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Aquino's China visit 'first step' in easing tensions

(China Daily)

09:22, September 05, 2011

BEIJING - Philippine President Benigno Aquino's visit to China helped to ease tensions in bilateral relations with boosted trade and cultural ties, but analysts said that the maritime dispute in the South China Sea is unlikely to be resolved by a single state visit.

Wrapping up a five-day visit to China, Aquino returned to Manila on Saturday evening with a large number of cooperation deals and an agreement to peacefully settle disputes in the South China Sea.

But as hopes rose that Aquino's visit would ease tensions following the Philippine military chief stressed that Manila would continue to build its military capability, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

In an interview on Friday, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Eduardo Oban Jr. said "cordial relations" between the two countries would lead to a peaceful resolution of any conflict or disputes in the South China Sea.

However, Oban added that the armed forces have to protect the nation's resources, citing ongoing programs for the procurement of two more Hamilton-class cutters for the navy and six jet fighters for the air force, according to the report.

The Philippines recently acquired the BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, Hamilton-class cutter from the United States Coast Guard, which it will use to patrol the South China Sea.

Oban added that the Philippine armed forces will remain vigilant in patrolling and protecting the country's claims in the South China Sea, according to the newspaper.

China has insisted on its indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, a chain of tiny islands and reefs in the South China Sea, while the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam also lay claim to some islands and reefs in the area.

The disputes intensified last year with US involvement and support for some countries with joint military exercises and in acquiring military equipment.

"In the South China Sea, none of the parties involved will gain from a war in the area. Even the victors will eventually be losers as they will lose international standing and have their legitimacy questioned in the global arena," said professor Eduardo Tadem from the Asian Center at the University of the Philippines.

"What is needed is a genuine code of conduct that binds all signatories and imposes sanctions on errant participants," Tadem said.

A consensus was reached in July between China and ASEAN on implementing the 2002 Declaration of Conduct in the South China Sea, both of which are non-binding.

"China has to understand why the Philippines is making that move (in the South China Sea). It is making that move because the country is in desperate need of oil," said Professor Ben Lim from the Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies at Ateneo de Manila University.

Lim said US diplomatic and military involvement in this issue is only to "contain China and prevent China from becoming a dominant power", but would not really "help the Philippines".

Yang Baoyun, deputy director of Peking University's Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, said it is understandable that the Philippines shapes its diplomatic policy in a way that best serves its national interest to "boost economic ties with China while expecting security assistance from the US".

But China is against any attempt to complicate the South China Sea issue or to make it a multilateral one, Yang said.

Zhang Yunbi contributed to this story.

By Cheng Guangjin, China Daily


Leave your comment2 comments

  1. Name

wende at 2011-09-0671.255.91.*
In my opinion, Philippines wants to have the cake and eat it too. It will solidify its hold on the occupied Chinese islands banking on the premise that China will not use force and risk fighting with the US and lose its standing in the international community. It is China"s duty to bring its reasoning to the world community so that when conflicts flare up, China is fully justified. But China must broadcast its rationale.
Observer at 2011-09-0560.53.163.*
>understandable that the Philippines shapes its diplomatic policy... to "boost economic ties with China while expecting security assistance from the US".]What's so "understandable" for the Philippines to expect "security assistance" from the US - a country that had invaded, tortured, and murdered about one million Filipinos from 1899 till around WW1??? What's so understandable that the Philippine government should forget the long, friendly historical ties with China and instead allows itself to be used by the nation that butchered the Filipinos? The present president's own mother was the person who decided to cancel American bases in the Philippines, and yet he allows himself to be used by the Americans. Who's really patriotic and who has stained the names of all the heroes who died defending the Philippines against American imperialism?

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