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Thread: Will the US defend Philippines if China attacks?

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  1. #71
    Protest set vs US, China ‘threats to PH sovereignty’

    Aries Joseph Hegina
    @inquirerdotnet
    INQUIRER.net
    1:27 PM | Thursday, May 28th, 2015

    Activists and citizen groups are gearing up for a large rally on June 12 to condemn the recent actions by China regarding its claim over disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and the alleged military presence of the United States in the country.

    The Independence Day rally, which has the theme “Hands Off the Philippines,” will be led by former senator Rene Saguisag, actress Bibeth Orteza and Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares. They said that the acts of US and China “constitute real and serious threats to Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

    “The US, as lone superpower, and China as a fast rising regional power, have no qualms riding roughshod over the Philippines to advance their economic and geopolitical-military interests in the region,” the organizers of the rally said in a statement.

    They said that Filipinos should be united in defending the country.

    “The US and China connive and compete with one another to impose their dominance over the region. This situation demands a united and visible response from our people,” the statement read.

    READ: US-China exchange highlights tension over disputed sea

    The activists also urged the government to craft an “independent foreign policy” which does not lean on the interests of the two global powers.

    “Ordinary citizens need to be involved in defending our land and seas and in pursuing a truly independent foreign policy that neither bows to China’s bullying nor kowtows to US imposition,” it added.

    The “Hands Off Philippines” rally will begin with a mobilization in front of the Chinese embassy in Makati City at 9 a.m. then will proceed to US embassy at 11 a.m.

    China has made the headlines recently after its navy warned off a US surveillance plane flying over the Fiery Cross Reef in the West Philippine Sea, where it conducted massive reclamation work.

    READ: ‘Go away,’ China tells US spy plane in West PH Sea — report

    On Tuesday, China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun downplayed the criticisms of US and other claimants who said that the rising superpower is sowing tension in the region.

    READ: China’s army plays down South China Sea island-building

    Yujun said that its construction activities in the disputed islands “are no different from other construction activities in the country.” IDL
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  2. #72
    China—a bully in the block

    Peter Wallace

    @inquirerdotnet

    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    12:08 AM | Thursday, June 4th, 2015

    The biggest threat today is not the failure of the Bangsamoro Basic Law but war with China. Maybe not war in the traditional sense, but war in the dominance sense. China is determined to regain the power it had in the 15th century when it was the world’s most dominant country.

    Its claim to ownership of 90 percent of the South China Sea is clearly preposterous. To say it’s based on history is laughable. History? Way back to 1947, it says. I was alive then; that’s current events.

    The claim that its right is incontestable is as absurd and two-faced as everything else it’s saying. The claim is being contested—by the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan. If China truly believes it owns all this area, it would prove so in international court. That it refuses to do so is, in itself, admission that it knows it has no legitimate claim.

    If this is the way China is going to use its growing economic dominance in the world’s political scene, then the world, and particularly Asia, is in trouble. This is irresponsible action by a bully, by someone who knows he can ride roughshod over others. It is not how responsible nations act.

    I applaud President Aquino’s stand on this. We may be a weak nation but this doesn’t mean we should just roll over and play dead. It’s sad that the Philippines’ neighbors don’t stand as strongly, but that’s sadly understandable. The large levels of trade and investment create a reality that leaders can’t ignore no matter how much they’d wish to. But then, if all of them did take a strong stand, what could China do? It couldn’t cut trade with all; it needs them, too, particularly as China’s economy and advantages are being whittled down. So a stronger group of leaders in Asia would be helpful.

    What I find sad about all of this is that it probably wouldn’t have happened at all if the Philippine Senate had voted differently in 1991.

    Twelve senators voted to kick the American bases out of Subic and Clark (against 11 who voted to retain). Now two of those 12 are trying to stop the Edca (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement), which allows US military forces to maintain eight small bases here. It’s really quite simple: The Philippines has no military power at all. This is no denigration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines—they are fine, battle-worthy men, but they don’t have nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and a fleet of battleships or the latest-model fighter planes or all the myriad equipage China has. So any war would be over in a day. The United States has all these things in spades—and China knows it. So why on earth would you make it difficult for a friend to help you stand up to this bully, which only the United States can?

