by Staff Writers
Manila, Philippines (UPI) Jul 8, 2011
Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario is in Beijing for talks concerning disputed islands that increasingly cause friction between the two countries.
During his two-day visit this week del Rosario met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and other officials.
High on the agenda is how to avoid further confrontations between their respective navies and research vessels exploring for natural resources in the seabed.
They were to discuss "how to strengthen high-level exchanges, promote mutually beneficial cooperation, properly handle specific issues in bilateral relations, jointly promote regional cooperation in East Asia and other topics," a foreign ministry spokesman said.
A particular flash point is the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea, or South China Sea as the area is known to Beijing.
Philippines armed forces spokesman Commodore Miguel Rodriguez said del Rosario's visit to China could ease the tensions in the disputed areas, a report in The Philippine Star said.
"There should at least be an agreement with China in order to stabilize the region and this is good for us," he said.
More exchanges of information as well as a greater openness and transparency of military and resource exploration are needed to avoid conflict.
In March, the Philippines lodged a formal complaint regarding threatening behavior by Chinese patrol boats toward a survey ship at the Reed Bank oil and gas fields off Palawan Island.
Philippines Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said seismic testing for gas by a Singapore-registered, French-owned survey ship in the South China Sea was stopped after the incident.
"They had to pack up and reconstitute everything," Almendras said. "We have to wait but we hope to resume."
When the Philippines air force sent two planes to investigate, the Chinese vessels left area.
The South China Sea is becoming more important to the bordering countries because of potential oil and natural gas deposits. However, poorly defined maritime boundaries means confrontations are becoming more frequent.
In particular, Vietnam and China recently have been at loggerheads concerning high-seas incidents. Last month Vietnam again warned China not to interfere with its marine research vessels after a second confrontation within three weeks.
A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said a Chinese fishing boat, later joined by two Chinese maritime surveillance ships, intentionally cut a cable being towed by Viking II, a Vietnamese seismic survey ship operating well within Vietnam's 200-mile economic maritime zone.
"The (Chinese) act was absolutely intentional, well-designed and well-prepared," Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga told a news conference in Hanoi.
Other countries that claim islands and sea lanes in the South China Sea around the Spratly Islands are Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Also this week, a high-level Philippines government report suggested Manila review its "one-China" policy in order to strengthen and formalize its economic and cultural ties with Taiwan.
No official diplomatic ties exist between Manila and Taipei because the Philippines adheres to the one-China policy, which recognizes Taiwan as province of mainland China.
But a study group composed of officials from the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs and the House of Representatives has questioned the policy under which the Philippines has no direct formal representation in Taiwan.
Under the policy's protocols, the Philippines deported 14 Taiwanese nationals to mainland China instead of to the island in February.
Taiwan protested the deportation and has said it will consider banning of Filipino nationals from working in Taiwan.
The Philippines report recommended the establishment of quasi-government offices in Taiwan by countries with diplomatic relations with China.
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U.K. court ruling a blow to Argentine plan
Buenos Aires (UPI) Jul 7, 2011
A British Supreme Court ruling that rejected state immunity for Argentina in creditor claims dating to its $96 billion sovereign debt default in 2001 exposed Buenos Aires to new financial risks as the government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner fought for an early re-entry into global capital markets. The Supreme Court decision reversed a 2010 lower court ruling and opens the ... read more
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