China feuds with EU, UK, Canada envoys over comments on WPS | Global News
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China feuds with EU, UK, Canada envoys over comments on WPS

/ 06:49 PM March 25, 2021
FOREIGN VESSELS The Philippine military says it has yet to finish counting the Chinese ships still at Juan Felipe Reef off Bataraza, Palawan. Photo taken on March 7 shows some of the 220 Chinese vessels anchored in disputed waters in the South China Sea

FOREIGN VESSELS The Philippine military says it has yet to finish counting the Chinese ships still at Juan Felipe Reef off Bataraza, Palawan. Photo taken on March 7 shows some of the 220 Chinese vessels anchored in disputed waters in the South China Sea. —REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines — More countries have raised alarm over actions that escalate tensions in the South China Sea amid the presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, but China’s embassy in Manila was having none of it as it blasted the nations for making “irresponsible comments.”

Over Twitter, Canada’s ambassador to the Philippines expressed opposition to “recent Chinese actions” in the contested waterway.

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“Canada opposes recent Chinese actions in the South China Sea, including off the coast of the Philippines, that escalate tensions and undermine regional stability and the rules-based international order,” Ambassador Peter MacArthur tweeted Thursday.

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) called out countries that “unilaterally undermine” international law and maritime security in the South China Sea.

In a tweet, EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Véron quoted EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell’s statement during the bloc’s ministerial meeting with Southeast Asian countries.

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“We cannot allow countries to unilaterally undermine international law and maritime security in the South China Sea. thereby representing a serious threat to the peaceful development of the region,” Véron quoted Borrell as saying.

On the other hand, United Kingdom’s Minister for Asia Nigel Adams said he spoke with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. He discussed issues regarding the two countries’ “shared concerns on Myanmar and the South China Sea, including actions which raise tensions there.”

Adams, in his Mar. 23 tweet, also called the Philippines an “important partner” for the U.K. in the Indo-Pacific region.

‘Same scripts’

But the Chinese Embassy in Manila hit back at the diplomats’ comments and branded their remarks as “irresponsible.”

“Neither these diplomats understand the basic facts, nor do they have the ability to think and judge independently. But they came out with irresponsible comments, using the same scripts,” the embassy said.

“If the so-called ‘facts’ are false from the beginning, you couldn’t be more wrong to repeat the mistakes. Understand and respect the fact before you make any comments,” it added.

The United States, Japan and Australia previously spoke out on the issue. The Chinese embassy also called them out on Twitter.

This developed after over 200 Chinese ships were spotted near Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea as reported by the Philippine Coast Guard last Mar. 7.

As of Monday, Mar. 22, the Armed Forces of the Philippines counted at least 183 Chinese ships at the reef, which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

On Sunday, Mar, 21, Manila filed a diplomatic protest over the presence of the vessels.

A day after the protest was lodged, the Chinese embassy denied the presence of Beijing’s maritime militia at the said reef, which it claimed as part of Nansha Qundao, one of two political districts in the South China Sea established by the Chinese government in 2020. It further said the ships merely took shelter from bad sea conditions at that time.

Chinese ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian further repeated this explanation during his “personal meeting” with President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday.

Still, in a strongly-worded statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) demanded that China immediately withdraw its vessels and maritime assets from the area.

EDV/abc
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TAGS: Canada, China, Chinese vessels, EU, South China Sea, UK, West Philippine Sea
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