China’s aircraft carrier now docked in Hainan
MANILA, Philippines—China’s aircraft carrier has docked in the southernmost island province of Hainan two days after it set sail to conduct sea trials in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, “will carry out relevant experiments and trainings” while docked at the Sanya City Naval Harbor, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said in a report Friday.
The deployment of the aircraft carrier came as tensions are high between the Philippines and China over a territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has yet to mention what actions it would take in the event that the carrier enters the Philippine territory.
China claims the entire region as part of its territory including portions of the Philippine 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) previously said that the carrier’s deployment to the region further raises tensions and threatens regional stability.
“It’s deployment raises tensions and violates the declaration on the conduct of parties in the [West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)],” Foreign Affairs 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.
Chinese and Philippine naval vessels were involved in a standoff last April 2012 at Bajo de Masinloc (Panatag Shoal or Scarborough Shoal) when Filipino authorities were blocked by Chinese Maritime Surveillance vessels from apprehending Chinese fishermen found poaching endemic marine species inside the shoal.
China has since remained in control of large parts of the sea including the shoal preventing Filipino fishermen from going there to catch fish.
Diplomatic protests filed against China were largely ignored leaving the Philippines no choice but to file for arbitration proceedings before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.
China howerver has refused to participate in the proceedings, insisting on bilateral talks.
Tensions in the region were also heightened after China established an Air Defense Identification Zone in the waters off eastern China. The United States refused to recognize such as zone ordering two B-52 bombers to fly into the zone from Guam without identifying themselves.
US allies Japan and South Korea also flew airplanes into the zone without complying with China’s rules.
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.