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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

China refuses to take responsibility over June 17 Ayungin Shoal incident, won’t pay for damages

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China rejected the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) demand to pay for P60-million in damages following the aggressive actions and harassment by the China Coast Guard (CCG) against Philippine Navy troops during a resupply mission at Ayungin Shoal last June 17.

During a press conference, China refused to accept responsibility and kept on blaming the incident on the Philippines, saying it has to “face the consequences of its actions.” Ayungin Shoal is within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines and way too far from Beijing.

“The Philippine vessels were carrying out an illegal ‘resupply mission,’ which violated China’s territorial waters and staging a provocation when stopped by China Coast Guard, who acted lawfully and rightfully to defend China’s sovereignty,” China Foreign Minister spokesperson Mao Ning claimed.

The Philippines has maintained it was conducting lawful operations within its territory as prescribed under international laws, particularly the 2016 arbitral ruling and the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), which allows it to exercises sovereign rights in its EEZ.

The Chinese spokesperson, meanwhile, said ‘it is not familiar with the specifics’ of the seven guns that were seized by the CCG during their violent encounter in the West Philippines Sea (WPS).

“I am not familiar with the specifics, but what I can tell you is that the Philippines illegally intruded the waters of Ren’ai Jiao,” Mao said referring to the Chinese name of Ayungin Shoal, which is more than 1,000 kilometers away from China’s nearest major landmass, Hainan Island.

Images released by the AFP after the incident showed personnel onboard the CCG and Chinese Maritime Militia vessels wielding axe, knives, and other deadly weapons against the Filipino troops.

They were also caught piercing the rigid hull inflatable boats of the Philippine Navy, seizing and destroying equipment, screaming and pointing weapons at the Filipino soldiers, who exercised restraint. One navy serviceman even lost his thumb during the tense encounter.

Despite the presence of video evidence, however, China insisted that it was the Philippines’ fault. The June 17 incident saw several Chinese vessels ramming and towing Philippine vessels during a resupply mission towards BRP Sierra Madre.

The G7 countries, particularly the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the European Union, condemned the aggressive, dangerous maneuvers of China in the West Philippine Sea and urged it to cooperate in accordance with international law.

They also described China’s actions as clearly a violation of the UNCLOS and the 2016 arbitral award that rejected China’s illegal nine-dash line claims.

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