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New Philippines base in disputed Spratlys raises China tensions

THE Philippines inaugurated a new coastguard monitoring base in the disputed Spratly Islands today, raising tensions with China.

The south-east Asian archipelago, which is subject to territorial claims from China (both the Beijing and Taiwan governments), the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei, is largely uninhabited but rich in fish stocks and natural resources including oil. Multiple claimant countries have established bases on islands in an attempt to assert control.

Philippines National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano, who presided over a ceremony establishing the base on Thitu island, accused China of “pure bullying” over a series of confrontations between Chinese and Filipino vessels in the South China Sea.

China’s Defence Ministry attacked the Philippines for reinforcing a warship that has been grounded on a reef in the group, Ren’ai Jiao or the Second Thomas Shoal, since 1999 and is used as the core of an occupation of the reef by Filipino troops.

The Philippines agreed this year to the establishment of four new US military bases on its territory.

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