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China adds destroyers, 9 ex-navy ships to marine surveillance: reports

BEIJING--China has transferred two destroyers and nine other ex-navy vessels to its maritime surveillance fleet, reports said Monday, as it moves to beef up its position in bitter territorial rows with Japan and other neighbors.

Beijing renovated the ships and transferred them to surveillance operations to “alleviate the insufficiency of vessels used to protect maritime interests,” said a report on Tencent, one of China's major news portals.

China is embroiled in a maritime dispute with Japan that has seen tensions between the two Asian giants, the world's second- and third-largest economies, at times reach fever pitch.

It is also engaged in a simmering row with its southern neighbors over its claim to vast swathes of the South China Sea.

Beijing has been sending maritime patrol vessels into waters around the East China Sea islands — which it claims as the Diaoyu and which Japan controls and calls the Senkaku — since Tokyo nationalized the chain in September.

China is apparently seeking to prove it can come and go in the area at will and on Monday three of Beijing's ships were spotted in the waters around the islands, according to Japan's coastguard, in the latest perceived incursion.

Two of Beijing's newly refurbished vessels are destroyers, with one each to operate in the East and South China Seas, with the others including tugs, icebreakers and survey ships, according to the Tencent report.

The destroyers, the Nanjing and Nanning, numbered 131 and 162 respectively, each had a displacement of 3,250 metric tons and had a top speed of 32 knots, according to sinodefence.com, an independent UK-based website.

It said that during their time in the navy they were equipped with 130mm guns with a range of 29 kilometers, anti-ship missiles and other weapons.

The Nanjing went into service in 1977 and the Nanning in 1979. Both retired this year from the Chinese navy, previous domestic media reports said.

It was not clear whether it was the first time the maritime surveillance fleet has acquired destroyers, or when the transfers took place.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment when asked about the destroyers at its regular briefing on Monday.

Officials at the Ministry of Defense and headquarters of the China Marine Surveillance were not immediately available to comment when contacted by AFP.

The transfer report was first published in the International Herald Leader, a Chinese-language newspaper linked to Beijing's official news agency Xinhua, and the author said the operation had been given significantly more capacity.

“The maritime surveillance team's power has been greatly strengthened and its capacity to execute missions sharply improved, providing a fundamental guarantee for completing the currently arduous task to protect maritime interests,” wrote Yu Zhirong, of the government's Research Center for Chinese Marine Development.

Since 2000 the maritime surveillance fleet, which is tasked with “protecting China's interests and executing law enforcement missions,” has also received a total of 13 new vessels, the report said.

Daily patrols have been stepped up from six vessels before the disputes heated up to “more than 10” Yu said, adding authorities planned to build another 36 surveillance ships by 2015.

A Chinese plane overflew the islands in the East China Sea earlier this month, in what Japan said was the first time Beijing had breached its airspace since at least 1958. Tokyo scrambled fighter jets in response.

1 Comment
January 1, 2013    das82004@
Professional squatters usually work in syndicate. Using fake titles and maps they grab large tracts of land and waterways from real owners. For semblance of possession they build fences and passageways, workplaces and shelters. They refuse appeals to prove their rights in court, for they know they would lose against the true owners. Instead they employ armed bands to enforce their land-grab, and publicists to distort the truth. Respecting no one, they flout the law and public outrage. They delay inevitable eviction with blarney or harassment. Meantime, they profit from the illegal takeover, by directly exploiting resources or by subletting.

There are a billion squatters worldwide, mostly penurious and landless, and only a handful of land-grab syndicates. The biggest of the latter is China’s dictatorial party.

China uses baseless ancient rights and maps to lay claim to the entire South China Sea and scores of islets, shoals, and reefs. Such claim goes against geologic science and international law, particularly freedom of navigation. But China is unperturbed. It also ignores verified historical accounts and maps, particularly of Vietnam and the Philippines, about the Paracel and the Spratly archipelagoes and landforms abutting their shores. It flouts the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, even if it is a signatory, by disrespecting the 200-mile exclusive economic zones of the two countries, and of Malaysia and Brunei.

China has built military facilities in three of the islets and reefs, feigning at first to be doing so for fishermen of all nations. In pretense of true ownership, its navy patrols the seawaters, as if that would make genuine its unfounded nine-dash line map. Recently it clashed with Vietnamese sailors in the Paracels, and harassed Filipino marine surveyors and fishermen in the Recto Bank and Panatag Shoal.

The Philippines has challenged China to settle the claim once and for all before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. But China refuses. It knows it has no chance of winning. That’s why it uses instead armed might and guile, including putting up traitorous public officials and pseudo-journalists as spokesmen. Because the Philippines refuses to be cowered or fooled, China also employs trade and tourism embargoes. It plays deaf to world opinion about its undiplomatic breaks of UN pacts, and mobilizes vassal states to thwart those that stand up to it.

China chatters about a supposed peaceful economic rise and joint use of the disputed area. But all that aims only to avoid peaceful resolution. One cannot expect peace from an avaricious bully-squatter whose real intent is to build an invisible Great Wall across the Pacific Ocean.

Like a true professional squatter, China is ravaging the sea like there’s no tomorrow. Fake owners think not of conserving resources in the grabbed territory.
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