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Manila's reef antics will come to grief if it persists

By Li Yang | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-20 07:27

Ren'ai Reef. [File photo/China Daily]

The Philippines sent a supply ship and two inflatable boats on Monday to illegally enter the waters near China's Ren'ai Reef in the South China Sea in an attempt to deliver supplies to the personnel on the warship Manila illegally grounded on the reef in 1999, according to the China Coast Guard.

Contrary to the claims of Manila, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the law enforcement measures taken by the CCG were "professional and restrained", aimed at stopping the illegal actions of the Philippine vessels, and "no direct measures" were taken against Philippine personnel.

The footage released by the CCG of the incident clearly shows the aggressive nature of the Philippines' actions, as not only were those involved armed but also the sailors concerned were obviously well prepared in their efforts to portray themselves as victims of "bullies".

Although the Philippines has repeatedly claimed that it is delivering daily necessities to those occupying the grounded vessel, it has actually been transporting construction materials and even weapons and ammunition in an attempt to turn it into a permanent military stronghold.

It is worth noting that unlike previous occasions, the Philippine operation this time was reportedly led by the Philippine armed forces, and the Philippine Coast Guard was only providing support. The Philippine Navy's special operations brigade also participated in this mission, and the Philippine Coast Guard made no bones about the fact that this replenishment mission was purely a military operation. The direct involvement of maritime military forces shows that the Philippines side is intent on trying to further escalate the tensions.

Beijing has urged Manila to immediately stop its provocative actions to prevent the situation from escalating to an irreversible state. Otherwise, it will find itself being served what it orders accurately and promptly.

Manila should accept that coming back to the negotiation table is the only rational choice for the Philippines to resolve its maritime disputes with China.

China has always kept its door open to conducting maritime communication and dialogue with the Philippines, including direct negotiations and consultations, and promoting maritime cooperation in some low-sensitivity areas.

But while China hopes to properly handle the differences and disputes with the Philippines through negotiation and consultation, Manila should have no doubt that Beijing will resolutely respond to any infringement and provocative moves it makes in line with the relevant regulations of the CCG that came into force on June 15, and which are in line with international practice.


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