The usa has made it publicly clear it is stepping up its containment and regime change war policies in relation to China for some months now. China is working on developing positive and mutually beneficial relations with its Asian neighbours, this is not however proceeding as well as it should in all places. Of particular concern are Sino-Vietnamese relations, although Vietnam has seen China being its historical coloniser, the socialist nature of both countries, and their shared experience of imperialist aggression should provide some of the basis for a strategic unity. This is not yet quite happening. The Phillipines on the other hand is an old reactionary ally of the usa, and important to its hegemonic strategy.
Sukant Chandan, Friends of China
Obama Expresses Support for Philippines in China Rift
WASHINGTON - A festering quarrel that began over rare coral, giant clams and sharks in a distant sea made its way to the Oval Office on Friday, as President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines sought the backing of President Obama in a maritime dispute with China.
The Philippines and China have been locked in a tense standoff for two months over rights to a triangular cluster of reefs and rocks in the South China Sea known as Scarborough Shoal. While Mr. Aquino said he did not want to drag the United States into the conflict, he clearly hoped for Mr. Obama's diplomatic support.
And he got it, if obliquely, on Friday. Mr. Obama told reporters after the meeting with Mr. Aquino that the United States and the Philippines would "consult closely together" as part of "the announced pivot by the United States back to Asia," which he said should serve as a reminder that "in fact, the United States considers itself, and is, a Pacific power."
Mr. Obama did not mention China or the standoff at Scarborough Shoal, but he said that he and Mr. Aquino discussed the need for "a strong set of international norms and rules governing maritime disputes in the region."
Still, his message was aimed at China, which has asserted sweeping claims over the South China Sea, touching off disputes with several other countries that border the sea. The Obama administration has countered China's muscle-flexing by shoring up alliances with old partners like the Philippines and Australia and cultivating ties with new ones like Myanmar.
In the case of the Philippines, that has included American help in upgrading aging military equipment to improve its ability to defend itself, as well as a Philippine agreement to allow more American troops and ships to rotate through the country, though not to re-establish Americans bases there.
But critics of any United States' military presence said they feared the Friday meeting between Mr. Obama and Mr. Aquino would lead to the stationing of American forces in the Philippines without the formal opening of a base. "Aquino is single-handedly reversing the gains from the removal of the U.S. military bases 20 years ago," Renato Reyes, secretary general of the left-leaning group Bayan Muna, said in a statement on Friday. "His foreign policy allows the permanent and continuing presence of U.S. troops all over the country."
The last United States military base in the Philippines closed in 1992, but Walden Bello, a Philippines congressman, said the current military agreement between the two countries has a lot of loopholes. "The Americans are allowed joint exercises, but they are in a state of constant exercise," he said. "We have rotating American forces on a permanent basis."
Mr. Aquino also received an expression of support from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a lunch on Friday. She reiterated that the United States had an interest in the "maintenance of peace and stability" and "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea. She encouraged Mr. Aquino to resolve the dispute with Beijing peacefully, and she warned that the United States would oppose "the use of force or coercion."
After steering clear of the issue for years, the United States has recently urged China and its neighbors to work out a mechanism for resolving disputes over the sea. Beijing has rejected American involvement, saying, in the words of Gen. Ma Xiaotian, the deputy chief of general staff of the People's Liberation Army, that "the South China issue is not America's business."
Mr. Aquino - the son of a former Philippine president, Corazon C. Aquino, and the slain opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr. - thanked Mr. Obama for his expression of support. On Thursday, Mr. Aquino told an audience that the Philippine government was engaged in a dialogue with China to find a way to resolve the dispute. "It is not our intention to embroil the United States in a military intervention in our region," he said.
The dispute could put the United States in an awkward position, because of the mutual defense treaty it has maintained with the Philippines for 60 years. But American officials said that neither side was likely to invoke the treaty in this case because Manila's confrontation with Beijing is over disputed territory.
Bonnie Glaser, an expert in Asian security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Philippine officials were not happy with the mixed signals they got from Washington in a recent meeting of the two countries' defense and foreign ministers.
Some experts said that whatever the legitimacy of its claims, the Philippines was to blame for provoking the standoff. It started when the Philippines sent a frigate to board Chinese fishing boats near the shoal, which is called Panatag in the Philippines and Huangyan in China. Philippine officials said they found illegally harvested corals, clams and live sharks on the boats. China then sent two surveillance ships.
"We could have a long-term problem with China in the South China Sea," said Jeffrey A. Bader, a former adviser to Mr. Obama on China policy. "The Filipinos did not contribute to solving the long-term problem by falling into a short-term confrontation with the Chinese, in a bid to quickly resolve an unresolvable territorial issue."
The immediate threat of conflict has ebbed with both sides pulling back their ships. Still, Mr. Aquino's visit was a reminder that countries in the region will increasingly turn to America to help them face down China.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who just returned from a tour of Southeast Asia, told reporters that the Philippine military needed help to defend the country's waters because it has been focused on fighting a radical insurgency. "We think that they need some of that, particularly in maritime security," he said.