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Beijing Demands Philippines Remove Stranded South China Sea Ship

China demanded Tuesday that the Philippines withdraw a military ship stranded since 1999 on an atoll in waters Beijing claims as its own in the South China Sea.

The China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on its website that the Philippines’ actions “seriously violate Chinese sovereignty,” “international law,” and the “Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea signed between China and the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.”

Beijing said the Philippines has been trying to repair the ship for some time to “achieve the occupation” of the Ayungin Atoll, adding that “China does not accept or recognize” the 2016 arbitration ruling, which rejected the validity of the so-called “nine-dash line.” The markings delimit China’s claims in the South China Sea and clash with those set by other nations.

The ministry also said that the Philippines has omitted the “good will and sincerity of China,” and has called on sending construction materials to its stranded ship to carry out a major repair, which caused a maritime incident Saturday.

Last weekend, China fired water cannons at Philippine ships in the South China Sea, near disputed territories between the two, as a “warning measure” to “avoid direct confrontation.”

“It was a professional and measured operation, and there is no room for criticism,” according to the Chinese Coast Guard.

The atoll is located about 322 kilometers off the western coast of Palawan, southwest of the archipelago and within the exclusive economic area of the Philippines.

This distance is the limit established by the United Nations to determine the maritime sovereignty of states, according to a convention that China adhered to in 1996.

Beijing said the atoll “has always belonged to the Nansha Islands” (as China calls the Spratly archipelago), accusing the Philippines of “violating” its sovereignty.

“The Philippines continues to send a large amount of construction materials there under the excuse of staff turnover and shipment of supplies. China has expressed its concern to the Philippines through diplomatic channels, but has never responded,” Chinese authorities said.

China and the Philippines maintain a conflict over the sovereignty of several islands and atolls in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost entirely for “historical reasons,” also disputing territories with Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei.

Tensions between the two countries have increased in recent months, while Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. strengthens his defense alliance with the United States, reversing the rapprochement with Beijing promoted by his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte. 

Source : La Prensa Latina