China 'gravely concerned, strongly disapproves' US-PH stance on South China Sea

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 13) — China expressed its serious concern and strong disapproval of the stance of the United States and the Philippines on the South China Sea issue, insisting “indisputable sovereignty” over islands in the disputed waters.

Beijing made the comment on Wednesday following the release of the joint statement of the US and the Philippines and the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue strengthening the two nations’ ties.

The US has reaffirmed its commitment to stand with the Philippines against any form of intimidation and coercion in the South China Sea, a move that China firmly opposed.

"Let me point out first and foremost that China is gravely concerned over and strongly disapproves the joint statement of the US and the Philippines," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.

"China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and the adjacent waters. The joint statement of the US and the Philippines misrepresents and discredits the legitimate and lawful maritime law enforcement activities of the Chinese side and even makes false accusations against China. We strongly oppose this," he added.

Wenbin also slammed the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal Award, which upholds the Philippines’ rights over the West Philippine Sea, an area in the South China Sea being claimed by China. He claimed the ruling is "illegal, null and void" and "gravely violates international laws, including UNCLOS."

"China's position of not accepting or recognizing it is clear and firm," he added.

China also maintained its position against the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites.

"With regard to the new military base sites to which the Philippines gives the US access, we have stated China's position several times. Facts speak louder than words. Judging from the locations of the new military bases, the intention behind those sites is more than obvious," Wenbin said.

China has repeatedly warned against expanded military cooperation with the US, saying the move could backfire on the Philippines.

The US and Philippines, however, have yet to determine the extent of use for the new EDCA sites, saying this is still up for discussion.