China on Friday defended its placement of buoys in the Nansha Islands, also known as Spratly Islands, saying it is just “exercising its sovereignty in accordance with the law.”
“It aims to ensure the safety of maritime navigation and operations, and provide public goods for passing ships and countries in the region,” a brief statement issued by the China Embassy in Manila said.
China has deployed three navigation beacons around the contested island following similar marker placements by the Philippines as both sides try to fortify their claims to the area.
Spratly Islands is part of the West Philippine Sea, a region also being claimed by China.
China's Transport Ministry said its South China Sea maritime security center placed the three beacons close to Irving Reef (Balagtas Reef), Whitsun Reef (Julian Felipe Reef), and Gaven Reefs (Burgos Reefs) of the Spratly islands, which is composed of islets, reef banks, and shoals.
The Philippines also earlier placed navigational buoys carrying the country's national flags within its exclusive economic zone, including at Balagtas Reef and Julian Felipe Reef, and where hundreds of Chinese ships moored in 2021 and again in 2022.
Philippine National Security Adviser Eduardo Año said the placement of buoys in the West Philippine Sea was done for navigational safety and is justified under international laws,
Last month, the Philippine Coast Guard reported that more than 100 Chinese vessels were spotted during the maritime patrols of Philippine vessels in WPS.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has been reiterating that the Philippines will not give up an inch of its territory, including the WPS amid the reported aggression of China, in the territory.
In July 2016, the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, based on a case filed by the Philippines, junked China's nine-dash line claim covering the entire South China Sea.
China has refused to acknowledge the ruling. —KBK, GMA Integrated News