EU blames China for endangering peace in South China Sea

By Reuters   April 25, 2021 | 06:07 pm GMT+7
EU called out China for endangering peace in the South China Sea and urged all parties to abide by a 2016 tribunal ruling which rejected most of China’s claim to sovereignty in the sea.

The European Union last week released a new policy aimed at stepping up its influence in the Indo-Pacific region to counter China’s rising power.

The Philippines on Friday protested to China over its failure to withdraw what it called as "threatening" boats believed to be manned by maritime militia around the disputed Whitsun Reef, which Manila calls the Julian Felipe Reef.

"Tensions in the South China Sea, including the recent presence of large Chinese vessels at Whitsun Reef, endanger peace and stability in the region," an EU spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday.

An attendant walks past EU and China flags ahead of the EU-China High-level Economic Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China June 25, 2018. Photo by Reuters/Jason Lee.

An attendant walks past EU and China flags ahead of the EU-China High-level Economic Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China June 25, 2018. Photo by Reuters/Jason Lee.

EU reiterated its strong opposition to "unilateral actions that could undermine regional stability and international rules-based order."

It urged all parties to resolve disputes peacefully in accordance with international law, and highlighted a 2016 international arbitration that had ruled in favor of the Philippines while invalidating most of China's claims in the South China Sea.

China rejected EU's accusation that its ships at Whitsun Reef, which China calls Niu'E Jiao, had endangered peace and security.

The Chinese Mission to the EU in a statement on Saturday reiterated that the reef is part of China's Nansha Islands, or Spratly Islands, and that it was "reasonable and lawful" for Chinese fishing boats to operate there and shelter from the wind.

The Chinese statement also insisted that China's sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea were formed in the "long course of history and consistent with international law" and rejected the 2016 tribunal ruling as "null and void."

"The South China Sea should not become a tool for certain countries to contain and suppress China, much less a wrestling ground for major-power rivalry," the Chinese statement said.

The Whitsun Reef is located within the territorial waters of the Grierson Reef, part of Vietnam’s Spratly Islands in what it calls the East Sea.

Vietnam had stressed that the actions of the Chinese vessels within the territorial waters of the Grierson Reef are a serious violation of Vietnam’s sovereignty and of international law. It requested that China stop such violations and respect Vietnam’s sovereignty.

 
 
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