MANILA (Reuters) – Vietnam on Tuesday showed off its two most powerful warships in the first-ever port call to the Philippines but an official said it was not trying to challenge China’s superior naval forces amid tension in the South China Sea.
Hanoi invited the diplomatic community to its Russian-built missile-guided frigates docked in Manila Bay at the start of a three-day goodwill visit.
China lays claim to almost all of the entire South China Sea, believed to be rich minerals and oil-and-gas deposits.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims, creating one of Asia’s biggest possible flashpoints.
“We are trying to hold joint patrols and operations in the Spratlys, including search-and-rescue operations,” said a Philippine naval official, referring to a disputed island chain.