Philippine Secretary of Defense verbally fights with China on the reef

Manila, Philippines (AP) —Frustrated Secretary of Defense renews demands on Saturday for dozens of Chinese vessels to leave Manila’s alleged coral reefs in the South China Sea and is not fooled by China’s claim that the vessels are taking Said it would be. A shelter from bad weather.

The Chinese embassy counterattacked what was called a “confused statement” by Secretary of Defense Delphin Lorenzana, claiming that the vessel had the right to evacuate to what it said was Chinese territory. “No one has the right to make unnecessary statements about such activities,” he said.

An unusually hostile public exchange arose earlier last month when the Philippine Coast Guard witnessed more than 200 Chinese ships, which Lorenzana called “militia,” on the Whitson Reef. The Philippines has filed a diplomatic protest, stating that a coral reef called Julian Felipe is in an internationally recognized offshore zone with exclusive rights to fisheries, oil, gas and other resources.

China has ignored Manila’s request for Manila to leave the region. This area is called Niuejao and claims to be the territory of China. The Chinese embassy in Manila said the ship was evacuating to a coral reef from rough sea conditions.

“The Chinese ambassador has explained a lot to do,” Lorenzana said in a statement on Saturday, adding that the latest Philippine military surveillance showed that 44 Chinese vessels were still moored on the reefs. It was.

“I’m not an idiot. The weather has been nice so far, so there’s no other reason to stay there. These ships should be on their way out. You should get out of there,” Lorenzana said on Saturday. Said.

The Chinese embassy has responded by repeating the fact that vessels are hiding in so-called Chinese waters.

“It is perfectly normal for Chinese fishing boats to fish in rough seas and evacuate near coral reefs,” the embassy said.

“We hope that the authorities will make constructive efforts to avoid non-professional statements that could further incite irrational sentiment,” the embassy said. “China is committed to protecting the peace and stability of its waters,” he added.

Whitson Reef is located in the Spratly Islands, the most fiercely contested region of the South China Sea. The Philippines considers the chain of resource-rich islands, islets and atolls to be part of the western Palawan province. However, offshore areas are also claimed in whole or in part by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. China has recently turned seven disputed coral reefs into missile-protected island bases, increasing tensions.

The United States has expressed support for its long-standing treaty ally, the Philippines, accusing China of “using maritime militia to intimidate, provoke, and threaten other nations, undermining regional peace and security.” Beijing denied that the ship was part of the maritime militia.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has fostered friendly relations with Beijing since taking office in 2016 and immediately demanded China’s compliance with an international arbitration ruling that virtually invalidates Beijing’s historic claim to the entire South China Sea. It has been criticized for not having it. China has refused to accept the 2016 ruling, called “fake,” and continues to ignore it.