News / Asia

China Undertakes Massive Island Naming Campaign

South China Sea Territorial Claims
South China Sea Territorial Claims
The Chinese government, in an attempt to press claims of sovereignty over thousands of small islands and islets, is giving them official names, according to the state news agency Xinhua.

China has already given names to 1,660 islands and islets and plans to name an additional 1,664 by August of next year, according to the Xinhua report. Provincial authorities are also working on a local island census and will compile information with names and locations of the islands and islets by the end of April 2013.

China counts more than 7,300 islands and islets measuring 500 square meters or larger, the report said.

According to Jacques deLisle a University of Pennsylvania law professor and expert on Chinese law, under generally accepted principles of international law, the way a nation claims sovereignty over uninhabited or sparsely inhabited territory is to exercise sovereignty over it, meaning populating it with nationals, establishing effective government over the people who live there and building an infrastructure.

Another, weaker form of exercising sovereignty, he said is “is reflected in the periodic stationing of hapless People’s Liberation Army soldiers on Mischief Reef (a reef in the Spratly Islands) and the dispatching of a garrison this summer to one of the larger landforms in the Paracel Island (Xisha in Chinese) group.”

Since many of these newly named islands and islets cannot support even that level of population, these forms of exercising sovereignty are impractical there, said deLisle.

“This new and ongoing announcement of ‘naming’ is a still-more abstract, weak or thin form,” he said. “That is, it is better than nothing and is a way of asserting sovereignty. It does little to settle the issue, but it can, of course, be provocative to rival claimants who understandably fear that such moves, left unchallenged, can move the needle in favor of the more assertive party and thus feel compelled to push back.”

Taylor Fravel, an expert on Chinese foreign policy and security at MIT, says the naming policy is “symbolic.”

“Basically, this is about demonstrating sovereignty over undisputed islands that litter the Chinese coast, he said. "Most of these are uninhabited and best described as rocks. It is not really about establishing sovereignty, as no one else claims them.”

News of the island naming comes amid growing tensions over the sovereignty of numerous islands in the East China Sea and South China Sea.

China is currently embroiled in an escalating dispute with Japan over islands called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

On Tuesday, Japan said it spotted seven Chinese naval ships near one of the disputed islands, as tensions between the two Asian powers remain high. So far there have been no clashes.

In the South China Sea, China is involved in several territorial disputes, including the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines; the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam; the Pratas Islands, which are claimed by China and Taiwan; the Macclesfield Bank, which is claimed by China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam; and the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by China, Taiwan and the Philippines.

The islands are contested because of suspected large reserves of oil, natural gas, minerals and fisheries in the areas.

China has been very assertive in staking its claims recently, leading to increased tensions with its neighbors.

Last July, China established a military garrison called Sansha City on one of the Spratly islands.

"The establishment of Sansha City is a wise decision by the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee to safeguard national sovereignty and security, to strengthen the protection of resources and overall development in the South China Sea," said Xiao Jie, the First Mayor of the new Sansha City.

Beijing plans to use its Sansha base to increase patrols in waters claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: nhan thai from: baltimore MD
October 21, 2012 12:09 AM
you see ! to be peaceful , friendly , and good neighbors resolving the disputes in south china sea by taking over the islands without agreement or consent from the owners of island , and established a new city which include the whole sea is nicest china , if any1 is against china , china is bullying that one rite then , in fact china killed 70 vietnam soldiers in 1988 , use its force to bully and take over island from philippines in this april .


by: noble1853 from: Philippines
October 18, 2012 6:28 AM
China makes territorial dispute with all its neighboring countries and tries to steal those territories.
China is an aggressor and burglar and sick man of Asia.

As long as China is an autocratic nation and has no democracy it doesn't stop being an evil nation.


by: Anonymous
October 17, 2012 5:23 AM
World leaders of industrial and commerce are thinking China as a giant pot of money and follow them whatever they want. OK They clog your mouths by his cheap labor property and point everywhere they want and sent their troop. From Tibet to all over the world as well as OIC. Rest of the world are weak and no ability to act against them. UN can tell what? Their alliances are overwhelm UN and all International Groups. Muslim OIC only 57 countries. Rhey have about half of votes. Like Philippine, They will announce soon as an independent country Islamic country. Even small but have a vote. World is trouble, Where are the gods are sleeping.?


by: Ranchho from: Mainland China
October 17, 2012 3:55 AM
Mainland China & Taiwan's territorial claims are totally the same. It's because Taiwan(the Republic of China) represented China in the international arena before the authority was kicked out of the UN, while now the P. R. China( Mainland) represented China. So when China and Taiwan are mentioned at the same time on those territorial disputes, it can be very misleading and give people a kind of feeling that Mainland and Taiwan seem to be the territorial rivals.


by: Clueless
October 17, 2012 12:49 AM
Okinawa islands chain is very long, look like a barrier. So no surprise China is so assertive. Smile.


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
October 16, 2012 8:39 PM
China looks have a huge tongeu sticking out to southern open sea. Asian rivai claimants, let's unite together and pull out this tougue.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid