China’s neighbors should prepare “for the sounds of cannons” if they don’t temper their positions in territorial disputes over the South China Sea, the state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial on Tuesday.
Countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines and South Korea should not take China’s “mild diplomatic stance” for granted as they seek to resolve conflicting territorial claims, the newspaper said.
The government distanced itself from the report, saying it didn’t represent its views.
“If these countries don’t want to change their ways with China, they will need to prepare for the sounds of cannons,” the unsigned editorial said. “We need to be ready for that, as it may be the only way for the disputes in the sea to be resolved.”
The Global Times is owned by the People’s Daily, a mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party. The editorial said China’s current understanding is that such disputes should be resolved via negotiation. “But if a situation turns ugly, some military action is necessary,” it said.
In response to questions about the editorial, foreign ministry spokesman Jiang Yu told reporters in Beijing that China “adheres to the strategy of peaceful development” and is committed “to resolving the maritime dispute through peaceful means.”
“Sowing discord and hostility will only complicate” the issue, Jiang said.
China has used patrol vessels in recent months to thwart efforts by Vietnam and the Philippines to explore for oil and gas in the South China Sea. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned in July that increased confrontations in the area are a threat to sea lanes.
Competing claims to the South China Sea threaten to sour ties between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia as the countries compete over oil, gas and fisheries resources in the disputed waters.
China, citing historical evidence such as pottery shards, claims a tongue-shaped swath of the sea demarcated by nine dashes that extends hundreds of miles south from Hainan Island to the equatorial waters off the coast of Borneo.
The issue of the territorial dispute in the South China Sea is expected to be discussed when Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang begins his state visit to the Philippines on Wednesday, in time for the 35th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between the Philippines and Vietnam.
On Tuesday Deputy Presidential Spokesman Abigail Valte said Sang is scheduled to have bilateral discussions with President Aquino on a range of issues—possibly including the Spratlys, where both countries are claimants, but only if this is raised.
“In case it will be brought up, of course. We have no advice yet from the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] but the President has always been open to issues, to answering issues about the West Philippine Sea,” Valte said, using the term the government uses when referring to the South China Sea.
“This is in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between our country and Vietnam. So this is more of the celebration and a commemoration and hopefully, the continuance of a very good friendship with Vietnam,” she said.
Sang will arrive in Malacañang at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, to be followed by a bilateral meeting with Mr. Aquino, after which they will issue a joint statement. He will be feted to a state dinner.
On Thursday Sang will lead a wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal Monument, then proceed to the unveiling ceremony at the Asean Park in Intramuros.
That same day, he will visit the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, Laguna, attend the Vietnam-Philippines Business Luncheon, and have separate meetings with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., and Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda.
He will depart for Vietnam on Friday after meeting with Vietnamese embassy personnel and the Vietnamese community.
Malacañang advised the public to expect “heavier-than-usual” traffic in some thoroughfares of Manila and Pasay City during Sang’s visit, particularly along Osmeña Highway, Quirino Avenue, Roxas Boulevard, Padre Burgos, Finance Road, Ayala Boulevard and General Solano Street on Wednesday.
There will also be heavy traffic along Roxas Boulevard on Thursday, and along Roxas Boulevard, Quirino Avenue and Osmeña Highway on Friday.
Valte said the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, local governments, and the National Police are coordinating “to secure the Vietnamese delegation and ensure that the volume of traffic remains manageable.”
“We extend our apologies to Metro Manila motorists for the temporary inconvenience. We advise you to take alternative routes to avoid the heavy traffic, and thank you for your understanding and patience,” she said.
- DFA hits China over ‘cannons’ statement (ABS-CBN News) (thuytinhvo.wordpress.com)
- South China Sea Conflict? No Way (Diplomat) (thuytinhvo.wordpress.com)
- DFA chief: China paper’s comments on Spratlys row ‘irresponsible’ (Inter Aksyon) (thuytinhvo.wordpress.com)
- Tension among South China Sea claimants rises to dangerous levels (philSTAR) (thuytinhvo.wordpress.com)