The Center for Strategic and International Studies, in partnership with Vulcan, Inc., released satellite imagery revealing the extent to which the Philippine exclusive economic zone is being used by foreign fishing fleets, most of which is from China. Above is a satellite image of Chinese fishing vessels at Mischief Reed taken June 19, 2018.
DigitalGlobe and Vulcan, Inc. via CSIS
China robbing food from Filipinos in West Philippine Sea — Alejano
Patricia Lourdes Viray ( - January 11, 2019 - 5:22pm

MANILA, Philippines — The increasing presence of Chinese fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea show how Beijing robs food from the Filipinos, Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo Party-list) said Friday.

The number of Chinese fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea reportedly grew higher in 2018 compared to the previous year, according to a report from Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The think tank recently released satellite imagery showing the extent to which the Philippine exclusive economic zone is being used by foreign fishing fleets.

"The food of the Filipino people are being robbed by the Chinese in our own territory," Alejano said in a statement.

The opposition lawmaker attributed this to President Rodrigo Duterte's policy toward China, which has been silent on harassment against Filipino fishermen and soldiers stationed in the area.

Alejano pointed out that Beijing has repeatedly refused to acknowledge the Philippines sovereignty and sovereign rights despite the July 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated its nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

"This has emboldened China to continue its illegal actions in the area which include poaching and robbing our maritime resources," Alejano said.

The former Marine officer also warned that the presence of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea are not merely fishing vessels but paramilitary forces.

"They form a maritime militia which is part of the strategy to further establish China’s control in the region. These fishing vessels are supported by the Chinese government with advance technology," he said.

Analysis of the satellite imagery in the South China Sea showed that Chinese fishing boats near Beijing's military ourposts often ride at anchor or transit without fishing.

This indicates that the Chinese fleet in the Spratly Islands serve, at least part-time, in China's maritime militia, according to Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative director Gregory Poling.

"These clusters remained for weeks at a time and only a few vessels showed signs of fishing during the time period [the] imagery was collected. Overall, the Chinese fleet in the Spratlys spends far less time fishing and far more time at anchor than is typical of vessels elsewhere," Poling said.

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