China should punish PH over US offer: report

Agence France Presse

Posted at Jan 29 2012 01:34 PM | Updated as of Jan 29 2012 09:34 PM

BEIJING - China should impose "sanctions" against the Philippines after it offered to allow more US troops on its soil, state media said Sunday, amid growing tensions over disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Manila said Friday it planned to hold more joint exercises and to let more US troops rotate through the Southeast Asian country -- an offer welcomed by the United States as it seeks to expand its military power in Asia.

China has not yet officially responded to the announcement, which was made during the country's week-long holiday for the Lunar New Year. The foreign ministry on Sunday did not immediately respond to AFP requests for comment.

But an editorial in the Global Times, known for its nationalistic stance, said Beijing "must respond" to the move by using its "leverage to cut economic activities" between the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.

China also should consider "cooling down" business links with its smaller neighbor, according to the editorial published in the Chinese and English versions of the newspaper.

"It should show China's neighboring areas that balancing China by siding with the US is not a good choice," it said.

"Well-measured sanctions against the Philippines will make it ponder the choice of losing a friend such as China and being a vain partner with the US."

China and the Philippines, along with Vietnam, have rival claims to parts of the South China Sea, home to some of the world's most important shipping lanes and believed to hold vast deposits of fossil fuels.

Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia also have claims in the South China Sea.

Manila and Hanoi complained repeatedly last year of what they said were increasingly aggressive acts by China in the decades-long rift.

The alleged acts, which included a Chinese naval ship reportedly firing warning shots at Filipino fishermen, fuelled fears among some nations in the region about China as its military and political strength grows.

The US has been looking to increase its military presence across the Asia Pacific in a strategic shift that has angered China.

US President Barack Obama said in November the United States would deploy up to 2,500 Marines to northern Australia. The following month a US admiral wrote that the US expected to station several combat ships in Singapore.