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Manila condemned over grounded warship

(China Daily)

08:20, May 31, 2013

Beijing condemned the Philippines on Thursday over a Filipino warship grounded on a Chinese reef in the South China Sea.

It described the illegal grounding of the vessel on the Ren'ai Reef as a "serious encroachment of territorial sovereignty", and warned Manila not to stir up the situation in the South China Sea any further.

Observers said Beijing acted in response to an attempt by the Philippines to assert territorial claims by keeping the warship stranded on the reef since 1999.

"China's resolution and will to safeguard its territorial sovereignty is unswerving," Geng Yansheng, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said at a press conference.

An allegation by the Philippines that Chinese vessels have threatened to cut off supplies of water and food to Philippine military staff at the reef is groundless, Geng said.

"Chinese naval patrols in the area are justifiable," he added.

After the warship was grounded on the reef, Beijing repeatedly asked Manila to retrieve it, but the Philippines ignored the request despite having promised to tow the ship away.

Li Guoqiang, deputy director of the Center for Chinese Borderland History and Geography at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, "The Philippine's logic is ludicrous in calling its grounded ship a symbol of occupation while it is in China's inherent territory."

China has indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha Islands, which include Ren'ai Reef and adjacent waters.

Manila has highlighted the situation on the reef at a time of heightened tension between the two countries. Last April, troops on a Philippine warship harassed Chinese fishermen in waters off China's Huangyan Island.

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