A small group of islands in the South China Sea has been getting media attention over the past months because China, the Philippines, Viet Nam and other countries are claiming ownership of the potentially gas, mineral and oil-rich archipelago.
Internationally-known as the Spratly Islands or Spratlys, the uninhabited reef lies off the coasts of the Philippines' Palawan province, Malaysia's Sabah state and Viet Nam's Khánh Hòa province. Click here to see its geographic location.
Known as Nansha Islands in China, the communist country expressed its opposition to involve countries outside the region and strongly supports friendly dialogue between claiming parties, Xinhua News said.
According to the foreign affairs ministry, China was the first to discover, name, develop trade activities and exercise territorial claims over the islands. The book "Records of Rarities" [Yiwu Zhi] by Yang Fu of the East Han Dynasty (23-220 A.D.) said, "There are islets, sand cays, reefs and banks in the South China Sea, the water there is shallow and filled with magnetic rocks or stones," [Zhanghai qitou, shui qian er duo cishi.]
Meanwhile, the Philippines plans to rename South China Sea to West Philippine Sea, PDI said.
A military spokesman said, "When people keep referring to the South China Sea, there is a subliminal message that this sea belongs to a country whose name appears in the name. We in the Philippines should call it West Philippine Sea."
Known in Manila as Kapuluan ng Kalayaan, the government was pleased to know that Uncle Sam is on its side over the issue.
Initially staying in the middle, Washington has sided with Manila when US emissary Harry Thomas said yesterday, "I wanna assure you that on all subjects, we, the United States, are with the Philippines. The Philippines and the United States are strategic treaty allies. We are partners. We will continue to consult and work with each other on all issues, including the South China Sea and Spratly Islands," Malaya reported.
The Philippines and the US will hold military drills near the controversial islands shortly.
Earlier, I reported that a governor in one of the provinces urged the Filipinos to boycott China-made products as an act of protest against Beijing's bullying, which was widely contradicted by the public.
In Viet Nam, the attached YouTube video shows military exercises are active there as it accuses the world's second largest economy of causing tension in the region.
A word of war has been brewing for the past weeks as each side claims intrusion of its water territories in the Paracel and Spratly Islands, which is known locally as Quần Đảo Trường Sa.
Anti-Beijing demonstrations were staged in Hanoi as the people claim ownership of both island groups.
In Taiwan, a dzMM report said today, it will conduct military drills in the disputed region.
Other countries that are involved in the territorial dispute are Brunei and Malaysia (Kepulauan Spratly).
Details of this report here.