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Philippines makes rare rebuke of China at ASEAN summit

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has issued harsh words against China in his statement during a summit hosted by Beijing with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries on 22 November.

The rare rebuke came in the wake of a stand-off between Chinese and Philippine vessels at the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. The feature, also known as the Ayungin Shoal in the Philippines, is claimed by both Beijing and Manila as part of their respective maritime territories.

In 1999 the Philippine Navy deliberately grounded a landing ship tank, BRP Sierra Madre, on the feature to stake Manila's claim to the shoal and its surrounding features. The Armed Forces of the Philippines maintains a small detachment of personnel on Sierra Madre and supplies the men with water and victuals.

However, on 16 November, Manila claimed that its supply missions to the shoal were blocked by China Coast Guard vessels deploying water cannons and other Beijing-linked boats. Beijing maintains that its vessels were acting in accordance with the law within China's maritime territories. The Second Thomas Shoal lies approximately 107 n miles northwest of the Philippines' Palawan island.

β€œWe abhor the recent event in the Ayungin Shoal and view with grave concern other similar developments,” said Duterte in the statement. β€œThis does not speak well of the relations between our nations and our partnership.”

Duterte further pointed to United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the 2016 ruling from the International Court of Arbitration that favoured Manila's position on the South China Sea dispute as solutions to the contention between both countries.

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