China told: Respect PH sovereign rights in conducting lawful joint patrols

China told: Respect PH sovereign rights in conducting lawful joint patrols

/ 06:02 PM February 21, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — National Security Adviser Eduardo Año on Wednesday urged China to respect Philippine sovereign rights after it accused the country and the United States of “stirring up trouble” after its joint patrols in the West Philippine Sea.

Manila and Washington conducted the third maritime cooperative activity (MCA) inside the western section of the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in second phases on Feb. 9 and Feb. 19.

China’s military criticized the mission, saying that the Philippines has “stirred up trouble” by conducting a joint air patrol with “extraterritorial countries” and then publicly “hyping it up.”


Año rejected this assertion, saying that the activity is “lawful” and “routine” between the two countries.


“Our engagements with the United States are well within our rights as a sovereign and independent nation, aimed at promoting maritime security and upholding international law,” Año said in a statement. “We reject any assertion from other countries that seeks to undermine our legal and legitimate activities.”

“We urge China to respect the sovereign rights of the Philippines conducted within its territory consistent with its national interests and international law,” he added.

On Feb. 19, three FA-50 light fighters of the Philippine Air Force flew in tandem with a B-52H Stratofortress long-range strategic bomber deployed by the US Pacific Air Forces.

Last Feb. 9, the Philippine Navy’s BRP Gregorio Del Pilar sailed together with the United States Indo-Pacific Command’s USS Gabrielle Giffords.

READ: US, PH conduct 3rd joint patrol in West PH Sea

The Chinese military monitored the third MCA in the West Philippine Sea.


In the first leg of the activity, China deployed two People’s Liberation Army (PLA)-Navy warships, while five aircraft from the PLA Air Force were “monitored within the Philippine air defense identification zone” shadowing the second phase patrol.

READ: 2 Chinese Navy ships spotted as US, PH make joint patrols in West PH Sea

Beijing’s actions are in line with its assertion of sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, including most of the western section of Manila’s EEZ. An international tribunal ruling in 2016, however, effectively dismissed this sweeping claim.

According to Article 57 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, a country has sovereign rights over its own EEZ, but other nations could still enjoy non-economic uses in other states’ EEZ, such as freedom of navigation as well as the right of overflight.

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The second MCA of Manila and Washington was conducted last month, while the first-ever joint patrol was held in November 2023.

TAGS: China, WPS joint patrols

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