Manila, Washington continue naval drill

By Li Qiaoyi Source:Global Times Published: 2012-7-3 1:05:00

The Philippines and the US started a nine-day joint naval exercise on Monday amid a continued row with China over disputed waters in the South China Sea.

The joint naval exercise, the third of its kind between the two sides this year, which involves nearly 1,000 personnel from the two countries' navies and coast guards, is slated to run from Monday till next Tuesday near the Mindanao Sea, located in the southern part of the Philippines.

The exercise is aimed at enhancing the capacity of the two sides' naval forces to respond to disasters and terrorism threats, and are not geared toward anybody, Philippine Navy spokesman Col. Omar Tonsay said earlier.

Protests against the presence of US troops in the Philippines also continue, with hundreds of people demonstrating outside the port of Makar, when the US ships arrived Sunday.

The drill is part of the two countries' military cooperation agreements as an annual routine, and the Mindanao Sea is far from the disputed waters in the South China Sea, and has few implications for the disputed waters in the South China Sea, Du Jifeng, a researcher at the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Zhuang Guotu, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, echoed Du's views, while pointing out "The Philippines is attempting to make use of the exercise to sensationalize its partnership with the US."

"But the Philippines is unlikely to gain support from the US regarding its territorial claims in areas around Huangyan Island, as the US has clarified its stance on the row, favoring resolving the issue through peaceful dialogues," Zhuang told the Global Times.

However, The Philippines may ask the US to deploy spy planes over the South China Sea to help monitor the disputed waters, President Benigno Aquino III told Reuters Monday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin again reiterated Monday China's indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan Island, urging the Philippines to behave in a way that is more conducive to allaying tensions and fostering the two nations' friendship and cooperation.

The Philippines also signed a memorandum on defense cooperation with Japan on Monday, claiming to strengthen cooperation between the two sides in ensuring maritime safety.

Agencies contributed to this story


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