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Philippines lodges new protests over Chinese Coast Guard ships in Panatag Shoal
This April 13, 2021 photo released by the Philippine Coast Guard shows China Coast Guard ship in the West Philippine Sea.
PCG/Released

Philippines lodges new protests over Chinese Coast Guard ships in Panatag Shoal

(Philstar.com) - May 3, 2021 - 8:55am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government filed new diplomatic protests against the presence and actions of Chinese Coast Guard ships in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc in the West Philippine Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it has protested the "shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver and radio challenges" by the Chinese Coast Guard on Philippine Coast Guard ships conducting maritime patrols and training exercises in the areas from April 24 to 25.

"It has also protested the incessant, illegal, prolonged and increasing presence of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones," the DFA said in a statement released Monday.

According to the DFA, Philippine maritime law enforcement agencies observed continued unauthorized presence of hundreds of Chinese ships around Pag-asa (Thitu) Island, Zamora (Subi) Reef, Panata (Lankiam) and Kota (Loaita) Islands, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, Quirino (Jackson) Atoll and Panatag Shoal from January 1 to March 18.

Sovereignty over Panatag Shoal

The DFA also rejected the claim of Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin tat Beijing enjoys sovereignty over Panatag Shoal.

Last week, Wang called on the Philippines to stop activities and exercises in the West Philippine Sea and claimed that China has sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, including Pag-asa Island and Panatag Shoal.

Pointing out that the Kalayaan Island Group (northeastern section of the Spratly Islands) and Panatag Shoal is under the jurisdiction of the Philippines, the DFA stressed that the Chinese official's claims have no basis under international law and is not recognized by the international community.

"The Philippines' conduct of maritime patrols and training exercises in these areas is a legitimate and routine act of a sovereign country in its territory and territorial waters and is part of the Philippines' administrative responsibility," the DFA said.

The Philippine government further urged China to withdraw its government vessels around the Kalayaan Island Group and Panatag Shoal/

"China has no law enforcement rights in these areas," the DFA said, raising serious concern over the presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in the area.

"The unauthorized and lingering presence of these vessels is a blatant infringement of Philippine sovereignty," it added.

On April 28, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. ordered the filing of a diplomatic protest following the remarks of the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson.

This is in addition to the daily diplomatic protests that the DFA files for every day that Chinese vessels remain in Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef in the West Philippine Sea. —  Patricia Lourdes Viray

CHINA COAST GUARD DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS DIPLOMATIC PROTEST PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD SOUTH CHINA SEA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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