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China warns Philippines to avoid 'Improper Measures' for stability in South China Sea

Source : Asian News International (ANI)

China warns Philippines to avoid 'Improper Measures' for stability in South China Sea
Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi holds talks with Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin in Tunxi, east China’s Anhui Province, on April 3, 2022. A question mark hangs over the future of the relationship once Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte steps down. (Photo: Xinhua)

In a veiled reference to the Philippines taking a strong stance against Chinese expansionist policies, the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting with his Philippines counterpart Teodoro Locsin said that it is important to avoid "improper measures" from damaging the stability of the South China Sea (SCS).

"It is vital to prevent improper measures from disrupting or even damaging bilateral relations and the stability of the South China Sea," Wang Yi stressed according to a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement.

He also said that "the two sides should eliminate interference, and calmly and properly manage differences, so as to prevent the overall China-Philippines relations from being affected," while offering Chinese infrastructure projects to the Philippines.

"China also stands ready to continue to provide COVID-19 vaccine assistance for the Philippines according to its needs and strengthen public health cooperation," Wang said.

Wang Yi also said, "We are ready to work with other parties to take the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea as an opportunity to pool consensus on peace and stability, step up consultations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, and make joint efforts to build the South China Sea into a sea of peace and cooperation," the Chinese statement said.

China claims nearly the entire SCS based on its so-called 'nine-dash line' that the international court ruled without merit five years ago.

The Philippines has taken an aggressive stance against Chinese vessels violating its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the SCS, running patrols against Chinese vessels, China has responded by the so-called, "close distance manoeuvring", where the Chinese vessels move dangerously close to the Filipino ones, often ramming into them.

Last week, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported an incident close distance manoeuvring that took place on March 2 during Philippine maritime patrol operations around the Scarborough Shoal, locally known as Bajo de Masinloc.

"Coast Guard personnel have monitored a China Coast Guard (CCG) vessel with bow number 3305 that conducted a close distance manoeuvring of approximately 21 yards towards BRP Malabrigo (MRRV-4402) while the said PCG vessel was sailing at the vicinity waters off Bajo de Masinloc," the PCG said in a press release.

"This constrained the manoeuvring space of BRP Malabrigo (MRRV-4402) -- a clear violation of the 1972 International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS)," it added.

Last May, a PCG-manned vessel, reported the first incident of close distance manoeuvring involving a CCG vessel.

The second and third incidents involved two CCG vessels that conducted close distance manoeuvring with BRP Capones and BRP Sindangan (MRRV-4407) during the PCG's maritime capability enhancement exercises in Bajo de Masinloc in June last year.

CG Admiral Abu said that the Philippines is fully aware of dangerous situations at sea, but these will not stop the country's deployment of assets and personnel in the country's exclusive economic zones (EEZ).

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