China cautioned neighboring countries that it could declare an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the disputed region in the event that it felt undermined and threatened after a UN International tribunal handed the Philippines a victory by saying Beijing had no legal basis for its expansive claims over the contested waters of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

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China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin

At a media briefing, while introducing a policy paper in response to the ruling, Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said “If our security is being threatened, of course, we have the right to demarcate a zone. This would depend on our overall assessment.”

Liu blamed the Philippines for stirring up trouble and he reiterated that the islands in the South China Sea were China’s “inherent territory”.

Liu said, “We hope that other countries will not take this opportunity to threaten China and work with China to protect the peace and stability of the South China Sea, and not let it become the origin of a war.”

But “Beijing likewise expressed a desire for peace to the new Philippine government, saying the Southeast Asian country would profit by collaborating with China,” Liu said.

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While the Vice Foreign Minister blaming the previous Philippine government for complicating the dispute by seeking arbitration, Liu said China stays focused on bilateral arrangements with the Philippines and noted new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s right response on the issue.

“After the storm of this arbitration has passed, and the sky has cleared, we hope this day (of negotiations) will come quickly, but whether it can come, we still have to wait,” Liu said, adding that China believed that cooperation would also bring Filipinos “tangible benefits.”

China’s planned ADIZ would sharply escalate tensions in the disputed region. Likewise, it is the same Air Defense Identification Zone launched in 2013, over disputed islands in the East China Sea, requiring all aircraft entering the area to notify Chinese authorities or be subjected to “emergency military measures” if they disobey orders from Beijing.

The Philippines, under a U.N. treaty governing the seas, had sought arbitration in 2013 on several issues related to its long-running territorial disputes with China. In its court decision Tuesday, the tribunal discovered China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea had no lawful and legal basis and that Beijing had disregarded and violated the Philippines’ sea rights by building up fake islands, destroying marine echo system, disrupting fishing and oil exploration. – Jason E.

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