China says Philippine provocations cause of South China Sea tensions

China on Thursday blamed Philippine actions for recent rising tension between the two sides in the hotly contested South China Sea.

Beijing and Manila have a long history of maritime territorial disputes in the strategic waterway and there have been repeated confrontations between their vessels near contested reefs in recent months.

“The provocations by the Philippine side are the direct cause of the recent heating up of the South China Sea issue,” Beijing’s defence ministry said in a statement entitled “China Will Not Allow the Philippines to Act Wilfully”.

“Relying on the backing of external forces… the Philippine side has frequently infringed on rights and provoked and created trouble at sea, as well as spreading false information to mislead the international community’s perception of the issue, which is, so to speak, going further and further down a dangerous road,” it added.

A recent incident took place near Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands during a regular Philippine mission to resupply Filipino troops garrisoned on the BRP Sierra Madre, a grounded navy ship.

The Philippines said the China Coast Guard blocked its supply vessel and damaged it with water cannon, injuring three soldiers.

The China Coast Guard has defended its actions, describing them as “lawful regulation, interception and expulsion” of a foreign vessel that “tried to forcefully intrude” into Chinese waters.

Deputy foreign ministers from the two sides held a phone call on Monday, after Manila summoned a Chinese envoy over the incident.

“China will not allow the Philippines to do whatever it wants, and has responded in a reasonable and forceful manner,” the defence ministry said Thursday.