China tells Philippines to remove grounded BRP Sierra Madre from Ayungin Shoal
China demanded that the Philippines remove the BRP Sierra Madre at the Ayungin Shoal a day after Filipino boats reached the grounded Navy ship to complete their resupply mission.
The Chinese coast guard last week blocked and fired water cannons at the Filipino mission prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to call out China at the ASEAN-China special summit.
"Ren'ai Jiao is part of China's Nansha Qundao. China demands that the Philippine side honor its commitment and remove its grounded vessel on Ren'ai Jiao," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in apparent reference to the Philippines' Ayungin Shoal.
"This position remains unchanged. This delivery of food and other supplies is a provisional, special arrangement out of humanitarian considerations," he added at a press conference.
Philippine officials have announced that the resupply mission arrived at the shoal earlier this week without any hitch to give provisions to the Filipino troops on the BRP Sierra Madre.
The announcement came after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday that Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian assured him that the Chinese side would not interfere with the resupply.
Last week, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said two Philippine supply boats on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal were blocked and water cannoned by Chinese Coast Guard vessels on November 16.
No Filipino was hurt but the incident caused the mission to be aborted.
Amid the Philippines' protests, China defended its action saying its coast guard only upheld its sovereignty when Philippine vessels moved into what it claimed was its waters without permission.
At the ASEAN-China special summit on Monday, Duterte called out China, saying the use of force was never the way to settle claims.
"We abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments," Duterte said.
"This does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership," he added.
The resupply mission has since arrived at the Ayungin Shoal, which is well within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.
"Dumating na ang resupply boats sa Ayungin Shoal at nakarating na ang supply sa BRP Sierra Madre ngayong tanghali," acting presidential spokesman Secretary Karlo Nograles said at a briefing.
Armed Forces Western Command chief Vice Admiral Ramil Roberto Enriquez said the resupply boats safely have arrived at the BRP Sierra Madre with no untoward incident."
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 upheld the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea and invalidated China's historical claims in the area. -NB, GMA News