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Joint PH-US statement made 'false accusations' vs. China, says official

China has expressed strong disapproval to the recent statements made by Philippine and United States officials against Beijing's activities in the South China Sea.

Wang Wenbin, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, maintained that "China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and the adjacent waters."

"The joint statement of the US and the Philippines misrepresents and discredits the legitimate and lawful maritime law enforcement activities of the Chinese side and even makes false accusations against China. We strongly oppose this," Wang said at his regular briefing on Wednesday.

Wang said maintaining peace and stability in the region "hinges on trust, solidarity and cooperation and requires that we, as members of this region, take our security firmly in our own hands."

"We would like to once again remind the relevant country in the region that pandering to forces outside the region will not bring greater security, but will cause tensions, put regional peace and stability at risk and eventually backfire," Wang said.

In a statement following a 2+2 meeting, Manila and Washington expressed strong objections "to the unlawful maritime claims, militarization of reclaimed features, and threatening and provocative activities in the South China Sea, including the recent attempts of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to disrupt the Philippines' lawful operations at and around Second Thomas Shoal and the repeated massing of PRC maritime militia vessels at several sites within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), including, but not limited to, maritime areas in the vicinity of Iroquois Reef, Sabina Shoal, Second Thomas Shoal, and Whitsun Reef."

They said such activities also affect and interfere with the livelihoods of fisherfolk as well as undermine food security in the Philippines.

They also called on China to fully comply with the final and legally binding 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea.

The 2+2 meeting involved US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Philippine defense officer-in-charge Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr., and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.

Blinken, following the meeting, stressed Washington's "unwavering commitment to standing with the Philippines against any intimidation or coercion, including in the South China Sea."

In 2013, the Philippines challenged China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration over its massive claims on the West Philippine Sea. Manila scored a victory in a landmark ruling after the tribunal invalidated Beijing’s claims.

China has since refused to acknowledge the ruling as it continues its activities in the resource-rich region.

Wang further claimed that "the so-called arbitral award on the South China Sea gravely violates international laws, including UNCLOS," stressing that it was unwarranted.

"The award is illegal, null and void. China’s position of not accepting or recognizing it is clear and firm," Wang said.

"We stand ready to work with relevant countries to handle maritime disputes in a proper manner through negotiation and consultation, while resolutely protecting our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests," he added. —KBK, GMA Integrated News