Philippines summons China’s envoy to protest against “aggressive actions” in South China Sea

The Philippines has summoned China’s envoy to protest against “aggressive actions” in the South China Sea at the weekend, as Manila’s defence minister dared Beijing to bolster its vast sovereignty claims by taking them to international arbitration.

The foreign ministry accused China’s coastguard of using water cannon against a civilian boat supplying troops on Saturday at the Second Thomas Shoal, which it said damaged the boat and injured some crew, in the latest in a succession of flare-ups in the past year.

The Philippines foreign ministry said in a statement that China’s continued interference with the Philippines’ routine and lawful activities in its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is unacceptable. It said Such actions infringe upon the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction,” demanding Chinese vessels leave the area.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its own, including the Second Thomas Shoal, which is within the Philippines’ 200 mile (320 km) EEZ.

China has deployed hundreds of coastguard vessel throughout the South China Sea to patrol what it considers its waters, despite a 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling in a case brought by Manila that said the claim had no basis under international law. China has refused to recognise that outcome.

Philippine security chiefs have convened a high-level meeting on Monday over the incident, to prepare recommendations to put to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on ways forward in the dispute.

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