More Western allies mull joining patrols with US in S.China Sea

To greatly risk regional stability

Chinese experts warned on Monday that the possible multinational joint patrols led by the US in the South China Sea will pose a great risk to peace and stability, and they called for regional issues to be decided by regional countries through consultation, not by external forces.

The Philippines armed forces said that Japan and Australia had "expressed willingness" to take part in the joint maritime patrols with it and the US in the South China Sea, Bloomberg reported on Sunday, days after Philippine media outlet Manila Times revealed that at least six countries are interested in having their forces carry out the joint patrols with the Philippines.

Speaking at the sidelines of the Mutual Defense Board meeting at Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner Jr said several nations are keen on the idea of the joint patrols, according to Manila Times on Saturday. The US, Japan and Australia earlier discussed the idea with Philippine defense authorities. Brawner said Germany, Canada and France are also open to joint patrols.

Experts pointed out that the Philippines is under pressure from the US to exaggerate the "military threat from China." The US hopes to make the Philippines an open country, especially militarily, so that more allies of the US can enter the Philippines and achieve the goal of using it as a military base to contain China. 

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Monday that the potential multinational joint patrols are aimed at pressuring China and turning the South China Sea into insecure and unstable waters, which will also greatly change the geopolitical landscape in the region, experts warned.

Song condemned the move, saying most of the countries led by the US that are likely to join the patrols are external forces that want to come to the region to stir up trouble. Peace and stability in the South China Sea should be decided by countries and regions around the South China Sea through consultation, not by external force, he said.

According to Bloomberg, the US military on Thursday said it wants to gain access to additional Philippine sites to tighten a defense alliance between the two countries. The US earlier this year was given access to four more sites under the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which initially covered five Philippine military bases. The new sites are located near the island of Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Currently, military relations between the US and the Philippines are very close, and strengthening military ties with the Philippines is also an important strategic link for the US in the "Indo-Pacific" region, Ge Hongliang, director of the China-ASEAN Maritime Security Research Center at Guangxi University for Nationalities, told the Global Times on Monday.

Under pressure from the US, the multinational joint patrols, if they take place, will be limited to certain areas and will not greatly involve disputed waters, Ge believes, as the Philippines still has a certain degree of autonomy in responding to the demands of the US while considering its relations with China.

Photo: US in South China Sea © ILiu Rui / GT.

Source: The Global Times.

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