War games with US targeted China
The Philippines are to be declared a major non-NATO ally. With their new status the Philippines are expected to get more military aid. What is interesting is that the United States is training them to defend the Spratlys against China.
It is reasonable to assume that our granting of a major non-NATO ally status to Pakistan may ultimately be for the containment of China.
The Spratly Islands consist of more than 100 small islands or reefs. They are surrounded by rich fishing grounds and potentially by gas and oil deposits.
They are claimed in their entirety by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, while portions are claimed by Malaysia and the Philippines. About 50 islands are occupied by China (about 450 soldiers), Malaysia (70-90), the Philippines (about 100), and Vietnam (about 1,500). Brunei is a claimant but has no outposts. http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/pg.html
China is also exerting its influence on Southeast Asia by virtue of its burgeoning population. Some frontier areas of Myanmar could easily be mistaken for China, with only the yuan currency and Chinese language in use. Deeper in Southeast Asia, illegal migrants filter into northern Thailand and set up restaurants and health clinics in Cambodia.
While hardly a mass migration, the inflow is among factors awakening fears that China — now the world’s No. 3 economy and a superpower in the making — may come to dominate the region, exacting obedience and tributes from its southern neighbors much as Beijing’s emperors demanded in centuries past.
‘‘If the present trajectory is maintained we are looking to the time when China is by a long chalk going to be the most influential country in the region, and it’s going to be hard not to do what China says," argues Hugh White, director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
This is a good link: http://www.aztrib.com/index.php?sty=19609
War games with US targeted China: Arroyo
MANILA - President Gloria Arroyo said the United States military had been training Philippine soldiers to defend the Spratly islands against China until she asked them to shift the focus to fighting the Abu Sayyaf extremist group.
It was the first time that a Philippine leader had acknowledged that China was a target of military exercises between Philippine and US forces.
In her weekly radio programme, Mrs Arroyo said US military aid to the Philippines, principally for anti-terrorism, has ballooned from US$1.9 million (S$3.17 million) when she took office three years ago to US$400 million, and the country is expected to get more after Washington declared it a major non-Nato ally.
Abu Sayyaf rebels have conducted numerous kidnappings, including of American and other foreign tourists, and is notorious for beheading captives.
In the past week, the government said it had prevented 'Madrid-level' bombings of malls and trains allegedly planned by Abu Sayyaf members trained by Jemaah Islamiah, a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda.
'America has helped us in our fight against terrorism,' said Mrs Arroyo. 'When the Abu Sayyaf emerged, I told the Americans I don't want the training to defend the Spratlys against the Chinese anymore - it's not relevant and it's not realistic.'
The two allies hold annual military exercises in accordance with a 1951 treaty under which they cooperate to beef up the Philippines' defence.
China has expressed concern about the possibility of being targeted as a hypothetical enemy in the exercises and that some activities may be held in the Spratlys.
Philippine defence officials had taken pains in the past to clarify that such exercises were 'not directed at any particular country, adversary or notional enemy'. -- AP http://straitstimes.asia1.com.sg/asia/story/0,4386,244098,00.html