Manila, Oct 23 (EFE).- Philippines on Monday summoned China’s ambassador to the country, Huang Xilian, amid escalated tensions due to two collisions between Philippine and Chinese vessels following what it described as a “dangerous, irresponsible and illegal” maneuver in the waters of the disputed South China Sea.
A handout frame grab photo from a video made available by the Philippine’s Armed Forces shows a Chinese coast guard ship with bow number 5203 after bumping a Philippine’s Armed Forces supply boat as they approach Second Thomas Shoal, locally called Ayungin Shoal, at the disputed South China Sea on 22 October 2023. EFE-EPA/PHILIPPINE’S ARMED FORCES / HANDOUT BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
“We are making full use of diplomatic processes and are exercising all possible actions available to us, that includes summoning the Chinese ambassador this morning,” Philippine foreign ministry spokesperson Teresita Daza said at a press conference.
On Sunday, the Philippines accused two Chinese ships of colliding with a Philippine coast guard vessel and trying to block a supply ship when it was going to supply a military garrison in waters near a shoal disputed between Beijing and Manila, less than 200 miles from the western coast of the Philippines.
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.
“China as a major power bears a heavier responsibility in contributing to peace and stability in the region,” Daza added.
Following the summons, China lodged a formal complaint with the Philippines for “trespassing” in Chinese waters and urged Manila to stop “causing trouble and provocation at sea.”
In a statement, China’s embassy in the Philippines expressed its “strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to what it described as an incursion by Philippine ships in waters near the Ren’ai Reef (also known as Ayungin Shoal), which it said was part of China’s Nansha Islands (also called Spratly Islands).
“China once again urges the Philippine side to pay attention to China’s concerns, keep its promises, stop causing trouble and provocation at sea, cease taking dangerous actions, stop launching groundless attacks and smearing China,” the embassy said.
Beijing also asked Manila “to tow away illegal ‘grounded’ warships as soon as possible.”
The Philippines should “avoid undermining the peace and stability of the South China Sea and jeopardizing the common interests of the countries in the region,” it added.
China and the Philippines dispute the sovereignty of several islands and shoals in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely citing “historical records.”
Beijing considers virtually all the islands in the South China Sea its own, a claim that overlaps with the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic areas, as indicated by international law, of countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia. EFE