Bangkok, Nov 18 (EFE).- The Philippines on Thursday warned Beijing to “back off” and condemned the “illegal” actions of three Chinese coast guard vessels that it said blocked the passage of two of its supply boats and fired water cannons.
The supply boats were transporting food supplies to military personnel in Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) in the South China Sea, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said in a statement.
“Fortunately, no one was hurt; but our boats had to abort their resupply mission,” Locsin said, adding that he had “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 of the incident.”
“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,” he added.
He also reminded Beijing that the vessels are protected by the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Treaty.
“Ayungin Shoal is part of the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG), which is an integral part of the Philippines, as well as the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, and over which the Philippines has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction,” Locsin said.
The island is located in the Spratly archipelago, a large set of reefs, shoals, atolls and small islets disputed by the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.
In recent years, the Philippines has repeatedly protested China’s actions and the presence of Chinese fishing boats in the area that Manila considers part of its exclusive economic zone.
China, which claims almost all of the South China Sea, has built military outposts on some of these islands, despite the fact that five years ago the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that China did not have entitlement to the area, a ruling that Beijing does not recognize. EFE