The Philippine Coast Guard reported that some 220 vessels, believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel, were seen moored in line formation at a reef on March 7, a cross-government task force said late on Saturday.
Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin, asked whether he would file a diplomatic protest over the ships' presence, told a journalist on Twitter: “Only if the generals tell me. In my watch foreign policy is the fist in the iron glove of the armed forces.”
The National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea expressed concern about overfishing and destruction of the marine environment, as well as risks to safety of navigation.
An international tribunal in 2016 invalidated China's claim to 90 percent of the South China Sea, but Beijing does not recognize the ruling. China in recent years has built islands in the disputed waters, putting air strips on some of them.
In January, the Philippines protested a new Chinese law allowing its coastguard to fire on foreign vessels, describing it as a “threat of war”.
The United States has repeatedly denounced what it called China's attempts to bully neighbors with competing interests, while Beijing has criticized Washington for what it calls interference in its internal affairs.
The Chinese vessels were at the Julian Felipe Reef, also called Whitsun Reef, in Manila's exclusive economic zone, the task force said, describing the site as “a large boomerang-shaped shallow coral reef at the northeast of Pagkakaisa Banks and Reefs.”
“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 in a statement.
The Philippines vowed to monitor the situation and “to peacefully and proactively pursue its initiatives on environmental protection, food security and freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea.
- ‘Nothing to worry about. The water is fine’: how Flint poisoned its people
- ‘Highly unusual event’: Chinese nuclear sub in ‘embarrassing’ South China Sea incident
- China, Russia outpace terrorism as greatest threat to US, says Pentagon
- Boat filled with meat from endangered species hits protected coral reef in Philippines
- China has carried out 'disturbing' anti-ship ballistic missile tests in disputed South China Sea, Pentagon says
- Venezuela and Guyana spar over Exxon Mobil oil seismic vessel
- South China Sea: Beijing tells G7 foreign ministers to keep out of territorial dispute
- Hong Kong police officer is hit with an ARROW as authorities blasted tear gas and water cannons at protesters occupying a university campus
- Australian Liberal MP Gladys Liu's links to secretive United Front Chinese influence arm
- The Amazon effect: how deforestation is starving São Paulo of water
- Bolivia's ex-leader Evo Morales says he will 'return to pacify the country if the people ask' after fleeing to Mexico as country's interim president hails the end of his 'totalitarian regime'
- Hong Kong police officer shot with arrow, protesters set fires as Chinese troops appear to clean streets
Philippines says 220 Chinese militia vessels seen in disputed waters this month have 513 words, post on e.vnexpress.net at March 21, 2021. This is cached page on VietNam Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.