South China Sea: Expert on China's standoff with Philippines

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The Filipino Coast Guards claimed on Monday that they confronted a warship from China that had entered the Philippines territorial waters before it eventually sailed away. The incident saw the BRP Cabra patrol boat report a sighting of a war vessel from the People’s Republic of China, which included Chinese markings, on July 13.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said they issued radio warnings to the Chinese before sailing closer towards the ship to identify its activity in Filipino waters.

Initially, the Chinese vessel did not move. However, after BRP Cabra issued a long range acoustic device to reiterate their concerns, the PLA’s Navy opted to move out from the Maria Louise Bank.

The PGC states the Chinese ship only responded via radio after the BRP Cabra was 500 yards away.

“Philippine Coast Guard 4409, this is Chinese Navy Warship 189. Please keep two nautical miles distance from me”, the Coast Guard claimed Beijing’s vessel eventually responded.

The incident follows months of tension in the South China Sea.

In May, almost three hundred Chinese ships were said to be spotted lingering near the West Philippine Sea.

Last week’s reported incident occurred just a day after the fifth anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea historic ruling on who has the right to claim the disputed waters in the South China Sea.

The independent arbitral tribunal in 2016 found in favour of Manila and saw Beijing dismiss the ruling as “nothing more than a piece of waste paper”.

Just last week, the US vowed to support the Philippines.

The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said: “The People’s Republic of China continues to coerce and intimidate southeast Asian coastal states, threatening freedom of navigation in this critical global throughway”.

“We call on the PRC”, he continued, “to abide by its obligations under international law, cease its provocative behaviour and take steps to reassure the international community that it is committed to the rules-based maritime order that respects the rights of all countries, big and small.”

He added: “We also reaffirm that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke US mutual defence commitments under… the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defence Treaty.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Zhao Lijan, said on Monday he was unaware of the altercation.

 

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