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Philippines Rejects China’s Demand to Remove Grounded Navy Ship

MANILA—The Philippines will not remove a dilapidated navy ship grounded on an atoll in the South China Sea, its defence chief said on Thursday, rejecting a demand by China after it blocked a mission to resupply the vessel’s crew. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana dismissed China’s assertion on Wednesday that the Philippines had committed to remove the BRP Sierra Madre, which was intentionally grounded at the Second Thomas shoal in 1999 to reinforce Manila’s sovereignty claims in the Spratly archipelago. The 100 metre-long (330-ft) tank landing ship was built for the U.S. Navy during World War Two. “That ship has been there since 1999. If there was commitment it would have been removed a long time ago,” Lorenzana told reporters. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Wednesday said Beijing “demands the Philippine side honour its commitment and remove its illegally grounded vessel.” The Second Thomas Shoal, 105 nautical miles (195 …

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