Thursday, February 9, 2012

Philippines seeks US muscle on South China Sea...

By Mary Kay Magistad
PRI's The World [h/t LA]

South China Sea Several countries have overlapping territorial claims in the South China SeaSarah Osorio is bubbly and beautiful, and she is enjoying her reign as both Miss Palawan and Miss Kalayaan - the name of a contested chain of tiny islands in the South China Sea.
"That's me!" said the 18-year-old, showing a video of the beauty contest, where she struts down the runway beaming and wearing a red bikini.
Miss Palawan, Sarah Osorio
Miss Palawan, Sarah Osorio, says she wants to
make a point about disputed islands
Ms Osorio said she joined the pageant to make a serious point - about the Kalayaan Islands, where her father is an elected member of the municipal council. Her chance came when she was asked on stage what she would do if she won.
"I will focus on the biggest problem of our municipality, which is that other countries are claiming my municipality," she replied. "Because my municipality is for the Philippines only." The crowd went wild 
and the crown was hers.
The Kalayaan Islands are some of the thousands of islands, atolls and reefs in the South China Sea, where China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping territorial claims. Beneath and around them are believed to be rich reserves of oil and natural gas.
China's claim includes almost the entire South China Sea, well into what the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea recognises as the 200-mile-from-shore Exclusive Economic Zones of other claimants. That has led to occasional flare-ups and to competition to occupy islands, reefs and sandbars.
The Philippine army has a few men living on a rusting boat docked on one atoll. There is not room for anything else.
Kalayaan's main island, Pag-asa - about 650 metres in diameter - is spacious by comparison. Many of its 60 residents are in local government.
"We're a small island - no activities, no entertainment," Ms Osorio said. "You can fish during the day and at 6pm, no electricity, sleep." Still, she says, people choose to live there "to show it's ours, that we have that island for the Philippines".
Coastal clashes Read Full Article