China warns outsiders not to "sow distrust" in South China Sea

China warns outsiders not to

A Rosneft Vietnam employee looks on at the Lan Tay gas platform in the South China Sea off the coast of Vung Tau, Vietnam April 29, 2018.

Tensions have risen in the South China Sea over recent incidents between Chinese and Vietnamese and Philippine ships, the latest confrontations in a potential global flashpoint where the United States challenges China's sweeping maritime claims.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday welcomed "major progress" at a meeting with his Asean counterparts in mapping out a "code of conduct" to avert clashes in the South China Sea.

He was reacting to a Pulse Asia Research, Inc. poll that more Filipinos have expressed distrust in China as of end-June after the alleged sinking of a Filipino fishing boat by a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea.

"The bottom line is what they say is different from what they do in the West Philippine Sea", Mr. Lorenzana said in mixed English and Filipino, referring to parts of the South China Sea that are within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

"They say we do not bully people around, they follow worldwide law, but I said you are not, what you are telling is not what you are doing on the ground", Lorenzana said in one of his most stinging public rebukes yet of Chinese actions in territories claimed by Beijing, Manila and four other governments.

Nine Vietnamese vessels closely followed Chinese Coast Guard ships supporting the survey, which included an oil block licensed by Vietnam to a Spanish firm, C4ADS said in its report.

Russian Federation will be among the 27 countries at Friday's ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Bangkok.

The Philippine foreign minister on Wednesday confirmed a diplomatic protest to China over Chinese vessels surrounding the tiny Philippine-held Thitu island.

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And on July 2, a Chinese ship sailed in a threatening manner toward Vietnamese vessels servicing a Japanese oil rig about 230 miles southeast of Vietnam, maneuvering between the Vietnamese ships at a high rate of speed, according to another group, the Washington-based Center for worldwide and Strategic Studies.

On Monday, Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that five Chinese warships passed through Manila's 12-mile territorial sea this month without notifying the government, calling that "a failure to observe protocol or common courtesy".

The Philippines largely won the case, with the arbitration tribunal invalidating in a 2016 ruling China's historic claims to virtually the entire South China Sea based on the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Thayer suggested China was actively preventing Southeast Asian neighbours from developing offshore energy reserves without its participation, and discouraging foreign partnerships.

Defending Beijing's position, China's ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, said on Tuesday that China was committed to global law and "working very hard" with ASEAN to create a maritime code of conduct within three years.

"No matter how strong China may become, China will never seek hegemony or never establish spheres of influence", Zhao said.

The move stoked China's ire and prompted it to threaten sanctions against the U.S.

According to Manila-based author and analyst Richard Heydarian, Duterte is increasingly isolated in defending China. The Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims to parts of it.

"The national army continues to reinforce its key defense capacity and is definitely confident and capable of defending the nation's security", it said in a statement.

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