The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday refused to comment on reports that Chinese military aircraft conducted drills over waters off Batanes early this week.
The drills were part of Beijing’s first aerial exercises over the western Pacific Ocean early this week.
“I’ll let you know if and when we’ll issue a statement,” Charles Jose, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said after The Manila Times asked him to comment on the news reports dispatched by China’s state news agency, Xinhua.
Highlighting Beijing’s growing military reach, several aircraft from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Monday flew over the Pacific Ocean via the Bashi Channel, which runs between Taiwan and the Philippines, it said.
“This is the first time that the PLA Air Force conducted such drills in an airspace far offshore from Chinese coastlines,” the news agency quoted Army spokesman Shen Jinke as saying.
The drills aimed to “level up the PLA Air Force’s mobility and combativeness” over the “high seas,” Xinhua reported.
“The [drills are]not targeted at any certain country or targets and [carry]no threat against other countries and regions,” it again quoted Shen as saying.
The Bashi Channel is a waterway between Y’Ami Island of the Philippines and Orchid Island of Taiwan. It is a part of the Luzon Strait in the Pacific Ocean.
The Bashi Channel is an important passage for military operations, according to a 2007 edition of the Power and Interest News Report.
Both Taiwan and the Philippines dispute ownership of the waters.