In the midst of the furor over Hainan province’s new fishing regulations covering nearly sixty percent of the South China Sea, an unnamed Chinese writer penned an article in the Chinese-language publication Qianzhan (Prospects) arguing that China would recover Zhongye Island by force during 2014 as part of a long-term naval expansion plan.
The article likely would have attracted little attention outside China until a summary was translated into English by Chan Kai Yee (who is now often mistakenly listed as the original piece’s author). The summary was published by the China Daily Mail on January 13 under the headline, “China and the Philippines: The reason why a battle for Zhongye (Pag-asa) Island seems unavoidable.”
It is common for retired Chinese military officers and civilian ultranationalists to write about the South China Sea and threaten the Philippines and Vietnam with military action for “stealing” Chinese territory. The Qianzhan article cites unnamed “experts” that the People’s Liberation Army Navy has drawn up a detailed combat plan to seize Zhongye Island this year because of its strategic significance.