Philippines military action if China uses force in sea: The Philippines vowed on Monday that it would respond militarily against China if it uses force on Filipinos fishing in waters around a disputed island in the South China Sea, according to reports.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Emmanuel Bautista issued the warning in a response to news that on January 27 Chinese Coast Guard ships used water cannon to drive away Filipinos fishing in areas around the disputed Scarborough Shoal.
“We have to react militarily if force is applied,” said General Bautista while attending an event organised by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.
In responding to a question about the situation around Scarborough Shoal, the military chief said it is the policy of the Philippines to avoid a confrontation with Chinese ships patrolling the South China Sea, according to reports.
But he also stressed that the AFP has a duty to defend Filipinos if they are subjected to “armed violence” within Philippine territories.
China claims virtually all of the South China Sea, but other countries have overlapping claims, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, at a Monday news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said she was not aware of the details of the situation, but repeated the claim that China has sovereignty over the South China Sea and its islands.
“I want to emphasise China’s indisputable sovereignty of the Nansha islands and other areas surrounding it. China’s relevant naval capabilities will continue its official patrols of the area as per usual,” said the spokesperson.
In recent years China has become more aggressive in asserting its claims in the sea, resulting in mounting tensions with the Philippines.
Philippine Navy Special Operations Group prepares to board a suspicious vessel during the Balikatan war games in 2010. (Photo: Reuters)A