China will 'legitimately defend rights' in South China Sea: Chinese FM Wang Yi

"On maritime disputes, China has always maintained a high degree of restraint," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at the briefing in Beijing.

Updated - March 07, 2024 12:03 pm IST

Published - March 07, 2024 10:41 am IST - Beijing

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress, in Beijing, on March 7, 2024.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress, in Beijing, on March 7, 2024. | Photo Credit: AP

Beijing will "legitimately defend" its rights in the South China Sea, the country's Foreign Minister said on Match 7, following a string of clashes between Chinese and Philippine ships in the disputed waterway.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea and has sought to assert sovereignty there despite competing claims from Southeast Asian nations and an international arbitration ruling that its stance has no legal basis.

Tensions between Beijing and the Philippines have flared in recent months as ships from both countries have clashed near contested reefs, with the most recent dispute taking place this week.

"We will legitimately defend our rights in accordance with the law," Beijing's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a press conference on March 7 during the annual meeting of Chinese lawmakers known as the Two Sessions.

"On maritime disputes, China has always maintained a high degree of restraint," Mr. Wang said at the briefing in Beijing.

"But of course, we do not allow our goodwill to be abused, and we do not accept the distortion or deliberate infringement of maritime laws," he said.

Tensions rise in Philippines-China dispute: The collisions between Philippines and China coast guard vessels this week mark the most serious confrontation between the two countries over the disputed South China Sea in recent times.

Tensions rise in Philippines-China dispute: The collisions between Philippines and China coast guard vessels this week mark the most serious confrontation between the two countries over the disputed South China Sea in recent times.

On Tuesday, the Philippines summoned a Chinese representative after it said China Coast Guard vessels caused two collisions with Philippine boats and fired water cannon at one of them during a resupply mission in the South China Sea.

U.S. using Philippines as ‘pawn’ in South China Sea: China

Beijing said it "took control measures" against Philippine ships' "illegal intrusion" into its sovereign waters, and accused a Philippine vessel of "intentionally" ramming a Chinese one.

On Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry accused the United States of using its ally Manila as a "pawn" to stir up regional tensions after Washington labelled Beijing's actions "provocative".

Mr. Wang did not mention the United States by name on Thursday, but urged "certain countries outside the region not to stir up trouble or pick sides, and not to become disruptors or troublemakers in the South China Sea".

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