It is none of China’s business telling the Philippines what they can or cannot do within their territorial waters, the Philippine Defense Ministry said Wednesday, rejecting Beijing’s opposition to exercises conducted by the Philippine navy.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, where about $3 trillion worth of maritime trade passes through there each year. In 2016, The Hague tribunal ruled that the claim, which China bases on its old maps, was not in line with international law.
Philippine Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana told reporters:
“China has no authority or legal basis to prevent us from conducting these exercises” in the South China Sea, as “their claims…have absolutely no basis.”
The Philippine coast guard and fisheries office began naval exercises Saturday within the country’s 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), following an announcement to strengthen its presence in response to the “threatening” presence of Chinese vessels in the South China Sea region.