The Philippines said on Saturday it has shelved planned improvements on a military airstrip in the disputed South China Sea to support its bid for a UN ruling against Beijing over the tense territorial row.
The Philippines infuriated China in March by asking a United Nations tribunal to declare Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea a violation of international law.
China claims almost all of the sea, a vital avenue for world trade that is also believed to harbour vast oil and gas reserves.
But its claims overlap in parts with those of the Philippines, as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino's spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the government had suspended long-planned upgrade work on a military runway in the disputed Spratly islands to boost chances of a favourable ruling at the UN.
"We wanted to maintain the moral high ground in light of the case we filed at the (UN) arbitration tribunal regarding the West Philippine Sea," Valte said, using the Filipino name for the area.
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10 of 21 refurbished ‘Huey’ helicopters now in PH
October 4, 2014 7:47 pm
Ten out of the 21 refurbished UH-IH “Huey” helicopters are now at Clark Air Force Base in Angeles City, Pampanga, a military observer said Saturday.
The aircraft are now undergoing inspection and flight testing.
The remaining 11 are expected to be delivered within the end of the year, the observer added.
These planes were acquired as the Philippine Air Force’s “Huey” fleet was whittled down to just 18 helicopters, from an estimated 100, due to airframe aging and accidents.
The contract for the 21 refurbished UH-1Hs is estimated to be worth around P1.2 billion.
It was signed earlier this year with Rice Aircraft Services Inc. and the Canadian company Eagle Copters Ltd.
South Korea announced official terms for its Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) F-35 stealth fighter deal, which includes technology to build its own fighter as tensions rise with North Korea.
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An AGM-65G Maverick is fired from an FA-50 fighter jet. [NEWSIS]
(Reuters) - South Korea said on Monday it had warned North Korea of a "strong" response if it provoked an incident similar to one last week that sparked an exchange of machinegun fire across their border.<click here for link>
The warning came as South Korean President Park Geun-hye reiterated on Monday her commitment to engage with the North, despite what she called "the dual nature" of ties, saying the "door was always open to dialogue".
South Korea said the North Korean firing was a "provocative act" that had violated the truce suspending their 1950-53 war and the complaint was reiterated in a notice the South sent the North late on Sunday.
"It is a stern warning of a strong response in the event of further provocation," South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a briefing.
The exchange of fire on Friday began after North Korea fired shots at balloons carrying leaflets sent towards the North by South Korean activists critical of the North's leadership.
North Korea has long criticised the leaflet drops as provocative and it has threatened to respond to them with force. But before Friday, it had never done so.
No one was hurt in the firing.
North Korea's state media said on Saturday that expected talks with the South to try to improve ties were in danger of being cancelled because authorities in South Korea had allowed the activists to float their balloons.
"The leaflet-scattering operation ... was a premeditated and deliberate politically motivated provocation perpetrated under the backstage wire-pulling of the U.S. and the South Korean authorities," the North's KCNA news agency said.
North Korea sent a high-level delegation on a surprise visit to the South on Oct. 4 and the two sides agreed to reopen dialogue, which has been stalled since February, late this month or early next.
Private groups in the South, often led by defectors from the North, cite their constitutional freedom of expression in releasing their balloons.
The South's Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, repeated on Monday it had no legal justification to stop the leaflet drops but said authorities may try to step in to prevent them on the basis of ensuring public safety.
(Reporting By Sohee Kim; Editing by Robert Birsel)
3 Japanese warships in Phl for 4-day goodwill visit
Thanks to the strategic foresight of the late Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos (1966-1986), who recognized the importance of establishing permanent, defensible structures over contested features in the South China Sea, the Philippines has managed to exercise effective and continuous sovereignty over the island,
In short, the Philippines has prioritized an inherently uncertain legal maneuver at the expense of investing in tangible mechanisms, which can actually protect the areas under its control.