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Defence & Aerospace

China boasts of strategy to “recover” islands occupied by Philippines

Zhang Zhaozhong

Zhang Zhaozhong

The following is a translation of an interview on Chinese State TV. It does not necessarily represent the views of China Daily Mail, but is provided so readers can form their own views.

Recently, well-known military expert Major General Zhang Zhaozhong talked in a TV interview in Beijing about the current situation of dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea, and analysed China’s strategy in the South China Sea region. The following is what was said in the interview:

TV host: “Well, we have watched the footage and now let’s look at the big screen that shows the Chinese islands and reefs illegally occupied by the Philippines. All of us should remember that counting from the north, there are the Beizi Island, Feixin Island, Zhongye Island, Xiyue Island, Shuanghuangzhou Shoal, Mahuan Island, Nanyue Island and Siling Reef.

“What one has stolen has to be returned. No matter how long the Philippines have illegally occupied those Chinese islands and reefs, I believe that it cannot change the fact that those islands and reefs are inherent Chinese territories. However, what shall we do to counter those rude and barbarian acts of the Philippines?”

Zhang Zhaozhong: What should we do about those islands and reefs? I think that in the main we have done some things relatively successfully in dealing with the Philippines. Since the 1990s, the Philippines has done quite a few illegal and irrational things in its attempt to turn the Huangyan Island into its territory by means of presidential order, domestic legislation, and so on.

“Each time our Ministry of Foreign Affairs protested, but it refused to listen. In the meantime, it was busy doing this and that, such as sunk a boat there and conducting lots of patrols there. By April, 2012, an incident finally took place that it took initiative to detain Chinese fishermen by force; it sent troops to detain at gun point the Chinese fishermen who entered the lagoon to carry out normal fishing.

“Since then, we have begun to take measures to seal and control the areas around the Huangyan Island, seal and control continuously up till now. In the over one year period since then, there have been fishermen in the inside. Our fishermen are often there because there is lot of fish there. Fishermen go there in large ships and then sail small boats in the lagoon to fish. They can have shelter in the lagoon when there is a typhoon.

“The fishermen conduct normal production there. In the area around the island, fishing administration ships and marine surveillance ships are conducting normal patrols while in the outer ring there are navy warships. The island is thus wrapped layer by layer like a cabbage. As a result, a cabbage strategy has taken shape.

“If the Philippines wants to go in, in the outermost area, it has first to ask whether our navy will allow it. Then it has to ask whether our fishery administration ships and marine surveillance ships will allow it. Therefore, our fishermen can carry out their production safely while our country’s marine rights and interests as well as sovereignty are safeguarded. Is that not satisfactory?

“We can adopt this method elsewhere. We have not resorted to war and we have not forced the others to do anything, have we? You have invaded and then left. You have violated Chinese law and China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, haven’t you? Why did you point your guns at our fishermen? As you have first violated the law and pointed your guns at our fishermen, you would never be allowed to enter the area.

“We should do more such things in the future. For those small islands, only a few troopers are able to station on each of them, but there is no food or even drinking water there. If we carry out the “cabbage” strategy, you will not be able to send food and drinking water onto the islands. Without the supply for one or two weeks, the troopers stationed there will leave the islands on their own. Once they have left, they will never be able to come back.

“For many things, we have to grab the right timing to do them. Over the past few years, we have made a series of achievements at the Nansha Islands (the Spratly Islands), the greatest of which I think have been on the Huangyan Island, Meiji Reef (Mischief Reef) and Ren’ai Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal).

We have gained quite satisfactory experience about the ways to recover the islands and reefs and defend them. For the Nansha and Xisha (Paracel) Islands, we have established Sansha City to administrate them. That was a good step we have taken.

“The next step will be the strengthening of power and authority in implementing our law in conduct our administration. The further next step shall be the vigorous development there, including the development of economy, tourism, marine fishery and marine protection.

“We have to do much more work there, and coordinate various efforts. We should not rely only on military effort. In the military perspective, fighting is the last resort while before it there must be production on a large scale and with high enthusiasm and large-scale production on the sea. That is why I say that we have to create such an environment and atmosphere.”

Editor’s Note: This story was exclusive to China Daily Mail, and was later used as the foundation for a major feature story in the New York Times (A Game of Shark and Minnow).

