Chinese FM refutes Philippine defense chief’s smear of ‘propaganda trap’ over South China Sea
Published: Apr 03, 2024 07:55 PM
South China Sea Photo: VCG

South China Sea Photo: VCG

The Chinese Foreign Ministry slammed the Philippines on Tuesday for violating China's sovereignty, inciting external forces to provoke China and damage regional peace and stability. The Chinese side also refuted a smear campaign by a Filipino senior official, urging Manila to respect the facts and abide by its commitments.

Tensions between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea issues are growing in the recent months. In the latest episode, Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr on Tuesday warned that Filipinos to be wary of Chinese “propaganda trap” which may deflect “Beijing’s encroachment” of South China Sea. 

In an open letter, Teodoro said "let us not fall into the trap set by Chinese propaganda of refocusing the debate on a so-called promise while deflecting attention away from China's government, thereby freeing and allowing them to continue with their illegal activities in our exclusive economic zone," according to the Phil Star. 

The Philippines keeps accusing China of “intimidating smaller countries” without mentioning at all the Philippine occupation of and encroachment on China’s territory in Nansha Qundao. That is a real propaganda “trap,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, responded at a Wednesday briefing.

On the issue of Ren’ai Jiao, it’s not the size, but the behavior of a country that determines who is right and who is wrong, Wang said. 

According to Wang, right after the Philippines deliberately grounded its warship on Ren’ai Jiao in 1999, which seriously violated China’s sovereignty, China made démarches to the Philippines, and the Philippines promised to tow away the warship several times. A senior official of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs made it clear that the Philippines had no intention of building any facility on Ren’ai Jiao and it doesn’t want to and will not be the first country to violate the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

But 25 years on, not only hasn’t the Philippines fulfilled its promise to tow away the warship, it has even attempted to send construction materials for large-scale repair and reinforcement of the warship in order to build permanent structures on Ren’ai Jiao, noted Wang. 

The Philippines has gone back on its words, and stirred up trouble to provoke China. This is not only breach of the understandings between the two sides on handling the Ren’ai Jiao issue, but also a violation of the DOC, especially its Article 5 on refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays, and other features, the spokesperson stated.  

The Philippines is clearly responsible for the current tensions in the South China Sea, Wang added.

Wang further remarked that China and ASEAN countries have long been committed to properly managing and resolving disputes through dialogue and consultation between states directly involved, and worked together to jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, which has kept the South China Sea generally stable. But for some time, the Philippines has been pulling non-regional actors into the South China Sea affairs to back Philippine provocations and violation of China’s sovereignty.

“The Philippines has been pursing selfish gains at the expense of the consensus reached by countries in the region. This is the main reason why the situation in the  South China Sea has escalated and become more complicated,” Wang stressed. 

"We once again urge the Philippines to respect the facts, observe the relevant understandings between the two sides and DOC provisions, follow the consensus reached between China and ASEAN countries, and return to the right track of properly managing and resolving disputes through dialogue and consultation as soon as possible,” Wang added.