ILPS Philippines Chapter
MANILA. The visit of US Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris in the Philippines signals intensified US intervention in the country and the region using the expansion of China as an excuse.
Harris’ visit comes just a month after US Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Scott Swift visited the Philippines and made a seven-hour surveillance mission over the West Philippine Sea.
This was revealed by the Philippines chapter of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Phils) as the US admiral met with Armed Forces chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday.
Adm. Harris presented the Pentagon’s new “Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Strategy.” It highlights three regional maritime objectives: “to safeguard the freedom of the seas; deter conflict and coercion; and promote adherence to international law and standards.”
“It is, in fact, freedom for the US to exploit the seas, profit from conflict and shared interest with China, while maintaining US non-adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the ILPS-Phils said.
A Washington Post report noted that the Asia-Pacific boasts eight of the ten busiest global container ports. The South China Sea alone is home to 10% of global fisheries production and may contain 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Nearly 30% of global maritime trade transits its waters annually, including about $1.2 trillion in ship borne trade bound for U.S. ports. East China Sea figures are 200 million barrels of oil and 1-2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The US plans to home-port 60% of its naval and overseas air assets to the Pacific by 2020. It is upgrading its forward-deployed carrier; home-porting its three newest stealth destroyers; and deploying its newest air operations-oriented amphibious assault ship, two additional Aegis-capable destroyers, an additional attack submarine, and manifold advanced aircraft. It is funding wide-ranging weapons modernization, with—at long last—increased focus on missiles.
The strategy builds on Office of Naval Intelligence and Pentagon reports that China’s navy “now possesses the largest number of vessels in Asia, with more than 300 surface ships, submarines, amphibious ships, and patrol craft.” China’s 303 naval combatants dwarf the 202 possessed by Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines combined.
Chinese island building in the South China Sea has added 2,900 acres of artificial land, dwarfing Vietnam’s 80, Malaysia’s 70, the Philippines’ 14, and Taiwan’s 8. China has built 17 times more artificial island area in 20 months than rival claimants combined over the past 40 years. It has generated 95% of all artificial land in the Spratlys.
“We are critical of China’s aggressive expansion as we continue to resist all forms of imperialist intervention and the US violations of Philippine sovereignty,” the ILPS-Phils said.
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