China has voiced its concern over what it perceives as the United States’ efforts to magnify tensions in the South China Sea (SCS) conflict by rallying allies. In a statement released via its embassy in Manila, China expressed its hope for Manila to engage in constructive dialogue and find a middle ground to peacefully resolve its maritime dispute.
The SCS, China asserted, should not be treated as a zone for external countries to interfere with, create discord, or instigate conflicts. Countries including Australia, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the US have collectively expressed concern regarding the recent incident on August 5th. This incident involved the China Coast Guard’s water bombing of Philippine vessels on a resupply mission to the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal within the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
China affirmed its willingness to maintain a constructive approach to maritime concerns with the Philippines, emphasizing the importance of dialogue and consultation. The embassy’s spokesperson stated that to uphold maritime stability, China hopes the Philippines will join in concerted efforts and commence negotiations on proposed initiatives.
In addressing the United States, China called for the respect of its territorial sovereignty, maritime rights, and interests in the South China Sea. Additionally, it urged the US to recognize regional nations’ endeavors in maintaining peace and stability in the region.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) explained that the presence of the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal within the WPS serves to safeguard the Philippines’ interests, particularly in response to China’s repeated calls for its removal.
The embassy highlighted that it had raised objections to the Philippine government in November 1999 following the grounding of BRP Sierra Madre in Ren’ai Jiao, an atoll located in the SCS. A timeline was provided by the embassy, outlining the events it contends led to the “unlawful seizure” of Ren’ai Jiao atoll by the Philippines, citing the grounding of BRP Sierra Madre in 1999.