The Philippine overseas secretary warned China on Friday of “the severest response” if ongoing Chinese army workout routines within the disputed South China Sea spill over to Philippine territory.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr stated China’s People’s Liberation Army has been staging workout routines off the Paracel Islands since July 1 and Chinese maritime officers have prohibited all vessels from navigating inside the space of the maneuvers.
After checking the coordinates of the no-entry zone, the place the Chinese army maneuvers are being staged, Locsin stated the waters off the Paracels, that are additionally claimed by Vietnam, “do not impinge on Philippine territory” though he raised some concern.
“Should the exercises spill over to Philippine territory, then China is forewarned that it will be met with the severest response, diplomatic and whatever else is appropriate,” Locsin stated in a press release with out elaborating.
The Philippine warning to China over their territorial conflicts is the strongest to date this yr and comes regardless of an enchancment in relations since President Rodrigo Duterte took workplace in 2016.
Vietnam protested in April after a Chinese coast guard ship rammed and sank a ship with eight fishermen off the Paracel Islands. The Philippines backed Vietnam and protested two new territorial districts introduced by China in massive swaths of the ocean, including that China’s assertive actions have been going down whereas the area was preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic.
Locsin stated these territorial districts within the disputed waters have been “null and void” for being devoid of foundation in worldwide legislation.
“This is the problem with playing fast and loose with historical narratives and historical names,” Locsin stated. “They open themselves to error; unless the real purpose is to excuse unchallenged mistakes that may over time harden into rights.”
China, like every other energy, can invoke freedom of navigation whereas finishing up army workout routines, Locsin stated, however added that such passages must be performed in a straight and uninterrupted voyage.
“We continue to look to China, as our nearest and biggest trading partner,” Locsin stated, including that its participation is crucial to the success of any post-coronavirus financial restoration.
But he referred to as on “the erring parties to refrain from escalating tension and abide by the responsibilities under international law” and train self-restraint in taking actions that might escalate disputes, particularly throughout the pandemic.