- - Thursday, June 23, 2011

CHINA

New China-Vatican row brewing over bishops

BEIJING | China’s state-controlled Catholic Church says it will move swiftly to appoint new bishops in dioceses where there are none. The step is certain to worsen frictions with the Vatican.

Filling the more than 40 empty bishop’s seats is an urgent task because the vacancies are causing serious problems in the handling of church affairs, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted a spokesman for the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association as saying Thursday.

Bishops must be selected and ordained in an “active and prudent” way based on national conditions and pastoral and evangelizing work, the spokesman was quoted as saying.

VIETNAM

U.S. Navy: Visit not linked to South China Sea

HANOI | Vietnam and the United States are to hold joint naval activities next month, but they were long planned and are unconnected to regional tensions in the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy said Thursday.

The event in the central Vietnamese city of Danang next month will last about one week and is “not an exercise” because there is no combat training, said Lt. Cmdr. Mike Morley, a Navy spokesman.

“There’s no connection at all” with territorial disputes simmering in the South China Sea,” he said. “It’s merely just a coincidence of timing.”

JAPAN

Chinese warships cross seas off Japan island

TOKYO | Japan’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that 11 Chinese warships were spotted in international waters off the country’s southern island of Okinawa.

No territorial violations were claimed by Japan, but the movements are sensitive because Japan and China have a dispute over small islands in the East China Sea.

On Thursday, the ministry said the Chinese warships were monitored passing from the Pacific Ocean into the East China Sea.

Ministry spokesman Shuichi Fukuya said they were believed to be returning from target practice and refueling exercises in waters about 930 miles south of Okinawa.

He said the Japanese military saw the Chinese warships heading out to the area June 8 and 9.

Separately, the Foreign Ministry said a Chinese maritime research vessel briefly entered Japan’s exclusive economic zone Thursday, about 205 miles off the coast of Miyagi, one of the worst-hit areas in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

PHILIPPINES

Philippines seeks arms amid China tension

The Philippines said Thursday it hopes to lease naval equipment from the United States, calling for a “reset” in the two nations’ alliance in the face of rising friction at sea with China.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, in Washington for talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, also indicated that the Philippines views the tense South China Sea as being covered under its security treaty with the United States.

Mr. del Rosario said the Philippines wants to move away from buying second-hand military hardware and hopes the United States would consider “an operational lease so that we can look at fairly new equipment and be able to get our hands on that quickly.”

“We need to have the resources to be able to stand and defend ourselves and, I think, to the extent that we can do that, we become a stronger ally for you,” Mr. del Rosario said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies before his meeting with Mrs. Clinton.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday also called for U.S. assistance on the dispute. Mr. del Rosario said Mr. Aquino has allocated $252 million to upgrade the navy.