Philippines say it protested China 'harassment' of navy boat

by Abel Hampton June 1, 2018, 5:09
Philippines say it protested China 'harassment' of navy boat

Reuters first reported that two U.S. Navy warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China on Sunday, prompting anger in Beijing, which claims most of the strategic waters where Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies operate. "China's landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island has also raised tensions", Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan told reporters then.

"Concerns have come to me not from American government circles but also from foreign navies that are also concerned, very concerned about this continuing militarization of features in the South China Sea", he said.

The South China Sea is once again rapidly becoming a major point of contention between Washington and Beijing, with both sides refusing to back down.

"We are going out of our way to cooperate with Pacific nations".

"Our soldiers should not be harassed when they deliver supplies or when they fix the runways", Cayetano said, referring to the small airstrip on Pag-asa [Thitu], the largest Philippine-occupied island in the Spratlys.

"The president has said that".

"The critics want us to announce it loudly and to confront China each and every time to the media".

The Pentagon, as it nearly always does, says the sailings were planned months in advance and that the timing in relation to recent tensions between China and the United States is coincidental.

He added that the area was regarded as worldwide waters and many countries wanted to exercise their freedom of navigation.

China should also not attempt to remove the BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin [Second Thomas] Shoal, where the government grounded it in 1999 to mark Philippine territory in the Spratly archipelago, he added.

Beijing claims an enormous swathe of territory throughout the South China Sea, often called the "nine-dash line", from its southern Hainan province all the way in which right down to the waters north of Malaysia.

"The government is presently upgrading port and airstrip facilities in Pag-asa Island, in line with efforts to promote the welfare of Filipinos living in the said island", he said.

"The Philippine government continuously monitors the actions of the various claimants" in the disputed area, he said.

Last week the Pentagon disinvited China from a major USA -hosted naval cooperative drill, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, because of its increased militarization of the Paracel and Spratly islands.

Last week, the Pentagon pulled its invitation to China to join maritime exercises in the Pacific over Beijing's "continued militarization" of the South China Sea.

Our diplomats are robustly engaged on this.

China claims most of the resources-rich sea through which $5 trillion in shipping trade passes annually, and in recent years has reclaimed reefs and shoals including some claimed by Manila.

Mattis was heading to Hawaii to attend a change-of-command ceremony for the United States military's Pacific Command.

U.S. Navy Adm. Philip Davidson will take over PACOM from Adm. Harry Harris during the change of command on Wednesday.

That assessment means the ships maneuvered erratically but not in a way that posed a risk of collision, CBS News' national security correspondent David Martin reports.

Harris has been nominated to become the next US ambassador to South Korea.

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