UPDATE - China pushes back on US support for Philippines over sea

UPDATE - China pushes back on US support for Philippines over sea

With US backing Philippines, Manila lodged protest with China over firing of water cannons at its vessels


By Riyaz Ul Khaliq

ISTANBUL (AA) - China on Monday urged the US to stop sowing seeds of discord in the Asia-Pacific region amid Beijing's escalation with the Philippines.

"China firmly opposes the U.S. statement attacking China's maritime rights in South China Sea and supporting the Philippines' violation of China's sovereignty," China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Beijing asked the US "to stop using the South China Sea issue to sow discord and respect China's territorial and maritime rights," the statement added.

The sharp reaction came after the Philippines Coast Guard released photos of China’s Coast Guard using water cannons against one of its vessels on a supply mission to Ayungin Shoal in the South China Sea, a spot also claimed by China under the name Renai Reef.

Earlier today, the Philippines’ president said Manila has lodged a protest with China over the firing of water cannons at its vessels.

Washington backed Manila over the issue and said: "The United States reaffirms an armed attack on Philippine public vessels, aircraft, and armed forces — including those of its Coast Guard in the South China Sea -- would invoke the 1951 US Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty."

- Philippines lodges protest

Philippines Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo met with Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian to lodge a protest over the incident, said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“We continue to assert our sovereignty… we continue to assert our territorial rights in the face of all of these challenges and consistent with the international laws and UNCLOS,” Marcos told reporters, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Marcos was also expected to chair a command conference meeting of the Philippines armed forces to discuss the next steps.

But Marcos added that the Philippines will “still have to keep communicating with the Chinese government, with President Xi (Jinping), with Beijing. We still have to keep communicating with them because we need to really come to a conclusion.”

On Monday the Chinese Coast Guard said that the vessels it fired on had “disregarded” its “repeated dissuasion and warnings.”

The Philippines sent two ships to “intrude” into the waters of reef, violating the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and “attempting to transport construction materials for maintenance and reinforcement to the illegally grounded military vessel. Chinese coast guard ships lawfully intercepted and took warning enforcement measures,” it said in a statement to Beijing-based daily Global Times.

“After multiple warnings were ineffective, water cannons were used as a warning to avoid direct confrontation. The on-site operation was professional and restrained, and there is no room for criticism,” it added.

Marcos said it was a “good thing no one was injured. But the supplies that reached the BRP Sierra Madre weren't enough so that's what we need to discuss on what to do next.” The Sierra Madre is a rusting, World War II-era ship deliberately grounded at the shoal in 1999 to bolster the Philippines’ claim to it.

Manila summoned Ambassador Huang “to strongly protest the actions” of the Chinese Coast Guard, GMA News reported.

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