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Philippines tells China to be 'responsible'
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) July 1, 2011

The Philippines on Friday urged China to be a "responsible" power, while expressing concern again over the Asian giant's increasing assertiveness in disputed waters.

Tensions in the strategic and resource-rich South China Sea have escalated in recent weeks, with the Philippines and Vietnam voicing alarm at what they say are increasingly forceful Chinese actions there.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said he did not expect rival sea claims to lead to armed conflict but he planned to visit China next week and looked forward to discussing the dispute with Chinese leaders.

"We're counting on China's rise and growth and progress as being a responsible one," del Rosario told reporters.

"I have been invited to go to Beijing and I'm sure we will be looking for peaceful means to be able to settle the challenges that appear to be facing us."

Del Rosario said his trip to China was tentatively set for July 7-9, although the dates had yet to be confirmed.

He also indicated that Philippine President Benigno Aquino would eventually accept a longstanding invitation by the Chinese to visit, although that trip was also unconfirmed.

"We're still trying to discuss the (Aquino) China trip," he said.

Del Rosario repeated Philippine accusations of Chinese forces opening fire on Filipino fishermen, shadowing an oil exploration vessel employed by a Filipino firm, and putting up structures in areas claimed by the Philippines.

He said he did not know why China had suddenly become more aggressive.

"I can only speculate that there appears to be some finding of significant natural gas deposits in the area," he said.

Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin also expressed concern Friday over the Chinese actions, which he said was forcing the ill-equipped Philippine military to re-evaluate its priorities.

"The truth of the matter is that there were violations that were noted during this period, and we find the increase in intrusions very alarming," he told reporters.

"Before, we were giving high priority to internal security operations, but lately it appears that the equation had changed because we have many deficiencies that have to be addressed immediately."

Gazmin said fighter planes were now a higher priority, six years after the Philippines retired the last of its Vietnam War-vintage F5 fighter jets.

Air force spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Miguel Ernesto Okol said the country was looking to acquire between four and six fighter jets before 2016 for air defence.

"It should be a multi-capable aircraft (that) can also perform other missions like maritime patrol, limited interceptions, and if necessary to chase after targets," he said.

But Okol said there were no firm plans yet for the cash-strapped Philippine military to buy the jets.

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China 'helpful' on south Sudan: US
Washington (AFP) July 1, 2011 - China has played a helpful role in encouraging Sudan to move forward with reconciliation with the south, a senior US official said Friday, despite concerns over Beijing's role in Darfur.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir enjoyed a red-carpet welcome this week in China, outraging human rights groups as he is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes in the Darfur region.

Princeton Lyman, the US special envoy on Sudan, repeated that the United States opposed foreign travel by Bashir but credited China's message on south Sudan, which is set to become independent on July 9 after decades of bloodshed.

"We have every indication that their message to President Bashir has been, 'Look, you've got to resolve the issues of the CPA,'" Lyman said, referring to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement which set the stage for southern independence.

"'We want to see peace between the two. We'll be with you and we'll be with the south,'" Lyman said of the Chinese communication with Bashir. "And that's the right message, and so that's helpful in itself."

Lyman, who has met several times with his Chinese counterpart Liu Guijin, suggested that Beijing was motivated by self-interest as it is a major investor in Sudan's oil sector.

"They know the oil is on both sides of the border. They're moving rapidly to establish their relationships and programs in the south," Lyman said.

North-south fighting killed two million people and displaced another four million over 20 years. The separate conflict in Darfur against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government has claimed at least 300,000 lives and displaced 1.9 million others since 2003, according to the United Nations.

US lawmakers and human rights groups have been strongly critical of China's role in Darfur. Representative Frank Wolf said Bashir's visit was further proof of China's material support to "genocide" in Darfur.

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Deby hails 'gift from China' bringing energy independence
Ndjamena (AFP) June 29, 2011
Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno on Wednesday proclaimed his country's energy independence as he inaugurated production at an oil refinery which he described a "gift from China". "You have your energy independence. You don't have to go elsewhere to get your oil products. You will even supply the sub-region," he said. "This jewel is a gift from China to which you owe gratitude," the pre ... read more

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