Philippines refutes chinese claim of maritime agreement as “propaganda”.

The Philippines swiftly dismissed a recent assertion by China regarding a purported agreement aimed at resolving escalating tensions in the South China Sea, labeling it as propaganda.

An official from China’s embassy in Manila had stated on April 18 that the two nations had reached a consensus earlier this year regarding a “new model” for managing tensions at the Second Thomas Shoal. However, Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro refuted this claim, asserting that his department had no knowledge of such an agreement since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr assumed office in 2022.

Teodoro emphasized that Philippine defense officials had not engaged in any discussions with Chinese counterparts since the previous year. Despite the denial, China’s embassy in Manila refrained from offering immediate comment on Teodoro’s statement outside regular office hours.

Tensions between Beijing and Manila have intensified in recent months, particularly at the submerged reef contested by both nations. While the Philippines asserts sovereignty over the area within its exclusive economic zone, China maintains conflicting claims.

Manila has accused Beijing of obstructing maneuvers and employing water cannons to disrupt supply missions to Filipino soldiers stationed aboard a naval vessel intentionally grounded in 1999 to bolster Philippine maritime claims.

China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea, a vital conduit for global maritime trade exceeding $3 trillion annually, overlap with those of the Philippines and several other nations. In a landmark ruling in 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China’s claims, a decision vehemently rejected by Beijing.

Teodoro dismissed China’s assertion of a bilateral agreement as part of a broader propaganda effort, reaffirming the Philippines’ unwavering commitment to safeguarding its claims in the region. He condemned the dissemination of unverified narratives by unidentified Chinese officials, denouncing them as deliberate attempts to distort the truth.

As tensions persist in the South China Sea, the Philippines remains steadfast in its stance, refusing to compromise on territorial integrity in the face of external pressures and misinformation campaigns.