MANILA – The continued swarming of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea is a “blatant disregard” of China’s commitment to promoting peace and stability in the region, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Friday.
The Philippine government, through the DFA, protested anew the lingering presence of militia vessels and the deployment of Chinese Coast Guard within the vicinities of the Pag-asa Island, Bajo de Masinloc and Ayungin Shoal.
“The continued swarming and threatening presence of the Chinese vessels creates an atmosphere of instability and is a blatant disregard of the commitments by China to promote peace and stability in the region,” the DFA said.
Some 160 Chinese fishing and Chinese maritime militia vessels were sighted in the territorial sea of high tide features in the Kalayaan Island Group, in the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and in and around the territorial waters of Bajo de Masinloc as of April 20.
Five Chinese Coast Guard vessels with bow numbers 3103, 3301, 3305, 5101, and 5203 were also seen deployed within the vicinities of the Pag-asa Island, Bajo de Masinloc and Ayungin Shoal, the DFA said.
In response, the DFA lodged two diplomatic protests on April 21, blasting Chinese activities as a “blatant” infringement upon Philippine sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction.
The new diplomatic notes were in addition to the daily protests being filed by the DFA against the continuing presence of Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef.
“Through these protests, the DFA reminded China that Bajo de Masinloc, Pag-asa Islands, Panata, Parola, Kota Islands, Chigua and Burgos Reefs are integral parts of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty and jurisdiction,” it said.
Meantime, it said the Philippines exercises sovereign rights and jurisdiction over Julian Felipe Reef and Ayungin Shoal.
The DFA has been demanding that China adhere to international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the final and binding Arbitral Award of the July 2016 South China Sea Arbitration.
It also reminded China of its commitments under the 2002 Asean-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, in particular the exercise of self-restraint pursuant to Paragraph 5, in order to maintain an atmosphere conducive to the ongoing negotiations for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. (PNA)