Philippines warns China of ‘most serious reaction’ to practice

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MANILA: The Philippine Foreign Secretary warned China on Friday that if it issued ongoing Chinese military exercises in the disputed South China Sea to the Philippine territory, it would be “the most serious response”.
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Loxin Jr. said China’s People’s Liberation Army has been practicing on the Paracel Islands since July 1 and Chinese maritime authorities have barred all ships from navigating the field of maneuvers.
After examining the coordinates of the no-entry zone, where Chinese military maneuvers are being staged, Loksin said that the waters off Paracels, which is also claimed by Vietnam, “do not disturb the Philippine territory.” Insert “is of some concern though.
“Should China practice in the Philippine region, China foresees that it will receive the most serious response, diplomatic and whatever is appropriate,” Loken said in a statement.
The Philippine warning by China over its regional conflicts is the strongest so far this year and comes despite an improvement in relations since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016.
Vietnam staged a protest in April after which a Chinese Coast Guard ship sank and a boat with eight fishermen from the Paracel Islands sank. The Philippines supported Vietnam and opposed the two new territorial districts declared by China over the bulk of the sea, stating that China’s vocal action was taking place while the region was a victim of a coronovirus epidemic.
Locsin said those territorial districts in the disputed waters were “null and void” which were baseless in international law.
“It’s a problem playing fast and loose with historical narratives and historical names,” Lokasin said. “They open themselves to error, as long as the real purpose is not to excuse unrecoverable mistakes that can become rigid in rights over time.”
China, like any other power, can invoke freedom of navigation when conducting military exercises, Loksin said, but said such routes should be made in a straight and uninterrupted journey.
“We continue to see China as our closest and largest trading partner,” Lokasin said, adding that its involvement is essential to the success of any post-coronavirus economic recovery.
But he called for “the wrong parties to avoid stress and follow the responsibilities under international law” and to exercise self-restraint to perform actions that could escalate disputes, especially during epidemics.

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