China has decided to establish a military garrison in the disputed South China Sea, a reassertion of the Peoples Republic’s claim over the resource rich waters that has already strained its relations with its neighboring countries and the United States.
According to the Chinese defense officials, their forces garrison will be set up in Sansha city in the Paracel Islands, a city established recently to oversee the area and one of the 2 parcel islands claimed by both China and Vietnam.
“The garrison command will be a division-level command under the PLA's Hainan provincial sub-command, responsible for managing the city's national defense mobilization, military reserves and carrying out military operations,” according to the Chinese defense ministry's website. “The PLA's Sansha Garrison Command will be under the dual leadership of the Hainan provincial sub-command and the city's civilian leaders.”
The military garrison for Sansha city was endorsed as 1,100 Chinese inhabitants voted in favor of a law that empowers the Chinese military to supervise the region. However, the timetable for establishment of the garrison has yet to be announced.
China’s announcement to assign Sansha as its garrison city to oversee the Paracel and Spratly Islands sparked protests in the capital of Vietnam. The protestors included parents with toddlers and seniors who reportedly resisted police requests to go away and evaded fences set up to prevent entrance to an area where the Chinese embassy is situated.
The Chinese decision adjoins fresh endeavors by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines and Brunei to establish power over the disputed islands. Although it may possibly enrage other plaintiffs in the South China Sea, yet Beijing appears resolute to set up military posts in all its administrative districts.
“In order to show its seriousness, just like any other administrative area, China set up a military unit there,” said Arthur Ding, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Taiwan, according to the Business Week. “It has nothing to do with combat preparation.”
Relationship between China and the Philippines strained after a face-off over the Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by both parties. Besides, the South China Sea disputes ignited arguments at an ASEAN regional meeting at the start of this month.
Meanwhile, the opposition party in Philippine is reportedly pressurizing President Benigno Aquino to make it certain that his government has a growing dispute with Beijing over territorial disputes under command.