China ‘Monster’ ship deeper into PH waters

China ‘Monster’ ship deeper into PH waters

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 05:30 AM May 25, 2024

China ‘Monster’ ship deeper into PH waters

The Philippine Navy said the world’s largest coast guard ship, which belongs to China, sailed deep into the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea on Friday in what a US maritime security expert said was a move to “normalize” Chinese presence and jurisdiction in these waters.

Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad, the Navy spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, said the 165-meter China Coast Guard (CCG) ship with bow number 5901, nicknamed “The Monster,” was seen 93 kilometers (50 nautical miles) off Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, well within the country’s 370-kilometer EEZ.


Trinidad told reporters on the sidelines of the Philippine Navy’s 126th anniversary in Manila that there would be an “appropriate response” from the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea.


Without elaborating, he said the action would be taken “most likely” by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) since it was a CCG vessel that was involved

‘Intrusive patrols’

Ray Powell, the head of Project Myoushu (South China Sea) at the Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation at Stanford University, said in a post on X on Friday that the CCG’s monster ship was accompanied by a smaller CCG vessel.

“Over the past 24 hours, the world’s largest coast guard ship, the 165-meter China Coast Guard 5901, together with the 102-meter CCG 5203, conducted a brief intrusive patrol into the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone west of Scarborough Shoal,” he said on Friday.

In a chart accompanying his post, the two ships sailed from a northeastern direction, crossing the western boundary of the Philippines’ EEZ toward Panatag, and later made a U-turn before reaching it.

China, according to Powell, conducts “intrusive patrols deep within the exclusive economic zones of neighboring countries to establish a continuous presence and gradually normalize Chinese jurisdiction over areas granted to its neighbors under international law.”

Civilian mission

The appearance of China’s largest coast guard ship followed last week’s civilian-led convoy of four fishing boats that headed to Panatag, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, about 246 km west of Zambales, to deliver food supplies and fuel to Filipinos fishing in their traditional fishing ground and assert Philippine sovereign rights over its EEZ.


The convoy turned back about 93 kilometers away from Panatag after a fifth fishing boat had “breached” the 46 km to 65 km (25 nautical miles to 35 nautical miles) perimeter that the Chinese coast guard had set around the shoal as a no-entry zone for Filipino fishermen. Another CCG ship also appeared at the same distance (93 km) east of the shoal, the closest point to Panatag where the convoy decided to turn around.

Fishermen told reporters in a forum at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law on Friday that in the past, they could get close enough to Panatag that they could see the glimmer of the reef and its white sand unlike these days when they could no longer see the shoal as before due to both the destruction of the reef and moves by the CCG to push them farther away.

‘Vague’ new rule

The Monster’s appearance also comes ahead of the June 15 implementation of a new Chinese regulation that allows its coast guard to arrest foreigners and foreign vessels that cross its borders illegally and detain them without trial for up to 60 days.

Jay Batongbacal, head of the Institute of Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the UP College of Law, said China’s new regulations were “quite vague” and the arrest and detention of Filipinos within the country’s EEZ would be illegal and invalid.

“The problem with them is it is unclear up to where they can apply (their territorial boundaries) so they can arrest and detain people,” he said at the UP College of Law forum.

He noted that Beijing had been marking China’s boundaries “everywhere.”

“The basis of the regulations will be arbitrary,” Batongbacal said. “Here in the West Philippine Sea, they have no boundaries. These are all imaginary. There would be no border crossings.”

Defiance vowed

Henrelito Empoc, spokesperson for the Bigkis ng Mangingisda Federation, said that while they were apprehensive about the new Chinese regulation, they would defy it.

“We will ignore that regulation because that (shoal) is where we make a living. We will do everything for our families and our people,” he said in the same forum where his group, which includes members from Zambales, Pangasinan and Bataan, aired their grievances against Chinese harassment and intimidation in the West Philippine Sea.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea, and demarcates its waters within its so-called 10-dash line. Deciding on a case challenging China’s expansive claims, the international arbitral tribunal ruled in 2016 to invalidate China’s historical claims to the waters and upheld the Philippines’ rights to its EEZ. It also ruled that Panatag should remain as a common fishing ground for Filipinos, Chinese and Vietnamese, who have peacefully fished in its waters before Beijing seized control of the shoal in 2012.

Gibo sees ‘provocation’

Speaking at the Philippine Navy anniversary rites, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said the threat of arrest and detention under Beijing’s new policy was a “provocation” under the United Nations Charter.

“I believe what a provocation is, is the roguish and irresponsible threat to ‘detain’ trespassers in what is claimed as internal waters but is actually part of the high seas and part of the West Philippine Sea by our country,” he said.

“Such behavior is not only a violation of Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) but also a violation of the precepts of the United Nations Charter, which lays upon each responsible member state the duty to refrain from the threat or the use of force or aggression to enforce particularly in this case illegal territorial claims in the maritime domain,” he added. “This, we cannot allow to continue.”

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Teodoro blocked China’s move to turn the tables on the Philippines.

“What we do in our exclusive economic zone or how we defend it can in no way be termed by any sane person as a provocation,” he said.

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TAGS: China, West Philippine Sea

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