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Phl protests China action at Ayungin

Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - March 12, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government yesterday protested Sunday’s incident at Ayungin Shoal where China’s coast guard vessels drove away two Philippine ships.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) summoned the charge d’ affaires of the Chinese embassy to hand over a note verbale expressing the government’s objection to China’s action.

The Philippines urged China to stop interfering with its efforts to undertake rotation and resupply operations at the Ayungin Shoal, also known as Second Thomas Shoal.

DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said China rejected the protest.

“China’s action constitutes a clear and urgent threat to the rights and interests of the Philippines under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the DFA said in a statement.

It said Ayungin Shoal is part of the continental shelf of the Philippines, and thus the country is entitled to exercise sovereignty rights and jurisdiction in the area without the permission of other states.

Hernandez said the civilian vessels commissioned by the Philippine Navy were only conducting rotation of personnel and resupply operations.

He said last Sunday’s incident was the first time in 15 years that China interfered with the Navy’s operation on the shoal.

China confirmed its coast guard vessels drove the two Philippine ships away from the disputed Ayungin Shoal.

The Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said coast guard vessels patrolling the area identified “two ships loaded with construction materials and carrying the flags of the Philippines.”

The Philippine ships were reportedly approaching the shoal, known to China as the Ren’ai Reef.

AYUNGIN SHOAL CHINA DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS FOREIGN MINISTRY LAW OF THE SEA PHILIPPINE NAVY QIN GANG RAUL HERNANDEZ SECOND THOMAS SHOAL SHOAL
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