TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will increase patrols of the West Philippine Sea following reports of Chinese fishing vessels “swarming” the Reed Tablemount, west of Palawan Island.
The PCG released a statement on Sunday (July 9) declaring that it will continue to monitor and publically expose attempts by Chinese forces to occupy territorial waters belonging to the Philippines, reported ABS-CBN. The PCG and AFP both made announcements this week that they will increase efforts to drive Chinese forces from the region.
The announcement comes after an unprecedented number of Chinese fishing vessels were discovered congregating around the Reed Tablemount, known in the Philippines as Iroquois Reef, in late June. On Friday (July 7), the AFP said the actions of the Chinese vessels, which numbered 48, were “alarming,” reported Philstar Global.
In addition to the fishing vessels, the AFP reported that five Chinese military vessels were spotted “loitering” in waters off the nearby Sabina Shoal. The spokesperson for the AFP Western Command said in a statement on Friday that "China must cease its swarming of vessels to respect our sovereign rights," per reports.
Earlier in the week, ambassadors from the U.S. and Japan weighed in on the issue, voicing support for the Philippines and criticizing China for not adhering to the 2016 ruling in favor of the Philippines by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the arbitration of the territorial dispute between Manila and Beijing.
As China’s unilateral actions such as repeated intrusions into Japan’s waters around the Senkaku Islands in the ECS, China's dangerous behavior in the South China Sea in defiance of the 2016 arbitration award is a grave concern for regional peace and stability.— Ambassador of Japan in the Philippines (@AmbJPNinPH) July 6, 2023
We are concerned by the unprofessional maneuvers of the China Coast Guard against the Philippines Coast Guard. The PRC’s irresponsible behavior in the South China Sea threatens the security and legal rights of our treaty ally, the Philippines. We call on the PRC to comply with…— Ambassador MaryKay L. Carlson (@USAmbPH) July 6, 2023