Navigation, overflight in South China Sea ‘non-negotiable rights’–UK Sec. Hammond
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond who was in Manila Thursday as part of his three-leg tour in Asia called the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea as “non-negotiable rights.”
“We have a clear position on the freedom of navigation and overflight. Freedom of navigation and overflight are non-negotiable. They are red lines for us,” Hammond who flew to Manila after his two-day visit in China, told Filipino journalists in a news briefing.
He is scheduled to fly to Tokyo, Japan within the day to complete his tour.
“We maintain the position that, we, as an international maritime trading nation enjoy freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. We expect to continue to exercise those rights,” Hammond said.
The UK’s top diplomat met his counterpart Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario in an hour bilateral meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs headquarters in Manila where the two discussed foreign and security policy issues.
Beijing earlier announced successfully flying civilian aircrafts from the southern island Hainan to the Fiery Cross Reef, or Kagitingan Reef, part of the Kalayaan Island Group which is being claimed by the Philippines.
Del Rosario hit what he said as “provocative” actions of China.
“We are concerned that there will be more flights. The other concern if this is to happen, we will have a situation where China will take the position that ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) could be imposed. Whether this is done in terms of a de facto basis or it is official, this will be deemed unacceptable to us,” he said.
ADIZ is the airspace over land or water in which the identification, location and control of civil aircraft is performed in the interest of national security.
“As far as the Philippines is concerned, we will be releasing our protest regarding these activities,” Del Rosario said. CDG
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