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China’s Claims Over the South China Sea Called “Absurd and Ludicrous”

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China's Claims Over the South China Sea
Beijing claims most of the South China Sea: File Image

On Sunday, two top diplomats in the Philippines refuted Beijing’s claim that Manila had agreed to a “new model” for dealing with their territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano issued opposing remarks, with Teodoro calling the assertion “devious machination” and Ano calling it “absolutely absurd, ludicrous, and preposterous”.

A representative for the Chinese Embassy in Manila said on Saturday that the Philippine military’s Western Command, which supervises the South China Sea, agreed on a new model to manage the situation in the Second Thomas Shoal earlier this year. Tensions between the two countries have risen in recent months.

The new model’s specifics have not been revealed, but the Chinese Embassy stated that the Western Command provided “repeated confirmation” that it had been authorized by “all key officials in the Philippine chain of command,” including the national defense secretary and national security adviser.

Teodoro stated that he had “disallowed any contact” between his department and the Chinese Embassy following his July meeting with Ambassador Huang Xilian. According to Ano, neither he nor any other officials have “consented nor committed to any proposal that will compromise the national interest.”

China Clams Most of the South China Sea

The Chinese Embassy did not immediately react to a request for comment on the Philippine officials’ remarks outside of regular work hours.

China’s declaration on the new model came after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s government rejected a similar arrangement known as the “gentleman’s agreement,” which China said was negotiated under former President Rodrigo Duterte’s time.

Beijing claims the majority of the South China Sea as its territory, citing a hazy “nine-dash line” on maps from the 1940s.

It has constructed artificial islands and fortified them with airstrips and anti-ship missiles, despite protests from neighboring countries with claims to the area.

Beijing’s Claims Refuted

Beijing regards control of the water as critical to its economic interests and security. The sea is a vital transportation route with massive undeveloped oil and gas deposits. Beijing also aims to safeguard such riches while limiting the US Navy’s capacity to operate in its coastal waters.

Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Taiwan all have competing claims to the South China Sea. They accuse Beijing of breaking international law and have requested assistance from the United States and its allies.

A 2016 decision by an international tribunal dismissed China’s claims, but Beijing ignored it.

Tensions have grown as Beijing deploys coast guard vessels and maritime militias to disrupt foreign fishing vessels and energy development projects.

The United States has conducted “freedom of navigation” operations to dispute Beijing’s claims, sparking concerns about future armed war.

Source: Manila Times

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