Chinese buoys in WPS assert ‘sovereignty,’ says embassy
The Chinese Embassy in Manila defended Beijing’s placement of three buoys in the West Philippines Sea (WPS) as “an act exercising its sovereignty,” two weeks after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) undertook a similar step in the WPS.
The embassy’s statement amplified the May 24 announcement by the Chinese Ministry of Transport that buoys had been deployed at the Juan Felipe (Whitsun) Reef, Balagtas (Irving) Reef and Burgos (Gaven) Reef, which are all within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“China’s deployment of buoys in relevant waters of China’s Nansha [Spratly] Islands is an act of exercising its sovereignty in accordance with law,” the diplomatic post said in a statement on Friday. “It aims to ensure the safety of maritime navigation and operations, and provide public goods for passing ships and countries in the region.”
The PCG recently installed floating markers off the Philippine-occupied islands of Patag (Flat), Kota (Loaita), Panata (Lankiam Cay), and the fishing grounds of Balagtas Reef and Julian Felipe Reef, where dozens of suspected Chinese militia vessels continue to gather in swarms despite the repeated protests from Manila.
Last year, the PCG also placed buoys near Lawak (Nanshan), Likas (West York), Parola (Northeast Cay) and Pag-asa (Thitu) Island to mark the country’s claim to these islands.
Vietnam, which also makes a claim over the Spratly Islands, has expressed “strong opposition” to the PCG action and also demanded the withdrawal of 10 research Chinese ships from the Vietnamese EEZ.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.