Title: Philippine Coast Guard Temporarily Halts China’s Reclamation Activities in Sabina Shoal Summary: The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has taken action to temporarily deter China’s reclamation activities in Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. This move sends a powerful message that the Philippines is not helpless in protecting its territorial integrity. The presence of numerous Chinese maritime militia vessels, along with navy vessels and helicopters, has raised suspicions of hidden activities. The dumping of crushed corals near the shoal further suggests preparations for China’s reclamation efforts. Category: Politics Meta Description: Discover how the Philippine Coast Guard has successfully halted China’s reclamation activities in Sabina Shoal, showcasing the Philippines’ determination to defend its territorial rights. The presence of Chinese vessels and suspicious actions raise concerns over hidden motives behind the reclamation efforts.

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China’s Attempted Reclamation Activities in Sabina Shoal Temporarily Deterred by the Philippine Coast Guard

Attempts by China to continue its “reclamation activities” in Sabina Shoal in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) have been temporarily deterred by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), which deployed one of its ships to monitor the illegal activity, a spokesman for the PCG said on Saturday.

According to Tarriela, the presence of the BRP Teresa Magbanua in the shoal sent a strong message to the China Coast Guard (CCG) that the Philippines was not “helpless” in defending its sovereignty. Tarriela emphasized that the actions of the Philippine Coast Guard in preventing China from continuing their island reclamation in Sabina Shoal demonstrated the country’s effectiveness in asserting its sovereign rights over these waters.

Tarriela further revealed that the PCG had monitored 34 Chinese maritime militia vessels at the Sabina Shoal, accompanied by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) navy vessels, helicopters, and four other China Coast Guard vessels. Of particular concern were two of the CCG vessels, 4402 and VP03, which were the same ships that China has been deploying in Ayungin Shoal.

Tarriela raised suspicions about China’s intentions, stating that the fact that the Chinese Coast Guard, PLA navy vessels, and PLA navy helicopter were restricting the Philippine Coast Guard from monitoring their activities suggested that they were hiding something.

The PCG spokesman also reported that the PCG vessel had observed the dumping of crushed corals near the Sabina Shoal, which could be an indication of China’s preparation for reclamation activities to build structures on top of the maritime feature. Tarriela expressed concern that if left unchecked, China could potentially create large man-made islands in Sabina Shoal, similar to what they have done in other areas such as Sandy Cay.

To address these concerns, the PCG implemented a standard operating procedure of launching rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) to inspect the low-tide elevation at Sabina Shoal, particularly for any dumped crushed corals. This action was based on the results of Dr. Jonathan Anticamaran’s maritime scientific research on the Sandy Cays conducted in March. Tarriela highlighted the similarities in the physical characteristics between the low-tide elevation surrounding Sabina Shoal and the Sandy Cays, suggesting that the maritime features at Sabina Shoal may have been altered.

The PCG’s Decisive Action and China’s Provocations

The PCG discovered the state of the shoal’s low-tide elevation during the extended deployment of the BRP Teresa Magbanua, the largest vessel in the PCG fleet, in Sabina Shoal. Tarriela revealed that the “decisive action” to deploy and extend the presence of the PCG vessel was made by the PCG commandant, Admiral Ronnie Gil Gavan, in response to the presence of the Chinese maritime militia in the area.

Sabina Shoal is located just 75 nautical miles from the main island of Palawan, while Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) is 106.3 nautical miles from the province. Both shoals fall well within the 200-nautical mile Philippine exclusive economic zone, parts of which overlap with Beijing’s expansive claims over the South China Sea.

China has repeatedly impeded Philippine resupply missions to Ayungin Shoal, resorting to aggressive maneuvers, military-grade lasers, and water cannons during past incidents. These actions have raised concerns about China’s disregard for international law and the rights of coastal states in the region.

Tarriela reiterated the need for continued monitoring and vigilance to prevent further encroachment by China. He emphasized that if the dumping of corals in Sandy Cay allowed China to expand the land area and create artificial islands, it is highly likely that similar actions could lead to large man-made islands in Sabina Shoal if not monitored and guarded against.

Implications for Philippine Sovereignty and Regional Stability

China’s ongoing reclamation activities in the South China Sea, including its attempts in Sabina Shoal, have far-reaching implications for Philippine sovereignty and regional stability. These actions not only violate international law but also threaten the livelihoods and security of coastal states in the region.

The Philippines, as a claimant state in the South China Sea dispute, has been actively asserting its rights and defending its territory against China’s encroachment. The actions of the Philippine Coast Guard in monitoring and deterring China’s reclamation activities in Sabina Shoal demonstrate the country’s commitment to upholding its sovereign rights and protecting its maritime interests.

However, the challenges posed by China’s assertiveness require a collective response from the international community. It is crucial for countries in the region and beyond to support the Philippines and other affected states in their efforts to maintain peace, stability, and the rule of law in the South China Sea.

International cooperation, diplomatic negotiations, and adherence to international legal frameworks such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) are essential in resolving the South China Sea dispute and preventing further escalation of tensions.

In conclusion, the temporary deterrence of China’s reclamation activities in Sabina Shoal by the Philippine Coast Guard highlights the ongoing challenges in the South China Sea. The actions of the PCG demonstrate the Philippines’ commitment to defending its sovereignty and protecting its maritime interests. However, a comprehensive and collective approach is necessary to address the broader implications of China’s actions and ensure regional stability in the South China Sea.

Source: The Manila Times

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