I think this is a sign of how frustrated the Philippines government is becoming with the Chinese land grab in the South China Sea, how long before other Southeast Asian nations begin to express the same level of frustration?:
Philippine Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario walked into a regional security forum this week to hear his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi reel off a list of complaints against Manila for stirring tensions over the South China Sea.
Del Rosario was not scheduled to speak, but after hearing Wang’s speech at Sunday’s closed-door meeting in the kingdom of Brunei, he raised his hand and proceeded to rebut China’s allegations one by one, according to Philippine diplomats. The Singapore foreign minister called it “testy exchanges”.
The departure from the usual diplomatic niceties that mark such multilateral gatherings was the latest display of animosity over competing claims in the oil-rich South China Sea, one of Asia’s most dangerous military flashpoints.
Despite rare progress towards easing tensions between China and Southeast Asian nations at the Brunei meeting, a binding agreement remains a distant prospect, with Beijing seen in no rush to limit a growing naval reach that is alarming neighbors such as Vietnam and the Philippines.
“My response was simply that the core issue is that China has taken the position that they have indisputable sovereignty over nearly the entire South China Sea,” Del Rosario told reporters later. “Since that is a grossly excessive claim, we need to settle this in accordance with international law. So I asked everyone to support that.”…………
Washington, an ally of the Philippines and also Vietnam, has not taken sides, but Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated in Brunei its strategic interest in freedom of navigation through the busy sea and desire to see a Code of Conduct signed quickly.
Those risks have risen in recent weeks as three Chinese ships have converged just 5 nautical miles from a small reef where the Philippines maintains a small military force.
China has condemned the Philippine presence at the Second Thomas Shoal as an “illegal occupation”, even though the reef is within Manila’s 200-nautical mile economic exclusion zone.
The encroachment is part of China’s strategy of sending ships to far-flung parts of the sea to protect fishing fleets and press its sovereignty claims, which Manila condemned this week as causing “increasing militarization.”
Las month, Chinese state media warned that a “counterstrike” against the Philippines was inevitable if it continued to provoke Beijing in the South China Sea.
The Philippines has one of the least equipped militaries in Asia, but is pursuing a $1.8 billion modernisation program and has revived plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic, just 124 miles from one of the contentious areas on the South China Sea. [Reuters]
You can read much more at the link, but I guess from the US perspective something good coming out of this is that nations that have been freeloading off the US defense blanket are now spending their own money to equip and defend themselves.