Manila, Dec 15 (EFE).- The Philippines Armed Forces published Thursday a photograph showing the presence of up to 12 Chinese vessels in its territorial waters, a development that increases diplomatic tension between the two countries in the South China Sea.
The image, taken on Nov.23, shows up to 12 Chinese ships sailing near Sabina Shoal in the Spratly Islands, about 83 miles (135 kilometers) from the Philippine island of Palawan and within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, armed forces officials confirmed to EFE over telephone.
Philippines defense chief Jose Faustino denounced the incident and said the Chinese action was “unacceptable,” according to a statement issued Wednesday.
“The president’s order to the department is clear – we will not give up a single square inch of Philippine territory,” Faustino said in the statement.
In July, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in his first State of the Nation address, had defended the country’s territorial integrity against alleged Chinese incursion amid territorial disputes with the Asian giant.
The latest incident occurred on one of the shoals closest to Palawan Island, where in October the US Vice President Kamala Harris made an address on a Philippine Coast Guard ship to underlining Washington’s support to the Philippines in its territorial dispute with China.
Beijing and Manila have a territorial conflict over the sovereignty of several islands and shoals in the South China Sea.
China claims these islands as its own for so called historical reasons, despite some being less than 200 miles from the western coast of the Philippines, a limit that the UN set as a sovereign maritime border between states in a convention to which China acceded in 1996. EFE