Philippine Coast Guard Holds Drills In Challenged South China Sea

The Philippine coast guard is performing drills in the South China Sea which an official stated Sunday became part of efforts to protect “our maritime jurisdiction” over the contested waters.

The workouts near the Philippine-occupied Thitu Island and China-controlled Scarborough Shoal come amid increased tensions over the resource-rich sea.

The most recent diplomatic wrangle in between the 2 countries was triggered by the detection last month of numerous Chinese vessels in the Spratly Islands.

The majority of the boats have actually considering that dispersed around the contested island chain.

China– which declares almost the totality of the sea– has actually refused duplicated demands by the Philippines to recall the ships, which Manila says are maritime militia vessels and Beijing states are fishing boats.

In reaction, the Philippines has released more patrol vessels, including coast guard and navy ships, to intensify surveillance and prevent unlawful fishing.

The coast guard drills started last week.

” We are supporting the whole-of-nation approach in protecting our maritime jurisdiction,” coast guard spokesman Commodore Armando Balilo said.

A Philippine coast guard ship sails past a Chinese coast guard ship near Scarborough shoal in the South China Sea in Might 2019 AFP/ TED ALJIBE

The exercises involve training in navigation, small boat operations, upkeep and logistical operations.

They are being held near Thitu Island and Scarborough Shoal, along with the Batanes islands in the north, and the southern and eastern parts of the nation.

Scarborough– among the region’s richest fishing grounds– has long been a flashpoint between Manila and Beijing.

China took it from the Philippines in 2012 following a tense standoff.

The drills started as Philippine armed forces held joint exercises with United States soldiers that ended Friday.

Beijing has actually overlooked a 2016 global tribunal decision that declared its historic claim over the majority of the South China Sea to be without basis.

However once-frosty relations in between Manila and Beijing have warmed under President Rodrigo Duterte, who reserved the judgment in exchange for promises of trade and financial investment.

The Philippine foreign and defence secretaries, however, have been participated in a war of words with Beijing.

The foreign affairs department has actually been submitting day-to-day protests over the Chinese vessels and, in an unusual relocation, recently summoned Beijing’s envoy to express its “utmost displeasure” over the problem.

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