HomeGlobal Defence UpdatesPhilippines says Beijing's words not matching actions in South China Sea

Philippines says Beijing’s words not matching actions in South China Sea

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China must avoid actions that endanger sailors and vessels in the South China Sea, the Philippine foreign ministry said on Wednesday, adding peace cannot be achieved if China’s words do not match its behaviour in the disputed waters.

The ministry denounced China’s “illegal and aggressive actions” during a routine resupply mission in the South China Sea on June 17, which the Philippine military said had severely injured a navy sailor and damaged Manila’s vessels.

“In line with the Philippines’ commitment to pursue peace, the Department has been exerting efforts to rebuild a conducive environment for dialogue and consultation with China on the South China Sea,” the ministry said in a statement.

“This cannot be achieved if China’s words do not match their actions on the waters.”

A Philippine navy sailor suffered serious injury after what the country’s military called on Tuesday “intentional-high speed ramming” by the Chinese coast guard to disrupt a mission to resupply troops stationed on the Second Thomas Shoal.

China’s Coast Guard has disputed this, saying Manila’s vessel deliberately and dangerously approached a Chinese ship in an unprofessional manner, forcing it to take control measures, including “boarding inspections, and forced evictions.” A spokesperson for the military said the navy sailor, whom the military chief awarded with Wounded Personnel Medal on Wednesday, lost a finger and was recovering in a hospital. China’s embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to request for comment on the foreign ministry’s statement and on the reported injury sustained by a navy personnel.

The United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have condemned China’s actions.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, which includes the Second Thomas Shoal, where the Philippines maintains a rusting warship, BRP Sierra Madre, that it beached in 1999 to reinforce its sovereignty claims. A small crew is stationed on it.

In January, Manila and Beijing agreed to improve maritime communication and to properly manage conflicts and differences through friendly talks, especially the situation around the Second Thomas Shoal, known as Renai Reef in China, and Ayungin in Manila.

China, whose expansive claims have been invalidated by an international tribunal in 2016, has repeatedly said Philippine vessels illegally intrude into waters surrounding disputed shoals.

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