Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Scarborough Shoal Incursion

A diplomatic cable released by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks said China could not specify a historical document to support its claims to disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea.

In diplomatic cable 08BEIJING3499 sent to Washington by the US embassy in Beijing on Sept. 9, 2008, a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) official and a local scholar could not identify specific historical records to justify China’s “Nine Dashes” claim that covers the whole Spratlys and areas within other countries’ exclusive economic zones.

MFA Department of Treaty and Law Oceans and Law of the Sea Division Deputy Director Yin Wenqiang told a US embassy political officer on Aug. 30, 2008 that “China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters.”

China has dispatched a powerful military vessel in the South China Sea after rejecting a Philippine proposal to submit the Panatag Shoal dispute, now on its 10th day, to international arbitration, Chinese media reported Thursday.

The English-language China Daily based in Beijing said China’s most advanced fishing patrol vessel, the Yuzheng 310, had been sent to protect Chinese fishermen in the region, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.

The newspaper, regarded as a guide to official Chinese policy, said that Beijing’s latest moves underscored its “determination to protect its maritime interests in response to Manila’s refusal to withdraw ships from Chinese waters.”

Yuzheng 310, described as the fastest fishery administration vessel, left Guangzhou on the Pearl River just outside Hong Kong Wednesday morning for an undisclosed place in the South China Sea, it said.

“Yin admitted he is not aware of the historical basis for the ‘Nine Dashes’ and only mentioned unspecified ‘Chinese historical documents’ that indicate the basis for China’s claims on territory west of the Philippines,” the US embassy official said.

According to Wikileaks, Yang said China’s claims “date back to ancient times, prior to the development of the modern nation-state.”

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