Published: Fri, June 01, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Despite China's Objections, US to Continue Freedom of Navigation Operations

Despite China's Objections, US to Continue Freedom of Navigation Operations

In a House briefing on Wednesday, Duterte's top security adviser said filing a diplomatic protest against China for its landing of bombers on Woody Island in the Paracels being claimed by Vietnam, but not by the Philippines, was unnecessary.

"Lighthouses are also now being constructed on features held by the Philippines to ensure safety of navigation, along with our responsibility under the UNCLOS to provide navigational safety for all global vessels transiting the West Philippine Sea", Esperon said in a statement.

Mattis' comments came after Beijing expressed "firm opposition" on Sunday after two U.S. warships sailed within 12 nautical miles of four artificial islands claimed by China in the disputed Paracel island chain, east of Vietnam.

Hua also questioned whether the U.S. Navy "freedom of navigation" operations were really about preserving the right for ships to sail through the region or an attempt to maintain hegemony. The U.S. had included China in the past two versions of the naval exercise known as Rim of the Pacific, or RimPac, in 2014 and 2016.

The US-Chinese standoff in the South China Sea takes place amid the ongoing disagreements on external trade between the two states.

Mattis spoke to reporters traveling with him to a national security conference in Singapore. "It's not true that we are the ones who are always "nakikiusap" (plead) to China", Cayetano said.

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"We are going out of our way to cooperate with Pacific nations, that's the way we do business in the world, but we are also going to confront what we believe is out of step with global law", Mattis said.

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

"We are now working hard for a framework that would not go against the Constitution for the exploration of natural resources".

Cayetano further elaborated that among the territorial issues discussed, with China, were construction activities at a disputed shoal and the unilateral extraction of oil and gas in the region.

The ministry was responding to a U.S. destroyer and cruiser sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by China, as well as Taiwan and Vietnam.

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. -China relations are expected to be a major focus of the Shangri-La Dialogue.

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China has refused to acknowledge the arbitral ruling and continues to claim the South China Sea in its entirety. Trump's cancellation of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has put further strain on U.S.

"It is made to appear that the Duterte administration messed up the situation in the West Philippine Sea, South China Sea".

The five islands are outside the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines and are more than 100 kilometers from the three reefs that allegedly have been militarized by China.

Esperon added that there are no islands occupied by China under the Duterte administration, despite the softened stance of the President over the hotly-contested waters.

However he mentioned it was unfair to single out China for its superior militarization within the South China Sea. He will be replaced by Admiral Philip Davidson.

The current head, Admiral Harry Harris, has been nominated to be the new ambassador to South Korea.

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