Philippines denounced this Sunday that More than 135 Chinese vessels “swarm” by a reef off its coast, and described it as “frightening” the growing presence of these ships.
The Chinese ships were “dispersed and scattered” in the Whitsun Reefin the shape of a boomerang, which the Philippines calls Julian Felipe reefabout 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of the island of Palawan, the coast guard reported.
Whitsun Reef is more than 1,000 kilometers from the nearest Chinese landmassHainan Island.
The Philippines declared having counted 111 “vessels of the chinese maritime militia” (MMC) on November 13. When the Coast Guard deployed two patrol vessels to the area on Saturday, the number had increased to “more than 135″said the force.
The Manila Coast Guard stated that They had not responded to radio calls of the authorities to the MMC vessels, which are estimated to be more than 135, dispersed and scattered throughout the Julián Felipe Reef, and described them as “alarming” and “illegal” the presence of these vessels.
The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Beijing regime claims most of the South China Seaincluding waters and islands off the coasts of its neighbors, and has ignored an international court’s decision that His claim has no legal basis.
It deploys ships to patrol the waters and has built artificial islands and military installations to reinforce its posture.
The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have also claimed several islands and reefs in the sea, which are believed to have rich oil reserves in its depths.
The coast guard published some images on Sunday showing Chinese ships lined up in formation and others scattered throughout the waters.
In 2021, a similar incident involving more than 200 Chinese vessels on the reef sparked a diplomatic row between Manila and Beijing.
At the time, Manila insisted that its incursion into the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone was illegal. But China insisted that they were fishing vessels taking shelter from bad weather and had permission to be there.
The Philippines announced on Friday that it would establish a coast guard station on its largest island in the South China Sea for improve surveillance of Chinese ships.
The coast guard station will be equipped with “advanced systems,” including radar, satellite communication, coastal cameras and vessel traffic management, National Security Advisor Eduardo Ano said during a visit to Thitu Island.
The station is already built and is expected to come into operation early next year.
(With information from AFP)