Bharat Express

China Urges Philippines To Use Dialogue To Resolve South China Sea Tensions

“The top priority is to properly handle and control the current maritime situation”, says Wang

South China Sea

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has urged the Philippines to handle significant issues in their relations over the South China Sea through negotiation, warning that any miscalculation would compel Beijing to defend itself and respond resolutely.

In recent months, Beijing and Manila have swapped heated accusations over a slew of incidents in the South China Sea.

China’s coastguard has been accused by the Philippines of purposely colliding with its vessels and using a water cannon and a military-grade laser against them, while the Philippines has been accused by China of intruding into its territory.

This year’s deterioration coincides with Manila’s moves to strengthen military ties with Japan and the United States, its former colonial power and defence ally of seven decades.

“China-Philippines relations are at a crossroads”, Wang told his Philippine counterpart Enrique Manalo in a phone chat on Wednesday.

“The top priority is to properly handle and control the current maritime situation”, Wang continued.

“If the Philippines makes a mistake or colludes with ill-intentioned external forces, China would defend its rights and respond decisively”, Wang noted.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea via a so-called nine-dash line that intersects with the EEZs of the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia.

In 2016, an international arbitration tribunal nullified China’s claim in a ruling on a case brought by the Philippines, which Beijing refused to accept.

Instead, China has increased its presence in the South China Sea, notably on militarised manmade islands erected on reefs in disputed areas, some equipped with missile systems.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has strengthened ties with the US, including expanding U.S. access to his military bases while seeking assurances on the extent to which Washington will defend his country from attack, moves that have irritated China while emboldening Manila’s defence top brass.

The Philippine defence minister chastised China on Wednesday, saying “no country in the world supports its maritime claim”.

The United States and other Western governments have chastised China’s coastguard for confronting and blocking Philippine vessels in Manila’s EEZ.

The Philippines announced on Thursday that its military chief and Japan’s top general met to discuss pressing regional security issues, emphasising the significance of alliance-building to counter aggression, notably in the South China Sea.

In a statement, the Philippine military stated, “The meeting demonstrates the (Philippine military’s) commitment to strengthening its partnership with like-minded nations and drawing support for the advancement of a rules-based international order and a free and open Indo-Pacific region”.

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