This is a weekly look at the latest developments in the South China Sea, the location of several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region. "If anyone gets the natural resources in the West Philippine Sea-South China Sea, he will go to war".
"Nobody can extract natural resources there on their own", foreign secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.
"U.S. forces operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea".
Fox notes that not only has China used its airbase on Woody Island to land heavy bombers, but it has deployed an advanced surface-to-air missile system.
Cayetano further elaborated that among the territorial issues discussed, with China, were construction activities at a disputed shoal and the unilateral extraction of oil and gas in the region.
Despite these actions being treated as a step towards the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea by the USA, rather than a military show-off, it is safe to say that China has seen through their show of symbolism. The official, on Monday, stated that there are several "red lines" or actions - if crossed or taken - would be deemed unacceptable resulting in an aggressive response from Manila.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative in Washington believes new weapon systems were dropped on Woody Island under the guise of "military exercises" in early May, citing satellite imagery that shows much of the equipment is still in place even though the exercises ended weeks ago.
China's defense ministry said two United States warships, the Antiem guided missile cruiser, and the USS Higgins destroyer, entered disputed waters around the Paracel Islands on Sunday. Called "Xisha" in Chinese, the islands have been incorporated into the southern province of Hainan and are being developed for tourism, as well as being equipped with weapon systems meant to enforce China's claim to virtually the entire South China Sea.
China's foreign and defense ministries both protested the "unauthorized" American freedom of navigation exercise.
To reinforce its claims to the territory, the Chinese government has built a series of artificial islands in the Paracel and Spratly Island chains, complete with radar facilities and airstrips.
The chief spokesman for China's Ministry of National Defense, Senior Col. Wu Qian, said that the United States "gravely violated Chinese sovereignty". "Whatever their professions are - justice, politician, newsman, journalist - if we lost a single island during Duterte's time, I will pack my bags, go home and I will not serve the public in any elected or appointed position". An global tribunal ruled in 2016, in a case brought by the Philippines, that most of Beijing's stated claims in the South China Sea were illegal under worldwide maritime law.