Published: Fri, June 01, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Mattis to China: We aren't backing down

Mattis to China: We aren't backing down

Zhou, who is also director of the Centre for Security Cooperation at the Office for International Military Cooperation under China's defence ministry, would take part in a panel session on Saturday on managing competition in regional security, the source said.

After Duterte appointed him as the country's top diplomat previous year, Cayetano said the Philippines and China had discussed the thorny territorial issues, including actions that each deemed unacceptable.

Sunday's operation was conducted just over a week after Beijing flew nuclear-capable bombers to a disputed island, drawing immediate criticism from the U.S. Then last week, the Pentagon pulled its invitation to China to join maritime exercises in the Pacific over Beijing's "continued militarization" of the South China Sea.

China expressed its anger, saying it had sent ships and aircraft to warn the US warships to leave.

The government will use the worldwide tribunal ruling invalidating China's claim over the entire South China Sea "at the proper time", National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said. "They said some red lines, we said some red lines".

"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. "We are not saying we are going to war, but if they oppress us that may force our hand, because we will not allow ourselves to be oppressed", Esperon said, quoted in Agence France-Press.

Eight senators signed Senate Resolution 761 that also urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to file a diplomatic protest against China for its recent actions in the disputed waters.

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China has told the Philippines that there should be no new occupation of uninhabited areas under a 2002 accord and "we should not embarrass each other in front of all, in all multilaterals and bilaterals", he said.

"China also assured us with our good relationship that we are not their enemy", he said.

Responding to a question about the U.S. Navy deploying warships and conducting a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea near Paracel Islands on May 27, Dr Lean said he wouldn't say the U.S. reaction was weak, but rather that it could be more robust. A key topic expected to be discussed will be how to confront China's increasing militarization of the South China Sea. "If there is more than one country militarizing, and it's not only the islands, if huge navies are sailing through the area, is that not militarization?" he said.

Previously in a speech in Davao City in February, he said: "This is not the time to be fighting over the South China Sea because it will only lead to war".

Esperon reported that five lighthouses have been built on Pag-asa, Likas, Parola, Patag and Kota islands - all part of the Kalayaan Group of Islands "to ensure safety of navigation, along our responsibility under the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) to provide navigational safety for all worldwide vessels transiting the West Philippine Sea".

U.S. Navy Adm. Philip Davidson will take over PACOM from Adm. Harry Harris during the change of command on Wednesday.

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