Chinese warship spotted near Pag-asa Island

A Chinese warship was spotted near Pag-asa Island in Palawan last Saturday, according to Maki Pulido’s “24 Oras” report on Tuesday.

This vessel was among the over 40 Chinese militia vessels and a China Coast Guard ship spotted 4.5 nautical miles from Pag-asa Island, which is within 12 nautical miles of the country’s maritime zone.

The Philippine Coast Guard said the Chinese warship was a Jiangdao class type 56 corvette of the People’s Liberation Army.

According to the US Naval Institute website, this kind of warship is armed with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, as well as anti-submarine torpedoes and other weapons.

The Task Force of the West Philippine Sea said the Chinese warship is still there in the country’s maritime waters.

“Ang Coast Guard station po natin sa Pag-asa ay patuloy na china-challenge ito over the radio na sinasabi na ang 12 nautical miles ng Pag-asa Island ay territorial sea ng Pilipinas. Sila ay hindi rumeresponde sa tawag ng ating mga Coast Guard,” Commodore Jay Tarriela, PCG spokesperson for West Philippine Sea, said.

(Our Coast Guard station in Pag-asa continues to conduct radio challenges, saying that the 12 nautical miles around Pag-asa Island were part of the country’s territorial waters. They, however, did not respond to the call of our Coast Guard.)

The Philippines was sending white or Coast Guard ships and not gray ships or military vessels to avoid an armed confrontation with China.

Meanwhile, analyst Renato Castro said the gray ship from China showed that they were ready to use force.

“I see this as an escalation. So, this is moving out of what we called the gray zone because it’s already the application of the use of the gray ship. There’s already a plan to use the military capabilities,” Castro said.

The Task Force on the West Philippine Sea maintained that this is a violation of the country’s sovereignty.

“Ang 12 nautical miles na radial coverage nito, na nakapaligid sa Pag-asa ay meron tayong territorial sea. It means meron tayong sovereignty dito. So, it’s really a concern for all these vessels. Bakit sila nadoon sa loob ng 12 nautical miles natin,” Tarriela said.

(It is in the 12 nautical mile radial coverage around Pag-asa, which means it is our territorial sea. It means we have sovereignty there. So, it’s concerning as to why all these vessels are there within the 12 nautical miles of our territorial sea.)

The Armed Force of the Philippines Western Command said it would shift to external defense operations upon dealing with threats from outside the country.

It also said that it welcomed opportunities to conduct joint maritime patrols with other allied countries.

The Chinese Embassy has yet to make a statement on the matter.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gan, meanwhile, warned the United States amid the heightened tension between the two countries.

“If the United States does not hit the brake but continues to speed down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can prevent derailing or a crash, and there will surely be conflict and confrontation,” he said. — Richa Allyssa Noriega/DVM, GMA Integrated News

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