Manila takes non-confrontational stand against China in maritime dispute

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is taking "appropriate diplomatic measures" to protect its claims in the South China Sea, but did not elaborate or name China a non-conflictive policy to avoid problems.

According to reports, China landed long-range bombers on one of its islands occupied for the first time in its last military action in the disputed seas, arousing international concern. A Pentagon spokesman said last week that the "militarization" of areas disputed by China destabilizes the region.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs reiterated Monday that the government is committed to protecting "every inch" of its territory and areas where it has sovereign rights. But he added that his responses to certain developments may not be publicized.

"While the appropriate language, whether of condemnation or concern, on certain developments is clearly transmitted through diplomatic channels, it is not our policy to publicize every action taken by the Philippine government every time developments are reported," he said. the Department.

"In the future, we adopt a different approach to avoid any inconvenience and challenge," the statement added.

After coming to power almost two years ago, President Rodrigo Duterte took steps to unfreeze the cold ties of the Philippines with China over maritime disputes in an effort to secure Chinese infrastructure funds and investments while often criticizing the policies of security of the United States, the ally of the treaty of his country.

Duterte refused to immediately demand China's compliance with a 2016 landmark arbitration ruling that invalidated China's claims to virtu The Duterte government has also silenced criticism of China's increasingly vigorous actions in the territories in dispute, including the installation of missile defense systems. on seven islands it built on disputed reefs near other areas occupied by rival plaintiffs, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and Malaysia.

The long-range bombers involved in the recently reported exercise would have all of Southeast Asia in the range. According to reports, they landed on Woody Island, China's largest base in the Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said that the Philippines had won a lot with Duterte and he intended to achieve more.

Critics and nationalists have accused Duterte of squandering the victory of Philippine arbitration and helping to embolden China.

Renato Reyes, of the leftist group Bayan, described the Duterte administration's approach as "defeatist" in territorial disputes.

"Affirming our sovereign rights does not mean that we intend to go to war with China and end up losing," Reyes said. "It simply means that we are telling China and the entire world that we have sovereign rights in those waters under international law." It means that we have not surrendered those rights. "

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