Tuesday, May 28th, 2024

Philippines calls for Beijing to expel diplomats as South China Sea dispute worsens

The Philippines’ national security adviser on Friday called for the expulsion of Chinese diplomats over an allegedly leaked telephonic conversation with a Filipino military officer as regional tensions continue to rise, Nikkei Asia reported.

The incident comes a week after China harassed and shelled a Filipino humanitarian mission headed to Scarborough Shoal, the region’s flashpoint.

Eduardo Año, the Philippines’ national security adviser, said, “Repeated acts of spreading and disseminating disinformation, misinformation and disinformation by the Chinese Embassy – now including releasing fake transcripts or recordings of alleged conversations between host country officials – Should not be allowed. Pass without sanction or serious penalty.”

Leaked phone conversations surfaced earlier this week showing a Chinese diplomat and a Filipino admiral discussing the dispute over the South China Sea, with Filipino officials negotiating concessions with China, Nikkei Asia reported. Had agreed.

China’s Foreign Ministry quickly responded to Año’s statements, saying they “seriously demand that the Philippines ensure that Chinese diplomats perform their duties normally.”

Earlier this week, Philippine Defense Minister Gilbert Teodoro said that if the Chinese Embassy keeps recordings of anyone in the country, “they are admitting to violating Philippine law” and that the Chinese Embassy’s actions “are a violation of international relations and Violates the law.”

Following the water cannon attack last week, the Philippines summoned a Chinese envoy and accused China of “harassment” and “dangerous manoeuvres”, Al Jazeera reported.

The Philippines’ Foreign Ministry summoned China’s deputy chief of mission, Zhou Xiong.

Apart from the South China Sea dispute, diplomatic relations soured in the past weeks as China continued to cite a “secret agreement” with the Philippines.

Under the purported agreement, Manila vowed not to repair or build structures in the Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands, which the Philippines effectively controls, as reported by Nikkei Asia.

Tensions between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal have risen as Manila has taken a more assertive stance in the disputed areas.

About 220 kilometers off the coast of the Philippines and within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the shoal is a traditional fishing ground used by many countries and is located close to important shipping channels. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an EEZ extends approximately 370 km from a country’s coast.

China has claimed almost the entire South China Sea, rejecting claims by other countries, including the Philippines, and an international ruling said the claims have no legal basis, Al Jazeera reported. Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also claim parts of the sea.

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