China has said it “will not turn a blind eye” towards what it calls the Philippines’ “repeated provocations and harassment” in the South China Sea.
Earlier this month, Beijing and Manila traded accusations over a Philippine resupply mission to the troops stationed at the Second Thomas Shoal, with each side claiming its ships were harassed and rammed by the other.
Chinese defense ministry’s spokesperson Wu Qian at a press briefing on Thursday repeated the claim that the Philippines, “in disregard of repeated warnings from the Chinese side, insisted on sending vessel to intrude into the adjacent waters of China’s Ren’ai Jiao, and provocatively rammed a China Coast Guard vessel and caused scratches.”
Wu referred to the contested reef by its Chinese name.
The Philippines insisted that its routine resupply and rotation mission to the BRP Sierra Madre on the Second Thomas Shoal was dangerously “harassed (and) blocked” by the Chinese coast guard and maritime militia vessels.
“We noted that the Philippine side had claimed to conduct humanitarian supplies,” said the Chinese spokesman.
“In my view, this is not humanitarian supply at all, it is to deliberately create an incident, play victim and make a show in the name of humanitarian supply.
“The China Coast Guard took necessary enforcement measures in accordance with law, which were totally justified and legitimate.”
A Philippine military spokesperson said earlier this week that his country “is not provoking conflict” in the South China Sea, as cited by Reuters on Tuesday.
“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,” said Col. Medel Aguilar.
The United States, as Manila’s treaty ally, has repeatedly condemned China’s “dangerous and unlawful actions” and vowed to respond to “armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft – including those of its Coast Guard – anywhere in the South China Sea.”
At the latest defense ministry’s press briefing, Senior Col. Wu Qian said that the U.S. “instigates the Philippines to infringe and provoke violations, and also attempts to use the Mutual Defense Treaty between the United States and the Philippines to threaten and coerce China.”
“We demand that the U.S. immediately stop meddling in the South China Sea issue,” he said.
Chinese officials and state-run media outlets have also been ramping up the rhetoric against Manila in recent weeks.
During a phone call with his Philippine counterpart Enrique Manalo on Dec. 20, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the relations between the two countries are at a crossroads and warned Manila to act with caution, according to the meeting readout.
Chinese media outlets such as the People’s Daily, China’s Daily and Global Times all ran articles blaming the Philippines for the escalation of tension.
Edited by Taejun Kang and Elaine Chan.