PH protests ‘illegal’ presence of China Coast Guard in WPS, ‘belligerent actions’ vs PCG
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has protested the “illegal presence” of the Chinese Coast Guard in the West Philippine Sea and its “belligerent actions” against the Philippine Coast Guard.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has protested the shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels conducting legitimate maritime patrols and training exercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc on 24 to 25 April 2021,” the DFA said in a statement Monday.
“The Philippines calls on China to withdraw its government vessels around the KIG (Kalayaan Island Group) and Bajo de Masinloc and respect Philippine sovereignty,” it added.
Further, the DFA rejected the statement of the spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry that China “enjoys sovereignty” over Bajo de Masinloc, saying such a claim is “without basis” under international law.
“The Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Bajo de Masinloc are integral parts of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty and jurisdiction,” the DFA said.
Last week, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea reported that three Chinese Coast Guard ships were spotted in Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough) Shoal, one in the municipality of Kalayaan in Palawan, and one more in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal.
“China has no law enforcement rights in these areas,” the DFA said.
“The unauthorized and lingering presence of these vessels is a blatant infringement of Philippine sovereignty,” it added.
The DFA said it also protested the “incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones.”
Manila and Beijing have been locked in a long-standing maritime dispute.
In 2013, the Philippines filed a case with the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague in challenging China’s sweeping claim of nearly the entire South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.
The Hague-based court ruled in favor of the Philippines in July 2016, invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim.
Beijing has repeatedly refused to recognize the ruling.
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