Philippine Foreign Secretary Del Rosario to visit China amid South China Sea territorial dispute

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Location of the Spratly Islands
Image: Spiridon MANOLIU.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on June 23, 2011.
Image: United States Department of State.
Del Rosario with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Image: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey.

Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario is scheduled to visit China from July 7 to 9, raising hopes that a territorial dispute between the two countries may be resolved.

A six-nation dispute has escalated in the sea concerning territorial claims to several islands including the Spratly Islands. The area is thought to be rich in natural gas and oil. Both the Philippines and China wish to have a peaceful resolution to this conflict. "I’ve been invited to Beijing and we’re looking for peaceful means to settle the challenges facing us," said Del Rosario.

The news comes after the United States and the Philippines began a series of naval exercises last week in the South China Sea, scheduled to last for 11 days. A Philippine military commander stated that the drills are part of an annual series of activities taking place under a defense agreement between the two countries and have nothing to do with the territorial dispute.

The Philippines maintains a close relation with the U.S. as a former territory of the nation.

The drills come at a time when several competing disputes in the South China Sea have begun to intensify. "Since February 25th, we actually have noted as many as nine intrusions of different varieties, but clearly becoming more aggressive and more frequent," said Del Rosario. Several countries in Asia, including China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan, have territorial claims in the area spanning the Spratly and Paracel Islands. The region may be rich in oil and gas reserves. The US and Philippines have urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to address the conflict.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has argued that the United States would remain neutral regarding the disputes. She has also said that the United States has a "national interest" in freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and unimpeded, lawful commerce in the South China Sea." Both countries are bound by a 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

On June 27, the US Senate unanimously passed a motion condemning "the use of force by naval and maritime security vessels from China in the South China Sea." China, on the other hand, has stated that it will not use force to resolve disputes in the South China Sea.


Sources

Bookmark-new.svg