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Philippines Says 135 Chinese language Boats ‘Swarming’ Reef off Its Coast

The Philippines stated Sunday greater than 135 Chinese language vessels had been “swarming” a reef off its coast, describing the boats’ rising presence as “alarming.”

The Chinese language boats had been “dispersed and scattered” inside the boomerang-shaped Whitsun Reef, which the Philippines calls Julian Felipe Reef, round 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Palawan Island, the coast guard stated.

Whitsun Reef is greater than 1,000 kilometers from the closest main Chinese language landmass of Hainan Island.

The Philippines stated it counted 111 “Chinese language maritime militia vessels” (CMM) on November 13. When the coast guard deployed two patrol boats to the world on Saturday the quantity had elevated to “greater than 135,” the pressure stated.

“No response was made to the radio challenges issued by the PCG (Philippine Coast Guard) to the CMM vessels which is now estimated to have grown to greater than 135 vessels dispersed and scattered inside Julian Felipe Reef,” Manila’s coast guard stated, describing the boats’ presence as “alarming” and “unlawful.”

The Chinese language embassy in Manila didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

Beijing claims many of the South China Sea, together with waters and islands near the shores of its neighbors, and has ignored a world tribunal resolution that its assertion has no authorized foundation.

It deploys vessels to patrol the waters and has constructed synthetic islands and navy installations to bolster its stance.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam have additionally staked claims to varied islands and reefs within the sea, which is believed to have wealthy petroleum reserves deep beneath its waters.

The coast guard launched photos Sunday which it stated confirmed Chinese language vessels lined up in formation whereas others had been scattered across the waters.

In 2021, an analogous incident involving greater than 200 Chinese language vessels on the reef sparked a diplomatic row between Manila and Beijing.

On the time, Manila insisted their incursion into the Philippines’ unique financial zone was illegal.

However China insisted they had been fishing boats sheltering from dangerous climate and had been allowed to be there.

The Philippines introduced Friday that it was establishing a coast guard station on the most important island it holds within the South China Sea to enhance the monitoring of Chinese language vessels.

The coast guard station could be outfitted with “superior programs,” together with radar, satellite tv for pc communication, coastal cameras, and vessel visitors administration, Nationwide Safety Adviser Eduardo Ano stated throughout a go to to Thitu Island.

The station has been constructed and is predicted to be operational early subsequent 12 months.