Philippines sends warplanes to fly over Chinese ship group in South China Sea, accusing China of curating a large number of ships to occupy strategic areas

This satellite photo taken on March 23 and received by Maxar Technologies on March 25, 2021 shows Chinese fishing boats anchored at Whitsunday Reef, 320 kilometers (175 nautical miles) west of Bataraza, Palawan.

More than 200 Chinese vessels have gathered at Whitsun Reef in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, located in the South China Sea. The Philippine military sent warplanes on Sunday (28) to fly over the Chinese ships located in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, and Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reiterated that the Chinese ships should leave immediately.

The Chinese ships docked at Ngau Yoke Reef, which China earlier said sailed there to escape the elements and were not maritime militia vessels, but the Philippines was not convinced, describing the multiple Chinese ships as a “swarming threat” to the Philippines. Manila believes the Chinese navy is behind the large number of Chinese boats. Ngau Yoke Reef is located within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

The Philippine Department of Defense said in a statement on Saturday (27) that it would send warplanes to monitor the situation on a daily basis. The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not comment on the incident.

The Chinese Embassy in Manila did not respond to the incident. The embassy said there were no Chinese militiamen on the vessels docked at Ngau Yoke Reef.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated to Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian that the 2016 international arbitration court in The Hague ruled that China’s claim to 90 percent sovereignty over islands and reefs in the South China Sea was invalid, and that the Philippines had won international support at the Time, except that Beijing has so far not recognized the ruling.

Ngau Yoke Reef is part of the Spratly Islands, west of Palawan Island in the Philippines, over which China, the Philippines and Vietnam all claim sovereignty.

Kyodo News reported that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the conference speech, said the rise of China’s military power, and China’s unilateral changes to the status quo in the East China Sea and South China Sea, have made Asia the frontline of the confrontation between the United States and China. Abe also mentioned that the U.S. diplomatic focus on the Indo-Pacific region, the region’s many countries to foreign and national security policy, to be prepared for the psychological.

Chinese fishing boats are moored at Holy Spirit Reef, 320 kilometers (175 nautical miles) west of Bataraza, Palawan.