The United States Embassy in Manila has said that the United States shares the concern of Philippines regarding Chinese vessels spotted in Julian Felipe Reef.
“We have seen reports of the presence of more than 200 PRC fishing vessels amassing near Whitsun (Julian Felipe) Reef,” the US embassy said.
“We note Secretary of National Defense Lornzana’s call for the PRC to recall the bats and Secretary of Foreign Afairs Locsin’s filing of a diplomatic protest,” it added.
“We share the concerns of our Philippine allies. The PRC uses maritime militia to intimidate, provoke, and threaten other nations, which undermines peace and security in the region,” the US embassy noted.
“Chinese boats have been mooring in this area for months in ever increasing numbers, regardless of the weather. We stand with the Philippines, our oldest treaty ally in Asia,” it said.
National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement on March 21, “we view with grave concern the presence of 220 Chinese militia boats in the Julian Felipe Reef (internationally known as Whitsun Reef, located within Union Reefs) in the West Philippine Sea. This is a clear provocative action of militarizing the area. These are territories well within Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf (CS) where Filipinos have the sole right to resources under international law and the 2016 arbitral ruling.”
“We call on the Chinese to stop this incursion and immediately recall these boats violating our maritime rights and encroaching into our sovereign territory,” he said.
On March 20, the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS), said in a statement that “around two hundred twenty (220) Chinese Fishing Vessels (CFVs), believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel, were sighted moored in line formation at the Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) on March 7, 2021.”