Foreign Ministry Spokesperson’s Remarks on the South China Sea Issue
2023-12-14 00:07

CCTV: On December 10, the Philippines sent vessels to intrude into waters of Ren’ai Jiao in China’s Nansha Qundao in an attempt to send construction materials to the illegally grounded warship there. The mission was blocked by China Coast Guard. Afterwards, the Philippine President and the Philippine National Security Council blamed China. Do you have any comment?


Mao Ning: On December 10, one cargo vessel, one official vessel and two coast guard ships of the Philippines, without permission from the Chinese government, intruded into adjacent waters of Ren’ai Jiao in China’s Nansha Qundao in an attempt to send construction materials to the illegally grounded warship at the reef. In disregard of the warnings of the China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels, a Philippine vessel went headlong towards Ren’ai Jiao’s lagoon and dangerously rammed a CCG ship on the scene. This gravely violated China’s sovereignty and jeopardized the safety of the Chinese ships and personnel. The CCG took necessary enforcement measures against the Philippine ship in accordance with domestic and international law, which were professional, restrained, justified and legitimate. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has lodged serious démarche in strong protest to the Philippine side. 


I need to stress that Ren’ai Jiao is part of China’s Nansha Qundao. China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Qundao, including Ren’ai Jiao, and their adjacent waters. This was established in the long course of history and is consistent with international law including the UN Charter. It is against the principles of international law and legally untenable for the Philippines to cite the “award” of the South China Sea arbitration, which is illegal, null and void, to claim that Ren’ai Jiao falls within its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf and deny China’s sovereignty over it.

The responsibility for the recent emergencies in waters of Ren’ai Jiao lies completely with the Philippines. The root cause is that the Philippines has broken its promise and refused to tow away the illegally grounded warship at the reef and attempted to reinforce it on a large scale in an attempt to permanently occupy Ren’ai Jiao. China firmly opposes the Philippines’ attempt to occupy Ren’ai Jiao and has made clear its solemn position to the Philippine side at various levels and through multiple channels, demanding that the Philippines will not send construction materials to the illegally grounded warship for large-scale repair and reinforcement and putting forward proposals for properly managing the situation. However, the Philippine side, in disregard of China’s goodwill, good faith and restraint, broke its promise and kept stirring up trouble by infringing on China’s sovereignty and making provocative moves in waters of Ren’ai Jiao. It has also been spreading disinformation to hype up the incidents. This gravely violates international law and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and seriously infringes on China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.

We once again urge the Philippines to stop infringing on China’s sovereignty and making provocative moves, stop groundlessly attacking and smearing China, and avoid undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea. We will continue to do what is necessary in accordance with domestic and international laws to resolutely respond to provocative moves that infringe on China’s sovereignty and defend our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.

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