South China Sea: Beijing deploys vessels near Philippines-occupied islands | World | News

Philippines defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed the Chinese vessels had been located off Pag-asa Island. Mr Lorenzana said: “They were present there intermittently but varying in numbers.” Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative director Greg Poling said China has “maintained a constant maritime militia and coastguard deployment around Pag-asa Island for 424 days and counting”.x

They were present there intermittently but varying in numbers

Delfin Lorenzana

Philippines defence secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed the Chinese vessels had been located off Pag-asa Island.

Mr Lorenzana said: “They were present there intermittently but varying in numbers.”

Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative director Greg Poling said China has “maintained a constant maritime militia and coastguard deployment around Pag-asa Island for 424 days and counting”.

South China Sea

Philippines and Chinese coastguard vessels in the South China Sea (Image: GETTY)

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command said it had monitored 275 Chinese ships near Pag-asa since the beginning of 2019.

The Philippines heavily protested the presence of the Chinese vessels, with the Department of Foreign Affairs branding the deployments “illegal”.

The Philippines’ calls refer to the areas of the South China Sea it claims and occupies as the West Philippine Sea.

READ MORE: South China Sea: Japan risks furious Chinese backlash over fishing row

South China Sea

Filipinos protests against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea (Image: GETTY)

South China Sea

Filipino children form the words ‘China Out’ during a protest on Pag-asa Island (Image: GETTY)

China has built artificial islands, prohibited Filipino fishermen from working and interfered in oil and gas exploration in some of these resource-rich areas.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague recognised the Philippines’ sovereign rights in some sea features within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone that are being claimed by China and warmed Beijing against future violations.

China rejected the decision and insisted on its claim to practically the entire South China Sea based on historic rights.x

South China Sea

Chinese fishing boats on the South China Sea (Image: GETTY)

China has built artificial islands, prohibited Filipino fishermen from working and interfered in oil and gas exploration in some of these resource-rich areas.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague recognised the Philippines’ sovereign rights in some sea features within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone that are being claimed by China and warmed Beijing against future violations.

China rejected the decision and insisted on its claim to practically the entire South China Sea based on historic rights.

South China Sea

A Phillipines warship on patrol in the South China Sea (Image: GETTY)

The Chinese are in almost constant dispute with their neighbours over control of the strategic waterway.

Earlier this week Japan announced it was taking measures to help Indonesia protect its fishing grounds after a series of aggressive incursions by China.

Officials said they were transferring the 741-ton ship Hakurei Maru to Indonesia as well as providing a £15.3 million funding to boost the impoverished country’s coast guard’s feet of vessels to help it thwart illegal fishing expeditions in its territorial waters in the South China Sea.


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The 27-year-old Hakurei Maru is 206.5ft long and has berths for 29 people.

Kazuhiko Shimizu, economic counselor at the Japanese Embassy in Indonesia, said the measures were being taken to promote its “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy”.

He said: “Recently, Indonesia has suffered some losses due to illegal fishing.”

South China Sea

South China Sea (Image: EXPRESS.CO.UK)

China insists its fishermen are free to conduct activities in their “traditional fishing ground,” which partly overlaps with Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone around its Natuna island group.

Chinese fishermen have since December operated in the area escorted by boats from the Chinese coastguard.

Tensions in between Beijing and Jakarta soared early last month when Indonesia’s military tracked Chinese coastguard vessels and fishing boats in its waters and scrambled warships and fighter jets as it raised its combat alert status.

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