Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: China’s embassy in Manila accuses U.S. over South China Sea

China’s embassy in Manila accused the United States on Tuesday of driving a wedge between the Philippines and Beijing to stir up trouble in the South China Sea. Beijing was reacting to a Dec. 19 statement by U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price voicing concern over the reported “escalating swarms” of Chinese vessels in the disputed waterway and an incident involving a floating piece of rocket. Price said China’s actions “reflect continuing disregard for other South China Sea claimants and states lawfully operating in the region”. He reiterated that the United States stands by the Philippines in upholding rules-based international order. In a statement, China’s embassy in Manila said it was “only natural for neighbours to have differences.” “The U.S. keeps meddling in the South China Sea disputes and trying to drive wedges between countries in the region, creating tensions and harming regional peace and stability,” it said. (https://neuters.de/world/us-china-trade-barbs-over-south-china-sea-2022-12-20/) China claims vast swathes of the South China Sea that overlap with the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Philippines last week expressed “great concern” over the “reported swarming” of Chinese vessels in a reef and shoal inside its exclusive economic zone. That came a few days after the foreign ministry filed a diplomatic protest over a Chinese coastguard ship which the Philippine military said used force to retrieve a piece of rocket floating in the ocean that was being towed by a Philippine vessel in the South China Sea. China has denied it forcefully grabbed the object, which it said last month was debris from the casing protecting the nose cone of a spacecraft launched by Beijing.

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