    This is misplaced nationalistic fervor, if ever I’ve seen it. The Philippines is a nation that its people can be proud of, one that can stand equally with anyone. Accepting the help of a friend should be done willingly. We have a situation today where China is commandeering areas that rightfully belong to other countries through sheer military force. I venture to suggest—and did so at the time—that the Philippines needs the support of a giant. Well, those 12 senators didn’t have enough self-confidence, and confidence in their country as an independent nation, to accept the help of a friend.

    If the United States still had a massive presence in Clark and Subic, China would be acting far more cautiously, if acting at all. Having a huge naval and air force presence just hours away would give Chinese leaders pause. The United States is standing strong against China’s incursions, but it needs men and materiel close to the area under contention. We should welcome its wish to do so, even encourage a larger presence.

    It probably won’t lead to war, but that can’t be ruled out. What it can lead to is annexation. As Russia has shown in Ukraine, it can take what it wants, and the world won’t stop it. Sanctions, yes, but you can survive sanctions and there’s a limit. The United States owes China some $1.224 trillion, and its estimated trade with China amounted to $580 billion in 2012. During the same year, American investments in China reached $50 billion. There’s an obvious limit to what it can do. War is unthinkable as it would too easily lead to atom bombs being dropped if one side becomes desperate.

    So if China wants the Philippines, it can take it. And as its need for minerals is insatiable, and the Philippines has them in spades, the attraction is there. Your kids better learn Chinese.

    Am I being overly alarmist? I hope so, I think so, but we can’t rule it out completely, can we?

    What can reduce the risk is the United States, Japan, Australia and whoever else would like to join, training their armed forces jointly, here on Philippine soil, thereby showing solidarity with us. It will send a strong message.

    And for the 10 Asean economies to join together in a strong, united political stand.

    But ultimately, the most desirable outcome is for China to stop its construction activities in the South China Sea and agree that nobody owns those islands and jointly explore the possible wealth of the area and share it if any is found, while leaving the seas and all air space open to free, unhampered travel.

    It’s time for China to become a responsible member of the international community, not the bullying pariah it’s headed to becoming.
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI

  3. #73
    MANILA - Malacañang said that the submission of a 300-year-old map to the international tribunal will boost the case of the Philippines in questioning China’s territorial claim over the South China Sea.

    Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the Philippines has “a strong case.”

    “Let me just emphasize the fact that China never participated, in fact, refused to participate in the arbitration in the [International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea]. However, China's claim is about historical title. This old map would certainly present the side of the Philippines when it comes to any historical basis,” Lacierda said.

    Despite the maritime row, however, the Palace is looking forward to better relations with China.

    He emphasized that the country only differs with how the Chinese leadership is dealing with the issue, but has no quarrel with the Chinese people.

    “Just to be clear, we have no conflict with the Chinese people. Our conflict, for instance, our differences are with the approach of the leadership in dealing with the South China Sea. But on the whole, with respect to the Chinese people, we continue to establish good relations with them. And we certainly look forward to a better relations with China,” Lacierda said.

    President Aquino is attending on Monday night the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc.’s commemoration of the Friendship Day, as well the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and the country’s 117th Independence Day.

    Lacierda said the event is an apt reminder of “the friendship between the Filipino and Chinese” and “the long history of relations that we have with them.”

    He added that as someone who has Chinese ancestry, Aquino can relate easily with Chinese-Filipinos.

    “A number of our Filipinos here also have traced themselves to China and I could very well say that I am one of them. And, certainly, I would encourage this… to continue to enhance a warm relationship between China and the Philippines,” he said.

    He added the country’s relations with China should not be viewed solely on the basis of the maritime row.

    Lacierda cited the country’s “multi-level relationship with China” including people-to-people exchanges, trade and, culture.
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  4. #74
    Philippines, US to set up South China Sea defense line

    @inquirerdotnet

    The Straits Times/Asia News Network

    10:01 AM May 31st, 2015

    The Philippines and the United States are putting up a defensive line meant to prevent China from punching through to the Pacific and threatening American military real estate in Guam, analysts say.

    The US will be able to use at least eight military bases in the Philippines where it can rotate its troops, planes and ships, under a 10-year defense pact signed in April last year.

    Two of these bases will give the US rapid access to the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea, where China is digging in with a chain of island-fortresses.

    The other bases are listening posts and staging areas for the US to monitor and limit China’s movements.

    Plans are being drawn up in Washington to directly contest – with warships and aircraft – Beijing’s territorial claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, and deter China’s military from crossing to the Pacific, analysts say.

