1. Offerings to the Spirits of the Dead
On Friday, a ceremony to honor the two earthquake (military) relief workers Yang Bo (杨波) and Li Tangdong (李堂东) was conducted at a funeral parlor in Meishan, Sichuan Province, reports China News Service (中国新闻网, via Huanqiu Shibao). The two are referred to as martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the rescue efforts in Lushan, Sichuan Province, which occurred on April 20.
Yang Bo, a platoon leader (probably around the rank of a lieutenant, with the 13th Army Group) died in an accident when his military vehicle got off a road due to a bursting tire and fell off a cliff.
2. Maritime Disputes with Japan
Japan has adopted a five-year blueprint for protecting maritime interests, partly in an effort to counter territorial claims by China and South Korea, reports The Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo). It suggests closer cooperation between Japan’s military and coastguard. Okinotorishima as well as other remote islands on what is defined as Japan’s borders reportedly are to play a role as port facilities according to the five-year plan plan, so as to protect interests in the nation’s exclusive economic zone. Methane hydrate, which could become a next-generation fuel, is among the undersea energy resources in the maritime regions in questions, writes Asahi Shimbun.
China’s Huanqiu Shibao quotes Japan’s Yomiuri Simbun on the same topic. According to Huanqiu (or its possibly rather loose rendition of Yomiuri’s coverage), Japan’s five-year blueprint calls for responsive strategies to Chinese vessels that enter the waters of the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands in Chinese). Rather than port facilities as described by the Asahi Shimbun, Huanqiu Shibao refers the plans for the remote islands as ones for resupply bases or depots (补给站). Okinotorishima is referred to as a “reef” (礁) while the Asahi Shimbun calls it an “island”. According to Huanqiu Shibao, the Japanese government, for wanting to protect its interests in resources, has begun to promote the protection of remote islands and the management of the legalization process [of Japan’s claims or rights].
In 2012, a research team from Tokyo University detected large quantities of rare earths beneath the seaground of Minami-Tori-shima‘s adjacent waters. It was then that the Japanese government decided to strengthen the protection of energy sources and natural resources in its exclusive economic zones.
Okinotorishima reef is said to be a southern Japanese atoll in the Pacific [don’t quote me on this – I’m not sure that this is what Huanqiu really says about the place in Chinese – JR]. In recent years, the Japanese government has spent huge amounts on creating man-made corals at these reefs, thinking of these atolls as “islands”, trying to declare sovereignty on this basis, taking the opportunity to expand their “territorial” waters and the range of the “exclusive economic zones”, to make the development of nearby marine resources more convenient.
As for the Okinotorishima reef, China believes that this is a reef, and not an island. Okinotorishima reef provides no base for human habitation, doesn’t sustain economic activity, and there is no basis to establish establish [i. e. claim] any connection between it and the continental shelf. On September 11, 2009, the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf said that a working group under the commission had commenced the handling of an application from Japan concerning the extension of the southern continental shelf into the Pacific. China has filed objections with the UN.
有关冲之鸟礁问题，中国方面认为冲之鸟是 岩礁而不是岛屿。冲之鸟礁不能供人类居住，也无法维持经济生活，设定大陆架没有任何根据。2009年9月11日，联合国大陆架界限委员会表示，该委员会下 属的一个工作小组已经着手处理日本提出的南太平洋大陆架延伸申请。中国已向联合国正式提交反对意见。
Huanqiu Shibao’s emoticon vote suggests a strong trend of anger among the traditionally nationalist readership – the option “I’m angry” rose from 160 to 181 within about thirty minutes. Clicks for “this is ridiculuous” stayed at 14.
3. Sino-Indian Border Conflicts
Meantime, Huanqiu Shibao has soothing news from the South:
China News Service, April 26 [published by Huanqiu Shibao on April 27] — Indian foreign minister Salman Khurshid answered questions from Indian media on April 25, concerning the confrontational incident on the Sino-Indian border, and said that the consultation mechanism on border issues had been started. He believed that this mechanism would find a solution for the issue in question, just as it had found solutions in the past.
Huanqiu Shibao quotes Salman Khurshid as saying that bilateral relations grown over many years shouldn’t break down by overemphasizing small issues and were just like some acne on a face which only required some ointment.
Kurshid was looking forward to his planned visit to China next month.
Correspondingly, only eleven clicks from the readership were made to express anger, while 374 clicks express delight. Still, 46 clicks find the article (or the news) ridiculous. Both the “delight” and the “ridiculous” numbers are increasing quickly. Those readers who take the trouble to comment appear to be less conciliatory though.
4. Emergency Radio Frequencies (older news)
On Monday, Central People’s Broadcasting Station (中央人民廣播電台, CPBS, now also known as China National Radio, but only the English name changed in 1998) started special emergency broadcasts in the wake of the Lushan earthquake. These were the first broadcasts of this kind, according to CPBS itself. A studio was established in the hardest-hit county of Lushan, broadcasting rescue information, expert interviews, news, psychological support and consolation, and practical information. Frequencies used were 9,800 kHz and 12,000 kHz on shortwave and 92.7 MHz on VHF/FM.
The 6th plenary session of the CCP’s 17th Central Committee*) had issued plans for such an emergency broadcasting system, and the plans were then included in the country’s 12th five-year plan, according to CPBS.
*) the same plenary session adopted the party’s cultural decision, in October 2011.