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China says US using Philippines as ‘pawn’ in South China Sea

China says US using Philippines as 'pawn' in South China Sea
Image Courtesy: PCG

China on Wednesday accused the United States of using the Philippines as a “pawn” in the South China Sea, as hostilities between the two Asian nations escalate over their territorial dispute in the region.

Manila summoned a Chinese representative on Tuesday after it said China Coast Guard vessels caused two collisions with Philippine boats and water cannoned one of them during a resupply mission.

China said it “took control measures” against Philippine ships’ “illegal intrusion” into waters it claims, as well as accusing a Philippine ship of “intentionally” ramming a Chinese one.

“China urges the United States not to use the Philippines as a pawn to stir up trouble in the South China Sea,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning told reporters when asked about the United States’ condemnation of China’s actions as “provocative”.

“The Philippines should not let itself be at the mercy of the United States,” she added.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, brushing aside competing claims from a host of Southeast Asian nations and an international arbitration ruling that has declared its stance baseless.

On Wednesday Southeast Asian and Australian leaders warned against actions that “endanger peace” in the South China Sea, following the fresh confrontations between Beijing and the Philippines.

“We encourage all countries to avoid any unilateral actions that endanger peace, security and stability in the region,” read a joint declaration hammered out between ASEAN members and Australia.

In recent months tensions between Beijing and an increasingly assertive Philippines have reached levels not seen for years.

Tuesday’s collisions came after similar incidents in December.

“China’s resolve to defend its legitimate rights and interests is unwavering, and the Philippines’ rights-infringing and provocative attempts will not succeed,” Mao said on Wednesday.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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