China on Thursday accused the US of provoking its regional ally Philippines against Beijing over the lingering South China Sea dispute, warning that Washington’s “interference will only make things worse.”
“The US instigated and emboldened the Philippine side to infringe upon China’s sovereignty, which escalated maritime tensions, China’s Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian said at a regular press conference in Beijing.
“The Chinese side firmly opposes that,” he said, cautioning that “the US is not a party involved and its interference will only make things worse.”
His remarks came on the heels of a recent meeting between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Philippine counterpart Gilbert Teodoro, where Austin reportedly assured Teodoro that Washington stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Manila in defending its sovereignty rights and jurisdiction in South China Sea.
Wu further said China has “indisputable” sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, including Ren’ai Jiao and its adjacent waters, in the South China Sea.
“The Philippine side illegally grounded a military vessel at Ren’ai Jiao and attempted to reinforce it by sending ships to intrude into the waters of Ren’ai Jiao. Such moves seriously violated not only China’s sovereignty, but also international law and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” he asserted.
Wu “strongly” condemned the “wrong acts by relevant countries to provoke confrontation and undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea, and urged them to be prudent in words and deeds.”
“The Chinese military will take resolute and effective measures to defend China’s national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and maritime rights and interests,” further said.
Territorial disputes in the South China Sea involve conflicting island and maritime claims in the region by several sovereign states, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.