World Philippines vows to continue maritime exercises in South China Sea
Philippines' Duterte Says Court Ruling Against China is Trash to Be Thrown Away
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has contradicted himself just eight months after he reaffirmed the Hague ruling in a speech at the United Nations.In the pre-recorded address, Duterte dismissed critics who pushed him to be harder on China, which he has described as Manila's friend and "benefactor.
MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines will continue maritime exercises inside its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea, the country's defence minister said on Sunday, despite a call by China to stop actions that it said could escalate disputes.
The Philippine coastguard and fisheries bureau started maritime exercises last month, having boosted its presence in the area to counter the "threatening" presence of Chinese boats.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $3 trillion worth of ship borne trade passes each year, despite a 2016 ruling by an arbitration tribunal in The Hague that Beijing's claim was inconsistent with international law.
U.S. Flew Over Two Spy Planes a Day in South China Sea Throughout April
A Chinese think tank report said the U.S. Navy flew over 80 percent of all surveillance missions in the contested South China Sea last month.In its monthly summary, the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI)—a Peking University think tank tracking military activity around China—said at least 65 U.S. military aircraft operated in the contested waters, where the U.S. Navy carried out 83 percent of those missions.
"The conduct of maritime patrol in the WPS (West Philippine Sea) and Kalayaan Island Group by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will continue," Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement, using the local name for the South China Sea.
"The government will not waver in its position," he said.
The lingering presence of hundreds of Chinese boats in the Philippines' EEZ has revived tensions between the countries, despite President Rodrigo Duterte's friendship with Beijing.
Lorenzana said his comments echoed the stance of Duterte on the issue, citing the latter's "very firm and straightforward" orders for the Philippine military to "defend what is rightfully ours without going to war and maintain the peace in the seas".
While Duterte still considers China as "a good friend", the Philippine leader last week said: "There are things that are not really subject to a compromise ... I hope they will understand but I have the interest of my country also to protect."
Lorenzana said the Philippines "can be cordial and cooperative with other nations but not at the expense of our sovereignty and sovereign rights".
China Condemns 'Vile' U.S. Warship for Disrupting Navy Exercise .
Satellite images showed an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer—believed to be USS Mustin—present near the Liaoning carrier group as it conducted exercises in the Pacific and South China Sea this month.At a press conference on Thursday, China's defense ministry spokesperson Wu Qian accused the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer of "persistent close-range reconnaissance" as the People's Liberation Army task group led by Liaoning conducted exercises this month.