Surge in Chinese ships observed during Ayugin resupply missions

PH observes surge in Chinese ships during Ayugin resupply missions

/ 01:23 PM March 07, 2024

PH to China: Leave Ayungin Shoal immediately

An aerial view shows the BRP Sierra Madre on the contested Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin, in the South China Sea, March 9, 2023. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — There is a dramatic increase of Chinese ships when it’s time for the rotation and resupply mission (Rore) for the BRP Sierra Madre in the West Philippine Sea, an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) official said on Thursday.

“Our observation is when it’s time for Rore, they usually surge their numbers and presence in Ayungin Shoal,” said AFP Western Command chief Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos in a phone interview with reporters.

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During Tuesday’s resupply mission, there were three People’s Liberation Army-Navy warships, five China Coast Guard ships, and 18 suspected Chinese maritime militia (CMM) vessels within the vicinity waters of Ayungin Shoal, where the World War II-era warship is grounded, according to the Philippine Navy.

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READ: ‘Removal of PH ship, BDM reclamation a red line China shouldn’t cross’

On the Philippines’ side, the Navy said there were two Navy warships, two Philippine Coast Guard vessels, and two resupply boats.

But as of Thursday morning, Carlos said there were only two CMM vessels and one CCG ship in the vicinity of the low-tide elevation.

“That’s their normal number, since the Rore is already done,” Carlos said. “Immediately after the Rore, they’re back to their normal level of presence there.”

READ: 4 PH Navy crew hurt by China Coast Guard’s water cannon attack

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The latest Rore also saw the water cannon assault of two CCG vessels against a supply boat for the military outpost which injured four Navy personnel.

This action is based on Beijing’s assertion of ownership in almost the entire South China Sea—which includes most of the West Philippine Sea—a claim which was effectively dismissed by a 2016 international tribunal ruling.

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TAGS: Ayungin Shoal resupply missions, China, West Philippine Sea

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