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[Philippines] A place called 'hope': the tiny island on the frontline of US-China tensions

发表于 2017-6-20 08:29 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
More than 100 Filipinos live 15 miles from one of Beijing’s most ambitious island bases in the South China Sea & {/ Y3 U8 D7 c5 g6 U' t. s' k
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https://www.theguardian.com/worl ... e-us-china-tensions1 Z  K. V; ?3 ~# N
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5 x( y# A4 c: k* P8 s5 EA Filipino soldier patrolling the shore of Pagasa island (Thitu Island) in the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea. Photograph: Reuters
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6 Y7 F; K# V, l! z  h! e3 ]$ GCarmela Fonbuena in Thitu
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  w, [/ @. T1 t# j+ J, HSunday 18 June 2017 04.12 BST First published on Sunday 18 June 2017 04.08 BST+ w0 _1 ?# g3 A
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On the horizon, the azure sea water stops and the white, concrete structures of the Chinese military base rise up.! K4 U+ j' j7 [; J; W% a. o

$ x, n8 i; }( p" s“Sometimes we get nervous because we are only civilians. If they invade the island, they can harm us. They can do whatever they want,” says Romeo Malaguit, a fisherman and father of two, who lives on the nearby Philippine-claimed island Thitu.
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: d( h; @$ {% CLocally known as Pag-asa, meaning hope in Tagalog, Thitu is a tree-studded settlement no more than 1.5km long and 800 metres wide. A dilapidated runway takes up almost half the area.2 o$ t  K6 h' ~# E& y' g
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It sits within sight of Subi reef, part of one of Beijing’s most rapidly developing military projects – a series of controversial giant bases across the South China Sea.- e1 u- E" Z, a( D  T

4 `' S! o! f+ F6 [; J0 gWith Donald Trump’s top adviser warning of an imminent war over these contested waters and China angry over US training exercises in the region, this tiny island could be one of the flashpoints for a potentially global and devastating conflict.: ?$ N1 N5 y+ C. q7 |9 w

" }: D; d2 a9 v4 TFew, if any, stretches of ocean are more heavily militarised by so many different governments. Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines claim parts of the South China Sea, with US backing. Beijing asserts ownership of most of the area through which about $5tn in ship-borne trade passes annually./ e) ^1 u: \9 ]' A, O' a  d
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Chinese structures and buildings on the man-made Subi reef in the Spratly group of islands, as seen from the Thitu Island. Photograph: Bullit Marquez/AP
2 T" m! n) F8 l, pOn 19 May, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte said China had threatened to go to war if he pushed the South China Sea issue. “Well, if you force this, we’ll be forced to tell you the truth. We will go to war. We will fight you,” Duterte quoted Chinese president Xi Jinping as saying at a meeting, without giving further details.; I' S7 U4 {2 I. z
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Within the past year, Subi reef has installed surface-to-air missile sites, reinforced fighter jet hangers and a 3km runway capable of handling some of the largest bombers in China’s airforce.
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0 G1 l  W, z& b* t5 c/ ~: QThitu’s residents know they must live by China’s rules to remain here, where the armed forces of a host of countries are in a dangerous dance with Beijing.
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“We are not being harassed,” said Roberto Del Mundo, the mayor. “The Chinese fish here near us. We can also fish, but only around our area. Our boats can’t go near [Subi reef]. Military planes are also shooed away if they get near.”! e1 h. x/ C+ e- k# ?& q8 ~# w
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There was a time when Filipino civilians lived here almost oblivious to the maritime dispute that sparks on-again-off-again tensions in the region.& D5 m" f7 C3 I3 Y( p

. S2 p9 ~- {1 W6 d, e& Z$ HThe settlers on Pag-asa mainly belong to two groups – former soldiers like Del Mundo who were once deployed here and came back to build a home, and residents of nearby mainland Palawan who accepted a job on the island.. G6 t. R+ t: k6 `

# C' J/ j: k2 l+ i& D* x4 f* {; tResidents receive food packages. There’s a school building for the children. And there is work at the municipal hall if they want luxuries such as cable TV.
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: \, a0 f! D- s2 y0 d, XThitu, one of the biggest naturally occurring islands in the disputed South China Sea, is now dwarfed by Subi reef, 6km long. Residents say it shines bright at night.
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Eugenio Bito-onon, a former mayor who now lives off the island, spoke of a period when fishermen could still go to Subi. Chinese officers, when they were in a good mood, occasionally welcomed Filipino fishermen inside the reef that previously had just a garrison, helipad and lighthouse.) y' O9 r' D+ t$ q1 K7 O! Z+ d

