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Philippine officials are demanding the expulsion of Chinese diplomats following an alleged breach of protocol involving a leaked phone conversation with a Filipino military leader amidst

escalating tensions in the South China Sea.

This development unfolds in the aftermath of China's recent interception and deployment of water cannons against a Filipino humanitarian mission near Scarborough Shoal, a contentious area in the region.

Eduardo Ano, the Philippines' national security adviser, condemned the Chinese Embassy's purported dissemination of disinformation and spurious recordings of conversations between officials, insisting on accountability for these actions.

The leaked phone conversation, reportedly occurring in January, purportedly involves a Chinese diplomat and a Filipino admiral discussing a South China Sea dispute. Allegedly, the Filipino admiral agreed to reduce tensions in Ayungin Shoal by limiting Philippine vessels during resupply missions and providing advance notice to China.

In response, China's foreign ministry urged the Philippines to ensure the normal functioning of Chinese diplomats, rejecting any implication of wrongdoing.

Philippine Defense Minister Gilbert Teodoro criticized the Chinese Embassy's actions, suggesting that retaining recordings of individuals within the country violates Philippine law and international norms.

Amidst the controversy, diplomatic relations have strained, particularly over references to a supposed "secret agreement" between the Philippines and China during the previous administration, regarding activities at Second Thomas Shoal.

Despite previous agreements to improve communication, incidents in the South China Sea persist, exacerbating tensions between the two nations.

Analysts suggest that if expulsions occur, China may respond in kind. However, Ano's statement underscores the Philippines' commitment to upholding its laws, regardless of the size or stature of other nations.

According to Don McLain Gill, an analyst at De La Salle University in Manila, the Philippines is justified in taking action against violations of its sovereignty and laws, even when involving diplomatic personnel enjoying immunity. Photo by Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia, Wikimedia commons.