Philippines protests presence of Chinese vessels in EEZ; Chinese Embassy still mum on protest
Philippines protests Chinese Coast Guard activities in Bajo de Masinloc
MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) today said they have protested the “shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges” by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels whole conducting legitimate maritime patrols and training exercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc for two days from April 24-25,2021.
In a statement, the DFA said they also protested what they described as “incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence” of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones.
The DFA under Foreign Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said from January 1 to March 17,2021, Philippine maritime law enforcement agencies observed the continued unauthorized presence and activities of hundreds of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, specifically within the Pag-asa Islands, Zamora Reef, Panata and Kota Islands, Ayungin Shoal, Quirino Atoll, and Bajo de Masinloc.
“The Department rejects the statement of the Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs last April 26,2021 that China enjoys sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc. It is without basis in international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and is not recognized by the international community,” the DFA statement said.
The DFA stood by its claims that the Kalayaaan Island Group (KIG) and Bajo de Masinloc are integral parts of the Philippines “over which it has sovereignty and jurisdiction.” It underscored that the conduct of maritime patrols and training exercises in these areas is a legitimate and routine act of sovereign country in its territory and territorial waters and is part of the Philippines’ administrative responsibility.
The DFA statement added China has no law enforcement rights in the areas mentioned and the presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in the Philippines’ territorial waters of Pag-asa Islands and Bajo de Masinloc, and exclusive economic zone, raises serious concern. It said the unauthorized and lingering presence of these vessels is “a blatant infringement of Philippine sovereignty.”
“The Philippines calls on China to withdraw its government vessels around the KIG and Bajo de Masinloc and respect Philippine sovereignty,” the statement concluded.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila has not responded to requests from media practitioners for comments as of this writing. (Melo M. Acuña)
File Photo of Foreign Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. (left) and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi last January 16,2021. (DFA Photo)