Philippines to resupply islands disputed by China

Image copyright AFP Image caption The Philippines aims to “re-set” ties with China

The Philippines is to send ships and planes to resume a resupply mission to disputed islands in the South China Sea.

The navy and air force are to deploy at least a dozen aircraft to the area, according to a statement from the defence ministry.

The move is part of an effort to boost security ahead of a visit by US President Donald Trump.

The Philippines suspended the resupply missions when the USS Decatur had to respond to a Chinese attack in May.

The refuelling missions were first started by Manila in 2015.

The Philippines has been at odds with China over the control of the Spratly Islands, nine reefs and tiny islands that are claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The defence ministry said the resupply mission was aimed at helping to strengthen the Philippines’ defence capabilities.

The plan is part of Manila’s efforts to improve its alliances with Washington and its ally, the Philippines, and to “re-set” diplomatic ties with China after a failed deal to jointly build a port in a disputed area.

The ministry said the resupply missions were meant to enable the Philippines to regain its freedom of navigation over the area, particularly during Chinese annual military drills.

The plan also comes as a US aircraft carrier group operates in waters near the South China Sea.

The US also plans to send missiles, radar and other military equipment to the Philippines this month.

The Philippine military said at the time that it was reducing tensions with China.

There have been concerns over the resupply missions since the US navy came under attack from Chinese jets in May.

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