MANILA, July 15, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Aurea Calica - US President Barack Obama’s warning to China against using force or intimidation in its maritime disputes with its neighbors pushed the Philippines’ position on the sea row, Malacañang said yesterday.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Philippines’ call for a peaceful resolution to the West Philippine Sea dispute has resonated globally.

Valte said she could not predict how Obama’s call could influence other countries’ views on the issue.

She, however, refused to directly describe Obama’s statement as a big morale booster.

“We do know that there are a number of institutions, a number of countries that have expressed support for the position that we have taken,” Valte said over radio dzRB.

“We have gone through diplomatic channels, we have gone through the correct venue for the settlement of disputes such as this, and we have always advocated for a peaceful resolution, so we have received widespread support on our position,” she added.

Valte said Obama’s statement was consistent with the Philippine government’s position that any maritime dispute should be resolved under a rules-based regime based on international law.

Obama, meeting Chinese officials in Washington for wide-ranging talks, “urged China on Thursday to manage its maritime disputes with its neighbors peacefully, without the use of intimidation or coercion.”

Tensions have steadily risen between China and Japan, which accuses its neighbor of sending an increasing number of ships to exert its claim over unpopulated islands managed by Tokyo in the East China Sea.

The Philippines and Vietnam have also charged that China has used assertive means to exert claims in the conflict-riven South China Sea, although tensions have abated slightly with Hanoi in recent weeks.

State Councilor Yang Jiechi, addressing a press event at the end of the two days of talks, said China explained its “principled position” on the East China Sea and South China Sea.

China “expressed the hope that the United States will support the efforts of the parties concerned to properly handle and resolve the relevant disputes through dialogue,” Yang told a press event.

“China is the firmest promoter of the freedom of navigation in all oceans around the world, and China will continue to firmly implement this policy,” he said.

The United States since 2010 has repeatedly been outspoken over the South China Sea, saying that it has a national interest in ensuring freedom of navigation but does not take sides on individual claims.

With an eye on the tensions, the United States has boosted military cooperation with Japan and the Philippines – which are both treaty-bound allies – as well as with former war adversary Vietnam.

Chinese general: Philippines stirs trouble for asking US help By Camille Diola ( | Updated July 5, 2013 - 11:00am

Chinese Major General Luo Yuan.

MANILA, Philippines - A Chinese military general told foreign media Thursday that the Philippines plays the character of a "troublemaker" in the South China Sea.

"The role of the Philippines in the South China Sea is actually, in my view, a troublemaker," People's Liberation Army Major General Luo Yuan, known as "The Hawk" among Beijing's military leaders, said in his first interview with foreign media.

Luo said the Philippines attempted to provoke the Chinese government by asking help from the United States, whom he called "biased" over the maritime dispute.

A Chinese news analyst had also called the Philippines a "troublemaker" for seeking help from other nations in pursuing its claims over parts of the potentially oil-rich Spratlys region.

Related: Chinese news analyst calls the Philippines a 'troublemaker'

Luo, who is also vice minister of World Military Research Department of the Academy of Military Sciences in Beijing, also took a swipe at India and warned the country not to increase its military power at the Depsang Valley border amid China's incursion since April.

"No other major country in this world has been subjected to foreign aggression and invasion by other major countries, so that is why no other country is more eager than China to become strong," Luo said.

China has kept disputed islets being occupied by Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam under surveillance, as it also claims ownership of the territory. China is claiming almost the entire South China Sea.

Update: DFA: 'We refuse to dignify' Chinese general's comment

In an interview with China Internet Information Center in 2012, Luo claimed that the Philippines has an agenda for making a hard line stance on its claim over Scarborough Shoal (called "Huangyan" by China and "Panatag" by the Philippines).

"The Philippine claim that the Huangyan Island belongs to them is based on their own understanding of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea ... The Philippines is testing whether the international community will accept their actions, and whether China will acquiesce," Luo said.

The military academic added that if the Philippines becomes successful in its campaign over the shoal, it will build confidence in its neighbors to also pursue their claims on parts of the South China Sea, which may eventually force China into losing the islands.

"The Philippines wants to find out whether China will completely rule out military action in any event during this period of "strategic opportunity," or even exchange the island in a peace settlement," he said.

Luo also believes that the country is testing the effectiveness of its relations with the US and see whether Washington will take its side on the standoff.

Luo is also famous for his blogs and social media postings. Among the most contentious posts he had written on Chinese networking site Weibo earned over 200,000 comments, according to a report

"Protect the nation's rights externally, punish the traitors internally," he said in the post.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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