Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei made the remarks at a daily press conference in response to a Philippine media report that said China's Wufang Jiao did not allow Philippine fishermen to approach it.
According to Hong, a foreign fishing boat was stranded near Wufang Jiao at the end of 2015. After several failed towing attempts, the shipowner abandoned the ship and removed all its major equipment.
To prevent the stranded ship from affecting navigation and damaging maritime environment, China's Ministry of Transportation sent salvage ships to tow the ship and dispose of it appropriately, Hong added.
During the process, China persuaded fishing boats in the operation waters to leave to ensure navigation safety and necessary operation conditions, Hong said, adding that the salvage ships had returned after the operation.
The spokesperson reaffirmed China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and its adjacent waters. China will implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) comprehensively and effectively with the members of ASEAN and jointly maintain the peace and stability of the South China Sea, Hong added.- Xinhua
No more ship-grounding tricks allowed in South China Sea
The Chinese foreign ministry confirmed Wednesday that China had towed away a foreign ship that was grounded on Wufang Jiao in the South China Sea. For safety concerns, China urged nearby fishing ships to leave.
However, Philippine media and some Western reports rendered a different picture of the same affair, saying several Chinese ships were sent to patrol the surrounding waters after a Philippine boat was grounded, and "blocked" the waterway.
In their reports, Wufang Jiao and the surrounding waters are the Philippines' "traditional fishing grounds." Due to the blockage of Chinese vessels, Philippine fishermen could not go fishing, feeling they were being bullied by China.
This is not the first time a Philippine vessel was grounded on South China Sea islands and reefs. In 1999, the Philippines sent a warship and grounded it on Renai Reef. Manila kept promising to China that it would tow it away as soon as possible, but 17 years have passed, and Manila shamelessly broke its promise, delivering provisions to the ship and reinforcing its structure, in an attempt to make it a permanent stronghold.
In recent years, China has taken countermeasures to prevent Philippine ships conveying construction materials to the ship, but out of humanitarian consideration, China allowed the Philippines to deliver provisions to the crew. Now the ship, a focal point of Sino-Philippine tension, is in bad condition and about to fall apart.
China will never allow Wufang Jiao to be a second Renai Reef. Towing away the grounded Philippine ship is a once-and-for-all measure to leave no troubles behind.
The Philippines is untrustworthy in the international community, often resorting to dirty tricks to deal with diplomatic issues. What it did on Renai Reef is a vivid reflection.
China has been exercising self-restraint amid fishing disputes with the Philippines in the South China Sea. However, Manila has captured and sentenced Chinese fishermen several times, and even shot Taiwanese fishermen dead. Manila's barbarity finally triggered a standoff near Huangyan Island in 2012. Since then, China has been in full control of the island.
Now, Manila hopes it can bring US troops back, like a Mafia gangster asking their "godfather" for help. The Philippines, obviously aware that international arbitration has no jurisdiction over territorial disputes, filed a petition to an international court in Hague. China's non-participation in the arbitration is protected by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, but the Philippines, with the support of the US, has used this chance to taint China's image internationally
All these shenanigans cannot twist the fact that it is the Philippines that breaks its promises and makes troubles over and over again. China's countermeasures are reasonable.
China has overwhelming advantages against the Philippines, but its disputes with the Philippines in the South China Sea are complicated due to the West's bias for Manila. China should be resolute in defending its legitimate rights, and be wise in dealing with the West's prejudice and US military and diplomatic interventions.
In recent years, China has gained major progress in stemming the encroachment of the Philippines in the South China Sea. Beijing is regaining strategic initiative in the region. The Philippines will have a new president this year, and Benigno Aquino III will step down. After the shift in leadership, Manila will be a spent arrow, and will have nothing left in its bag of tricks. - Global Times
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