South Asia and Beyond

Philippines’ Sharp Retort To China On Joint Patrol With U.S. Nuclear-Capable Bomber

The Philippines has rejected China's comments that conducting joint patrols with the US forces constitutes stirring up trouble
 Philippines’ Sharp Retort To China On Joint Patrol With U.S. Nuclear-Capable Bomber

The Philippines has rejected China’s comments that conducting joint patrols with the U.S. forces constitutes stirring up trouble.

“Our engagements with the United States are well within our rights as a sovereign and independent nation, aimed at promoting maritime security and upholding international law. We reject any assertion from other countries that seeks to undermine our legal and legitimate activities,” Eduardo M Año, the National Security Adviser said.

The Philippines government added that the joint exercise conducted by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the United States Pacific Air Force (PACAF) is lawful and was conducted inside Philippines territory.

The Chinese government yesterday rebuked the Philippines and said that Manila “stirs up trouble” by holding joint air patrols with “extraterritorial countries”. The Chinese government added that it had coordinated its frontline naval and air forces to closely monitor the situation.

Beijing has claimed sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea. Ties between both the countries nosedived after Manila started to expand its longstanding defence partnership with the United States.

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The Philippine Air Force announced on February 19 that three of its FA-50 light fighter jets and a U.S. Air Force B-52H heavy bomber launched an air patrol “within the country’s exclusive economic zone.”

This is a sharp contrast to Philippines refraining joint air and sea exercises in the South China Sea under the former president Rodrigo Duterte, who advocated closer relations with Beijing.

Over the past 20 years, China has systematically claimed control of more areas in the region by reinforcing new maps with concrete signs of its claim – building on rocks and islets and expanding its military facilities on these man-made outposts.

This region is a major shipping route with over 21% of global trade, moving through the waters. It is strategically important and is home to rich fishing grounds that provide for the livelihoods of millions of people across the region.

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