Manila Philippines – Former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos recently stated that the Philippines was in a very unique position now to be the mediator between the US and China because of our cultural ties. We should take care of our advantage of being in between the US and China. It is a great advantage that we can even prevent any shooting war.
Recent pronouncements by both China and the United States have been hardening where the risk of miscalculation could lead to an unavoidable military engagement. The United States has clearly stated that it will ensure freedom of navigation within the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea. President Obama recently announced that the United States supports the Philippines in the peaceful resolution of conflicts and its case in the Hague. China on the other hand continued to proclaim its absolute sovereignty in the South China Sea and has repeatedly stated that China is within its rights to develop their outcrops and areas in their actual control.
Pronouncements made by Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte may have disturbed some US officials when he stated that the Philippines cannot go against China and that it was the US fault that China has been able to develop its outposts there. Duterte said that if he becomes President he will not go into a shooting war with China.
ASEAN Foreign Ministers as well British, Australian and Japanese governments have raised concerns about the actions of China in the South China Sea. The United States have responded by sending a small fleet of combat ships to the area and ensure the safety of fishermen from all claimant nations against China.
For his part, President Benigno Aquino III has always stressed the Philippines stand that it will abide by the arbitration process under the UNCLOS.
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FROM MALAY MAIL ONLINE
BEIJING, March 7 — China’s fishermen operating in the South China Sea give proof of the country’s maritime rights and interests, a government official said today, referring to ships on the frontlines of China’s push to assert its claims in disputed waters.
China has come under fire from the United States and its allies in recent months over its land reclamation activities in the South China Sea’s disputed Spratly archipelago.
Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea, through which US$5 trillion (RM20.47 trillion) in ship-borne trade passes annually, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims.
Luo Baoming, the Communist Party boss of the southern island province of Hainan, made the comments during the annual session of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC).
“If it can be said that that we want to safeguard China’s rights and interest in the South China Sea, fishermen, because they have been living and surviving on fishing for the past thousand years, have been proof of our rights and interests,” Luo said, in response to a Reuters question.
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BRP Tagbanua of the Philippine Navy on a logistics resupply run
Philippine Navy troop transport and re-supply operations in the vicinity of Hasa-hasa (Half Moon) Shoal was harassed by Chinese naval and maritime surveillance ships.
According to information obtained by The STAR, BRP Laguna was sailing from Rizal Reef to Lawak Island when five Chinese vessels appeared and made hostile maneuvers before midnight of Feb. 5 up to dawn of Feb. 6.
Aside from the two gray ships and three white Chinese ships, two Chinese helicopters also hovered over the BRP Laguna,” said an informed source.
“The captain ordered the shutting down of lights inside the ship and nobody was allowed among us aboard to use flashlights even if we needed to go to the comfort room,” one of the passengers of the Navy ship said.
The Chinese vessels later dropped anchor not far from the mooring area of BRP Laguna in the vicinity of Pag-asa Island.
(This news is from Tankler News at tankler.com)