(LinkAsia: June 22, 2012) Yul Kwon: Now we’ve been following this story for a while. The Philippines and China have been locked in a standoff in the South China Sea for two months, but now the two countries are pulling back. The reason? Crummy weather. Here’s Japanese broadcaster NHK with more.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: June 18, 2012
Reporter: The standoff in waters around Scarborough Shoal erupted in April. Both the Philippines and China claim sovereignty over the uninhabited shoal. On Saturday, the Philippine government ordered a coast guard ship and another vessel in the area to return to port to avoid an approaching typhoon. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei welcomes the move. He said at a news conference on Monday that China will send a vessel to tug Chinese fishing boats in the area to safety.
Hong Lei, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson: Two Philippine ships left the waters early Saturday morning. China hopes the tension will further ease, and both nations will restore cooperative relations.
Reporter: However, the spokesperson expressed China’s intention to continue claim over the shoal, adding that the country will continue to monitor surrounding waters.
(LinkAsia: April 20, 2012) Yul Kwon: The South China Sea is back in the news. Last week, Chinese and Filipino patrol boats faced off over a reef known as the Scarborough Shoal. Both countries are trying to claim the reef for its valuable commercial fishing grounds and possible oil and gas deposits. Neither country says that it's willing to go to war over this, but that hasn't stopped the Philippines from flexing its muscles. It's currently conducting an annual military exercise with the United States. Our Japanese broadcast partner NHK has the story.
NHK World NEWSLINE Airdate: April 19, 2012
Reporter: Some 4,500 US troops and 2,300 Philippine personnel are taking part in 12 days of war games. The exercises kicked off on Monday and are designed to strengthen ties and improve joint military capabilities to protect Philippine borders.
The drills include landing practice on the western island of Palawan in the South China Sea.
In addition to the bilateral naval exercises, the capital Manila will host an earthquake simulation with six other nations, including Japan, for the first time.
Bri. Gen. Federick Padilla, US Military: "This will undoubtedly contribute to the nations in the region having increased level of trust and cooperation to ensure regional stability."
Rear Adm. Victor Martir, Armed Forces of the Philippines: "We continue to work together for a secure and stable Asia-Pacific region."
Reporter: This year's exercises have been marked by political tension following a military standoff between the Philippines and China. On Tuesday last week, a Philippine navy ship and Chinese surveillance vessels faced each other at the disputed Scarborough Shoal off the Philippine island of Luzon.
Diplomatic efforts have failed to resolve the eight-day standoff. On Tuesday, the Philippines said it would call on China to jointly take the issue to the international tribunal on the law of the sea in an effort to quickly and peacefully resolve the issue.
The Philippines has far fewer naval vessels and aircraft than China. Officials insist that the joint US-Philippine military exercises are not a show of force directed at China. But regional experts say the message of the war games is clear.
Yul Kwon: The code name for these exercises is Balikatan, Tagalog for shoulder-to-shoulder, to emphasize the closeness between the two nations.