China urges Philippines to remove grounded warship from Ren'ai Reef
FM slams US for meddling and sowing discord, confusion
Published: Aug 07, 2023 10:35 PM
China Coast Guard drives away Philippine vessels intruding into waters of China's Nansha Islands

China Coast Guard drives away Philippine vessels intruding into waters of China's Nansha Islands

China on Monday criticized the Philippines for disregarding China's repeated negotiations and requests to stop bringing construction materials to its "grounded" warship and stop intruding into the waters around Ren'ai Reef . China also urged the Philippines to remove the warship and demanded the US to stop meddling and sowing discord.

China has acted with restraint by using only water cannons in order to defend its own rights and avoid a direct collision, Chinese analysts said. They warned the Philippines that consolidating the wreck into a permanent base is not an option and said Manila should keep clear-headed and avoid following the US to take more proactive actions to escalate the tension.

On August 5, despite repeated Chinese dissuasion and warnings, the Philippines dispatched two vessels into the Ren'ai Jiaowaters in violation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, attempting to deliver building materials for repair and reinforcement to the illegal warship, a spokesperson from the China Coast Guard (CCG) said on Monday in a second response to the Philippines' move around China's Nansha Islands.

The CCG lawfully intercepted them and took warning law measures. When repeated verbal warnings did not have any effect, water cannons were used to avoid direct collision. The onsite operation was professional, restrained and beyond reproach, the CCG spokesperson said on Monday.

As per usual, the US has joined the Philippines to stir up the event. "We stand with our Philippine allies in condemning the PRC's efforts to impede lawful operations at Second Thomas Shoal," US Defense Department spokesperson Patrick Ryder said on Sunday on X (formerly Twitter). Earlier on Saturday, the US Department of State in an apparent gesture of backing the Philippines, criticized China for being inconsistent with international law through referring to the arbitral decision in July 2016. And it even threatened to invoke Mutual Defense Treaty between the US and the Philippines.

On Monday, a spokesperson from the Chinese Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the US' endorsement of the Philippines' illegal provocative actions. What the US does is to blatantly support the Philippines' violation of China's sovereignty, and its plot is doomed to fail, the spokesperson from the foreign ministry said.

The South China Sea arbitration case is a political farce manipulated behind the scenes by the US under the guise of law. The US justifying this illegal arbitration will not in any way affect China's firm determination and will safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, the spokesperson said, urging the US to stop using the South China Sea to sow discord.

The spokesperson from the CCG summarized the entire process of the conflict in Monday's statement, saying that the Ren'ai Jiao has always been a part of China's Nansha Islands. In 1999, the Philippines sent a military vessel and deliberately ran it aground at Ren'ai Jiao, prompting immediate and serious representations from China. The Philippines repeatedly promised to remove the grounded warship, but 24 years later, not only has the ship not been removed, but there have been attempts to repair and reinforce it, aiming for permanent occupation of the Ren'ai Jiao.

The Chinese side has lodged negotiations with the Philippines at various levels and through multiple channels, demanding that the Philippines refrain from unauthorized entry of vessels into Ren'ai Jiao and from transporting construction materials for large-scale maintenance and reinforcement to the "grounded" warship. China suggested, through diplomatic channels, that both sides engage in discussions on how to manage the situation at Ren'ai Jiao. However, the Philippines has refused to respond to these suggestions.

Delivering building materials for repair and reinforcement to the illegal warship means a longer period of illegal encroachment. Using water cannons to avoid a direct collision demonstrates China's restraint, unlike some countries in a similar situation that would open fire with artillery and send the warship to the bottom of sea, Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the Naval Research Academy of the PLA, told the Global Times.

The Philippine government summoned the Chinese ambassador on Monday and lodged a strong diplomatic protest over the conflict around the South China Sea waters, AP said.    

After President Ferdinand Marcos Jr came to power, although there were no major setbacks in China-Philippines relations, conflicts surrounding South China Seas have been constantly hyped, said Chen Xiangmiao, director of the world navy research center at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies.

"The US gesture of backing the Philippines and intervening into the regional affair is equivalent to egg the latter on to take more proactive actions toward the issue. However, the Philippines should remain clear-headed and see wisely that more actions would serve no good to solve the issue and only result in escalating the regional tension," Chen noted. 

The Chinese expert warned the Philippines to avoid being pulled by the wrong signal from the US onto a wrong path otherwise it would fulfill the US intention of sowing discordant relations between China and the Philippines and other ASEAN countries. 

For the grounded warship, Chinese experts reached by the Global Times said it cannot be ruled out that China would leave it to disintegrate on its own, and consolidating it into a permanent base of the Philippines is not an option. 

China's position on the Ren'ai Jiao issue is clear and firm. China will continue to take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its territorial sovereignty, the CCG spokesperson said, again calling on the Philippines to accept China's suggestion to manage the situation through dialogue.