Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario on Monday urged the administration of President Duterte to build a credible defense posture and strengthen its alliances with other countries in the light of China’s newly passed law that allows its Coast Guard to shoot on foreign vessels operating in its “jurisdictional waters.”
“In the face of this new Chinese aggression, we should prioritize what we have been saying before: build a credible defense posture for our country and strengthen our security alliance with freedom-loving nations like the United States, the countries comprising the European Union, Japan, Australia, and our ASEAN neighbors,” Del Rosario said in a statement.
The former Philippines’ top diplomat maintained that the latest Chinese law is a sobering reminder to the world that “China remains adamant in pressing its illegal claims in the South China Sea, now with force and probably with violence.”
This new decision in Beijing, he said, came in the wake of the assumption of US President Joseph Biden and the recent visit of Chinese State Counselor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Manila.
“For Filipinos, this also reminds us that China’s plans to take over our waters and put our soldiers’ lives at risk will not go away despite the so-called friendly approach of the Duterte administration towards China,” Del Rosario said.
Del Rosario was one of the chief architects of the Philippine petition that won the nod of the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague against China’s excessive claims in the South China Sea.
“As has been shown before, we are one in rejecting China’s illegal claims in the South China Sea and we should also be one in addressing Chinese aggression in our waters,” he said.
Last week, China’s National People’s Congress standing committee passed the law that gives its Coast Guard the freedom to use “all necessary means”, including the use of weapons, to stop or prevent threats from foreign vessels.
Chinese state media reports also indicated that the law allows coast guard personnel to demolish other countries’ structures built on Chinese-claimed reefs and to board and inspect foreign vessels in waters claimed by China.
As this developed, the US Navy earlier announced that the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) entered the South China Sea on Jan. 23, to conduct routine operations.
The deployment of Theodore Roosevelt to the U.S. 7th Fleet to “ensure freedom of the seas, build partnerships that foster maritime security, and conduct a wide range of operations.”
“After sailing through these waters throughout my 30-year career, it’s great to be in the South China Sea again, conducting routine operations, promoting freedom of the seas, and reassuring allies and partners,” said Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander, Carrier Strike Group 9.
While in the South China Sea, the strike group will conduct maritime security operations, which include flight operations and coordinated tactical training between surface and air units.