Beijing at the PH: “ Respect the sovereignty and rights of China ”
MANILA (3rd UPDATE) – The Chinese government has urged the Philippine authorities to “respect” their alleged sovereignty over the South China Sea as Manila ramps up maritime exercises and patrols in the region amid mounting tensions.
In a public briefing Monday, Beijing Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told Philippine officials to “cease actions that complicate the situation and escalate disputes.”
Wang said China has sovereignty over what it calls the Nansha or Spratlys Islands, which include Zhongye Island or Pag-asa Island and the Zhongsha Islands which include Huangyan Island or the Bank. of Scarborough.
The areas are either within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone in the South China Sea, part of the waters the Philippines calls the Western Philippine Sea, or claimed and partially occupied by Manila based on national laws.
“China enjoys sovereignty over [the islands] and their adjacent waters, and exercises jurisdiction in the waters concerned, ”Wang said, when interviewed by a reporter, regarding his views on the Philippines’ maritime activities.
“We urge the concerned party to respect the sovereignty and the rights and interests of China,” he added.
A UN-backed arbitration tribunal ruled in 2016 that China’s massive claims to almost the entire sea have no legal basis, but it continues to shy away from the ruling, increasing militarization activity instead. and island building.
The Philippine National Task Force for the Western Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) announced last week that more patrol ships would be sending to the region to “support” sovereignty patrols there.
The deployment of additional vessels and aircraft to the area is aimed at stepping up operations against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and “increasing the safety of life at sea,” NTF-WPS said.
More than 200 Chinese ships have been spotted in the region since March and have remained there despite requests from the Philippines asking them to leave.
PCG, THE ONGOING BFAR MARINE EXERCISES
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) maritime exercises in the western Philippine Sea are currently underway.
In a Facebook post over the weekend, the Coast Guard said crew members from their participating vessels, as well as BFAR vessels piloted by the PCG “have started their intensified training on navigation, ship operations. small boats, maintenance and logistics operations ”as part of their efforts. to safeguard Philippine waters.
PCG spokesman Commodore Armando Balilo said maritime exercises are necessary to train PCG and BFAR personnel since their mandate includes maritime law enforcement.
“Basically, this exercise is intended to develop the skills necessary to execute a particular mandate, such as maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental protection, maritime safety,” Balilo said.
(This exercise will train and enhance the skills of our personnel in fulfilling our mandate of maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, environmental protection and maritime safety.)
Balilo said the interoperability of the PCG with BFAR personnel will also be tested during the exercises.
The PCG will also conduct maritime exercises in the Batanes Island Group, Benham Rise, as well as the southern and eastern parts of the Philippines.
“Hanggang maganda ang panahon, ang order po ni [PCG commandant Admiral George Ursabia], we continue to train and in Hindi in the West Philippine Sea, ”he said.
(As long as the weather is fine, Admiral Ursabia ordered us to continue training not only in the western Philippine Sea.)
“Significant experience in your experience with officers and men, among students, the candidate Coast Guard officer.”
(Staff experience is important, especially for those who are still students, those who are currently applying to become Coast Guard officers.)
WITH MARINE EXERCISES, THE EXPERT SAYS PH ‘MEANS BUSINESS’
According to Collin Koh of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, the Philippines is, this time, serious in claiming their rights.
“PCG drilling in the region would be no more than a nuisance to Beijing, and will have no salutary effect that changes China’s behavior,” Koh told ABS-CBN News.
At best, the exercise as well as the increased Filipino presence in the Spratlys would signal to Beijing that Manila is all about business this time around following the unprecedented robust response after the Whitsun Reef (Julian Felipe Reef) revelation in the month last, “he added.
These, however, will not pose “much of a challenge” to what he described as Beijing’s “effective control” over the Scarborough Bank since 2012.
> imposed on Filipino fishermen in the region by the Chinese coast guard, the Chinese challenge to the Filipino merchant ship Green Aura in 2019 near the bank – all of which had been downplayed by the administration – had helped strengthen Beijing’s hands on Scarborough Shoal, ”Koh said.
Wang’s reiteration on Monday of Beijing’s position on the South China Sea “is pretty standard,” said Koh, who has research interests in naval affairs in the Indo-Pacific, focusing on Asia. from the South East.
“This latest statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry (MFA) is a simple routine and standard response, and it reflects the relative comfort that Beijing believes is currently enjoying its grip on the feature film,” he added.
Duterte has forged a friendlier relationship with China since coming to power in 2016, temporarily overturning the South China Sea arbitration award in favor of economic aid and investment.
Last week, the Philippines filed two new diplomatic protests against China over its illegal and persistent presence in Philippine waters, according to the Foreign Ministry.
He pledged to continually take such measures until the Beijing ships leave Philippine waters.
– With reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; Reuters
West Philippine Sea, WPS, Julian Felipe Reef, Philippine Coast Guard, Chairman Rodrigo Duterte, West Philippine Sea National Working Group, NTF-WPS, China, diplomatic protest, Malacañang