Latest Stories

China sends biggest ever fleet to disputed Spratlys

By ,

FISHING ARMADA This picture taken on May 6, 2013, shows the crew standing on a fishing vessel setting sail for the Spratly Islands from Danzhou in China’s Hainan province. AFP

BEIJING—China has sent one of its largest recorded fishing fleets to disputed islands in the South China Sea, state-run media said on Tuesday, amid tensions over Beijing’s assertion of its claims in the region.

The China Daily said that a flotilla, including 30 fishing vessels, set sail on Monday for the Spratly Islands, an archipelago disputed by China and five other claimants, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

Asked about the report from Beijing, the spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, said: “What is important is that these reports should have official confirmation from our monitoring agencies before we make a comment about them. We’ll see in the coming days how this will play out.”

“It is the mandate of the Coast Guard and Navy to make sure that we know what is happening in our maritime zones and if there is a need to act on them, they share the information with us,” Hernandez said at a press briefing.

The Philippines refers to the area it claims in the disputed region as the West Philippine Sea. Manila calls the main group of isles it claims as the Kalayaan Island Group and has established an administrative presence on an isle called Pag-Asa.

The fleet left China’s southern province of Hainan for a 40-day trip to the region, the report said, and includes two large transport and supply ships.

Chinese fishing boats regularly travel to the Spratlys but the fleet dispatched on Monday was as large as one described as the biggest ever launched from the province when it set off last year.

Aggressive China

China will make “every effort to guarantee the fleet’s safety,” the report quoted an official from the department of ocean and fisheries as saying.

China and neighboring countries have long used fishing fleets and maritime patrols to assert their territorial claims, and have upgraded their naval forces in recent years as tensions over claims in the West Philippine Sea have risen.

The Philippines and Vietnam have complained that China is becoming increasingly aggressive in its actions in the area—such as harassing fishermen—and also through bullying diplomatic tactics.

The waters around the Spratlys are rich in fishing resources and it is believed they could hold large oil and gas reserves.

Arbitration bid

The Chinese deployment comes amid progress in the Philippines’ arbitration bid against China before the United Nations to stop similar incursions into established Philippine maritime boundaries.

The International Tribunal on the Law of Sea has completed appointing arbiters to a five-member panel that would handle the case, in line with a procedure under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

The DFA earlier expressed optimism that the panel would take jurisdiction of the case and start tackling the merits by July. Results of the legal process are “final and unappealable,” Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has said.

US support

In Washington, the US Departments of State and Defense and the National Security Council “reiterated their strong support” for the Philippine decision to take China before the arbitral tribunal, Foreign Undersecretary for Policy Evan Garcia said.

Garcia said US officials reaffirmed their support during meetings in the US capital last week.

“Once more, officials from the State and Defense Departments, as well as the NSC, made clear that the US backs our resort to arbitration proceedings under Unclos to peacefully resolve the disputes in the West Philippine Sea,” Garcia said of his May 3 meetings.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: China , Global Nation , Philippines , sea dispute , Spratlys

  • GustoKoHappyKa

    Uubusin na naman ang isda natin… dapat bantayan at SIGURADONG papasok na naman sa Palawan!!!

  • koolkid_inthehouse

    Communist spies like this one:
    Huawei CEO breaks 26 years of silence to deny links to U.S. cyber threats.

  • http://twitter.com/grinolsson Grin Olsson

    Indeed, the Chinese use a civilian shield (the fishermen) in their Naval maneuvers.

  • Markov Chain

    hahahaha, they are staying in those islands because they need a toilet…have you guys read about some neews where these chinese dogs take a shlt anywhere in their country? even in freakin public?? yeah, that’s right….even inside a flying airplane….

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Russia promises support to ending Ukraine crisis
  • Busted valve delays water interruption
  • Cardinal Tagle decries human ‘commercialization’
  • Religion builds bridges in ethnically split Cyprus
  • Iran general urges Tehran to make new UN pick
  • Sports

  • Vettel hoping for resurgence at Chinese GP
  • MLB pitcher donates $100,000 for Sewol ferry victims
  • Hamilton takes pole at Chinese Grand Prix
  • Duke’s Rodney Hood joining Jabari Parker in NBA draft
  • Phelps entered in 3 events at comeback meet
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • Fiat-Chrysler to produce iconic Jeep in China from 2015
  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition
  • PH boosts MERS monitoring after UAE nurse scare
  • Canadians back PH plea to take back waste
  • We treasure our Sierra Madre
  • Marketplace