Chinese naval vessels are believed to have harassed a group of Filipino reporters sailing in disputed areas of the South China Sea, where Manila and Beijing are currently interfering with the presence of a large Chinese fleet. .
A news group from ABS-CBN of the Philippines claims that it has been chased by two ships of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the first time a Chinese naval vessel has been deployed in such a manner.
The confrontation took place on Thursday, as the news group was sailing through various reefs and shoals in the West Philippine Sea, when Manila covered areas of the South China Sea, to report on reimbursement. scene of Filipino fishermen, who have been displaced due to Chinese maritime intrusions in the area.
According to ABS-CBNA Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessel with the symbol CCG 5101 appeared on the horizon as its crew was circling four nautical miles from the second Thomas Shoal, known as Ayungin Shoal in the Philippines.
The shoal, where the Philippines maintains a rudimentary military presence inside a surface ship, is located about 168 nautical miles off the coast of the Philippine island of Palawan. The area is within the country’s 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), an internationally recognized area in which it has exclusive rights to exploit oil, gas, fisheries and other resources. .
“It’s moving closer and closer and we can see it through our lenses,” said ABS-CBN reporter Chiara Zambrano. a report in the Philippine press. “Then it sent out a radio contact and in English asked who we were and what we were doing in the area.”
Confronting the Chinese boat, the Filipino team turned to the direction of Palawan. After about an hour of being hit by the ship in the stern, she was back, the media reported. to speakThen “two smaller, faster ships appeared on the horizon, seemingly chasing Filipino boats.” It describes these ships as Type 022 Houbei fast attack ships, each of which is typically armed with eight anti-ship missiles.
Described by State-run media Global Times rated as “fast, flexible, stealthy and powerful” the boat was used primarily for coastal defense, but as the publication reported, “The PLA seems to be is exploring my potential to work further than that. ”
While this kind of intimidation has previously been observed from CCG ships and those under the Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC), some experts have argued that the use of naval vessels has sign a step forward in intensity.
“To my knowledge, this is unprecedented,” tweeted Greg Poling, Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC “I have no other case of China deploying a PLAN (as opposed to Former CCG or FLEC) to chase / drive a civil ship in the middle of another claimant’s EEZ. “
The incident, that the Department of Defense today command The military conducts an investigation, which comes amid growing tensions between the Philippines and China over the deployment of dozens of Chinese ships in the Spratly archipelago, especially around the Whitsun Reef, where Low tide is about 175 nautical miles from Palawan.
The deadlock at the Whitsun Reef has been boiling since March 21, when the Philippine government said it had received a report from the Philippine Coast Guard that 220 Chinese ships had been discovered in the Reef. Julian Felipe coral, as Manila mentions this feature. The standoff has since then sparked a heated exchange between the two sides and has spurred daily diplomatic protests from Manila, indicating that the reef is within its EEZ.
In statement on April 5, the Chinese Embassy said “it is perfectly normal for Chinese fishing vessels to fish and shelter at the Whitsun Reef,” which they describe as “traditional fishing grounds”, declaring “No one has the right to make an unfair comment on such activities,” said the father. “Defense Minister Delfin Lorenzana responded by describing Beijing’s disregard for international law as” awful “.
On the same day when the Philippine news team reported being harassed by the Chinese navy, the Philippine Department of Defense said it could call for assistance from the United States, its longstanding treaty ally, to assist infiltration of Chinese ships.
“As the situation in the West Philippine Sea develops, we keep all our options on managing the situation, including promoting our partnership,” said Defense Ministry spokesman Arsenio Andolong. us with other countries like the United States “. statement. “We are constantly negotiating with the US on the issue of mutual defense,” he added.
New assurances have also been made from Washington, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken telling his Philippine counterpart Teodoro Locsin Jr. of your nation’s support during Thursday’s call. According to the official reading from the US State Department, the two leaders “expressed their shared concern about the mass of PRC’s maritime militia ships in the South China Sea, including at the Whitsun Reef, and reiterated their appeals to the PRC.” China complies with a 2016 arbitral award issued under the Law of the Sea Convention. “
Blinken also reaffirmed the possibility of applying the 1951 United States-Philippines Joint Defense Treaty – the cornerstone of a two-nation alliance – to the South China Sea, a guarantee first granted by his predecessor, Mike Pompeo. Manila.