Philippines raises concern over Chinese radio warnings to stay away from South China Sea islands


A Philippine air force plane on patrol near Chinese-held islands was warned to leave and ‘keep off to avoid misunderstanding’, according to a report

The Philippines has expressed concern to China over an increasing number of Chinese radio messages warning Philippine aircraft and ships to stay away from newly fortified islands and other territories in the South China Sea claimed by both countries, officials said Monday.

A Philippine government report showed that in the second half of last year alone, Philippine military aircraft received such Chinese radio warnings at least 46 times while patrolling near artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea’s Spratly archipelago.

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The Chinese radio messages were “meant to step up their tactics to our pilots conducting maritime air surveillance in the West Philippine Sea”, the report said, using the Philippine name for the South China Sea.

A Philippine air force plane on patrol near the Chinese-held islands received a particularly offensive radio message in late January according to the Philippine government report.

It was warned by Chinese forces that it was “endangering the security of the Chinese reef. Leave immediately and keep off to avoid misunderstanding,” the report said.

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Shortly afterwards, the plane received a veiled threat: “Philippine military aircraft, I am warning you again, leave immediately or you will pay the possible consequences.”

The Filipino pilot later “sighted two flare warning signals from the reef”, said the report, which identified the Chinese-occupied island as Gaven Reef.