“In accordance with China’s domestic law and international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the China coast guard ship upheld China’s sovereignty and maritime order and acted in a professional and restrained way,” he said.
“We hope the Philippine side will respect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea and avoid taking any actions that may exacerbate disputes and complicate the situation. China and the Philippines are in communication on this through diplomatic channels.”
While the use of lasers has caused a new flare-up, Filipino fishermen also continue to be hassled by Chinese vessels in what Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos jnr has vowed not to cede an inch of his country’s waters. And because Taiwan, another potential flashpoint, is close to his country’s maritime borders, he has moved to strengthen military ties with the US and Japan.
The US and Philippines agreed this month to resume joint patrols in the South China Sea. Access to four extra Philippines military bases will be granted to the US, whose armed forces rotate through the south-east Asian archipelago as part of their visiting forces agreement.
Marcos also talked up the chance of a similar arrangement with Tokyo during a five-day visit last week in which the idea of a three-way security deal between the US, Japan and the Philippines was flagged.
It is a proposed grouping that could additionally include Australia, indicated Francis Tolentino, the vice-chairman of the Philippines’ Senate foreign relations committee. Australia also has a visiting forces agreement with the Philippines.
“For me, my thinking is this could not only be a triad, but this could already be a quad,” Tolentino told radio station dzBB in a comment reported by the Philippine Inquirer.
Australia, the US and Japan are already members of a quadrilateral security pact with India, which China has decried as a vehicle to resist its rise.
Indonesia, this year’s chair of regional bloc ASEAN, has expressed ambitions to accelerate negotiations for a long-awaited and elusive South China Sea code of conduct.
– with Bloomberg