Aquino: PH to defy China


Philippine military and commercial aircraft will keep flying over disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea despite China’s warnings to its planes, President Aquino said on Monday.

Aquino told reporters there was no declared air defense identification zone by China over what it claimed were parts of its territory in the South China Sea.

“We will still fly the routes that we fly based on international law….We will still exercise our rights over our exclusive economic zone [in the West Philippine Sea],” Aquino said.

“We know what’s happening, and we have a calculated response to all these incidents that are happening,” he said, adding that “the bottom line is we will defend our rights to the best of our abilities.”

The President also pointed to the disparity in the military strength of China and the Philippines, saying China should not bully a smaller country because it would hurt its image as it tried to build goodwill with its trading partners.

China has been reclaiming land around atolls and reefs in the Spratly archipelago to build artificial islands and strengthen its claim to nearly all of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer South China Sea.

Recent satellite images indicate that China has made rapid progress in filling in land around at least seven reefs and in building an airstrip suitable for military use and that it may be planning another.

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