The Department of National Defense (DND) emphasized that China has no right to dictate the actions of the Philippines within its own territory, in response to warnings from Beijing about increasing military presence in Batanes.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin had cautioned the Philippines to “tread carefully and don’t play with fire” after Secretary Gilberto Teodoro expressed intentions to bolster military presence in the northernmost province of the country.
In a statement on Saturday, the DND asserted that Batanes is Philippine territory and that China should not be issuing warnings about the Philippines’ activities within its own territory, emphasizing its mandate to secure the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Secretary Teodoro had called for increased military presence and infrastructure development in Batanes, referring to the province as the “spearhead of the Philippines.”
In response, Wang highlighted the sensitivity of the Taiwan question, stating that it is at the heart of China’s core interests and is a red line that must not be crossed. Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory and has expressed willingness to take the democratic island by force if necessary. Batanes province is located less than 200 kilometers from Taiwan.
The DND urged China to refrain from engaging in provocative rhetoric and activities if it truly seeks to earn trust and respect.