VCG | Groupe Visual China | Getty Images
A government body overseeing the disputed region said on Saturday evening that around 220 Chinese ships were seen docked at Whitsun Reef on March 7. He posted photos of the ships lying side by side in one of the most controversial areas of the Strategic Waterway.
The reef, which Manila calls Julian Felipe, is a shallow, boomerang-shaped coral region located about 175 nautical miles (324 kilometers) west of the city of Bataraza, in the western province of Palawan. from the Philippines. It is in the country’s exclusive economic zone, over which the Philippines “enjoys the exclusive right to exploit or conserve all resources,” the agency said in a statement.
The large number of Chinese ships is “a concern because of possible overfishing and destruction of the marine environment, as well as risks to the safety of navigation,” he added, while adding that the ships do not were not fishing when seen.
When asked if the Philippines would file a protest, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. tweeted, “only if the generals tell me.”
Chinese Embassy officials did not immediately comment. China, the Philippines and four other governments are locked in a tense territorial stalemate on the decades-long, resource-rich and heavily trafficked waterway.
The arbitration body also ruled that China had failed in its obligation to respect the traditional fishing rights of Filipinos when Chinese forces blocked them from Scarborough Shoal off the northwestern Philippines in 2012. The Philippines, however, they also could not deny Chinese fishermen access to Scarborough, according to the decision. The decision did not specify any other traditional fishing area in the exclusive zone of the Philippines where fishermen from China and other countries could be allowed to fish.
“When Xi says ‘I’m going to fish,’ who can stop him? Duterte said two years ago defending his non-confrontational approach, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“If I send my marines to chase the Chinese fishermen, I guarantee you that none of them will return home alive,” Duterte said at the time, adding that diplomatic negotiations with Beijing allowed the return of Filipinos to areas. disputed fishing grounds where Chinese forces had previously driven them out.
Duterte sought infrastructure, trade and investment funds from China, which has also donated and pledged to provide more Covid-19 vaccines as the Philippines faces an alarming spike in infections coronavirus.