The Armed Forces of the Philippines will once again deploy troops around the site of a World War II-era shipwreck in the South China Sea, after China blocked Manila’s efforts by firing water cannons.
“This exercise of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction is proof of our strong belief in the rules-based international order that sustains regional peace and stability,” Armed Forces of the Philippines Spokesperson Medel Aguilar said in a statement on Saturday.
Manila lodged a diplomatic protest with Beijing this month after China’s coast guard used water cannons and dangerous maneuvers to prevent the Philippines from sending supplies to troops at Second Thomas Shoal.
China claims almost the entire LCS, a strategic maritime region disputed by Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
Affirming that the Philippines still supports the peaceful resolution of disputes, Aguilar asked all parties concerned to respect the sovereignty and jurisdiction over its maritime zone in those waters.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
On August 7, 2023, China’s coast guard said it had told the Philippines not to send ships to the seabed where the shipwreck was located.
China also asked the Philippines not to send construction materials used for large-scale repairs and reinforcements to the warship.
The Philippines deliberately hosted the warship in 1999 as part of its claim of sovereignty over the shoal, which lies within its 200-mile exclusive economic zone.
“The planned deployment mission is a clear demonstration of our determination to fight threats and coercion, and our commitment in upholding the rule of law”, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said.
In 2016, an international arbitration ruling invalidated China’s claim to almost the entire LCS.
China, which does not recognize the ruling, has built artificial islands with airfields and surface-to-air missiles on the LCS.
Source : Antara News