Blinken: US stands with PH after Chinese ships spotted in Juan Felipe Reef
MANILA, Philippines — The United States of America stands by the Philippines amid the latest incursion in the West Philippine Sea wherein 220 Chinese vessels believed to be “manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel” were spotted at the Julian Felipe Reef, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday.
“The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) maritime militia amassing at Whitsun Reef (Juan Felipe Reef),” Blinken said on Twitter.
“We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order,” he added.
The United States stands with our ally, the Philippines, in the face of the PRC's maritime militia amassing at WhitsunReef. We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order.FEATURED STORIESGLOBALNATION
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) March 28, 2021
The Philippine government earlier filed a diplomatic protest over the presence of the Chinese vessels at the Julian Felipe Reef.
However, the Chinese Embassy denied that the ships spotted were operated by its maritime militia personnel. The embassy said it has been “normal practice” for Chinese fishing vessels to take shelter near Julian Felipe Reef, which China calls “Niu’e Jiao.”
“Niu’e Jiao is part of China’s Nansha Qundao (Spratly Islands). Chinese fishing vessels have been fishing in its adjacent waters for many years,” it said.
“Recently, some Chinese fishing vessels take shelter near Niu’e Jiao due to rough sea conditions. It has been a normal practice for Chinese fishing vessels to take shelter under such circumstances,” it added.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said more ships would patrol the West Philippine Sea, as he repeated his demand that China withdraw its fleet there immediately.
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