China refutes Philippine allegations of constructing artificial island in South China Sea

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13th May 2024 – (Beijing) China has categorically denied allegations from the Philippine Coast Guard that it is attempting to construct an artificial island at the contested Sabina Shoal in the South China Sea. During a press briefing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin labelled these claims as “groundless” and “pure fabrication.”

Wang criticized the Philippines for what he described as spreading rumours and unjustly maligning China, an action he claimed aims to mislead the international community. “We urge the Philippine side to cease making irresponsible statements, acknowledge the truths, and return to resolving maritime disputes through negotiation and consultation,” Wang stated.

The dispute intensified over the weekend when Jay Tarriela, a spokesperson for the Philippine Coast Guard, reported that recent patrols had thwarted Chinese efforts to reclaim land on the coral atoll, also known as Xianbin Jiao in China and Escoda Shoal in the Philippines. Tarriela accused China of dumping crushed coral as part of its reclamation activities and confirmed ongoing vigilance in the area.

“Who else but China is responsible for the blatant destruction of the marine environment in the South China Sea?” Tarriela questioned, pointing out the exclusive involvement of China in such activities.

The Sabina Shoal, situated approximately 75 nautical miles from the Philippine island of Palawan, is also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan. The region has been a hotspot for recent confrontations, with incidents involving ship collisions and water cannon use, heightening concerns over potential armed conflict escalation.