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Manila confronts Beijing’s “utter contempt” for the law in the South China Sea

Manila confronts Beijing’s “utter contempt” for the law in the South China Sea

Manila and Beijing are in an open and bitter conflict over what the Philippines calls it “Presence swarming and threatening” More than 200 Chinese fishing boats around a reef in the South China Sea.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has accused the Philippines of “turning on” the problem and has complained that the ships, thought to be part of its naval militia, are only “protected from the wind”.

Rodrigo Duterte’s government has highlighted the good weather in recent days, analysts said, with similar incidents at sea often leading China to strengthen maritime claims before building permanent structures on reefs and atolls.

According to satellite photos and Philippine officials, Chinese flotilla it has been crowded since last month around the Whitsun Reef in the Spritsly Islands, which Filipinos call Julian Felipe Reef.

The Philippines is claiming its area as part of an exclusive 200-kilometer economic zone, and in 2016 it won an arbitration case against China that invalidated claims over historical rights in much of the sea, which it marks on its “Nine-Dash Line” maps. .

On the other side of the Luzon Strait, China has stepped up its military stance on Taiwan. The US fears that China is tying up the idea of ​​taking control of Taiwan, which Beijing is claiming as part of its territory.

In the conflict over Whitsun Reef, Joe Biden’s new administration has sided with the Philippines, with which the U.S. has a pact for self-defense.

Chinese warplanes enter Japan and Taiwan air defense identification sites this week © Taiwan Ministry of National Defense via AP

“The United States and our ally, the Philippines, are in the South China Sea facing PRC naval militias,” U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Wednesday. “We will always be on the side of our allies and we will stand for the international order based on rules.”

Duterte, who has distanced and opened up foreign policy from Washington more pleasant relationships Since taking office in 2016 with China rather than the previous one, the Chinese ambassador met in the Philippines last month to complain about ships. Manila has also sent warplanes to patrol the area.

Philippine Foreign Minister Delfin Lorenzana said this week that China is showing “utter contempt” for international law, saying it is “horrible”.

He added: “His Nine-Dash Line claim has no legal or legal basis.” The Chinese embassy responded by saying the area was a traditional fishing spot for Chinese vessels, and accused Lorenzana of making “unprofessional remarks that could exacerbate irrational emotions.”

Analysts said the conflict had repercussions on China’s 1994 occupation Naughty Reef, Another atoll in Spratlys. China was originally built as a fisherman’s shelter, and later became a base.

“This is a continuation of China’s strategy for years now to employ a large number of militias to establish de facto control of the waters and reefs around the South China Sea,” said Greg Poling, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic Research and International. .

“Apart from talking about this to the Philippine government, it is a great thing to document and make known.

Screen showing a video of Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, Philippines

Rodrigo Duterte approaches Beijing, but the US has sided with the Philippines against Spratly © Ezra Acayan / Getty Images

The conflict coincides with a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in the Philippines, which has disrupted the government’s business. On Wednesday, Dutert canceled his regular weekly address because the Covid-19 case hit his employees. Lorenzana said he was isolating himself after being positive for the virus.

This week, Chinese warplanes entered Japanese and Taiwanese air defense identification sites, while a group of carriers led by Liaoning, the oldest of China’s two aircraft carriers, passed through the Miya Strait near Taiwan and Japanese waters on Sunday.

They were first accompanied by a Nanchang 065 type destroyer, a hidden ship with guided anti-aircraft missiles.

The Chinese navy said the drillings are a common effort to “increase the capacity to protect national sovereignty,” adding that it plans to conduct similar drills.

The U.S. is worried that China’s naval militias will threaten them even more after the Chinese Coast Guard Act is revised because Coast Guard vessels, often accompanied by militiamen, could allow the use of weapons.

Ketian Vivian Zhang, a scholar at George Mason University in the United States, said China’s drilling has been a show of strength and power to prevent self-government from claiming independence around the island.

However, he noted that the rise in military activity did not coincide with the period of tension between 2012 and 2015 and was not particularly dangerous, as the US and China continued their commitment to avoid conflict.

Taipei warned on Wednesday that crossing the island would throw Chinese drones that surrounded the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in recent days. Separately, the USS John S McCain guided missile destroyer also conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the Taiwan Strait.

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