The confrontation over the Spratly Islands has continued. The 400 islands, shoals, reefs, and islets are claimed entirely by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The Philippines, Brunei, and Malaysia claim some of the territory. While the Chinese-Philippine confrontation has gotten the most press coverage, it has in fact been relatively quiet for the last year. The only real incident was when the Philippines spotted the Chinese building even more structures on Mischief Reef. Over the last year, however, other confrontations have developed. A Philippine OV-10 photographing Vietnamese construction on Tennent Reef was fired on by Vietnamese troops on 13 Oct. Two Philippine OV-10s photographing Malaysian construction on Investigator Shoal on 28 Oct were driven away by two Malaysian Hawk-200 light strike-trainers. Regional powers are steadily building up their naval forces. Malaysia has recently acquired four missile corvettes that the Italians originally built for Iraq, along with two new British-built frigates with advanced technology. Vietnam recently acquired a third and fourth Russian-built Tarantul-class missile corvettes. The Philippines has announced plans to acquire new jet fighters and fast gunboats, along with a diesel submarine. --Stephen V Cole
December 30; MILF guerillas attacked two villages in the south, but no one was injured.
December 29; Several clashes with MILF guerillas in the south left two guerillas and one soldier dead, and five wounded.
December 27; At least two MILF guerillas were killed in the south in a clash with the army.
December 26; NPA guerillas killed three farmers for refusing to join their cause.
December 25; Six NPA guerillas were killed in a clash with the army.
December 23; Two buses were bombed in the south, no one was injured.
December 22; MILF rebels raided four villages in the south, creating 3,000 refugees.
December 18. MILF guerillas ambushed a government patrol and killed two militiamen and one civilian.