Mattis says US to continue operations in South China Sea

01 June, 2018, 04:41 | Author: Carlos George
  • U.S. Navy: Chinese warships maneuvered in

National security and defence experts have said that the military operations being conducted by the Pentagon are mainly symbolic and that they have no impact on how China will behave going forward.

The government is spending P10 million to build five lighthouses in reefs and islets in the Kalayaan Group of Islands, including this one on Parola Island.

However, from the perspective of the US and the other nations bordering the South China Sea, freedom of navigation on the busiest sea lanes in the world is crucial to maintaining free and equitable trade, and economic stability. Officials from the US Defense Department have complained the Beijing has not been clear about its military build-up in the area. The official, on Monday, stated that there are several "red lines" or actions - if crossed or taken - would be deemed unacceptable resulting in an aggressive response from Manila.

Beijing has been building artificial islands to reinforce its claim over most of the resource-rich South China Sea despite protests from Southeast Asian countries.

China reportedly deployed truck-mounted surface-to-air missiles or anti-ship cruise missiles at Woody Island, according to recent satellite photos.

He echoed President Rodrigo Duterte's remarks that the Philippines would not go to war against China.

"The United States military presence in the South China Sea is greater than that of China and other countries that surround the seas combined", Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told the hearing the Philippines had protested the incident and resolved the matter "quietly", but refused to disclose details.

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Plus, the sea is a major global trade link - commodities from Africa and West Asia travel through South China Sea en route to China, Japan and South Korea.

"We have to erase doubts from the members of Congress that we are not doing anything. We've very open about them, and report them", he said.

The ruling, however, was promulgated when Duterte was already president. China protested the maneuver.

"We're not asking you to trust us blindly".

Our diplomats are robustly engaged on this. "Whatever their professions are - justice, politician, newsman, journalist - if we lost a single island during Duterte's time, I will pack my bags, go home and I will not serve the public in any elected or appointed position". "We are not willing to do the Aquino approach", he noted. "The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy", he added.

Much to the displeasure of Beijing, which called the action a serious infringement of Chinese sovereignty, the guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins and the cruiser USS Antietam sailed within 12 miles of four of the Paracel Islands to demonstrate the "freedom of navigation" and enforce the right of free passage in worldwide waters.

Esperon did not discount the fact that "there is threat" and batted for more funding for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) program. The operation planned months back was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters.

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