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Notes: Spratleys, Sabah, China, USA, Vietnam, Philippines

China

China to neighbors: Stop oil search in Spratlys – (As of 6/9/2011)

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) China warned Asian neighbors Thursday to stop searching for oil near the disputed Spratly Islands and vowed to assert its sovereignty over the potentially petroleum-rich territory in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) despite rival claims.

China and the Philippines have swapped diplomatic protests over the islands, with Filipino officials accusing Chinese forces of intruding into Manila-claimed areas six times since February and of firing shots in at least one incident. Beijing denied the allegation Thursday and said it would use violence only when attacked.

Philippines

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/3845/palace-reiterates-peaceful-resolution-to-spratlys-row-but-dangles-us-card

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang has reiterated its commitment to the resolution of the Spratlys dispute with China and other claimants “in the most diplomatic and most peaceful way possible” but did not discount the possibility of US involvement if the situation would worsen.

“Hopefully, it doesn’t get to that point because, again, we are committed to the resolution of the issue in the most diplomatic and the most peaceful way possible,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said on radio Saturday.

 

Vietnam

Vietnam plans live-fire drill after China dispute
(June 10, 2011)

HANOI, Vietnam—A squabble over territory in the South China Sea escalated Friday when Vietnam announced a live ammunition drill in an apparent response to China’s demand that the Vietnamese halt all oil exploration in the area.

The heated verbal clash between the two communist neighbors comes amid a similar spat between China and Philippines earlier in the week over another disputed area of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), where several countries are eyeing potentially rich oil and gas reserves.

Vietnam said Friday its Navy would carry out two exercises totaling nine hours Monday in an area off the country’s central Quang Nam province. The announcement posted on the state-owned Northern Maritime Safety Corp.’s website warned boats and ships to stay out of the area. It was the first time Vietnam has issued such an alert about conducting maritime drills.

It came a day after China and Vietnam traded diplomatic punches, with each demanding that the other stay out of waters they claim. The two countries have a long history of maritime scraps in disputed parts of the South China Sea near the Spratly and Paracel islands, but the recent row has sparked an unusually hostile response from Hanoi.

On Thursday, China accused Vietnam of illegally entering its waters and endangering its fishermen’s lives. Hours earlier, Vietnam had slammed China for interfering with its seismic survey off the country’s central coast, saying the Chinese fishing boat supported by two patrol vessels had damaged an exploration cable on a survey boat hired by state-owned PetroVietnam.

Vietnam said it was the second time China had hindered the operation of an oil and gas exploration boat in two weeks, adding that its actions were “completely premeditated” and accusing it of flaring regional tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

Spratlys, Sabah, Philippines

USA

US Destroyer sent to South China Sea amid tension in Spratlys
(June 11, 2011)

The United States has sent one of the most formidable warships, the USS Chung-Hoon, a guided-missile destroyer to the South China Sea and Sulu sea amid tensions between China, Vietnam and the Philippines over the disputed Spratly Islands.

“Yahoo Online News said that USS Chung-Hoon, a guided-missile destroyer, has been sent on an independent deployment to the South China as well as to the Sulu Sea early this week to assert right of free passage in the region,” Philstar.com reports.
“The ship will be sailing through waters that the US considers international waters to assert right of free passage and to demonstrate the international community does not accept national claims to the contrary,” the report said.

US destroyer sent to South China Sea
By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) Updated June 11, 2011 12:00 A

The US embassy said the Chung-Hoon is one of the US Navy ships invited to participate in the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise between the Philippines and the US navies.

“More details (on CARAT) would be released when appropriate,” US embassy spokesman Rebecca Thompson said.

CARAT exercise is held yearly as part of a mutual defense agreement between the Philippines and the US.

Earlier, US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. assured the Philippines of support against threats to its security.

***

The Philippines needs to accelerate its defense modernization program – that’s IF – it has the money.

… to be continued….

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