Philippines calls on China to “retreat” after clash in South China Sea

Teodoro Locsin
Teodoro Locsin

 

The Philippines calls on China to “retreat” after the clash in the South China Sea

The Philippines said three Chinese Coast Guard vessels blocked and fired water cannons at two ships supplying the Philippines inside the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the disputed South China Sea.

Foreign Minister Theodoro Loxin said the incident occurred on November 16 near Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) and a Philippine ship delivering food to nearby military personnel was forced to abandon the mission. No casualties were reported.

“The actions of the Chinese coast guard ship are illegal,” Locsin said in a Foreign Ministry statement on social media. “China has no law enforcement rights in or around this region. You have to be careful and back off.”

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China claims almost the entire South China Sea on the basis of the so-called “nine-dash line”, which the International Court of Justice ruled five years ago without an explanation. Beijing ignored the decision and instead built artificial islands and stationed its fleet, coast guard, and fishing boat fleet in the disputed sea which is also claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Taiwan.

Locsin accused China of not holding back and said he had handed over the Chinese ambassador’s “anger, condemnation and protest” to Manila over the incident.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who has pushed for closer ties with China, has been criticized for not following the country’s activities in the South China Sea. On Thursday he endorsed a swift response from the State Department.

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“We will continue to defend our sovereignty, our sovereign rights, and our jurisdiction over our territory,” a spokesman for President Carlo Nograles said in a statement Shoal Ayungin is part of the Spratly Islands known as the Kalayaan Islands in the Philippines. It lies in the Philippine EEZ, which stretches 370 km (200 nautical miles) from the coast.

Earlier this year, the Philippines complained about the weekly presence of dozens of ships from China’s so-called “naval militia” in the Whitsun, about 320 kilometers (175 nautical miles) west of Palawan Island in their EEZ.

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However, In 2012, China forcibly took control of Scarborough Shoal, located 229 km (124 nautical miles) west of the Philippine island of Luzon.