Philippines tells China to mind its own business over maritime drills

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MANILA (Reuters) – China should not be mentioning to the Philippines what it may or may not be able to inside its waters, Manila’s protection service said on Wednesday, dismissing Beijing’s resistance to its continuous coastguard works out.

Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told journalists China has “no power or lawful premise to keep us from leading these activities” in the South China Sea on the grounds that “their cases… have no premise.”

China guarantees practically the whole South China Sea, where about $3 trillion worth of boat borne exchange spends every year. In 2016, an arbitral court in The Hague decide that guarantee, which China bases on its old guides, is conflicting with worldwide law.

The Philippine coastguard and fisheries bureau started maritime exercises on Saturday inside the country’s 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), following an announcement of a boosting of its presence to counter the “threatening” presence of Chinese boats.

Responding to the exercises, China’s foreign ministry on Monday said the Philippines should “stop actions complicating the situation and escalating disputes.”

The Philippine defence ministry in a statement responded saying: “China has no business telling the Philippines what it can and cannot do.”

The Philippines has taken a tough tone in recent weeks over the lingering presence of hundreds of Chinese boats in its EEZ, reviving tensions that had eased due to President Rodrigo Duterte embrace of Beijing.

On Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin ordered the filing of another diplomatic protest, one of more than a dozen recently, this time over China’s rebuke.

“They can say what they want from the Chinese mainland; we continue to assert from our waters by right of international law what we won in The Hague. But we must not fail to protest,” Locsin said in a Tweet.

The exercises took place near a Philippine-held island in the disputed Spratly archipelago and at the heavily contested Scarborough Shoal, which the tribunal in 2016 said was a traditional fishing spot for several countries.

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