China warns Philippine against 'occupation' of disputed shoal

BEIJING Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:33am EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China warned the Philippines on Monday to abandon a disputed shoal in the South China Sea after Manila said it planned to challenge a Chinese naval blockade of the area by sending supplies to its troops stationed there.

Last week, a senior Philippines military official said his country would send civilian supply ships to its soldiers deployed on a vessel that ran aground on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal in 1999. The shoal is known in China as the Ren'ai reef and in the Philippines as Ayungin.

"The Chinese government's attitude on maintaining the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering. We will never tolerate the Philippines illegal occupation of Ren'ai reef," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.

"China is on high alert for the Philippines possibly taking more provocative acts in the South China Sea. The Philippines must accept responsibility for the consequences of what will happen," he added.

Second Thomas Shoal, a strategic gateway to an area believed to be rich in oil and natural gas, is one of several possible maritime flashpoints that could prompt the United States to intervene in defense of Asian allies troubled by increasingly assertive Chinese maritime claims.

China claims the Philippines is trying to start construction on the reef, which it claims as part of its own territory. The Philippines claims the shoal is part of its continental shelf.

Beijing's claim over islands, reefs and atolls that form the Spratlys, a group of 250 uninhabitable islets spread over 165,000 square miles (427,000 square km), has set it directly against U.S. allies Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also lay claim to parts of the South China Sea.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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Comments (8)
Davage wrote:
Well, here we go, China’s about to push the Philippines out of yet another rock/reef/whatever within the PI EEZ. Will the trend of the US not meeting defense obligations in order to avoid confrontation continue? Me thinks so.

Mar 17, 2014 9:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
DonKoh wrote:
Please PRC Foreign Ministry… do not ‘Warn’ on these disputes (yes, dispute, not indisputable), especially when warning another about their operations well within their respective EEZ. Instead, encourage the region, being the Super power you wish to portray and show leadership example of your sincere intent to engage cooperatively on these complex and sensitive disputes, especially with those overlapping claims which contain territories well within another claimant’s EEZ (in this example, RP’s EEZ and Ayungin). But please spokesman Hong Lei, most of all govt of PRC, do not threaten unilateral Blockade of another, especially within their respective EEZ, as that is not only a violation of International Law, but is also damaging to PRC’s credibility.

Mar 17, 2014 9:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
bjose wrote:
Those who know media research, media analysis or media psychology can easily see that this article is heavily one-sided in favor of China, even though it gives off the appearance of fairness and objectivity. Is this what passes as a Reuters news article?

Mar 18, 2014 7:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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