China Blasts RP Gov’t for Using Grounded Ship as Spratlys Outpost
China has condemned the Philippines over a Navy warship grounded on the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), noting that the illegal grounding of the vessel on the Ayungin Shoal (Ren’ai Reef) is a “serious encroachment of territorial sovereignty.”
It also warned the Philippine government not to stir up the situation in the South China Sea any further.
Observers said Beijing acted in response to an attempt by the Philippines to assert territorial claims by keeping its warship stranded on the reef since 1999.
The Navy is maintaining troops in the area with grounded BRP Sierra Madre as barracks.
“China’s resolution and will to safeguard its territorial sovereignty is unswerving,” Xinhua quoted Geng Yansheng, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, as saying.
He branded as groundless the Philippines claim that Chinese vessels have threatened to cut off supplies of water and food to its military staff at the reef.
“Chinese naval patrols in the area are justifiable,” he added.
After the warship was grounded on the reef, Beijing repeatedly asked Manila to retrieve it, but the Philippines ignored the request despite having promised to tow the ship away.
Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, “The Philippine’s logic is ludicrous in calling its grounded ship a symbol of occupation while it is in China’s inherent territory.”
The shoal and the lives of the troops guarding it were thrust into the global spotlight this week after the Philippines said a Chinese warship was “illegally and provocatively” circling the area.
It was the latest in a series of aggressive steps by China in recent years to assert its claim over the South China Sea that have rattled Manila, with others including the Chinese occupation of another Filipino-claimed shoal.
China says it has sovereign rights over nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters far away from its main landmass and approaching the coasts of Southeast Asian countries.