Monday, April 23, 2012

Not to worry, no way this could end up badly; honest.

MANILA - China has beefed up its naval might around the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, threatening a clash as the United States and Philippines hold joint military exercises in the vicinity of the potentially energy rich disputed maritime territory. 

In a show of force, a state-of-the-art Chinese vessel, the Yuzheng 310, is now on patrol near the Scarborough Shoal, raising the strategic ante as its maritime standoff with the Philippines heads into a second week. Certain news reports have suggested as many as five other Chinese patrol vessels are now in the area. 

In contrast, a lone US-made Philippine Coast Guard ship

remains on alert in a lopsided faceoff with the Chinese fleet, while Manila's other warships joined the two-week joint drills, known as Balikatan (shoulder to shoulder) the US is leading near the contested islands. 

The US has deployed 4,500 marines, the bulk of them from its military base in Okinawa, Japan, and battleships in the biggest contingent since the joint war games began in 1983. 

In an unprecedented exercise held near the Philippine island of Palawan on April 19, US and Philippine forces rehearsed retaking seized offshore oil and natural gas platforms. Philippine officials said the exercise was relevant in the context of Chinese harassment of energy exploration teams last year near the contested Reed Bank. 

The US has issued assurances that the combined military exercise is not aimed at any country or rising territorial tensions. China, however, clearly remains wary. A recent Chinese military paper has warned that the US-Philippine joint exercises increase the potential for an armed confrontation in the region. 


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/ND24Ae01.html



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