|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Remarks on the Philippines' Reinforcing a Military Vessel Illegally "Grounded" on China's Ren'ai Jiao|
Q: Philippine naval officials reportedly said on July 13 that since early this year, the Philippine navy had been reinforcing the hull and deck of a military vessel that “ran aground” on the Ren’ai Jiao, and would finish the project by the end of this year. The spokesperson of the Philippine Foreign Ministry said that repairs and maintenance of existing facilities were allowed for the safety of their personnel and safety of navigation. How does China comment on this?
A: China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, which include the Ren’ai Jiao, and the adjacent waters. China hereby strongly protests and firmly opposes to the Philippines’ reinforcement of a military vessel illegally “grounded” on the Ren’ai Jiao.
In 1999, a Philippine military vessel, under the excuse that it got “stranded”, illegally ran “grounded” on China’s Ren’ai Jiao of the Nansha Islands. The Chinese side has since then lodged multiple protests and representations with the Philippine side, asking it to tow away the vessel with no further delay. The Philippine side has repeatedly replied that as a signatory to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), it will not be the first to violate the DOC; it has not yet towed away the vessel because of “lack of components and parts”; and it has no plan to build any facility on the Ren’ai Jiao. Today, however, the Philippines not only refuses to fulfill its commitment of towing away the vessel, but also aggravates the situation by carrying out illegal activities in an attempt to permanently occupy the Ren’ai Jiao.
It must be pointed out that on one hand, the Philippines promised to tow away the illegally “grounded” vessel on many occasions, yet on the other hand, it schemes to permanently occupy the Ren’ai Jiao by reinforcing the vessel. The Philippines’ breach of its own promise to the international community discloses its hypocrisy and duplicity, and stands as another example that the Philippines is the real trouble-maker and rule-breaker in the region.
The Chinese side is resolute in safeguarding territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. China once again urges the Philippines to immediately stop all illegal activities that infringe upon China’s sovereignty and maritime rights, and honor its commitment of towing away the vessel. China reserves the right to take further actions.