Philippine Maritime Drills Seek To Dislodge China’s Occupying Armada Of Fishing Vessels
The Duterte government is continuing its standoff and accompanying ratcheting rhetoric with China over maritime claims in the South China Sea. The Philippine coastguard and fisheries bureau has been engaged since Saturday in major exercises aimed at countering the “threatening” presence of Chinese vessels.
The Philippine drills are focused primarily near a Philippine-held island in the disputed Spratly archipelago as well as the contested Scarborough Shoal, thus Manilla is said to be asserting rights within its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), while at the same time China claims the whole area.
China has protested outside claims to Spratly – or that it’s even international waters – by sending hundreds of fishing vessels to essentially permanently occupy the area. The Philippine operation seeks to dislodge them over “illegal fishing”, and reportedly many have dispersed as a result of the drills.
Earlier this week coast guard spokesman Commodore Armando Balilo said, “We are supporting the whole-of-nation approach in securing our maritime jurisdiction,” which includes additional naval patrols and beefed-up surveillance of the region.
The latest statement from Manila’s defense ministry on Wednesday was heated:
“China has no business telling the Philippines what it can or cannot do within its waters,” it said after Beijing rejected the legitimacy of the coast guard drills.
The statement said further that China has “no authority or legal basis to prevent us from conducting these exercises” in the South China Sea as “their claims… have no basis.”
Manilla believes China is using a massive presence of over 200 vessels to effectively establish total control over the area as we previously described last month.
The strategy appears to be that the sheer vast numbers of Chinese vessels make any outside claims over the waters impossible to enforce on any practical level.
China’s fishing fleet – also a key element of its “grey zone” needling. See also East/South China Seas.
‘It’s terrifying’: can anyone stop China’s vast armada of fishing boats? | Fishing industry | The Guardian https://t.co/5PHlKP9K8Y
— Robert Ward (@RobertAlanWard) August 26, 2020
China’s armada of fishing vessels that routinely gather at contested reefs and islands are widely viewed as part of government organized efforts at asserting and expanding maritime claims connected also with China’s artificial island build-up, the latter which are typically turned into remote military bases.
Wed, 04/28/2021 – 17:02