PHL protests belligerent Chinese actions against PCG

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement May 3 that it has protested Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) belligerent actions against the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

DFA said CCG conducted shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges against PCG vessels on legitimate maritime patrols and training exercises in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc on April 24 to 25, 2021.

DFA also protested the “incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine maritime zones.”

“From 01 January to 18 March 2021, Philippine maritime law enforcement agencies monitored the continued unauthorized presence and activities of hundreds of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in the areas around the Pag-asa Islands, Zamora Reef, Panata and Kota Islands, Ayungin Shoal, Quirino Atoll, and Bajo de Masinloc,” DFA said.

The DFA also said it rejects the statement of the Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 26 April 2021 that China enjoys sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc.

“It is without basis in international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and is not recognized by the international community,” DFA said.

“The Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Bajo de Masinloc are integral parts of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty and jurisdiction. The Philippines’ conduct of maritime patrols and training exercises in these areas is a legitimate and routine act of a sovereign country in its territory and territorial waters and is part of the Philippines’ administrative responsibility,” DFA explained. 

It noted that China has no law enforcement rights in these areas.

“The presence of Chinese Coast Guard vessels in the Philippines’ territorial waters of Pag-asa Islands and Bajo de Masinloc, and exclusive economic zone, raises serious concern. The unauthorized and lingering presence of these vessels is a blatant infringement of Philippine sovereignty,” it added. “The Philippines calls on China to withdraw its government vessels around the KIG and Bajo de Masinloc and respect Philippine sovereignty.”