US trying to lure Philippines away from detente with China
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US trying to lure Philippines away from detente with China

“The US response to Chinese activity around the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea is clearly an attempt to ingratiate itself with the Philippines,” Dennis Etler, a former professor of Anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California said. By so doing, the US is trying to “lure Philippine President [Rodrigo] Duterte away from his detente with China,” he added. China claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety, but several other regional countries dispute this. At the center of the dispute is the Spratly group, which features more than a hundred islands, reefs, and atolls. Washington recurrently raises objection to Beijing’s activities in the sprawling body of water, including its sailing of warships and flying of warplanes, calling those moves “aggressive” and “provocative.” It has also controversially dispatched its own vessels and aircraft to the waters on numerous occasions, prompting Beijing’s protest. Duterte has been maintaining close relations with the US under President Donald Trump, while waging similar fiery verbal attacks against China time after time. Most recently, he threatened on Friday to send his troops on a “suicide mission” if China did not back off from Pagasa, one among the Spratly group, which is claimed by Manila. Etler said the US calls the Chinese maneuvering a “threat” to other countries’ ability to sail, fly, and operate in international waters, while “China has not interfered in the ability of any nation to do so.” China also entered an agreement with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2002, which aims to prevent armed confrontation in the busy waterway, he reminded. “Thus, there is no reason to target China as an ‘aggressor’ in the disputed area,” the pundit asserted. “The rival claimants to territories in the South China Sea must resolve their disputes by mutual consultations and negotiations without the interference of outside forces such as the US, who only seek to exacerbate tensions and fish in troubled waters,” he concluded.

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