South China Sea Tensions High As Beijing Taunts US Ally
Tensions continue to persist in the South China Sea region as the Philippines reportedly received radio warnings from the Chinese navy recently. The incident happened after the Philippines flew a Cessna plane near one of Beijing’s constructed islands in the disputed region.Advertisement
According to Philippine officials, the Chinese navy sent two “intimidating” warnings last January 7. Eric Apolonio confirmed the incident after he and another personal from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines flew the plane near the disputed region. The purpose of flying the plane was for an engineering survey for the installation of aviation safety equipment, according to Asia Times. The plane flew over an island called Pag-asa which is consequently near Subi Reef – the region transformed by the Chinese.
According to Apolonio, they received the warning message after Cessna approached Pag-asa. The radio channel warning went as follows: “Foreign military aircraft, this is the Chinese navy. You are threatening the security of our station.”
The Filipino pilots did not heed the warning and proceed with flying over the island. Apolonio explained that since they were flying a civilian plane over a Philippine-claimed territory, the warning did not apply. However, after they finished the survey on Pag-asa, the Chinese sent another warning.
“You’ll never know, we can be fired upon,” said Apolonio after he was asked if they felt threatened.
“If a British aircraft, civilian or military, was intercepted and not allowed to fly over a space which we regard as international, we will simply ignore it,” said British Ambassador to Manila Asif Ahmad on the issue about the disputed water.
The United States will also not stand down as the country’s military will reportedly be back in the Philippines following a court ruling. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the decision, saying that “the United States has a very firm, iron-clad commitment to the security of the Philippines.” The two countries have been strong allies for more than 70 years now. China warned the United States previously to back off. There have been tensions between the two countries as the West, along with the Philippines, asserts freedom of navigation against China.