Germany ready to help ease tensions in disputed South China Sea, its foreign minister says

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Germany's top diplomat said Thursday that China's activities in the South China Sea violate the rights of Asian coastal states like the Philippines and threaten freedom of navigation, but he also said territorial dispute It has to be resolved peacefully because "the world does not need another crisis."

Annalena Baerbock, who held talks with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and other top officials during a visit to Manila, said Germany stands ready to help ease rising tensions and said there is a strong focus on resolving disputes peacefully. It is important to establish "mechanisms" for. Parent communication.

"Really strong winds are blowing South China Sea And this is happening in the middle of one of the most dynamic economic regions in the world,'' he said through an interpreter at a news conference in Manila.

“It is now important to establish mechanisms to resolve tensions peacefully,” he said, without elaborating. “I think we can all agree that the world doesn't need another crisis. There are too many crises at once.”

In a symbolic gesture of Germany's support for the Philippines, Baerbock visited the Coast Guard headquarters in Manila and boarded a patrol ship, where she briefly flew one of several surveillance drones donated by Germany to the Philippines.

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Philippine Coast Guard officials said the drones will help the country protect its territorial interests in the South China Sea, enforce maritime laws and conduct search and rescue operations during accidents at sea.

Chinese officials did not immediately issue any comment.

The decades-old territorial dispute between Beijing and Manila escalated last year, raising fears it could escalate into a major conflict that could also involve the United States. long-time treaty ally Of Philippines.

The US has repeatedly warned that it is obligated to defend the Philippines if its forces, aircraft and ships come under any armed attack, including in the South China Sea. China has warned the US and its allies not to interfere in what it considers a purely Asian dispute and not to increase their forces in the region, warning of unspecified consequences.

China's actions in the South China Sea, which have led to minor collisions with Philippine ships, are a matter of concern to Germany and other European countries, Baerbock said, "because such risky maneuvers can harm your own country and other coastal countries." violate the rights and opportunities for economic development." State."

Baerbock held a press conference with his Philippine counterpart Enrique Manalo.

"They also raise questions about freedom of navigation and international law, which affects all countries around the world," he said. He said China's claims "do not fall within the scope of international law."

Cited by the German Foreign Minister, the first to visit the Philippines in nearly a decade to strengthen ties 2016 decision by UN-backed arbitration Panel that invalidated China's sweeping territorial claims on historical grounds. China refused to participate in the mediation, dismissed its decision as a sham and continues to defy it.

Baerbock said the arbitration decision was very clear.

Associated Press journalists Joel Calupitan and Aaron Favila contributed to this report.

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