A Chinese defense ministry executive on Thursday defended China’s use of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, over an area disputed by China and the Philippines.
Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun insisted the use of the drones over Huangyan Island, Nansha Islands and adjacent waters is “justified and legal.”
“(Since China has indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan and Nansha), therefore, Chinese aircraft’ flying in the airspace in question is justified and legal,” Yang said at a press briefing, according to an article posted Thursday night on China’s government web portal.
He also warned China opposes any military provocation in the South China Sea, a part of which the Philippines refers to as the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines refers to Huangyan Island as Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, and the Nansha Islands as the Spratly Islands.
Yang’s remarks were in response to comments by a Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) spokesman that Chinese drones may be shot at if they enter Philippine airspace.
Last Sunday, China’s State Oceanic Administration said China will use drones to strengthen its marine surveillance, and step up efforts to enhance its surveillance of the islands and islets including the Diaoyu and Huangyan.
The row between the Philippines and China over Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal started last April when Philippine forces sighted Chinese fishermen gathering marine species from the area.
But when the Philippine forces tried to make arrests, they were blocked by a Chinese ship.
On the other hand, the Philippines and China are only two of six claimants to the Spratlys, the others being Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam. — ELR, GMA News