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Faced with Biden, Beijing defends its “legitimate” actions in the South China Sea

China on Friday defended its “legitimate” actions. in the South China Sea after warnings made by the United States, Japan and the Philippines during a trilateral summit organized by the United States. by Joe Biden à Washington.

In a warning clearly intended for Beijing, the American president, siding with Manila, pledged Thursday from the White House to defend the Philippines in the event of an “attack” in the Sea of South China.

These remarks, made during an unprecedented summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, come after a series of incidents in this maritime zone between China and the Philippines.

“China firmly opposes any behavior that provokes and plans conflicts and harms the security and strategic interests of other countries”, responded Friday Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Faced with Biden, Beijing defends its “legitimate” actions in the South China Sea

The South China Sea © AFP – Valentin RAKOVSKY, Sophie RAMIS

“China's actions in the East and South China Seas are legitimate, legal and beyond reproach,” she said at a regular press conference.

Concretely, Joe Biden declared that “any attack against a plane, a ship or the Philippine armed forces” in this area “would trigger the implementation of the mutual defense treaty” which binds Washington and Manila.

In recent months, tensions between China and the Philippines, which increasingly contest Beijing's territorial claims, have reached levels not seen in several years.

– “Free Attack” –

China claims a large part of the South China Sea islands for historical reasons. Other neighboring countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also have claims, which sometimes overlap.

Faced with Biden, Beijing defends its “legitimate” actions in the South China Sea

Image taken from aerial video footage, March 5, 2024, released by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), showing a Chinese Coast Guard vessel (bottom) and a Philippine Coast Guard vessel during a collision at sea of disputed southern China © Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) – Handout

Beijing supports its claims to sovereignty by reinforcing the islets and reefs it controls by backfilling.

He built civilian installations there but also airstrips capable of accommodating military planes.

“The United States' commitment to the security of Japan and the Philippines is unwavering,” said Joe Biden, who has undertaken to weave a network of alliances in Asia-Pacific in order to face the rise of Chinese power.

He spoke of the shared objective of a “free, open, prosperous and secure” Asia-Pacific region, a usual American expression when referring to Chinese projects, judged by Washington to be threatening.

Referring to the statements targeting Beijing made during the trilateral summit, Chinese diplomatic spokesperson Mao Ning declared: “If this is not a gratuitous attack on China, then what is that it is?”.

“We are firmly opposed to the creation in the region of small closed cliques which exclude others”, she said indicated.

– Recurring tensions –

A series of incidents have erupted between Beijing and Manila since the end of 2023 near disputed reefs. Collisions between Chinese and Filipino ships have thus occurred near several reefs.

Faced with Biden, Beijing defends its “legitimate” actions in the South China Sea

Protest against China's recent actions in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati, a suburb of Manila, on April 9, 2024 in the Philippines © AFP – JAM STA ROSA

The Philippines had denounced “aggressive actions” on the part of China.

For its part, Beijing has regularly accused the Philippine forces supported by Washington, to have “deliberately” hit a Chinese ship to cause an incident after their “intrusion” into the area.

Joe Biden also announced that the United States, the Philippines and Japan would “deepen their ties in maritime security”.

“Of course, Japan and the Philippines can absolutely develop normal relations with other countries”, Mao Ning declared on Friday.

“But they must not introduce into the region (a logic of) confrontation between camps, and even less engage in trilateral cooperation which is to the detriment of the interests of other countries,” she stressed.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116