Maritime Issues to Dominate Clinton’s Visit to Philippines

Posted November 15th, 2011 at 4:05 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Maritime disputes with China are expected to dominate talks beginning Tuesday between Philippine officials and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton is visiting the Philippines and Thailand on her way to the East Asia Summit later this week in Indonesia. Philippine President Benigno Aquino is expected to use the visit to press for U.S. support in a growing dispute with China over the South China Sea.

Philippine press reports say Mr. Aquino plans to press other Southeast Asian leaders to play a “decisive role” in the dispute when they meet this week in the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

The United States has a 60-year-old mutual defense treaty with the Philippines and, in August, helped the country to acquire a refurbished coast guard cutter to patrol its coastal waters.

But not all Filipinos welcome U.S. support. A spokesman for about 70 protesters who marched with placards Tuesday said U.S. interference can only make matters worse.

The Philippines and Vietnam both have complained of Chinese ships disrupting oil and gas exploration efforts in waters off their shores. China claims possession of the entire South China Sea and says it was acting legally in its own territorial waters.

The Philippines is seeking adjudication of the issue by the United Nations under the international convention on the law of the sea. China says the issue should be settled on a bilateral basis.