Philip­pines in US, Ja­pan naval drills

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The Philip­pines Mon­day be­gan sep­a­rate but si­mul­ta­ne­ous naval ex­er­cises with the United States and Ja­pan, amid shared and grow­ing con­cern at Chi­nese is­land-build­ing in the dis­puted South China Sea.

Manila has been hold­ing the naval drills with its long­time ally Washington since 1995. But the ex­er­cise with Tokyo, a World War II foe, is only its sec­ond ever af­ter one ear­lier this year.

This week’s Co­op­er­a­tion Afloat Readi­ness and Train­ing ( CARAT) drill with Washington will in­clude a P-3 Orion air­craft, of the type used by the U.S. to mon­i­tor the South China Sea.

China claims al­most the en­tire Sea de­spite com­pet­ing claims from the Philip­pines, Brunei, Malaysia, Tai­wan and Viet­nam, and has been tak­ing strong ac­tion in­clud­ing recla­ma­tion to as­sert sovereignty.

Rear Adm. Leopoldo Alano, com­man­der of the Philip­pine Fleet, de­scribed the drill as a great op­por­tu­nity “to gain valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence and in­crease our in­ter­op­er­abil­ity.”

The drills will also fea­ture for the first time the lit­toral com­bat ship USS Fort Worth, and in­volve the res­cue and sal­vage ship USNS Safe­guard.

While it does not take sides in the dis­pute, the U.S. has in re­cent weeks in­ten­si­fied its crit­i­cism of China’s recla­ma­tion work, which has cre­ated new is­lands in­clud­ing airstrips on reefs and shoals also claimed by its neigh­bors.

The U. S. says the ac­tiv­i­ties could pose a threat to free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion.

China said last week its land recla­ma­tion in the dis­puted Spratly is­lands would fin­ish soon but be fol­lowed by “fa­cil­ity con­struc­tion.”

The Philip­pines has asked a United Na­tions tri­bunal to re­ject China’s claims to most of the Sea, a move an­grily re­jected by Bei­jing which says the world body has no au­thor­ity in the mat­ter.

This week’s naval ex­er­cise will be held both on Palawan, the clos­est land mass to the dis­puted reefs and wa­ters, and in the Sulu Sea to the east of the is­land.

The Filipino forces in the drills, in­clud­ing the U.S.-ac­quired frigates BRP Ra­mon Al­caraz and BRP Gre­go­rio del Pi­lar, also regularly pa­trol the South China Sea.

The ex­er­cise will fo­cus on com­bined mar­itime oper­a­tions, mo­bile dive and sal­vage train­ing, coastal river­ine oper­a­tions and mar­itime pa­trol and re­con­nais­sance along with sem­i­nars ashore, the U.S. Navy said.

Ja­pan, which has its own mar­itime dis­pute with China in the East China Sea, has also ex­pressed con­cern at Bei­jing’s recla­ma­tion fur­ther south.

On Mon­day it be­gan three days of drills with the Philip­pine Navy in­volv­ing a Ja­panese P-3C pa­trol air­craft.

The drills, which will also in­clude a Philip­pine Navy air­craft, will fo­cus on joint search and res­cue oper­a­tions on the high seas, the Philip­pine Navy said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.