Philippines Coast Guard Accuses China of 'Dangerous' Acts Near Scarborough Shoal

Monday February 12, 2024 - 04:00:28
Staff Reporter
Filipino fishermen in Masinloc, Zambales
Filipino fishermen in Masinloc, Zambales
Manila, Philippines ( + Reuters) - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has accused China of engaging in "dangerous and blocking" maneuvers while its vessel patrolled near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea this month.
During a nine-day patrol near the shoal by its 97-meter vessel BRP Teresa Magbanua, the PCG reported that four Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels shadowed the boat more than 40 times. Additionally, four Chinese maritime militia vessels were also present near the shoal, according to the PCG.

Scarborough Shoal, located within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ), is claimed by both the Philippines and China, making it one of Asia's most contested maritime features and a flashpoint for flare-ups.

The PCG stated that its vessel was in the area to protect Filipino fishermen "from further harassment" in their traditional fishing ground.

"The CCG vessels performed dangerous and blocking maneuvers at sea against BRP Teresa Magbanua four times, with the CCG vessels crossing the bow of the PCG vessel twice," the PCG said, adding that the Chinese vessels had "recklessly" disregarded international rules on preventing collisions at sea.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a vital conduit for more than $3 trillion in annual ship commerce. Its territorial claims overlap with the EEZs of the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Responding to Reuters' request for comment, the Chinese foreign ministry stated on Sunday that Scarborough Shoal is Beijing's sovereign territory and that Chinese coast guard activities in the area were legal.

"China requires the Philippines to respect China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and stop maritime infringement activities. China will continue to firmly safeguard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in accordance with the law," the ministry said.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that China's claims had no legal basis, a decision Beijing has rejected.

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