Manila [Philippines], July 4 (ANI): The Philippines has warned Beijing of "the severest response" if ongoing Chinese military exercises in the disputed South China Sea spill over into Philippine territory.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., in a video message cited by CNN on Friday, was quoted as saying that the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been conducting naval exercises around Paracel Islands since July 1.
The disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea is being claimed by China and Vietnam.
Locsin said that he immediately checked where the drills would take place, as announced by China and saw that they "do not impinge on Philippine territory.""Should the exercises spill over to Philippine territory then China is forewarned that it will be met with the severest response, diplomatic and whatever else is appropriate," Locsin added.
He cited the diplomatic protest earlier filed by the Philippines over China's creation of two new districts in what it calls Sansha City.
China's self-proclaimed districts include the Xisha or Paracel Islands and some areas Manila claims and occupies as part of the West Philippine Sea.
Locsin said that while China, like any other country, is entitled to freedom of navigation, it "requires a straight and uninterrupted voyage."He reiterated the call for all South China Sea claimants to exercise self-restraint and adhere to international law to avoid escalating tension.
Despite the country's "interest and some concern" over the naval exercises off the Paracels, Locsin stressed that China remains the Philippines' "biggest trading partner" and that it has a big role in any post-pandemic recovery not just of the Philippines but of the world.
The Duterte administration has nurtured friendship with China despite its refusal to recognise the Philippines' 2016 win at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidates Beijing's sweeping claim to almost the entire South China Sea, the media reported.
In a similar move last month, Vietnam had objected to China's recent reported laying of undersea cables in the disputed Paracel Islands, saying it was a violation of Vietnamese sovereignty.(ANI)