Tuesday August 21, 2018

Chinese envoy: No plans to 'invade' Philippines

MANILA. Protesters shout slogans while displaying placards during a rally at the Chinese Consulate in the financial district of Makati city to protest alleged continued seizure of catches of Filipino fishermen at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea despite a protest by the Philippines following an earlier incident Monday, June 11, 2018. (AP Photo)

THE Chinese ambassador on Tuesday, June 12, allayed Filipinos' fears of a possible "invasion" by China, saying it is "nonsense" and the Philippines is a "good friend."

"I’m really puzzled and even surprised that some of the people here (are) taking the landing of Chinese military jets as a kind of military threat to the Philippines. And even they indicated that this might be the beginning of our invasion," Chinese Ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua said on the sidelines of the Philippines' 120th Independence Day celebration in Kawit, Cavite.

"Please allow me to be blunt, it’s nonsense. We have never thought of going to war with our good neighbor, our good friend that is the Philippines," he added.

Photos of a Chinese military transport plane, identified as an Ilyushin IL-76, landing at the Davao City International Airport last June 8 circulated on social media.

On June 8, Malacañang confirmed that the Chinese aircraft made a technical stop in Davao City for refuelling, an acceptable act since Beijing complied with "established protocols."

Zhao said there was nothing wrong with the landing of the Chinese plane in Philippine territory. He said China did not breach any protocols set by the Duterte government.

He added that the Filipino people should no longer worry since the military jet is now en route to New Zealand for a bilateral military exercise.

"You have your protocols, which allow foreign airplanes to house over your (territory) or water, or fly over your airspace but all foreign jets, including civilian or military, they should follow your protocols and procedures," he said.

"If you do not allow the Chinese there to land or fly over your airspace, we are not there to do that because you might shoot them down," the Chinese official added.

The landing of a Chinese plane in Davao City came after Beijing had reportedly landed strategic bombers on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands and installed missile weapons in Fiery Cross (Kagitingan), Subi (Zamora), and Mischief (Panganiban) reefs in the Spratly Islands.

The Philippine government has refused to confront China over its growing militarization of the disputed South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), opting instead to seek a diplomatic resolution to the maritime dispute. (SunStar Philippines)