“China has repeatedly expressed its willingness to resolve differences with the Philippines through bilateral dialogues, hoping that the Philippine side would abide by the consensus reached in the past, and cherish the mutual trust accumulated through the improvement of bilateral relations,” Wang said.
Wang, who is also President Xi Jinping’s top foreign policy aide, tried to downplay the tensions in the South China Sea – where China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia all have competing claims – and said the situation there was one of “overall stability”.
“However, the US and some other forces are constantly making waves in the sea for fear that the South China Sea will no longer be chaotic,” he said.
Wang then accused Washington of using disputes over the Second Thomas Shoal “to fan the flames, stir up troubles between China and the Philippines, fuel confrontation, and jeopardise the peace and tranquillity of the South China Sea in a bid to serve their own geopolitical strategy”.
He did not elaborate further or name other countries, but he warned that China and its neighbours should “maintain the necessary vigilance against the black hands behind the scenes and take the initiative of maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea into their own hands.”
Wang also emphasised Beijing’s willingness to work with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to speed up talks on a long-delayed code of conduct in the South China Sea, adding: “China and Asean countries have the ability and wisdom to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea”.
Military commanders in Manila have vowed to refurbish the ship and strengthen its hold over the shoal.
According to a Philstar Global report on Saturday, General Romeo Brawner, chief of staff of Armed Forces of the Philippines, warned that China using water cannons against a Philippine navy ship would be tantamount to “an act of war”.
Last weekend’s incident saw the Chinese using water cannon against a civilian supply ship, and Brawner said: “The reason why we believe they used their Chinese coastguard ships is because of that, they want to act short of declaring war.”
Beijing’s ties with Manila have soured since President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr took office last year and moved to strengthen relations with Washington.
The Philippines won an international arbitration award in 2016 against China’s expansive claims over almost all of the South China Sea, including at the Second Thomas Shoal. However, Beijing has refused to accept the ruling.
During a meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday, Wang dismissed criticisms of China’s behaviour, saying instead that the US “has become the biggest destabilising factor in the world”, according to Xinhua.
He also accused the White House of using Taiwan, the South China Sea and hi-tech restrictions to contain China.
The feud between Beijing and Washington shows little sign of abating despite recent visits by senior officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
On Thursday the foreign ministry accused Washington of pursuing “technology hegemony” after President Joe Biden signed an executive order restricting US investment in sensitive Chinese technologies.