Philippines to boost defense, won’t yield to China

Posted on July 25, 2012

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — President Benigno Aquino III said Monday that the Philippines won’t back down in a South China Sea dispute with China and that his country’s military will soon get dozens of new aircraft and ships for maritime defense.

Aquino announced in his annual state of the nation address that more than 40 military aircraft — including attack helicopters and two newly refurbished C-130 cargo planes — and other weapons would be delivered in the next two years to bolster Philippine military muscle amid renewed territorial tensions in the South China Sea.

A second former U.S. Coast Guard cutter is to arrive soon from the United States, following a refurbished cutter that was relaunched by the Philippine navy last year as its largest and most modern warship.

Washington has also provided $30 million to strengthen the Philippine military in addition to helping establish a national coast watch center to help protect the country’s 36,000-kilometer (22,370-mile) coastline, Aquino said.

But he stressed that the Philippines hopes to forge a peaceful solution that will be acceptable to China.

A standoff erupted in April between Chinese and Philippine ships at Scarborough Shoal, which both countries claim. The territory is called Huangyan Island in China and Bajo de Masinloc in the Philippines. Aquino withdrew his country’s ships from the area last month as tensions with Beijing escalated, but Chinese government ships have stayed.

Some Philippine lawmakers have suggested that the Aquino administration tone down its rhetoric and quietly negotiate a compromise with China. A senator has described the lopsided feud as a clash between a mosquito and a dragon.

“There are those who say that we should let Bajo de Masinloc go. We should avoid the trouble,” Aquino said in his nationally televised speech before Congress. “But if someone entered your yard and told you he owned it, would you agree? Would it be right to give away that which is rightfully ours?”

“I do not think it excessive to ask that our rights be respected, just as we respect their rights as a fellow nation in a world we need to share,” Aquino said, referring to China.

Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei also have conflicting claims in the South China Sea. Many fear the resource-rich and busy waters could spark Asia’s next major armed conflict.

China, meanwhile, on Monday named the mayor and other officials of a new city it established last month under its southernmost Hainan province to administer all the disputed territories it claims in the South China Sea, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xiao Jie was named mayor of Sansha city, which will have a military presence, Xinhua said.

Vietnam and the Philippines have protested the city’s establishment.

About 6,000 police officers were deployed to secure the House of Representatives, where Aquino spoke, and nearby roads. Several people were injured when riot police clashed with thousands of left-wing and trade union protesters who were seeking higher wages, land reform and a halt to alleged human rights violations.

AP

McCain warns China over move on dispute islands

An aerial photo shows Thitu Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea in 2011. US Senator John McCain warned Tuesday that China was “unnecessarily provocative” in saying it will establish a military garrison on disputed South China Sea islands, and called for a multilateral solution to the dispute.

US Senator John McCain warned Tuesday that China was “unnecessarily provocative” in saying it will establish a military garrison on disputed South China Sea islands, and called for a multilateral solution to the dispute.

Beijing announced Monday its troops will operate from Sansha in the Paracel Islands, one of two archipelagos in the South China Sea that are claimed by both China and Vietnam. The move is likely to stoke further tensions in the region.

“The decision by China’s Central Military Commission to deploy troops to islands in the South China Sea, which are also claimed by Vietnam, is unnecessarily provocative,” the Republican McCain said in a statement.

He said other action by China including its appointment of legislators to govern such disputes “only reinforces why many Asian countries are increasingly concerned about China’s expansive territorial claims, which have no basis in international law, and the possibility that China will attempt to impose those claims through intimidation and coercion.”

The actions by Beijing “are disappointing and not befitting a responsible great power,” he said.

“We must continue to urge all parties with territorial claims in the South China Sea to seek a peaceful, multilateral resolution that is based on international law.”

Beijing did not say when the garrison would be established.

Disputes have flared in recent weeks, with Vietnam and the Philippines criticizing what they call Chinese encroachment.

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Posted in: Politics