Manila urged to stop maritime provocations on Ren’ai Jiao

Philippine personnel pointing guns at CCG dangerous, cannot be justified: experts

The provocative behavior of Philippine personnel pointing guns at the China Coast Guard (CCG) captured in on-site videos cannot be justified, regardless of any post-event explanations provided by Philippine military leadership, Chinese experts said, adding that CCG’s inspection of supplies airdropped by the Philippines is reasonable and fully in accordance with laws.

They also said that the recent provocations by the Philippines against China’s Ren’ai Jiao (also known as Ren’ai Reef) are a deliberate attempt to influence China’s decision-making and mislead the international community.

According to CGTN on Sunday, the Philippines conducted an air drop to supply the illegally grounded warship at Ren’ai Jiao on May 19. When the CCG responded in accordance with the law and regulations, they found that at least two individuals on the grounded Philippine military vessel were pointing guns in the CCG’s direction, per footage released by CGTN.

However, Philippine military officials “denied” this on Tuesday, claiming that their troops only “held on to their weapons” after the CCG boats “came very close,” and they did not “point their guns at them,” Reuters reported. The Philippine military chief also claimed that the CCG “seized one of four food packs dropped by a plane for Filipino navy personnel,” according to ABC News.

“Inspecting the airdropped supplies from the Philippines is a normal part of the Chinese law enforcement officers’ maritime law enforcement duties, as well as a necessary measure to uphold the status quo of Ren’ai Jiao as an uninhabited island reef, in compliance with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” Yang Xiao, deputy director of the Institute of Maritime Strategy Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

Yang noted that the actions of the CCG conducting law enforcement operations in Chinese waters are fully in accordance with international and domestic laws, and the personal safety of Chinese law enforcement personnel must be respected and strictly protected.

Regarding the Philippine personnel pointing guns at the CCG, Yang stated that regardless of any post-event explanations provided by the Philippine military leadership, this provocative behavior captured in on-site videos cannot be justified.

In contrast, the CCG has consistently demonstrated a high level of professionalism and restraint in law enforcement operations, Yang said. During their law enforcement activities, they have been adhering strictly to a non-military and non-belligerent posture, which represents a standard crisis management procedure aimed at signaling the de-escalation of conflicts and underscores a crucial gesture of goodwill, the expert said.

A source close to the matter told the Global Times that the Philippines’ claims that the “CCG seized their airdropped supplies” are aimed at diverting pressure from public opinion over the “Philippine personnel pointing guns at CCG” and misleading the international community.

The Philippines also engaged in other provocative actions at Ren’ai Jiao recently. According to the on-site video released by the Xinhua News Agency on Tuesday, personnel from the illegally grounded Philippine navy transport ship damaged Chinese fishermen’s nets in Ren’ai Jiao and the surrounding territorial sea. According to estimates, over 2,000 meters of fishing nets were damaged, and more than 100 meters of nets were stolen.

Chen Xiangmiao, director of the World Navy Research Center at the same institute, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the recent provocations by the Philippines toward China have shown a noticeable level of aggression, with the intention of influencing China’s decision-making and increasing international pressure on China.

The Philippines’ “boldness” is fueled by the backing of the US, Chen said, noting that the situation may escalate in the near future given the Philippines breaking promises and non-regional countries’ meddling and interfering in the South China Sea issue.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on Tuesday that the Philippines’ grounding of warship at Ren’ai Jiao is itself illegal. Since then, the Philippine side has further made frequent provocations, heightened tensions and escalated the situation.

“We find that simply unacceptable. China has more than once made clear its principled position on how this issue should be handled. We ask the Philippines to stop making provocations, and return to the right track of handling differences through dialogue and consultation,” Mao noted at the regular press conference.

Since last year, the Philippines has been escalating provocative activities in order to illegally and permanently occupy Ren’ai Jiao, which is the fundamental reason for the escalating situation, analysts said. If the Philippines continues to provoke and causes any unpredictable and uncontrollable consequences in Ren’ai Jiao and its nearby waters and reefs, full responsibility will be borne by the Philippines, they said.

Global Times

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