Chinese Navy ships seen off Basilan; ‘innocent passage,’ says AFP | Global News
Just returning from East Timor

Chinese Navy ships seen off Basilan; ‘innocent passage,’ says AFP

Three People’s Liberation Army Navy (Plan) vessels were spotted at Basilan Strait near the Zamboanga Peninsula in Mindanao on Thursday.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, however, said on Friday it had monitored only two—the training vessel Qi Jiquang (BN 83) and an amphibious transport dock with bow number 999.

But according to a Philippine Navy officer, the three ships sighted in Philippine waters were the Duludao-class dispatch ship “Dong-Jiao 93,” the Yuzhao-class amphibious transport ship “Jinggang Shan” with hull number 999, and the training ship with hull number 83.



Dong-Jiao 93 belongs to Plan’s East Sea Fleet, Jinggang Shan to its South Sea Fleet, and the training ship to its Dalian Naval Academy.


The Navy officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authority to divulge information, said the Chinese vessels were first monitored some 185 kilometers southeast of Zamboanga City at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday through the automatic identification system (AIS).

The ships lingered in the area, then passed through Palawan across Tubbataha until Friday. The AFP described the movement of the ships relative to its course as “innocent passage.” Still, it “dispatched BRP Domingo Deluana (PG905) to shadow/monitor the passage of the two (Plan) vessels,” the AFP added.

READ: Chinese warships presence in West Philippine Sea doubles

The Deluana was accompanied by another Philippine vessel, which issued a “standard challenge” to the Chinese ships, asking their crews for identification“Qi Jiquang responded that it was conducting normal navigation from its last port of call in Dili, Timor-Leste, en route to Dalian, China,” the AFP said.

It said Basilan Strait is recognized as an international sea-lane and therefore passage of vessels from various countries is allowed.

READ: ‘PH won’t follow Chinese law in Philippine waters’


One of two videos obtained by the Inquirer on Thursday showed three Chinese vessels at a distance, amid the background of Sta. Cruz Island and the mountains of Zamboanga City.

Maj. Orlando Ayllon, public affairs chief of the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command later called the Inquirer to say there were only two ships and that their passage “did not violate any laws.’’

“They have the right to a safe passage from East Timor to China,” said Ayllon, adding that Basilan Strait is the “usual route for international vessels.”

The Chinese vessels passed by the strait from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, he said.

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“What is important is that they did not loiter and they did not conduct military training or military action. They just passed by quickly, and our Navy guided them out,” Ayllon said.

TAGS: Basilan, China, Chinese Navy

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