287 Chinese Ships Remain in West Philippine Sea As of Last Count

Task Force in Manila accounts for Chinese presence.
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Chinese soldiers stand at attention against fighter jets on board one of the People's Liberation Army's aircraft carriers.
Photo/s: Mark Schiefelbein, Agence France-Presse

Chinese militia ships are still "scattered" off various features of the Philippines' Kalayaan municipality in the Spratlys -- 287 total as of last count on May 9 -- ignoring Manila's repeated calls for a pullout, the head of a government task force said.

Larger groups of Chinese ships were sighted around artificial islands that China has built in the West Philippine Sea, said National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. Filipino coast guard and police boats are also in the area, he said.

China's refusal to leave the Philippines EEZ or Exclusive Economic Zone in the West Philippine Sea has promted daily diplomatic protests and a remark from Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. to just "get the f*ck out."

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Esperon, a former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, detailed the Chinese presence in and out of the Philippines' EEZ as of May 9:

  • Two militia and two Houbei Class Missile warships were inside Panganiban (Mischief) Reef
  • One militia ships was at Lawak (Nanshan) Island
  • Eleven militia ships were located approximately 29 nautical miles southwest of Recto (Reed) Bank
  • One militia vessel was at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal
  • One Chinese Chinese Coast Guard ship was seen at Ayungin Shoal during an earlier patrol on 7 May 2021
  • Thirty-four militia ships at Juan Felipe (Whitsun) Reef
  • Seventy-seven militia ships in Chigua Reef
  • Four Chinese Coast Guard ships in Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal)
  • One Chinese Coast Guard ship each in Pag-Asa Island and Ayungin Shoal
  • Fourteen militia vessels and one China Coast Guard vessel off the main Pag-Asa Island,
  • Sixteen militia vessels at Zamora (Subi) Reef
  • Twenty-four militia vessels complemented by one China Coast Guard anchored at the Pag-asa Cays
  • Two militia vessels at Panata Island
  • Sixty-four militia vessels in Burgos (Gaven) Reef North
  • One China Rescue Service Ship, three navy warships and fifty-five militia vessels at Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef
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From April 27 to 29, the Philippine Coast Guard "challenged and successfully dispersed" 12 Chinese vessels for illegal encroachment, Esperon said.

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