China rebukes Philippines, denies blocking medical evacuation from Second Thomas Shoal

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China has lashed out at the Philippinesand accused it of “deliberately misleading” the international community over their latest spat in the South Chinese Ocean in which Philippine troops claimed that Chinese ships tried to block the evacuation of a sick soldier.

In a statement Tuesday, Chinese Coast Guard said it had allowed the Philippines to evacuate a sick person from an “illegally stranded warship” for “humanitarian reasons” and that it had “monitored and verified” its actions in accordance with the law.

According to the Philippine Navy, the marine patient was evacuated from the BRP Sierra Madre – a rusty ship that ran aground at Second Thomas Shoal 25 years ago – to Camp Ricarte Station Hospital in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

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The report said the Philippine Coast Guard faced “numerous obstructive and delaying maneuvers” from its Chinese counterpart but remained “steadfast.”

Gan Yu, spokesman for the Chinese coast guard, said in a statement: “The relevant Philippine parties ignored the facts, maliciously exaggerated the allegations and deliberately misled international knowledge.”

“The China Coast Guard will continue to carry out activities to protect rights and enforce law in China’s waters in accordance with the law, and will resolutely safeguard the country’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests,” Gan said.

He said China has “undisputed sovereignty” over the Nansha Islands, also known as the Spratly Islands, including the Renai Reef and surrounding waters.

Renai Reef, also known as Second Thomas Shoal or in the Philippines as Ayungin Shoal, lies within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile (370 km) exclusive economic zone, but is also claimed by China.

The hotspot has been the scene of repeated clashes between China and the Philippines for more than a year. The most recent and serious confrontation was on June 17 when, according to Beijing, Philippine ships attacked Chinese boats. Manila claimed that a Chinese coast guard ship rammed a Philippine supply ship.

A month ago, the Philippine Coast Guard accused its Chinese counterpart of blocking a medical evacuation from the warship, calling the actions “barbaric and inhuman.”

The latest spat came just a day after China’s Ministry of Natural Resources a report issued According to him, the Sierra Madre has “seriously damaged the diversity, stability and sustainability of the coral reef ecosystems”.

“The Philippines must remove the warship and eliminate the source of the pollution to prevent lasting and cumulative damage to the coral reef ecosystem of Renai Reef,” the ministry said.

According to the agency, the latest conclusion was drawn from assessments based on satellite detection technology and on-site surveys conducted from April to June this year.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP)the most authoritative voice covering China and Asia for over a century. For more SCMP stories, explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook And Twitter pages. Copyright © 2024 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2024. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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