Ren’ai Jiao a bilateral issue between China and Philippines, US not involved: FM spokesperson
Published: Oct 23, 2023 10:33 PM Updated: Oct 23, 2023 10:29 PM
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Ren'ai Jiao is a bilateral issue between China and the Philippines not involving the US, said a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry following US complaints about actions by China's Coast Guard and maritime militia. The spokesperson said the Philippines' infringement and provocations at Ren'ai Jiao have been emboldened and supported by the US' connivance and support.

The US Department of State issued a statement on Sunday saying that China's Coast Guard and maritime militia adopted "dangerous and unlawful actions obstructing a Philippine resupply mission to the Second Thomas Shoal," which is "a feature well within the Philippine exclusive economic zone and on the Philippine continental shelf." The statement also said that the 2016 arbitral award on the South China Sea made clear that "there exists no legal basis for any entitlement by China to maritime zones in the area of Second Thomas Shoal." The US reaffirmed that Article IV of the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty extends to armed attacks on the Philippine Coast Guard, armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft in the South China Sea.

When asked about China's response, Mao Ning, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the US statement goes against the spirit of international law. In disregard of the facts, it made baseless attacks against China's legitimate and lawful law enforcement activities to safeguard its rights at Ren'ai Jiao.

It's a sinister attempt to endorse the Philippines' acts of infringement and provocation, said Mao.

Mao elaborated that Ren'ai Jiao has always been China's territory. It is an integral part of China's Nansha Qundao islands geographically, economically, politically and historically. This has been established as a widely held international common view and fully accords with provisions on archipelagos according to the UNCLOS. China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Qundao and the adjacent waters, including Ren'ai Jiao.

This was developed and established throughout the long course of history and is consistent with international law including the UN Charter. Territorial sovereignty is the basis and premise of maritime rights. Any proposition or practice that attempts to negate a country's territorial sovereignty with maritime rights has no legal basis whatsoever. The so-called South China Sea arbitration award is illegal, null and void. It is pointless for the US to keep trying to make an issue out of this illegal award, said Mao, and it cannot shake China's firm resolve to defend its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.

The Philippines' infringement and provocations at Ren'ai Jiao have been emboldened and supported by the US, Mao added. For some time, China and the Philippines have managed the situation at Ren'ai Jiao through communication relatively well and reached understandings. Since the beginning of this year, however, the US has been blatantly emboldening the Philippines' acts of infringing upon China's sovereignty and inciting and supporting the Philippines attempts to repair and reinforce its warship that was deliberately "grounded" on Ren'ai Jiao. The US even sent over military aircraft and vessels to assist and support the Philippines, and repeatedly sought to threaten China by citing the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.

Furthermore, Ren'ai Jiao is a bilateral issue between China and the Philippines. The US has no place in it, Mao said. The Philippines has been sending public service ships and warships to intrude into the adjacent waters of Ren'ai Jiao in an attempt to deliver construction materials for repairing and reinforcing the illegally "grounded" military vessel. This has seriously violated China's territorial sovereignty, breached international law and the stipulations of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and broken the Philippines' own promise, Mao said.

China has the right to take necessary law enforcement measures against the Philippines' infringement in accordance with domestic and international law to uphold China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. In seeking selfish geopolitical interests, the US has incited, supported and cooperated with the Philippines in its infringement and provocation at Ren'ai Jiao, which seriously violates international law and the basic norms governing international relations. It also undermines China's sovereignty and rights and interests and seriously jeopardizes regional peace and stability.

China has firm resolve and will in safeguarding its lawful rights and the US' efforts are doomed to fail, said Mao.

Global Times