China warns Philippines, Japan: Chinese military can quickly to fight and win any battle

WASHINGTON – Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan has warned the Philippines and Japan not to test China’s resolve to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, saying the Chinese military can be assembled quickly to fight and win any battle.

The Chinese official raised the warning in a joint press conference in Beijing with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Chang said territorial sovereignty was a core Chinese interest on which “we will make no compromise, no concession, no trading.”

“Not even a tiny bit of violation is allowed,” he said.

A transcript of the Tuesday conference was released by the Pentagon in Washington.

For his part, Hagel, who is on a three-day visit to China, said the Philippines and Japan were long-time allies of the United States.

“We have mutual self-defense treaties with each of those two countries and we are fully committed to those treaty obligations,” he said.

Chang accused the Philippines and Japan of stirring up troubles for China. He said the Philippines did its math the wrong way.

Manila earlier submitted a memorial or written pleading to a United Nations tribunal in The Hague on its territorial disputes with Beijing when “the fact is that it is the Philippines who illegally occupy part of China’s islands and reefs in the South China Sea.”

China has made clear on several occasions that it does not accept and will not participate in the international arbitration initiated by the Philippines but stands ready to resolve the issue through bilateral negotiations, Chang said.

On the dispute between China and Japan over islands in the East China Sea, Chang said China has indisputable sovereignty over Diaoyu Islands (called Senkaku by Tokyo), Nansha Islands, and their adjacent waters.

China created an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea in November 2013, particularly over an area that includes islands at the heart of a bitter dispute with Japan.

There are fears in Manila and Washington that Beijing, which claims almost all of the South China Sea at the expense of the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia, among others, may be poised to also create a similar ADIZ over the South China Sea.

Referring to the ADIZ at the press conference, Hagel said every nation has the right to establish air defense zones, but not unilaterally with no collaboration or consultation.

“That adds to tensions, misunderstandings and could eventually add to and eventually get to dangerous conflict,” he said.

In later remarks at a the People’s Liberation Army National Defense University in Beijing, Hagel said America’s rebalance in the Asia Pacific was a reaffirmation of its long standing bonds of history, commerce and friendship throughout the region.

“That is not – must not be, nor will be – at the exclusion of strengthening our relationship with China,” he said.

Referring specifically to the Philippines and Japan, he said both were long-time allies of the United States.

“We have treaty obligations with those two nations and we will honor our treaty obligations. But make no mistake that disputes need to be resolved peacefully, diplomatically, within the framework of international order based on international law,” he said.

Grateful former enemy

At the commemoration of the 1942 Bataan Death March yesterday, the Japanese government yesterday expressed profound gratitude to the US and the Philippines for accepting Japan as friend, 72 years after its brutal conquest of the Philippines.

“Japan is grateful to the Filipinos and Americans for building peace within our hearts. We are happy to work with you for the common good of all,” Ambassador Toshinao Urabe said in his speech at the historic Mt. Samat Shrine in Pilar, Bataan.

After their surrender to the Japanese Imperial Army on April 9, 1942, thousands of Filipino and US prisoners of war were forced to march from Bataan to Capas in Tarlac in what came to be known as the Bataan Death March. Thousands of prisoners died along the way.

“Thanks to the efforts of our predecessors, we are now strategic partners, sharing common values,” he said.

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg expressed the same gratitude.

“We are thankful that in the end, peace reached our lands – the Philippines, Japan, and the US. Each step we make today toward further peace and prosperity, democracy and the rule of law is a way to honor their footsteps on this soil so long ago,” he said.

“It’s remarkable that not just our two nations, but three have forged close and enduring friendships, alliances and strategic partnerships based on democratic values and mutual respect that came from the blood and sacrifice of our reliant soldiers,” Goldberg said.

Tokyo, Washington and Manila – which have close military partnership – have been openly castigating China for its expansive claim over large areas in the West Philippine Sea and the East China Sea.

President Aquino, for his part, said that while Filipinos should not forget the lessons of the Death March, they should also cherish the blossoming of friendship between former enemies.

“It’s clear that we’re now friends – understanding and respecting each other, with our own aspirations and concerns. We understand each other’s thinking, culture and conviction,” Aquino said in a speech delivered in Filipino during the commemoration rites.

“We are helping each other to achieve our collective goal of preventing this dark episode in our history from happening again,” he said. - With Delon Porcalla - philSTAR

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