More Chinese vessels spotted in Scarborough Shoal -- AFP

More Chinese vessels spotted in Scarborough Shoal — AFP

/ 06:01 PM March 20, 2024

 More Chinese vessles at Scarborough Shoal -- AFP

Drone shot provided by the Philippine Coast Guard shows a China Coast Guard ship sailing past the BRP Teresa Magbanua during its nine-day patrol at Scarborough Shoal.

MANILA, Philippines — There is an increase in the number of China Coast Guard (CCG) and Chinese militia vessels in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Wednesday. 

As of 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, six CCG vessels and eight suspected Chinese maritime militia vessels were monitored within the vicinity of the low-tide elevation also known as Panatag Shoal and Bajo De Masinloc, AFP Spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla said.

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Since China seized the sandbank after its standoff with Manila in 2012, only two CCG vessels have been deployed at a time in the area.

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Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, said they could not speculate as to the increase of Chinese vessels.

“We cannot speculate on their intent; we are constantly monitored through maritime patrol ships, surveillance aircraft, and other sensors,” Trinidad said in a press conference.

Trinidad also said that this increase is not alarming.

“There presence has been fairly constant. if we graph it over a good number of years there was no major spike, it will become alarming if it will be beyond the capability of the [China’s] South Sea fleet,” he said.

China’s actions are based on its assertion of ownership in almost the entire South China Sea, including most of the West Philippine Sea, despite a 2016 international tribunal ruling effectively dismissing such claims.

The landmark decision also covered Scarborough Shoal, which it declared a traditional fishing ground that should be shared among neighboring countries.

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TAGS: China, Scarborough Shoal, West Philippine Sea

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