As the Philippines ups ante, China reserves right to remove grounded warship at Ren'ai Reef: analyst
Published: Aug 10, 2023 08:50 PM
US in South China Sea Illustration:Liu Rui/GT

US in South China Sea Illustration:Liu Rui/GT

The Philippines is upping the ante in the dispute with China over the South China Sea as its President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said the country would not remove the grounded warship in Ren'ai Reef in China's Nansha Islands. 

That came after the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged the Philippines to remove the grounded warship as promised. 

Marcos Jr claimed to be unaware of such a promise and "if there does exist such an agreement, I rescind that agreement now," Marcos said Wednesday, per media reports.

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, said China reserves the right to remove the grounded warship and will settle the problem left over by history at an appropriate time with an appropriate method as China has control of the overall situation. 

The Philippine warship was illegally grounded at the Ren'ai Reef in 1999, prompting immediate and serious representations from the Chinese side. After 24 years, not only has the ship not been removed as promised, but there have also been attempts at repairing and reinforcing it which aim for permanent occupation of Ren'ai Reef.

The recent hype concerning the Ren'ai Reef has a strong US element. Song predicted that Philippines could seek stronger US support and engage more US allies to back its stance. 

The possibility cannot be ruled out that the US send its warships to South China Sea to "demonstrate US commitment to its allies" to maintain the structure of US-centered alliances, Song noted, but no matter what the US does, "America First" will never change. 

Washington treats Manila as cannon fodder, but the latter learned the lesson during the rule of former president Benigno Simeon Aquino III that siding with the US cannot bring benefits to Philippines, analysts said.