2 Chinese vessels seen near Palawan a day before Balikatan

2 Chinese vessels seen near Palawan a day before Balikatan

By: - Reporter / @FArgosinoINQ
/ 12:50 AM April 22, 2024

Palawan map

MANILA, Philippines — Two Chinese maritime militia ships were reportedly spotted around 30 nautical miles (nm) from Palawan’s coastline ahead of this year’s Balikatan exercises, according to an American maritime expert.

Ray Powell, who leads Project Myoushu (South China Sea) at the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation at Stanford University, revealed this in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) Sunday.


He said China’s “militia ships have turned back in the direction of Mischief Reef after loitering just outside the Philippines 24 nm contiguous zone.”


“I still have no context for what’s behind this aggression,” Powell wrote.

“Very odd behavior. Perhaps intended to send a message at the beginning of the Balikatan exercise?” he added.

READ: PH, US eyeing inclusion of Japan in ‘Balikatan’


According to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Col. Francel Margareth Padilla, this year’s Balikatan exercise is “distinctive due to its scale and evolving nature, adapting to contemporary security challenges.”

READ: Around 16,000 US, PH personnel joining Balikatan 2024 — AFP

“Every balikatan is increasingly complex than the last. It has evolved from the tactical to the operational level of war. We aim to enhance interoperability, strengthen alliances, and deepen regional security cooperation,” she told reporters also on Sunday.


“Balikatan is a demonstration of combat readiness and interoperability with our treaty allies. Our focus remains on bolstering external defense capabilities and fostering peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” she added.

Even with the increased Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea, Padilla clarified that the exercise is “an annual event aimed at strengthening defense capabilities and alliances.”

“While we remain vigilant in the face of regional challenges, the exercise is not explicitly tied to any particular country’s actions. Its primary objective is to enhance collective security and readiness among participating nations,” the AFP spokesperson said.

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TAGS: Balikatan, Palawan, Project Myoushu

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