'Time to go': Only 9 Chinese ships left in WPS reef, says Locsin | Global News

‘Time to go’: Only 9 Chinese ships left in WPS reef, says Locsin

/ 02:53 PM April 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Only 9 of over 200 Chinese ships remain at the Julian Felipe Reef in the West Philippines Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said as his department summoned China’s ambassador to the Philippines over the issue.

“NTF just informed. Only 9 ships left,” Locsin said on Twitter Tuesday. He was referring to the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS).

Last Mar. 7, the Philippine Coast Guard reported 220 vessels staying at the reef. On Mar. 22, the Philippine military counted at least 183 Chinese ships.

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Eventually, the military reported, over the weekend, that only 28 Chinese vessels remain stationed around the area.

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“Come, come, time to go. As I said, while it may well be traditional fishing grounds, tradition yields to law and the law on the matter is UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and The Arbitral Award and the common rules of statutory construction,” Locsin said in another tweet.

In a press briefing last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian maintained that the reef is part of Nansha Qundao, one of two political districts in the South China Sea established by the Chinese government in 2020.

READ: ‘Stop wanton hype-up:’ China says ‘no plan’ to keep ‘permanent presence’ in WPS reef

“The reef and the waters around it have always been an important fishing ground and shelter for Chinese fishermen. It is completely normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish in the waters and take shelter during rough sea conditions,” Zhao had said.

But the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) already rejected China’s assertion that the reef is part of its “traditional fishing grounds.”

The DFA also recently summoned Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian to express “utmost displeasure” over the “illegal lingering” presence of Chinese vessels at the reef.

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TAGS: Chinese ships, Features, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Global Nation, West Philippine Sea

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