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article imageUS, Philippines to hold war games amid tension in South China Sea

By Leo Reyes     Jun 12, 2011 in Politics
The United States and the Philippines are set to hold naval exercise amid heightened tension in Western Philippine Sea following allegations of intrusion by Chinese Naval personnel in the Philippine-occupied area of the disputed Spratly Islands.
Philippine military authorities said though the the joint naval exercise has nothing to do with the reported Chinese incursions in Philippine territories, according to Armed Forces spokesman Commodore Jose Miguel Rodriguez.
Philstar.com reports, “It has been programmed since last year,” Rodriguez added. There has been no announcement yet of the specific location of the military exercises but Navforwest operates mainly in the Sulu Sea and nearby waters.
Earlier the Philippines said it has documented at least six intrusions by China's naval boats into Philippine sea lanes. China denied the allegations and said they were based on rumors.
The report said, "The planned naval exercise, called “Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training” or CARAT, is in accordance with the Mutual Defense Treaty between the Philippines and the US, officials said."
The Philippines said it is preparing a diplomatic protest to the United Nations on the alleged intrusion by China's naval boats in the disputed islands.
A day after the exchange of heated diplomatic notes in Manila, Vietnam has joined the already tense situation by accusing China of their presence in a Vietnam-occupied island where a seismic operation is being conducted. Vietnam claims a Chinese naval boat has caused damage to their seismic equipment and facilities in the area.
Vietnam, in an apparent move to flex its muscle on the disputed sea lanes said it will conduct a live ammunition drill in the area on Monday. The planned military exercise by Vietnam is similar to the scheduled US-Philippine war games in the West Philippine Sea on June 28.
The Spratly Islands are being claimed in whole or in part by several countries in Southeast Asia including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei and the Philippines.
Meanwhile the US has expressed its desire to pursue a peaceful resolution of the on-going tension in the Spratlys involving six claimant countries.
“We’ve been troubled by some of these reports about the South China Sea and believe they only serve to raise tensions and don’t help with the peace and security of the region,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
“We support a collaborative diplomatic process... and call on all claimants to conform all of their claims, both land and maritime, to international law,” he said.
More about War games, Naval exercise, spratlys, Territorial claims, China
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