China Coast Guard ‘blocked and water cannoned’ PH supply boats in WPS
MANILA, Philippines — China Coast Guard vessels “blocked and water cannoned” Philippine supply boats on a resupply mission to BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said Thursday.
The incident took place last Tuesday, November 16), according to the reports of Palawan-based Western Command.
No one was hurt from the incident, but the boats had to abort their mission.
Locsin said he has spoken to Chinese ambassador Huang Xilian and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing to protest and condemn the incident, reminding them that a public vessel is covered by the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty.
Filipino troops are stationed in BRP Sierra Madre, a transport ship intentionally grounded in 1999 to serve as an outpost of the Philippine Navy. Ayungin Shoal— which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone— is around 20 nautical miles from Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, one of the features occupied by China in the Kalayaan Island Group that it transformed into military outposts.
“Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), which is an integral part of the Philippines, as well as the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, and over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction,” Locsin said.
“The acts of the Chinese Coast Guard vessels are illegal. China has no law enforcement rights in and around these areas. They must take heed and back off,” he said.
Locsin said incidents like these “threatens the special relationship between the Philippines and China that President Rodrigo R. Duterte and President Xi Jin Ping have worked hard to nurture.”
The Philippines will continue to provide supplies to troops in Ayungin Shoal.
“We do not ask permission to do what we need to do in our territory,” Locsin said.
Tensions over the resource-rich seas spiked this year after hundreds of Chinese vessels were detected at Whitsun Reef, which is also in the Spratly archipelago.
China claims almost all of the sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, with competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Beijing has ignored a 2016 international tribunal decision that declared its historical claim over most of the sea to be without basis. with reports from Agence France-Presse
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