World

Any US move against China will be for US interests: Philippines

MANILA The Philippine foreign minister yesterday said any future action by the United States to drive China from its artificial islands in the South China Sea would be the US'prerogative and in its own national interests.

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay was responding to a question during a television interview about comments by US Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, who said China should be denied access to the islands it has built in disputed territory.

"They said that they would prevent China from doing or undertaking this kind of activity. If they want to do that, they have the force to do so, let them do it," Mr Yasay said, referring to Mr Tillerson's remarks on Wednesday to US senators.

China has built several artificial islands in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, which an arbitration tribunal last year ruled unlawful.

On Thursday, the Philippine military said it is deferring plans to repair and upgrade features it occupies in the South China Sea.

The country's military chiefs said this is to avoid provoking China while the two traditional foes seek to bury the hatchet.

The Philippines also said it would continue to observe a moratorium on construction in the Spratly Islands that it adopted while an international tribunal handled an arbitration case it lodged against Beijing in 2013.

The decision to defer upgrades was to avoid "any aggressive action in the West Philippine Sea," Military chief General Eduardo Ano said, using the name by which the Philippines refers to the South China Sea. - REUTERS

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