Philippines calls Chinese ships 'illegal' near disputed island
Philippines calls Chinese ships 'illegal' near disputed island
04, Apr 2019 , 4:35 pm        
ដោយ: AFP
Manila, Philippines | The Philippines on Thursday branded as "illegal" the recent presence of hundreds of Chinese ships near a disputed island in the South China Sea -- a rare public rebuke of Beijing by Manila, which has largely set aside the once tense standoff.

Control over the South China Sea is a point of regional contention because trillions of dollars of goods pass through it, and rich petroleum reserves are thought to sit deep beneath its waters.
Under President Rodrigo Duterte, however, Manila has largely set aside its previously confrontational stance on China's claims in favour of seeking trade and investment from Beijing. 
Pag-asa, also called Thitu island, is held by the Philippines, but in the first three months of the year at least 275 Chinese fishing and coast guard vessels were sighted in the area, the Philippines military said.
"The presence of Chinese vessels near and around Pag-asa (island) ... is illegal," the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.
"Such actions are a clear violation of Philippine sovereignty." 
The DFA statement said the "swarming tactics" raised questions about the ships' intent, which critics have speculated is an effort to pressure the Philippines over infrastructure work it is doing there.
"Such actions, when not repudiated by the Chinese government, are deemed to have been adopted by it," the statement added.
China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have all staked claims to various islands and reefs as well as waterways in the sea.
Duterte's spokesman Salvador Panelo said earlier this week the Philippines had filed a diplomatic protest over the presence of the ships.
Beijing's ambassador to the Philippines said the matter was being handled through "friendly diplomatic channels".
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