Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Philippine-US joint naval drill amid tension with China

The Philippines and the US have begun 11 days of joint naval exercises amid growing tensions with Beijing over disputed waters in the South China Sea.

US missile destroyers will join much older Philippine warships for the drills off the south-west Philippines.

In a BBC interview, President Benigno Aquino said he was concerned by China's encroachment into Philippine waters.

Several Asian nations claim parts of the strategically important waters that may also contain oil and gas deposits.

The naval exercises are an annual event and will be an important chance for Manila's badly equipped navy to learn new techniques.

But they come at a strategically important time, not far from the disputed region of the South China Sea in which the Philippines says China has made a series of recent incursions.

On Monday, the US Senate unanimously approved a motion deploring "the use of force by naval and maritime security vessels from China in the South China Sea".

Democratic Senator Jim Webb said South East Asian nations were worried about China's "pattern of intimidation". (read more)