China: We are the ‘victim’, Philippines ‘trouble-maker’

Last week, the Chinese government released a couple of statements criticizing the case against its West Philippine Sea claim filed by Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the minor repair being done by the Philippine Navy in BRP Sierra Madre. The Chinese government said “Philippines’ illegal occupation of some islands and reefs of China’s Nansha (Spratly) Islands since the 1970s” is one of “the origin and crux of the disputes between China and the Philippines.”

“Being a victim of the South China Sea issue, China, bearing in mind the whole situation of regional peace and stability, however, has been exercising utmost restraint,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry of China said July 14, a day after the Philippine legal team presented before the Arbitral Tribunal at The Hague, Netherlands.

China also urged “Philippines to return to the right approach of resolving relevant disputes through negotiation and consultation as soon as possible.”

The next day, July 14, Chinese Ministry again released a statement in light of the minor repairs in BRP Sierra Madre, a grounded vessel at Ayungin Shoal.

“The Philippines not only refuses to fulfill its commitment of towing away the vessel, but also aggravates the situation by carrying out illegal activities in an attempt to permanently occupy the Ren’ai Jiao (Ayungin Shoal),” the China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

“The Philippines’ breach of its own promise to the international community discloses its hypocrisy and duplicity, and stands as another example that the Philippines is the real trouble-maker and rule-breaker in the region,” it added.

The Arbitral Tribunal is giving China an opportunity to comment until August 17 in writing on Philippines’ arguments during the Hearing on Jurisdiction and Admissibility; and commits to make a decision on jurisdiction before year ends.

Philippine Navy said minor repairs in BRP Sierra Madre ensures that deployed troops in the said vessel are not neglected. BRP Sierra Madre is a commissioned navy vessel.