Chinese Warships and Helicopter Spotted in Scarborough Shoal – PCG Confirms Presence

Chinese warships, chopper seen in Scarborough Shoal – PCG
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The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has confirmed the presence of Chinese warships near Bajo de Masinloc (Scarborough Shoal). Commodore Jay Tarriela, the PCG spokesperson for the West Philippine Sea, revealed that during the last mission of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), they were able to monitor three People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy warships in the vicinity of Bajo de Masinloc.

However, Tarriela clarified that the warships have maintained a distance of more than 20 nautical miles away from Bajo de Masinloc. He emphasized the importance of noting that within Bajo de Masinloc’s 12 nautical miles, the Philippines holds territorial sovereignty over these waters. Tarriela stated during a public press briefing, “So these Chinese warships have always maintained that they are outside the 12 nautical miles.”

Although the PLA Navy ships have not entered Philippine territorial waters, Tarriela mentioned that the BFAR vessel was still able to observe the presence of a Chinese Navy helicopter flying over the waters of Bajo de Masinloc. He explained, “What the BFAR ship and other Filipino fishing vessels do is they try to determine where the helicopter took off. At first, we were thinking that it came from the CCG ship.”

Tarriela described the helicopter as gray colored with “Chinese markings” on its side that, when translated, indicated its affiliation with the Chinese Navy. He added, “This is the first time that we have sighted this kind of aircraft in the area.”

The presence of Chinese warships near Scarborough Shoal raises concerns about territorial disputes and maritime security in the region. Scarborough Shoal, also known as Bajo de Masinloc, is a disputed territory claimed by both the Philippines and China. It is located approximately 120 nautical miles from the coast of Zambales, Philippines.

China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea has been a subject of international concern. The country has been involved in territorial disputes with several neighboring countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan. These disputes primarily revolve around the ownership of islands, reefs, and waters rich in natural resources.

The presence of Chinese warships near Scarborough Shoal is seen by many as a potential threat to the Philippines’ territorial integrity and sovereignty. The Philippines has been actively asserting its rights in the West Philippine Sea, particularly in areas within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

UNCLOS, which has been ratified by both the Philippines and China, provides a legal framework for resolving maritime disputes and delimiting maritime boundaries. Under UNCLOS, coastal states have sovereign rights over their EEZ, including the exploration and exploitation of natural resources.

The Philippine government has consistently called for the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea through dialogue and adherence to international law. It has sought the support of the international community in upholding the principles of freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.

The presence of Chinese warships near Scarborough Shoal serves as a reminder of the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea. It highlights the need for continued diplomatic efforts and multilateral cooperation to address the complex issues surrounding territorial disputes and maritime security in the region.

The Philippines, along with other claimant countries, has been engaging in bilateral and multilateral dialogues to find peaceful and mutually beneficial solutions to the South China Sea disputes. These efforts aim to promote stability, security, and prosperity in the region.

As the situation in the South China Sea continues to evolve, it is crucial for all parties involved to exercise restraint, respect international law, and work towards peaceful resolutions. The presence of Chinese warships near Scarborough Shoal underscores the importance of maintaining open lines of communication and fostering a spirit of cooperation among neighboring countries.

The international community plays a vital role in supporting efforts to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights and interests of all parties involved. By fostering dialogue and promoting peaceful resolutions, the South China Sea can become a region of cooperation and shared prosperity rather than a source of tension and conflict.

Source: The Manila Times

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