- China closes part of the West PH Sea to accommodate its planned naval exercises
- The announcement came just days after the arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines
- The Chinese government did not disclose the nature of the military drill which starts this week
MANILA, Philippines – China remains defiant and has ordered the closing of access to some parts of the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea ahead of its planned military drill this week.
The Chinese government announced the closing of an area southeast of the island-province of Hainan starting Monday until Thursday to accommodate the holding of naval exercises near the area.
The Hainan’s maritime administration, however, did not disclose the details of the military drill while the Navy and the Defense Ministry had no immediate statement.
The move came just days after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, Netherlands ruled in favor of the Philippines; delegitimizing China’s historical ‘nine-dash line’ claim to almost the entire West Philippine Sea/ South China Sea.
Beijing refuses to recognize the decision; saying the court lacks jurisdiction over the case and the decision was not legally binding, and thus, unenforceable.
It continue to challenge the July 12 international court’s ruling by landing civilian aircrafts on disputed Mischief and Subi reefs and ordered its patrolling coast guard vessels to drive away Filipino fisherman near the Scarborough Shoal two days later.
Just recently, a Chinese military official claimed it has sent jet fighters and bombers over the contested territories and said the activity will become regular patrols in the future to assert their claim of sovereignty.
“We will never stop our construction on the Nansha Islands (Spratlys) halfway,” said Wu Shengli, the commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. “The Nansha Islands are China’s inherent territory, and our necessary construction on the islands is reasonable, justified and lawful.”
The announcement of the military exercises came in the middle of a three-day visit to Beijing by U.S. Navy Adm. John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, to discuss the raging territorial disputes between China and other nation-claimants like Vietnam and the Philippines.
Just a few days before the court handed the widely-anticipated decision, China, who refused to participate in the arbitration proceedings, also conducted military drill in the area to emphasize its long-held position to reject the ruling regardless of the outcome.