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18 China ships enter PH

NSC deputy bares Sino intention to control WPH Sea China has deployed 18 surveillance ships inside Philippine waters, the deputy director general of the National Security Council said Thursday. “Right now there are 18 maritime surveillance ships operating in our area, from a total of 31 Chinese vessels,” said Vicente Agdamag at the Air Power Symposium hosted by the Air Force at the SMX Building at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City. The 31-vessel fleet was dispatched to the area prior to Chinese naval exercises and they have since maintained a total of 18 ships in various parts of the West Philippine Sea, Agdamag said. “In February 2013, a squadron of three People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels entered into the West Philippine Sea to conduct patrol and training missions…Then in March, they dispatched several modern warships for a naval drill to carry out high sea training missions in the Bashi Channel between the borders of the Philippines near Babuyan Islands and Bashi Channel Taiwan,” Agdamag said. He said the Philippine’s Babuyan and the Balintang channels are “international passages in Northern Luzon” and Bashi is the entry point of all ships entering the West Philippine Sea. “And again, also in March, China conducted military drills for eight days in the Spratlys participated in by one destroyer, two frigates, and an amphibious ship as well as a hover craft with helicopters, amphibious tanks and land based fighters. Then last April 21, based on aerial surveillance, five China maritime law enforcement agency ships, four China maritime surveillance vessels with bow number 262, 263, 72, 75 and one FLEC with bow number 302 were monitored south of Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag shoal,” Agdamag continued. He said that earlier, on March 13, only four law enforcement vessels and three CMS with bow number 168, 71, and 4668, and one FLEC with bow number 311 were monitored south of Bajo de Masinloc. Last April 24, Agdamag said that based on a CNN report, China launched its fourth naval training that centered on its aircraft carrier. “The fleet is capable for deep sea combat missions in the WPS, the islands in the East China Sea. The fleet is described as a strategic force similar to the second artillery corps that falls under the direction of the central military commission,” Agdamag said. In April China accused the Philippines of attempting to illegal occupy and seize territories in the WPS and rejected calls for international mediation. China demanded the Philippines withdraw it garrisons from the Kalayaan Island Group. “Lately, we received reports that surveillance ships are imposing 24-kilometer wide ban on fishing area. In fact, they’re imposing an exclusion zone already in Bajo de Masinloc,” Agdamag said. On May 16, the ship (ML Queen Seagull) of KIG Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon with 154 passengers and 14 crew as harassed by Chinese naval ships within the vicinity of Ayungin. Agdamag said that all these events showed China’s “clear intention to consolidate its control over the WPS within the context of the Chinese government’s nine dash line formulation.” “We need to pursue a healthy and friendly relationship with China and work with her for regional peace and prosperity. We can work closely with regional and local partners in shaping a benign China that respects the world order…,” Agdamag said. “We are recommending that we commit an increase in our investment for defense, from .5 to 1 percent of the gross domestic product on top of the current 1.1 percent. So right now our defense budget is 1.1 percent of our current national budget so we are recommending an additional of .5 to one percent not only to be at par with our neighbors and more importantly to develop a modicum of a credible defense capability to protect our maritime and strategic interest,” he added. Also on Thursday, three American senators filed a resolution condemning China’s use of threats and force in territorial disputes, the ANC News Channel reported. Senate Resolution 167, filed on Monday by Senators Robert Menendrez (Democrat, New Jersey), Marco Antonio Rubio (Republican, Florida), and Ben Cardin (Democrat, Maryland), also urges countries contesting ownership of parts of the West Philippine Sea and East China Sea to create and approve a code of conduct to avoid conflicts. The resolution, which has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations, cited many dangerous incidents involving Chinese actions in the West Philippine Sea and the East China Sea, the report said.
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