Philippines urges patrols with US amid sea dispute with China

MANILA - The Philippines has asked the United States to hold joint naval patrols, a defence ministry spokesman said on Thursday, amid a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

Foreign and defence ministers from the United States and the Philippines met in Washington this week for the second time in more than three years to discuss trade and security, focusing on the South China Sea.

"We are suggesting that we also patrol the area together,"Peter Paul Galvez told reporters in Manila. "There is a need for more collaborative presence in the South China Sea."

China claims almost all the South China Sea, which is believed to have huge deposits of oil and gas, and has been building up facilities on islands it controls.

Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines also have claims. Tension rose this month when China began test flights from Fiery Cross Reef, one of three artificial islands where Beijing has built airfields.

The Philippines has challenged Beijing at the arbitration court in The Hague, a case Beijing has not recognised.