After months of mounting tensions that flared up with the Philippines at the Scarborough Shoal in April, China announced it’s sending “combat ready” naval and aerial patrols to the Spratly Islands.Jojo Malig at ABS-CBNews reports the Chinese defence Ministry said the planes and ships will be sent to “protect Beijing’s interests” in the area.
defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said China will “resolutely oppose any militarily provocative behaviour” from other countries also claiming ownership of the Spratlys.
“In order to protect national sovereignty and our security and development interests, the Chinese military has already set up a normal, combat-ready patrol system in seas under our control,” he said.
“The Chinese military’s resolve and will to defend territorial sovereignty and protect our maritime rights and interests is firm and unshakeable,” Geng added. Vietnam has launched regular air patrols over the Spratly Islands.
Vietnam and the Philippines are also claiming territory in the region which is believed to hold significant deposits of energy reserves.
This deployment comes just a week after China denounced Vietnam’s law claiming the Paracel and the Spratly’s are its own.
Reuters reports the South China Sea could be the biggest flashpoint for confrontation in Asia, a prediction that becomes only more severe as the U.S. tries to restore its influence in the region.
To that end the situation is made even more interesting with the U.S. – Philippine exercise called Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) set to commence July 2.
The exercises will continue until July 10 with the U.S. Navy deploying two ships and the Philippines sending four more.
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