Fewer Chinese vessels in West PH Sea as ‘Balikatan’ nears end 

Fewer Chinese vessels in West PH Sea as ‘Balikatan’ nears end 

/ 05:32 PM May 07, 2024

PH, US war games simulate foiling of invasion attempt near Taiwan

Philippine and US Marines watch as a projectile hits a target at sea during a live fire exercise against an imaginary “invasion” force as part of the joint US-Philippines annual military Balikatan drills on a strip of sand dunes in Laoag on Luzon island’s northwest coast on May 6, 2024. US and Filipino troops fired missiles and artillery at an imaginary “invasion” force during war games on the Philippines’ northern coast on May 6, days after their governments objected to China’s “dangerous” actions in regional waters. Agence France-Presse

LAOAG CITY, Philippines — Fewer Chinese vessels were observed in the West Philippine Sea compared to previous weeks as the war games between Manila and Washington near completion.

“There was a surge at the beginning, but for this week there is no significant increase in the number of China vessels in the West Philippine Sea,” said Col. Francel Margareth Padilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson.


“Compared to the last week, there is a slight decrease, actually,” Padilla said in a press conference here.


READ: Military drills meant to prepare PH for West PH Sea defense – US general

Padilla said that from April 23-29, there were 110 Chinese maritime militia vessels (CMMV), 11 China Coast Guard vessels (CCGV) and three People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) warships monitored in the West Philippine Sea.

Only 88 CMMVs and 10 CCGVs were monitored in the said maritime area from April 30 to May 6 last week. Four PLAN warships were also monitored within the said period, an uptick of one compared to last week.

A surge of Chinese vessels and warships in the western section of the exclusive economic zone were observed ahead of the “Balikatan” exercise.

Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, who is the Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, said that from April 16 to 22, there were 128 Chinese vessels reported in the maritime area, of which 110 were CMMVs, 11 were CCG ships, and three were PLAN warships.


Trinidad said that such surges are not “normal” as he attributed the development to the bilateral drills, which began on April 22 and will end on May 10.

READ: PH, US war games simulate foiling of invasion attempt near Taiwan

In another first for the drills, the Philippines, France, and the United States conducted a joint sail in the West Philippine Sea, which saw the presence of four Chinese warships.

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On Wednesday, the former BRP Lake Caliraya, a discarded “made in China” oil tanker, will also be used as a mock target during the sinking exercise to be held in Laoag—one of the country’s northernmost areas near Taiwan that also faces the West Philippine Sea—an activity that Chinese state media branded as “provocative.”

Balikatan drills also saw forces of Manila and Washington staging the foiling of a mock invasion attempt by a foreign country in the shores of Laoag, through the use of howitzers in their live fire drills.

For comprehensive coverage, in-depth analysis, and the latest updates on the West Philippine Sea issue, visit our special site here. Stay informed with articles, videos, and expert opinions.

TAGS: Balikatan, China, West Philippine Sea

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