The Philippines’ joint patrols with the United States in the South China Sea are within Manila’s rights, and it will continue to support a free and open Indo-Pacific, its national security adviser said on Friday.
The Southeast Asian nation rejects China’s assertion that the Philippines enlisted “foreign forces” to patrol the South China Sea, National Security Adviser Eduardo M. Año said in a statement, responding to Beijing’s remarks.
“The Philippines is not stirring up trouble,” Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro told reporters. “Our interests are to protect our rights.”
Mr. Teodoro said there will be several iterations of joint patrols moving forward.
The treaty allies conducted joint patrols from Tuesday to Thursday in waters near Taiwan and the South China Sea within Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), fanning further tensions with China.
China claims most of the South China Sea on the basis of a “nine-dash line” that stretches as far as 1,500 km (900 miles) south of its mainland, cutting into the EEZs of rival claimants Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
A 2016 arbitral ruling invalidated the claim of China, which does not acknowledge the court’s decision.—Reuters