Beijing claims PH supply boats 'trespassed in Chinese waters' in Ayungin incident

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2021 11:15 PM

The Philippine flag via Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News/file
The Philippine flag hoisted at the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal part of the disputed Spratly Islands. Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA — Beijing on Thursday claimed that the Filipino boats blocked and bombarded with water by Chinese coast guard vessels on Nov. 16 “trespassed” in Chinese waters in the West Philippine Sea.

In a press conference in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian claimed that the Chinese coast guard vessels only “performed official duties in accordance with law” and upheld what he said was “China's territorial sovereignty and maritime order.”

“Chinese coast guard vessels performed official duties in accordance with law and upheld China's territorial sovereignty and maritime order. 

His statement came hours after National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. confirmed that Chinese coast guard vessels blocked and used water cannons against Filipino supply boats that were transporting food supplies to Filipino military personnel based in Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.

"At present, the sea area of Ren'ai Jiao is generally tranquil. China and the Philippines are in communication on this,” Zhao claimed.

China calls Ayungin Shoal, or the Second Thomas Shoal, as Ren'ai Jiao and the Spratly islands as Nansha Qundao.

Manila regards Second Thomas Shoal, which lies 105 nautical miles (195 km) southwest of the Philippine region of Palawan, as being within its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone. It has occupied the shoal since 1999 after intentionally grounding a navy ship on the reef.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. meanwhile reminded Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian that public vessels are covered by the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Treaty as he conveyed his condemnation and protest of the incident.

Locsin said no one was hurt but that the Filipino boats “had to abort their resupply mission.” 

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Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction, being “an integral part” of the Philippines, its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, he emphasized.

“The acts of the Chinese Coast Guard vessels are illegal. China has no law enforcement rights in and around these areas. They must take heed and back off,” Locsin said in a statement.

Both Locsin and Esperon said the Philippines will continue to provide supplies to its troops in Ayungin Shoal despite the incident with the Chinese.

“We do not ask permission to do what we need to do in our territory,” Locsin said.

The Philippines and the United States on Wednesday unequivocally affirmed the 2016 arbitral award that invalidated China’s expansive claims over the South China Sea. 

Both countries reiterated the application of the Mutual Defense Treaty on an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea.


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