Philippines rejects China’s demand to remove ship from shoal

Nov 25, 2021, 4:32 AM | Updated: 4:53 am
In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President ...

In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a virtual plenary session of the ASEAN-China Special Summit in Davao City, southern Philippines, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Duterte called on China to respect the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which establishes maritime entitlements and sovereign rights over maritime zones, along with a 2016 Hague arbitration ruling that mostly invalidated China's South China Sea claims. China has refused to recognize the ruling. (Richard Madelo/Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP)

(Richard Madelo/Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines’ defense chief rejected on Thursday China’s renewed demand that it remove its outpost on a disputed South China Sea shoal and said Chinese coast guard ships should leave the area and stop blocking Manila’s supply boats.

Philippine forces use a grounded warship, the BRP Sierra Madre, as an outpost on the submerged but strategic shoal that is at the center of an ongoing dispute with China.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Second Thomas Shoal lies within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines under the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, which China has ratified. He said a 2016 ruling by a U.N.-backed arbitration tribunal also invalidated China’s claims to the busy waterway, leaving them without any legal basis.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the Philippines Wednesday to “honor its commitment” and remove its grounded vessel on Ren’ai Jiao, the name Beijing uses for the shoal, which Filipinos refer to as Ayungin. Chinese coast guard ships have allowed Manila’s boats to bring food and other supplies to Filipino forces at the shoal for humanitarian reasons, it said.

But defense chief Lorenzana told reporters he was not aware of any Philippine government commitment to remove its navy ship, which has been grounded upon the shoal since 1999.

“We can do whatever we want there and it is they who are actually trespassing,” he said.

Chinese coast guard ships have surrounded the shoal in a years-long territorial standoff and tried to block Philippine supply boats in past years. In the latest confrontation, Chinese coast guard ships used water cannons to forcibly turn back two supply boats manned by Philippine navy personnel last week, sparking outrage and warnings from Manila.

Following the Chinese blockade, the United States said it was standing by the Philippines and reiterated that an armed attack on Philippine public vessels in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under the two allies’ 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty.

The Philippine navy successfully transported supplies and fresh personnel to the Sierra Madre this week then left without any major incident after Lorenzana talked with China’s ambassador to Manila. President Rodrigo Duterte, who has nurtured close ties with Beijing, angrily condemned the Chinese blockade in a video summit of Southeast Asian leaders with Chinese President Xi Jingping. Xi did not specifically react to Duterte’s remarks but said China will not bully its smaller neighbors.

It was the latest flareup of long-simmering disputes in one of the world’s busiest waterways, where China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have overlapping claims.

President Joe Biden has assured U.S. allies that American forces will continue to patrol the disputed waters to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight and regional stability. China has warned the U.S. to stay away from what Beijing considers a purely Asian dispute.

Greg Poling of the U.S.-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, which closely monitors the South China Sea conflicts, said China’s recent move may have been aimed at testing the response of the Philippines and its allies if it blockades the Sierra Madre anytime.

“I expect this will happen again and, eventually, China will make a concerted effort to maintain a blockade to force Manila to withdraw,” Poling said.

The World War II-era Sierra Madre is now effectively a shipwreck but the Philippine military has not decommissioned it. That makes the rust-encrusted ship an extension of the government and means any assault on the ship is tantamount to an external attack against the Philippines.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              In this handout photo released by Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Department of National Defense, a wooden ship carrying supplies and Philippine Navy personnel docks beside the Philippine Navy ship LT 57 Sierra Madre off the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. The Philippine navy successfully transported food supplies to marines guarding a disputed shoal in the South China Sea on Tuesday, a week after China's coast guard used water cannons to force the supply boats to turn back, sparking outrage and warnings from Manila, officials said. (Released by Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Department of National Defense via AP)
            
              In this photo provided by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a virtual plenary session of the ASEAN-China Special Summit in Davao City, southern Philippines, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Duterte called on China to respect the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which establishes maritime entitlements and sovereign rights over maritime zones, along with a 2016 Hague arbitration ruling that mostly invalidated China's South China Sea claims. China has refused to recognize the ruling. (Richard Madelo/Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP)

AP

Hospital staff take care of orphaned children at the children's regional hospital maternity ward in...
Associated Press

Ukrainians hid orphaned children from Russian deportation

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — Hours after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, health staff at a children’s hospital in the south started secretly planning how to save the babies. Russians were suspected of seizing orphan children and sending them to Russia, so staff at the children’s regional hospital in Kherson city began fabricating orphans’ medical records […]
2 hours ago
FILE  - Italian communications expert Francesca Chaouqui talks to journalists July 7, 2016, after a...
Associated Press

Vatican vendettas: Alleged witness manipulation jolts trial

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The text message to the Vatican monsignor offered forgiveness along with a threat: “I know everything about you … and I keep it all in my archives,” it read. “I pardon you, Perlasca, but remember, you owe me a favor.” The message was one of more than 100 newly revealed WhatsApp […]
2 hours ago
A Ukrainian serviceman flies a drone during an operation against Russian positions at an undisclose...
Associated Press

Russian oil cap begins, trying to pressure Putin on Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Western countries on Monday began imposing a $60-per-barrel price cap and ban on some types of Russian oil, part of new measures aimed at stepping up pressure against Moscow over its war on Ukraine. The European Union, along with Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan and the United States agreed to the price […]
2 hours ago
Dallas Cowboys' DaRon Bland (26) reacts after an interception during the second half of an NFL foot...
Associated Press

Cowboys score 33 points in 4th quarter, rout Colts 54-19

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dallas safety Malik Hooker had no idea what he was starting with a fumble return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter against his former team. The 38-yard TD return was part of a 33-point fourth quarter that turned a close game into the Cowboys’ 54-19 rout of the Indianapolis […]
2 hours ago
Associated Press

Airplane crash in Gulf of Mexico leaves 2 dead, 1 missing

VENICE, Fla. (AP) — A private airplane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast Saturday night, with two people confirmed dead as authorities searched for a third person believed to have been on the flight, police said. Authorities in Venice, Florida, initiated a search Sunday after 10 a.m. following a Federal Aviation […]
1 day ago
This photos shows the gate to the Duke Energy West End substation in Moore County, N.C. on Sunday, ...
Associated Press

Outages could last days after shootings at substations

CARTHAGE, N.C. (AP) — Two power substations in a North Carolina county were damaged by gunfire in what is being investigated as a criminal act, causing damage that could take days to repair and leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity, authorities said Sunday. In response to ongoing outages, which began just after 7 […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
Philippines rejects China’s demand to remove ship from shoal