    China has created over 800ha of land since last year on seven reefs in the Spratlys in the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia.

    “The Americans know they are the ultimate goal here. Once the Chinese consolidate in the Spratlys and they punch through, then they’ll go to the second island chain: Guam,” Jose Custodio, a consultant of the Philippine military and a former adviser to a US defense company working for the US Pacific Command, told The Straits Times.

    Guam is the home port of a US submarine squadron and a strategic base of the US Seventh Fleet operating in the Pacific.

    A strategy paper released on Tuesday by China alludes to the US as its opponent, as it blasts “some external countries” that are “meddling in South China Sea affairs”.

    The US used to have permanent bases in the Philippines.

    One was in Subic Bay north of the capital Manila, the largest outside the US with an area of 678 sq km – about the size of Singapore.

    In 1992, a nationalist Senate voted to evict these bases.

    Subic has since been transformed into an economic zone, but American naval ships continue to make port calls there.

    Another former US base, Clark, is now a civilian airport, but still serves as a staging area for US surveillance operations.

    An American P8-A Poseidon plane – which the Chinese military recently warned off at least eight times as it swooped over a China-held reef in the Spratlys – reportedly took off from Clark.

    Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said evicting the US bases had been a mistake. “If the Americans had not left, we wouldn’t be in this predicament,” he said China would never have been able to go near Scarborough shoal off the coast of the Philippine province of Zambales had the Americans remained in Subic, he said.

    The Americans were using Scarborough as an “impact range” at the time, he pointed out.

    Since 2012, after a tense naval standoff with the Philippines, China has set up a blockade around Scarborough, keeping away Filipino fishermen who depended on the shoal’s lagoon for a living.

    Custodio said once the Chinese islands in the Spratlys are operational and as the US settles in, something similar to the Bar Lev Line will emerge in the South China Sea.

    Israel had built that chain of fortifications along the eastern coast of the Suez Canal after it captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War.

    “It will be like a tripwire: Once one side crosses, all hell will break loose,” said Custodio.
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  5. #75
    Philippines welcomes more US forces to counter China

    @inquirerdotnet

    Agence France-Presse

    08:33 AM January 13th, 2016

    MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Supreme Court ruled Tuesday a security accord with the United States was legal, allowing more US forces into the former American colony as it seeks to counter Chinese expansion in the South China Sea.

    The 10-year agreement, signed in 2014 but not implemented due to legal challenges, will see more US troops and warships rotate through the Philippines, and the hosts will receive help in building military facilities.

    Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te said the accord was upheld with a 10-4 vote, ruling that President Benigno Aquino’s government had the authority to sign the pact and did not need congressional approval.

    The pact “is a mere implementation of existing laws and treaties”, Te said.

    Aquino negotiated the accord to help the Philippines improve its military capabilities and draw the United States closer, partly to counter a fast-expanding Chinese presence in disputed parts of the South China Sea.

    US President Barack Obama also pushed hard for the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) as part of his so-called strategic “pivot” to Asia that has involved strengthening the American military presence in the region.

    However it faced immediate legal challenges from groups opposed to US military involvement in the Philippines, a US colony from 1898 to 1946.

    The Philippines hosted two of the largest overseas US military bases until 1992, the year after the Philippine Senate voted to end the leases in the face of strong anti-US sentiment.

    Philippine military chief General Hernando Iriberri immediately welcomed Tuesday’s ruling, saying the accord would help the country address short-term “capability gaps” and modernize its armed forces.

    Iriberri also emphasized the pact would help the Philippines “maintain maritime security”, a term commonly used when referring to efforts to contain China’s expansion in the sea.

    As the court in Manila voted to approve the agreement, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter met their counterparts Albert del Rosario and Voltaire Gazmin at the State Department.

    “Our strategic relationship begins with a very firm pledge that the United States has an ironclad commitment to the security of the Philippines,” Kerry said, welcoming the decision.

    “We will continue to consult and cooperate on all issues affecting regional security, such as territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea,” he added.

    Anti-US anger

    However opponents quickly voiced their concern.

    “The government may have wantonly surrendered our national sovereignty to the US but the Filipino people will continue to fight for it,” said League of Filipino Students chairperson Charisse Banez.

    “We will not allow the return of US bases in the country and its reoccupation of the Philippines.”

