Not 1 but 4 Chinese research vessels—on both sides of PH

Not 1 but 4 Chinese research vessels – on both sides of PH

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 05:40 AM May 01, 2024

Noting that their presence in the area is "very unusual," an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) official on Monday said the Chinese vessel first spotted off Catanduanes may be conducting a marine survey in the eastern section of the country.

A Chinese-flagged research vessel, “SHEN KUO,” is seen northeast of Viga, Catanduanes in this photo taken from a NOMAD N-22 aircraft of the Philippine Air Force. (Photo from the Armed Forces of the Philippines)

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has spotted three more Chinese research vessels making an unauthorized entry into the West Philippine Sea (WPS), in addition to a similar craft found lingering on the eastern side of the archipelago.

The three additional vessels were sighted in Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal on Monday, the same day that the first ship — identified as the Shen Kuo — was seen in the waters off Viga, Catanduanes province. Both sightings are within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).


READ: Unauthorized presence of Chinese research ship seen off Catanduanes


An official of the National Security Council said on Monday that a Philippine vessel would be sent to “intercept” the Shen Kuo, after it failed earlier to respond when a Philippine Air Force plane tried to make contact and inquire about its intentions for being in the EEZ.

Coinciding with ‘Balikatan’

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, the Philippine Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, recalled that the last recorded sightings of Chinese research vessels in Ayungin were late last year.

Ayungin, an underwater feature about 195 kilometers west of Palawan province, is part of the country’s 370-km EEZ. A World War II vessel deliberately grounded in the shoal in 1999 now serves as a Philippine military outpost in this part of the WPS.

“The three Chinese research vessels in Ayungin Shoal and one on the east coast, I view it—as it coincided with Balikatan—as their way of showing that they are not deterred, they are not scared by what is happening in the West Philippine Sea,” Trinidad said.

The Balikatan is the annual joint military exercise between Filipino and American troops. This year’s war games started on April 22 and will end on May 10.

The AFP reported that three China Coast Guard vessels and 28 maritime militia ships were spotted in Ayungin on the opening day of Balikatan 2024.


Trinidad said the three Chinese research vessels in Ayungin were “not doing anything,” but they would remain under AFP monitoring.

As to the Shen Kuo, Trinidad said it had since moved from the Catanduanes waters and was seen 56 km (30 nautical miles) east of Samar province on Tuesday.

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TAGS: Chinese maritime incursions, PH-China Relations

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