Philippines demands prompt withdrawal of Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef

The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), has demanded China to promptly withdraw its fishing vessels in Julian Felipe Reef in West Philippine Sea.

“The Philippine demands that China promptly withdraw its fishing vessels and maritime assets in the vicinity and adjacent waters of relevant features in the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the West Philippine Sea, and to direct its fishing vessels to desist from environmentally destructive activities,” DFA said in a statement March 23.

DFA noted that Julian Felipe Reef, part of Kalayaan Island Group, lies within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

“The Philippines has been assiduously protesting the illegal and lingering (swarming) presence of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime assets in the said areas,” it added.

The DFA reiterated “that the continued deployment, lingering presence and activities of Chinese vessels in Philippine maritime zones blatantly infringe upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction.”

“China’s continuing infringements and tolerance thereof, notwithstanding the persistent and resolute protests of the government of the Republic of the Philippines, are contrary to China’s commitments under international law and the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea,” DFA said.

DFA also called on China to “faithfully honor its obligations as a State Party to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and to respect and abide by the final and binding 12 July 2016 Award in the South China Sea Arbitration.”

“In view of this position, the Philippine Government has formally lodged a new protest to the Chinese Government on the 21st of March 2021,” DFA said.