    Filipino and US embassy officials declined to give details on Tuesday as to how quickly the pact would be implemented, or specifics such as which bases would be used by the Americans.

    But Filipino officials previously said the United States would be offered access to key bases, including those facing the South China Sea that would allow rapid deployment into the waters.

    And officials said in Washington that the United States would not reopen its former bases.

    The Philippines and the United States are already bound by a mutual defense treaty signed in 1951 and a visiting forces agreement signed in 1998.

    The Philippines, which has one of Asia’s weakest armed forces, has for decades heavily relied on US military aid for weapons and training.

    And thousands of American troops pass through the country for regular war games that are authorized under the 1998 agreement. US navy ships also often make port calls.

    But in recent years the tensions with China have seen Aquino’s government seek even greater US military and diplomatic support.

    China claims almost all of the South China Sea, despite conflicting claims from the Philippines as well as Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

    In April 2012, after a tense stand-off with Philippine ships, Chinese vessels took control of a shoal just 220 kilometers (135 miles) off the main Philippine island of Luzon.

    The Philippines has since become the most vocal critic of China’s efforts to claim the waters, including its strategy of turning islets into artificial islands that can host military facilities.

    With its own armed forces unable to counter China, the Philippines had no choice but to draw in the United States and its allies such as Japan, according to security analyst Rodolfo Mendoza.

    “Our only option is partnership with the US and other allies,” Mendoza told AFP.
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  6. #76
    China assures PH of bilateral mechanism in South China Sea

    By: Leila B. Salaverria - Reporter / @LeilasINQ

    Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:03 AM March 29, 2017

    China on Monday assured President Duterte of its commitment to a "bilateral mechanism" and a code of conduct that would prevent territorial disputes in the South China Sea from erupting into conflict.

    Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua told Mr. Duterte during a meeting in Davao City that China was looking forward to the convening in May of the first meeting of the bilateral mechanism set up to handle the South China Sea disputes, according to presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.

    Avoiding misunderstandings

    "Through this bilateral mechanism, mutual trust and maritime cooperation will be forged and misunderstandings will be avoided," Abella said.

    Zhao also said China would cooperate with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) toward the conclusion of a code of conduct in the South China Sea.

    The Philippines, as this year?s Asean chair, is pushing for the completion of the framework for the proposed code of conduct.

    China claims almost all of the South China Sea, but the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have competing claims in the strategic waterway through which $5 trillion in global trade passes every year.

    The UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled last year in a case brought by the Philippines, invalidating China?s claim and declaring that Beijing had violated Manila?s rights to fish and explore for resources in the West Philippine Sea, waters within the country?s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

    But Mr. Duterte, after winning presidential election last year, upended Philippine foreign policy by deferring assertion of the tribunal?s ruling, steering the country away from the United States, and making overtures to China and Russia.
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  7. #77
    Duterte confronts envoy on US inaction

    By: Leila B. Salaverria - Reporter / @LeilasINQ

    Philippine Daily Inquirer / 01:00 AM March 30, 2017

    SOCORRO, Oriental Mindoro ? President Rodrigo Duterte confronted US Ambassador Sung Kim about the United States' supposed inaction on China's massive island-building in the South China Sea.

    Mr. Duterte himself disclosed the confrontation in a speech to local officials and residents here on Wednesday.

    But Kim apparently dodged the issue, telling Mr. Duterte that the matter was not his responsibility at the time.

    Kim met with Mr. Duterte on Monday, the eve of the President's 72nd birthday.

    Mr. Duterte recalled telling the US ambassador that he was surprised that the United States, which wanted to avoid trouble in the South China Sea, did not take immediate action when it spotted China's construction of structures on artificial islands it had built in the disputed waters.

    "Why did you not send the armada of the 7th Fleet stationed in the Pacific to make a U-turn, go there, and tell them right to their face, 'Stop it,'" he said he told Kim.

    He said he told Kim that international law prohibits building structures on the high seas.

    In response, he said, Kim told him: "That was not my assignment then."

    Kim said he was in charge of North Korean affairs at the time.

    Kim served then as US special representative for North Korea policy.

