Philippines protests China’s ‘illegal’ acts in Ayungin Shoal

2ND PROTEST THIS WEEK

Published June 11, 2022 9:11am
Updated June 11, 2022 9:31am

The Philippines has lodged a new diplomatic protest against China’s maritime activities within Manila’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said late on Friday.

It was the second diplomatic protest by the DFA this week, adding to more than 300 complaints filed against Beijing’s “illegal” activities in the South China Sea.

China engaged in “illegal fishing” while Chinese coast guard vessels shadowed Philippine boats on a resupply mission around its shoal, the DFA said in a statement.

“China has no right to fish, monitor, or interfere with the Philippines’ legitimate activities therein,” it added.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The DFA said the Chinese actions took place at the Second Thomas Shoal (Ayungin Shoal), claimed by both Beijing and Manila and is located 105 nautical miles (195 km) off the Philippines’ Palawan province.

In November, the Philippines aborted a supply mission in the atoll after three Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked and used water cannon on resupply boats.

On Thursday, the DFA also protested anew against the return of more than 100 Chinese vessels to Julian Felipe Reef, an area in the West Philippine Sea.

The vessels were found illegally operating in the maritime waters of Julian Felipe Reef, which is a low tide elevation within the territorial sea of relevant high tide features in the Kalayaan Island Group, including Chigua Reef, on April 4, 2022, the DFA said.

China claims large swathes of the South China Sea and continues to assert its presence in the strategic waterway, despite an arbitration ruling in 2016 invalidating Beijing’s claim.

The protest underlines the challenges ahead for President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who will have a delicate balancing act in pursuing stronger economic ties with China while not appearing to capitulate over what the military sees as Beijing’s unlawful provocations at sea.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, following a case filed by the Philippines, invalidated China’s sweeping claims over the West Philippine Sea.

Beijing does not recognize the ruling.

Marcos however on Friday branded the Asian superpower, China, as the Philippines’ strongest partner.

At the Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding, Marcos said the Philippines would not make its way in the post-pandemic world by itself, noting that partnerships with other nations would help in the country’s economic recovery.

Incoming National Security Adviser retired Professor Clarita Carlos has said the Marcos administration would pursue a “critical engagement” with China amid the dispute in the resource-rich region.

Carlos on Friday also said the Marcos administration would keep filing diplomatic protests against China. –Reuters/KG, GMA News

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