MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino government has protested against the presence of Chinese vessels in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) last month.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in a press statement sent on Sunday, said it "conveyed to the Chinese Embassy’s Charge d’affaires its serious concerns over recent actions of the People’s Republic of China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)."
"These instrusions of the Chinese are clear violations of the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea as well as the provision of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)," said DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario.
The protest was made known to China last Thursday, January 5, the DFA said.
The DFA cited reports from the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines about "sightings of two Chinese vessels and a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ship at the vicinity of Escoda (Sabina) Shoal in the West Philippine Sea on December 11 and 12 respectively."
The DFA said Escoda Shoal, which is located 123.6 nautical miles from Palawan, "is within Philippine sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction.”
The South China Sea contains more than 200 mostly uninhabitable small islands, rocks and reefs. It borders China and Taiwan to the north, Vietnam to the west, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and Singapore to the south and southwest, and the Philippines to the east.
Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei, along with China and Taiwan, are involved in disputes over the waters, which include the Spratly and Paracel islands.
The South China Sea has some of the world's busiest shipping lanes with more than half the globe's oil tanker traffic. The sea holds valuable fishing grounds, and largely unexploited oil and natural gas fields. -- with a report from Reuters