Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Philippines files diplomatic protest to China over “aggressive activities”

The Philippines on Tuesday filed a diplomatic protest calling on Beijing to ensure its vessels cease “aggressive activities” after Manila accused China’s coast guard of trying to block one of its ships in the South China Sea using a laser. The Philippine coast guard said on Monday a Chinese coast guard ship directed a “military-grade laser” at one of Manila’s vessels supporting a resupply mission to troops in the disputed waterway on Feb. 6, temporarily blinding its crew on the bridge. “These acts of aggression by China are disturbing and disappointing as it closely follows the state visit to China of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in early January during which he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to manage maritime differences through diplomacy and dialogue,” Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Teresita Daza said in a statement on Tuesday. The ministry said the Chinese vessel undertook dangerous manoeuvres by approaching at a close distance the Philippine vessel, risking a collision that endangered the crew, and issuing “illegal radio challenges” demanding the Philippine ship leave the area. The actions of China’s coast guard vessel were a threat to Philippine sovereignty and security and the country had a prerogative to conduct legitimate activities within its exclusive economic zone, the ministry said. There was no immediate comment from the Chinese embassy in Manila, but China’s foreign ministry said on Monday that its coast guard had conducted actions according to the law. “We urge the Philippines to avoid such actions, and the actions of China’s staff are professional and restrained,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, told a regular briefing. China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, including the area around the Spratly islands. The Philippines has filed 203 diplomatic notes against China since last year, foreign ministry data showed.

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