Japan to provide the Philippines with ten vessels to patrol South China Sea
The ships are designed to hold in check Chinese claims over the Spratly Islands. They are expected to be classed as overseas development aid. For Shinzo Abe, Beijing is wrong to penalise Japanese companies operating in China.

Manila (AsiaNews) - Tokyo is offering Manila ten patrol vessels to boost the Filipino coastguard against threats from China in the South China Sea. The offer came during a visit to the Philippines by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. His Filipino counterpart, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, warned yesterday that China's "very threatening" actions in the contested waters are a risk to Japan and others. Kishida also met Filipino President Benigno Aquino (pictured).

Sino-Japanese tensions have been rising in the past few months as both countries claim the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu for China). For years, Beijing has also confronted other nations in Southeast Asia (including Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan) over the Spratly and Paracel islands.

Japan is expected to class the offer of ten "multi-role response vessels" as overseas development aid with the first ship expected within 18 months. Some could even be built in the Philippines.

In recent years, Beijing has deployed it forces on some of the Spratly Islands, threatening other nations' personnel and ships.

More recently, it has violated the territorial waters of the Senkaku/Diaoyu, and backed a patriotic campaign against Japanese companies operating in China.

For Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, "It was wrong for China, as a country responsible to the international community, to achieve a political goal by allowing damages to Japanese-affiliated companies and Japanese nationals that have made contributions to Chinese economy."

Beijing's action "will not only undermine the bilateral relationship, but it will also negatively affect China's economy and society," he added.

The hawkish Abe made the comments at a press conference, during which he also presented a US$ 224 billion stimulus package to boost Japan's economy.