US, Philippines hold air patrol, drawing China rebuke

US, Philippines hold air patrol, drawing China rebuke

The Philippine Air Force and the US Pacific Air Forces carry out the Combined Air Patrol as Phase 2 of the 3rd Maritime Cooperative Activity (MCA) within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, covering areas 90 nautical miles west of Candon, Ilocos Sur, and 50 nautical miles northwest of Lubang, Mindoro, on Monday. (Photo: Philippine Air Force)
The Philippine Air Force and the US Pacific Air Forces carry out the Combined Air Patrol as Phase 2 of the 3rd Maritime Cooperative Activity (MCA) within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, covering areas 90 nautical miles west of Candon, Ilocos Sur, and 50 nautical miles northwest of Lubang, Mindoro, on Monday. (Photo: Philippine Air Force)

MANILA - The United States and the Philippines conducted a joint air patrol over areas facing the disputed South China Sea in another display of a stronger defence alliance, drawing China’s rebuke as maritime tensions linger.

The Philippine Air Force said in a Facebook post that it conducted the patrol with the US Pacific Air Forces on Monday over the western part of the Southeast Asian nation’s main island.

"This cooperative activity aims to bolster cooperation between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and their US counterparts," the Philippine Air Force said in its post, which also included photos and videos of the patrol.

The Chinese military’s Southern Theatre Command, in a Weibo statement, described the air patrol as a publicity stunt, and accused the Philippines of disrupting order in the South China Sea by enlisting countries outside the region. China also said its troops will maintain a high degree of vigilance and resolutely defend national sovereignty.

The Philippines under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has bolstered its longstanding defence alliance with the US, while publicising and protesting China’s moves in the South China Sea which Beijing claims almost in its entirety. Washington and Manila have also recently conducted sea patrols in the disputed area.

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