U.S. Navy: Chinese warships maneuvered in "unprofessional" manner

Saul Bowman
June 1, 2018

Opposition lawmaker Gary Alejano alleged at a Wednesday congressional hearing that a Chinese navy helicopter had harassed Philippine troops on Second Thomas Shoal, also held by Manila, earlier this month.

At the same meeting, Cayetano said any missiles China has deployed on three Philippine reefs in the West Philippine Sea form "a defensive system and it is not against the Philippines".

With the United States set to raise the issue of China's militarisation of its man-made islands in the South China Sea at a regional security dialogue in Singapore this weekend, Beijing's representatives have been carefully chosen to minimise tensions, sources said.

In response to China's militarization of the South China Sea the Pentagon withdrew its invitation for China to participate in a multinational naval exercise the U.S.is hosting this summer.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano explained what President Rodrigo Duterte's administration has been doing to defend the country's sovereignty in the disputed region amid criticism that it has been far too soft on China.

Beijing claims an enormous swathe of territory throughout the South China Sea, often called the "nine-dash line", from its southern Hainan province all the way in which right down to the waters north of Malaysia.

Dr Chong said he believes FONOPs by the Quad can help send signals to China that "This is an open ocean, we have rights to go through under worldwide law".

"We have been filing diplomatic protests but our critics want us to shout loudly", Cayetano said.

"I challenge anyone of them, whatever their profession - justice, politician, newsman, journalist - if we lost a single island during Duterte's time, I will pack my bags, go home".

The territorial disputes and U.S.

China has told the Philippines that there should be no new occupation of uninhabited areas under a 2002 accord and "we should not embarrass each other in front of all, in all multilaterals and bilaterals", he said. Ousting China from the exercise could signal that joint activities, or the military relationship as a whole, are a reward.

Also last week, Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang said that Japan had helped to boost the Southeast Asian nation's maritime defence capability in the disputed waters.

"(The sailings) contravened Chinese and relevant worldwide law, seriously infringed upon Chinese sovereignty (and) harmed strategic mutual trust between the two militaries", he said.

Esperon reported that five lighthouses have been built on Pag-asa, Likas, Parola, Patag and Kota islands - all part of the Kalayaan Group of Islands "to ensure safety of navigation, along our responsibility under the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) to provide navigational safety for all global vessels transiting the West Philippine Sea".

Though the US' latest freedom of navigation operation was likely planned months in advance, experts said it was suggestive of the US' attempts to pursue a harder line against China in the South China Sea.

Mattis was heading to Hawaii to attend a change-of-command ceremony for the United States military's Pacific Command.

Harris has been nominated to become the next US ambassador to South Korea.

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