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China not to let South China Sea dispute worsen: retired admiral

2012/05/29 22:57:33

Hong Kong, May 29 (CNA) China will not aggravate the situation in the South China Sea after a recent dispute with the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal, a retired Taiwan Navy admiral said Tuesday.

China had the upper hand in the two-month standoff over the disputed Scarborough Shoal with the Philippines, and is expected to prevent the situation from worsening, Fei Hong-po said in a speech in Hong Kong.

Whether China can keep the South China Sea situation as a whole from deteriorating, though, will depend on how well the country handles the Scarborough Shoal issue, Fei added.

The United States wants to use the South China Sea conflict to emphasize its role in the region, especially when conflicts involve the Philippines and Vietnam, Fei added.

He noted that there are hawks in China's military, but said that at the moment, the Communist Party of China's top leaders still has control over the military.

As for whether Taiwan should cooperate with China to protect its sovereignty in the South China Sea, Fei said that in Taiwan's current political environment, this would be impossible.

"Under the current situation, Taiwan and China will do their own things. There is no way Taiwan's army will be willing to work with the People's Liberation Army," he said.

The South China Sea has always been Taiwan's territory and patrols in the region should be conducted on a regular basis, which will not cause any problems with China, Fei added.

Asked whether the two countries should talk about military confidence-building measures, Fei said that now is not the right time and that political talks need to take place before military negotiations can be established.

In addition, he continued, a cross-Taiwan Strait military confidence-building measures would be mostly symbolic from Taiwan's point of view.

One of the prerequisites for military confidence-building measures is that the two countries should be of equal power and only established when they are rival powers, such as the former Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War era, Fei explained.

In comparison, China is huge while Taiwan is tiny, said Fei, who served as deputy chief of the general staff in 2002.

(By Stanley Chang and C.J. Lin)