On Thursday, the Philippines’ foreign ministry stated that the country is not required to inform China of its resupply missions in the South China Sea and that these activities, which include the “upkeep” of a stranded naval ship, are legal.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) further demanded that China stop reclaiming land in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), dismantle all “illegal structures” it had constructed there, and take responsibility for whatever harm the actions had caused.
China has often charged that when the Philippines went on missions to bring food and water to Filipino soldiers stationed on a military ship that Manila wrecked near the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, the Philippines unlawfully entered its seas without authorization. China refers to the atoll as Renai Reef, whereas the Philippines name it Ayungin.
We must provide advance notice each time we go on an Ayungin Shoal replenishment operation. We won’t act that way, DFA spokeswoman Teresita Daza declared.
China points to a line on its maps that crosses into the EEZs of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia to support its claim of sovereignty over almost the whole South China Sea. China also asserts that Taiwan, which it claims is a part of its territory, rejects Beijing’s maps.
Beijing disputes the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s 2016 ruling that the line on China’s maps lacked legal support.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed his support for the arbitral verdict during a meeting with his Manila counterpart in Jakarta. Both have disapproved of China’s harassment of Philippine warships in the resupply mission.
China has consistently urged the Philippines to pull away the Sierra Madre ship, citing an alleged agreement that Manila has constantly stated does not exist since the vessel was grounded in the atoll in 1999 during Manila’s bid to enforce its sovereignty claim.
“The Philippines has not entered into any agreement abandoning its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its EEZ and continental shelf, including in the vicinity of Ayungin Shoal,” Daza stated.
Within Manila’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the Second Thomas Shoal is located 190 kilometers (118 miles) off the Philippine island of Palawan. China’s embassy in Manila did not immediately answer a request for comment.