Tensions between the Philippines and the Chinese Communist Party continue to escalate. The Philippines reported on Wednesday (May 12) that 287 Chinese (Communist Party of China) maritime militia vessels have intruded into its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Philippine foreign minister said he would intervene with his Chinese counterpart.
Reuters reported that the Philippines’ Working Group on the South China Sea said in a statement, “This incident and the continued illegal incursions by foreign vessels near Philippine-controlled islands have been referred to the relevant agencies for possible diplomatic action.”
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin told Bloomberg TV on Wednesday (May 12) that the increase in Chinese Communist Party vessels in the disputed waters from more than 200 in March to nearly 300 currently has prompted the Philippines to consider renewing its protest. “It’s important.” He said.
Locsin said the Philippines will not give up its maritime claims, even as the country seeks to cooperate with China on oil exploration and vaccines.
Tensions between China and the Philippines have been escalating over the past few months, with more than two hundred Chinese boats gathering in the waters around Bull Yoke Reef (Whitsun Reef) on March 7. The Philippine government considers the men on the fishing boats to be militiamen and has lodged diplomatic protests against the “large and threatening” gathering of Chinese vessels.
Chinese officials have consistently denied the presence of militiamen on their fishing boats.
Even after repeated protests by the Philippines, the Chinese Communist Party has not withdrawn all its boats. Instead, it has now added more boats to a disputed area in the South China Sea.
Reuters reports that experts say the Chinese Communist Party’s fishing boats and coast guard are central to its strategic ambitions in the South China Sea, and that their continued presence complicates fishing and offshore energy activities in other coastal countries.
After Chinese vessels gathered in the waters around Niuyu Reef on March 7, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the vessels were just “sheltering” and that the Philippines should take a “rational” view of the situation.
But two weeks later, more than 40 Chinese vessels were still in the waters around Niuyu Reef. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement on April 3, “I am not a fool. The weather has been good so far, so there’s no reason for them to stay there.”