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HomeasiaPhilippines denies trespassing claim, urges China not to stir tensions

Philippines denies trespassing claim, urges China not to stir tensions

MANILA: The Philippines on Tuesday (Oct 31) urged Beijing to act responsibly and stop its “aggressive” and “illegal” actions in the South China Sea and said China’s claims that its navy ship had trespassed were untrue.

The remarks came a day after the Chinese military said a Philippine military ship “illegally entered” waters near the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea without authorisation, issuing a rare warning to Manila.

“Not true. An illegal occupant cannot prevent the legitimate owner from entering his house and backyard,” said Medel Aguilar, the Philippine military’s spokesperson.

China seized the shoal in 2012 after a standoff with the Philippines and has since maintained a constant deployment of coastguard and fishing trawlers, some accused by Manila of being maritime militia.

The shoal, located 200km off the Philippines and inside its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), formed part of a legal case filed by Manila at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. The court ruled in 2016 that Beijing’s claim to 90 per cent of the South China Sea had no basis under international law.

China has refused to recognise the landmark ruling.

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Tian Junli, a spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army Southern Theater Command said on Monday that China followed, monitored, warned and blocked the Philippines’ ship in accordance with the law.

But the Philippines’ National Security Adviser said Philippine Ship 39, which conducted “routine patrol operations” around the shoal “did not illegally enter any space under Chinese sovereignty”.

“China is again over-hyping this incident and creating unnecessary tensions between our two nations,” Eduardo Ano said in a statement.

China and the Philippines have had several confrontations in the South China Sea, recently trading accusations about a collision between a Chinese coastguard vessel and a boat from the Philippines.

Last month, the Philippine removed a Chinese floating barrier near the Scarborough Shoal, known as Bajo de Masinloc in Manila and Huangyan Island in China. The shoal is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam.

“We urge China to act responsibly, respect UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea), and adhere to the 2016 Arbitral Ruling, promote the rules-based international order, and stop its aggressive and illegal actions in Philippine waters,” Ano said.

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