PH monitoring Beijing’s combat drills in South China Sea
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippine military is monitoring Beijing’s massive combat drills in the South China Sea, described in reports as “a show of force” in the disputed waters.
“Of course. Our Navy and Air Force are… Para alam natin kung ano ang mga ginagawa nila (So that we know what they’re doing),” he told reporters Wednesday when asked if the military is keeping an eye on the exercises.
Satellite images from Planet Labs, which were obtained by Reuters, showed at least 40 ships and submarines flanking China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning off Hainan Island in the South China Sea this week, to which analysts described as “unusually large display of the Chinese military’s growing naval might.”
But Lorenzana seems not to be worried yet, saying he believes that China will not provoke trouble in the strategic waterway.
“I dont’t think we should,” he answered when asked if the Philippines should be alarmed over drills.
“We don’t believe the Chinese will act provocatively by bringing their warships, much more their aircraft carrier in disputed waters,” he said.
The drills come after a US guided-missile destroyer, USS Mustin, carried out a freedom of navigation operation in Mischief Reef, an island controlled by China but is within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.
China has claimed almost the entire South China Sea and has carried out extensive reclamation work in recent years. The islands have military capabilities which have become a cause of concern by several nations. /je
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