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|Thursday, June 08, 2000, updated at 10:25(GMT+8)|
China Sets up South Sea Patrol ForceChina established its South Sea Marine Surveillance Force to complete a marine surveillance system and not to precede a military move in the sensitive area.
Officials with the State Oceanography Bureau Wednesday refuted an article on www.homeway.com.cn foreshadowing military action. The report said the surveillance force indicates "China's peace policy regarding the South China Sea disputes is about to end finally with the constant military moves by the Philippines and other countries in southeastern Asia.''
Li Liang, vice-director of the Law Enforcement Division of the China Marine Surveillance Force (CMSF), said the article strived for sensationalism by connecting the force with a lighthouse Viet Nam reportedly built on Tuesday on some submerged rocks.
"As we all know, China's policy toward the South China Sea is `shelving disputes and going for joint development','' Li said.
The surveillance force, he said, was established in November 1998 to protect China's rights in South China Sea and harvest resources there.
The surveillance operation also helps other countries do scientific research and enforce marine laws.
And, although the force is assigned to patrol China's inland seas, territorial waters continental shelf and exclusive economic zones, South Sea Marine Surveillance Force boats have rarely gone far into out to sea.
"After all, most marine pollution and marine resource damages take place just offshore,'' Li said.
Yu Feng, an official with the State Oceanography Bureau News and Information Office, said the force's three divisions -- namely the marine surveillance forces of North Sea, East Sea and South Sea -- were converted from law-enforcement teams throughout China's coastal waters.
Eight months after force was established, the East Sea Marine Surveillance Force officially adopted its new name in last July, while this May the South Sea force received its current name.
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