China Coast Guard drives away Philippine vessels intruding into waters of China's Nansha Islands
In response to the Philippines' accusation toward China on the latter's expelling of Philippine vessels around China's Nansha Islands, China Coast Guard (CCG) on Monday criticized the Philippines for disregarding China's repeated dissuasion and warnings and said that its recent intrusion into the waters around the Ren'ai Reef is a violation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, urging the Philippines to remove the grounded warship and restore the original state of the Ren'ai Reef.
Two Philippine supply ships and two coast guard vessels entered waters near the Ren'ai Reef of China's Nansha Islands on August 5. In response, the CCG carried out necessary management and control measures in accordance with law and blocked the Philippine ships carrying illegal building materials, according to CCG spokesperson Gan Yu on August 6.
However, the Philippine Coast Guard and Armed Forces have accused the CCG of blocking and using water cannons against its vessels delivering personnel and supplies to the Ren'ai Reef and also condemned China for violating international law.
In a second response to the Philippines' move around China's Nansha Islands, a spokesperson from the CCG said in a statement on Monday that the Ren'ai Reef has always been a part of China's Nansha Islands. In 1999, a Philippine warship illegally grounded at the Ren'ai Reef, prompting immediate and serious representations from China. The Philippines has repeatedly promised to remove the grounded warship, but 24 years later, not only has the ship not been removed, but there have also been attempts to repair and reinforce it, aiming for permanent occupation of the Ren'ai Reef.
This move severely infringes upon China's sovereignty, goes against promises made by the Philippines, and violates international law and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by China and ASEAN members, the Chinese spokesperson noted.
The spokesperson urged the Philippines to remove the grounded warship and restore the original state of the Ren'ai Reef.
However, adopting a humanitarian approach, China has made temporary special arrangements for the Philippines to deliver necessary life supplies such as food to the grounded warship. But for some time now, the CCG spokesperson noted that the Philippines has been smuggling large amounts of building materials onto the ship under the guise of personnel rotation and delivery of essential supplies.
China has repeatedly expressed serious concern to the Philippines through diplomatic channels and suggested bilateral talks on how to control the situation on the Ren'ai Reef, but the Philippines has not responded, the spokesperson said.
Recently facing the Philippines organizing a new round of resupply efforts on the Ren'ai Reef, China has lodged representations at multiple levels and through various channels, requesting the Philippines to not send vessels to the Ren'ai Reef without authorization and not to deliver building materials to the grounded warship for large-scale repair and reinforcement.
On August 5, despite repeated Chinese dissuasion and warnings, the Philippines dispatched two vessels into the Ren'ai Reef waters in violation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, attempting to deliver building materials for repair and reinforcement to the illegally warship.
In response, the CCG lawfully intercepted them and took warning law enforcement measures. When repeated verbal warnings did not have any effect, water cannons were used to avoid direct collision. The onsite operation was professional, restrained, and beyond reproach, the spokesperson said.
China's position on the Ren'ai Reef issue is clear and firm. China will continue to take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its territorial sovereignty, the spokesperson said, again calling on the Philippines to accept China's suggestion to discuss specific measures to manage the situation on the reef through dialogue.