The French Navy continued to patrol the South China Sea to ensure freedom of navigation in disputed waters, according to the European Ministry of State Affairs and French Foreign Affairs Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, the Philippine Inquirer .
“France is very committed to promoting and protecting the spirit of international law. That’s why our Navy regularly patrols in the South China Sea and we will continue to do so, ”Lemoyne told reporters in an interview after the Beijing Committee’s signing ceremony. Economy of the Philippines-France (JEC) on Friday (June 28) in Makati City.
Mr. Lemoyne made the statement after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte “challenged” Western powers, including France, to help the Philippines assert its maritime claims. Duterte said: “This is my challenge to the US, Britain, and France. Gather here at Palawan and go straight to Changsha. ”
The Spratly Islands of the South China Sea are subject to sovereignty disputes between Vietnam, China , the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
The French diplomat did not directly respond to Duterte’s call, but repeated his country’s commitment to maintaining maritime freedom in the South China Sea.
He said: “You know, we are part of the Indo-Pacific region because we have territory, we have 7,000 soldiers in the Indo-Pacific region and that’s equal to testify to our commitment to ensuring that maritime freedom is a reality, true in the Sea [East] ”.
The South China Sea is an important economic sea route in Asia, but China’s reform and militarization activities have raised concerns about regional peace and stability.
In July 2016, the court based in the Hague, the Netherlands ruled against the legal basis for the nine-dashed line China claimed in the South China Sea.
This is considered a victory for small claimants in the South China Sea, including the Philippines – the country that filed a lawsuit against China with the support of a long-time US ally.
However, President Duterte reversed the “pro-American” stance of his predecessors, underestimating the South China Sea by pursuing a warmer relationship with China after taking power in 2016.
On June 26, 2019, Mr. Duterte was surprised to announce that his government allowed China to catch seafood in the Philippine exclusive waters.