Manila’s base plan targets China [People’s Daily]

By Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)
July 30, 2013

Troop relocation invites outside intervention in region, experts say

Manila’s plan to relocate its major air force and navy camps to a former US naval base near the South China Sea is designed to increase pressure on China and introduce more outside forces to the region to contain the country, experts said.

As soon as funding is available, the Philippine government plans to transfer air and naval forces, with their aircraft and warships, to Subic Bay, northwest of Manila, to gain faster access to the South China Sea, Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Sunday.

“It’s for the protection of our West Philippine Sea,” said Gazmin, using Manila’s newly adopted name for part of the South China Sea.

Subic’s location will cut the time it takes for fighter aircraft to get to the South China Sea by more than three minutes, compared with flying from Clark Air Base, north of Manila, where some air force planes are currently based, according to a confidential defense department document obtained by The Associated Press.

The natural deep harbor can also accommodate two large warships that the Philippines recently acquired from its ally the United States, and will grant visiting US forces, ships and aircraft temporary access to more of its military camps to allow for more joint military exercises than are currently held, the media reported.

The first US coast guard cutter was relaunched as the Philippines’ largest warship in 2011. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III will lead ceremonies on Aug 6 to welcome the second ship at Subic, the Philippine navy has said…

– Facility has long history –

Subic Bay is located about 100 km northwest of Manila Bay. It was formerly the site of US Naval Base Subic Bay, a major maritime facility. It is now an industrial and commercial area known as the Subic Bay Freeport Zone under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

It holds a hallowed place in naval history. According to the SBMA’s official website:

In 1800, Spain discovered it was a naturally deep and strategically located harbor and soon built a naval fortress.

In 1898, a US fleet seized the port after destroying the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay.

In 1909, the US navy selected it as a repair and supply depot. During the Vietnam War, Subic Bay’s piers and anchorages were used as repair and refueling stops for hundreds of ships each month.

In 1992, after almost 90 years as a US military facility, Subic Bay was turned over to the Philippines.

Excerpted; full article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90786/8345287.html

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