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China: Ayungin access needs advance notice

MANILA, Philippines — With its tactic of intimidation drawing outrage and unsuccessful in stopping Philippine resupply missions for troops on the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal, China has announced it would no longer block deliveries of food and other provisions to the military outpost – situated in Philippine waters – if Manila gives advance notice.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning issued the statement in reaction to the Philippine Coast Guard’s revelation that the China coast guard (CCG) tried last month to stop the evacuation of a sick Filipino soldier stationed on the Sierra Madre to a hospital in Palawan.

Recently, members of the CCG on rubber boats snatched one of four packages of food and provisions air-dropped by a military aircraft on the Sierra Madre.

“China’s position on the issue of Ren’ai Jiao is clear. If the Philippines notifies the Chinese side in advance, we can allow delivery of living necessities to the grounded warship or evacuation of personnel concerned,” Mao said, calling Ayungin Shoal by its name assigned by Beijing.

“However, the Philippines should not use this as an excuse for delivering construction materials in an attempt to permanently occupy Ren’ai Jiao,” she added.

Reacting to the Chinese foreign ministry statement, PCG Commandant Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan said the Philippines is free to do anything it wants in Ayungin Shoal or in any part of its territorial seas without having to inform China.

“In my personal view, we don’t need to seek their permission. In the first place, it’s our ship,” he said in an interview with “Storycon” on One News on Friday, referring to the Sierra Madre.

“Second, the ship is in our seas, therefore we don’t have to seek permission,” he added.

Beijing’s English tabloid Global Times claimed in an article on its website the Philippine speedboats delivered “suspicious” items to the Sierra Madre that could be construction materials.

The Philippines, according to the article, “dispatched the high-speed assault boats to participate in the illegal transport and repair… and carried a large number of suspicious materials.”

“The Philippine military’s high-speed assault boats used for resupply were