The US Navy sent two warships to a disputed archipelago in the South China Sea on May 28 in its latest symbolic protest against China's claims there.
China claims the Paracel islands and surrounding features as its own territory. Called "Xisha" in Chinese, the islands have been incorporated into the southern province of Hainan and are being developed for tourism, as well as being equipped with weapon systems meant to enforce China's claim to virtually the entire South China Sea.
In their resolution, the senators cited United States intelligence sources regarding China's installation of anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missile systems in Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) reef, Zamora (Subi) Reef, and Panganiban (Mischief) Reef in the Spratly Islands, over which the Philippines has sovereign rights based on the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
In a speech on Monday, Foreign Minister Alan Peter Cayetano defended the Philippines government from allegations that they were taking a soft policy on Chinese militarization of the South China Sea. We elected President Duterte, he was transparent that he will be going bilateral [in his approach to the South China Sea dispute]. "They said some red lines, we said some red lines".
"President (Rodrigo Duterte) has already said that".
It was the primary time multiple U.S. vessel had been used within the workouts, in line with specialists, a part of a latest escalation in USA opposition to China's motion within the area.
The Pentagon first invited China to attend in 2014, in a gesture of goodwill and improving U.S. -Sino military relations. "But it's global waters, and a lot of nations want to see freedom of navigation".
China dispatched heavy bombers to contested territories in the region in mid-May.
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The Chinese military has also installed jamming technology in the South China Sea, escalating tensions.
Esperon said the government was also upgrading the port and airstrip facilities in Pag-asa Island as part of its efforts to promote the welfare of Filipinos living in the area. "If there's multiple nation militarizing, and it isn't exclusively the islands, if big navies are crusing by means of the world, is that not militarization?" he mentioned. Weeks earlier, USA intelligence announced there was a high possibility Beijing had deployed anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles as part of military exercises.
Mattis' comments came after Beijing expressed "firm opposition" on Sunday after two United States warships sailed within 12 nautical miles of four artificial islands claimed by China in the disputed Paracel island chain, east of Vietnam.
"Our diplomats are robustly engaged on this", Mattis said. The disinvite was described as an "initial response to China's continued militarization of the South China Sea".
Harris has been nominated to become the next US ambassador to South Korea.
"We are going out of our way to cooperate with Pacific nations, that's the way we do business in the world", Mattis told reporters traveling with him to a national security conference in Singapore.
U.S. Navy Adm. Philip Davidson will take over PACOM from Adm. Harry Harris during the change of command on Wednesday.