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Philippines watching S.China Sea amid Beijing bombers

The Philippines said it is closely monitoring developments in the South China Sea amid reports that Beijing has landed bombers in the islands in disputed waters.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in close coordination with the other relevant departments and agencies, is closely monitoring developments in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea,” the DFA said in a statement.

Manila asserted its commitment to protect “every single inch” of its territory.

However, despite calls to condemn China’s aggression, the statement said the Philippines’ policy is not to publicize all the government’s actions conveyed through diplomatic channels.

China’s Air Force last Friday said it had conducted takeoff and landing training on an island reef in the South China Sea in order to improve their ability to “reach all territory, conduct strikes at any time, and strike in all directions.”

According to a report by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative — part of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank — China’s bombs could cover almost the entire Philippines, including Manila and all five Philippine military bases earmarked for development under the US-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea. Southeast Asian Nations Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam have overlapping claims on the waters.

In 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague concluded that Beijing’s claims to areas of the resource-rich sea have no legal basis, in an arbitration launched by the Philippines, whose “sovereign rights” it said China had violated. China rejected the ruling.

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