Philippines: We are not provoking conflict in South China Sea

MANILA: The Philippines is not provoking conflict in the South China Sea, the country's military spokesperson said on Tuesday (Dec 26), in response to China's accusation that Manila is encroaching on Beijing's territory.

"Philippines is not provoking conflict. We follow international law and we are only implementing our domestic law, meaning the limits of our territorial waters and exclusive economic zone where we have sovereign rights," Medel Aguilar (pic) told state-run broadcaster PTV.

The comments come a day after the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, wrote that the Philippines has relied on US support to continually provoke China, with "extremely dangerous" behaviour seriously harming regional peace and stability.

Aguilar said the Philippines is not conducting activities that will put vessels and seafarers in danger, and instead accused China of performing dangerous manoeuvres that sometimes result in collisions at sea.

"They are the ones committing all the violations," Aguilar said.

Tensions between Manila and Beijing have risen in recent months with both sides trading accusations over a series of maritime run-ins, including China allegedly ramming a ship this month carrying the Philippines' military chief.

On Tuesday, the Chinese embassy in Manila said the Philippines is causing tensions by sending construction supplies to its grounded navy vessel in the Second Thomas Shoal.

"The Philippines, bolstered by external support, has brushed aside China's goodwill and restraint and repeatedly challenged China's principles and red line," the embassy said, citing the Chinese foreign ministry.

The Philippines regularly deploys resupply missions for Filipino soldiers living aboard an aging warship deliberately run aground in 1999 to protect Manila's maritime claims.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea with its so-called nine-dash line that overlaps into the exclusive economic zones of rival claimants Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam.

A 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling invalidated China's claim in the strategic waters, which Beijing did not recognise. - Reuters

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Philippines , China , South China Sea , dispute


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