Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Remarks at the April 11 Regular Press Conference Regarding the Ren'ai Jiao Issue

Global Times: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. recently said he was horrified to learn of the gentleman’ s agreement between the Duterte administration and China on Ren’ai Jiao and would ask for clarification regarding the agreement. He also said that he is willing to maintain contact with China at all levels to ease tensions with every effort. What’s China’s comment?

Mao Ning: First and foremost, I want to stress that Ren’ai Jiao is part of China’s Nansha Qundao and China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Qundao including Ren’ai Jiao and the adjacent waters. China is committed to managing the situation at Ren’ai Jiao with the Philippines through dialogue and consultation. The reasons behind the current situation at Ren’ai Jiao are very clear. First, the Philippines went back on its words and refuses to tow away the warship illegally grounded at Ren’ai Jiao. Second, the Philippines denies the existence of the gentleman’s agreement reached with China under the Duterte administration and has repeatedly infringed on China’s sovereignty in those waters and made provocations. Third, the Philippines has abandoned the current administration’s understanding with China on the Ren’ai Jiao issue, sent construction materials to the grounded warship for large-scale repair and reinforcement in an attempt to permanently occupy Ren’ai Jiao.

If the Philippines truly wants to ease tensions at Ren’ai Jiao through dialogue and communication, it needs to honor the commitments and understandings and stop provocations. On how to deal with the current situation at Ren’ai Jiao, China’s position is clear-cut.

First, by keeping its warship grounded at Ren’ai Jiao for decades running, the Philippines has been violating China’s sovereignty and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), especially Article 5 which says refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands and reefs. We demand that the Philippines tow away the warship at once and restore Ren’ai Jiao’s state of hosting zero personnel and facilities.

Second, before the warship is towed away, if the Philippines needs to send living necessities, out of humanitarianism, China is willing to allow it if the Philippines informs China in advance and after on-site verification is conducted. China will monitor the whole process.

Third, if the Philippines sends large amount of construction materials to the warship and attempts to build fixed facilities and permanent outpost, China will not accept it and will resolutely stop it in accordance with law and regulations to uphold China’s sovereignty and the sanctity of the DOC.