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Zhang Zhaozhong: To recover the islands occupied by the Philippines, the ‘cabbage’ strategy is enough” (translated from Chinese by Chan Kai Yee)

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55 thoughts on “China boasts of strategy to “recover” islands occupied by Philippines



    Posted by Dondon Soriano | May 30, 2013, 1:10 am
  2. peeples lepublic of chaynaa…… idiots with a lot of money but still idiots anyway


    Posted by pusa kain | May 30, 2013, 1:14 am
  3. The Chinese are no legal bases to invade any territories especially west Philippine sea….. don’t attempt or will defend it by force!!!!


    Posted by RedMira | May 30, 2013, 6:16 am
  4. “Undisputable” sovereignty without basis? No evidence or whatsoever? China rebuffing Philippine map of 1874 when their maps indicate that their territory by 1904 is only up to Hainan to the South. No more food China that’s why you invade other countries? Unsustainable growth at the expense of your people and other countries? The CPC might be rolling their heads not knowing where to feed their people by not invading other countries.


    Posted by Irrational Chinese | May 30, 2013, 9:29 am
  5. most stupid territorial claim in the history of the human race..


    Posted by apophis | May 30, 2013, 9:45 am
  6. When the ITLOS ruling comes out. let us see who will be like a cabbage! Go ahead and invade. 20% of the US Navy are manned by Filipinos. Just to give you an example, USS Washington, is manned by 800 Fil-Ams. Do you think they will sit idly and see you chinks rape the hapless people in Spratly’s? Try it and you’ll see. Maybe you need a good spanking. Keep laughing….


    Posted by santi | May 30, 2013, 2:11 pm
  7. It is very much clear that based on existing laws of the sea, China is over extending its territory illegally and invading the territorial waters of my country since we have a modest maritime security capability. Essentially, it reflects China’s hegemony and greed, which is not acceptable to peace loving countries. Chinese greed in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea will result in China’s downfall in the end…


    Posted by Mark Calabia | May 30, 2013, 2:20 pm


    Posted by Junn Evangelista | May 30, 2013, 3:25 pm
  9. China is a signatory to UNCLOS. why not honor it? China is claiming even territories or waters at 200 nautical-miles EEZ.


    Posted by Gemma Kim | May 30, 2013, 6:37 pm
  10. Soon they will claim HA-WAI, PA-LAO, YU-ES-EY, TZU-PI-TE, etc. on the basis that one or more syllables sounds like mandarin/fokien.


    Posted by Aaron | May 30, 2013, 8:59 pm
  11. Greed. A certified greedy country – China.


    Posted by MarJoe | May 30, 2013, 9:13 pm
  12. Chinese is dreaming. How on earth do they own these reef, shoals and islands when they never were there before. Words does not mean anything. The Filipinos has been fishing at that place for decades, long before the Chinese claim it. Wanna fight?


    Posted by Henry E. Samonte | May 30, 2013, 9:29 pm
  13. Lucio Tan, Henry Sy, Gokongwei had long invaded the Philippines. Nowadays, not only Chinese fishermen started the so-called “scabage” strategy, but also Chinese vendors who are now controlling Divisoria, Quiapo and Baclaran….Let these supposed “Chinoys” defend these islands…


    Posted by Glenn | May 31, 2013, 8:06 am
  14. You Chinese are idiots. You refuse to elevate the matter to the United Nations because it is very clear that the disputed islands are under the territory of the Philippines. Your General Zhang Zhaozhong should read the provision of the UN UNCLOS which China, itself, has signed.

    Let the UN decide the issue. If not, you are bullies who always want to get what you want no matter what the cost. China is becoming greedier because it’s quite apparent that it cannot support its more than 1 billion people with standard cost of living, it resorts to LANDGRABBING basing only on historic right. What? WHEN and what part of history did you own the islands? 1,000 years ago? You are a signatory to the UNCLOS, you should HONOR it. If you cannot, then do the Japanese Harakiri and kill yourself!


    Posted by Juan de la Cruz | May 31, 2013, 1:15 pm
  15. tarantado mga chinese na yan. ang Pilipinas pa pala ang nang angkin para sakanila mga gago. economic development oh pagnanakaw? then their military strength will take place after the theft! fucking chinese strategy disrespecting the people and showing the whole world that they are such an evil minded motherfuckers!


    Posted by Mai Esguerra Padilla | May 31, 2013, 1:42 pm
  16. why dont they claim taiwan first!.. because they cant! this is what we have to deal with bc of regan n bush era wanted to develop china.. and bc the ph gov care more abt their bank accnt not the people


    Posted by Emmanuel Gonzales M | May 31, 2013, 2:15 pm
  17. China should wake up from these terrible land grabbing! This is not a nation like thing to do in this 21st century. Everything has normalized since the last war. And the emphasis for territorial disputes on sea and oceanic areas including reefs, atolls and any land formations within it is the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone honored by UNCLOS to maritime and archipelagic nations. Why can’t you just move on and live by it? If you want fish, then buy it from us, If you want gas and oil then pay for it? If you base these territories on your historical maps, then that is really absurd. It will just create more disputes in other parts of the world. Wake up and be a responsible Nation in this ever smaller world.

