China to build military garrison in West Philippine Sea-A A +A
Sunday, July 22, 2012
MANILA - The People's Republic of China is set to form a military garrison in the newly established Sansha City in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In an report posted on the official website of China’s Ministry of National Defense, it said the Central Military Commission has approved the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to form and deploy a military garrison in the city of Sansha.
Last June 21, China had announced the establishment of Sansha City, which is a prefectural-level city that administers the three disputed island groups of Nansha (Spratly Islands), Xisha (Paracel Islands), and Zhongsha (Macclesfield Bank), as well as their surrounding waters.
The garrison command will be a division-level command under the PLA's Hainan provincial sub-command, which is responsible for managing the city's national defense mobilization, military reserves, and carrying out military operations, the report said.
The military garrison will also be under the dual leadership of the Hainan provincial sub-command and the city's civilian leaders.
The report came despite a formal diplomatic protest lodged by the Philippine government against the establishment of Sansha City.
“The establishment of Sansha City, as the extent of the jurisdiction of the city, violates Philippine territorial sovereignty over the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc and infringes on Philippine sovereign rights over the waters and continental shelf of the West Philippine Sea,” the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs said in its protest.
Bajo de Masinloc or the Scarborough shoal was the center of a months-long standoff between China and the Philippines. The standoff ended in mid-June when President Benigno Aquino III ordered the pullout of Philippine vessels from the shoal.
The Philippines has been claiming portions of the Spratly Islands, as well as the Scarborough Shoal, which is part of the Macclesfield Bank.
China has since said it has sovereign rights to all the South China Sea, believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits, including areas close to the coastlines of other countries and hundreds of miles from its own landmass.
Other countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also have overlapping claims in the area. (HDT/Sunnex)