Reports: China plans to seize Pag-Asa Island this year

Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - January 13, 2014 - 11:34am

MANILA, Philippines - A Chinese news network has reported that China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) is planning to seize the contested Pag-Asa Island in the Spratlys Group of Islands this year in what can be an explosive military confrontation.

Business and strategy news platform Qianzhan (Prospects) reported that Beijing condemned the Philippines' move to deploy Air Force and naval contingents to Pag-Asa Islands early this month and called the occupation illegal and "arrogant."

"According to experts, the Chinese navy has drawn a detailed combat plan to seize the island and the battle will be restricted within the South China Sea. The battle is aimed at recovery of the island stolen by the Philippines from China," the news site cited in its January 10 and January 9 reports.

The report was in Mandarin and translated by English news site China Daily Mail, which titled the translated article "Chinese troops will seize Zhongye (Pag-Asa) Island back from the Philippines in 2014."

The China Daily Mail said that according to Qianzhan, the Philippines' arrogance is "an intolerable insult to China" with a confidence that the United States is on its side.

"There will be no invasion into Filipino territories," the report added.

Qianzhan added that PLA's goal is for its troops to be stationed in the island and defend it from the Philippines' upcoming attacks.

It claimed that the confrontation, to be preceded by a China-issued ultimatum to the Philippines to withdraw its personnel and facilities from the island, must only last for two hours.

The report also claimed that the Chinese military has drawn plans in case the US comes to its Southeast Asian ally's aid. The Asian giant's North Sea Fleet will face the Americans and will be reinforced by the East Sea Fleet monitoring Diaoyu Islands (claimed by Japan), it added.

At the height of the confrontation, the US will also be forced to finally choose sides as it has long refused to take a stand on the issue, it said.

Chinese media last week had been buzzing about Manila's decision to defend the disputed territory off the province of Palawan, which has been run by local officials.

Read: Military starts deployment of troops in Spratlys

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei urged the Philippines not to complicate the sea row, saying that Beijing is closely monitoring developments on the matter.

"China opposes any move that can impair Chinese sovereignty. We hope the country concerned will adhere to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and not take any action that could complicate the issue," Hong told the media in a briefing last January 7.

Last week, Beijing issued a new rule over the South China Sea requiring foreign fishing vessels to seek permission for activities.

The US called the unilateral declaration "provocative and potentially dangerous" while the Philippines sought China's explanation for the move.

"We are gravely concerned by this new regulation that would require foreign fishing vessels to obtain approval from Chinese regional authorities before fishing or surveying in a large portion of the South China Sea," the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

Read: Philippines 'gravely concerned' about China fishing rule

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