China has warned the Philippines to take its words "seriously," particularly with regard to issues on the South China Sea, as it vowed to do "what is necessary" to protect its interest in the waters.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry made the pronouncement on Monday night as the Philippines' Armed Forces of the Philippines labeled Beijing's recent actions in the South China Sea, particularly in the West Philippine Sea, as "irresponsible," which could lead to its "global isolation."
China had repeatedly dismissed the Philippines' sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea, despite the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Ruling, and continued to assert that Beijing has "undisputable" ownership over it and the rest of the South China Sea.
"China once again urges the Philippines to take seriously China's concerns," a statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry attributable to its "spokesperson" said, as it also called on the latter to "stop making provocations and creating troubles at sea, and stop groundless attacks and smears."
Recently, the Philippines strengthened its efforts to protect its sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea by conducting patrol and resupply missions as China made more aggressive actions, such as installing floating blockers as well as conducting dangerous maneuvers, laser pointing and water cannon attacks.
Beijing said Manila must do that "to avoid undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea and harming the common interests of countries in the region."
China said it "will continue to, in accordance with our domestic laws and international law, do what is necessary to firmly safeguard our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests."
Its pronouncements came after it said it also noted "a series of steps" that the Philippines took in the Ayungin Shoal "that seriously violate China’s territorial sovereignty."
Beijing said that the Ayungin Shoal (locally known as Ren'ai Jiao) "has been China’s territory since ancient times," and not of the Philippines "on the grounds of its comparative proximity to Philippine territory."
It also called the arbitration ruling as "illegal, null and void" because "territorial issues are not subject to UNCLOS," the law that served as the basis for the ruling.
Beijing claimed that the Philippines' grounding of BRP Sierra Madre in the West Philippine Sea "gravely violated" China's sovereignty and passed "the responsibility for the current situation at sea completely" to the Philippines.
"China cannot accept the Philippines' acts of going back on its words again and again and violating China’s territorial sovereignty," it said, referring to the supposed but unproven promise made by Manila to remove the vessel.
"The Philippines has the responsibility to tow away the 'grounded' military vessel," it added.