China 'war threat' in islands dispute
Wednesday 22 July 1992
In a sharp escalation of tension over Chinese expansionist manoeuvres in the region, Ali Alatas, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, warned of 'mutually destructive confrontation in the South China Sea' if the rival claims to the islands were not settled peacefully. And Fidel Ramos, President of the Philippines, said there was an 'urgent necessity to seek a solution . . . lest the unsettled situation lead to perilous developments'.
The two men were speaking at the opening of a week-long meeting in Manila of the six-member Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean). The other four members of Asean are Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
Regional security concerns are dominating this year's Asean meeting, because China appears to be preparing to expand its military influence just as US forces prepare to leave Subic Bay, their last big base in South-east Asia, by the end of this year.
'China slept for a long time under a soporific ideology,' said Raul Manglapus, the Philippines Foreign Minister, last week. 'Now it is waking up. China is merely living up to historical expectations that, being such a big country, it would not fail to flex its muscles.'
In February, China passed a law reasserting its sovereignty over, and right to use force to defend, three disputed island groups - the Spratlys, the Paracels and the Senkaku chain. The Spratlys are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines. Taiwan and Vietnam have claims to the Paracels, and the Senkaku chain is disputed with Taiwan and Japan. The islands themselves are of little interest, but the surrounding seas are thought to have oil reserves.
In May, Peking announced it would co-operate with a US oil company to explore for oil around the Spratlys. Earlier this month the Chinese navy constructed a beacon on one of the islands, drawing protests from Vietnam. In 1988 the Chinese sank three Vietnamese ships off the islands. The building of the beacon also infuriated other South-east Asian countries, because it was timed to coincide with a meeting to discuss joint exploitation of the islands by the rival claimants.
Officially, China denies it has any plans to fill a potential vacuum left by US forces leaving South-east Asia, and says it seeks a peaceful solution to the Spratlys issue. Qian Qichen, China's Foreign Minister, who is in Manila, said 'when conditions are ripe, we can start negotiations'.
- 1 Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
- 3 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 4 How to gain confidence and maximise your sexual potential
- 5 Chinese theme park sets up 'death simulator' where volunteers can experience being cremated
Saudi Arabia's King Salman sacks senior aide for 'slapping' a journalist behind him live on TV
Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...