The Chinese Embassy in Manila said on Tuesday that the United States should keep out of issues in the South China Sea and stop “provoking confrontation.”
“The United States is not a party to the South China Sea issue. Fanning flames and provoking confrontation in the region will only serve the selfish interests of [an] individual country and undermine the regional peace and stability,” the Chinese embassy said over Twitter and tagging the official account of the US Embassy in Manila.
The Chinese Embassy made the statement after the US said it was backing the Philippines’ protest over the presence of numerous Chinese vessels in local waters.
China and the Philippines “are sovereign and independent countries,” the Chinese embassy added in a separate tweet.
“We have the will, wisdom and ability to properly handle relevant issues through bilateral channels,” it said.
The Philippines filed a diplomatic protest on Sunday against the presence of more than 200 Chinese ships at Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippine Sea, which is within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
On early Tuesday, the US embassy said Chinese boats have been mooring in the area for “many months in ever-increasing numbers, regardless of the weather” and accused China of using its maritime militia “to intimidate, provoke, and threaten other nations, which undermines peace and security in the region.”
The Philippines has already demanded China to “promptly withdraw” its fishing vessels from the area.
In a strongly-worded statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stressed that “Julian Felipe Reef in the Kalayaan Island Group lies in the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone.”
“We reiterate that the continued deployment, lingering presence and activities of Chinese vessels in Philippine maritime zones blatantly infringe upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction,” it said.The DFA said Manila has been “assiduously protesting the illegal and lingering (swarming) presence of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime assets in the said areas.” SOVEREIGNPH