Philip­pines de­ploys Ja­panese-do­nated pa­trol plane to dis­puted shoal

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - International Business -

THE Philip­pine mil­i­tary de­ployed a Ja­panese-do­nated pa­trol plane Wednesday to a dis­puted shoal guarded by China in the South China Sea, and the air­craft did not en­counter any Chi­nese re­sis­tance, of­fi­cials said.

The mil­i­tary’s Northern Lu­zon Com­mand said the Beechcraft King Air C90 flew low at 800 feet (240 me­tres) around Scar­bor­ough Shoal on its first mis­sion for the Philip­pine navy. It said it spot­ted nine Chi­nese ves­sels, in­clud­ing four Chi­nese coast guard ships, and four Philip­pine fishing boats.

“The Filipino pilots heard no chal­lenge from the Chi­nese coast guard,” the mil­i­tary com­mand said in a state­ment, re­fer­ring to the prac­tice of Chi­nese forces to warn for­eign ves­sels or air­craft by ra­dio that they have en­tered Chi­nese-claimed ter­ri­tory and should leave im­me­di­ately.

Ear­lier this month, a US guided mis­sile de­stroyer sailed near Scar­bor­ough Shoal to as­sert free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion, spark­ing protests from China. Bei­jing said it would take “nec­es­sary mea­sures” to pro­tect its sovereignty af­ter the USS Hop­per sailed within 12 nau­ti­cal miles of Scar­bor­ough with­out China’s per­mis­sion.

China took con­trol of Scar­bor­ough in 2012 af­ter a tense stand­off with Philip­pine ships. The tiny, un­in­hab­ited reef is about 200 kilo­me­tres west of the main northern Philip­pine is­land of Lu­zon, and about 600 kilo­me­tres south­east of China.

The Northern Lu­zon Com­mand said it “will utilise all avail­able as­sets and re­sources to pro­tect our na­tional ter­ri­tory ... and as­sert our sov­er­eign rights over our mar­itime do­main.”

The plane is one of five re­fur­bished Beechcraft air­craft do­nated by Ja­pan to help the Philip­pines im­prove its ca­pa­bil­ity to watch and pro­tect its ter­ri­tory. Two of the air­craft were de­liv­ered to the Philip­pines in March last year and the rest are ex­pected to be de­liv­ered this year.

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