China says US has no right to get involved in problems between it and Philippines

A Philippine flag flutters from BRP Sierra Madre, a dilapidated Philippine Navy ship that has been aground since 1999 and became a Philippine military detachment on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea March 29, 2014. (Reuters/Erik De Castro/File Photo/File Photo)

 The United States does not have the right to get involved in problems between China and the Philippines, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday at a regular press briefing.

“The U.S. is not party to the South China Sea issue, it has no right to get involved in a problem between China and the Philippines,” said ministry spokesperson Mao Ning in addressing a question on the US saying it will defend the Philippines.

“The U.S. promise of defending the Philippines must not hurt China’s sovereignty and maritime interests in the South China Sea, and it also must not enable and encourage the illegal claims of the Philippines,” Mao said.

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday at the White House that America’s commitment to Philippines defense remains “iron-clad,” after accusing China of acting “dangerously and unlawfully” in the South China Sea.

“Any attack on the Filipino aircraft, vessels, or armed forces will invoke … our Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines,” Biden said in remarks during a joint meeting with Australia’s prime minister.

China and the Philippines recently have had several high-profile skirmishes in the South China Sea, most notably in disputed waters around the Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands.

Last Sunday, a Chinese vessel collided with a Philippine boat, with Manila condemning “in the strongest degree” the “dangerous blocking maneuvers” of the vessel.

– Reporting by Eduardo Baptista; Writing by Bernard Orr; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Michael Perry

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