MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs chief Teodoro Locsin Jr. warned China against conducting military exercises in the country’s territory after it reportedly conducted such activities around a disputed archipelago in the South China Sea.
In a taped statement Friday, the country’s top diplomat said the Philippines views “with interest and some concerns” reports about Chinese military exercises around Paracel Islands from July 1 to 5.
“The Chinese naval military exercises, if they stick to their coordinates, do not impinge on Philippine territory. These exercises are taking place in waters of Xisha Islands—the Paracels—over which Vietnam claims sovereignty,” Locsin said.
“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,” he added.
Pentagon earlier said it was concerned about Chinese military exercises around Paracel Islands and said the activities “further destabilize the situation” in the area claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.
China said Friday the drills “were within the scope of China’s territorial sovereignty.”
The Philippines claims parts of the South China Sea within its exclusive economic zone and calls it the West Philippine Sea.
In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China’s nine-dash line claim over the disputed waters is invalid. Beijing, however, does not acknowledge this decision.
“We call on the erring parties to refrain from escalating tension and abide by the responsibilities under international law, notably UNCLOS. We urge them to adhere to the rule of law and their commitments to international instruments such as the 2002 Declaration of the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea, particularly the exercise of self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability especially in this pandemic,” Locsin said. — Gaea Katreena Cabico with report from Agence France-Presse
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