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India supports Philippines: China asks India to respect its claim over South China Sea after Jaishankar backs Philippines’ sovereignty

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China on Tuesday urged India to respect its sovereignty claims and maritime interests over the disputed South China Sea where it is currently locked in a bitter row with the Philippines, saying that “third parties” have no right “whatsoever” to interfere. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said this while replying to a question at a media briefing here on the remarks made by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar that India supports the sovereignty of the Philippines.

“Maritime disputes are issues between countries concerned. Third parties have no right to interfere whatsoever,” Lin said.

“We urge relevant parties to squarely face the facts and truth on the South China Sea issue, and respect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and the efforts of regional countries to keep the South China Sea peaceful and stable,” the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

Jaishankar is currently in Manila on an official visit during which he held talks with Philippines Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo.

India firmly supports the Philippines in upholding its national sovereignty and wants to explore new areas of cooperation, including in defence and security, Jaishankar said earlier in Manila amid the Southeast Asian nation’s maritime dispute with China in the South China Sea.

In his joint press conference with Manalo, Jaishankar while answering a question on the China-Philippines dispute over the South China Sea said, “UNCLOS 1982 is particularly important in that regard as the Constitution of the seas. All parties must adhere to it in its entirety, both in letter and in spirit. I take this opportunity to firmly reiterate India’s support to the Philippines for upholding its national sovereignty.” China claims most of the South China Sea as its own, while The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims over the maritime area. Currently, China and the Philippines are engaged in a bitter row as the coast guard ships of both countries jostled to assert their claim over the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, which both claim as part of theirs.

China complained during the weekend that the Philippines had sent two coastguard vessels and a supply ship to “transport construction materials” to an old warship grounded on the reef.

China says the Philippines deliberately grounded a warship in 1999.

Manila, for its part, accused the Chinese coastguards of blocking their ship and using water cannons.

Philippines Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teresita Daza said China’s continued interference with the Philippines’ routine and lawful activities in its exclusive economic zone is unacceptable. “It infringes upon the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction,” Daza was quoted as saying by media reports.

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