Last update 6/2/2011 9:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

Filipino Senator: China bully Southeast Asian countries

VietNamNet Bridge – China will always try to bully the Philippines and other countries in the Southeast Asian region in a bid to control massive oil resources in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said on the Philstar recently.

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Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
While the Philippines obviously does not have enough defense capability against a superpower such as China, Santiago advised the government to be circumspect and be extra wise in dealing with its big neighbor.

Santiago also warned the Philippines might end up as a “satellite country” of China.

Despite this, Santiago said the US as well as the rich countries in western Europe would not allow China to have leverage in terms of oil and natural gas development in the Spratlys.

“America and the countries in western Europe will not allow it because there will be imbalance in the distribution of power in the world once China is able to take over oil and mineral resources underneath the South China Sea,” she said.

On May 24 2011, the Philstar cited News5 as saying that China has set up military garrisons and outposts on six reefs that are part of the Kalayaan Island Group, part of the Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands.

According to the Philstar, apart from the military garrisons and outposts, China is aggressively pursuing large-scale maritime projects aimed at cementing its claim on the Spratlys. These projects include construction of port facilities, airports, navigation buoys, lighthouses, ocean observatories and maritime meteorology networks.

At the recent meeting with Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie (during Liang’s visit to the Philippines), Filipino President Benigno Aquino III warned Liang that alleged intrusions and encounters in disputed islands in the South China Sea area could lead to a dangerous arms race in the region.

Speaking to the media on May 24, one day after themeeting with Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie, President Aquino said: “I said, ‘If there are incidents such as these, doesn’t it promote an arms race happening within the region? When there’s an arms race, doesn’t the potential for conflict also increase? Who benefits from such a development?I told them, ‘We may not have the capabilities now but that might force us to increase our capabilities also”.

Mr. Aquino reiterated the Philippines’ position that countries in the region should focus on regional prosperity to ease the tensions caused by the rival claims of the Philippines, China and several other Southeast Asian countries over the Spratlys group.

Thai An (Source: Philstar and Inquirer)