Gov’t agencies remain mum on Chinese bombers | Malaya Business Insight

Reference:
Hachero, A. (2018, May 21). Gov’t agencies remain mum on Chinese bombers. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved May 21, 2018 from http://malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/gov%E2%80%99t-agencies-remain-mum-chinese-bombers

Gov’t agencies remain mum on Chinese bombers
May 21, 2018
BY ASHZEL HACHERO and VICTOR REYES

THE Department of Foreign Affairs, the Armed Forces, and the Department of National Defense remained mum yesterday on the landing of Chinese bomber aircraft on disputed islands in the South China Sea.

The Washington-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative has said the Chinese bomber aircraft, including the top-of-the-line H-6K, landed on Woody Island, part of the Paracel group of islands in the South China Sea. The Paracel islands are being claimed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan. The three countries, together with the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei, have competing claims in the South China Sea. China said the bombers are part of a training exercise in the disputed region. President Duterte on Saturday night defended his position not to confront China and reiterated his openness to undertake joint exploration and development in waters believed to be rich in oil and natural gas. But it was not clear if he was aware of the news about China’s bombers landing on islands and reefs in the South China Sea. “You know they have the planes, not stationed in Spratlys but near the provinces facing — Chinese provinces facing the Spratlys and the China Sea,” he said in a speech late on Saturday. “And with their hypersonic, they can reach Manila within 7 to 10 minutes. If we will go to a full-blown war, where would the Philippines end up?” Duterte said. The President, at the launching of a housing program in Talisay City in Negros Occidental yesterday, reiterated he is not crazy to gamble with the lives of his soldiers and policemen in a war which the Philippines cannot win. He also reiterated he would raise the territorial dispute issue with China within his term but at the proper time. The Washington-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, in its website, said: “The base H-6 aircraft’s combat radius of nearly 1,000 nautical miles means even China’s basic bombers taking off from Woody Island could cover the entire South China Sea.” “Nearly all of the Philippines falls within the radius of the bombers, including Manila and all five Philippine military bases earmarked for development under the US-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement,” it also said. AMTI said the upgraded H-6K, which it said has a combat radius of nearly 1,900 nautical miles, “would dwarf this radius (of the base H-6), putting all of Southeast Asia in range of flights from Woody Island.” It said future deployment of Chinese aircraft on the “Big 3” in the Spratly Islands “would bring Singapore and much of Indonesia within range of even China’s lower-end bombers, while the H-6Ks could reach northern Australia or US defense facilities on Guam.” “Big 3” refers to the Mischief (local name Panganiban), Fiery Cross (Kagitingan), and Subi (Zamora) reefs which were subjected to land reclamation by China in the past year. The three reefs are occupied by China but are being claimed by the Philippines. China has deployed transport planes and recently installed missile systems on the three reefs. The defense and military establishment said it was still verifying China’s installation of the missile system on the reefs. The DFA issued a statement about a meeting in Hawaii between Philippine officials led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Interior officer in charge Eduardo Año, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and US Pacific Command chief, Admiral Harry Harris Jr. Harris is set to retire next month and will be appointed as US ambassador to South Korea. In the statement, the DFA said that on the South China Sea issue, the Philippine delegation underscored that the “deliberate and nuanced diplomacy by the Duterte administration had lowered tensions in the region and resulted in clear economic gains for the Philippines in terms of access to marine resources, protection of the marine ecology and the potential to explore oil and gas resources.” Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon said the Senate should take a stand on the “creeping invasion” of Philippine territory in the South China Sea by China, adding the matter will be a challenge to the new leadership of the Senate. He said the Senate leadership should be able to assert the chamber’s role as “a foreign policy partner of the President.” – With Jocelyn Montemayor and JP Lopez

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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