According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Western Command in Palawan, the Chinese Coast Guard bombarded some Filipino boats that were intended to provide supplies to Filipino soldiers within the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
According to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., on Thursday, November 16, three Chinese Coast Guard vessels intercepted and water cannoned two Philippine supply boats that were supposed to bring food to the Philippine military in Ayungin Shoal.
“Fortunately, no one was hurt; but our boats had to abort their resupply mission,” said Locsin.
“I have conveyed in the strongest terms to H.E. Huang Xilian, Ambassador of China and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing our outrage, condemnation and protest,” he added.
The DFA also reminded China that “public vessels” are covered by the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Treaty, which can be used as grounds for US to defend the Philippines.
Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) is a feature located 105 nautical miles west of Palawan – within 200 nautical miles to become part of the Philippine EEZ. It is part of the Kalayaan Island Group of the Philippines.
Because of this, only the Philippines has the right to “explore, exploit, conserve” and manage the marine resources there. Only the Philippines also has the right to arrest and conduct judicial proceedings there in accordance with its laws. Apart from the EEZ, it is also on the continental shelf of the Philippines, where the country has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction.
“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,” said Locsin.
“The failure to exercise self-restraint threatens the special relationship between the Philippines and China that President Rodrigo R. Duterte and President Xi Jin Ping have worked hard to nurture,” he added.
Beijing only announced in 2021 that it will enact legislation allowing the Chinese Coast Guard to fire on “occupiers” in what it considers territorial seas in the West Philippine Sea, which it claims. Despite the fact that the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines, this is still the case.
The DFA stated that the Philippines would continue to supply Filipino troops in Ayungin Shoal with supplies. According to Locsin, the Philippines no longer needs to seek China for permission because it is Philippine territory.