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Armed forces chief of staff General Emmanuel Bautista said the new acquisitions would come under the fresh U.S. military assistance plan announced last month by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry when he visited the Philippines.
China began widening its territorial claims about five years ago to include nearly all of the seas dividing Southeast Asian countries and their northern neighbor. The claims defy international standards and maritime law, and Beijing refuses to have the dispute heard before an international court.
Its attitude has angered Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines, but the four countries have struggled to forge a united front within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) when dealing with Beijing over the issue.
Adding to recent tensions was Liu Yazhou, political commissar at the People’s Liberation Army National Defense University, who said in a magazine interview that the Chinese military could match the U.S. by “seizing opportunities.”
“An army that fails to achieve victory is nothing,” Liu was quoted as saying by a defense magazine “Those borders where our army has won victories are more peaceful and stable, but those where we were too timid have more disputes.”
That type of language again irritated its neighbors.