The Philippine military has given the order for additional naval ships to be sent for “sovereignty patrols” in the South China Sea. This comes after a Chinese flotilla crowded over a disputed reef in the South China Sea, despite Manila’s request for the Chinese to leave the area.
Whitsun Reef is a shallow coral area located approximately 175 nautical miles (324 kilometres) west of Bataraza city in the western Philippine province of Palawan. Philippine Protection Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has requested that approximately 200 Chinese vessels, which he described as militia boats, immediately leave the area. China chose to disregard the verdict and continue to assert that it is the rightful owner of the offshore region where the vessels were sheltering from rough seas.
According to a statement released by the military on Thursday, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana gave the order to send additional naval ships to bolster the nation’s “maritime sovereignty patrols” within the contested waters.
It did not specify how close the Philippine naval ships will get to the Chinese warships, the presence of which Lorenzana has described as a “incursion” and a “provocative move of militarising the realm.”
“We seek to reassure our people of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ strong and unwavering dedication to guard and defend them from harassment and be sure that they will take pleasure in their rights over the nation’s rich fishing ground,” army spokesman Maj. Gen.
Edgard Arevalo stated in a press release. “By the increased naval presence in the area, we seek to reassure our people of the strong and unwavering commitment to guard and defend them from harassment.”
The United States announced on Tuesday that it is siding with the Philippines in their ongoing dispute with Beijing and accused China of using “maritime militia to intimidate, provoke, and threaten other nations, which undermines peace and safety in the area.” This accusation was made in reference to China’s actions in the South China Sea.
The Philippines has lodged a protest in the diplomatic arena, but China has argued that it is the rightful owner of the reef, which it refers to as Niué Jiao. China also claims that their vessels converged in the area so that they could steer clear of challenging conditions. The United States, on the other hand, reported that “Chinese boats have been mooring on this area for a significant number of months in an ever-growing number, regardless of the weather.”
Beijing denied the vessels have been maritime militias. The Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C. issued a statement on Monday that read, “Any supposition in such helps nothing but generates useless annoyance.”
According to the Philippine government, the reef is located entirely within the country’s internationally recognised exclusive economic zone. This zone is the area over which the Philippines “enjoys the unique legitimate to take benefit of or safeguard any resources.”
Philippine army personnel specified the standoff with Chinese language Folks’s Liberation Military Wednesday and conveyed Lorenzana’s desire for the Chinese language vessels to go away the reef, which Manila calls Julian Felipe, Arevalo stated.
According to statements made by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, President Rodrigo Duterte defended Manila’s position during a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian; nevertheless, no resolution was reported to have been reached.
Greg Poling of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, a think tank based in the United States that is carefully monitoring the territorial conflicts, stated that more Chinese fishing and militia vessels had not too long ago frequented Whitsun Reef, which is situated on the northeastern fringe of Union Banks, an atoll where China maintains two bases. Whitsun Reef is located in the Spratly Islands, which are part of the Paracel Islands chain. Vietnam, another country that lays claim to the area, has four bases there.
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“This deployment at Whitsun Reef simply isn’t new, but the quantities are manner up,” Poling advised The Related Press.
For a number of years now, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei have been embroiled in a contentious territorial dispute around the resource-rich and heavily trafficked South China Sea. This dispute has heightened tensions in the region.
Sea of China (South China) As tensions escalate with China, the Philippines refers to a US pact as a “untapped weapon.” Duterte issues instructions for the deployment of Philippine military to reefs in the South China Sea.