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China hungry for South China Sea oil: Philippines
by Staff Writers
Nusa Dua, Indonesia (AFP) July 23, 2011

Chinese writers ordered out after Philippine scrap
Manila (AFP) July 24, 2011 - Two Chinese travel writers involved in a mid-flight brawl with President Benigno Aquino's brother-in-law have been ordered to leave the Philippines, an immigration official said Sunday.

The pair, part of a media tour to encourage tourism to the country, were on a flight to the central resort island of Cebu when they are alleged to have attempted to choke Eldon Cruz who had asked them to make be quieter.

The immigration commissioner said the two must fly out by Sunday night and had been blacklisted from returning to the Philippines, according to immigration spokeswoman Maria Antonette Mangrobang.

"They are departing tonight. It was an order to leave the country immediately and for their inclusion in the blacklist," she added.

No criminal complaints have been filed against the pair, Mangrobang said, adding that they have been turned over to their embassy's consul.

Foreign Department spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters strong action was needed to deter troublesome visitors.

"We welcome anyone who visits our country (but) we don't need tourists who are rude, violent and ill-mannered," he said.

Chinese embassy spokesman Sun Yi downplayed the incident, saying it was a "misunderstanding" and that both sides had settled the matter.

"The issue has been addressed appropriately," he said without elaborating.

The Philippines has been trying to repair its image with Chinese and Hong Kong travellers after a bus hijacking tragedy in Manila in August left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.

China's aggressive actions in the South China Sea appear to be motivated by a hunger to exploit the area's rich oil and gas resources, the Philippines' foreign secretary said Saturday.

Speaking on the sidelines of an Asian security forum in Indonesia, Albert del Rosario also said China's behaviour in the disputed waters raised concerns about how it would treat its neighbours as it became more powerful.

"I think the wealth of the area in terms of hydrocarbon assets could stimulate an increased interest in the area," del Rosario told AFP when asked why China had, according to the Philippines, become more aggressive.

He said the Philippines was looking at the South China Sea events through a broader window of how China intended to treat other countries as it became more powerful.

"I think there is that concern that China is becoming more powerful," he said.

"We support their progress and their growth. It is good for the region. But at the same time it is our expectation that their strength and their growth and their influence will be exercised in a responsible way."

China claims all of the South China Sea, even up to the coast of Southeast Asian countries, as part of its historical territory.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims to all or parts of the sea, which is believed to be extremely rich in oil and gas deposits.

In recent months, the Philippines and Vietnam have accused China of increasingly aggressive behaviour in the sea, such as harassing fishermen and oil exploration vessels.

The Philippines has said Chinese forces shot at Filipino fishermen, deployed navy patrol boats to intimidate an oil exploration vessel and placed markers on some of the islets.

Del Rosario said these intrusions occurred within 85 nautical miles of the nearest Philippine island of Palawan, but nearly 600 nautical miles from the nearest coast of China.

He insisted China's claim to all of the sea, based on a Chinese map with nine dashes outlining its territory, would be rejected in an international court.

"We take the position that China's nine-dash claim to sovereignty over the South China Sea is baseless," he said.

earlier related report
Vietnamese hold anti-China protest after crackdown
Hanoi (AFP) July 24, 2011 - Police in Vietnam allowed up to 300 peaceful anti-Chinese protesters to march in central Hanoi on Sunday after their suppression of earlier rallies sparked anger on the Internet.

It was the eighth consecutive Sunday that protesters have gathered for an unprecedented series of rallies over tensions in the South China Sea.

Authorities tolerated the first five small protests near the Chinese embassy, but then forcibly dispersed two demonstrations and briefly detained people after talks between Hanoi and Beijing in June.

Sunday's protest took place at a different location, around Hoan Kiem lake, which is a popular meeting place for Hanoi residents and foreign tourists.

Overtly political demonstrations are rare in Vietnam, despite fairly frequent protests in the form of land-rights rallies and strikes by factory workers.

Some demonstrators wore T-shirts objecting to China's maritime claim to essentially all of the South China Sea, called the "East Sea" in Vietnam.

"I want to send a message to China that they stop doing bad things with our country," said Nguyen Quang Thach, 36, who has attended all the rallies.

Vietnam and China have a longstanding dispute over sovereignty of the potentially oil-rich Paracel and Spratly island groups, which straddle vital commercial shipping lanes in the South China Sea.

Tensions flared in May when Vietnam said Chinese marine surveillance vessels cut the exploration cables of an oil survey ship inside the country's exclusive economic zone.

Vietnamese bitterly recall 1,000 years of Chinese occupation and, more recently, a 1979 border war. More than 70 Vietnamese sailors were killed in 1988 when the two sides battled off the Spratlys.

Protesters chanted that the Paracels and Spratlys belong to Vietnam, and carried signs naming military personnel who died in previous clashes with Vietnam's giant neighbour.

At least one man held a picture which allegedly showed a policeman stomping on a demonstrator when officers broke up a similar rally a week earlier.

Video of the alleged incident was posted on the Internet, where independent Vietnamese blogs and opinion flourish despite the arrests of some bloggers. All official media are state controlled.

Protesters had vowed to appeal to the communist-controlled National Assembly, asking it to pass legislation governing demonstrations, if police acted against the latest rally.

"Beating patriots whose only crime is expressing their patriotism against foreign invasion must be seriously and publicly punished," Nguyen Ngoc, a writer, said on the Nguyen Xuan Dien blog, which has become a rallying point for the protesters, many of whom are respected senior intellectuals.

Police made no attempt to stop the orderly demonstrators who marched on the sidewalk around Hoan Kiem lake for about two hours before dispersing.

Another claimant to the Spratlys, the Philippines, has complained this year of Chinese aggression in the disputed waters, where Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also have claims.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned at a regional forum in Indonesia on Saturday that tensions in the South China Sea threatened peace.

But China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) endorsed new guidelines at the forum designed to reduce tensions in the waters, which Beijing and some ASEAN members hailed as a breakthrough.

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China 'guarantees' South China Sea trade
Nusa Dua, Indonesia (AFP) July 23, 2011 - China on Saturday "guaranteed" freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, as it came under renewed US pressure over its perceived aggression in the disputed waterway.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told his counterparts from around the the Asia Pacific at a security forum in Indonesia that tensions between China and its rival claimants to the sea would not affect vital shipping trade.

"What I told the summit is that freedom of navigation in this region is guaranteed," Yang said in a briefing to reporters after his speech.

"If there is no guarantee, how do we explain Asia's economy is fast developing in the world's economy? How do we explain Asia contributed to half of the world's economy recovery?"

China claims all of the South China Sea, where shipping lanes link East Asia with Europe and the Middle East.

But the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims to parts of the sea, and the decades-long dispute has intensified in recent months amid complaints of increased Chinese aggression in the waters.

The Philippines and Vietnam have accused China of acts such as harassing oil exploration vessels, shooting or beating up their fisherman, and placing territorial markers on islets in the sea.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced concern at the same forum on the Indonesian island of Bali on Saturday that "recent incidents" in the sea were a threat to regional peace and free passage in the shipping lanes.

"These incidents endanger the safety of life at sea, escalate tensions, undermine freedom of navigation, and pose risks to lawful unimpeded commerce and economic development," Clinton said.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Yang's comments on freedom of navigation offered little comfort because China maintained its hardline position that no other country had any rights to the sea.

"How can you discuss anything bilaterally when you sit down with them and they say that they own everything?" he said.

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