Philippines asserts security independence amid South China Sea tension

By Neil Jerome Morales

MANILA (Reuters) -The Philippines will continue to maintain and supply its outposts in the South China Sea without seeking permission from any other country, the country’s national security adviser said.

The Philippines national security council said on Saturday it reaffirmed its commitment to uphold its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Second Thomas Shoal.

“Our operations are conducted within our own territorial waters and exclusive economic zone, and we will not be deterred by foreign interference or intimidation,” said National Security Adviser Secretary Eduardo Ano.

The Philippine agency issued a statement in response to China’s suggestion that the Philippines must first notify Beijing over access.

China’s foreign ministry said on Friday it will allow the Philippines to deliver supplies and evacuate personnel if Manila notifies Beijing in advance.

Ano described such suggestions as “absurd, nonsense and unacceptable”.

He added: “We do not and will never need China’s approval for any of our activities therein.”

But the Philippines remains open to dialogue and peaceful negotiations to resolve disputes in the entire South China Sea, the council said.

The Philippine coastguard on Friday accused its Chinese counterpart of blocking efforts to evacuate a sick member of its armed forces in the South China Sea.

It was the latest dispute in a longstanding territorial spat with China, which claims almost all of the South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion in annual ship commerce.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said China’s claims had no legal basis, a decision Beijing has rejected.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Alexander Smith)


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