Beijing, Oct 23 (EFE).- China on Monday accused the United States of instigating the Philippines to “violate” its sovereignty with actions it said contributed to the recent escalation of tensions, aggravated by two collisions between Chinese and Philippine vessels in disputed South China Sea waters.
Beijing said the Philippines’ “provocations” in Ayungin Atoll (known as Ren’ai in China) are “inseparable” from “support” and “instigation” by the US.
“For a long time, China and the Philippines had kept the situation under control through consultations, reaching understandings on the matter. But since the beginning of this year, the US has openly supported the Philippines’ infringement on China’s sovereignty, encouraging and supporting the Philippines to repair the military ship that has run aground on that atoll,” Foreign Spokesperson Mao Ning said Monday.
In recent months, incidents between Chinese and Philippine vessels have increased near the atoll, where Manila beached a World War II ship in 1999 to reclaim its sovereignty and where a garrison of Philippine military is based.
According to Mao, the US “has even sent military planes and ships to support the Philippines” and “threatened China with the latest joint defense treaty it signed with Manila.”
“The actions of the US have contributed greatly to Manila’s provocations,” she added.
The spokesperson said this “is a bilateral matter between China and the Philippines” and that “the US has nothing to say about it.”
The collisions between Chinese ships and the Philippine coast guard occurred Sunday during a Philippine supply mission in the vicinity of the Second Thomas Shoal atoll, disputed between Beijing and Manila and less than 200 miles away. That is the limit established by the United Nations as the legitimate maritime border between states – from the western coast of the Philippines.
In a video published by the Philippine Coast Guard you can see a slight collision between a coast guard patrol vessel and a Chinese ship, without the collision, which occurred between the stern of the Philippine ship and the side of the Chinese vessel, causing any damage to the crew.
The incident comes just a week after the Philippine military called on Beijing to stop its “dangerous and offensive actions” in the South China Sea following a similar incident.
For its part, the US State Department published a statement the day before calling the Chinese maneuvers “examples of China’s provocative actions in the South China Sea.”
China and the Philippines maintain a conflict over the sovereignty of several islands and atolls in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely for “historical reasons,” although the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016 agreed with Manila in the case. EFE