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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid