China invasion of PH? ‘Nonsense,’ says Chinese envoy

Pia Ranada

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China invasion of PH? ‘Nonsense,’ says Chinese envoy
'We have never thought of going to war with our good neighbor, our good friend that is the Philippines,' says Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua on the landing of a Chinese plane in Davao City

MANILA, Philippines – Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua brushed aside claims that the recent landing of a Chinese government plane in Davao City is a threat to Philippine sovereignty.

“Even they indicated that this might be the beginning of our invasion. Please allow me to be blunt: It’s nonsense,” Zhao said during a chance interview with reporters on Tuesday, June 12.

“We have never thought of going to war with our good neighbor, our good friend that is the Philippines,” he added.

Echoing statements by presidential aide Bong Go, Zhao said the Chinese aircraft made the landing just to refuel and that the Chinese personnel followed Philippine protocols.

“The landing is very simple, it’s for refueling. The plane [was] on its way to New Zealand for a bilateral military exercise,” said Zhao.

“If you do not allow the Chinese there to land or fly over your airspace, we are not there to do that because you might shoot them down,” he added.

Senator Panfilo Lacson had expressed concerns over the landing of the Chinese plane, saying it should have been done through a request coursed through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of National Defense, and should have been made public.

If these processes were not followed, it was as if the Philippines was a mere province of China, which Duterte had infamously joked about before, and not an independent and sovereign state, said the senator.

Go had said in a statement that the request for landing was “received, processed, and cleared by relevant Philippine government agencies.”

Former defense secretary and national security adviser Norberto Gonzales had also warned that an invasion by China “is not unthinkable,” saying that while China does not have a history of invading other countries, “it is not averse to using military might to settle territorial conflicts.”

China and the Philippines have cultivated warmer ties since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency. Yet China continues its military build-up in the West Philippine Sea despite an international court’s ruling that nullified its claim there.

Recently, China Coast Guard personnel were caught on camera taking the catch of Filipino fishermen in Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal, waters declared by the same ruling as common fishing grounds for China, Philippines, and nearby countries.

Experts, including Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio had said that Filipino fishermen can fish freely in the shoal, which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, as provided by the 2016 ruling of an international arbitral court–


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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.