Tue, Jun 23, 2015 - Page 1 News List

Philippines to train with US, Japan

Reuters and AFP, MANILA and PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines

The Philippines is to hold separate naval exercises with US and Japanese forces this week on a Philippine island that is not far from the disputed Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), where China’s rapid creation of seven island outposts is stoking regional tensions.

Manila, which has one of the weakest navies in Asia, has stepped up its security cooperation this year in the wake of Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, not just with its ally the US, but also with Japan and Vietnam.

A Philippine military official said there was no plan for the Philippine, US and Japanese navies to hold combined exercises on Palawan Island, 160km from the Spratly Islands, although the drills could intersect, because Manila has limited naval assets.

The two-week exercises with the US began late last week. The two-day drills with Japan start today, officials said. Both are to take place in Philippine territorial waters, not part of the contested South China Sea.

China’s Xinhua news agency condemned what it said was Japan’s “meddling.”

“By muddying the waters in the South China Sea, Tokyo also aims to divert increasingly intensive global attention on Japan’s lack of remorse over its atrocities during World War II,” Xinhua said in an English-language commentary.

Tokyo has no territorial claims in the South China Sea, but it worries about becoming isolated should China dominate a waterway through which much of Japan’s shipborne trade passes.

China claims most of the South China Sea, while Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei have overlapping claims to some or all of the islands in the region.

Beijing last week said that some of its reclamation work in the Spratly Islands would be completed soon, but that it would continue to build facilities on the reefs it occupies.

It says the outposts will have undefined military purposes, as well as help with maritime search and rescue, disaster relief, environmental protection and navigation.

The Philippines is buying nearly 100 new patrol boats to protect its fisheries, an official said yesterday, in a substantial expansion from its current fleet of 20 as it responds to poaching by Chinese and Taiwanese vessels.

Most of the ordered vessels — 71 short-range boats for coastal patrols and 27 able to go further out to sea — are to be delivered this year, Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Asis Perez said.

“This is just fulfilling our mandate. Our country has eight times more sea area than land area. We have 36,000km of coastline and over 7,100 islands,” he told reporters.

Perez said the “law enforcement” boats would augment the agency’s 20 patrol boats, which protect the fisheries resources of one of the world’s largest archipelagos.

This story has been viewed 2486 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top