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The Philippines, not China, heightens tensions in South China Sea, says spokesperson

Source: Xinhua | 2023-12-19
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The Philippines, not China, heightens tensions in South China Sea, says spokesperson

BEIJING, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- China on Monday said the Philippines should realize that tying itself to some major power and forcing China to back down on issues concerning China's core interests will lead nowhere.

China remains committed to upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea through dialogue and consultation with the Philippines and other ASEAN countries. But China will not weaken in its resolve to safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, said Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry.

He made the remarks in response to recent comments by Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, who reportedly said that a more assertive China posed a real challenge to its neighbors in Asia, and that the South China Sea situation is the most complex geopolitical challenge that the world faces. Marcos also said the Philippines and Japan are having increasing collaboration and should carry out trilateral cooperation with the United States.

Wang said that over the past few months, it has been the Philippines who is breaching the common understandings with China and heightening tensions in the South China Sea.

It is the Philippines who has attempted to change the current status of Ren'ai Jiao in the South China Sea and make it a fait accompli, and it is the Philippines who has on every occasion courted external forces to put pressure on China, Wang said.

He asked the Philippines not to ignore the following facts:

-- The Philippines promised to tow away a warship illegally grounded at Ren'ai Jiao 24 years ago. But 24 years on, the warship is still there.

-- China and the Philippines had agreed to properly manage the issue of Ren'ai Jiao and thereby kept things stable at sea.

-- However, over the course of this year, the Philippines has gone back on its words and kept sending government and military vessels into the waters of Ren'ai Jiao to supply construction materials for the large-scale repair and reinforcement of the "grounded" warship and permanently occupy Ren'ai Jiao.

"This is what has caused tensions between China and the Philippines," Wang said. "The Philippines, bolstered by external support, has brushed aside China's goodwill and restraint and repeatedly challenged China's principles and red line."

"This is the major risk that could drive up tensions at sea," he said. 

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