Philippine President Benigno Aquino says he “sees no issue” in a U.S. warship’s patrol in the disputed South China Sea and that he welcomes a balance of power in the region. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
US patrols in South China Sea not a problem: Philippine President
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday (October 27) said U.S. Navy patrols in the disputed South China Sea are not a problem, and welcomed a balance of power in the region.
The U.S. Navy sent a guided-missile destroyer close to China’s man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday, drawing an angry rebuke from Beijing, which said it warned and followed the American vessel.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade passes every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims. The Philippines’ case for arbitration has been heard at The Hague.
The patrol by the USS Lassen was the most significant U.S. challenge yet to 12-nautical-mile territorial limits China asserts around the islands in the Spratly archipelago and could ratchet up tensions in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.
One U.S. defense official said the USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef. A second defense official said the mission, which lasted a few hours, also included Mischief Reef and would be the first in a series of freedom-of-navigation exercises aimed at testing China’s territorial claims.
The Philippines claims Mischief Reef in the Spratly group of islands as part of its Exclusive Economic Zone.
Aquino welcomed the U.S. presence, and said that under a security agreement, Manila is bound to provide logistical support to its ally if asked.
China’s Foreign Ministry said the “relevant authorities” monitored, followed and warned the USS Lassen as it “illegally” entered waters near islands and reefs in the Spratlys without the Chinese government’s permission.
Washington worries that China has built up its outposts with the aim of extending its military reach in the South China Sea. China says they will have mainly civilian uses as well as undefined defense purposes.