Philippine military and commercial aircraft will keep flying over disputed areas in the South China Sea despite Chinese warnings over the airspace, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said yesterday.
“We will still fly the routes that we fly based on the international law from the various conventions we entered into,” Aquino told reporters when asked whether the Philippines accepted China’s position.
The Chinese military last week ordered a US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane away from airspace above the disputed Spratly Islands (南沙群島).
It is undertaking giant land reclamation works in the Spratlys to turn reefs into islands that can host airstrips and other military facilities.
Aquino said the Philippines would not give up its territory to China, even as he acknowledged major differences in the capabilities of their militaries.
“We will still exercise our rights over our exclusive economic zone,” he said. “Bottom line is, it has to be clear, we will defend our rights to the best of our abilities.”
Aquino said the Philippines was also working closely on the issue with the US, but declined to elaborate.
“Even in basketball, you don’t reveal all your moves to the other coach,” he said.
“We will ask the extent of help they can give us ... because right now we are the one being bullied,” he said. “Let us see what assistance they can give us to more or less keep us safe from harassment.”
Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims to parts of the South China Sea.
Additional reporting by AP
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