0 V6 f: P: ]  J“Our fishermen would wave at the Chinese officer and if he waved back, it means they could fish in the reef ... They just started shooing us away from Subi reef in recent years,” Bito-onon said./ h) G' t3 w3 O/ t# I
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Events have changed dramatically in the past five years. China signalled renewed aggressiveness in the South China Sea in 2012 when it took practical occupation of Philippine-owned Scarborough shoal in its bid to control the disputed seas.
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0 l6 O/ ~: w' U# K: C" kIt was an incident that prompted Manila’s legal territorial case against Beijing in The Hague. China’s island building followed.
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% f. P7 d$ X+ |& t  V/ _In July 2016, the court junked China’s sweeping claims, but Beijing said it does not recognise the ruling and a newly installed Duterte, closer to China than his predecessor, has not made much of the court verdict.
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& Z! Q7 E/ y0 v4 e# V' D) oIn April, he announced a plan to personally raise the Philippine flag on Thitu and fortify it with barracks in celebration of Independence Day on 12 June, in the area the country calls West Philippine Sea.0 [& r: J6 G' a) J+ o
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But a week later he cancelled. “Because of our friendship with China and because we value your friendship I will not go there to raise the Philippine flag,” Duterte said at the time.3 ~' Z/ H8 t# N0 e; Y, @1 o

1 R" k+ R4 j5 mHe instead sent his defence secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, to check on the situation in the island. His C130 plane received radio challenges from China four times.; s% c: i& V' O$ L0 U

% S5 V* @% y6 fHowever, it is not only China whose ships sometimes chase civilian boats. Thitu resident Aisa Balidan said she got a scare when a Vietnamese vessel tailed their boat a few months ago as she returned to the island from mainland Palawan.
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The residents consider these incidents isolated. They can always catch the next ship back to the mainland if they no longer want to live on the island. But why leave when jobs are scarce on the mainland and residents here get subsidies from government?. J- X% s# D% B3 t( F8 d

# F7 \! a- h# p4 A' v8 tStill, the danger sometimes crosses their minds, especially when they hear in the media about tensions nearby. And all the time, the scene is set for a larger conflict.
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Trump’s chief strategist at the White House, Steve Bannon, said months before he entered office that there was “no doubt” the US and China will fight a war within a decade over islands in the South China Sea.! E+ H# x$ r( X3 N; W: e$ N
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“We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years,” he said in March 2016. “There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face – and you understand how important face is – and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.”
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3 U' \( k. J, n! u3 o" aMore recently, secretary of state Rex Tillerson said the US would deny China access to the seven artificial islands. Experts warned any blockade would lead to war." N. ?% ]9 u) p9 L0 U' e* {5 {
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Residents of Thitu do not understand much about how Philippine presidents have constantly shifted their strategies on dealing with China. But, living on the frontline of the dispute, they can measure the success or failure based on what they see.
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; h, `3 D. |& Q1 N, g0 i7 ]* S2 E. ZThey see China turn reefs into cities while their runway in Thitu gets dilapidated over the years. The island doesn’t even have a pier or a harbour.
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1 n$ b- e7 `9 j3 e7 q8 g“We were the first to develop our island and build a runway. Now we are left behind,” said Bito-onon. “We are retreating while they are advancing. Our facilities are crumbling out of neglect while our neighbours improve their own.”/ o+ `. a2 J) [1 s' x0 ]0 R

* J! F/ Z: [3 x1 jCarmela Fonbuena is a senior reporter at Rappler.com

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 楼主| 发表于 2017-6-20 08:32 | 显示全部楼层
一个叫“希望”的地方是美中紧张局势一线的小岛3 V0 L% D; w, E
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0 `. x8 t( w# q( T- fCarmela Fonbuena在Thitu( U7 [5 p- ?9 D) A; n
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2017年6月18日星期日04.12 BST于2017年6月18日(星期日)首次发布04.08 BST
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+ I3 C& W* {' I在天际上,天蓝色的海水停止,中国军事基地的白色混凝土结构兴起。
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6 X1 v' s$ c8 Q# P- p* |“有时我们会紧张,因为我们只是平民。如果他们入侵岛上,可能会伤害我们。他们可以做任何他们想做的事情,“罗马诺·马拉吉特,一名渔夫和两个父亲说,他住在附近的菲律宾声称的岛屿图。
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# C- F3 E( s% ~# x6 v本地人称为Pag-asa,意为希冀在塔加路加,Thitu是一个不超过1.5公里长和800米宽的树木沉降。一个破旧的跑道占据了将近一半的面积。
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" W9 }$ x* I+ _$ P$ N. W$ U它坐落在北大最快速发展的军事项目之一的Subi礁石之中,这是南中国海一系列有争议的巨型基地。1 ~5 s; V: e" w* {

# _$ Y/ I, y& a7 l: v唐纳德·特朗普的高级顾问警告说,这场有争议的水域即将发生战争,中国对该地区的美国训练生气,这个小岛屿可能是潜在的全球性和毁灭性的冲突的闪点之一。
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( z3 e; c( c/ d3 j! F如果有的话,很多不同的政府军事化程度更高。越南,台湾,马来西亚,印度尼西亚,文莱和菲律宾要求美国支持南海的部分地区。北京宣称拥有这一地区的大部分地区,每年大约有5亿美元的船舶贸易通行证。7 P) V5 L5 z& P: c: f$ z$ R4 P