    In the end we will still be your neighbor and whatever you will do, you are not safe!


    Posted by Michael Sullesta | May 31, 2013, 5:10 pm
  18. form of bullying plain and simple….im a simple filipino who earn a minimum wage…but when the time comes to defend my country i will give up everything and fight those chinese let them start a war…we filipinos are used to suffering we have nothing to lose…. one thing i cannot tolerate is disrespect to my native land by invaders and opportunist….


    Posted by Igzz Syzygy | May 31, 2013, 7:59 pm
  19. Fuck you china and your people ./.


    Posted by fuck you more | May 31, 2013, 8:11 pm
  20. Chinese communists are busy in their business of looking for areas to provide food to its very large population. They may have weigh the possibility before hand, that small countries like ours would be too scared to protest them. But, they forgot to study the history of countries who went into military adventurism. “Karma”, a very powerful word would eventually catch-up with this kind of military adventurism. All countries who choose this path eventually failed, suffered and repented. I pity the next generation of communist chinese because of these actuation of their present leaders. Though they still have time to reconsider and instead join the community of countries who are embracing peaceful co-existent. REMEMBER, we only have ONE home and all nation should recognize the symbiotic relationship necessary to protect this planet we called EARTH…The greediness of one, even how powerful, would result to imbalance that would eventually destroy us all…nymbram


    Posted by marbyn f. babiera | June 1, 2013, 10:38 am
  21. Hell! You Chinese are dumb. The Filipinos know where they stand. You are all are just trying to get around everything by force and war mongering. China should be nuked by the US and Russia, so that the world is a better place.


    Posted by Martin Ilyushin | June 2, 2013, 8:38 am
    • As an American with interest in the Philippines, let me be the first to say that Filipinos should handle this themselves. DO not come looking to the US to fight your battles. We have seen what happens afterwards. We had two very nice bases in the Philippines and you all gave us the boot. So, you first. We will hang back and come in if things go badly. But you need to risk your lives before we risk ours.


      Posted by Dan | April 16, 2017, 12:03 am
  22. nobody in all history of nonsense does a nation draw a line in the water way far from them to the other side of the coasts and called them theirs and none has accepted that thing.


    Posted by jonatzragragio | June 3, 2013, 5:53 pm
  23. yo country of fakes! (china) just keep an eye on your citizens…


    Posted by anton | June 14, 2013, 12:29 am
  24. Not surprising, considering the party still wants to “Unite the Motherland” by annexing Taiwan. And while they’re talking about “stolen land”, shall we discuss the issue of the provinces of Tibet and Xinjiang, hmm?


    Posted by storiesbywilliams | June 16, 2013, 7:34 am
  25. China keeps on picking a fight with its neighbors(Japan, Philippines, India, Vietnam,etc)…Tibet is not China, Uyghur is not China..even Hong Kong hates China..if ever i saw those high chinese officials walk in my land…im going to grind them to ashes..


    Posted by damnyouchina | October 9, 2014, 6:02 am


    Posted by William Ford | April 13, 2017, 3:06 pm
  27. FUCK YOU BOY..


    Posted by William Ford | April 13, 2017, 3:06 pm
  28. You China pertaining to Beijing those Island at reef were already occupied by the Philippines soldiers are under Exclusive Economic Zone by the Philippines how come WTF… CHINA


    Posted by Enald | April 14, 2017, 10:05 am
  29. Why dont you chingchong dont pull the trigger? Lets just get to war you dogs!


    Posted by Chingchong | April 14, 2019, 1:31 am
  30. Then get out of our country illegal chinese workers


    Posted by Dong | April 14, 2019, 2:04 pm


    Posted by ANTI-CHHINA | April 15, 2019, 10:07 am
  32. This actions are more barbaric and bullying gesture of fucking chinese officials and there will be a time you will suffer the consequence of your stupidity with all these you will loose everything you robbed from us… and you will go back to your miserable life..after this administratiom which became your puppet…We Filipinos are peaceful nation, however, never been afraid of war,. You infidels may try to invade our land but that won’t be so easy, we wiil remove your balls up to your gut..burn you to ashes!


    Posted by Antonio Luna | April 16, 2019, 8:46 pm


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