China denounces Philippine-Vietnam sports gathering
“Don't you think this little trick by Vietnam and the Philippines is at most a clumsy farce?”, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, referring to the sports event between naval staff members from the two countries on an island of the Spratly Islands chain that China also claim.
The event was a series of soccer and volleyball games attended by 80 naval staff members, with Colonel Le Xuan Thuy, Vice Commander of Vietnamese Naval Zone 4, leading the Vietnamese side and Colonel Carlito M. Barizo, Deputy Commander of the Naval Forces West under the Philippine Navy, heading the Filipino delegates.
The Vietnamese officials described the gathering as manifesting “the solidarity, goodwill and responsibilities of the two countries in general and the two naval forces in particular” amidst complicated developments in the sea area caused by China’s perverse acts, while their Filipino counterparts considered it a chance to show there can be harmony despite overlapping claims to the waters by both sides.
Commenting on the event, China repeated that had “irrefutable sovereignty” over the Spratly Islands and the surrounding waters, and demanded that Philippines and Vietnam stop causing trouble.
China claim their rights in vast expanses of the resource-rich and strategically important South China Sea with a so-called nine-dash line, which many countries have rejected.
Recently, China has brought the dispute with Vietnam over its deployment of an oil rig in contested waters to the United Nations, accusing Vietnam of infringing on its sovereignty.