Is Duterte serious about a South China Sea red line?

Is Duterte serious about a South China Sea red line?

Is Duterte serious about a South China Sea red line?

Asserting that the American vessels entered China's territorial waters "without the permission of the Chinese government", the Chinese Ministry of National Defense explained that the Chinese military "immediately dispatched warships to identify and inspect the American ships according to law, and warned them to depart".

Opposition lawmaker Gary Alejano alleged at a Wednesday congressional hearing that a Chinese navy helicopter had harassed Philippine troops on Second Thomas Shoal, also held by Manila, earlier this month.

"We have strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea".

"I challenge anyone of them, whatever their profession - justice, politician, newsman, journalist - if we lost a single island during Duterte's time, I will pack my bags, go home".

"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.

"President (Rodrigo Duterte) has already said that".

China thought otherwise, calling the presence of the US ships unauthorized and provocative.

He was referring to the June 2012 pullout of two Philippine ships involved in a three-month standoff with China in Scarborough Shoal ordered by then-President Noynoy Aquino due to bad weather.

"It's worldwide waters, and a lot of nations want to see freedom of navigation, so we'll continue that", Mattis said.

"This administration does not and will not abandon the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea disputes".

"Or, if our people are hurt there at Pag-asa Island". "If there's multiple nation militarizing, and it isn't exclusively the islands, if big navies are crusing by means of the world, is that not militarization?" he mentioned.

The Secretary spoke to the media on Tuesday, May 29 on his way to a conference in Singapore, stating that China is creating conflict in the region and has not abided by promises to avoid militarization of the islands.

"You'll notice there's only one country that seems to take active steps to rebuff [such operations] or state their resentment of them, but it's worldwide waters and a lot of nations want to see freedom of navigation, so we will continue that", Mattis told reporters as he flew to Hawaii.

Mattis added that the United States is "going to confront what it believes is out of step with worldwide law, out of step with global tribunals that have spoken on the issue". The sea covering 3.5 mn sq km borders Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and China and all have claims on the thousands of islands in the area.

"It is not the policy of this administration to engage in megaphone or microphone diplomacy, and announce each and every action, unless announcing it is beneficial to us", Cayetano said.

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

The current head, Admiral Harry Harris, has been nominated to be the new ambassador to South Korea.

National security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the Philippine government has been monitoring China's reported deployment of missiles and landing of Chinese military aircraft on Woody Islands in the Paracels.

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