Esperon: No need to protest China's bombers in South China Sea

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Esperon: No need to protest China's bombers in South China Sea
"Are we the target? Should we be alarmed? I do not think so because we are not at war with China," National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.
Presidential Photo, File

MANILA, Philippines — Echoing China's justification of deploying a bomber aircraft in the South China Sea, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. stressed that Beijing's activities are not directed at Manila.

Esperon said that the Chinese Air Force's deployment of a nuclear-capable bomber aircraft on Woody Island in the Paracels should not be a cause for alarm.

"Are we the target? Should we be alarmed? I do not think so because we are not at war with China and we are not at war with ASEAN," Esperon said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

"Should we launch a protest against that? I don't think so," he added.

The national security adviser added that the Paracel Islands are not part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

The bombers have a range of 1,900 kilometers and China could launch missiles from Hong Kong and reach Manila as it is only about 1,200 kilometers away, according to Esperon.

"Not to defend that landing there, it is an incident that is part of the drill for landing but the purpose of that must be looked into — training," Esperon said.

Incidentally, Esperon's remarks are similar to China's statement over the recent deployment on Woody Island.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the deployment of a bomber aircraft on its largest base in the Paracel Islands were "normal training" of the Chinese military.

"The South China Sea Islands are China's territory. The relevant military activities are the normal training of the Chinese military and there is no need for other parties to overinterpret that," Chinese Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.

Esperon, however, admitted that there is a possibility that China's new weapons in the South China Sea can target the Philippines.

"Can China's defense reach the Philippines? Yes. The question is — are the weapons directed to the Philippine? No. Can they target the Philippines in the future? Possible if you're at war with China," he said.

Following China's latest deployments in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs only said that it is taking all diplomatic actions necessary to assert the country's claims in the contested waterway.

The Philippines government, however, has not publicly condemned China for its militarization of the South China Sea unlike Vietnam, also a claimant state, which asked Beijing to withdraw military equipment from the area.





As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 28, 2022 - 10:29am

The United States Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis continues underway in the South China Sea.

The US Pacific Command just reported that it has received "cargo" from support ship USNS Rainier in the disputed waters.

February 28, 2022 - 10:29am

Around 68 foreign vessels were near Julian Felipe Reef and 39 near Union Banks on February 17, satellite image show.

Liz Derr, CEO of the geospatial data provider Simularity, says this at a Stratebase ADR-hosted conference.

In March 2021, over 200 Chinese vessels were sighted near the reef.  — report from News5/Marianne Enriquez

November 22, 2021 - 3:54pm

President Rodrigo Duterte condemns the latest flare-up in the disputed South China Sea after Chinese coastguard ships fired water cannon at Filipino boats. 

"We abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments," Duterte tells the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China, using the Filipino name for the shoal. 

"This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership." — AFP

November 22, 2021 - 8:41am

The European Union expresses "strong opposition" against China's unilateral actions in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

This statement comes after Chinese coast guard ships blocked and water cannoned Philippine boats transporting supplies to military personnel stationed at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.

"In this context, the European Union recalls the Arbitration Award rendered under UNCLOS on 12 July 2016, which found that Second Thomas Shoal lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf," the EU says in a statement.

July 14, 2021 - 8:49am

Geospatial imagery and analysis firm Simularity stands behind its report on ships dumping raw sewage in the West Philippine Sea, adding a stock photo used in its presentation was not used in its analysis.

"We welcome the news that Philippine agencies are validating our research and results. It is all reproducible, based on publicly available sources, well understood algorithms, and the approach and interpretation are validated by readily available scientific papers, links to which you can find in our report," it says.

July 13, 2021 - 2:44pm

The Department of Environemnt and Natural Resources says it will coordinate with the Philippine Coast Guard and the Department of National Defense "on the authenticity of the allegation" that Chinese ships have been dumping raw waste in areas of the West Philippine Sea, which satellite imaging firm Simularity said has been causing damage to coral reefs in the Spratlys.

"After that, we will be seeking for the attention of the Chinese government through our Department of Foreign Affairs," Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, DENR spokesperson, says.

"We will also validate if indeed these are Chinese vessels," he also says.

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