Scarborough Shoal Standoff: Strong words from Chinese Vice Foreign Minister

It does not look like the China – Philippines standoff over Scarborough Shoals, and territorial claims over the South China Sea / West Philippine Sea area, is anywhere close to being resolved.

Below is an excerpt from a report today, by Brian Spegele of the Wall Street Journal, with strong statements from the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying:

China said it was pessimistic about resolving a standoff with the Philippines in the resource-rich South China Sea and was prepared for tensions there to escalate further.

The remarks, delivered during a meeting Monday between Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying and Manila’s charge d’affaires in Beijing, Alex Chua, marked a significant uptick in the heat of the rhetoric as relations between China and one of Washington’s closest allies in the region continue to deteriorate.

Mr. Chua was summoned by China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency, as part of a long-running dispute around what is known as the Scarborough Shoal in English and Huangyan island in Chinese, in the southeastern part of the South China Sea. Xinhua said it was the third meeting in less than a month between the two sides.

“It is obvious the Philippine side has not realized that it is making serious mistakes and is stepping up efforts to escalate tensions instead,” Ms. Fu said in a statement on the website of China’s Foreign Ministry. “It is hoped that the Philippine side will not misjudge the situation and not escalate tensions without considering the consequences.”

A spokesman for the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, Raul Hernandez, said in a statement that the Philippines was taking a “new diplomatic initiative” that it hopes will defuse the situation, but declined to provide details.  More…

And so the Scarborough Shoals standoff and tension continues, and China reportedly now has four government ships in the area — in addition to eight fishing vessels.  The Philippines has one coast guard vessel, and one Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources vessel.

Do you need to catch up on why there are disputes over these South China Sea territories?   Visit the BBC News Q&A: South China Sea disputes, to learn more (e.g.,  possible natural gas reserves and the large amount of natural resources in this area).

Also, here is a link to my original article on the latest flare-up over the Scarborough Shoal area.

Meanwhile, here in the states, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta met with Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Liang Guanglie at the Pentagon yesterday, May 7, 2012.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta welcomes Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Liang Guanglie to the Pentagon, May 7, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

It was the first U.S. visit by a Chinese defense minister in nine years.

Liang has been visiting U.S. military bases and meeting with U.S. military leaders to discuss U.S.-Chinese cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

Excerpt from the American Forces Press Service news article by Cheryl Pellerin:

Liang’s visit occurs at a time when the armed forces of both nations seek to expand cooperation, improve understanding, build trust and reduce differences.

“The United States and China are both Pacific powers, and our relationship is one of the most critical in the world,” Panetta said at a news conference with Liang after their meeting.

“In my meeting with General Liang, I expressed my commitment to achieving and maintaining a healthy, stable, reliable and continuous [military-to-military] relationship with China,” the secretary said, adding that at Liang’s invitation he will visit China within the next few months.

“We share many interests across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond,” Panetta added, “from humanitarian assistance to concerns about weapons of mass destruction to terrorism to drug interdictions to trade to counterpiracy.”

…“As you all know,” Panetta said, “the U.S. Department of Defense recently released a new defense strategy, recognizing that no region is more important than the Asia-Pacific for our country’s future peace and prosperity.”

Liang spoke through an interpreter, describing the purpose of his visit as being “to implement the important agreement reached by President Hu Jintao and President [Barack] Obama on developing the China-U.S. state-to-state and military-to-military relationship.”   More…