First up. from the AP via the San Francisco Chronicle:
Philippines, China commit to diplomacy in standoff
The Philippines said Wednesday it agreed with China to resolve diplomatically a standoff between a Philippine warship and two Chinese surveillance vessels in the disputed South China Sea, the most dangerous confrontation there in recent years.Six countries claiming the same miserable rocks? How weird could this get?
But the Philippines also said that neither side was ready to stand down and warned China that it would defend itself if provoked.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario said he met with Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing and both insisted that the Scarborough Shoal where the ships are facing off was part of their country's territory.
Despite the impasse, "we resolved to seek a diplomatic solution to the issue," Del Rosario told a news conference.
"Nobody will benefit if violence breaks out there," said President Benigno Aquino III.
The Philippine government said the standoff began when its navy tried to detain Chinese boats fishing in its waters, but was stopped by two Chinese surveillance craft. The Chinese Embassy accused the Philippine warship of harassing the fishermen and called for it to leave Chinese territory.
The South China Sea is home to a myriad of competing territorial claims, most notably the Spratly Islands south of the shoal, an island chain claimed by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan. The barren islands, reefs and coral outcrops are believed to be in rich in oil and gas and the overlapping claims have long been feared as Asia's next flashpoint for armed conflict....MORE
From the Philippine Online Chronicle:
In a novel attempt to ease the tension in the disputed West Philippine Sea, a military official announced on Tuesday that Philippine and Vietnamese troops are planning to hold football and basketball matches in the Spratly islands.
According to Philippine Navy chief Vice Admiral Alexander Pama, the navies of the two countries have decided to hold the “fun games” as part of the agreement signed last year which calls for the undertaking of confidence-building steps and sharing more information to allow better response to maritime accidents.
“We will be sending some of our boys to their occupied islands and they will also be sending their boys to our occupied islands,” Pama was quoted in an ABS-CBN News article.The Philippine military currently occupies 7 islands and 1 reef in the disputed region while Vietnamese troops are deployed in 25 islands, cays and reefs.
The Chinese Navy has reportedly offered Yao Ming an Admiralship should the dispute escalate into a round-robin tournament.
From the CIA:
From the CIA: