China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) remained on “high alert” in the South China Sea as a three-day joint US-Philippines air and maritime patrols are set to culminate on Thursday, Chinese state-run media reported.
The PLA Southern Theater Command’s frigate Yuncheng has conducted “routine” patrols in the South China Sea since Tuesday, “when the Philippines rallied forces outside of the region, held patrols and stirred up trouble in the region,” a spokesperson of the command was quoted as saying by Global Times on Thursday.
The command troops are on high alert to firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security and maritime interests, he added.
“Such a move stirs up trouble, hypes up the situation, undermines regional peace and stability and violates the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” he said.
The US and the Philippines are conducting joint air and maritime patrols, involving the two air forces, and navies, in the disputed waters of the South China Sea amid an increasing cooperation between the two allies.
The patrols came only days after Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called the situation in the South China Sea increasingly “dire.”
“Unfortunately, I cannot report that the situation is improving,” Marcos said. “The situation has become more dire than it was before,” Marcos said while speaking on Sunday in Honolulu.
Announcing the start of the joint patrols, Marcos said on X that they were a “testament to our commitment to bolster the interoperability of our military forces.”
China, for its part, said on Wednesday that the joint sea and air patrols by the Philippines and the US in the disputed South China Sea “should not harm” its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights.”
“The Philippines-US joint patrol must not hurt China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests,” said Mao Ning, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry.
The US 7th Fleet said that the patrols were part of routine American interaction with its allies and partners in “preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
Territorial disputes in the South China Sea involve conflicting island and maritime claims in the region by several sovereign states, including China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
The South China Sea Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DoC) is a South China Sea conduct agreement signed by ASEAN and China in November 2002, marking the first time China had accepted a multilateral agreement on the issue.
Source : AA