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4月29日のまにら新聞から

Palace says China not taking advantage of pandemic to push for South China Sea ambition

[ 395 words|2020.4.29|英字 (English) ]

Malacañang expressed belief on Tuesday that China has not been taking advantage of the coronavirus disease in pushing for its ambitions in the South China Sea.

This was contrary to the observation made by retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the recent Chinese activities in the disputed waters.

"We do not agree with that conclusion," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press briefing.

But he added, "although the current policy is we will defend all our national territory and our sovereign rights."

Pompeo, during a video conference with the foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including the Philippines, last week accused China of taking advantage of the pandemic to advance its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea.

In a virtual forum with the foreign press on Monday, Carpio, an international law expert, said that it was unfortunate that China has been encroaching the exclusive economic zones of some Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, pointing a control radar at a Philippine navy ship and declaring parts of the Philippine territory under China's Hainan province when the world is more focused on addressing the pandemic.

He also proposed to the Duterte administration to conduct a joint patrol with fellow ASEAN claimant countries, Vietnam and Malaysia, in the South China Sea to dissuade China from its activities there.

Roque said Carpio's proposal for a joint patrol was "well-taken" as "it will be considered."

In the "Laging Handa" briefing on Tuesday, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. also expressed support on the proposal for the joint patrol, but not to confront China.

"Joint patrol if we're talking, for example, enforcement of maritime laws on illegal and other violations in the maritime seas," he said.

But if Carpio's suggestion is for "a military joint patrol and confront the Chinese forces," he said the Philippines would not do it.

Esperon, chairman of the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea, said he would have a video conference with the members of the task force to discuss China's navy's pointing of radar gun at the Philippine navy ship and naming some of Manila's claimed territories in the South China Sea as part of China's Hainan province.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier lodged diplomatic protests against China's latest actions in the disputed waters. Celerina Monte/DMS