Philippines and Vietnam beef up navies in China-coveted areas!
MANILA, Philippines - August 23, 2011 - The Philippines and Vietnam each received warships Tuesday to beef up their navies as they face tensions with China about disputed islands, raising the prospect of an escalating arms race in the South China Sea.
The two Southeast Asian nations also are shopping for additional military assets, including submarines for Vietnam and air defense radar for the Philippines, as the impoverished nations try to gain leverage with their huge northern neighbor while staying within their budgets.
The Philippines has turned to second-hand U.S. hardware: a decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard cutter was formally unveiled Tuesday in Manila's port as the most modern vessel in the dilapidated Philippine fleet.
Meanwhile, Vietnam received its second new Russian-made guided missile cruiser in the Cam Ranh naval port on Monday, state media reported.
The two countries are at loggerheads with China over disputed Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims in its entirety on historical grounds.
Authorities in Manila and Hanoi repeatedly have accused Chinese vessels this year of interfering with their oil and gas explorations and harassing fishermen within their 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zones.
Beijing has named the South China Sea one of its “core interests”, meaning it could potentially go to war to protect it. Last week, it launched sea tests of its first aircraft carrier, a refurbished former Soviet vessel.