    Earlier, Mr. Duterte blamed the United States for not taking action to stop China?s aggressive construction activities in the South China Sea, which have raised fears that Beijing is militarizing the strategic waterway believed to be rich in resources.
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  8. #78
    Duterte: Occupy PH islands in South China Sea

    By: Redempto D. Anda - Correspondent / @demptoanda

    Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:17 AM April 07, 2017

    PUERTO PRINCESA CITY?President Duterte on Thursday said he had ordered troops to deploy to and fortify unoccupied South China Sea islands and reefs claimed by the Philippines, a move that could provoke rival claimants, including China.

    Mr. Duterte also announced that he may visit Pagasa Island, internationally known as Thitu Island, and raise the Philippine flag there on Independence Day, June 12.

    The Philippines marks its 119th year of independence from more than three centuries of Spanish rule on June 12.

    Taking what is ours

    "It looks like everybody is making a grab for the islands there, so we better live on those that are still vacant," Mr. Duterte told reporters during a visit to the headquarters of the Western Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan province, near the disputed Spratly archipelago.

    China asserts sovereignty over almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea despite rival claims from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan, and has rapidly built reefs into artificial islands capable of hosting military planes.

    Mr. Duterte has previously sought to improve the Philippines' relations with China by adopting a nonconfrontational approach to their competing claims.

    He has deferred assertion of an international tribunal's ruling in favor of the Philippines in a challenge to China's expansive claims in the South China Sea and made overtures to Beijing that have led to improvement in relations between the two countries.

    But he appeared to alter his tone with his announcement on Thursday, saying it was time to "erect structures there and raise the Philippine flag."

    He made clear, however, that he was not diverting from his administration's stance of making "friends with everybody," including China.

    He said the Philippines only sought to make sure it had a strong presence on the islands it occupied.

    "We try to be friends with everybody, but we have to maintain our jurisdiction, at least [in] the areas that we control," Mr. Duterte said.

    "I have ordered the armed forces to occupy all these islands and put up the Philippine flag [there]," he said.

    "This coming Independence Day, I may go to Pagasa to raise the flag. We want to make a strong point that that is ours," he said.

    Kalayaan Islands

    Pagasa Island is the second-largest island in the Kalayaan group in the Spratlys occupied by the Philippines. It is located 480 kilometers west of Puerto Princesa City and is part of the municipality of Kalayaan.

    Occupied by the Philippines since 1970, Pagasa is tightly protected by the military and the population is composed of soldiers and their families.

    The island has a 1,300-meter airstrip and structures, including a municipal hall and an elementary school.

    The military has requested funds to upgrade the runway on Pagasa and the living quarters of troops stationed there, but work on the improvements has been deferred in keeping with an agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China to maintain the status quo in the disputed South China Sea.

    The agreement, however, did not stop China from building artificial islands on seven reefs in the Spratlys, including some claimed by the Philippines.

    Philippine claims

    Besides Pagasa Island, Philippines occupies Likas Island (West York Island), Parola Island (Northeast Cay), Lawak Island (Nanshan), Kota (Loaita Island), Panata Island (Lankiam Cay), Rizal Reef (Commodore Reef), Balagtas Reef (Irving Reef) and Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal).

    In addition, the Philippines claims Panganiban Reef (Mischief Reef), Zamora Reef (Subi Reef), Kagitingan Reef (Fiery Cross Reef), Calderon Reef (Cuarteron Reef), Burgos Reef (Gaven Reef), Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef) and McKennan Reef (Hughes Reef), all of which are also claimed by China and Vietnam.

    China has transformed Kagitingan, Calderon, Burgos, Mabini, Panganiban, Zamora and McKennan into artificial islands, and built facilities on some that could be used for military purposes, including runways, aircraft hangars and radar shelters.

    Last month, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the military would strengthen its facilities in the Spratlys, building a new port, paving the airstrip on Pagasa and repairing other structures.

    Mr. Duterte spoke about building fortifications on Ayungin Shoal, where the government grounded an old naval hospital ship, the BRP Sierra Madre, in 1999 to mark Philippine territory in the Spratlys.

    A garrison of Marines holds the rusting ship, which Mr. Duterte indicated he wanted to transform into a battle-capable outpost.

    "That?s ours. I must build bunkers there," he said.

    Philippine Ridge

    Mr. Duterte said the development plan for the West Philippine Sea would include funding for securing the Philippines' ownership of Benham Rise, a resource-rich undersea landmass off the eastern coast of Luzon.

    "I will spend for the fortification, including Benham Rise, which I will rename Philippine Ridge, because it is part of our continental shelf," he said. - WITH REPORTS FROM THE WIRES
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