The Philippine defense minister rejected China’s request to withdraw old ships from atolls in the South China Sea on the 25th.
Defense Minister Delphine Lorenzana said on the same day that the Philippines promised to remove battleships from the sandbar of Second Thomas Scholl in 1999 to strengthen its claim to the Spratly Islands. dismissed the argument.
“This naval battleship has been there since 1999,” Lorenzana told reporters. “If there had been that promise, it would have been removed long ago.”
The Sierra Madre Battleship, a 100-meter long tank amphibious assault ship, was built for the US Navy during World War II.
The Philippines does not remove the wrecked battleship but uses it as a post, creating conflict with China.
Last week, the Philippines said the Chinese coast guard had fired water cannons at two local ships carrying supplies at the Second Thomas Shoal.
Lorenzana denounced China’s “trespassing” of interfering with its military’s supply mission.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhao Lijian said on the 24th, “The Chinese government demands that the Philippines keep its promises and remove illegally anchored ships.”
Second Thomas Scholl is located within 200 nautical miles of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone as specified in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to which China is a party.