Beijing/Manila: The member countries of the ASEAN group have started retaliating against the Chinese bullying to establish its right over the South China Sea region. The Philippines has started new construction on Pagasa Island and has decided to continue with the military pact with the United States. Vietnam has the current Presidency of ASEAN, and it has started moves to contain Chinese activities by using this status. Whereas, the Philippines has openly challenged the Chinese claims in the South China Sea region through a letter written to the United Nations.
The Chinese government had renamed 80 geographical locations in the South China Sea region, pretending these were Chinese territories. These include 25 islands and 55 undersea areas. Thereafter, Chinese patrol vessels had dashed against a Vietnamese fishing boat in the South China Sea region. Vietnam and the Philippines, both Chinese neighbours, had given angry reactions over this incident.
The Chinese navy has dramatically increased its activities in the South China Sea region since the last few months. Movements of Chinese warships along with vessels of coast guard and fleets of armed fishing boats (Naval Militia) have increased in the South China Sea region. Chinese warships and other vessels consistently harass the ships of other countries sailing through this sector. A few days ago, the South China Morning Post had reported that China had made preparations to implement ‘Air Defence Identification Zone’ to establish its rights over the South China Sea region.
The ASEAN member countries, which are a part of the South China Sea region, have initiated efforts to stop this Chinese bullying. In the last month, Malaysia took the help of the US navy to force the Chinese ships sailing near the Malaysian marine region to leave the area. Indonesia clarified its stand on the issue after the issue was raised in the United Nations. Indonesia openly challenged China through the letter, saying that the Chinese claims regarding the South China Sea were not acceptable to Indonesia.
On the other hand, the Philippines has started new construction in the region, near the Chinese artificial islands. Philippines Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana visited an island, known as Thitu Island, and announced the starting of the new construction. At this time, he announced that necessary facilities for the Philippines navy and a new centre for fishermen was being built on the island. Only a few days ago, the Philippines government announced that it is continuing with the defence pacts signed with the United States. Initiation of construction near a Chinese base, following this, becomes significant.
Against this very background, Vietnam, the president of ASEAN, has started taking efforts to unite the member countries from the region over the South China Sea issue by using its post. Sources informed that discussions have begun to bring a resolution regarding this, in the ASEAN meeting this year. Even in the past, Vietnam has strongly objected to the Chinese activities in the South China Sea.