By Mei Jingya, Sina English
Philippine president Benigno Aquino III on Monday said he may ask the United States to deploy spy planes over South China Sea to help monitor the disputed waters.
"We might be requesting overflights on that," Aquino said during an interview with Reuters, referring to U.S. P3C Orion spy planes, "We don't have aircraft with those capabilities."
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland refused to comment specifically on the Philippine request, but said “the United States supports the Philippines in enhancing its maritime domain awareness."
Aquino’s remarks are viewed by many as provocative at a time when the Philippines and its US ally are conducting a joint navy drill. The South China Sea situation, after more than 2 months’ simmering tension, has de-escalated recently following the pullout of Philippine ships.
Moreover, as the Philippines will lift its fishing ban on July 15, Philippine fishermen are expected to return to the Huangyan Island soon. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will also go back to the disputed area and be assisted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to protect the safety of fisherman, an AFP spokesman revealed on July 1.
China Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at Monday’s news briefing that Chinese fishery ships have taken shelter from storms as typhoon season approaches. He noted that the Huangyan Island tension has seen an overall ease-up and hopes the Philippines does not endanger bilateral ties with new provocations.