US called to cease interfering in S. China Sea disputes

China’s Foreign Ministry and Ministry of National Defense on Thursday successively criticized  US’ interference in South China Sea issues, urging it to stop inciting or fanning flames, and also saying that the US “commitment” to the Philippines must not harm China’s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, nor should it support the Philippines’ illegal claims. 

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the US will “defend” the Philippines in case of any “attack” in the South China Sea, media reported. Biden’s remarks came as Chinese and Philippine vessels collided with each other twice in the waters near China’s Ren’ai Reef in the South China Sea on October 22. Some Western countries, led by the US, quickly showed “support” for Manila. 

In response to Biden’s remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a press conference on Thursday that the US is not a party related to the South China Sea issue and has no right to intervene in issues between China and the Philippines. US commitment’s to defend the Philippines must not harm China’s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, nor should it support the Philippines’ illegal claims.

Also on Thursday, Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Wu Qian urged the US to stop interfering in South China Sea issues, inciting and fanning flames, and destroying peace and stability in the region.

Wu’s remarks came as the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea is escalating with the “potential to draw in the US.” 

This is not a matter of the US being “dragged” down, but rather a matter of the US jumping in and stirring up trouble on its own, Wu said. 

China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, including Ren’ai Reef, and its surrounding waters. We urge the Philippines to stop any military provocations and cease actions that undermine regional peace and stability. The Chinese military will resolutely defend the country’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests as always, said Wu.

Videos released by China about the incident on October 22 clearly show that the Philippine vessels were intentionally responsible for the incidents, especially in the second case, where the Chinese vessel was in a “stationary drifting” state, while the Philippine vessel reversed intentionally, leading to a new incident.?

Although several US officials claimed after the collision, that the US alliance commitment to the Philippines is rock solid, the US is not psychologically or militarily prepared for a direct conflict with China in the South China Sea, and this does not align with the US’ own assessment of national interests, analysts said. 

“The US is seeking strategic advantage in the South China Sea, while the Philippines is seeking benefits. The US is unlikely to stand up for the Philippines. It will certainly emphasize its ‘security commitments’ to its allies, otherwise that would directly affect the US’ reputation in the eyes of its allies. But the question is, do others believe what the US says? China has never felt threatened and will not fall for this trick,” said Ding Duo, a deputy director of the Institute of Maritime Law and Policy at the China Institute for South China Sea Studies.

While some people in the US may want to make trouble in the South China Sea, it is unlikely that the majority of people in the US would support “standing up” for the Philippines just for a few islands and reefs in the vast South China Sea, Ding told the Global Times.

The Philippines may be incited by the US, but it is also uncertain about US support if tensions escalate with China and it is the Philippines that may end up being the one to suffer the consequences, said Ding. 

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