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China vows to defend island claim

A Chinese military newspaper has warned that the country's armed forces will not allow anyone to challenge China's sovereignty of a tiny island outcrop in the South China Sea. China and the Philippines have been involved in a tense standoff since April 10 when the Philippines Navy accused Chinese boats of fishing illegally in waters off the Scarborough Shoal, some 130 miles (200 kilometers) from the Philippines island of Luzon. They attempted to arrest the crew but were blocked by Chinese surveillance vessels deployed in the area. Both countries claim the shoal, which China calls Huangyan Island. Analysts believe the area is rich in mineral resources, natural gas and oil.

South China Sea: Asia's most dangerous waters "We want to say that anyone's attempt to take away China's sovereignty over Huangyan Island will not be allowed by the Chinese government, people and armed forces," said a report in the PLA Daily, the official newspaper of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China, according to state-run news agency Xinhua. "Don't attempt to take away half an inch of China's territory," it warned. Earlier this week, an editorial in China's state-run Global Times said the international community should not to be "completely surprised" if the standoff escalates into a military clash.

Peace will be a luxury if tensions continue to rise.


"Peace will be a luxury if tensions continue to rise," it added. The menacing tone appeared to echo comments from China's Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying following a meeting Monday with Alex Chua, Charge D'affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Beijing. Fu said China was not optimistic about the situation concerning Huangyan Island, and that China is fully prepared to respond to anything the Philippine side does to escalate the situation, according to a statement in Xinhua. Fu added that Chinese vessels would continue to be on alert around Huangyan because of the continuous provocation by the Philippine side, and that Chinese fishermen would be provided with "a positive environment to operate in their traditional fishing area." Meanwhile, Chinese officials on Thursday accused Manila of inciting its people to go on to the streets for demonstrations against China. Planned protests prompted Beijing to advise its citizens there to remain in doors, while Chinese travel agencies suspended Philippines tours, state media reported. "The Philippines has been repeatedly making strong-worded remarks over the Huangyan Island," said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei. "China hopes the Philippines will not take any actions to magnify the dispute in a way that may affect the relationship between the two countries. "China remains unchanged in insisting on diplomatic dialogue to solve the Huangyan Island dispute. We urge the Philippine side to make a positive response, and move back on the right track." Beijing and Manila are adamant their territorial arguments are justified. "They both have claims. China goes back centuries but the Philippines also says it has maps from the 18th century showing it belongs them," said Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt from the International Crisis Group. The Philippines government, which says the islands are well inside its 200-nautical mile exclusion zone, wants to resolve the dispute through international negotiation, KleineAhlbrandt told CNN. But she said China rejects this as it has a long-standing distrust of western-dominated mediators. "There are a dozen ships in a standoff there right now. Both sides are really using this for all it is worth, whipping up nationalistic sentiment -- what is needed is something to de-escalate the situation," she added.