Philippine Worries over Beijing Bombers in Disputed Waters of South China Sea

Published May 21st, 2018 - 09:15 GMT
Beijing bombers (Twitter)
Beijing bombers (Twitter)

The Philippine government has voiced “serious concern” over Beijing’s dispatch of strategic bombers to the disputed waters of the South China Sea, saying it is taking “diplomatic action” in support of its territorial claims there.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement on Monday that it was monitoring the developments in the South China Sea, a major international trade route which is subject to overlapping sovereignty claims by several countries, including China and the Philippines.

The statement was issued after Beijing said its bombers, including the H-6K aircraft, had landed and taken off from islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of training exercises last week.

The DFA statement, however, stopped short of naming China or condemning the move.

“We are taking the appropriate diplomatic action necessary to protect our claims and will continue to do so in the future,” said the DFA, reiterating Manila’s commitment to protect “every single inch of our territory and areas which we have sovereign rights over.”

“While appropriate language, whether expressions of condemnation or concern, over certain developments are clearly conveyed through diplomatic channels, it is not our policy to publicize every action taken by the Philippine Government whenever there are reported developments taking place in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea,” it said.

Reacting to the Chinese deployment, the spokesman of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Harry Roque, also said Manila could not independently verify the presence of the bombers.

“But, we take note of the reports that appeared and we express our serious concerns anew on its impact to efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region,” Roque added.

 

 

Duterte has said he would not risk a confrontation with China over disputed territory and reiterated his willingness to undertake joint exploration and development in the resource-rich waters.

The Philippine president has come under criticism by the country’s lawmakers for failing to pressure Beijing to abide by a 2016 arbitration ruling that invalidated China’s claims in favor of Manila.

Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, where Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting sovereignty claims.

China has built seven artificial islands in the Spratlys group in the South China Sea and turned them into military outposts with airfields, radars, and missile defenses.

It says its military facilities in the area are purely defensive.

The United States, which sides with Beijing’s rivals in the territorial row, has condemned what it calls China’s “militarization” of the disputed waters.

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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