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.

AP

Representatives of the Taliban arrive in Gardermoen, Norway, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022.  A Taliban de...
Associated Press

Talks with Taliban begin in Norway

OSLO, Norway (AP) — A Taliban delegation led by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Sunday started three days of talks in Oslo with Western government officials and Afghan civil society representatives amid a deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. The closed-door meetings are taking place at a hotel in the snow-capped mountains above the […]
4 hours ago
Associated Press

US detains smuggling ship, UK seizes drugs in Mideast waters

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The U.S. Navy announced Sunday it seized a boat in the Gulf of Oman carrying fertilizer used to make explosives that was caught last year smuggling weapons to Yemen. The British royal navy said it confiscated 1,041 kilograms (2,295 pounds) of illegal drugs in the same waters. The interdictions […]
4 hours ago
Ukrainian servicemen patrol a street toward frontline with with Russia-backed separatists in Verkhn...
Associated Press

Russia rejects UK claim of trying to replace Ukraine leader

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday rejected a British claim that Russia was seeking to replace Ukraine’s government with a pro-Moscow administration, and that former Ukrainian lawmaker Yevheniy Murayev was being considered as a potential candidate. Britain’s Foreign Office on Saturday also named several other Ukrainian politicians it said had links with Russian […]
4 hours ago
Jessica Pegula of the U.S. celebrates after defeating Maria Sakkari of Greece in their fourth round...
Associated Press

Pegula’s sports align ahead of Australian Open quarterfinals

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The timing for Jessica Pegula’s run to the Australian Open quarterfinals has even accommodated another of her sporting passions. Pegula has been able to plan preparation around watching the Buffalo Bills in an NFL divisional play-off game in Kansas City. The Bills, owned by Pegula’s parents, play the Chiefs mid-morning local […]
4 hours ago
Associated Press

Seoul says it paid Iran’s delinquent UN dues to restore vote

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Using Iranian bank funds freed from American sanctions, South Korea has paid Iran’s $18 million in delinquent dues owed to the United Nations, Seoul said Sunday. The step was apparently approved by Washington to restore Tehran’s suspended voting rights at the world body. Iran’s mission to the United Nations […]
4 hours ago
Migrants gather near the Hungarian border, outside of the village of Martonosh, Serbia, Thursday, J...
Associated Press

Migrants at Hungary border become part of election campaign

MAJDAN, Serbia (AP) — A group of migrants huddles beside a small, smoky fire inside an abandoned building in northern Serbia, the last moments of warmth before they set out into the driving snow toward the razor wire, cameras and sensors of Hungary’s electrified border fence. A few hours later, they return, their efforts to […]
4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
ENVOQUE MD

Thyroid issues: Here are the warning signs and what to do

In a 100-person office in the United States, an estimated 12 co-workers, employees and loved ones, will likely develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That’s because, according to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the U.S. population will experience thyroid issues.
...
Sanderson Ford

Sanderson Ford offers cars and deals for all this holiday season

Sanderson Ford’s No! Vember Black Friday sale is giving an opportunity to purchase a new 2021 vehicle just in time for the holiday season.
(Facebook Photo/NHTSA)...
Sweet James

Upcoming holiday season is peak time for DUI arrests

The holiday season may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the most dangerous time of the year to be driving. That’s why it’s important to remember to call Sweet James Accident Attorneys if you’re injured or arrested because of a DUI accident.
Philippines rejects China’s demand to remove ship from shoal