China tells EU: Julian Felipe Reef is part China’s Spratly Islands

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The Chinese Mission to the European Union (EU) told EU, in a statement released April 24, that Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) is part of China’s Spratly Islands.

This is after EU noted that tensions in the South China Sea, including the recent presence of Chinese vessels at Julian Felipe Reef “endanger peace and stability in the region.”

The bloc noted that it is committed to secure, free and open maritime supply routes in the Indo-Pacific in full compliance with international law, and opposes any unilateral actions that could undermine regional stability and international order. It also reiterated its recognition of the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration award.

In response, the spokesperson of Chinese Mission to EU said “the reef and its adjacent waters have always been important operating areas and shelters for Chinese fishing boats. Recently, Chinese fishing boats are operating there and sheltering from wind, which is reasonable and lawful. How come does it endanger regional peace and stability?”

“We have reiterated on various occasions that China’s sovereignty and rights and interests in the South China Sea are formed in the long course of history and are consistent with international law. The so-called Arbitral Tribunal on the South China Sea was established on the basis of illegal acts and claims of the Philippines. It has no legitimacy and the award it issued is null and void. China does not accept or recognize the award, and firmly rejects any claims or actions based on the award,” the Chinese Mission spokesperson added.

“I want to point out that the current situation in the South China Sea is on the whole stable. China maintains close communication on relevant issues with countries in the region, including the Philippines. In recent years, countries in the region and beyond have seen clearly that the destablizing factors and security risks in the South China Sea mainly come from outside the region. The South China Sea should not become a tool for certain countries to contain and suppress China, still less a wrestling ground for major-power rivalry. China urges the EU side to respect the efforts of countries in the region in properly addressing differences and maintaining stability in the South China Sea, and stop sowing discord,” the spokesperson added.