The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has protested the alleged “shadowing, blocking, dangerous maneuver, and radio challenges” by the Chinese Coast Guard of Philippine Coast Guard vessels during last week’s maritime patrols and training exercises in Bajo de Masinloc.
The DFA is rejecting China’s claim of sovereignty over Bajo de Masinloc, noting that the claim, made by the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on April 26, was “without basis in international law” and is “not recognized by the international community.”
“The Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) and Bajo de Masinloc are integral parts of the Philippines over which it has sovereignty and jurisdiction. The Philippines’ conduct of maritime patrols and training exercises in these areas is a legitimate and routine act of a sovereign country in its territory and territorial waters and is part of the Philippines’ administrative responsibility,” the DFA said in a statement Monday.
The DFA also protested the “incessant, illegal, prolonged, and increasing presence” of Chinese fishing vessels and maritime militia vessels in Philippine waters.
“From 01 January to 18 March 2021, Philippine maritime law enforcement agencies monitored the continued unauthorized presence and activities of hundreds of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in the areas around the Pag-asa Islands, Zamora Reef, Panata and Kota Islands, Ayungin Shoal, Quirino Atoll, and Bajo de Masinloc,” the statement read.
China has no law enforcement rights in the Philippines’ territorial waters, the DFA said, noting that the presence of Chinese ships in waters of Pag-asa Islands, Bajo de Masinloc, and exclusive economic zone “raises serious concern.”
“The unauthorized and lingering presence of these vessels is a blatant infringement of Philippine sovereignty,” the DFA said.
It renewed its call for China to withdraw its vessels around the KIG and Bajo de Masinloc, and to “respect Philippine sovereignty.”
On Sunday, the Chinese defense ministry announced the conclusion of a naval exercise in disputed areas using aircraft carrier Shandong and its naval support group.
Gao Xiucheng, a spokesperson for the Chinese Navy, said the naval exercises were “legitimate” and that the Chinese navy will continue to hold similar activities in the future.