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Philippines, China spat escalates over ‘misguided’ South China Sea claims as Blinken visits region

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to touch down in the Philippines Monday as tensions between Beijing and Manila continue to escalate over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs on Sunday clapped back at ‘baseless and misleading’ statements issued by China last week that suggested it had ‘historic rights’ to the international waters after a spokesperson for its foreign ministry said China was the ‘first country to discover, name, explore and exploit’ the international waters.

‘The Philippines maintains a firm stand against misguided claims and irresponsible actions that violate Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction in its own maritime domain,’ the department said in a statement.

China in recent years has repeatedly looked to assert control over hundreds of miles of the South China Sea despite internationally recognized Exclusive Economic Zones maintained by nations like the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Beijing’s increasingly aggressive posture is set to be a leading issue amid Blinken’s trip Monday.

‘It’s inevitable that anytime you are going to talk with partners in the region you have to talk about China,’ a senior State Department official told reporters.

Blinken, who first stopped in South Korea over the weekend, will reiterate the Biden administration’s ‘ironclad’ commitments to regional partners as security concerns continue to mount in the Indo-Pacific.

‘Our focus is on maintaining peace and stability and respect for international law,’ the senior official said.

‘We are concerned any time you see these tensions in the maritime domain,’ they added. ‘There is the risk of a miscalculation, there’s no doubt about it. ‘

‘We’ve called in particular for China to show restraint and most importantly for China to respect international law,’ the senior official added.

Fox News Digital could not immediately reach the Chinese embassy in Manila for comment.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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