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Manila's base plan targets China (3)

By Zhao Shengnan  (China Daily)

08:12, July 30, 2013

Complicating issue

Su Hao, a professor of Asia-Pacific studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said external forces that share the Philippines' goal of containing China are complicating the regional South China Sea issue.

"What Manila sometimes did was to meet the needs of Washington and US allies, to seek more support from them," he said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe presented Manila 10 patrol boats for the country's weak naval forces last week, during his third trip this year to Southeast Asia.

The US-based Military Times website said that with the Pentagon's strategic focus shifting to the Pacific, the Philippine bases are an ideal stopping point that's roughly 1,600 km west of Guam, where four US ships are based.

"With this recognition of an existential threat from China, I think there's much more interest in having the US presence," the media quoted Carl Baker, a Hawaii-based defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as saying.

But Su said the role Washington can play in the future is still unclear. "The US would like to see Manila posing threats to China or to back Manila behind the scenes, but it is reluctant to have open conflicts with China," he said.

AP contributed to this story.

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