China deploys aircraft carrier to West Philippine Sea
MANILA, Philippines – China’s deployment of its aircraft carrier to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) raises tensions and threatens the stability of the region, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.
“Its deployment raises tensions and violates the declaration on the conduct of parties in the [West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)],” DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a press conference.
“Its deployment must not be violative of international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS). Its deployment must therefore not be for other than peaceful purposes,” he said.
China’s first ever aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was deployed for sea trial to test the ship’s crew and equipment, according to a report from China’s official Xinhua News Agency.
It was accompanied by two destroyers and two missile cruisers, the report said. The ship had previously undergone sea trials in calm waters off China’s northeast coast, it said.
South China Sea is the center of a territorial dispute that involves several countries in Southeast Asia. China claims the entire sea as its territory including parts of the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
The Philippines has an ongoing arbitration case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands against China’s territorial claims.
A standoff between the Philippines and China ensued in April 2012 when several Chinese fishing vessels were found illegally poaching endangered and endemic Philippines marine species in Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag Shoal or Scarborough Shoal.)
Philippine authorities were prevented from apprehending the Chinese fishermen by China’s marine surveillance vessels who blocked Philippine ships. China subsequently closed off the entrance to the shoal preventing Filipino fishermen from entering it.
The DFA said that China’s move to deploy an aircraft carrier in the disputed sea does not help efforts to establish regional stability.
“Its deployment does not contribute to collective efforts to strengthen regional stability and instead serves to threaten the status quo,” Hernandez said.
China had also recently established what it calls an “Air Defense Identification Zone” over several islands disputed by Japan and China.
The United States government said that it will not recognize the zone. Two unarmed B-52 bombers flew over the zone for at least an hour and did not identify themselves, a report by CNN citing an unnamed US military official said.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement that the establishment of the zone will “increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident.”
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