South China Sea: Philippine fury as over 100 Chinese vessels ‘swarm’ Thitu Island
Also known as Pag-asa, the island is part of the Spratly archipelago and all claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. The report was made by Manila’s national security advisor Hermogenes Esperon Junior, who said the “swarming” spots occurred between July 24th and 25th. Meanwhile, their Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin called for the filing of a protest against Beijing and is in Bangkok for an Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting.
Manila is a member of ASEAN while Beijing is in a Free Trade Area with the group.
As per Al Jazeera, Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana continued the harsh rebuttal of China: “They say we do not bully people around, they follow international law, but I said you are not, what you are telling is not what you are doing on the ground.”
Late on Monday, Chinese Ambassador in Manila, Zhao Jianhua gave a speech to mark the anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Liberation Army.
Mr Zhao said: “No matter how strong China may become, China will never seek hegemony or never establish spheres of influence.”
He said China’s actions were motivated purely be self-defence.
Rodrigo Durtete, the Philippine President has refused to harshly hit out at Beijing and enforce international rulings in the South China Sea.
His policy has been to priorities economic and diplomatic ties with the Xi Jinping government.
The region is vital for Chinese interests.
Almost 75 percent of its exported and imported goods pass throug and almost 80 percent of its oil and gas imports.
Tithu was for a time controlled by the Republic of China.
In the 1930s, French Indochina (modern day Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam) annexed the island before it was reclaimed by Chungking (now Chongqing, the ROC capital from 1937-1946).
It has been controlled by Manila since the 1970s.
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