'PH-Vietnam friendship games a huge success'

By Jaime Laude, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 13 2014 04:36 AM | Updated as of Jun 13 2014 12:36 PM

BGY. MACARASCAS, Puerto Princesa , Philippines– The recent friendship games between Filipino and Vietnamese troops in the disputed Spratlys – an event described by China as a "shameless farce" performed by "scoundrels" – was such a huge success a second "encounter" is in the works, a senior military official said yesterday.

“The event was a huge success because both sides, setting aside any differences, blended well in all the lined-up activities, and for that we are looking forward to another round of friendly interactions,” the official, who declined to be named, said.

The football, basketball and tug-of-war games were held last Sunday.

Beijing described the games as a farce, with the state-run China Daily even calling Filipino and Vietnamese participants “scoundrels trying to make a scene.”

“As far we are concerned, we were able to show to the community of nations that we can address our maritime disputes in a friendly manner. That despite our differences we can still deal with each other in a peaceful and friendly way instead of bullying each other,” the security official said.

China’s aggressive staking of its expansive claims in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea has been spooking its smaller neighbors.

China claims almost 90 percent of the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims in the area.

In an editorial published last June 11, China Daily said the Philippines and Vietnam were “trying to make a scene” by engaging in sports activities.

“Turning a blind eye to the fact that the South China Sea islands have long been China’s territory and even their own old maps marked the nine-dash lines in the area as belonging to China, both countries are behaving like scoundrels on the street,” the editorial read.

“A football game between the two armies on an island controlled by Vietnam in the South China Sea on Sunday is the latest shameless farce the two countries have staged,” it added. – Alexis Romero