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China: We won't allow Philippines to occupy Ayungin Shoal

(The Philippine Star) - March 18, 2014 - 9:28am

MANILA, Philippines - After expelling Philippine vessels from the disputed Ayungin Shoal, China said the island nation must bear all the consequences arising from "further possible provocation."

In a press conference on Monday, China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said it will not permit the Philippines' occupation of the Ayungin shoal, which is geographically closer to the Southeast Asian nation but is known as Ren'ai Reef to China.

"The Chinese government has firm determination and will in safeguarding national sovereignty, and we will never allow any form of occupation of the Ren'ai Reef nor violation of the DOC by the Philippine side," Hong said.

"China watches closely and is highly vigilant on further possible provocations in the South China Sea by the Philippines and it must bear all the consequences arising therefrom," he added.

The Chinese official said this in reaction to the statement of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that the BRP Sierra Madre, a commissioned Philippine Naval Vessel, was placed in Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to serve as a permanent installation in response to China’s illegal occupation of the Mischief Reef.

The DFA clarified that this was prior to the signing of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002.

But China is also again claiming that the Philippines has committed to remove the grounded ship from the Ayungin Shoal.

"But what we see now is that the Philippine side rejects to tow away the ship, further more, it tries to transport concrete and rebar and other construction materials with a purpose of building facilities on the reef. This behavior goes against its own commitment and also violates the DOC," Hong said.

He said the Philippines, as a country, should honor its "commitment" despite changes of administration or risk losing credibility to the international community.

On Friday, the DFA said the Philippines will not remove the BRP Sierra Madre from the Ayungin Shoal.

"The Philippines reiterates that Ayungin Shoal is part of its continental shelf over which the Philippines has sovereign rights and jurisdiction," DFA said.

The Philippines and China are locked in long-running territorial dispute over the South China Sea, with the Asian giant virtually claiming the entire contested waters.

Last week, China blocked two Philippine civilian vessels that were carrying food and supplies for the troops on board the BRP Sierra Madre.

In January, the Chinese coast guard also reportedly fired water cannons at Filipino fishermen to drive them away from the Panatag Shoal, another disputed area.

AYUNGIN SHOAL BUT CHINA CHINA CHINA FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON HONG LEI DECLARATION OF CONDUCT OF PARTIES DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS IN JANUARY PHILIPPINES SIERRA MADRE SOUTH CHINA SEA
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