China protests Philippine ship plan

China continues S. China Sea push.

China protests at Philippine repair of military ship in South China Sea

China has urged the Philippines to remove a ship which serves as a military outpost in the disputed South China Sea.

The Philippines said Tuesday it would repair the Sierra Madre which is at a shoal also claimed by China.

A Reuters report said the Philippines also plans to revive a former US naval base in Subic Bay.

China has been reclaiming land and building facilities on reefs in the area angering its neighbours.

The US has called on all claimants to halt such activities which have ratcheted up tensions in the region.

The Philippines has taken China to a United Nations tribunal for arbitration over their overlapping claims.

‘Trouble-maker’

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday that the Philippines “aggravates the situation by carrying out illegal activities” on the Sierra Madre at the Second Thomas Shoal.

She called on the South East Asian country to tow away the ship.

“The Philippines’ breach of its own promise to the international community discloses its hypocrisy and duplicity, and stands as another example that the Philippines is the real trouble-maker and rule-breaker in the region,” she said.

The Philippines has said it is repairing the Sierra Madre, which was stranded on the shoal in 1999 to mark the country’s claim, to provide for its small group of marines stationed on the ship.

“Maintenance repair is being done to ensure the vessel’s minimum habitability,” Philippine Navy spokesman Col Edgard Arevalo told AFP news agency.

BBC report in September 2014 found the World War Two-era ship in bad condition and crumbling in some places from rust.

Meanwhile a Reuters report on Thursday cited officials as saying the Philippines plans to revive a naval base at Subic Bay, which used to be operated by the US military and has since been incorporated into a commercial zone.

Defence Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino told the wire agency that the military had leased the facility from the zone’s operator since May.

New fighter jets and two navy frigates are expected to be stationed there from early next year.

The bay is only 145 nautical miles (270km) from Scarborough Shoal, which is claimed by both China and the Philippines.

Aside from those two countries, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also have competing claims over various islands, reefs and shoals in the region.

China claims ownership over a large part of the South China Sea, and has been spotted reclaiming land and building facilities on various reefs in recent months.

It has rebuffed international calls to stop such activities, which it says are within its maritime rights and for civilian purposes.

Source: bbc.com

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