Philippines Slams China’s ‘Dangerous’ Move in Disputed Sea

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The Philippines has protested China’s “dangerous maneuver” against its Coast Guard that patrolled and trained last month near a South China Sea shoal, with Manila’s top diplomat issuing expletive-laden remarks towards Beijing.

The Chinese Coast Guard shadowed, blocked and issued radio challenges on Manila’s crew near Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Monday announcing that it has protested China’s actions. China’s claim over the shoal that’s 124 nautical miles from the Philippines “is without basis” and Beijing has “no law enforcement rights in these areas,” it said.

The Philippines’ foreign ministry said it had also protested the “incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence” of China’s fishing vessels and maritime militia in its economic zones.

The latest remarks from Manila signal a further deepening of tensions with Beijing in South China Sea. The Philippines has sent more vessels and held exercises in the contested waters, even as President Rodrigo Duterte said he won’t confront China. Beijing has said that the presence of its vessels in the area is normal and legitimate.

​Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin on Monday posted a strongly worded statement on Twitter, asking China to get out of the disputed waters. His agency made the same call for the withdrawal of Chinese vessels around the Scarborough Shoal and the Kalayaan group of islands in the Spratly Islands in its May 3 statement.

Scarborough Shoal is within the Philippines’ 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, its government said, while it’s approximately 472 nautical miles from the nearest coast of China.

Duterte favors negotiations with China and will continue his “careful, calculated and calibrated” policy in dealing with the sea row, spokesman Harry Roque said at a briefing Monday. Hardline responses won’t solve anything and may result in war, Roque said.

The Philippines will continue patrols in the South China Sea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a separate statement Sunday. “The government will not waver in its position. We will not leave,” he said.

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