China’s coastguard claims it drove off Philippine ship from disputed Scarborough Shoal

A Chinese coastguard vessel patrols near Scarborough Shoal, where tensions have been rising. Photo: AFP
Published February 22, 2024
  • But Philippine coastguard calls this ‘inaccurate’ and says fisheries vessel is ‘actively ensuring the security of Filipino fishermen in that area’
  • Tensions are rising over the shoal, a rich fishing ground in the middle of the South China Sea that is claimed by both countries
The Chinese coastguard said it drove off a Philippine vessel that had “illegally intruded” into waters near the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea – a claim disputed by the Philippines.

In a statement on Thursday, the coastguard said it chased away the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) ship – which it identified by the number 3002 – in accordance with the law. It did not give further details of the incident.

The BFAR vessel is the BRP Datu Sanday, a ship that has previously been used for resupply missions to disputed islands and atolls in the South China Sea, including Scarborough Shoal.

The Philippine coastguard on Thursday disputed the Chinese claim, saying the statement was “inaccurate” and that the Datu Sanday was still patrolling in waters near the shoal.

“Currently, the BFAR vessel is actively ensuring the security of Filipino fishermen in that area,” Commodore Jay Tarriela, a coastguard spokesman, said on X. “Some of our media friends are embedded on board the BFAR vessel, and their forthcoming reports upon completion of the mission will confirm the accuracy of our statement.”

Manila announced last week that Philippine coastguard and BFAR vessels would be sent to the shoal from this month “to protect the rights and safety of Filipino fishermen” in the waters.

That came after China’s coastguard last month said it had chased away four Filipinos who had “illegally” entered the waters.


RELATED: WATCH: ‘International coalition’ needed to address South China Sea damage by Beijing

Published February 21, 2024

MANILA, Philippines – A study by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) showed that at least 20,000 acres of reef in the South China Sea have been destroyed by China through dredging, landfill, and illegal giant clam harvests.

Estimated figures for damage caused by other claimant states in the South China Sea pale in comparison – around 1,500 acres by Vietnam, and just over 100 by other claimant states, including the Philippines.

Greg Poling, senior fellow and director of CSIS’ Southeast Asia Program and AMTI, said physically stopping China would be impossible. “The only way to stop this is to convince Beijing to stop this,” he told Philippine media during a briefing in Manila on Thursday, February 22.

Poling proposes an “international coalition,” beginning with Southeast Asian claimant states, to survey the damage, account for it, and even hold joint maritime research in the area. He reckons China should be part of those efforts, too.



RELATED: Philippine Coast Guard belies Chinese claim of Scarborough Shoal intrusion

Fisherfolks in Scarborough Shoal area in Masinloc, Zambales. — REUTERS
Published February 22, 2024

A PHILIPPINE coast guard official on Thursday belied its Chinese counterpart’s claim that a fishery vessel had “illegally intruded” into Beijing’s waters.

“This statement is inaccurate,” Commodore Jay Tristan Tarriela, the coast guard’s spokesman on South China Sea issues, told reporters. “The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) vessel, BRP Datu Sanday, continues to patrol the waters of Bajo De Masinloc.”

He said the ship is actively ensuring the security of Filipino fishermen in the area.

The Chinese Coast Guard earlier in the day said it had driven away a Philippine vessel and accused it of “illegally intruding” into its waters near Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.

Located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Scarborough Shoal is also claimed by China, making it one of Asia’s most contested maritime features and a flashpoint for flare-ups.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion in annual ship commerce. Its territorial claims overlap with those of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

In 2016, an international arbitration tribunal in the Hague said China’s claims had no legal basis, a decision Beijing has rejected

Mr. Tarriela said the Philippines’ transparency campaign in the South China Sea might soon focus on food security to get the support of other Southeast Asian countries.

The Philippines this month started patrols around Scarborough Shoal as China continues to bar Filipino fishermen from their traditional fishing ground that Beijing has occupied since 2012.

“I predict that our transparency efforts will shift to highlight issues such as food security, the welfare of the Filipino fishery and the protection of the marine environment,” he separately told a forum.

The Philippines under President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has been exposing China’s repeated attempts to block resupply missions at Second Thomas Shoal, embedding journalists in these missions so they can report the incidents at sea.




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Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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