Chinese ships left after PCG radio challenge off Batanes

Chinese ships left after PCG radio challenge off Batanes

/ 11:26 PM May 08, 2024

One of the Chinese vessels spotted off Itbayat, Batanes.

One of the Chinese vessels spotted off Itbayat, Batanes. PHOTO FROM THE PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD

LAOAG CITY, Philippines — Two Chinese ships left the vicinity waters off Batanes recently following the radio challenge of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in an unusual move seen by a maritime security expert as a way for Beijing to test Manila’s “strategic patience.”

On Wednesday, the PCG said that around 10:45 a.m. on May 1, the BRP Melchora Aquino spotted a People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) vessel of China and two other Chinese-flagged vessels in the vicinity of Itbayat, Batanes, during the conduct of Balikatan exercises there.


READ: Chinese warship, 2 other vessels spotted off Batanes during ‘Balikatan’


PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said the two ships left after PCG’s radio challenge, while the PLAN warship also followed suit.

Itbayat is almost two hundred kilometers away from Cape Eluanbi, the southernmost point of Taiwan or the self-ruled island seen by China as a renegade province subject to reunification.

Beijing ‘provoking’ Manila

A maritime security expert thinks that Beijing is trying to “provoke” Manila by deploying its warships off Batanes.

“The PLAN warship in our internal waters tries to test our adherence to law and order and maritime security by trying to provoke us and debunk our strategic patience,” said Chester Cabalza, president and founder of Manila-based think tank International Development and Security Cooperation, in a message to

READ: Water cannon vs China? No, PCG to remain professional, Tarriela says

Rare compliance

“The radio challenge of PCG emboldens our civilian maritime authorities to enforce their mandate in protecting our maritime entitlements,” Cabalza also said.


The seemingly compliant action of Chinese ships is contrary to the scenario in the West Philippine Sea where Manila and Beijing routinely exchange radio challenges to assert each other’s claim in the maritime area.

Such encounters sometimes led to China Coast Guard’s usage of water cannons against Philippine ships which often caused extensive damage and even serious injuries to Philippine Navy personnel.

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Beijing asserts sovereignty in the entire South China Sea — including most of the West Philippine Sea — despite the July 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling that effectively invalidated its claims based on a case filed by Manila in 2013.

TAGS: Batanes, PCG, PLAN

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