the Unclos, countries have 12 NM of territorial sea, 200 miles of EEZ, and another 150 miles of ECS. Under China’s claim, James Shoal, the southernmost territory is 950 NM from China (within Malaysia’s EEZ). Moreover, it is a fully submerged reef, 22 meters underwater. Ridiculous.

Thank you, Justice Carpio, for showing us that the emperor has no clothes.

A question, though: Where are our historians, political scientists and China watchers, who should have done this research?

FROM PHILSTAR

China bares new map covering Kalayaan Islands By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated June 25, 2014 - 5:41pm


Lei Yixun, editor-in-chief of Hunan map publishing house shows a vertical atlas of China which is newly-issued by the publishing house in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, on June 23, 2014.Xinhua

MANILA, Philippines — China recently released a new vertical version of the map of its so-called territory encompassing contentious areas claimed by the Philippines and other neighboring states.

China state news agency Xinhua reported that the new map printed by the Hunan Map Publishing House was recognized by State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping Geographic Information.

The map is the first large format full vertical version which shows the mainland and its extensive claims over the South China Sea using its "nine-dash line." Beijing claims that the dashed delimitation is based on historical records, but the Philippines said it is a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

It depicts Philippine-claimed Spratly (Kalayaan) Islands and the Vietnam-claimed Paracel Islands as part of China.


Photo showing the newly issued vertical atlas of China by Hunan Map Publishing House. It clearly shows China's sweeping claims over the South China Sea. Xinhua/Bai Yu

The maritime features in the disputed waterway are no longer depicted as illustrations unlike in older versions.

"Islands in South China Sea share the same scale with mainland and are better shown than traditional maps," the report explained.

The report cited the publishing house saying that the map is significant in promoting awareness of the country's "national territories" as well as the bodies of water that are part of it.

"It will enable the reader a comprehensive understanding of China's intuitive full map that does not distinguish primary and secondary points," the publishing firm said.

A Filipino magistrate, however, recently debunked the historical basis of China's claims over what the Philippines calls the West Philippine Sea.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Supreme Court said in a lecture that a close examination of the maps, which are being used to instruct Chinese school children in the mainland, show that "historical facts" have been fabricated.

The magistrate said this shows that Hainan island, which was for centuries a part of Guangdong until 1988 when it became a separate province, is the boundary of the Chinese territory in the Southeast Asian region.

"All these ancient maps show that since the first Chinese maps appeared, the southernmost territory of China has always been Hainan island, with its ancient names being Zhuya, then Qiongya, and thereafter Qiongzhou," Carpio said.

The contested territories are neither shown in historical maps of the Philippines as part of China.

Also read: China celebrating Spratlys' 2nd anniversary as part of new 'city'

“The South China Sea was not even named by the Chinese but by European navigators and cartographers. The Song and Ming Dynasties called the South China Sea the ‘Giao Chi Sea,’ and the Qing Dynasty, the Republic of China as well as the People’s Republic of China call it the ‘South Sea’ without the word ‘China’,” he pointed out.

The Philippines, in comparison, used provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to assert its sovereignty over the part of the South China Sea within its exclusive economic zone in its arbitration case filed against China.

China celebrating Spratlys' 2nd anniversary as part of new 'city' By Camille Diola (philstar.com) | Updated June 25, 2014 - 10:31am


XIao Jie, designated mayor of new Chinese city Three Sansha purportedly to administer disputed Paracel Islands and Spratlys Islands, speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the prefecture's first school early this month.

MANILA, Philippines — China is celebrating the second year since the establishment of Sansha, a settlement based in disputed Woody (Yongxing) Island and designated as a "city" to administer the Philippine-claimed Spratly (Kalayaan) Islands.

In a report posted on the Chinese government's website, Sansha Mayor Xiao Jie recently expressed delight with the approaching date of July 24, when Beijing declared the city part of China's southernmost Hainan province.

Sansha covers theVietnam-claimed Paracel Islands, Taiwan-governed Pratas (Dongsha) Islands and the Spratlys group. Its base on Woody Island has a Chinese population of 1,443 tasked to oversee hundreds of thousands of square kilometers despite the neighboring states' opposition.

Some of the maritime features unilaterally declared under Sansha are controlled by the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. China has restricted the Philippines from accessing the Scarborough Shoal (Bajo de Masinloc) following the 2012 standoff.

Chinese media claimed that stocks have warmed up and ushered the so-called city's second anniversary, with investments having poured in and shares surging 8.53 percent in the first year.

The city also boasted a 5.52 percent rise in "full-swing" construction as China's youngest prefecture-level city.

The local government said that road projects water conservation projects, sewage and waste treatment plants as well as desalination infrastructures are ongoing.

Xiao vowed to step up construction of a school, public housing facilities, livelihood infrastructure and office buildings to fuel the economy.

The city also has a permanent 24-hour radio and television broadcasting network and a publication arm.

Xiao said that government is committed to strengthening the "administrative jurisdiction" and improving its residents means of livelihood.

The Sansha government recently announced the construction of its first school, which started June 14 and could take 18 months to complete. It said there were about 40 children of school age on the island.

When China created Sansha in July 2012, the outpost had a post office, a bank, a supermarket, hospital and a population of about 1,000. By December, it had a permanent population of 1,443, which can sometimes swell by 2,000, according to the Sansha government.

It also has its own supply ship that brings in food, water, construction materials as well as people who live and work on the island.

Vietnam, the Philippines and the United States criticized Beijing for establishing Sansha, saying it risked escalating regional tensions. - with the Associated Press


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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