Aquino: US patrols in South China Sea a ‘balancing of power’
“I think everybody would welcome a balance of power anywhere in the world.” This was President Benigno Aquino III’s comment Tuesday on reports that a United States Navy warship will sail near artificial islands built by China in disputed areas of South China Sea.
Aquino, during a forum hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) at Solaire in Paranaque, said he found nothing wrong with the US move.
“Everybody seems to be guaranteeing freedom of navigation so I see no issue,” he said, later adding that there should be no problem as long as there are “no hostile intentions being alluded to.”
“If we say we are in support for freedom of navigation for everybody…then we seek to hamper anybody’s travel that I think seems to be inconsistent,” he further explained.
Asked if the Philippines will express its support for the move, Aquino said: We “have voiced our concerns about the build up of islands or the creation, build up of features that somehow resemble islands…We have stated and restated this position and have [resorted to] arbitration…That I think is the support in general.”
The US government has earlier said that it will exercise its right to freedom of navigation, even in the South China Sea.
The purpose of sailing USS Lassen, a guided missile destroyer, within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands is said to demonstrate the US stand that the features are not sovereign Chinese territory. RAM
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