The Philippines condemned the presence of more than 200 ships of “Chinese navy” within its exclusive economic zone and demanded that Beijing be ordered to withdraw.

The photo of some of the ships promised by the Philippine government was part of a Chinese navy that was in a disputed area illegally. Photo: Philippine Coast Guard

The Philippine government this Sunday demanded the withdrawal of more than 200 ships of “Chinese naval fighters” located on a disputed rock in the South Seas named after the Asian giant. Their presence deserves to be described as a “provocative act of militarization of the region.”

“We call on the Chinese to stop this intrusion and immediately withdraw all vessels that violate our maritime rights and our national sovereignty.”This is a clear step towards provoking and militarizing the region. These are areas that are clearly within the exclusive economic zone of the PhilippinesSaid Philippine Defense Minister Delphine Lorenzana.

On March 7, a Philippine government agency monitoring the situation in the high seas spotted about 220 ships in the Witson Reef area disputed by China and the Philippines. The company released photos of Plotilla, one of the most controversial areas of that seabed.

Philippine Foreign Minister Theodoro Lox pointed out on his Twitter account on Sunday night that the Philippines had lodged a diplomatic complaint about Chinese military presence.

China, for its part, denied the allegations and promised that fishing boats would go ashore to seek refuge from bad weather. “Chinese fishing boats have long been fishing in the waters near that reefChinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Zuning told a regular news conference on Monday.

Chart of vessels of Chinese descent fishing near the Ecuadorian Economic Zone
Chart of vessels of Chinese descent fishing near the Ecuadorian Economic Zone

“As the sea situation is bad, Some have recently taken refuge near the rock […] I think this is a completely normal performance and I believe it is considered rational”, He insisted.

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Called Julian Felipe in the Philippines, it is located approximately 324 kilometers (175 nautical miles) west of the city of Badarasa in the Philippine province of Palawan. It falls within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines and the country “has the right to exploit or protect its resources”, According to the official organization.

Much of the South China Sea, China says, is opposed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. The Netherlands-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on conflicts with Manila Beijing ruled in favor of the country in 2016, concluding that it had no “historic right” in the sea..

The Philippine government’s special agency said a large number of Chinese vessels in the region were “a concern in addition to the risks to navigation due to the potential for overfishing and environmental destruction”.

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Durte.  REUTERS / Eloisa Lopez
President of the Philippines Rodrigo Durte. REUTERS / Eloisa Lopez

Although he clarified that the boats were not currently found to be engaged in fishing activities, Many pioneers around the world on the practices of this nature have led Manila to be wary of the possibility.

In the last quarter of 2020, South American countries with beaches in the Pacific Ocean – particularly Chile, Peru and Ecuador – expressed their concern over the presence of more than 300 ships near their respective special economic zones. As a result, their fleets closely monitored the ship’s operations due to the possibility of the fleet crossing the sea.

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Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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