Chinese ships mooring in Julian Felipe Reef since December 2020 â report
This handout satellite imagery taken on March 23, 2021 and received on March 25 from Maxar Technologies shows Chinese vessels anchored at the Whitsun Reef, around 320 kilometres (175 nautical miles) west of Bataraza in Palawan in the South China Sea. Chinese vessels gathered near a disputed reef in the South China Sea are "fishing boats" sheltering from poor weather, the foreign ministry said March 22, a day after the Philippines described their presence as an incursion.
AFP/Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies, Handout

Chinese ships mooring in Julian Felipe Reef since December 2020 — report

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - March 26, 2021 - 12:59pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government recently confirmed that hundreds of Chinese vessels have been moored in Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef but the fleet has been arriving in the area since December, according to a report.

Satellite images released by US-based Simularity showed that a large number of Chinese ships have been "mooring, arriving and departing" at the coral reef since mid-December last year.

"Between March 23-24, 2021, Simularity counted approximately 200 vessels at Whitsun Reef, of which most are probable fishing vessels, and a few are probable Chinese Coast Guard vessels," the 20-page report read.

Simularity, a software company that checks for new satellite imagery of the South China Sea every week, documented the activity of Chinese ships on Julian Felipe Reef, which is well within Philippine exclusive economic zone.

Satellite images from December 2020 showed supposed fishing ships moored together with a width of up to 200 meters, making fishing impossible.

"The number of moored ships dips briefly in early February, but the number of ships arriving and departing is still substantial," Simularity reported.

On Sunday night, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. filed a diplomatic protest after the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea confirmed that 220 Chinese ships, believed to be part of Beijing's maritime militia, have been sighted in Julian Felipe Reef on March 7.

The West Philippine Sea is a part of the South China Sea that falls within Manila's exclusive economic zone.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines conducted a patrol afterwards and confirmed on Monday that at least 183 Chinese boats are still present in the area.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila, however, insisted that the ships were just "taking shelter" in the area and that no maritime militia was involved.

A few days after lodging a diplomatic protest, the Department of Foreign Affairs released a statement calling on Beijing to promptly withdraw its vessels in the area.

"We reiterate that the continued deployment, lingering presence and activities of Chinese vessels in Philippine maritime zones blatantly infringe upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction," the DFA said in a statement released March 23. — satellite images from European Space Agency — produced from ESA remote sensing data

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 31, 2021 - 11:14am

The United States Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered supercarrier USS John C. Stennis continues underway in the South China Sea.

The US Pacific Command just reported that it has received "cargo" from support ship USNS Rainier in the disputed waters.

May 31, 2021 - 11:14am

The government should name and identify rocks and features in the Kalayaan Island Group to assert Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, a senator says Monday.

"The features we occupy in the KIG remain unnamed. Mapapalakas ang paggiit natin ng ating karapatan sa WPS kung malinaw ang pangalan, katangian, at sakop ng mga inaangkin nating teritoryo. Udyukin na ng DENR ang National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) para simulan ang pag-papangalan ng mga ito," Sen. Risa Hontiveros says in a statement. 

May 18, 2021 - 10:04pm

The Philippines protests China’s unilateral fishing ban in the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says the Philippines does not recognize China’s fishing moratorium as it covers areas over which the country exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

"China’s annual fishing moratorium extends far beyond China’s legitimate maritime entitlements under UNCLOS and is without basis under international law," the DFA says in a statement.

May 3, 2021 - 8:58am

The DFA protests the illegal presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and their belligerent actions against the Philippine Coast Guard. 

DFA also rejects the statement of Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin that China enjoys sovereignty over Panatag Shoal/Bajo de Masinloc. 

"China has no enforcement rights in these areas... The unauthorized and lingering presence of these vessels is a blatant infringement of Philippine sovereignty," the DFA says in a statement.

April 28, 2021 - 12:24pm

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. orders the filing of another diplomatic protest against China following the statement of a Chinese official on the Philippine Coast Guard's exercises in the West Philippine Sea.

"They can say what they want from the Chinese mainland; we continue to assert from our waters by right of international law what we won in The Hague. But we must not fail to protest. @DFAPHL have we fired off a diplomatic protest? Do it now," says Locsin on Twitter.

April 25, 2021 - 1:08pm

The Philippine Coast Guard sends BRP Malapascua and BRP Francisco Dagohoy (MMOV 5002) — a fisheries bureau vessel manned by PCG personnel — to Pagasa Island in the West Philippine Sea for maritime exercises.

Pagasa Island is in the Kalayaan Island Group of Palawan province.

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