Philippines Seeks China Diplomats’ Removal Over Audio Claim

(Bloomberg) -- The audio recording of a purported phone call between a Chinese diplomat and a Philippine military official over an alleged deal on the South China Sea “should not be allowed to pass unsanctioned,” said the country’s national security adviser who sought the immediate expulsion of all those involved.

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“Without a doubt, these are serious breaches of the basic norms of international relations and diplomacy by the embassy,” Eduardo Ano said in a statement on Friday.

Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, citing Chinese officials, that Beijing may soon release recording of the alleged Jan. 3 phone call with a Philippine military official that China claims is evidence of an agreement on a “new model” over disputed territory in the South China Sea.

Read More: China Threatens to Release Audio of Secret Deal With Philippines

Ano said he supported Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr.’s call for the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs to take appropriate action against individuals in the Chinese Embassy who were responsible for the recording for violating the country’s Anti-Wire Tapping Law.

“Those responsible for these malign influence and interference operations must be removed from the country immediately,” Ano said.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian said the Philippines’ remarks “proved that they feel guilty in front of the evidence.”

“China solemnly requests the Philippines to safeguard relevant Chinese diplomatic personnel exercising their duties,” Lin said during a regular press briefing in Beijing on Friday.

The controversial audio recording marks the latest in the growing tensions between China and the Philippines over competing territorial claims in the South China Sea. Chinese vessels in recent months have repeatedly deployed water cannons on Philippine boats on their way to resupply and rotate troops stationed in a World War II-era ship that’s been grounded on Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed waters for a quarter of a century.

“The Chinese Embassy’s repeated acts of engaging in and dissemination of disinformation, misinformation and malinformation...should not be allowed to pass unsanctioned or without serious penalty,” Ano said.

--With assistance from Andreo Calonzo and Philip Glamann.

(Updates with comments from China Foreign Ministry in sixth and seventh paragraphs.)

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