Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the country will not pull out a World War II-era ship in a shoal in the South China Sea that has become the latest flashpoint in its heightening dispute with China.
(Bloomberg) — Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the country will not pull out a World War II-era ship in a shoal in the South China Sea that has become the latest flashpoint in its heightening dispute with China.
“I’m not aware of any agreement that the Philippines should remove from its own territory its own ship,” Marcos said in a statement released by his communications office on Wednesday. “And let me go further, if there does exist such an agreement, I rescind that agreement as of now.”
China asked the Philippines on Tuesday to tow away the military vessel, saying Manila’s continued supply of construction materials to the ship in Ayungin Shoal is what triggered Beijing’s recent blocking of Philippine vessels.
Manila accused Beijing of using water cannons and blocking a resupply mission to soldiers manning the stranded ship called BRP Sierra Madre on August 5. China said its actions were “in accordance with law” because the Philippine ships’ actions “violated China’s sovereignty.” Beijing also claims the shoal which it calls Ren’ai Jiao as its own.
The Philippines placed the ship in Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal, in 1999 as a permanent government installation in response to China’s occupation of nearby Mischief Reef four years prior. Saturday’s incident was the latest flare-up in the South China Sea where around $3 trillion worth of goods pass through each year.
Beijing has continued to assert its expansive claims in the South China Sea, saying it does not recognize a 2016 ruling by an international arbitral tribunal that there’s no evidence China has historically exercised exclusive control in the waters. Apart from the Philippines, other claimants in the sea include Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Brunei.
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