China insists on PH commitment to remove Navy outpost at Ayungin Shoal
MANILA, Philippines — The Chinese government is demanding that the Philippines “honor its commitment” and remove the grounded ship that serves as an outpost for its Filipino troops at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
“Ren’ai Jiao is part of China’s Nansha Qundao. China demands that the Philippine side honor its commitment and remove its grounded vessel on Ren’ai Jiao. This position remains unchanged,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, in a press conference in Beijing Wednesday.
China calls Ayungin Shoal, or the Second Thomas Shoal, as Ren’ai Jiao, and the Spratly islands as Nansha Qundao.
Zhao was apparently referring to BRP Sierra Madre, a transport ship intentionally grounded in 1999 to serve as an outpost of the Philippine Navy.
According to Zhao, the delivery of food and other supplies to Filipino troops aboard BRP Sierra Madre “is a provisional, special arrangement out of humanitarian considerations.”
“The China Coast Guard ship patrolled and performed its duty in the water area in accordance with law and monitored from start to end the Philippine side’s supply delivery activities,” the Chinese official added.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had said that the Philippine boats harassed by China on their way to deliver supplies to Filipino troops had been harassed again but were able to complete their mission, reaching Shoal on Tuesday.
He said the resupply boats arrived at the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin around 11 a.m. “without any untoward incident” but went through another form of “intimidation and harassment” by the China Coast Guard.
Lorenzana said there was a Chinese Coast Guard ship in the vicinity that sent a rubber boat with three persons near the Sierra Madre while Filipino boats were unloading and took photos and videos.
The defense official said he told the Chinese ambassador “that we consider these acts as a form of intimidation and harassment.”
The resupply mission was aborted last Tuesday, Nov. 16, after Chinese vessels blocked and fired water cannons at the Philippine boats as these approached the shoal, a low-tide elevation inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
No one was hurt in the incident, but the Philippine boats had to return to mainland Palawan after one of them suffered outrigger damage as a result of the water cannon attack.
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