News / Asia

Philippines to Discuss More Frequent Military Visits with US

A Philippine Navy special operations group on board speed boats patrols off Subic Bay, facing the South China Sea, August 6, 2013.
A Philippine Navy special operations group on board speed boats patrols off Subic Bay, facing the South China Sea, August 6, 2013.
Simone Orendain
Philippine officials say they will begin formal talks with the United States Wednesday on having more frequent U.S. military visits as part of a plan to deter China from infringing on what Manila claims is its territory in the South China Sea. 
 
Officials say having the U.S. presence would mean more joint military exercises and equipment ready for use at Philippine bases. They say this would help support the country’s “minimum credible defense” posture.
 
Philippine officials say they want to see the increased rotations begin before 2016, when President Benigno Aquino leaves office.   
 
While the Philippine military is undergoing a modernization program, its spending still lags some of the smallest defense budgets in the region.  
 
Click to EnlargeClick to Enlarge
x
Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge
The Philippines was host to U.S. bases for nearly 100 years until domestic pressure forced them to close in 1991.  
 
Carl Baker, program director at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said this time around public opposition is “dramatically reduced.” 
 
“And the people who are supportive of it are significantly increased and probably more politically motivated, given what China has been doing,” Baker said.
 
Baker pointed to encounters such as China’s presence at Scarborough Shoal, the site of a tense standoff last year between Philippine and Chinese ships over alleged poaching by Chinese fishermen in waters claimed by the Philippines.  The Philippines backed off and Chinese vessels remained at the shoal where Philippine fishermen said they were rebuffed.
 
The Philippines lost nearby Mischief Reef to China in the mid-1990s. In May, officials said a Chinese frigate and some of its surveillance ships were near Second Thomas Shoal, also in Philippine-claimed waters.
 
China claimed it has “indisputable sovereignty” over much of the resource-rich South China Sea.  The Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have whole or partial claims to it.  
 
The Philippines $1.8 billion military spending plan is going toward new hardware including 12 fighter jets, two frigates and an air-surveillance radar.  This week it took official delivery of a second Hamilton-class cutter from the U.S. collection of used assets.  Officials say working the increased U.S. visits into this program will give its strategy a needed boost.
 
Although there now appears to be public support for the increased U.S. military visits, Baker said that could easily change because it will be difficult for the U.S. to meet the Philippines’ expectations.
 
“What they’re going to have a difficult time demonstrating is their willingness to actually deliver defense of those areas because it gets back to the old argument from the United States," he explained. " What exactly is the United States committed to defend?  And that’s the detail where the strategic message gets a little bit hazy.”
 
The two countries signed a mutual defense treaty in 1951, which calls on each nation to defend the other in certain kinds of attacks. However, the United States maintains its neutrality on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, saying it is an issue for the countries in the region to resolve.   
 
 

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid