The Philippines summoned the Chinese ambassador after Beijing’s naval aggression in the South Sea

Philippines reported on Monday that summoned the diplomatic representative of China and the possibility of expelling him is considered after the clashes most tense in years between ships from both countries in conflictive reefs in the South China Sea.

Videos released by the Philippine Coast Guard showed Chinese ships firing water cannons at Philippine vessels during two different resupply missions to fishermen near the Bajo de Mansiloc (Scarborough Atoll), located about 220 kilometers from the Philippine island of Luzon, already a small garrison in the vicinity of the sandbank of Ayungin (Second Thomas Atoll), about 184 kilometers west of the Philippine island of Palawanboth in the South China Sea.

A Chinese Coast Guard ship (R) firing water cannons at a supply ship operated by the Philippine Navy (M/L Kalayaan) (C) in the disputed South China Sea (EFE/EPA/Philippine Coast Guard) (Philippine Coast Guard / HANDOUT/)

There was also a collision between Filipino and Chinese ships in Ayunginwhere there are a handful of Filipino troops stationed on a stranded warship, and both countries blamed each other.

The incidents occurred in waters that Manila considers within its exclusive economic zoneand described the fact as a “violation of international law.”

A Chinese coast guard ship fires a water cannon at a Philippine replenishment ship (Reuters)
A Chinese coast guard ship fires a water cannon at a Philippine replenishment ship (Reuters) (PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD/)

Philippine army chief Gen. Romeo Brawner said Monday he was with his forces aboard a supply ship when it was attacked with a water cannon, surrounded and pushed by Chinese coast guard ships.

Diplomatic protests have been made and “The Chinese ambassador has also been summoned”the spokesperson for the Philippine Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared at a press conference on Monday, Teresita Daza.

Daza said that declaring Chinese ambassador Huang Xilian “persona non grata” in the Philippines it was also “something that must be seriously consider”.

Correspondents of the AFP outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Manila they saw an SUV with a Chinese flag enter the premises at 07:15 GMT. The vehicle was seen leaving 45 minutes later.

Philippines - China - South China Sea
The Chinese diplomatic vehicle seen leaving the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila this Monday (JAM STA ROSA / AFP) (JAM STA ROSA/)

China’s ramming and water cannonade against the Philippine ships, as well as the use of a long-range acoustic device, represented a “serious escalation” of their tacticsdeclared to the press Jonathan Malayadeputy director general of the Philippine National Security Council.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Beijing affirmed that the maneuvers of its coast guard had been “professional” and “measured”and that he had “presented severe protests” to Manila.

The Chinese coast guard earlier accused one of the Philippine ships of deliberately crashing into their vessel despite the “multiple warnings”.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea and has ignored the ruling of an international court which ruled that his claims have no legal basis.

It deploys ships to patrol the busy sea lane and has built artificial islands that it has militarized to reinforce its claims.

“Dangerous and destabilizing”

He US State Department on Sunday called on China to end its “dangerous and destabilizing” actions at sea. Foreign diplomats in Manila have also criticized his behavior.

USA has repeatedly warned that it is forced to defend the Philippinesits oldest ally in Asia, if Philippine forces, ships or aircraft come under armed attack, including in the South China Sea.

A Philippine coast guard vessel tows a Philippine replenishment vessel after damage caused by the water cannon of a Chinese coast guard vessel (Philippine Coast Guard/Reuters)
A Philippine coast guard vessel tows a Philippine replenishment vessel after damage caused by the water cannon of a Chinese coast guard vessel (Philippine Coast Guard/Reuters) (PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD/)

China has warned the United States not to meddle in what it sees as a purely Asian dispute.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ningreinforced that message in a daily briefing on Monday, saying the maritime disputes were “issues between the two countries, and no third party has the right to intervene.”

“Recently, the United States, to realize its own geopolitical interests, has encouraged, supported and cooperated with the Philippines in its violations and provocations in the South China Sea, exaggerating differences and inciting confrontation,” Mao told reporters.

More than a dozen countries, including the United States, Japan, the European Union, Germany, France, Canada and Australia, expressed their support for the Philippines and concern over the incidents.

“It’s pure aggression”

The weekend clashes were the most intense between Philippine and Chinese ships in yearsaccording to analysts, who foresee an escalation of tensions.

China seized Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012 after a tense standoff.while the Philippine Navy deliberately ran aground on the BRP Sierra Madre, a Navy ship from the World War II era, on the sandbar of Ayungin in 1999 to stop the Chinese advance.

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The general Romeo Browner declared to The Associated Press in a telephone interview that China was intensifying its aggression in the disputed waters, but stated that this would not deter Philippine forces from defending their territorial interests.

More than 100 official Chinese vessels and others linked to the government have swarmed on the high seas around the disputed sandbank of Ayungin (Second Thomas Atoll), where the ship has remained for decades BRP Sierra Madre that Brawner visited. He said his presence was much greater than in previous months.

“It’s pure aggression”Brawner said. “I witnessed how many times the large coast guard ships and Chinese militia blocked our path. They fired cannons at us into the water and then hit us. It is outrageous”.

“This really needs a diplomatic solution at the highest level”he said, but added that the armed forces would continue to support frontline troops and protect fishermen.

Brawner joined the navy personnel on a wooden-hulled supply ship, the Unnaiza Mae 1which brought Christmas gifts, food and other supplies to a small contingent of Filipino marines and navy personnel stationed aboard the BRP Sierra Madre on Second Thomas Atoll.

Archive image of the Philippine Navy ship Sierra Madre anchored near the sandbank known as Ayungin to protect the perimeter of the Spratly Islands.  (EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO)
Archive image of the Philippine Navy ship Sierra Madre anchored near the sandbank known as Ayungin to protect the perimeter of the Spratly Islands. (EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO) (RITCHIE B. TONGO / POOL/)

Although it is now falling apart from rust and holes, the Sierra Madre It is still an active Philippine Navy ship, meaning any assault on it would be considered an act of war. She has become a fragile symbol of Philippine territorial claims.

China and the Philippines maintain a conflict over the sovereignty of several islands and atolls in the South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety and where it disputes territories and maritime sovereignty also with Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei.

Relations between Manila and Beijing have deteriorated under President Ferdinand Marcoswhich has sought to improve ties with its traditional ally, Washington, and step up defense cooperation in the region, while opposing Chinese actions in the South China Sea.

This contrasts with the approach of the former president Rodrigo Dutertewhich set aside maritime disputes with Beijing in exchange for promises of Chinese investment.

Marcos said in a statement on Sunday that The Philippines remained “undaunted” after the latest incidents.

“No one but the Philippines has a legitimate right or legal basis to operate in any part of the West Philippine Sea,” Marcos said, using Manila’s term for the waters of the South China Sea to the immediate west of the Philippines.

(With information from AFP, AP and EFE)

Source-www.infobae.com