6 S% o& c% e8 R" O. B" i中国的建筑物和人造Subi珊瑚礁在南沙群岛的岛屿,从Thitu岛看到。照片:Bullit Marquez / AP
, `3 ^$ N' d$ q& B5月19日,菲律宾总统罗德里戈·杜特特(Rodrigo Duterte)表示,如果中国推动南中国海问题,中国威胁要战争。 “嗯,如果你强迫这个,我们就不得不告诉你事实。我们会去战争我们会打你的,“杜特特引用中国国家主席习近平的话说,没有进一步的细节。& H; v7 g7 _7 y# _7 N
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在过去一年中,Subi礁石已经安装了地对空导弹场,强化战斗机吊架和3公里的跑道,能够处理中国空军的一些最大的轰炸机。$ z- u: K5 c* N, v- b% _$ C
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市长罗伯托·德尔蒙多(Roberto Del Mundo)说:“我们没有受到骚扰。 “我们附近的中国鱼。我们也可以钓鱼,但只在我们的地区。我们的船不能靠近[Subi reef]。军事飞机如果靠近,也会被赶走。“
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1 s: m3 V) j" V0 y1 ~  ^' W8 |3 Y% G有一段时间,菲律宾平民生活在这里几乎不知道海事争端,引发了该地区的再次紧张局势。2 \: `7 l& b: j; j" E3 o5 v
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Pag-asa上的定居者主要属于两组,曾经部署在这里并返回建造家园的前军人,如Del Mundo,以及邻近的大陆巴拉望岛的居民,他们在岛上接受了工作。
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居民收到食物包。有一个孩子的学校建筑。如果想要有线电视等奢侈品,那么在市政厅里也有工作。" d; r* \% O2 J; K+ p

! @( e) ~$ g9 f- g% e* B1 A: V5 o8 l有争议的南中国海最大的自然发生岛屿之一的图腾现在与6公里长的Subi礁相差不多。居民说晚上发光明亮。
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! A& F7 I% A: q* J3 Q% q现在居住在岛上的前市长尤金尼奥·比托恩(Eugenio Bito-onon)谈到渔民仍然可以去苏菲的时期。中国军官心情愉快的时候,偶尔也欢迎菲律宾渔民在礁前,只有一个驻军,直升机停机坪和灯塔。. n2 x! d& O4 K5 j  N

  b: P& O$ J2 l7 o+ O0 J8 V“我们的渔民会挥舞中国官员,如果他挥手回来,这意味着他们可以在珊瑚礁里钓鱼...他们刚刚开始把我们从Subi礁石上赶走,”Bito-onon说。+ t$ W& I/ s3 G1 E& P! y

* x+ k) A7 H# u) H2 n/ f: Q9 B( W& r菲律宾所有的斯卡伯勒浅滩的行为占领,以控制有争议的海洋。这是一个事件,促使马尼拉在海牙对北京的法律领土案件。中国的岛屿建筑紧随其后。2016年7月,法院驳回了中国的大量索赔,但北京表示不承认这一裁决,而新设的德特特比他的前任更接近中国,并没有做出太多的法庭裁决。他宣布计划在六月十二日在该国称西菲律宾海域的地区,为菲律宾国旗提供菲律宾旗帜并加强营房,以庆祝独立日。一周后,他取消了这一点。 “由于我们与中国的友谊,因为我们珍视你的友谊,我不会去那里提高菲律宾国旗,”当时,特特特表示,他转而派了他的国防部长德尔芬·洛伦扎那来检查这个岛屿的局势。他的C130飞机四次受到中国的广播挑战。中国对南海和北韩的压力升高。阅读更多不仅是中国的船只有时候追赶民用的船只。泰国居民艾萨·巴里丹(Aisa Balidan)表示,当越南船只在几个月前从巴拉望岛返回岛屿时,越南船只离船后遇到恐慌。居民认为这些事件是孤立的。如果不再想要在岛上生活,他们可以随时把下一艘船运回大陆。但是为什么离开大陆的工作很少,居民在这里得到政府的补贴呢?广告,有时候会有危险的危险,特别是当他们在媒体上听到附近的紧张局势时。而且所有的时间都是为了更大的冲突而设置的。白宫首席策略师史蒂夫·班农(Steve Bannon)在上任前几个月说,毫无疑问,美国和中国将在十年之内打一场战争他说,南海的岛屿,“我们将在五到十年内在南海战争,”他说,在2016年3月,“毫无疑问。他们正在采取他们的沙滩,基本上是固定的航空母舰,并把导弹放在那些。他们在我们面前来到美国,你明白面子是多么重要 - 并说这是一个古老的领海。“最近,国务卿蒂尔森(Rex Tillerson)说,美国将否认中国进入七个人造岛。专家警告说,任何封锁都会导致战争。Thitu的居民对菲律宾总统如何不断改变与中国打交道的策略不太了解。但是,生活在争端的前线,他们可以根据他们所看到的来衡量成败。他们看到中国把礁石变成了城市,而这些年来他们在Thitu的跑道遭到破坏。岛上甚至没有码头或港口。“我们是第一个发展我们的岛屿并建立跑道的人。现在我们被遗弃了,“Bito-onon说。 “我们在进步的时候正在退缩。我们的设施摆脱了疏忽,而邻居改善自己。“Carmela Fonbuena是Rappler.com的高级记者
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发表于 2017-6-20 08:37 | 显示全部楼层
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