The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has reported an intrusion of at least 220 Chinese vessels into the country’s waters early this month, which could possibly result in a diplomatic protest to be filed before Beijing.
The PCG reported to the National Task Force West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) showed the 220 Chinese vessels were spotted at Julian Felipe (Whitsun) Reef on March 7, 2021, or within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The task force said it was concerned over the incident as the vessels could be there “due to the possible overfishing and destruction of the marine environment” and presented “risks to safety of navigation.”
“Despite clear weather at the time, the Chinese vessels massed at the reef showed no actual fishing activities and had their full white lights turned on during night time,” it said.
When queried over the incident, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the Philippines will file a diplomatic protest if the military recommends it.
“Only if the generals tell me. In my watch foreign policy is the fist in the iron glove of the armed forces,” he said on Twitter.
The NTF-WPS said it will continue to monitor the situation and make sure the Philippines asserts its rights over the area.
“In consonance with the Philippine commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the government shall continue to peacefully and proactively pursue its initiatives on environmental protection, food security and freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea as part of its overall national security policy,” it said.