Chinese coast guard claims to have chased away Philippine navy ship from South China Sea shoal

Chinese coast guard claims to have chased away Philippine navy ship from South China Sea shoal

Author of the article:

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

David Rising

Published Oct 10, 2023  •  Last updated 4 hours ago  •  2 minute read

FILE - Chinese Coast Guard members approach Filipino fishermen as they confront each other off Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea on Sept. 23, 2015. China's coast guard claimed Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, to have chased a Philippine navy ship from a disputed shoal in the South China Sea as tensions between the two countries over rich fishing areas escalate.
FILE – Chinese Coast Guard members approach Filipino fishermen as they confront each other off Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea on Sept. 23, 2015. China’s coast guard claimed Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, to have chased a Philippine navy ship from a disputed shoal in the South China Sea as tensions between the two countries over rich fishing areas escalate. Photo by Renato Etac /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEIJING (AP) — China’s coast guard claimed Tuesday to have chased a Philippine navy ship from a disputed shoal in the South China Sea as tensions between the two countries over rich fishing areas escalate.

Coast guard spokesman Gan Yu said the Philippine ship had sailed into waters next to the Scarborough Shoal, which China calls Huangyan Island, and ignored “multiple calls” to turn back.

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“The Chinese coast guard took necessary measures to expel the Philippine ship in accordance with the law, such as following it and forcing it out and controlling its route,” Gan said.

In Manila, the Philippines’ military chief of staff, Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., said authorities were still looking into the alleged incident but think it was more likely “propaganda from the Chinese” than an actual confrontation.

“If we ever have a ship there, we will not agree to be driven away (from our) exclusive economic zone,” Brawner told reporters. “It’s our right to make sure that our fishermen can fish in our economic zone.”

The Scarborough Shoal lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, just west of the country’s main Luzon Island. It has been occupied by China since 2012 as part of an Beijing’s push to lay claim to almost the entire South China Sea, which has also sparked disputes with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

The conflicts have long been regarded as a potential Asian flash point and a delicate fault line in the United States-China rivalry in the region.

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Washington has no claims of its own, but U.S. Navy ships and fighter jets have carried out patrols for decades to challenge China’s expansive claims and promote freedom of navigation in the important waterway.

Last month, China’s coast guard laid down a 300-meter (980-foot) -long floating barrier to block the entrance to the Scarborough Shoal lagoon to prevent Filipino boats from entering.

A few days later, the Philippine coast guard, acting on orders directly from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., covertly removed the barrier, infuriating China.

Gan, the spokesman for China’s coast guard, insisted that “China has indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan Island and its adjacent waters,” and that chasing away the Philippine ship on Tuesday was “legitimate and legal.”

“The Philippines’ actions infringe on China’s sovereignty and seriously violate international law and basic norms of international relations,” he said. “We urge the Philippines to immediately stop its infringement.”

Under Marcos, who took office last year, the Philippines has intensified efforts to push back against China’s increasingly assertive actions.

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Following the incident with the barrier, Philippine military authorities said there was a concern that the Chinese coast guard may attempt to install a similar floating blockade at the entrance to the Second Thomas Shoal. It is several hundred kilometers (miles) southwest of the Scarborough Shoal and is occupied by a small Philippine navy contingent on a long-grounded warship but has been surrounded by Chinese coast guard ships.

Last week a Chinese coast guard ship came within a meter (3 feet) of colliding with a Philippine patrol ship off the Second Thomas Shoal, prompting strong condemnation from Manila.

On Tuesday, the Philippines said a senior diplomat had witnessed the incident from aboard a coast guard ship and that his “firsthand information will allow him to effectively convey our concerns to China.”

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Jim Gomez in Manila contributed to this story

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