Manila protests Beijing's encroachment in disputed waters
The foreign secretary orders the move on social media and not through reserved channels. US Think thank: "In the last year, 14 Chinese coast guard ships identified". For the experts, the boats want to be seen. In 2016, the Hague Permanent Arbitration Court ruled that China "has no right" to sovereignty.
Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Philippine secretary of foreign affairs, Teodoro López Locsin Jr., has ordered the immediate presentation of a new diplomatic protest against Beijing: according to Manila authorities and international experts, Chinese coast guard ships have intruded in Philippine territory in the disputed waters of the South China Sea several times.
Currently, Locsin is in Russia for an official visit by President Rodrigo Duterte. Yesterday, the secretary used social media to issue the order to officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Usually, the such moves pass through confidential channels. On his Twitter account, the senior official said: "“Do I have to fly home to file the goddamned diplomatic protest myself? That’s the military speaking. Not some friggin’ civilian media outlet. File now!!! ".
Locsin’s protest was provoked by a report delivered to Dfa by Gen. Noel Clement, new commander in chief of the Philippine armed forces. On 29 September, during a hearing in the Senate, the high-ranking official said: "The mere presence there [of Chinese vessels], if there is no request for passage prior to that, will have to be reported.Advertisement
Clement added that a government task force had previously reported the raids, without specifying how many Chinese ships had been sighted.
The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), of the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), says that Chinese ships in the area often do not strive to hide their actions or intentions. " We have identified 14 Chinese coastguard vessels broadcasting automatic identification system signals while patrolling these features over the last year,” the organisation said.
The ships were seen near the counters of Second Thomas, Scarborough and Luconia and were unarmed; however, much larger than most naval ships. "What really distinguishes these boats is the fact that they seem to want to be seen," Amti added.
Filipinos oppose Beijing's claims on most of the South China Sea. In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (CPA) of The Hague ruled that China "has no right" of sovereignty over the disputed territories.
According to Locsin, since Duterte came to power in 2016, the Philippines has presented "more or less over 60" diplomatic protests against China regarding the territorial dispute. On September 4, the foreign secretary told parliamentarians: "“Even if I believe filing a diplomatic protest is like throwing a paper at a brick wall, I do it. I do it because the experts say just keep doing it,” he said. “Because that way, nobody can say we have given up on what we believe are our rights. We have filed diplomatic protests at every turn.”