Philippines says it will not yield to submission in row with ‘patronizing’ China

March 29, 2024 - 3:55 PM
BRP Sierra Madre
A Philippine flag flutters from BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated Philippine Navy ship that has been aground since 1999 and became a Philippine military detachment on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea March 29, 2014. (Reuters/Erik De Castro/File Photo)

The Philippines is not seeking a fight or trouble in the South China Sea but will not be cowed into silence, submission, or subservience, its defense ministry said Friday, in its latest show of defiance in a heated row with China.

Recent Chinese statements show their isolation from the rest of the world on their “illegal and uncivilized activities” in the South China Sea, the Philippine defense ministry said in a statement.

“It also shows the inability of the Chinese government to conduct open, transparent, and legal negotiations. Their repertoire consists only of patronizing and, failing that, intimidating smaller countries,” the ministry said.

The statement was in response to its Chinese counterpart accusing the Philippines on Thursday of provocations, misinformation and treachery after Manila accused Beijing of aggressive conduct in Manila’s exclusive economic zone.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian on Thursday said the Philippines was to blame for the breakdown of relations, demanding its neighbor to cease what it calls were acts of infringement and provocation.

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Thursday upped the stakes in the escalating row, saying his country would implement unspecified countermeasures against “illegal, coercive, aggressive, and dangerous attacks” by China’s coastguard. China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea.

The battle of words stems from a series of standoffs near the Second Thomas Shoal during Philippine resupply missions to a group of soldiers posted to guard a decaying warship that was intentionally grounded on a reef 25 years ago to push a sovereignty claim.

— Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Martin Petty