After months of growing provocations by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and its naval auxiliaries and ostensibly ‘civilian’ Chinese fishing fleets, the Philippines is starting to push back. On Monday the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said it had challenged a Chinese warship that entered the country’s territorial waters in the South China Sea.
The incident occurred near Marie Louise Bank within Manila’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea. It involved a 146 ft long PCG Parola-class patrol vessel, and an unknown PLAN warship with the hull number 189. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA):
The BRP Cabra [MRV-4409] was patrolling near Marie Louise Bank – about 147 nautical miles (87 km) off the coast of El Nido town in Palawan province – when it spotted the Chinese ship on July 13, the Coast Guard said.
The incident occurred a day after the fifth anniversary of a landmark international arbitral ruling that affirmed Manila’s rights to its territories in the South China Sea and declared Beijing’s claims over most of the contested waterway as baseless.
The “navy warship had a flag of the People’s Republic of China and was marked by Chinese characters,” Coast Guard spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo said in a statement.
“BRP Cabra calmly raised a radio challenge while monitoring the movement of the said ship using radar,” Balilo said. But the Chinese warship, bow number 189, maintained silence, forcing the PCG ship to use a Long-Range Acoustic Device to broadcast audible notifications and warnings.
The PLAN warship finally broke its silence and sent a radio message after the PCG ship continued its challenge, reported RFA.
“Philippine Coast Guard 4409, this is Chinese Navy warship 189. Please keep two nautical miles distance from me,” the local coast guard quoted the message as saying. Balilo added that only then did the Chinese ship turn around to leave Marie Louise Bank, with BRP Cabra following to ensure that the PLAN vessel truly left the Philippines EEZ.
Earlier, on April 27, BRP Cabra, backed by other ships, chased away seven Chinese ships from Sabina Shoal, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said at the time. The shoal is 130 nautical miles (241 km) west of Puerto Princesa in Palawan province, within the EEZ.
The United States, Japan, Australia and other countries back the Philippines, urging China to follow international norms and stop its expansionist moves in the South China Sea. ADN