Japan has no right to meddle in China-Philippines maritime issues, says Chinese embassy in Japan

Illustration shows printed Chinese and Japanese flags

BEIJING (Reuters) - Japan is not a party to the South China Sea issue and has no right to intervene in China-Philippines maritime matters, a spokesperson for China's embassy in Japan said on Friday.

Japan's foreign ministry said this week that it was seriously concerned over repeated actions that obstruct freedom of navigation and increase regional tensions, including recent dangerous actions that damaged a Filipino vessel and injured Filipinos onboard.

The Philippine foreign ministry has denounced as "illegal and aggressive" China's actions during a routine resupply mission on Monday, which the Philippine military said severely injured a navy sailor and damaged Manila's vessels.

China denied the allegations as the two countries square off over the Second Thomas Shoal, a disputed atoll inside the Philippines' exclusive economic zone in the vast South China Sea.

"We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the fact that the Japanese side has once again made erroneous remarks on the South China Sea issue that manipulate right and wrong, and make unreasonable accusations against China," the spokesperson said.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea as its own, infuriating neighbouring countries. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 found China's sweeping claims have no legal basis, a ruling Beijing rejects.

Japan said it has consistently advocated upholding the rule of law at sea, and will continue to work with the international community, such as ASEAN member states and the United States.

"Japan's cooperation with the United States and the Philippines must not undermine China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests," China's spokesperson said in a statement.

The U.S, Canada, Japan, and the Philippines recently wrapped up a two-day joint maritime exercise in Manila's exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

(Reporting by Bernard Orr, Farah Master in Hong Kong and Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Gerry Doyle)