BEIJING – China has denied it is increasing combat readiness inresponse to a territorial row with the Philippines over a disputedshoal in the South China Sea. The tense stand-off, which erupted last month, centres onScarborough Shoal, a tiny rocky outcrop in the South China Seaabout 230 kilometres (140 miles) from the Philippines’ main islandof Luzon. The dispute began when Philippine authorities detected Chineseships fishing there. They attempted to arrest the crew, but wereblocked by Chinese surveillance vessels that were quickly deployedto the area. China’s defence ministry denied military units were getting readyfor war, despite warnings in state media that China is prepared tofight to end the stand-off. GSM GPS Antenna
“Reports that the Guangzhou military region, the South China Seafleet and other units have entered a state of war preparedness areuntrue,” the ministry said in a brief statement on its websiteFriday. The Guangzhou military region in southern China has responsibilityfor the area. It gave no source for the reports, but rumours on the Internet sayChina has ordered some military units up to level two of itsfour-level scale of war preparedness, one notch from the top whichindicates full readiness. The two nations have had non-military vessels stationed at theshoal since April 8 in an effort to assert their sovereignty to thearea. CB Radio Antenna
China claims virtually all of the South China Sea, which isbelieved to sit atop huge oil and gas reserves, as its historicalterritory, even waters close to the coasts of other Asiancountries. The Philippines says the shoal is part of its territory because itfalls within its exclusive economic zone. On Friday, around 300 protestors demonstrated outside the Chineseembassy in the Philippines to denounce “bullying” by Beijing. A Chinese state-backed newspaper on Saturday accused thePhilippines of whipping up nationalism through the protest, but itadded military conflict in the South China Sea was possible. Magnet Mount Antenna Manufacturer
Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia also claim parts of the sea.The rival claims have for decades made the waters one of Asia’spotential military flashpoints. “Nationalism seems to echo just as strongly wherever you go aroundthe South China Sea. The Philippines is showing prominent suchbehaviour,” the Global Times said in an editorial. “It remains possible that military conflicts will ensue in theSouth China Sea, and when that happens China will certainly takefirm action,” it added.
Chinese authorities also this week ordered tour operators tosuspend trips to the Philippines.