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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government will bring up with Chinese officials concerns on the presence of Chinese bombers in Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, said Malacañang on Monday, May 21.
“We will bring this issue up again in the bilateral mechanism we have agreed upon with China,” said Roque, adding that the next meeting is set to take place in June.
He also conveyed the Philippine government’s “serious concerns” about the presence of the Chinese bombers. Yet Roque also said President Rodrigo Duterte does not see China as a threat.
“The President does not see any immediate threat. We don’t consider China a threat right now because of our newfound friendship,” he said.
Roque denied that the Duterte administration is not doing enough to protect Philippine interests when it comes to China’s activities in the South China Sea.
“We are addressing it diplomatically…. It’s not as if we take it sitting down,” he said.
While Paracel Islands is not being claimed by the Philippines, the presence of long-range bombers there puts Manila and key Philippine military bases within combat range of Chinese missiles, said the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs has said it will not publicly condemn China over the incident, in contrast to what it had done during the administration of Benigno Aquino III.
This is the first time that China landed its bombers in the South China Sea – the latest in escalating moves to militarize these waters.