Follow us for updates
© 2020
Read the Story →

China Says Vessels Near Philippine Reef Are Just 'Fishing Boats'

Manila called it an 'incursion.'
by Agence France Presse
Just now
Photo/s: Ted Aljibe, Agence France-Presse

Chinese vessels gathered near a disputed reef in the South China Sea are "fishing boats" sheltering from poor weather, the foreign ministry said Monday, a day after the Philippines described their presence as an incursion.

China claims almost the entirety of the resource-rich sea and has been accused by the United States of efforts to "intimidate, coerce and threaten other nations" to control it.

The Philippines on Sunday said more than 200 militia boats were spotted "in line formation" at the boomerang-shaped Whitsun Reef around 320 kilometers (175 nautical miles) west of Palawan Island on March 7.

Manila called on China to "immediately recall these boats violating our maritime rights and encroaching into our sovereign territory."


220 Chinese Ships Swarm Philippine Reef, Sparking Protest

But Beijing disputed the claim, saying that "for a long time, Chinese fishing boats have been fishing in waters near the reef", which it said was a part of the contested Spratly Islands.

Continue reading below ↓

"Recently, due to conditions at sea, some Chinese fishing boats have been sheltering from the wind near the Whitsun Reef," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters. 

"We believe this is very normal, and hope all parties can consider it rationally."

The Philippines' Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said on Twitter he had lodged a diplomatic protest over the vessels.

An aerial patrol of the reef on Monday detected "around 183" vessels, the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said in a statement.

Beijing often invokes the so-called nine-dash line to justify its apparent historic rights over most of the South China Sea, parts of which are also claimed by Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei.

China has ignored a 2016 international tribunal decision that declared its assertion as without basis.


U.S. Warns China On Force at Sea, Again Rejects Claims

Chinese Survey Ship Sheltered From Rough Seas in Catanduanes: Coast Guard

Continue reading below ↓
Latest Headlines
Read Next
Recent News
The news. So what? Subscribe to the newsletter that explains what the news means for you.
The email address you entered is invalid.
Thank you for signing up to On Three, reportr's weekly newsletter delivered to your mailbox three times a week. Only the latest, most useful and most insightful reads.
By signing up to newsletter, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.