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China calls for 'basic etiquette' after Philippine outburst

Rosy Huong Rosy Huong

huongthhd@gmail.com

May 05, 2021 | 07:58

China urged the Philippines on May 4 to observe "basic etiquette" and eschew megaphone diplomacy after the southeast Asian nation's foreign minister used an expletive-laced Twitter message to demand that China's vessels leave disputed waters.

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A Philippine coastguard ship and a Chinese coastguard ship pass each other near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Photo: AFP
A Philippine coastguard ship and a Chinese coastguard ship pass each other near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Photo: AFP

The comments by Teodoro Locsin, known for occasional blunt remarks, follow Manila's protests over what it calls the illegal presence of hundreds of Chinese boats inside the Philippines' 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), according to Reuters.

In a statement, China's foreign ministry urged the Philippines to respect the nation's sovereignty and jurisdiction and stop taking actions that complicate the situation.

"Facts have repeatedly proved that microphone diplomacy cannot change the facts, but can only undermine mutual trust," it said.

"It is hoped that relevant people in the Philippines will comply with basic etiquette and their position when making remarks."

The ministry cited comments by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that differences between the countries on individual issues should not affect friendship and cooperation.

"China has always worked, and will continue to work with the Philippines, to properly resolve differences and advance cooperation through friendly consultations."

China calls for 'basic etiquette' after Philippine outburst
Photo: Twitter

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $3 trillion of ship-borne trade passes each year. In 2016, an arbitration tribunal in the Hague ruled that its claim was inconsistent with international law.

"I won't plead the last provocation as an excuse for losing it; but if Wang Yi is following Twitter then I'm sorry for hurting his feelings but his alone," Locsin said on Twitter on May 4, referring to the Chinese government's top diplomat.

Duterte has reminded his officials that there is no room for cursing in the matter of diplomacy. "Only the President can cuss," his spokesman, Harry Roque, told a regular news conference.

Last month, the Philippine government summoned the Chinese ambassador to press its demand for Chinese vessels to immediately leave a reef claimed by Manila in the South China Sea (Bien Dong Sea) and said their presence was stoking tensions, AP said.

In this March 7, 2021, file photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard/National Task Force-West Philippine Sea, some 220 Chinese vessels are seen moored at Whitsun Reef, South China Sea. The Philippine government has summoned the Chinese ambassador to press a demand for Chinese vessels to immediately leave the reef claimed by Manila in the disputed South China Sea and said the illegal presence was stoking regional tension, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (National Task Force-West Philippine Sea via AP, File)
In this March 7, 2021, file photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard/National Task Force-West Philippine Sea, some 220 Chinese vessels are seen moored at Whitsun Reef, South China Sea. Photo: National Task Force-West Philippine Sea via AP, File

The escalating feud between Manila and Beijing started after more than 200 Chinese vessels suspected by Philippine authorities to be operated by militias were spotted in March at Whitsun Reef. The Philippine government demanded the vessels leave then deployed coast guard and patrol vessels to the area but China said it owns the reef and the Chinese vessels were sheltering from rough seas.

After summoning Ambassador Huang Xilian, Philippine Foreign Undersecretary Elizabeth Buensuceso expressed to him Manila’s “displeasure over the illegal lingering presence of Chinese vessels around Julian Felipe Reef,” the foreign affairs department said in a statement.

The continuing presence of Chinese vessels around the reef is a source of regional tension,” Buensuceso said.

The Philippine military has said aerial surveillance showed some of the Chinese vessels have left the reef but more than 40 remained moored in the area in late March. It debunked China’s claim that the vessels were sheltering from rough seas saying the weather has been fine around the reef.

The United States has said it would stand by the Philippines amid the standoff. The Department of National Defense in Manila said last week that the Philippines could seek the help of the US, with which it has a mutual defense treaty, to protect its interests in the South China Sea./.

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Rosy Huong