China says it won’t take first shot amid maritime tension
MANILA, Philippines – China will not take the first shot amid tension in the South China Sea because it develops its military entirely for the purpose of self-defense, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said.
Zhao also underscored China’s commitment “to serving as a force for peace, for stability and for prosperity in the world.”
China’s reclamation activities and militarization in the heavily contested South China Sea / West Philippine Sea have raised concerns on peace and stability in the area.
“China adopts a military strategy of active defense which adheres to the principle of defense, self-defense and post-strike response. Meaning we will not take the first shot,” Zhao said at the 92nd founding anniversary celebration of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Makati on Monday.
“China develops its military entirely for the purpose of self-defense which aims to defend the country, to provide the people with a peaceful environment, and to ensure that our people are free from the disasters and calamities of war and for the people to enjoy an even better life,” he added.
Zhao also said that China would “follow the path of peaceful development.”
“This is a commitment to the people of China and to the world, and this has been written into the Constitution of China. It is also our firm conviction to continue the path of peaceful development,” he said.
“No matter how strong China may become, China will never seek hegemony or never establish spheres of influence,” he added.
According to the Chinese envoy, the PLA Navy had dispatched 32 batches of fleets, including more than 100 navy vessels and about 70 helicopters.
He added that the PLA Navy had escorted more than 6,600 vessels and rescued over 70 ships in distress.
China’s relations with the Philippines, however, was once again tested when a Philippine fishing boat, FB Gem-Ver 1 ,was reportedly rammed by a Chinese vessel in Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine Sea left 22 Filipino fishermen abandoned at sea on the night of June 9.
The fishermen were eventually rescued by crewmen of a Vietnamese vessel.
A verbal agreement between President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping also raised concerns as it allowed Chinese fishermen to fish in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.
The Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims over the South China Sea.
In 2013, the Philippines filed a case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague in The Netherlands challenging China’s sweeping claim of nearly the entire South China Sea through the nine-dash line.
The Hague-based court the ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2016 and invalidated China’s nine-dash line.
Zhao assured that China would continue to discuss the issues on the South China Sea with other claimant nations, including the Philippines.
“China will continue to work with the Philippines and other states directly concerned to resolve the relevant disputes in the South China Sea.” /gsg
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.